During the early twentieth century many countries and military leaders felt a fondness for the cavalry arm, yet conflicts such as the Great War showed the increasing limitations of this form of soldier in the face of modern technology. The trend towards mechanisation gathered pace after 1918, so that many countries had virtually abandoned horsed cavalry by the late 1930s. However the Soviet leadership retained large numbers, partly because of the lack of available replacement vehicles and partly because the cavalry had a useful role in the vast spaces of Russia. When the Soviet Union went to war in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, 16 cavalry divisions took part, and by May of the following year there were 24 available. During this period the Red Army also staged a disastrous invasion of Finland, concluded hostilities with Japan and occupied the Baltic States and Bessarabia in Romania, but by the time of the German invasion in 1941 the number of cavalry divisions had dropped to just nine.
The regular cavalry of the Red Army wore much the same uniform as the ordinary riflemen, although there was more of a desire to retain older items than in the infantry. However what we have in this set is a quite standard uniform, with the usual gymnastiorka, breeches and long boots. Some of the men wear the 1936 model helmet and the rest don a pilotka side cap, while the officer wears a peaked cap. All have a belt carrying ammunition pouches and supported by double braces. In the base of the officer this should be the M1932 set, but it is not because this had braces attaching further back on the belt, included a whistle which is not here and had the braces crossing at the back rather than merging in a 'Y' shaped arrangement as here. Therefore the officer has chosen to wear ordinary infantry belts.
The horses all look good in terms of the various saddlebags and other kit that they carry. The poses of the animals are pretty bad however, showing little understanding of the way such animals move, which is often a problem with Strelets.
The poses are a quite standard array, with half using a sword and the rest their rifle. They are pretty flat and very straight-backed, so hardly inspiring and full of action, but there is nothing too terrible. The sculpting is basic, with some hugely exaggerated items such as the rifles and their clips, which are enormous. Faces are quite ugly (the officer is missing half of his), and finer details are largely lost, so the rifles in particular are very poor. There is a noticeably amount of flash in a number of places, which is irritating, and many of the men will not sit on the horses as their legs are too close together, which is extremely irritating. Some filing will be necessary, or else a very strong glue to force them into the saddles.
This is quite a weak set that does not impress in any respect, although the 12 all-different poses is always nice to see. The fairly poor sculpting and indifferent poses plus the difficulty of matching man to animal mean this will probably not feature on anyone's list of favourite sets.