At the outbreak of the last Jacobite Rebellion, soon to be known as the ’45, much of the British Army was abroad fighting the French, and indeed this was no coincidence as the French had hoped that an attempt to regain the British throne by the Stuarts would distract her army and give the French the advantage in Flanders, which it did. In the early days however, before troops could be recalled from the continent, much of the burden for containing and defeating the rebellion fell on the local militias and bodies of volunteers, referred to here as loyalist troops, often raised by patriotic nobles or simply men whose best interest lay in the maintenance of the status quo. The quality of these men was generally poor and sometimes almost useless, and many served no better purpose than to garrison posts well away from the fighting so regular soldiers could be released to deal with the threat. Some however were good soldiers, and while the need for such men dwindled as the regular troops were deployed, some units maintained an active role. In particular many of the Scottish militia and volunteers gave good service holding government positions, and famously the Argyll Militia were present at Culloden, although their role was constrained by fears of being confused for rebels.
Militia generally wore no other uniform than a coat (apparently just about always blue with red trim), with other items being civilian apart from any cartridge pouch and perhaps a bayonet or sword. The volunteer companies often had even less of a recognisable uniform, so a set of such men might well be quite a varied assortment of clothing little different from civilian garb with the addition of some little military equipment. This is pretty much what we have here, with an assortment of realistic but varied coats, breeches, stockings, hats and caps that could be either military or civilian. Any or all might be Scottish, but five of the poses wear the plaid so are clearly Highlanders. Like their English counterparts many Highland volunteers and militias wore no uniform beyond the bonnet with a cockade of a red cross, to distinguish them from the white cockade of the Jacobites. Here again these men wear appropriate clothing for the period, with one man (second row) being a stand-out example as he has his plaid wrapped around his body for warmth. The rather portly senior officer is dressed like any gentleman of the day, with the addition of a sash to reinforce his position in charge. The fairly sparse kit is all correct too, so absolutely no problems with accuracy here.
On the subject of poses the picture is not quite so rosy. All are certainly natural and appropriate, and there are some very nice ones here. However most do not give the impression of being in a combat zone, and while it is certainly true that many militia and volunteers saw no action (sometimes because they ran away before it reached them), we would have liked to have seen some in more normal battle poses, especially actually firing their musket. The Highland officer is about the liveliest of the bunch, although one man looks to be advancing and has his bayonet fixed. There are more poses here than in the companion sets from RedBox, which is great, although this does cover a broader subject matter, but our disappointment with the poses is not in what is included but in what has been left out.
Sculpting is very nice, and certainly streets ahead of the previous output from RedBox, so they deserve to be congratulated for that achievement. Everywhere the proportions are great and the detail excellent. The faces are great and the large officer has a set of pince-nez, which tells you something of the fine detail which has been achieved here. This same man also has a fine full wig, which has been very nicely done even if it is rather old-fashioned for this period, but the two more junior officers have their hair tied but long, as was the fashion. The scabbard of one of the men has been cut short however, and there is a fair amount of flash, although this varies considerably between figures and between sprues, but can on occasion be very large as seen above on the third figure in the top row and the second in the row beneath. Also be warned that some examples of this set are made in a tan colour and they have considerable amounts of flash, so your figures may not look as good as those photographed above!
One particularly interesting figure here is the piper. In this set he plays a set of pipes much as they might be seen today in Scotland, and played off the left shoulder, again as is done currently. In the past it was common to play off the right shoulder, and a couple of illustrations of the time show the right shoulder being used, but we were unable to discover if either might be used at the time, so have to accept that this figure is OK.
As we have said volunteer and militia troops sometimes wore no uniform, and would often have presented a less than military image to the onlooker. We liked the variety of clothing here, but a more shabby appearance might fit better with the reality. However this applies to the other sets in this series, and indeed to perhaps most of the other sets we review, so we cannot mark this one down for looking better than the real thing. The highlanders in particular can also be used to bulk out the other Redbox sets, so we really liked this set on many levels. The sculpting is great and the accuracy can’t be knocked. The 12 poses are not really enough to cover such a diverse subject however, particularly as both Scottish and English units are included, and while those that are here are very good some key ones are missing. The flash is particularly annoying but can be removed, so there is much to like in this set and it will surely receive a warm welcome from those with an interest in mid-18th century warfare. Given the RedBox reputation for comprehensive coverage we dare to hope for dragoons and artillery to match these sets, and that is certainly something to get excited about if they match the quality of these figures but without the flash.