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IMEX

Set 515

Mexican Cavalry At The Alamo

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2002
Contents 15 mounted figures, 14 horses and 4 mules
Poses 7 poses, 5 horse poses, 2 mule poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Bright Deep Pink, Blue
Average Height 25 mm (= 1.8 m)

Review

It might be imagined that cavalry would have little purpose in the assault of a strongpoint, but the Mexicans used theirs to ensure there were no escapees as the Alamo was overrun, and of course they would have had many uses in the wider campaign.

The set includes five trooper poses, with two using a lance, two a sword and the fifth a carbine. Another man is carrying a standard. The poses are quite good, with some nice action positions. We particularly liked the man leaning far forward, thrusting his lance at some dismounted opponent. However that's where the good news ends, because though the initial design is OK the actual models are not. The lancer with lance levelled as if in a charge should be holding it parallel with his lower arm. However here the lance actually forms part of the arm, not emerging until the elbow. This apparently ridiculous arrangement actually looks OK from a distance as it is largely hidden by the arm itself, but it looks pretty silly on close inspection. The other lancer is interesting because he alone is equipped with a musket. In theory all cavalrymen should have had one, but supply problems could explain its absence elsewhere. However on the lancer it hangs from its belt with bayonet attached, which seems to be very dangerous for both rider and horse. It is also very long, being as long or longer than that of the infantry, which is not impossible but also not very likely. Finally, the standard seems much too large for cavalry, and a smaller guidon would be more authentic.

Uniform on these men has several apparent mistakes. All wear coats with lapels much like the infantry figures, but all our sources suggest the cavalry had a single-breasted coat without lapels. Also, all the men wear dragoon (Tarleton-style) helmets, a type of headgear not worn by the Mexican army at this time (although the 1st Regiment was given a similar uniform in 1845 - 10 years later). Helmets similar to those of Napoleonic French Carabiniers with a crest and comb should have been made. All the men have their feet in the strangest-looking stirrups we have ever seen. They are like closed cups or triangular straps, and though it is difficult to make out clearly, these are a long way from the perfectly normal stirrups that should have been modelled.

There are several horse poses, with a reasonable and realistic selection of gaits. We would have liked to see a standing horse both for better variety and to act as a stable platform for the trooper attempting to fire his musket. All the saddlecloths are square, though these would normally be pointed.

The most outstanding aspect of this cavalry set is not the cavalry at all, but the support services that are included. In an imaginative and welcome move, the set includes several pack animals burdened with all the usual baggage that every army takes with it. To guide these animals a civilian handler has been included, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and holding a whip. He has been given a donkey for his transportation. This is an extremely nice touch, and since IMEX seem determined to not provide a full set of cavalry (see their American Civil War sets), this is a far better alternative than more infantry poses.

In general the figures can be persuaded to 'perch' on their mounts, though they do not sit snugly nor grip the animal, so the combination is best glued. There is no flash, but the sculpting is not of a high standard, with little or no folds in clothing, animal skins etc. The lancers come with ring hands into which some provided lances fit well. For some reason three of these are the correct full length and three are 'half-length'. We could think of no reason why these might be of use to anyone. Also, the lances should have a two-tailed pennant on the end, much like most other lancers down the ages. However these have two triangular flags next to each other - a style unlikely to have ever been seen in reality. They are also missing the cross-barb by the head to avoid over-penetration. Then there's the plastic. A vivid shocking pink that is as painful on the eye as it is bad at scanning. What on earth was someone thinking?

Some poor research and strange decisions during the design process leave us with quite a mess. To add insult to injury the box artwork is much more accurate than the figures. If they could draw the right uniform, why couldn't they sculpt it?


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 2
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 5
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Santa Anna's Mexican Army 1821-48" - Osprey (Elite Series No.102) - René Chartrand - 9781841766676
"The Alamo 1836" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.89) - Stephen Hardin - 9781841760902
"The Alamo and the War of Texan Independence 1835-36" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.173) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9780850456844
"Uniforms of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution" - Schiffer - Bruce Marshall - 9780764317781

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