As is often noted, the Franco-Prussian War is misnamed as France faced an alliance of German states of which Prussia was simply the most important. Prussian troops certainly made up the bulk of the German armies, however, and some smaller states wore uniforms virtually identical to those of Prussia (at least at this scale), so this set depicts the typical German infantryman. That infantryman was to taste complete victory relatively quickly, and bring about the dominance of the new united Germany at the expense of France. The war had many long-term implications and is a key moment in the history of modern Europe, so a set depicting these soldiers was long overdue.
The figures are all dressed in standard Prussian uniform of the time, with two main variations. First, some wear greatcoats while others have them rolled across the body, and second, some wear caps rather than the pickelhaube. Taking the greatcoat first, the summer of 1870 (when much of the major campaigning was done) was notably wet, and the following winter was especially cold, so these men would very often wear their greatcoats as evidenced by many contemporary images, so the good number of greatcoats being worn here is very welcome. The field caps are perhaps a problem however, as while caps were certainly worn in the field and when out of the line we could find no good evidence of their being much worn in battle in 1870, although there is certainly some to suggest they were worn in battle in 1864 (against Denmark). While we cannot be sure that they were worn this way in 1870 we would much prefer to have seen only pickelhaubes on the fighting poses.
The good news is that uniform and equipment are correctly depicted here. Both tunics and greatcoats are single breasted and the helmet is properly done. Trousers are tucked into boots, which is correct, and if not being worn the greatcoat is rolled across the body. Regulations stated this should be held together at the shoulder, but there is plenty of evidence that many individuals placed the join at the hip, so the mix of these two styles in this set is fine. All these figures have the two front ammunition pouches, but not one at the back as some troops seem to have had. The kit is fine except for the pack, which is slightly 'T' shaped for some reason. This is certainly wrong, although it would take very little trimming to make square again.
Although it looks like a lot of poses it is easy to see that many are much the same but with varying combinations of clothing. Nevertheless the poses are fine and cover all the essentials. As stated on the packaging these are made in the usual Emhar poseable plastic, so all the figures in row three can be changed to some extent, adding some nice variety for groups of advancing troops.
Emhar is another company that achieves a remarkably consistent standard of sculpting, which in their case is extremely good. All the figures have excellent detail, and even such fine parts as the badge on the front of the helmet have been beautifully done. Proportions are first-rate, clothing creases realistic and the faces are expressive and alive. Thin items such as rifles and bayonets are superbly slender, yet we found no bent items in any of our example boxes. Flash is minimal and the only element of assembly - the third figure in the final row - is simplicity itself.
The number of fighting figures wearing the cap is the only real issue with this set. The marching figure in the top row is very usable but the other capped poses present more of a challenge. Many armies wore a similar cap in the later 19th century, so there are conversion possibilities too, but overall this was a disappointment in an otherwise exemplary set of figures.