Polish troops fought for France and Napoleon in many parts of Europe and also in the Caribbean, though they were often unhappy with the tasks that they were asked to perform. Their ultimate dream, that their mother country would be restored, got no further than the Duchy of Warsaw (1807-1813), a poor substitute that was little more than a satellite of the French empire. However it provided the French with a recruiting ground for many excellent troops, and this set from Strelets shows them advancing to the attack.
Taking the top two pictured rows first, we find most of the figures in this set are doing largely the same thing, which is advancing with musket to the fore. The fairly small differences in the basic pose make for a lifelike collection of men, and generally we had no problem with the position. However the two men holding their muskets directly in front of their body, as if performing some sort of moving present-arms, did seem quite unlikely. There are also three ‘command’ poses, the first being an unusual example of an officer. This man is holding his pistol and has not drawn his sword, which is of course possible, though pistols were only effective at very short range, and the sword was a much more prestigious weapon. Not the first choice for such a pose, but officers with drawn sword can be found in other sets, so this offers something a bit different. The eagle-bearer holds his rather small burden a little casually to our eye, more as if on the march than leading the men in the attack, but the drummer is very nice and is actually beating his drum, which is not as common as you might think.
The uniform these men wear follows the pattern set by many previous sets in showing the distinctive short-tailed kurtka and the equally recognisable square-topped czapka headdress, which here has a pompon but no plume. The men wear trousers and the officer breeches and boots, all of which is fine, principally for the years of the Duchy of Warsaw. French influence was naturally heavy, and French equipment was often worn. Here, as with the first set, there seems some confusion as to the type of troops depicted. All have a sabre and bayonet frog suspended from a belt over the left shoulder, which suggests they are grenadiers or voltigeurs, as fusiliers followed the French fashion of a single crossbelt with bayonet on the right side. In theory grenadiers wore a bearskin, but it seems this was not universal, and many grenadiers wore the czapka (or indeed the round shako on occasion). Each man has a full knapsack and cartridge pouch in the French style, so while the Polish uniform could vary enormously, those here are fairly typical and authentic.
Sculpting is very good, with nice slender figures of the type Strelets have started producing lately. These are a great improvement on their previous chunky style, and look good. Hands tend to be largely plain or insubstantial, so sculpting is good rather than great, but more than acceptable. Added to that the lack of any flash or unwanted plastic, and you have some very nice figures ready to go.
Although you could easily have justified a much broader range of poses under the name of ‘in attack’, all those here are reasonable apart from the two we were not happy with. The sculpting is very acceptable and while many variations could have been chosen, the uniform here is authentic. There is a modest selection of interesting command figures, yet this is still a set that delivers a pleasing bunch of figures which match the limited aims of the set title well. Given the small numbers of sets of Polish troops so far available, this should be a must buy for anyone wanting to depict these troops, but is a decent set in any case.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.