As the sun rose on the first day of 1806 Prussian cavalry enjoyed an excellent reputation, built on their successes in the previous century. However Prussia had had many years of peace prior to that year, so there had been no real test of that reputation. When war did erupt (the campaign of Jena) the cavalry were to be a disappointment to friend and foe alike, and the disasters of that year presaged great changes in the army as a whole.
At this time there were 14 Dragoon regiments in the Prussian army, and all were largely dressed alike. The short-tailed coat with square lapels, large tricorn (virtually a bicorn) and riding boots are all captured perfectly on these figures. There are however two things missing. One is the aiguillette that lived on the right shoulder, although this is a minor point easily resolved by painting. The second is far harder - none of the men have a carbine, which all troopers had (unless of course you choose the carbine separate arm). All have the wide crossbelt and fitting to carry the carbine, but no sign of the weapon itself. The horses are quite correct, with the saddle cloth and bridle all being spot on.
HaT have often released a cavalry set with four poses, but sometimes these have had a choice of accessories to place in ring or cupped hands. With this set they have gone one better and offered a range of alternative arms for one of the poses, which means the item in question is much more realistically held. This figure comes with a choice of arms holding a trumpet, sword, carbine and guidon. We chose the trumpet to illustrate something very rarely seen in this hobby - a trumpeter blowing his instrument while looking forward - which is natural yet impossible to mould as one piece. So we actually have up to seven poses (although by varying the position of the sword arm you could gain more), allowing the customer to include one or more men with flag, carbine or trumpet, or to have all 12 as swordsmen. This has got to be a great move, and all the arms make a really good pose when attached. With the very nice static poses this set offers a lot in terms of poses.
The separate arms idea only works if the arms attach easily and look natural, and joy of joys they do. As you can see the peg on the shoulder goes right through the upper arm, so there is some visible mark, but essentially the arms fit perfectly and look great. Moving focus to beyond the shoulder these figures maintain their excellent sculpting standard, with a natural style which we loved. Heads and everything else are of the correct proportions, and the men simply look right. The flag (which is of the correct shape and size) has not been engraved, allowing freedom to choose the desired pattern. What is more, try as we might we could find no trace of flash or ridge along the mould join, so these figures seem to have it all.
If the men look good then the same is not really true of the horses. While they are not especially bad it seems the sculptor is much better at men than horses. The proportions just seem a bit wrong to us, and some of the hooves seem to be rather too articulated, although in essence the chosen poses are fine. The men fit the horses quite comfortably, although the third man in our picture will need gluing to avoid tilting forward too much.
All the men have straight swords, as they should, but some of the scabbards are markedly curved - again a small point for a generally great bunch of figures. If you choose to have a trumpeter then technically you should give him swallow’s wings, but as with other manufacturers we whole-heartedly welcome the flexibility that separate arms provide as well as the improved stance. By sunset on the last day of 1806 Prussia’s cavalry were seen to be shadows of their former selves, but these figures more than do them justice.