For a long time there were very few World War I figure sets, despite the enormous importance of this conflict. The excellent Airfix sets were out of production for a time, which only left the two from Revell. Now several manufacturers have added to the range, and HaT have produced some fascinating sets, reminding us that the Great War was much more than simply the Western Front.
These figures show the ideal Russian soldier in summer uniform as he appeared throughout much of the War, with all the typical features - the gymnastiorka shirt-tunic, knee-high boots and peaked cap. Each man is also loaded with a haversack, an entrenching tool and his greatcoat rolled up and carried over his left shoulder, the ends of which are tucked into his oval mess tin. All this is well sculpted and perfectly detailed. Of course the reality was a lot more varied, particularly in colder conditions, but a small selection of poses such as this allows little room to show such things, although a slightly less uniform appearance would still have been desirable.
The poses too are really quite good if a trifle stiff. The marching figure will please wargamers, and the man kneeling taking a round from his pouch is particularly nice because it is an unusual choice. The man about to throw a grenade is very good, with the effort he is about to put into the throw being evident. The officer is odd as he is empty handed, despite having a sword at his side. Apparently he was meant to be carrying a pistol, but due to a production error this got left off the figure. However, he should have had a pistol holster, which is also missing here. The man holding his rifle across his chest has an uncomfortable and poorly chosen position for his right arm, and the man kneeling firing does not have his knee on the ground.
Though there is some flash this is not too bad, and the sculpting has been handled well, with good proportions throughout. The figures are accurate apart from the absence of bayonets on the rifles (which were permanently fixed when in the front line) and the missing pistol holster. These figures portray a fascinating subject from a conflict that is far too often forgotten in Western Europe, and are a very useful set.