While the charge of the Light Brigade is the most famous action of the Crimean War, relatively few have heard of the charge of the Heavy Brigade, despite its occurring on the same day, in the same place, and reflecting much better on those who took part in it. Nevertheless it was an important action that helped to avert defeat for the Allies, and was militarily much more significant than the Light Brigade action.
The Heavy Brigade was made up of the 1st Royal Dragoons, the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons (the 'Scots Greys'), the 4th and 5th Dragoon Guards and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. The differences between each of these regiments were only in some colours and very small details, apart from the Scots Greys who had their bearskins, so these figures can be used to represent any of them. They wear the coats and brass helmets they had worn since the 1840s, and each is armed with a sword and carbine. Although in general the uniform is accurate there are some problems here. First, all the men are wearing gauntlets, yet they did not wear these during the charge, which is the action most likely to be represented by these figures. Next, they are missing the small pouch for percussion caps that they had above their waist and to the right of the buckle. The officer (second row, third figure - with pistol) is wearing the same overalls as the rankers rather than ones suggesting a higher boot (painting will easily fix this). Finally the trumpeter, who is correctly using a bugle for 'Field Calls', would normally also have a trumpet for making 'Camp Calls'.
The sculpting on these figures is about the same as previous products from this manufacturer - lacking the refinement and elegance of many of their competitors. This is particularly apparent in some aspects such as the swords, which in reality were very long and slender weapons but which are here portrayed too short and too wide. The epaulettes too should be very thin strips rather than the wide ones actually modelled, and all the men have their scabbards riding extremely high, with the tops level with their waist rather than hanging with the top mid way between waist and knee. Lastly the canteens are sculpted very high on the back, which is not correct and looks strange.
As for the poses, we thought this was a much better selection than some earlier cavalry sets, which tended to concentrate too much on wild exotic poses with weapons in both hands and sometimes the teeth as well. Most of the men are wielding their swords, with a couple using their carbines. This may be less dramatic but is closer to the reality for these men, so we were pleased to see it. The inclusion of the trumpeter is welcome, but we would have preferred to do without the man carrying the guidon as British cavalry very rarely carried these into action by 1854. In any event the guidon is square, an unusual shape for the cavalry, and is completely flat, making it easy to paint but lacking any feel of cloth or silk.
The horses are a reasonable selection, although we find ourselves once again bemoaning the lack of a standing mount for the poor man aiming his carbine. The saddlery and bridle are mostly correct, but every horse has the round valise, an item which most sources say had only reached the Scots Greys by Balaclava. Removing it would be a long and messy exercise. Also the straps around the belly of the horse have been misinterpreted by the sculptor as two separated straps.
It is great to see this interesting war finally getting the attention it deserves from several manufacturers, and the British Heavy Brigade is as good a place to start as any. With no real flash issues and a fair level of detail, this set should prove popular.