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Strelets

Set M032

British Grenadiers in Summer Dress

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2009
Contents 48 figures
Poses 12 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

Sometimes the names manufacturers give their sets are not well thought through, and sometimes they are down right misleading. Like most armies a British infantry regiment of the mid 19th century was usually composed of fusiliers, grenadiers and lights. From the title of this set you might be forgiven for thinking these figures represent the grenadier elements of the infantry, particularly as they wear the traditional grenadier bearskin, but you would be wrong. Since the 1830s the bearskin cap had been the exclusive privilege of the Foot Guards, Britain's Household Troops and effectively the royal guard. When the Crimean War raged there were three such regiments: Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards and Scots Fusilier Guards. As a result gentle reader the figures in this set do not represent grenadiers at all, but the soldiers of these three illustrious regiments, or to be more precise, just the Coldstream Guards, since the hackle is on the right of the bearskin.

Having put the record straight, we must now examine the figures in more detail to assess what can be done with them. During the period in question the differences between the three Guard regiments were in the arrangement of buttons, the location (or absence) of the cap plume and in minor details and colours. All these elements are well beyond the ability of these figures to express, so we see almost nothing of the coatee buttons, and cap plumes, such as they are, are so flat and inconspicuous as to be almost indistinguishable from the bearskin, so simply painting them as necessary will remove the plume or position it to left or right. This may make the figures less than impressive pieces of sculpting, but it does allow them to represent any of the Foot Guards.

The uniform in general is a good match for the Guards. They wear the double-breasted coatee that was peculiar to Household troops, although the coat tails tend to vary quite a bit between poses, and all have campaign trousers over boots, which is fine. Just before the War the bearskin was reduced in height, and to our eye those modelled here seem a bit too tall. We have already mentioned the minimal plume, which the sculptor seems to have seen as a triangular patch on the side of the bearskin.

All the kit on show is largely standard, with canteen, cartridge pouch (which has another unique Guards feature - a badge on the flap) and haversack correctly done. All the men also have an extremely truncated bayonet scabbard, and half of them carry a full knapsack and attendant blanket/coat and mess tin. Early in the war knapsacks had been left behind, and the men carried their few possessions folded in their coat and held with straps, but there is no evidence of this arrangement here. Later on the knapsacks were restored, so it seems the sculptor has tried to cover all the options by providing knapsacks for half the men. This is understandable but could be annoying for some, and we would have liked to have seen some of the improvised 'soft packs', particularly as these men do not wear their greatcoats. Having said all that however the uniforms and kit here are pretty accurate for the Guards, although later in the war greatcoats became the norm and a new design of tunic began to appear.

The range of poses on offer is not what you would call wide, with a lot of advancing poses and a couple of firing poses more or less covering the lot. While images of Guardsmen advancing through tremendous enemy fire at the Alma seem to fit well with these poses other options are very limited, and the fierce hand-to-hand combat at Inkerman (where not all the men wore greatcoats) would not be well represented by these men. The lack of any kind of a marching or standing figure will be a disappointment to many wargamers in particular, while the pose in the top row of a man carrying his bayonet in his right hand left us wondering why so many potentially useful poses had been sacrificed for four of this particular figure.

The sculpting is in the typical Strelets style with a fair amount of pretty chunky detail and some congested areas such as the chest being hard to make out properly. During their time in the Crimea the Guards used at least two distinct types of musket/rifle, and these figures have more than one design of firearm, although precise identification is asking rather too much. The faces are quite nice although it is hard to tell whether some of them have the common beards or not, but the hands tend to be indistinct on some figures. They also tend to be a bit flat and for the most part not particularly active, but there is no flash and the slightly artificial nature of some of the poses means there is no excess plastic.

As with many Strelets Mini sets there are no officers, NCOs, musicians or other specialists here, which leaves a number of gaps which would be hard to fill. The sculpting is the usual Strelets fare but the lack of pose variety means these are good for a general advance but not for much else, which is a letdown in our view. Many sets depict the ideal appearance of troops rather than the less attractive reality, and that is certainly true of Crimean War figures. However these are at least what the Guards were supposed to look like, and perhaps sometimes they did, although greatcoats (the subject of another Strelets set), forage caps and the like do cloud the picture. Not a bad set then, so long as you replace the word 'grenadiers' with 'Guards', but with plenty of room for improvement.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 5
Sculpting 6
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660" - Blandford - Michael Barthorp - 9780713711271
"Cadogan's Crimea" - Scribner - Somerset Gough Calthorpe - 9780689110221
"Heroes of the Crimea" - Blandford - Michael Barthorp - 9780713721027
"Inkerman 1854" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.51) - Patrick Mercer - 9781855326187
"Soldier's Accoutrements of the British Army 1750-1900" - The Crowood Press - Pierre Turner - 9781861268839
"The British Army of the Crimea" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.40) - J Nicholson - 9780850451948
"The British Army on Campaign (2) The Crimea" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.196) - Michael Barthorp - 9780850458275
"The Grenadier Guards" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.73) - David Fraser - 9780850452846
"The National Army Museum Book of the Crimean War" - Sidgwick & Jackson - Alastair Massie - 9780283073557
"Uniforms & Weapons of the Crimean War" - Batsford - Robert Wilkinson-Latham - 9780713406665
"Uniforms of the Foot Guards: From 1661 to the Present Day" - Pompadour Gallery - W Carman - 9780951934210
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.23
"Military Illustrated" - No.32
"Regiment (The Grenadier Guards)" - No.4

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