Although Russia had planned for a quick and decisive campaign in the summer on 1877 once war had been declared on Turkey, various setbacks meant there was still much to do as winter set in, so the High Command chose to continue the war with a winter campaign. The Russian soldier was notoriously resilient in harsh weather, and benefited from particular good protective clothing by the standards of the day, but this cannot have made the experience any the less miserable as operations continued throughout the winter of 1877/78.
Russian soldiers were issued with a thick greatcoat, which was amongst the best in any army at the time. They were also issued with the bashlik, a separate hood with long tails that could be wrapped around the neck or body, making a very snug garment. All the figures in this set have the greatcoat, and the majority have the hood, either down or worn over the kepi cap. Both coat and bashlik are correctly sculpted, and apart from the cap they effectively hide all other elements of the uniform (which meant they looked almost the same as the Turks!). Naturally the men wear their kit outside their coat, which includes the waist belt with the two large cartridge pouches on the front. Strangely though on many figures these are shown more to the side than the front, which is not how they were supposed to be worn. Some of the men have no more equipment than this, but several have a knapsack – correctly done with the kettle strapped to the back – and one also has his haversack. We would have expected more haversacks to be on show, and also some canteens (although conceivably these could be worn inside the coat), but the most obvious omission is the lack of any sort of bayonet scabbard. The Russian soldier had always been taught to love his bayonet, and bayonet charges were often carried out with little or no preparatory fire, causing thousands of Russians to lose their lives needlessly to honour this sacred tradition. Stupid as this policy was it was a core part of Russian military tradition, so the missing bayonets here is unforgivable. Regulations required all infantry except rifles and skirmishers to have the bayonet fixed at all times when in the field, even if only on the march, so with the majority of poses here having none at all this is a real problem for this set.
Our thoughts on this set are much the same as those on the summer uniform companion set, in that the poses are OK if a little flat and uninspiring, and the quality of the sculpting is of the usual Strelets standard, which falls well short of the best being produced by some companies. The figure walking forward firing his rifle looks particularly awkward in terms of the twist to his body, but all the figures are quite useable.
Having a set of Russian infantry in winter dress is a worthwhile addition to the range for the war of 1877-78, and this collection of figures largely does the job. However the large number of missing bayonets, particularly fixed to rifles but not even held in a scabbard, is a major error for this subject which is otherwise fairly well depicted.