Having a little mystery in life can be exciting, but no one wants mystery when it comes to buying those little plastic figures, yet mystery is what we have here. The set is called 'Portuguese Infantry', with no indication of period or unit, and the childish drawing on the box does not help, so we have some detective work on our hands.
Each man wears a shako with a large triple-looped bow on the crown but no other features as it appears to be wrapped in a cover. Jackets are in various styles - some with a single row of buttons, some with three rows and some with lace braiding. All have pointed cuffs and wing epaulettes, plus ammunition pouches attached to the front of their waist belts, and here is our first big clue, because nearly all these pouches have a bugle horn motif, so we are talking light infantry. If we assume Napoleonic, that could make them the pre-Peninsular War light troops or the Loyal Lusitanian Legion, but they are nothing like either unit, so that leaves the famous Cazadores.
The shako on these figures, while covered, is clearly not the barretina and so must be the stovepipe that was introduced from around 1810. However the sculptor seems not to have seen an image of this hat as the plume and tiny bow has been modelled as a large three-loop bow, which looks nothing like the real thing and arguably might have been removed if the shako was covered anyway. Also, unlike these figures, the Cazadores apparently did not usually wear a large ammunition pouch on their stomach (some older modern reconstructions show this feature, but more recent studies suggest it was not normal). Some had a small pouch with no insignia held near their right kidney, so again the sculptor has used old research. A bugler has been given a sword and pistol, but has no holster for the latter, while another man with a sword has no scabbard for it.
Although there are a good number of poses there are some strange ones. The man holding a sword on his forehead is pretty silly, and we were left wondering about the man with his right hand poised above his musket (row 3, figure 4). If he is attaching a bayonet then he has forgotten that he has not been issued with one, if he is ramming the ball home then he has forgotten the ramrod and if he is pouring powder down the muzzle then he stands little chance of getting much in the right place from that height.
If you thought the picture on the box was poor you should see the sculpting. The figures are crude and with as much flash as we have ever seen on plastic figures. There are plenty of extra unwanted blocks of plastic too, and yet in some areas plastic is in notably short supply. One man is coping with no right hand at all, while the marching figure is managing to hold his musket purely with the left hand - the right, which should be supporting it, is clearly behind it. Detail is chunky and often missing altogether, and there are many flat areas and unconvincing folds in clothing. In short, a complete mess.
Before the release of the excellent set from Emhar no one had produced Napoleonic Cazadores, but the Emhar ones are for a slightly earlier period than the figures here. However looking at this set we are inclined to think that there continues to be a case for someone producing late war Portuguese Cazadores as there is really nothing to recommend this very poor effort.