Since the revolution in France and the upheaval of the years that followed, Britain’s military presence in continental Europe had been modest. Her chief strengths lay in her navy and the wealth which she could use to bolster the efforts of France’s enemies. By 1808 Britain was secure behind her navy, yet on the mainland France, now ruled by an ever more confident Napoleon, dominated all others and seemed invincible. However French invasions of Portugal and Spain provoked large scale British deployment in the Iberian Peninsular, sparking the Peninsular War, which was to last until 1814. This was the largest commitment of British forces during the Napoleonic Wars, yet today most people remember the short Waterloo campaign, and most sets of British infantry depict this later phase of the War. Now for the first time in this hobby we have a set dedicated to the British army between 1808 and 1814.
Although uniform and equipment went through some changes during the years in question here, these figures are wearing the most common form of uniform - particularly the 'stove-pipe' shako. As with almost all figure sets these show the ideal uniform rather than the often tatty and unimpressive reality, but that is to be expected and many customers will be glad of it. The uniform and equipment, including the Trotter knapsack all are carrying, is completely correct on these figures. Roughly half the poses wear tuft straps on their shoulders, marking them out as belonging to battalion or 'centre' companies, while the rest have wings on their shoulders identifying flank companies of either light troops or grenadiers. The battalion men all have the correct plate on their shako, but the others have no plate at all. This is presumably so a suitable plate can be painted on depending on whether they are grenadiers or lights, which makes sense.
There are a good number of poses in this set and all of them are solid choices. Of course with two different troop types that does reduce the variety in each type, but still we liked all the poses and were pleased to see all the important ones present. The only criticism is for the two marching figures, which have their right arms swinging freely when they should either be across the body helping to support the musket or stiffly held down straight by their side. The bugler and fifer are particularly nice, as are all the officers and NCOs in the bottom row. The two sergeants are there because the first is carrying a three metre pike, and is therefore a sergeant of a battalion or grenadier company, while the second carries a normal musket and has a whistle, and is therefore a member of a light company.
These are very good looking figures. Detail is good and the basic human proportions are perfect - something not nearly common enough in plastic figures. While not quite as sharp as some there is really little not to like here and the style is very realistic in our view, while the almost total absence of flash adds to the quality feel.
One feature we did notice was the strap across the chest holding the two straps for the knapsack. This is moulded as underneath the crossbelts, which seems counter-intuitive to us as the knapsack would have to be taken off before the crossbelts, and while the strap could be forced underneath the crossbelts we see no obvious reason why this would be done. However there are plenty of illustrations suggesting this was done, perhaps as a matter of personal choice, so this is no more than an observation.
Of interest to converters is the inclusion of a large number of spare heads. Half are wearing the light infantry shako and half the later 'Belgic' shako, so for those with the patience and skill this set has more possibilities. However whichever head they wear these are excellent figures which neatly fill a surprisingly long-standing hole in Napoleonic infantry sets and are highly recommended.