In 1899 Australia was preparing for federation, but when the Second Boer War broke out the Australian governments offered their assistance, and in the end over 16,000 Australians served in that conflict, plus a further 8,000 in irregular units. Most of these men were cavalry or mounted infantry, but there was one regiment of lancers, from New South Wales, and these are the subject of this set.
Initially the British government underestimated the value of mounted troops, so because the NSW Lancers arrived very early on in the war they were a rare and highly valuable asset and saw a great deal of active service in several theatres. Like all cavalry their main role was protection and reconnaissance, and many of the poses here are suitable for that. On only rare occasions might the sabre or lance actually be used in anger, but this aspect also has several poses, which certainly make for a more dramatic selection. So some poses are certainly more generally useful than others, but all are reasonable.
Most of the figures wear normal service dress of a two-pocket tunic and riding boots with the famous slouch hat that sported a red puggaree and black/dark green cock’s feathers. They have a standard ammunition bandolier across the chest, which has been correctly done here. Strangely however three of the figures wear the full dress tunic complete with scarlet plastron and white caplines. However the sculptor has misunderstood and done the plastron as if it was lapels on a single breasted jacket, this making the jacket double-breasted above the girdle and single-breasted below it. They have also not understood the caplines, which go nowhere near the cap itself. Rather more importantly it seems very unlikely that officers would go into action, or be on the march, wearing full dress.
The horses are the same models used in the Strelets British Lancers and Bengal Lancers sets, and as such are not too inappropriate. A few of the stances are very unequine, but the saddlery and reins are reasonable. The carbine/rifle and its holster are separate items that plug in to the side of the saddle, and the sword is correctly moulded as part of the horse furniture.
A couple of the figures have separate lances which fit well enough into the ring hands. The rest of the sculpting is about average for this company – not particularly refined but usable. The virtual absence of flash is welcome of course, and the men fit the horses well enough.
The NSW Lancers saw a great deal of action and were frequently praised by their commanders. Like most of the Australians they were better suited to the terrain and type of warfare practiced by the Boers as it more closely matched their own experience, making their contribution particularly useful to the empire. Though small in numbers, the NSW Lancers were an interesting component of a grueling conflict, and deserve to be immortalised in plastic. This might not be a particularly attractive set but one particularly useful element is that it provides the converter with a source of the famous slouch hat taken up by most Imperial troops later in the war.