The Landwehr were raised in March 1813, to quickly add large numbers of troops to the then-small Prussian Army, but of course they needed to be equipped and trained. Prodigious efforts were made to achieve this, and the convenient Truce of Pläswitz (4 June to 10 August 1813) gave the Prussians time to organise and train their new recruits to a level where they could take the field against the French once hostilities recommenced. On 27 July, shortly before hostilities recommenced, the Landwehr were organised into 38 new infantry regiments, and overall the Landwehr made up about 40% of the total Prussian Army in late 1813. They soon proved their worth, and helped to arm themselves from the weapons captured from the enemy. From then on they were a major element of the Army of Prussia for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars.
Strelets have made several sets of ‘at ease’ figures before this one, and all of them have included a wide range of relaxed and static poses typical of the hours or moments before battle. Here we have more of the same, with most of the men resting their musket on the ground and standing around surveying their surroundings and waiting. Some might be chatting to each other, some fiddling with their weapon or baggage, and one man is about to take a swig from his canteen. We liked every single one, as all look very natural and convincing. Needless to say any campaign required a lot of waiting around, so these poses would be a common sight, and very well done here. The single-piece poses include two more relaxed figures of no special interest, plus a drummer, flag-bearer and officer. The drummer is smoking a pipe, which is a nice touch.
Naturally it took time to arm and equip all of the new soldiers, and in the early days many shortcuts were taken to put men into the field. By the last quarter of 1813 many of the problems had been resolved, and much of the Landwehr looked more or less like these figures. All wear the Litewka coat and peaked Schirmütze cap, with lose campaign trousers on the legs. There are no signs of clogs or other temporary expedients here, and all are well-armed with muskets and ammunition. Some also have a sidearm, and all have haversack and cartridge pouch. Many also have a water container, but these and some other kit are of varying designs, which is good to see and reflects the continued difficulties in providing for so many men. None have a pack, nor a blanket in any form (often rolled across the body), but we were happy with all the kit here.
Strelets are a company that offers quite different styles and qualities of sculpting across its sets, and this one falls into the top end of that range. Generally sculpting is very good, with convincing clothing and nicely-detailed muskets. The faces are OK, although some of the hands are fairly indistinct, but the overall impression is pretty good. The flag is plain, allowing any design you wish, which is as well since while flags were not officially issued, some were carried of varying designs. This one is quite small, being to scale about one metre square instead of the standard infantry flag of 165cm square, but may be correct in this context. Our examples had virtually no flash, although a slight roughness at the seam, but for the most part nice and clean. The simple poses help to ensure there is no hidden or extra plastic either.
Unfortunately the drummer in this set follows the recent Strelets habit of poorly-designed musicians, and so is in sharp contrast to the rest of the set. While the pose is fine, he wears an apron over his right hip, and has the drum suspended high on that hip also. This is all very wrong. All drummers had the drum suspended on the left leg, and we could find no evidence of an apron being used by the Landwehr, and plenty to suggest it was not used, presumably because the coat was considered sufficient to withstand the rubbing of the drum. Also the drum, which is part of the single piece, has been moulded far too close to the figure, so almost half of it actually enters his body, which looks ridiculous. While that was probably a cheat to make the sculpting easier, having the drum and apron on the right is just wrong, so this figure has no value for those with a concern for accuracy, and nor can it realistically be redeemed either.
Aside from the drummer this is a really good set with fairly good sculpting, good accuracy, nice levels of variety and some very attractive poses. It delivers what it promises without fuss and should be very popular with those looking to build a late-Napoleonic Prussian Army.
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.