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Strelets

Set 050

British Hussars

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2006
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 12 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brick Red
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

"Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred". Alfred, Lord Tennyson did much to immortalise the charge of the Light Brigade with his famous poem, but even in the moments before it took place most knew it was folly, and so it proved. Folly or not, it must have been quite a sight as the cream of Britain’s cavalry thundered along the valley, and surely none were as spectacular as the hussars, particularly the 11th with their crimson trousers.

While the charge at Balaclava was the most famous exploit of the hussars during the Crimean War, they also fulfilled the more normal roles during the war, and it is good to see Strelets have recognised that with the poses. Many of the men do indeed appear to be at the charge, with swords flying and bodies leaning forward in eagerness to meet the enemy. However a much more common role was to guard flanks and conduct reconnaissance, and the troopers with carbines drawn are good for this. Naturally no one tried to use their carbine during the charge, yet alone fire it from the saddle, so these poses cover all the major uses for this type of cavalry, and are therefore an excellent selection.

Fears for the accuracy of the figures based on the inaccuracies of the box artwork were proved to be unfounded, as the men are correctly uniformed for the early part of the war (when most of the major battles, including Balaclava, took place). Specifically, they are lacking their pelisses, which had yet to be brought up to the battle zone. There are a couple of niggles – none of the men appear to have the small cap-pouch on the front of their sword belt, and a few seem to be missing their main ammunition pouch that was held by a belt over the left shoulder. There is also one rather major problem. Not one man in this set, trooper or officer, has his sabretache. Before Balaclava the British cavalry had been ordered to refrain from wearing these, but this order did not apply to the hussars, and it is known that they wore them when on duty and particularly during the charge, so their omission here is very disappointing.

The 12 all-different horses are what we have come to expect from Strelets. Plenty of action and movement, but some poses are pretty doubtful and some are simply impossible. Also it is a pity that there is no standing animal for the man firing his carbine from the saddle. The falling horse, when paired with the falling man (second figure in third row), makes for a spectacular and higher effective model that reflects perfectly the experience of the charge and is a very welcome part of this set. None of the horses have a shabraque or valise, which is good as again both had been left behind during the cavalry actions. By virtue of the fact that the animal has a throat-plume and a more ornate saddle cover the first horse in the seventh row belongs to the officer, who is the last of the pictured figures.

The sculpting is of the usual Strelets standard of late, with decent if unrefined detail and very little flash. Areas where this is most evident includes the swords, which are rather thicker and shorter than they should be, and the smaller details like the complex lace on the chest of the hussars. Basically the issues are the same as in other Strelets sets, which don’t make them especially attractive but nor are they particularly ugly.

There are a couple of final observations. Most of the men have been provided with a carbine, which is correct, but this includes the trumpeter, which is wrong as they were issued pistols instead. Also the officer is without the usual barrel-sash, which is not wrong but marks him out as of quite junior rank.

In summary then this set is a good match for the companion sets of Light Dragoons and Lancers, and delivers the last type of British cavalry to serve during the Crimean War. The missing sabretaches is the main accuracy problem, but we were pleased to see the very intelligent selection of poses, which includes the dramatic casualty pose while avoiding some of the offerings in past sets that looked more like stunt riding than warfare. Strelets still need to study the actions of a horse at the gallop though, particularly considering the number of cavalry sets they produce.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 7
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"British Cavalry Equipments 1800-1941" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.138) - Mike Chappell - 9781841764719
"British Cavalry Uniforms Since 1660" - Blandford - Michael Barthorp - 9780713710434
"Into the Valley of Death" - Windrow & Greene - John & Boris Mollo - 9781872004754
"The British Army of the Crimea" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.40) - J Nicholson - 9780850451948
"The British Army on Campaign (2) The Crimea" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.196) - Michael Barthorp - 9780850458275
"Uniforms & Weapons of the Crimean War" - Batsford - Robert Wilkinson-Latham - 9780713406665
Magazines
"Military Modelling" - No.Oct 74

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