In 1700 the Spanish Army was in a terrible condition, with gross mismanagement leading to troops being unpaid and regiments severely under strength. Spain also had an ailing king, Charles II, who had exceeded all expectations and defied his many disabilities by living well into his thirties. When he finally died in November 1700 he left his crown to a Bourbon, Philip, Duke of Anjou, which threatened to give too much power to that family, causing several powers to promote a rival claimant, the Archduke Charles of Austria. Spain itself had largely accepted Philip initially, but his attempts to further unite the country, and therefore diminish the autonomy of regions such as Catalonia, caused the Catalans to revolt in 1705, after which they welcomed the Archduke Charles as their king. Years of bitter fighting culminated in Catalonia being abandoned by its allies and having to defend itself from Philip’s Spanish and French forces. The battle of Talamanca, in August 1714, saw Catalan forces under the Marquis of Poal defeat a Bourbon force, but this did not prevent the fall of Barcelona and final victory for Philip.
This set depicts the Catalan army at Talamanca, or at least some of the more uniformed elements, which makes them fairly typical of any European infantry of the time. All are 'hat men', or ordinary line infantry, and are correctly dressed with the belly box that most Spanish infantry carried. The coat with the large cuffs, stockings, shoes and tricorn hat are all very familiar and are properly presented here, while the muskets, in as far as they can be identified, also look authentic. The mounted officer seems to be wearing a cuirass, which was probably not common but nonetheless possible.
Some of the figures in this set have been seen in other GerMan sets, but there is little wrong with any of the poses here. There is however a surprisingly large number of kneeling poses, although GerMan say they expect customers to buy different boxes and mix the figures to gain a more varied collection. The two advancing figures are particularly nice, each with a coat slung casually over their shoulder, but we were less fond of the officer holding his sword in the air and apparently firing his pistol with his left hand.
The sculpting is the same as found in the other sets in this series from GerMan, with stunted limbs and fairly chunky detail but a fair amount of the latter and even a flexible mould to avoid excess plastic in areas the mould cannot usually see. The officer fits his mount very well, and there is no flash, but these are not particularly good examples of figures in this scale when examined closely. As we have noted before, the barrel underneath the horse is a nonsense that cannot fail to trip the animal up, yet will be difficult to remove, not least because the set is made in the very soft plastic that requires careful handling to avoid breakage. GerMan have started using a new type of plastic for later editions of this and other sets, but while this does seem stronger it is still prone to some breakages if roughly handled.
The army of the Marquis of Poal operated mainly in mountainous areas, so had no artillery and only a small number of mounted men for scouting, so the absence of cavalry and artillery is explained here. As an addition to their range this set is reasonable, being fairly generic early 18th century infantry. With some of the more interesting elements of the Catalan forces produced in other sets, the best that can be said is that this set is OK as far as it goes.