By 1815 Prussia had suffered much in the wars with Napoleon, but was still very eager to see the destruction of the French dictator before he could regain his strength. Their presence in the Low Countries meant they had their opportunity, and despite the reverse at Ligny they were crucial to the ultimate victory at Waterloo, a battle characterised largely by the Allied army under Wellington holding fast and waiting for the arrival of the Prussians.
The style of these figures is very reminiscent of the old Esci figures, which may not be the most anatomically accurate but is very popular, and these figures do look good. Certainly the production values seem to be OK, with plenty of good, sharp detail and no trace of flash. Excess plastic in obscured areas has been kept to an absolute minimum, and the only detail loss is on the marching figure, who is side-on to the mould, but here again the damage is minimal. The mounted officer sits on his horse very well, although not so tight that he can avoid gluing to make him stable.
The pose selection looks fairly similar to that of the Revell set, mainly because of the inclusion of a mounted officer, but the Revell poses were pretty good and the same is true here. The dismounted officer is not a pose we cared for however, and the marching figure has shouldered his musket on his right, which was very much contrary to standard practice and can only be an informal walking pose, not useful for marching when on the field of battle (and therefore rather a waste of a pose).
At first glance these figures look authentic, but a closer inspection reveals some problems. The general Russian cut of the uniform is fine, with the double-breasted tunic and the shako, which here is correctly worn with an oilskin cover. The men all wear their greatcoat rolled over their left shoulder, which is also as it should be, but this meant the ends interfered with the cartridge box on the right hip. If the individual soldier did not pull the box round towards the front in order to gain easy access then it would tend to move towards the middle of the back, which is not ideal. Some of the figures here have solved this problem in the same way, but some clearly have their box on the left hip, a position which would be extremely difficult to reach during action and certainly incorrect. We also felt the bayonets are rather too short, but the main problems appear with the specialist figures. The foot officer should, by regulation, be wearing a knapsack, but he is not. More strangely he wears a cartridge box on a shoulder strap, despite no evidence of a firearm. Finally he wears a private’s trousers and gaiters, when boots would have been normal, and a private’s tunic, with the short tails that make him look very odd as an officer (officer’s coats had much longer tails). The mounted officer is generally very good but he has the ends of his sash on his right hip, not the usual left, and his sword scabbard is barely half the length it should be to accommodate his sabre, making it look quite ridiculous.
Worse is to come. The drummer has a very small drum (another Esci characteristic sadly), but it is the flag-bearer that is the worst of the lot. The figure itself is fine, but the flag, which should be 140cm high and 120cm wide (about 20mm by 17mm) is actually square and only one metre tall and wide (14mm). The stave should be 3 metres long (42mm) but is actually 2.5 metres (35mm), and contains no finial of any sort when a spear head should be present (also it has no cravats or cords, when these were common). Finally the flag has been engraved sideways. Yes, you read that correctly. The flag is correctly engraved for a flag of the time, but it is sideways. The only way it could be displayed properly is for the man to climb onto a large box and hold the stave horizontally over his head. Such a mess would have been seen as an insult to the regiment and the king, which basically means the whole flag should be cut off and replaced with a correctly sized alternative.
One last observation. The man with the flag cannot stand. His base is much too small for the weight of the flag. How does such a basic error ever get into production? The first figure on the first row very nearly falls over too, so clearly far too little thought went into the practicalities of these figures. It is a real shame that all the good work is spoiled by some fairly elementary errors, although at least the normal privates are still useful. Some nice sculpting is partly wasted by these errors, leaving an attractive set that could easily have been so much better.