By the time of the war in the Crimea light infantry had long been established in the British Army. The typical battalion had eight companies, one of which was designated as grenadier and one as light, although such distinctions were increasingly meaningless by the 1850s as the better modern weapons meant all major western armies generally used 'light' tactics for all infantry. In addition most British infantry were now armed with a rifle, the Minié, so in a sense all were lights. Light companies wore almost the same uniform as the rest of the battalion, and the box artwork shows that these figures are clad in green, and are therefore Rifles.
In 1854 there were two Rifles regiments in the British Army. One was the 60th (Kings Royal Rifle Corps) and the other was the Rifle Brigade. Both wore a superficially similar uniform of green with black belts, but there were also differences which we can use to identify the figures in this set. The 60th wore a single-breasted coat with very short tails much like the rest of the infantry, but with three vertical rows of buttons on the chest. The Rifle Brigade wore a double-breasted coat with a narrow overlap and two rows of buttons, and with much longer tails. The front of the coat is considerably obscured on these figures due to the normal Strelets excessively large belts, but enough can be seen to show they have the single breasted, three-row example of the 60th. Another difference between the Rifle regiments was the coat cuffs, which for the 60th were fairly plain and round with a point, while the Rifle Brigade had a slash or flap with three buttons. The box art shows all the features of the 60th very clearly, but the figures have the cuffs of the Rifle Brigade. As a result the figures are neither one thing nor the other, which may be a deliberate policy to make them sort of work as either regiment, or may simply be confusion on the part of the sculptor (but not the artist apparently). There is, however, one more difference between these two regiments. Both battalions of the Rifle Brigade served throughout the Crimean War, but the 60th never did!
In other respects the figures are fairly accurate. Half wear the shako (commonly named the 'Albert') and half the Kilmarnock cap. Common practice was to muster before battle in the regulation shako, and then 'lose' it (for it was uncomfortable and much hated) during the advance and wear the cap instead. As a result both forms of headgear are fine and a 50/50 split here is a fair compromise. The kit looks OK, although interestingly the sculptor has varied the side where the canteen and haversack are worn, which may well reflect a more lax attitude when actually in battle. Half the figures have been given a knapsack and half are without. Once again the common soldiery are often reported as discarding their knapsack on the battlefield, so again such a split is reasonable. One issue however is that the mess tin is strapped to the back of the knapsack in the same fashion as the regular infantry whereas the Rifles had it strapped on top. Another issue is that all the figures seem to be missing the ball bag that should be on the waistbelt to the right of the buckle.
The Rifles performed all the usual functions of light infantry, particularly skirmishing in front of the main body, and the poses are a fair reflection of this role. Many of the men are firing (including some good prone poses) and others are advancing while keeping their head down. We thought the poses were well chosen, although in this case it is a pity that there is no officer as Rifles officers were quite different in appearance from those of other infantry regiments.
The level of detail is fair but the rather unrefined sculpting makes these figures typical of Strelets. There is no hope of identifying the weapons as any particular model, for example, and some extremities are quite poor, such as the ridiculously short swords on some figures. One detail that is missing is the badge on the front of the shakos, but the sculptor has made a gallant effort to portray some of the men with moustaches - a concession first permitted during this war.
Since the box says 'Crimean War' and the 60th did not serve in this war we must judge these figures as the Rifle Brigade, and as such they suffer from some small inaccuracies including the problems with the coats. To many this will seem pedantic (which is certainly true of reviewers!), particularly as the front of the coat is all but invisible on most of the poses, and the length of the tails is not particularly obvious. Nevertheless these are errors in a set which has some fine poses and depicts an important subject for this campaign, and if the sculpting is not impressive then it at least matches the rest of the extensive Strelets Crimean War range.