1848 was a tumultuous year for many parts of Europe, not least the Italian peninsular, for it was in that year that the Kingdom of Sardinia (aka 'Piedmont') and her allies fought to evict Austria from the region. Later known as the First War of Independence, the Austrians were victorious, but initially lost a number of engagements including one at Pastrengo on 30th April. That action is perhaps most notable for the charge of around 280 Carabinieri, when they saved the King and the future king Victor Emmanuel from capture. This is appropriate as the Carabinieri had the role of royal bodyguard when he was on campaign, although some were attached to the field army in their more normal role of gendarmerie, acting as military police. This set depicts those famous troops at that important moment in their history, when they suddenly found themselves having to behave as military personnel rather than police.
By the mid 19th century Europe's armies were slowly losing the tight formal uniforms with which the years of Napoleon had been decorated, and were adopting looser and more practical styles. For Sardinia this occurred during the mid 1840s, when the coatee gave way to the more comfortable tunic. However the Royal Carabinieri were allowed to retain their traditional coats with tails, and it is in these rather old-fashioned garments that these figures are correctly clothed. Of course they also wear the characteristic bicorn which can still be seen in the dress uniform today, although here it is without the oilskin cover, which may have been worn at Pastrengo. Most have their cape correctly rolled over the right shoulder and their carbine by their side, although naturally none are being used. In short, these figures are entirely accurate, and if foul weather covers are required then little effort would be necessary to convert them.
The poses are OK, with the emphasis on the sword outstretched in the charge. This has been achieved by twisting the figure in the mould, in the manner first used by Italeri, which results in a figure that is not looking straight ahead and who has one leg forward of the other. This gives a pose more suited to thrusting down at some dismounted opponent, which is no bad thing.
The horses in this set are all correctly saddled and a reasonable selection but of course all are at the charge. The pose of the least common horse is not great, but all of them are usable. The men fit them well enough but they do not grip, so in some cases the figure must be glued to the animal.
The style of these figures is just the same as the previous releases from this company, which is strongly reminiscent of the old Esci range. The detail is perfectly adequate but there is a little flash to be removed from the join line. We felt some of the swords were a little too short, but that was the limit of our complaints.
Once again this company have chosen to depict a subject close to their Italian heart which has not previously been produced, and in so doing have further extended the boundaries of this hobby. The result is a very creditable set that needs the complementary figures that are planned for the future.