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Airfix

Set 01745

Waterloo British Infantry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1972
Contents 43 figures and 1 horse
Poses 15 poses, 1 horse pose
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Cream, Red, Tan, Grey
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

When this set was released Airfix were still the only major manufacturer making large numbers of 1/72 scale plastic figures, but they were surprisingly late to make Napoleonic subjects. When they did, they stuck rigidly to the last battle of the era - Waterloo - which is perhaps understandable as that was the most significant battle with a substantial British element. Having previously made some Highland infantry and some cavalry, with this set and the complementary French infantry set they finally got round to the basics - the ordinary rank and file infantry of both the major sides, which would not see any competition for the next decade.

The 15 poses include some interesting choices. The sergeant with his pike is nice, though there is no ensign with the colours for him to attend, and nor is there an officer on foot. Both a drummer and bugler are included, which in the latter case is a surprise as most infantry regiments had drummers and in some cases fifers, but not buglers. Light infantry did have such musicians, and so too did at least one of the Foot Guard regiments, so the figure is valid but uncommon, and so not an ideal choice in our view. Other less than ideal choices to our eye include the first figure in the top row, who is on all fours. Napoleonic soldiers did not crawl around like their twentieth century equivalents, although occasionally they were told to lie down (for example at Waterloo), but this man could also have tripped or been knocked down, so he is not exactly wrong, but still a more useful pose could have been substituted here. There are two marching poses, with one having a particularly wide stride, making him look very odd (and he also has his musket on his right shoulder). The drawing of this pose on the original Airfix box shows that the intended pose was much better than how it actually turned out. As appeared in several Airfix sets there is a casualty pose, in this case a man sitting on the ground clutching his chest, which is unusual but very appropriate and well done here. The mounted officer has a very wooden pose of holding his sword out to the side at arm's length, but the poses we have not mentioned are reasonable, though had it been us we would have chosen more that conform to the standard drill of the day.

Uniform-wise the figures are pretty good. The coats have the short tails and an admittedly fairly crude representation of the lace on the chest, and the men all wear the shoulder straps with tufts that mark them as centre companies, apart from the drummer and bugler, who correctly have the wings associated with musicians. The sergeant correctly differs in wearing a sash round the waist (and a sword, as do the two musicians), as does the officer, who sports a coat with both lapels fully showing. All wear the 1812 or 'Belgic' shako, which dates them to between 1812 and 1816, which is fine for Waterloo, although the plume is much longer than it should be, and indeed the whole shako is a little on the large side too. All the men have full kit, which is all properly done apart from the complete absence of mess tins. Although the water canteen was supposed to lie on top of the haversack, Airfix have sculpted all the kit evenly distributed across the rump of each man, which is not particularly natural but perhaps easier to sculpt. The men have full packs and rolled greatcoat on top, but all lack the cross-strap that connected the two pack straps across the chest; a necessary item missing here but which caused the men many problems with discomfort.

Sculpting is only moderate and not up to the standards of today. The figures are quite stocky and though there is a reasonable amount of detail, it has not been delicately done. This means such articles as the muskets are quite plain, and some of the straps are much thicker than they should be, which makes the set look its age. Generally there is little flash, although this does vary between batches, and not much excess plastic either. However the horse has the usual Airfix problem of being separate from the base and attached by two very thin and short pegs into the thin base, making a very weak connection.

There are a few extra points to note. The drum is a good size, but is hitched rather too high on the man, and the sergeant's pike is 30 mm long, which is about 2.16 metres, and so is noticeably shorter than the usual actual length of three metres. Also we did not care for the horse pose, since it is either galloping or rearing, when they would normally be either standing still or at a walk.

As the only British line infantry available for a long time, many people will have fond memories of these figures, and the chunky detail and basic sculpting were of no consequence as Waterloo was endlessly recreated on tables and floors everywhere. Today however times have changed, and several manufacturers have produced better figures of this popular subject. While this set still boasts some poses that cannot be found anywhere else, it has been improved on by others since, though many will still find it useful even now.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 6
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 6
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"1815 The Armies at Waterloo" - Seeley, Service & Company - Ugo Pericoli - 9780854220724
"British Infantry Equipments 1808-1908" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.107) - Mike Chappell - 9780850453744
"British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660" - Blandford - Michael Barthorp - 9780713711271
"British Napoleonic Uniforms" - Spellmount - Carl Franklin - 9781862274846
"British Redcoat (2) 1793-1815" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.20) - Stuart Reid - 9781855325562
"Napoleonic Wars: Weillington's Army" - Brassey (History of Uniforms Series) - Ian Fletcher - 9781857531732
"Soldier's Accoutrements of the British Army 1750-1900" - The Crowood Press - Pierre Turner - 9781861268839
"The Thin Red Line" - Windrow & Greene - DSV & BK Fosten - 9781872004006
"Uniforms of Waterloo" - Blandford - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9781854093943
"Wellington's Army" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Special No.5) - Neil Leonard - 9781872004792
"Wellington's Infantry 1" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.114) - Bryan Fosten - 9780850453959

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