The figures contained within this set all wear the bearskin cap, an item which for the British infantry has been reserved exclusively for guard regiments since 1835. The guard regiments in the Crimea were the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Scots Fusiliers, and since only the first of these regiments was actually made up of grenadiers the majority of those who wore this uniform were not grenadiers, while most British grenadiers did not wear this uniform, despite the set’s title.
British logistics were chaotic for much of the early part of the Crimean War, and many men went without their greatcoat for many months. However others seem to have managed to keep theirs throughout, and battles such as Inkerman were mainly fought with the greatcoat covering the red coatee. Sadly the greatcoat was not a good garment, and was nowhere near as thick or warm as the Russian equivalent, which was eagerly obtained by British soldiers if the opportunity presented itself. Nevertheless the British greatcoat as worn by all the figures in this set was common enough, and it has been properly modelled here as a single-breasted coat with a stand collar and quite short cape at the shoulders. The only other visible element of the uniform on these figures is the bearskin, which looks a little too large here and is apparently lacking a plume, or at least one that is noticeable, which would have been about the only way to distinguish between regiments for these figures. The faintest impression of a plume (the 'hackle') is on the right side of the bearskin, meaning these men are properly Coldstream Guards.
The various items of kit are all modelled reasonably properly, with the bayonet scabbard (which is ridiculously too short here) and canteen on the left hip and pouch and haversack on the right. Even in the Guards knapsacks were not always to be had, and an alternative involved folding a few key items in a blanket or coat. Since all these men are wearing their coat this arrangement is not to be found here, but about half the poses have a full knapsack which is fairly well done. One observation that we would make is that most pictures suggest all the straps were worn under the cape of the coat, but every figure here has theirs on top of it.
If these men conform to regulation then of course that is only half the story in the Crimean War. In the winter months soldiers wore whatever they could to keep warm, and presented a very unsoldierly appearance, particularly when on sentry duty in the trenches. Equally the wearing of the forage cap instead of the bearskin was popular and common. However if a full battle beckoned then more effort might be made to turn out smartly, so while these figures represent the ideal it is hard to say exactly how closely they represent the reality of Crimean battle.
This is a very static selection of figures, with most apparently in the act of firing their weapons. This is all very well, but if you want to depict one of the brave advances that the Guards performed then this set has nothing to offer. A full third of the figures are crouching, which is a real surprise. The normal British firing line was two ranks deep and did not require kneeling. If square were formed then kneeling would have occurred, but in fact the British were seldom threatened by Russian cavalry and only quite rarely formed square (even the famous Thin Red Line was not a square). As a result we were very disappointed to see so many such poses, especially since there are no advancing or marching figures.
The Strelets style of sculpting tends to shorten and widen extremities such as limbs and scabbards, and swamp a figure in an attempt to depict all the bits of kit without being able to reduce these to the correct size, and so it is here. Most of the detail is here but without the small-scale refinement that we find on the best figures being made today. The faces are quite nicely done, including the beards the men wear, but in general these are workmanlike rather than beautiful models, but entirely in keeping with the rest of this company’s Crimean range. Another common theme, and a much happier one, is that there is no flash nor significant extra plastic to be found.
This is not a set to get excited over, despite being pretty accurate. The chunky sculpting style is what we expect from Strelets, but the limited and poor choice of poses is its worst feature, with much too great an emphasis on kneeling figures which will be of little worth to most customers.