The weather has often had a major impact on military campaigns, and every general of the Great War was well aware of the impact of the Russian winter on the armies of Napoleon a century earlier. By the early 20th century armies were better able to operate in all seasons, although the Russian winter still caused a lull in fighting. Nonetheless fighting would often take place when the light summer uniform would not be adequate, so this set continues the recent Strelets trend of depicting troops dressed in 'winter' clothing.
The first item of warm clothing, rather obviously, is the coat (shinel). All those here are double-breasted, making them the popular M1881 version. In 1911 a replacement single-breasted version had been introduced, but this inferior garment was often shunned in favour of the earlier and better model, which was in any case reintroduced in 1917. The 1881 coat had a half belt at the rear, which is not apparent on any of these figures, although to be charitable we could say this may be hidden under the leather belt. Some of these figures also have the bashlyk, a hood with long ends that could be tucked into the belt or tied around the back. All here are tied at the back, although this was generally only done when the hood was up, which is not the case here. The last item of winter clothing is the warm lambskin cap called a papacha, which most here are wearing. This hat was very popular and very widely worn.
The dozen poses on offer are fairly standard, with an emphasis on those firing their weapon. All are quite appropriate, although the Lewis Gun was only used late in the war. Happily all the rifles have their bayonet attached. The officer has both revolver and sword - or at least the scabbard, for there seems no sign of the sword itself.
The sculpting is in the usual Strelets style, with fairly good detail but not particularly clear. Both the prone figures have been done in the old style with front and back to the mould, which means that despite some liberties taken with one of the caps there is no scope for any face detail. Items missing include any sort of entrenching tool or canteen, although we were pleased to see the Lewis gunner with his bebout knife - a common weapon for such troops. These are not particularly attractive figures but there is no flash to speak of, and Strelets’ rather chunky style lends itself well to such well wrapped-up men.