In an age when uniforms were fast becoming drab and utilitarian, the Highland soldier with his traditional kilt stood out from the crowd. True it now had to be covered in dull material, but it still marked him out as part of a particular region, even if in reality he could easily be a lowlander, English or something else. It was an obvious form of regimental identity, and the soldiers prized it as a result, even if it was not always the most practical garment for 20th century warfare. HaT have cleverly called this long-overdue set ‘Highlanders’ because that does not only refer to the five Highland regiments that were part of the British Army in 1914. Both the Canadian and South African armies had Highland regiments, and at this scale the differences in appearance are undetectable, so this set covers them all.
We generally start any discussion of a set with a look at historical accuracy, although here we will start with the standard of sculpting. In general the sculpting is not that good. The detail is there, but sometimes the shapes of items of kit go awry and are quite inconsistent, as in the carrier for the entrenching tool some of the men have. All the men wear the 1908-pattern webbing, but the sculptor seems to have struggled rather with the front ammunition pouches, partly because the small box respirator gets in the way. Packs too are a bit of a mess, but things are no better with the human anatomy. The faces are adequate but the second figure in the top row seems to have a withered left leg - it actually looks worse in real life than it does in our photo. The figures are not bad, but neither are they good, particularly when compared to some HaT output recently.
Having attributed some of the odd shapes to poor sculpting, we are left with some accuracy problems that cannot be explained away so easily. Highlanders wore a similar style of tunic to the rest of the British infantry, but cutaway in a graceful curve at the bottom to accommodate the sporran, but those here are not well done, with more of a diagonal cut.. Also there is no visible bayonet scabbard (even though all correctly have a bayonet fixed), and nor does anyone have the helve for the entrenching tool, even where they clearly have its blade. The bayonet fixed to the rifle is also peculiar, and we were not happy with the kilt covers. These were normally in two pieces - front and rear - tied together at the side. These figures only have the front apron, and while it is true that sometimes this was worn without a matching rear cover we would have much preferred both aprons to be present. The front apron is properly done, with one of several front pocket designs, but the biggest problem is with the webbing. Apart from the somewhat vague rendering of the front pouches, the men are all correctly in battle order, which is to say with the pack discarded, the small pack on the back and the small box respirator in the alert position on the chest. This is all fine, as are the canteens on the right hip. However every man also has a haversack on the left hip, which is no part of the official 1908-pattern webbing. Our fear is the designer intended this to be the small haversack, not appreciating that it is the same thing already on the back. Certainly it is wrong here.
The poses are OK if a little awkward, and the SMLE rifle, while correctly proportioned, lacks the fine detail we would have liked. In essence then we found this set quite disappointing on several points, and while the figures are still quite usable this is not a particularly appealing rendition of a quite remarkable Great War soldier.