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Zvezda

Set 8055

Russian Hussars

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2008
Contents 18 figures and 18 horses
Poses 8 poses, 4 horse poses
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Grey
Average Height 24.5 mm (= 1.77 m)

Review

These figures are dated for 1812 to 1814, a period that began with 11 hussar regiments in the Tsar's army, each seven squadrons strong. Hussars would usually find themselves scouting, raiding or guarding flanks rather than the splendid charge depicted on the box, but these skills were put to particularly good use harassing the retreating French/allied army after Napoleon's disastrous invasion.

If your sculptor is not particularly good then you might choose to model fairly simple uniforms where the faults are less obvious, while better sculptors can tackle the more elaborate uniforms. Well there can be very few uniforms more elaborate than the Napoleonic hussar, and in our view Zvezda cannot be beaten on the quality of their sculpting. It is boring to keep saying the same thing but once again these Zvezda figures are superb, with every detail beautifully picked out and every man in a natural and realistic pose. Despite the various fiddly bits that present such a challenge to a sculptor these are all done with apparent ease, and will doubtless be a joy to paint. This has been achieved with only one element of assembly. Apart from the first two (lancer) poses in the top row all the men have a separate pelisse which plugs into the back of the man. The fit is always perfect, making a string join without need to glue, but it does mean the pelisse is 'off the shoulder' rather than clinging to one shoulder as is often seen. Doubtless the difference is mainly down to how tight the man has the cord that holds the pelisse, but this is an unusual way of depicting the pelisse. The back of each man is fully sculpted, so if desired the customer could leave the pelisse off and only have a hole in the back to fill to create an otherwise perfectly sculpted figure. As usual you have to snip off the pegs on the riders legs, but once done all the men fit their horses perfectly.

There is nothing much to criticise in the choice of poses either. In several Russian hussar regiments the front rank carried a lance, which is how the first two figures are armed (the second having a separate lowered lance which fits perfectly). The rest of the troopers are carrying swords and there is also a man firing his carbine and another firing a pistol. These last two may not work for a charge but represent a common hussar activity and fully justify their presence. The trumpeter and officer complete a very good line-up.

The figures are all correctly clothed for the stated period, with the classic hussar appearance (including campaign trousers) plus the scuttle-shaped shako which was introduced in 1812 and therefore is the item that specifically dates them. All have the tall plume on their shakos which seem never to have been worn on campaign, but it is an easy task to trim this off if required and by putting it there Zvezda have given the customer the option of having it present or not as desired. Cartridge pouches are correctly attached to a strap over the right shoulder, but interestingly all the troopers except the lancers carry a carbine from a belt over their left shoulder. The Russian cavalry, including the hussars, had to give up their carbines in 1812 to help supply new infantry units, and were not issued more until 1814, so on the face of it their presence here is a mistake. However 16 men in each squadron (very roughly ten percent of the strength) retained carbines, so in this set one pose should have a carbine. Also the order to surrender them was not made until November 1812, so it is likely that at the battle of Borodino (in September) the hussars and others still had their carbines. Since Zvezda seem to be concentrating their Napoleonic output on this battle these figures are correct, but for the following two years most carbines should be removed.

The horses too are problem free, having all the correct saddlery and shabraque. As usual each human pose is assigned to a specific horse, so those firing weapons are on the more sedate horses as they should be.

This set presents a nice mix of action and slower, more deliberate poses, which nicely covers pretty much all the hussar functions. Going the extra distance to give the customer the option of a pelisse or not is a great feature, but ultimately this is simply another great set.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 10
Pose Quality 10
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 10
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars" - Lorenz - Digby Smith - 9780754815716
"Napoleonic Uniforms Vol.4" - Emperor's Press - John R Elting - 9781883476205
"The History of Cavalry" - Facts on File - Z Grbasic and V Vuksic - 9780816021871
"The Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (2): Cavalry 1799-1814" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.189) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9780850457469
"Uniforms of the Retreat from Moscow" - Blandford (Colour Series) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9780713707885

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