Following the Great War, in the first years of the rebirth of the ancient nation of Poland the cavalry had once more gained an ascendancy in the armed forces thanks to victory in the war with Russia. It was the Army’s elite, and the pride of the nation, but it couldn’t stop the march of progress, and during the 1930s the Polish Army embarked on mechanisation, relegating the cavalry to a mounted infantry role, although some still thought the horse had a role to play in the east, where roads were few and poor. When Germany invaded in 1939, closely followed by the Soviet Union, the famous Polish cavalry dismounted to fight, although much of it remained mounted on horses for rapid movement. Like the rest of the Polish Army they fought bravely and well, but could not long stem the German and Russian tide. Journalistic nonsense about charging German tanks did however recognise the high reputation of these men, and it is surprising that First To Fight left the production of such a set as this for so long.
First To Fight figures have been pretty inconsistent in terms of quality and style, and to our eye those in this set are again different from all those that went before. The general anatomy is really quite poor, which is not helped by the fact that all but the first figure pictured above come with a separate head. Why this is we cannot guess. All the heads are the same, so there is no choice, and realistically not much scope for different positions for the heads either. They simply glue onto the exposed neck, which is a firm hold as the plastic used is pretty hard, but we always find it difficult to get a realistic pose when doing this. However the anatomy is quite poor all over the figures, and they are also very flat, especially the two firing poses. Detail is pretty indistinct, and areas like the weapons are very poorly done, so even a great paint job will not be able to rescue these sculpts. On the positive side there is little flash, which is in any case easy to trim off, and while the provided bases are large and completely circular, which we think are excessive, it is relatively easy to use other bases or cut these ones down to size.
The number of poses speaks for itself. First To Fight have always marketed their products are primarily gaming pieces, so some gamers may have no problem with just four poses, but for everyone else there is little on offer here. The poses are awkward (especially the grenade-thrower), and would not be our choices if we were to choose just four figures. We thought the first, kneeling figure was the best of an otherwise bad bunch.
The cavalry wore the same M1936 tunic as the infantry, with its four pockets and fall collar. As mounted troops they wore long riding boots and breeches, which are correctly done here although the sculptor has misunderstood the reinforcement on the inner legs and made this thinner than the rest of the trouser on the standing firing figure. In 1939 most cavalry still wore the older 1915 Adrian-inspired helmet, as do these figures, although again poorly sculpted. All the men wear the correct ‘Y’ straps supporting a waist belt to which the ammunition pouches are attached. The three holding rifles have the German-style pair of triple pouches, while the fourth man has the correct larger pouches for his weapon. All wear the bread bag on the left hip, along with some very crude entrenching tools and bayonets, which have been erroneously placed on top of the bread bag rather than to the side. Three have a bag for the gas mask on the right hip, while the fourth carries his in a cylindrical tube, in a very uncomfortable and unrealistic position. All aspects of uniform and equipment here are correct, although it would seem unlikely that different sorts of gas mask would be mixed within the same unit.
Three of the four poses carry a rifle, which is far too crude to identify, but our first photographed figure is holding a RKM wz.28 squad automatic weapon, which was in fact a licenced copy of the American Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR. This was a normal part of the weaponry of the cavalry, so is appropriate here.
Despite the fact that there is also a set of command figures, which includes ordinary troopers too, we were still disappointed with so few poses here, and much more disappointed by the poor sculpting. These figures are unlikely to look well next to those of most other manufacturers, or even previous figures from the same manufacturer, The pointless separate heads was an irritating feature which does nothing to improve the poses or add variety, yet makes the set seem like a serious model rather than a toy. However the quality is very much that of a toy, indeed worse than some toys we have seen, so despite the good accuracy the set fails to please in virtually every other department.