The first thing to say about this set is do not pay any attention to what it says in the box. The box contains three mistakes:
- It refers to 'light' cavalry, when these figures are dragoons, which are usually considered medium cavalry.
- It implies they are suitable for the whole Napoleonic wars, when the uniform is actually suitable for the period 1808-1815.
- It claims the figures are 1:72 scale - they are nothing of the sort.
To begin with we will consider the historical accuracy of these figures. If you take them as light cavalry (mostly hussars), then they have an accuracy rating of zero. However it is obvious that the designer was trying to portray dragoons, so we will treat them as such. As dragoons they are not too bad, with all but the officer wearing the Litewka coat, the buttoned overalls and the shako with the foul weather cover. Roughly 20 men per squadron were provided with a carbine, so it is disappointing to find no carbines at all in this set. Instead all the men are correctly armed with a slightly curved sabre, although they all have the misfortune to have absolutely straight scabbards, leaving one wondering how they carried their weapons. The officer (first figure) is only identifiable by the sash around his waist, although he is easier to spot by virtue of wearing a peaked field cap. Instead of a Litewka coat he has been given a Kollet, although officers usually wore the single-breasted Leibrock instead. The trumpeter has normal shoulder straps on his coat although our sources suggest he should have the traditional swallow’s nests instead. Finally the guidon, although completely limp and hard to make out, looks suspiciously like it is rectangular when it should be swallow-tailed. Still at least this very limpness means there is no design to engrave and get wrong.
As for the poses, it would seem clear that the designer was trying to achieve a lot of action but unfortunately things went wrong along the way. The men are certainly very active, but poor sculpting and unwise compromises for the mould have produced some figures which push the human frame beyond what is natural or even achievable. Simply try and reproduce the pose of the third figure above and you will see what we mean, while the second and fourth poses simply left us wondering why any cavalryman would ever be caught in such a stance. However the officer pose is really nice (although three per box of 17 is overkill) and the more mundane poses, while not so exciting, are much more usable. Sadly this sculptor seems to fail to understand how a human rides a horse, as every figure has a 'Y' shaped gait which would make the rider very unstable and probably fall off as soon as any speed was achieved.
For a company that regularly scores 9 or 10 for sculpting Italeri ought to be ashamed of this offering. Quite apart from the awkward poses there are many basic errors in terms of human anatomy for which there can be no excuse. For example, all those figures which are turning to the right seem to be articulated below the belt, thus causing the coat front and belt to turn as much as the shoulders. You need only try this at home to see that nearly all rotation is achieved in the upper body. Unless the sculptor was not human and had no access to an example of that species we cannot see how such a basic mistake could have been made. Detail is mostly OK, but then these are relatively simple uniforms so that is not difficult, although such things as the number of buttons on the coat vary between the poses. We have already mentioned the straight (and therefore unusable) scabbards, but we should also point out that these are all much too short, even though many of the sabres are themselves also too short.
We have two more complaints, and neither is trivial. Number one is the horses. If the sculptor struggles with human anatomy then he simply gives up when it comes to horses. Only the first horse on the penultimate row is what we would consider reasonable - that next to it is less than ideal while the rest are fantasy. The bottom two horses have legs all over the place, and we cannot imagine any circumstances under which such a pose would be possible. The horse in the second row is interesting because it seems to be engaged in a full blown emergency stop, with all available hooves digging in to the ground. Either that or it is galloping at full speed in reverse, which any horse will tell you is tricky to say the least. All these animals, which like their masters are too long in the leg, have a largely accurate if poorly realised saddlery although the saddle is in a strange arrangement and on the outside of the cloth. Given the eye-watering gait of the men, they more perch on their animals than ride them, and will therefore require gluing.
Ready for one more? Let’s hope so, because it largely makes all the rest pale into insignificance. Sharp-eyed readers will have observed that these figures are an average of 27mm tall, plus shako. At the scale alleged on the box that equates to 1.94 metres tall, a height considerably above the height of an average German man today, never mind 200 years ago. Italeri have clearly had a lot of problems with this issue over recent months, but given that they have successfully made plenty of correctly sized sets in the past we cannot understand why they are now getting it so wrong. The comment is often made that this excessive height means these figures cannot be placed next to those in most other sets without looking ridiculous, and that is clearly a serious failing here, but the issue is really much more fundamental. If it says 1:72 on the box then that is what they should be. If Italeri want to make 28mm figures then they should have the courage and decency to say so on the box.
Frankly there is nothing much going for these figures. The size alone means they can only really stand near a handful of other oversized Italeri sets, and even if size is not important the unnatural poses and poor sculpting make this another missed opportunity for a once well-respected manufacturer.