When armed revolution broke out in 1775 the American states knew they must raise an army to face the British regulars as neither the militia nor the state troops would be up to the task. The result was the formation of the Continental Army, but right from the start supply was a major problem, with Congress always short of money. The states were often asked to help, and many colonels clothed their men in whatever style they saw fit, while some quite simply went without. As the war progressed and supplies arrived, chiefly from France, uniformity was improved, but an army all dressed as per regulations was never achieved.
This set is simply labelled American Infantry, which as we have pointed out covers a very wide and diverse collection of units. However Italeri have chosen to cloth these men in the standard coat, waistcoat, knee-breeches and stockings with a tricorn hat - a suit of clothes that varied little from the regulars in any of the other national armies fighting in that conflict. As such the choice is OK but does not reflect the likely appearance of many of these troops in the field - a comment that can be made against a great many other sets of figures, but is particularly pertinent here. The exception is the final figure on the third row, as he has a hat with one brim lifted, a blanket wrapped round his body and a noticeably ragged coat. He has a very realistic appearance, but only one such pose in a set does not achieve much. However there are no accuracy problems on any of the figures, although given the diversity of the real thing accuracy is easy to achieve.
If the dress of the figures does not stimulate too much complaint, the same cannot be said for the poses. The box contains three identical sprues, each with one of each figure, which leads to problems that can be easily seen here. There are as many men holding a flag as there are marching, and twice as many musicians as men advancing. This situation is made worse by some of the poses chosen. Italeri have helped matters by providing two standing and two kneeling firing poses, but these are far from ideal. The first standing firing figure is losing his hat in the wind - humorous but not the kind of figure you want to see three times in a set. The first kneeling firing figure is in a very strange and dramatic posture, while the second is on both knees, firing from behind some sort of rock. The reason for including the Indian (third row) is a complete mystery to us, particularly since Italeri have already made a set of Indians, and many will find little or no use for the figure waving his musket in the air. There is just one advancing pose, and he is one of the strangest figures we have ever seen. He leans well forward and has his chin stuck out in front while he seems to be about to fall to his right. The man with musket skyward has presumably been shot as he is leaning so far that he is clearly falling. Neither of the musicians are playing their instruments, with the fifer just cradling his instrument in his arm. There is no advancing musket levelled pose, or indeed any pose that would suggest a body of troops advancing to meet the enemy. In fact apart from the runner there is really very little action of any sort in this set, with a lot of poses just standing around. A very disappointing selection.
The figures are well detailed and proportioned, but it must be said they have some of the ugliest faces ever committed to plastic! All the firing figures have a straight left arm, which is wrong. Six of the figures have separate weapons to improve the pose, and this is successful. In all cases the arms fit quite well into holes provided, but the plastic is not the sort that will make a strong bond with polystyrene cement. The figures are also very tall - 25 mm (1.8 metres) is too tall for eighteenth century men, and some are more like 26 mm. However the biggest shock about this set was when first examined. The quality of the mould is very variable, with some sprues being without flash and others having very considerable amounts. This difference is sometimes found within one box, and it would seem to be entirely the luck of the draw as to whether the figures in any given box are clean or not. In the worst cases this is the worst flash we have ever seen on an Italeri set, and the flash is in many places - the pictured figures have been considerably cleaned up, and it took a long time! Also some figures have cavities where air bubbles were trapped in the mould (because it was too hot), and while not serious this is also a sign of poor quality control.
This set was quite a surprise when we opened it, and not a pleasant one either. Although the sculpting is reasonable for the most part some of the design decisions are very hard to understand, and the poor quality of the mould is inexcusable from a company such as Italeri. It is hard to imagine sizable wargaming units being built up using the figures in this set, and surely everyone wants the basics - standing firing, advancing at the walk, etc. - so diorama builders are also likely to be disappointed.