The Napoleonic period saw the renewed appreciation of the value of the lance, at least in western armies. Having Polish possessions the Austrian Habsburg Empire was naturally ahead of the game and by 1805 had three such regiments, with a fourth added in 1813. All were similarly uniformed and barely changed prior to the final defeat of Napoleon, which is more than a little convenient for figure makers and figure buyers alike!
Most lancers in European armies were remarkably similar, wearing a uniform based on Polish influences, and those of Austria were no different. The men wore a short kurtka jacket with closed lapels and an open standing collar, girdle and a fringed epaulette on the right shoulder only. Headdress was the classic Polish czapska with plume and cords, which evolved over time but for this decade was settled on the shape shown here. The men carried a cartridge pouch on a shoulder strap and a canteen, but no sabretache. We are pleased to report that these figures precisely match the required description apart from the extremely minor observation that some do not have the plume on the czapska.
Some Uhlans carried lances while others only had carbines or rifles, but apart from the last figure in the top row none of these men have any weapons, which are supplied separately on the green sprue shown. At first glance this looks like nothing but sprue and flash, but in there somewhere can be found five carbines, two swords, one trumpet and a lance. While not beautifully detailed these are adequate models, and the lance is a good length and perfectly straight. However it does lack a pennon which it should have.
There are only horses for the mounted men, but these are pretty well done. All the poses are very good (a remarkably rare statement for this hobby), with the horse crashing to the ground being particularly unusual yet realistic. The horse furniture is correct, being the same as for the hussars except for rounded corners on the rear of the shabraque. Evidence suggests that this corner was occasionally pointed, particularly at the very end of the period, so while three of the horses have rounded corners the fourth has them pointed, turned up to protect from dirt.
Only having four mounted poses is far from generous, but actually the poses are really nice. The first figure is an officer, and is turning to his left in a very realistic pose, while the last figure in that row appears to be falling wounded (he works very well with the falling horse too). That leaves just two ordinary troopers, both of which are holding weapons aloft and are good poses, yet can only do so much between them. Most obviously missing is anyone actually using their weapon. The third figure could be holding a lance aloft, but no other pose makes sense with the lance so it cannot be said that there are any real lancers here. At least one pose with lance levelled should have been at the front of the queue to be modelled. Equally none of the poses make much sense with carbine in hand, so we are left with a bunch of men that only really work with swords in their hands, of which there are not enough to equip everyone. The dismounted pose is a rare thing in cavalry sets, but this one is OK. Apparently holding the reins of some horse (which is not included), he too makes little sense with lance or carbine in hand, but at least converters will have something they can start work on.
The sculpting of this set exceeded our admittedly low expectations. While not the best ever all the detail is there and if not particularly deep or sharp it is still adequate, with some nice moustachioed faces. Proportions too are OK although the figures do vary quite noticeably in height. From the wide gait of the legs it might be imagined that the figures would not fit the horses securely, yet this is not so as the men sit quite comfortably, although will still require gluing for a really solid fix. However the hands require more work, as there are no ring hands to take any of the weapons. Some have what might generously be termed cupped hands, but some have no means of fitting a weapon at all, so basically the customer has to sort this out themselves, and will certainly have to glue everything in place.
While the weapons sprue is a riot of flash the figures and horses are entirely free of this, and there is much to praise here. There are no accuracy problems (apart from missing pennons) and the detail is pretty good. However the lack of some pretty essential poses detracts from the interesting ones that are included, and attaching weapon to man in such a way as to get a usable figure will be an interesting challenge.