For many years modellers and wargamers were crying out for command sets - figures that depicted actual commanders or at least generals and senior officers. Happily a number of these eventually appeared, and this was the first such set to depict Napoleonic Allied commanders - British generals to be exact.
All ten of the poses depict named individuals, with numbers on the sprue relating to a list of names on the packaging. The figures have clearly been taken from the Osprey Men-At-Arms book 'Wellington's Generals' (No. 84), and everything from uniform to pose has been slavishly reproduced. The individuals, of which there are two of each, are as follows:
- Major-General Sir Rowland Hill was Wellington's most trusted General, and much loved by his men. He was at Waterloo, but it was during the Peninsular War that he was a major-general, and it is as such that he is shown here. He wears the coat of a major-general half open, an officer's sash and a full length cloak.
- Major-General Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole was made a major-general in 1808 and joined the army in the Peninsular the following year. He served well during the rest of the war in Spain and France, but was not at Waterloo. This figure is of him dressed as he might be for dinner, with coat lapels buttoned back. An interesting figure, but officers dressed for dinner do not make the most useful figures for re-enacting battles.
- Lieutenant-General Sir Stapleton Cotton was promoted lieutenant-general in 1812 and commanded the British cavalry for much for the remainder of the Peninsular war. This figure shows him in the uniform of a general officer of hussars, for he was fond of splendid uniforms. He sits with his right hand holding something that we have not been able to identify - the plate in the Osprey book from which the figure is taken has him holding a paper, but this is not a paper.
- Major-General Sir Edward Pakenham became a major-general in 1812 and fought a number of very skilful actions. He also served as Wellington's adjutant-general and enjoyed a good relationship with him, since he was his brother-in-law. After the Peninsular War he joined the British forces in America, and was killed during the Battle of New Orleans. This figure shows him around 1812 wearing standard major-general uniform with an aiguillette on the right shoulder.
- Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton was one of the most famous characters of the British army during the Napoleonic Wars. He served with distinction during the Peninsular War, and rejoined the army for the 1815 campaign in Belgium. He commanded the 5th Division at Quatre Bras, where he was badly wounded but concealed the fact. On the day of Waterloo he was killed while leading an infantry charge on his horse. The figure here departs from the Osprey book, instead showing him as he might have looked at Waterloo, with entirely civilian clothing and brandishing an umbrella as he often did.
- Military Secretary of Wellington, Lord Fitzroy Somerset was born in 1788 and served on Wellington's staff during the Peninsular War. He lost his right arm at Waterloo, but his main claim to fame was at his next battle, 40 years later as Lord Raglan and Commander of British forces in the Crimea, where he fought the famous battles of the Alma and Balaclava. This set has him wearing a frock coat and peering through an unsteadied telescope.
- Lieutenant-General Sir William Beresford was placed in charge of reorganising the Portuguese army, a task which resulted in that force being much improved during the later stages of the Peninsular War. However when he served as commander in the field he was not a success and did not participate in later campaigns. This figure has him wearing the cocked hat of a British general and a pelisse-coat that was a popular if unofficial garment among British officers. He is waving one hand in the air, though it is not apparent why. The Osprey illustration depicts a moment when he is trying to rally troops (unsuccessfully), so this may simply be a gesture of anger.
- General the Earl of Wellington needs no introduction of course, and is here shown standing in a plain frock coat and hessian boots. This is typical Wellington attire, and although the figure is based on an illustration of him in 1812 (before he was a Duke), he would have looked much the same at Waterloo. Though he also wore a cloak at that last battle, he later claimed to have put it on or taken it off dozens of times during the day. He appears unruffled and calm, an image that seems typical of the man.
- Brigadier-General Sir Robert Crauford was a successful commander of light infantry during the Peninsular War, and was killed in 1812. Here he wears a plain undress coat and holds a map.
- Lieutenant-General the Earl of Uxbridge was a fine cavalry commander who ordered the charge of the Union Brigade at Waterloo, where he lost a leg. This model shows him as he is thought to have appeared during the Waterloo campaign, in the uniform of a general officer of light cavalry. His shako shows the gold gimp denoting his rank, and he wears a fur-trimmed pelisse. He carries a light cavalry sabre which was broken on both the figures in the set we examined.
Since we did not find a better source of information, we have mostly used the Osprey title for information, so clearly the figures match the descriptions in this book. That means that the figures are accurately modelled so long as the Osprey book is correct, and we have no reason to suppose that it is not. The one glaring problem is that most of these gentlemen would have spent much of their time in the saddle, yet none here are mounted. Wellington is thought to have been in the saddle continuously for sixteen hours on June 18th 1815, so a dismounted figure is of very limited use.
Another problem is that the set is nearly all senior officers, without the aides that would have accompanied them. In general the Italeri approach of mixing senior officers with their support staff results in a more usable group of figures.
The standard of sculpting is fairly poor, though there is certainly worse to be found elsewhere. Some effort has gone into the detail, which is quite good, but there is some flash, though this is not a serious problem. The overall appearance of the figures is poor by the standards of some companies with bigger budgets, but they are nonetheless adequate and an interesting subject.