Napoleon called Cossacks 'the disgrace of the human race', yet learned to his cost how effective they were as his army disintegrated during the long retreat from Moscow. The Tsar could call upon enormous numbers of Cossacks in times of crisis, and while most of these were styled irregulars there were also the Lifeguard Cossacks, which were styled as regulars and are depicted in this set.
There is a fair selection of poses on offer in this set, with half the men using their lances and half their swords. Zvezda have positioned some of the figures at odd angles to the sprue to achieve some more 3-dimensional poses, and the result is very good. It is nice to see a figure using his pistol, and both the officer and trumpeter are fair but nothing out of the ordinary.
Officer and men are dressed in the tailless demi-kaftan that was their summer uniform, together with the familiar baggy trousers and the tall fur busby. Unlike the normal Cossacks, whose appearance was often anything but uniform, these men had smart uniforms comparable to any other cavalry in Europe, as befitted their status in the Guard. The busby is adorned with a bag, cords and a plume, all of which are correctly sculpted, as is the rest of the costume. The demi-kaftan has the uhlan-style epaulettes that were introduced from 1809, and this uniform persisted until the end of the Napoleonic Wars and beyond.
As can be seen, the first figure on the top row has a ring hand for a separate lance. Both this lance and that on the other figure are very well done, slim and of the correct length - an all too rare feature in lancer sets. However we found that the lance would not fit into the ring hand without enlarging the hole in the hand a little. Also, the point of the lance is wider than the shaft (as it should be) and there is a loop at the other end, so there is no means of easily inserting the lance into the hand. It can be forced point first with some effort, and we found this was best achieved by splitting the hand first, but it should not be so difficult. The loop at the bottom of the lance was to support it around the ankle whilst on the march or at ceremonial, but it presents an awkward challenge here.
The standard of sculpting/mould making was quite disappointing, especially when compared to the superb Alexander sets previous released by this company. The detail is there, but it is not sharp and clear like the earlier sets. We also disliked the odd way that the scabbards of most of the men stand out well clear of the leg. However anatomy is good on both men and horses, and the horses are reasonable well posed and correctly equipped.
This is a very popular subject for a set of figures, and there are many good things about this product. However after Zvezda's earlier efforts we couldn't help but be a little disappointed that this set is only good rather than great.