In the Spanish army of 1898 the basic unit of organisation was the battalion rather than the regiment, and as in any army some of these were light infantry, termed 'cazadores'. By this date such a distinction made no difference to their actual employment, nor to their appearance, but such units were to be found in all the Colonial Armies. The 25th, 'La Patria', were stationed in Ponce in Puerto Rico when the United States attacked, but there is no reason why these figures should only represent this unit, so they could equally be used for battles in other possessions.
Almost all regular Spanish forces in the Colonial Army wore the standard fine-striped rayadillo uniforms, which seemed less than military to many observers yet were very practical and comfortable. These figures are corrected dressed, with this loose clothing and all the usual mix of belts and pouches that might be expected. None have the bulky and unpopular knapsack, which is good, but several have the rolled blanket across the chest which could also serve as a comfortable means of carrying some items. Most have the sun helmet ('capacete') which was used in both Puerto Rico and the Philippines, while the rest wear their pillbox-like barracks cap. The helmet often had a large badge on the front, but this is not apparent on these figures.
The poses are an interesting mixture and include some refreshingly unusual choices. The second figure in the top row is dramatic and very nicely realised, while the crouching man at the end of the second row must have been a common posture yet rarely appears in figure sets. However we liked all the poses and thought them all very appropriate.
BUM and GerMan can make it very hard to love them, and here is why. We have a policy of not including figures that are illegal copies of the genuine output of other companies, but like their Spanish Civil War Cavalry these figures are something in between. Many of the heads appear to be those from A Call To Arms British Infantry Zulu War, while one of the bodies seems to be from the same source. We do not approve of this practice, and would much rather have figures being entirely original. In this case the original sculpting is not of high quality, with some rather rough finishing and less than clear detail. In places there are bits missing, and while this is much more likely to be caused by problems with the mould rather than sculpting, still the result is an unattractive piece. The figures are very slender, which is OK, and do not suffer from any flash. The only assembly is the first figure on the top row, which has a separate rifle which fits rather precariously to the left hand so a good solid glue will be required. The plastic is pretty soft, although not the incredibly weak compound used in some earlier sets, so in our example nothing had been broken in the box.
The set also includes an accessory - we find it hard to think of a better name for this. It is also a copy, this time of the limber from the Airfix Waterloo British Artillery set, broken and made in resin. We generally do not see the value of this kind of item, and this is no exception. The box claims there is a trench included, but this is untrue. Finally some paper flags of the Spanish national flag of the time are included, but these are poorly drawn and therefore again are rather pointless.
This set is accurate and with some very interesting and worthwhile poses, and it depicts a unit not yet seen in plastic. However the execution of the figures leaves much to be desired, even given the quality of the 'donor' products, and the extra items are in our view of little or no value, so while this is an important product for those seeking to recreate the Spanish-American War the casual collector will probably not find this set very appealing.