At the start of the Napoleonic Wars the lance was seen in Western Europe as a medieval weapon with no place in the modern army, but it remained a popular weapon in the east, and when Prussia gained parts of Poland after the Third Partition, a regiment of lancers named Towarzysz was formed. This was the only lancer formation in Prussian service until 1808, when it was used to create two new regiments of Uhlans. In the following years other Uhlan units would be created, and these would be a significant part of Prussia’s light cavalry, as well as being much cheaper than the hussars.
Despite the picture on the box, every man here wears the cavalry shako, most of which are covered against bad weather. The few that are not show cords, the central rosette and the upper cockade, which is correct. Every man wears the Litewka coat, double-breasted with two rows of buttons down the front, which was the normal form of uniform when on campaign. It has been properly done here, as have the epaulettes, which for the trumpeter are of the usual swallows-nest variety. All except the trumpeter wear gauntlets, and all wear overalls on the legs. Uhlan uniforms varied between regiments, but this is fairly typical and perfectly authentic.
Each man has a sabre by his side, and most have the lance. This is of a good size, and includes the pennon on the end. Since the poses are passive, there are no problems with depth as all are being held upright, so all are moulded with the man rather than being separate. Every man also has a sabre, and as they were also armed with a pistol they each have a pouch for the ammunition on a belt over their left shoulder.
The horses are exactly the same as those in the other sets of Prussian cavalry released by Strelets at the same time. We thought the anatomy of these creatures was not well done, as they look rather overweight and lacking the muscular look that is clearly evident on the animals photographed on the box, for example. The heads are also very small, with almost no ears, so not the best horses we have seen, though by no means the worst either. Uhlans used different types of saddle cloths, including a hussar-style sheepskin with wolf’s teeth edging, and a plainer one with rounded front and rear. The horses in this set seem to have something of a middle way between these two, and since they are shared with the hussars and dragoons, they are a compromise at best.
The poses of man and horse are clearly not in combat. All seem quite relaxed, so perhaps are just moving forward, or standing still and waiting for something. The horses all seem to be stationary, so waiting seems to be what is going on here, which obviously is what the cavalry did a lot of the time, even on the day of battle. We thought all these poses were nice and natural, and we particularly liked the trumpeter resting his trumpet on his thigh. The last figure, who has a plume and no lance, seems to be reaching down, perhaps in response to the civilian in our bottom row. The man next to him however is bizarre. He holds an infantry standard, which we find incomprehensible. Why would this ever happen? Uhlans didn’t have standards until 1815, and did not carry them in the field, so how has this man got hold of an infantry flag? A completely bizarre choice which makes the pose quite useless, and a blot in an otherwise fine selection.
As with the other Prussian cavalry sets released at the same time, the sculpting here is very good. Detail may not be quite as sharp and crisp as some, but it is all there and generally they look great. The men fit the horses well, and although there is some flash it is not too bad.
The civilian bonus figures in this set are an unusual lot. First we have a man wearing an apron, and so some sort of craftsman, butcher or the like. He has a young man on his shoulders who is not dressed as a tradesman, but from his size we would guess he is a teenager, which must be an enormous burden for the poor chap underneath. We would have thought a child would have been a far better choice here. The second figure is of a woman apparently offering up a baby tightly wrapped in swaddling, perhaps for the attention of the mounted soldier. It’s an unusual pose, and not the kind of thing you can use in numbers, but as it is a bonus perhaps we cannot complain, and any civilian figures are very welcome as they are so rare.
Of the fighting men we can have little to worry about. The man with the infantry standard is a complete waste (which spoils both the accuracy score and the one for pose quality), but the rest are accurately done in good, natural poses and look great. The horses are a bit less appealing, but the poses are fine and they are certainly very serviceable. Wasting one pose in 12 is perhaps not so bad, especially when you get bonus civilians too, so a neat and very useful set.