Austria-Hungary was a key player in the Great War. It was the Empire's declaration of war on Serbia on 28th July 1914 that formally began hostilities, it lost over a million soldiers and perhaps another million civilians during the fighting, and the war ended with its complete break-up. This set was the first to represent the Austrian troops during those fateful years.
These figures wear the M1908 uniform with the unstiffened peaked field cap that saw service throughout the war. In 1915 some assault troops were issued with German helmets, and later the very similar Austrian equivalents, but most troops would have looked like these figures. The officer wears a small shako instead of the cap, though in practice many found that this made them an obvious target for the enemy and took to wearing the field cap instead.
All the privates are armed with a rifle, probably the 8mm Mannlicher M95. The officer is firing a pistol, and is also armed with the standard infantry officer's M61 sword. Of course this was unlikely ever to be of much use, and all it did was further identify the officers to enemy fire, so the wearing of swords was stopped early in the war. Clearly this officer is either new to the war or does not care about the attention he may attract as he wears both the shako and sword, which severely limits his usefulness.
The poses are all fine, but it is a shame that there are none using hand grenades or machine-guns. The uniforms are all perfectly accurate, as is the webbing and the weapons, though we were not able to identify the officer's pistol. For some reason the two kneeling men do not wear any pack or haversack, but the rest wear a standard set. All have the haversack on the left hip above which should be the bayonet and entrenching tool, but some are missing these items. None of the figures have fixed bayonets, but then there was rarely an occasion that required them.
Detail is good, though the head of one of the advancing figures seems to have suffered from the mould being misaligned (this may only be the case on some examples of the set). Also the two advancing figures are holding the stock of their rifles in an odd and impractical way. This is a worthy addition to the expanding range of World War I figures, although like Oliver Twist we would have liked much more.