Jägers were the light infantry of the German Army, and as was often the case with light infantry they were an elite. When war broke out in 1914 they initially fulfilled their usual role of scouting and operating in advance of the main army as it moved forward, but as the armies became static, anchored to their trench systems, the need for such troops diminished and they became specialist mountain, machine gun or bicycle units, or simply became indistinguishable from regular infantry. Nevertheless in the early months of the Great War they presented a picture quite distinct from the rest of the army, and now for the first time they have been modelled in 1/72 scale plastic.
By 1914 the German Army wore a relatively practical and comfortable uniform, and in large measure the Jäger wore the same, although in a slightly different colour. The most obvious difference to the casual observer was the shako, which was of black leather covered for concealment when in the field. These figures are wearing this item, with the field badge correctly protruding through at the front. The rest of the uniform - feldwaffenrock, trousers and marching boots - are as per the rest of the infantry. The cuffs on the tunic are of the Swedish pattern on these figures, which was very common and a good choice.
Although these troops sometimes used different terms to describe them, their kit was also mostly standard issue for all troops. These men all have the two sets of triple ammunition pouches on the waist belt supported by braces over the shoulder. On the left hip there is the entrenching tool and bayonet, while the right supports the haversack and water bottle. A distinguishing feature was the pack, which had been made of badger fur complete with badger head, but this has not been reproduced here. However once the realities of the war became apparent such exotic packs were quickly dropped in favour of the standard type, which is what we find here. Wrapped round the pack are the rolled greatcoat and bivouac sheet, and the mess tin is strapped on as well, all of which is correct.
The poses are mainly OK but the third figure in the top row has his right arm lifted up in an awkward way, while the fourth figure is walking forward and looking where he is going but not where he is pointing his rifle. This is not a particularly bad pose but we feel the set should have had a standard standing firing pose as well as this, not instead.
The sculpting is not especially sharp but pretty good and with fair detail. There is quite a small amount of excess plastic in the usual kinds of places, and while there is some flash this too is minimal.
For those with an eye for detail there are two small errors here. First, the front pockets in the tunic are straight when they should be sloping, and second, the officer (who is correctly equipped) should have his pistol holster and binocular case swapped round both to conform to regulations and for a more convenient and logical arrangement.
Differences between Jägers from different parts of the German Empire, and between Line and Guard, were very minor and could easily be reflected on these figures. However with the increasing specialisation of these units, and in particular the introduction of the steel helmet and puttees, this particular uniform disappeared from the battlefield by mid way through the war. Yet for the two years that it did exist these figures reflect these elite men pretty well, and are a useful addition to the range of early war figures now available.