When in 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart landed in Scotland in an attempt to place his father on the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland, the British Army was not well placed to deal with the threat. Much of it was away on campaign in Flanders fighting the French, which inevitably included many of the better units, and it was forced to call upon militia and volunteers to assist, particularly early on. An early defeat at Prestonpans was followed by a lengthy pursuit of the Jacobite army, which eluded a major confrontation until it reached the area around Culloden Moor in April 1746, where a British victory effectively destroyed the Jacobite army and their cause.
Anyone who is familiar with the previous output of RedBox will be astonished by the quality of this set. Where earlier sets were vague, poorly detailed and with really bad proportions, these figures are by comparison miniature works of art. The detail is excellent, the proportions very good and the poses both lively and realistic. The improvement is astonishing, but even when not compared to earlier production, we would have to say the quality of the sculpting here is very good indeed. The finer detail is very well done, the clothing hangs in a very natural way and the faces have plenty of character. Indeed there is really only one criticism that we can make of these figures, and that is with the flash. Past RedBox sets were generally plagued by flash everywhere, but that is not true here. Nevertheless these figures do have what by modern standards is a fair amount of flash, and in a very few places this is very noticeable. That takes nothing away from the quality of the sculpting of course, but is an area where there is still room for improvement.
The set has fewer poses than previous products from this company, but those that are here are much more usefully presented with a lot of the common soldier poses and just single copies of the more specialist men. Although only seven in number, all the main poses (in grey plastic) are great and will be useful to both model-makers and wargamers. They cover all the usual subjects – firing, advancing and marching – and include a pose which, had it not been present, would have drawn much condemnation from this website. We refer of course to the second figure in the top row, who is practising the famous ‘push your bayonet’ routine by which the fearsome Highland charge was meant to be combatted. This figure is pretty much in textbook pose, which may not always have been achieved on the battlefield but is perhaps the most important pose here.
To add to the seven standard poses the set also has three specialists, presented in a tan-coloured plastic for some reason. The flag-bearer is splendid and seems to be watching events, while the equally excellent drummer is doing likewise, which avoids the compromises often made in depicting this instrument actually being beaten. The officer holding his spontoon is more active and is also an excellent pose, so every single pose is very appropriate, well modelled and will be very useful.
How often is a well-made set of figures ruined, or at least spoilt, by simple accuracy errors? Far too often, but not here. The men wear the usual long waistcoat and coat with the skirts tied back as turnbacks. Now this is quite correct, but in poor weather the men generally left the skirts down for added protection, and this applied also to the lapels, which were buttoned across the chest in bad weather. Here it is hard to see if the lapels are buttoned back or across the chest – perhaps there are examples of both, which is fine. However it should be noted that for the most famous battle of the ’45, Culloden, the chilly and sleety weather of April around Inverness means it is very likely the infantry wore skirts down and lapels across. However as these figures are not specifically identified with Culloden they are fine as they are for much of the campaign. The long gaiters are also fine, as are the usual tricorn hats with the cockade most wear. The single grenadier wears a mitre cap, and the drummer wears a shorter version of this – both are accurate. The drummer also has the long false sleeves on the back of his coat, and the chevron decoration on the real sleeves, so is perfect in all regards. Apart from the mitre cap (which was not limited to grenadiers), we can identify the grenadier by the match case on his crossbelt, which was a new feature in 1745. He also has a second pouch on his stomach, which was supposed to contain musket ammunition – the other, larger pouch being theoretically for grenades.
The various items of equipment and belts are all perfect too. All the men carry the correct combined sword and bayonet frog, which holds the broadsword – another fairly recent innovation and correct for this period. Where worn the men’s knapsack is of the bag variety and worn over the right shoulder, while the canteens and cartridge pouches are also perfectly modelled.
The way hair was dressed was still important at this time, and again the sculptor has got everything right here. The men have theirs in a queue tied with a ribbon, and in the case of the grenadier this is tucked under his cap, which is spot-on. The queue of the officer is considerably longer, which was the fashion at the time, so even such small details have not been overlooked.
It would be easy to get carried away with this set purely because of the vast improvement it shows over those that have gone before, but even if taken in isolation this is a great set in our book. Although a few more poses would have been nice, we could find almost nothing to disappoint here. The flag-bearer is lovely but we worried that the flag was on the small side, and we would have much preferred the grenadier had been made into a ‘hat man’ and a whole new set of grenadiers produced later – perhaps that is asking too much. The third figure in the second row has a cord on his right shoulder, marking him out as a corporal, so this set provides a small but very well thought-out selection of troops in all the essential poses plus some excellent and very useful specialists. We were more than impressed with these figures, and if RedBox could just eliminate that last bit of flash then in our view they would undoubtedly be in the top tier of figure producers. As it is they still have much to be proud of here, and we would certainly recommend this set for any number of mid-18th century conflicts as well as the Jacobite Rebellion.