Dragoons had originally been conceived as mounted infantry, but long before the Crimean War they were mostly employed as medium cavalry. In Russia they were still trained in the infantry role though, with the troops riding forward and then dismounting to form perfect infantry lines while those dragoons armed with lances covered their flanks. This was all very well on the exercise ground, but the reality of war was rather different. Still their links to the infantry were underlined by their wearing the infantry helmet, albeit with a different plate.
These figures wear what might be termed best field dress – not parade dress but still smartly turned out with their helmets and their coatees with brass shoulder scales. The officer, drummer and standard-bearer do have their full-dress plumes on their helmets, which helps to pick them out in a crowd but were not commonly worn when in battle. Their over-smart appearance is further enhanced by a lack of the many impedimenta that would normally accompany a trooper, most notably a haversack and canteen. Finally the classic thick Russian greatcoat would have been worn, at least in inclement weather, so all these figures suggest the climate is fair. So while their uniform is correct we doubt that the actual troops in the field would have presented quite such a smart and uniform appearance as this.
A dragoon regiment had 10 squadrons, the first eight of which were armed with a musket and the last two having lances (everyone also had a sabre). Everyone in this set carries what looks like a shortened carbine – even the lancers – which is incorrect. Also we were surprised to find 4 of the poses – one third of the total – were carrying lances, which is a much larger proportion than would have actually been the case. The Russians placed great store by their flags and symbols, but there is no evidence that standards were actually carried into the heart of the fight, which limits the usefulness of the bearer in this set.
These figures are fairly basic in execution, with chunky detail and some vague areas. Scabbards in particular are very short, so these are not particularly appealing models in their own right. Still there is almost no flash and where lances are separate they fit the ring hands with little difficulty. One problem with several is their legs are too close together to properly fit the horses, causing them to spring off if not very firmly bonded. The horses themselves include some very poor poses and are also far from great.
One curiosity that we notice is the trumpeter, who has been given both the normal metal shoulder scales and swallows-nest epaulettes. We were unable to find any conclusive evidence to support or contest this, but it seems an unlikely occurrence to us.
As with many companies Strelets seem to have several sculptors, and the result is their sets vary in quality. This is not one of their best, and coupled with some arguable pose choices we felt this was quite disappointing. Certainly a useful subject to depict but not likely to appeal to those whose interests lie outside of the Crimean War.