Having found himself unable to oppose Great Britain militarily, in 1806 Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, attempted to strike at Britain’s enormous wealth by imposing the ‘Continental System’, which was an embargo on British trade at all ports within or dominated by his empire. However the French empire was not yet total in Western Europe, and Portuguese ports remained open, so in 1807 a French army passed through Spain to invade and occupy Portugal. At this date Spain was woefully ill equipped to resist such an action, having suffered for years from inept and corrupt government that had also seriously weakened the army. Nevertheless the Spanish did resist, and while the story of the guerrillas is better known today, the Spanish Army also played an important part in what became the Peninsular War, including a very important victory over a French Army at Bailen in 1808. For some reason this war has been little covered by figures before now, but this set of infantry begins to put that right.
The soldiers in this set all wear the proper regulation 1805 uniform that was current at the start of the war, although in fact the earlier 1802 uniform, still worn by some regiments at the outbreak of fighting, differs only in colour. They wear the short-tailed coatee with squared lapels closed to the waist, under which was a waistcoat. Breeches on the legs, gaiters over shoes and a bicorn on the head complete the costume, all of which has been correctly sculpted here. To pick up a very minor point, there should be four buttons on the cuff flaps and not the three modelled here, although not all contemporary illustrations agree on this anyway. This uniform was an ideal, and with the shock of the French incursion and the need to rapidly mobilise many new soldiers, corners were soon cut, while in time much clothing was provided by Britain in various colours and styles. Nevertheless this is the correct uniform for the start of the war, and for some years thereafter, although as time went on it became less common as the troops became much more varied in appearance.
Every man has a cartridge pouch on the right hip and a bayonet on the left, each correctly held by a belt over the shoulder. There is no other kit, which is pretty unlikely in reality as you would expect many if not most to have some form of water bottle, not to mention packs, blankets or any of the other impedimenta such troops generally picked up along the way. Nonetheless what is here is correct, and the muskets look good too.
This set is one of several from HaT depicting Spanish infantry of the time, so officers, grenadiers and other types are to be found elsewhere rather than here. This makes the eight poses a bit more acceptable, but what did disappoint us was the relatively small number of action poses. With three marching poses and a fourth standing at attention, there are just four poses left to conduct the fight, and while we fully accept the importance of marching and standing poses, we would question the wisdom of having fully half the figures in the box simply marching. What poses there are deliver perfectly usable figures which will please many customers, particularly wargamers, as all the basics are covered, but there is nothing here particularly interesting or worthy of special comment, and putting these all in the field will not create a particularly interesting diorama.
The sculpting is good, with quite good detail and reasonable overall proportions. There is no flash or need for any assembly, and the chosen poses mean there is no excess plastic to trim off.
This is another solid effort from HaT which delivers good figures that are accurate and do the job. Some people may not feel the need for any exciting or interesting poses, but we did feel that only having four action poses was a weakness which makes this set somewhat uninspiring. It does deliver what it promises, especially when viewed in conjunction with the rest of this little series of sets, but is nothing memorable.