Despite playing such a huge role in the Napoleonic Wars, there have been remarkably few sets of Austrian infantry made so far, and until the appearance of this set from HaT only one other contained grenadier figures - an imperfect half set from Italeri. This is particularly disappointing as Austrian grenadiers were amongst the most impressive of the soldiers of the day, so there was a real need for a decent set of them. The question is, is this it?
To start with let’s talk dates. The infantry underwent many changes of appearance in 1798 (although it took time for all to become universal), and these figures represent that new look, which was little changed for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars. They wear the correct coat, the correct gaiters, and the correct cap which appeared with the peak soon after 1798. These are 'German' troops (i.e. not Hungarian) by virtue of the gaiters and the round cuffs. In addition they have all the proper grenadier distinctions - grenade badges on the cartridge pouch, curved sabres by their side and the match case on the crossbelt (replaced by a badge from 1809). All except the drummer have the post-1798 knapsack and standard canteen which was the norm until late in the period.
In the bottom row, the drummer has the usual swallows' nest shoulder pieces and the old pre-1798 knapsack to allow him to carry his drum on his back. The drum itself, which is moulded with the figure, is a good size and hangs properly, with the apron protecting the left leg. Beside the drummer is an NCO, identifiable by the cane on his coat (although this would usually be secured under his arm when in action). Finally there is an officer, wearing the very popular Oberrock frock coat and of course the sash around the waist.
The 10 poses include two on the march and a third at attention. Now there is nothing wrong with marching figures - indeed they are vital for many parts of a Napoleonic battle - but we thought having two was a luxury this set could ill afford given the total number of poses. Each one comes in large numbers so it is easy to build up a decent column or line quite quickly, which is good. However it leaves relatively few 'action' poses - just four if you leave out the musician and officers. Two of those are quite similar, and having only four firing figures in a set of 60 will not be ideal for many customers. Having said that all the poses are suitable and the particularly nicely posed officer is as good as any we have seen.
Sculpting is fine and there is no flash or other unwanted plastic anywhere. Detail is good, with the plates on the caps being sufficiently vague to allow their use as any of the various designs in service at the time. Proportions are OK although all except the officer seem to have no neck.
Each Austrian regiment usually had two grenadier companies, but these were often detached and grouped together with those from other regiments for action, making a most impressive formation that even the French had to respect. While we were not thrilled with the mix of poses this is otherwise a very fine set that will surely be appreciated by all fans of the army of the Habsburg Empire. So, we can say with conviction that this is indeed the very decent set that has been so long lacking in this hobby.