During the reign of Victoria, Scotland and all things Scottish was very fashionable, and that included the kilted regiments of the British Army. As the 19th century wore on and uniforms became ever more functional and less interesting to look at, the kilted regiments attracted more attention, and the soldiers themselves took great pride in their distinctive appearance, even though it was increasingly nonsensical in early industrial warfare. Which regiments wore the kilt varied over the century, but they were in the thick of the action in many campaigns, of which those in the Sudan, India and southern Africa are the most memorable as the century drew to a close.
By 1898 all British infantry was dressed in a sensible khaki uniform when on foreign duty. However, as we have said, this trend toward practicality had yet to eliminate the kilt, which was still made in the appropriate tartan for the regiment. All the figures in this set are dressed in this way, which correctly includes the large sporran at the front. During the second Boer War a khaki apron was issued to somewhat disguise the kilt, at least from the front, but none of these figures have this. In addition all have the hose and spats on the legs, but on the upper body there is the normal service frock, simply cut away at the front to make room for the sporran. On the head everyone here is wearing the usual foreign service helmet, some of which have a cover, some a quilted neck curtain and some a puggaree round the crown. All this is authentic, although the sculptor has made the puggaree follow the rim of the helmet, so they have not understood the basic nature of this item.
The are two particularly large accuracy errors in this set. The first is the equipment, which by this time was the 1888 pattern popularly known as the Slade-Wallace. On these figures there is no valise, which is fine as it was rarely worn when in action, but the braces supporting the ammunition pouches meet at the back in a ring, from which two lower braces also attach - an arrangement which is pure fantasy on the part of the sculptor. Equally imaginary are the two small pouches seen over the ammunition pouches on some of the figures. These look a bit like much earlier cap pouches, but are certainly wrong in this set. Luckily many of the figures hide this area, or else the sculpting is too confused to make them out.
The second major error is with the officer. He is going into battle with a revolver and his broadsword, which would have been relatively rare by this era as a simpler sword with a cross guard was normally carried in the field. As the British Army faced ever more sophisticated foes - ones armed with rifles rather than spears - the carrying of a sword became increasingly pointless anyway and many officers chose to leave this encumbrance behind. In addition some enemies included expert snipers, particularly the Boers and Afghans, so many officers made themselves less of an obvious target by doing away with all visible marks of their rank and instead carried other ranks equipment and weaponry. The officer here is not only a very obvious target, he is wearing parade dress in that he wears a shoulder plaid, something that was never seen in battle for so many reasons that it would be tedious to relate them all here. Put simply, the officer is quite useless even against 'primitive' opponents.
We have never been fans of the chunky and rather naive Strelets sculpting, but these are below average even for them. The style is even more chunky than usual, the features even harder to make out, and some small items are exaggerated either in total size or at least in width. Many faces are really poor, and in busy areas such as the chest it is hard to make out anything much, so cluttered are they with oversized articles. The length of the bayonet scabbards varies depending on what is convenient for the sculptor, with some being so short as to threaten little injury if they were fully thrust into the body. There is some flash to be removed, but by virtue of the quite flat poses there is no particular areas of extra plastic to be removed.
While the choice of poses is adequate if uninspired, many are quite flat and some are very poorly realised - in particular the running figure in the bottom row has his leg far too high in the air. We liked the kneeling figures, but this kind of subject cried out for at least one prone pose. Against enemies like the Boers, in largely open countryside, such British soldiers often found themselves flat on the ground, so such a pose here would have been better than, for example, three very similar standing firing poses.
Kilted regiments had undeniable glamour in an increasingly unglamorous age, but this is a poor representation of them. They served in many theatres, but not looking quite like this, and the officer is only useful if you want to depict a fight where he has been surprised while on parade or at a formal social event. The poor sculpting makes matters worse, so there is little to recommend this collection of figures.