In 1688 the English and Scots forced the Catholic James II and VII from his throne and replaced him with Protestants. The movement to restore James and his descendants to their throne was known as Jacobitism, and over the following decades several attempts were made by the Jacobites to restore them. All failed, but the most serious was that in 1745-46, which ended at Culloden Moor with the destruction of the Jacobite forces by the government.
Historically the Jacobites gained most support from the Highlands of Scotland, and at Culloden the largest part of the Jacobite army was made up of Scottish Highlanders. In addition some attempt was made to clothe lowland Scots and others in Highland costume (the closest thing they had to a uniform), so some dressed as Highlanders would not have actually been so, but these attempts met with little apparent success. Also it should be noted that not all Highlanders wore the traditional costume - the plaid - simply because more modern breeches and the like were much easier to wear and often more practical. Therefore the Jacobite army at Culloden was a very mixed lot in terms of costume, contrary to the romanticised view often painted today.
Having said all that, what we have in this set is the classic look of the Jacobites - 'Highlanders' in the bonnet and plaid. The plaid is a complicated garment, and the sculptor has done a pretty good job of modelling it, although the lower part is rather too neat and regular for our liking. Also one man has cast the upper part on his right shoulder - which would have been unusual as it was usually cast on the left to keep the sword arm free. Most of the men wear short jackets and all have the correct legwear, so there are no problems with the troop's attire.
The question of weapons has exercised historians for a long time and continues to be debated today. The classic view of Highlanders drawing swords was not typical by 1746, where it would seem less than half actually possessed such an item. Those that did tended to be the higher levels of society - gentlemen who could afford the full armoury of sword, dagger and targe (small round shield) - and they occupied the front ranks in the army. Those behind were essentially a feudal mass, called out by their landlords etc and usually armed with muskets. Others had only daggers or a long polearm called a 'Lochaber Axe', while the very poorest might have had little more than sticks. The majority of figures in this set have the sword, the basket-hilted broadsword that was the weapon of choice for these men, and in many cases the targe shield. Only two men have a firelock, which by Culloden would probably have been a French piece, although others could easily have still been in use from various sources. One man has a nicely done Lochaber Axe although like virtually all the rest he too also carries a broadsword. All the weapons are accurate (although the axe would be unlikely by 1746), but these men are well armed and therefore represent the front rankers - the best of the Jacobite Highland infantry, but by no means all of it.
The usual Highland tactic was to discharge a volley as they approached the enemy then discard the firelock and charge with broadsword and dirk (dagger). All the poses here are fine but we were a little disappointed that there were not more charging figures. Given that these are front-rankers, the man with the polearm, nice though he is, could perhaps have been better done as a charging man instead. The man firing his firelock shows little sign of aiming it, which is consistent with the reports that Highland musketry was large ineffective, and the last man in the first row works well battling cavalry. With only eight fighting poses the makers have covered all the bases, and done it well, but it will require many sets to construct a formidable Highland charge.
The foot officer in the third row is really nice, and wears a long coat and breeches or trews rather than traditional dress. His mounted colleague has a more traditional look to him but like most horsemen has sensibly opted to wear trews as well. The piper is perhaps inevitable but still a fair choice, although the sculptor seems not to have understood how the pipes work as he has not got the bag under the arm, so this piper cannot make his pipes play like this. The look of the pipes is reasonable, although interestingly contemporary illustrations show the drone pipes resting on the right shoulder rather than the left. Since such pipes are generally on the left shoulder in modern times the switch may be a matter of fashion or simply down to personal preference, so the model here may be acceptable.
The sculpting looks like it was done in true scale - that is to say the masters were made in the same 1/72 scale as the final product rather than a larger master made and then scaled down. Many manufacturers such as Strelets use this approach, and while the results are always very impressive given the size of the piece it tends to mean items such as swords and scabbards are thicker and shorter than they should be. That is certainly true here, although the detail is very well done and the folds in the clothing - probably the most difficult aspect for this subject - look pretty realistic to us. The only assembly required is for the mounted officer, who has a choice of separate right arms - one with a pistol (as shown above) and one with a sword. The arm can be attached hanging as in our picture, or straight in front, or anywhere in between. This man needs a little filing to sit well in his saddle though. We are happy to report that there is no flash on any of the figures, and clearly a flexible mould has been used as the horse benefits from this to achieve a very realistic positioning of the legs. We are even more happy to report that the material used to make these figures is much less fragile than that used in several recent sets. It is stickier and much more robust while still quite flexible, and while thin items can still be torn off by hand there is far less danger of accidental damage.
The set also includes a piece of scenery as shown and a strip of paper flags.
As we have said these figures are a fair reflection of the best Highland front-rankers, which is not the same as saying they are typical of the whole Jacobite army nor even of the Highlanders alone. There are some little niggles such as some of the men have their swords covered by the plaid, which would have made access difficult and therefore was not done, and the officer’s hair should be better dressed and tucked under the bonnet rather than left untied as here, but on the whole these are a very nice selection. The height is a perfect match for a survey of Jacobite prisoners taken after the battle too! All in all a very good set which is however just the beginning for anyone wanting to create their own Jacobite army for Culloden.