During the Napoleonic Wars Russia had a vast contingent of cavalry to call upon, thanks partly to the enormous area that they had to cover, and to the large numbers of cavalry their old enemies the Ottomans could put in the field. Of these the cuirassiers were the heaviest, as in all armies of the time, and their status was correspondingly high. Despite the enormous contribution Russia had made to the Wars, this was about the first set of their cavalry ever made in the hobby. As such this set was part of the revolution that HaT started in the hobby, making important but neglected subjects that finally promised to expand the available range to something approaching completeness. The hobby has never looked back since.
Although the box makes no mention of dates these figures are easy to put into a time frame. First the tall helmet, made of black leather and with a tall 'brush' crest, was introduced in 1808. However all these men wear a cuirass, and while it may seem surprising, Russian cuirassiers had for a long time worn no cuirass, but from 1812 this item was issued, so combined with the style of helmet we can say that these men are for the period c.1812 to the end of the wars. What can be seen of the coat and the overalls on the legs is all correct, so there are no uniform accuracy problems here. However for some reason the men all have stirrups but not the strap from which the stirrup hung, which is odd but partly hidden when the man is mounted on his horse.
In 1812 most of the cuirassiers had their carbines taken away from them. Only 16 men in each squadron retained them as they acted as flankers, protecting the sides of the formation. However all the figures in this set possess carbines, which looks wrong when they are all placed together. Of course these can be carved off if not required, and at least HaT have given the customer the choice, which is always welcome. Since every man has a carbine, they all also have the cartridge pouch suspended from the belt over their shoulder. They have no other kit on their body, but on the saddles we see the rolled blanket or coat at the front, and the portmanteau and two small forage bags at the rear.
As we would expect from HaT, detail is first class, and the poses are realistic. There is very little flash, and the proportions are good for both men and animals, with the former sitting well on the latter. Only having four poses means no officers or musicians sadly, and only two horse poses imposes some limitations on their use, but what there is is very well done.
As we have said, this was almost the first set of Russian cavalry in the hobby, and HaT are to be congratulated on expanding the hobby with such important sets as this, which helped to redress the balance. The small number of poses does not compare well with some cavalry from other manufacturers, but at the time customers were simply grateful for the good quality figures they could get. Since the figures are compatible with the more recent release from Zvezda, we now have a good range of such men, so this set remains an essential element in any 1/72 Napoleonic Russian army.