Historically Great Britain has often tried to avoid military entanglements on continental Europe, preferring to subsidize other countries to do the fighting, particularly after she acquired a large empire, which stretched the country’s military resources and meant the Navy got preferential treatment. When her infantry first saw action in the Revolutionary Wars, in Flanders from 1793, the results were very poor after years of neglect, but over time various reforms meant Britain’s infantry grew in quality until they had a fine reputation by the end of the Peninsular War, a reputation that was cemented into history by the Waterloo campaign. Many sets of such men have been made, but some wargamers in particular often ask for mainly marching figures, so this is the first such set to exclusively meet that need.
All the figures are on the march, as you could have predicted, but the poses fall into three basic categories. Six of the poses are of soldiers holding the musket either at the butt, which is ‘Shouldered Arms’, or with the lock cradled in the crook of the elbow, which is ‘Support Arms’. These two, with the minor variations seen here, are the poses for when the infantry is formally marching or moving on the battlefield, and will be of most interest to many. Four more poses are more informal, having the musket over the shoulder held by the sling, which suggests ‘Ease of March’, a more relaxed form of march. Both these sets of poses are properly done, and will certainly be useful for many.
There are also four ‘command’ figures, also on the march. First is a drummer, with a good-sized drum, and noticeably shorter than the rest, so clearly a youth. Next is the ensign carrying the unfurled flag, which would usually mean he is on a battlefield or on parade, as otherwise it would be cased. Third is a sergeant carrying his spontoon or half pike, and finally there is an officer. Again all are perfectly good poses, and make the general infantry poses much more useable as a full column can more easily be created with them.
Each man has the ‘Belgic’ shako as introduced from 1812 but perhaps little worn, if at all, before the end of the Peninsular War, marking these figures as firmly for the 1815 era. All aspects of the uniform are correctly done, from the short-tailed coat to the trousers and shoes. The equipment each man carries is also standard for the day, with canteen, haversack, cartridge pouch and bayonet all present and located correctly, including for the command figures. Every man also wears a knapsack with rolled greatcoat and mess tin, but here the same mistake has been made as with the similar Highland Infantry set, in that the knapsack has been given pouches on the left and right side which it never actually had. Strangely, another feature shared with the Highlanders is that all the men have wings on their shoulders, telling us they belong to flank companies (either grenadiers or lights) – a feature confirmed by the curved sword of the officer. This is only strange because the majority of men in a regiment were from the centre, battalion companies.
These figures exhibit the new Strelets style, which still struggles with the fine detail, but produces a much slimmer and more anatomically correct figure than older output. Detail is generally very good, and some elements like the shako cords and the natural shape of the flag are very nice, so while still not matching the best on the market, these will come closer to matching the output of others than older Strelets sets. The poses mean there is virtually no excess plastic, and we could find no flash on our examples, so a nice neat job.
There are a couple of observations which again are shared with the Highlander set. Here too the flag is a bit too small. It is about 21mm in height and slightly wider, when it should be about 25mm in height at this scale, and proportionately wider too. Also everyone has bayonet attached, even those in relaxed poses, which for those figures is surprising, though easy to remedy. Finally one new point; the sergeant’s spontoon is about 25mm long at the pole when it should be more like 38mm, since the real thing was a little under three metres long.
The pockets on the knapsacks are easily removed, so the only significant accuracy problem is with one figure; the sergeant. The new more realistic sculpting style certainly meets with our approval, and the poses deliver exactly what the set title promises, so you can’t really ask for more than that, given the limited scope of the set. For anyone wanting numbers of marching British infantry for Waterloo this is the only feasible option at time of writing, but it is still a good one.