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Strelets

Set 101

Napoleonic French Uhlans in Winter Dress

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2008
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Blue
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)

Review

The word 'Uhlan' is not usually associated with French armies, but in the modern era it has come to mean 'lancer', of which the army of Napoleon Bonaparte had many. Those in this set, like those on the box artwork, are wearing the traditional Polish-inspired czapka helmet, which means that these lancers are of the Imperial Guard - either the first (Polish) or second (Dutch) regiments. Like all Napoleon’s troops (at least in theory) these men had bad weather clothing, but this obscured their colourful uniforms and is not often modelled on plastic figures. Strelets have produced several such sets however, perhaps with the disastrous 1812 Russian campaign in mind.

A quick scan of the poses shows that this is not a combat set. None of the figures appears to be in any particular hurry, nor are they in actual contact with an enemy. All are quite relaxed, with most having their lances upright in a non-threatening position. The exception is the third man in the second row, but this figure comes with his lance separate (the only one of the set) and a simple open hand to which the lance can be bonded. We have chosen to have the lance head down, although this would not work in practice as the horse would be in the way! The alternative would be to have the lance reversed, making a much less aggressive pose. The bottom row have drawn sabres and pistols - both normal lancer weapons - but again show no signs of using them. These then are men on the march (although if so then the lance pennants should be rolled and covered) or perhaps drawn up for battle. The relaxed poses will disappoint many who might want to use them in battle scenes, but for a scene similar to that on the box these poses are fine.

Broadly speaking the figures seem accurate but there are a number of problems which could be down to poor research or poor sculpting. First, the famous czapka hat with its square top has not been well done. Although none of these have a cover they are generally rather fat and much less elegant than the real thing. On some figures they are virtually cylindrical and therefore more like shakos, although the detail on them makes it clear what they are intended to be. The other problem is with the coat. The caped manteau-capote was first issued in 1809, replacing a cloak without a cape, and this is what all the figures wear. However the cape should fall virtually to the elbow, not barely cover the shoulders as here. Finally none of the men have a carbine or musketoon, and while this may not have been universally issued some poses at least should have them.

The horses are the same as those in the Strelets set of French hussars, but are actually better equipped for these lancers. The long pointed shabraque and sheepskin are both fine for this subject, but again there is no sign of any pistol holsters, even though one man is actually holding such a weapon. The poses of the animals suggest all the action and speed that their riders do not, and therefore seem quite a mismatch. For horses apparently moving forward very rapidly at least some of the riders might be expected to have lowered lance. Also we found the riders were a poor fit for the animals, with many having their legs forced further apart in order to mount them, causing many to 'pop' back up. Some of the horse poses themselves are far from convincing, so all told they were a considerable disappointment.

The sculpting generally is not good, with fair rather than good detail and all the problems we have already described. Items such as scabbards are too short and some thin items are thicker than they should be, although at least the flash is minimal. The figure with the separate lance could perhaps be made better by turning his arm, although this would involve applying heat as the plastic is the usual non-poseable type.

This is not a particularly well executed set in our view. Given the problems with sculpting the czapka we could not help but wonder why all these men thought it necessary to wear the coat, yet none have their headdress covered (the exact reverse of the Esci set). Generally only the front rank of lancer regiments actually carried a lance so those figures without this are OK, but we would have much preferred more action in these figures and when Strelets make a set of horses to use in several sets they need to ensure the fit is better than this.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"La Garde Impériale" - Jacques Grancher (Les Uniformes du Premier Empire Series) - Cdt Bucquoy - 9788439970859
"Napoleon's Guard Cavalry" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.83) - Emir Bukhari - 9780850452884
"Napoleon's Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.440) - Ronald Pawly - 9781846032561
"Napoleon's Red Lancers" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.389) - Ronald Pawly - 9781841765082

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