During the first half of the eighteenth century Prussia’s infantry earned a considerable reputation, and was in prime condition when Frederick II, the Great, came to further his ambitions by conquering territory in Europe. The Seven Years war was to see both remarkable victories and humbling defeats, but by the end Prussia would emerge as a major European player, and in part that was thanks to the by now legendary infantry.
This is the first of three sets released at the same time by HaT to cover the Prussian infantry, and as we can see by the title this one covers the soldiers in action. Looking at the figures however, 'action' is not the first word that springs to mind. We have one pose standing firing, plus a couple apparently advancing, plus two that are standing still. It's not exactly the most energetic bunch of poses you have ever seen, although as far as they go they are perfectly acceptable for the battlefield. The big problem is there are so few of them. Now since HaT have split the subject over several sets you might reasonably take a wider view and excuse the relatively few poses in each box on the grounds that the combined sets will cover the subject in good depth, but that doesn’t really make sense for this box. A standard set of perhaps 12 poses that only includes three or four ordinary infantry that are really doing any fighting would seem pretty poor, even if it was stuffed with standing, marching and command figures, and that is essentially what we have here. While many other poses could have been included we thought the lack of a kneeling firing pose was a particularly glaring omission, but as it is these 'action' figures will not make for much of a dramatic scene on any table-top.
The next issue to address is the method of production, for all the figures in this set come without hats (see sprue image). Instead all have a peg on the head onto which one of three supplied headdresses can be attached. On our photographed figures we have given them different hats randomly, but our second row shows what options are on offer. The first option is the standard tricorn hat as worn by ordinary musketeers, and next to that is the equally familiar mitre cap worn by the grenadier companies. The third cap is a somewhat shortened form of the mitre cap, and was worn by fusiliers, who were ordinary infantry in a number of regiments recruited after Frederick’s conquest of Silesia and raised from non-Prussian populations. The theory was these men were of a lesser stature than true Prussians, so were given these shortened mitre caps to give them a little more height than an ordinary hat would. There are 40 of each type of hat, so enough to provide every figure in the box with whatever style you choose, which is a useful feature to expand the usefulness of these figures. We found the fit to be a bit woolly however, as these figures are made in quite a soft plastic and small amounts of flash round the peg meant the fit was not at all firm. By trimming the peg as necessary a better fit than that shown above can be made of course.
The general level of sculpting is very good, with good proportions and nice details. The amount of flash was a bit variable but pretty low level in even the worst cases. Aside from the hats there is no assembly required, which is just as well given the material, so compared to for example Zvezda figures these will be up and ready to go much more quickly.
Prussian infantry is well documented and has been modelled before, so there are no excuses for errors of accuracy and happily there are none here. The men wear the rather tight coat with shortish tails, breeches and gaiters to above the knee. The coat has very plain Swedish cuffs, which are one of several accurate possibilities but are particularly well chosen here because the fusiliers only ever had this type. Over the left shoulder a broad belt supports the large cartridge pouch with metal plate on the front, and on the other hip there is the bread bag, knapsack and canteen as well as the slightly curved sword, which is great. By the Seven Years War all men were required to have their bayonet fixed at all times when on duty, as has been done here, and the muskets too are properly done. All the men have a moustache and their hair in a long queue at the back, which is quite correct not just for grenadiers but for all infantry, so again perfect here. However in keeping with previous sets of Prussian infantry these men are particularly tall, which seems to have been the result of a long-held myth that Prussians were somehow giants of their age. In fact they were not especially taller than any other Northern Europeans, and unlike some armies they did not even promote men to the grenadiers based on their height or stature, so apart from any desire to make these match previous oversized figures from Revell and Zvezda we can see no justification for such exaggerated size. That apart, accuracy is perfect.
If this had been our project we would probably have made eight poses like many older Hat Sets, but that is easy to say when we are not faced with the challenge of actually making anything. Nevertheless it is hard to get over the small number of poses here, even bearing the other sets in mind, which is to be lamented as the detail is entirely accurate, the sculpting very attractive and the choice of headgear makes the set much more usable than a more traditional one would have been. Sticking to an average male height of almost 1.9 metres is a mistake in our view as this exceeds the average height of a German even today, so while there is much that is pleasing in this set it falls some way short of being a really great product.