Cossacks were all mounted irregular cavalry. Everyone knows that, but they're wrong. Certainly the majority served as horsemen, and highly skilled they were too, but some served as infantry, and these make up the bulk of this set.
35 Cossacks are to be found in this box, in a wide variety of poses that reflect something of the unorthodox nature of these men. A good many are kneeling or crawling, and several are brandishing fearsome-looking knives. One man even holds a rope - a tool with which many Cossacks would be familiar. Some are clearly engaged in hand-to-hand combat, and one such figure, the third figure on the top row, is the best 'clubbing-with-the-rifle' pose we have ever seen from any manufacturer. Strelets inclination towards over dramatic poses is well at home with this subject, and we even liked the man holding a dagger in his teeth.
These are Kuban Cossacks from the Army of the Caucasus, and as such they do not wear the standard Russian uniform but the classic and much more familiar cherkeska coat with ammunition loops on the chest. On the head they wear a cap with a fur surround, and look every inch a Cossack. Some also wear further garments to protect them from the elements, and many have patches on their clothes (Cossacks were often found to be very poorly dressed). Occasionally we find a man with non-regulation items on his person such as the kettle on one man, all of which contributes to building a nice ramshackle feel to these troops. To a certain extent Cossacks pleased themselves with uniform, but we have no complaints about accuracy on these figures.
The bottom two full rows show sailors from the Imperial Navy. With Sevastopol being the home of the Black Sea fleet, and the Western allies ensuring no ship could put to sea, there were thousands of sailors with relatively little to do, so they formed a key component of the defence of their base. Most of the figures here are engaged in manual labour, presumably strengthening the defences of the city. A couple are serving as infantry, which many did do, but we would have liked to have seen more such fighting seamen than just these two. The officer could easily be Admiral Nakhimov, a hero of the defence of Sevastopol. With a set of all-unique poses there is room for the occasional unusual figure, and the sailor sitting on a barrel playing a tune is a nice touch.
The figures are well proportioned and detail is good, but there is a lack of refinement to these figures that does not compare well with the best available elsewhere. Some weapons tend to be too thick and not always straight, while the detail can sometimes break down, with hands and other areas suffering as a result. However there is no flash to speak of, and with all figures coming in one piece there are no problems with parts not fitting together properly. An interesting and often overlooked element of the Russian army, this set helps to recognise their role, particularly that of the Navy, in the battles for Sevastopol.
Note The final figure is of a soldier from the Streltsi of 17th century Russia. Though he is unrelated to the subject of this set, he is one of a series of 'bonus' figures which when combined will create a set of this unit for the Great Northern War. See Streltsi Bonus Figures feature for details.