Prussia was at a low ebb after the defeats of 1806, and had to start rebuilding her army as far as was possible given the restrictions placed by the French and the drastic reduction in the size of the country. The king refrained from making war on Napoleon in the following few years, doubting he had the strength to prevail, but after the French catastrophe in Russia in 1812/13 German nationalism could not be suppressed and Prussia joined the growing coalition against Napoleon. Two years later, when Napoleon made a fresh bid for power and glory, it was the rejuvenated Prussian Army that helped put an end to his ambitions on the field of battle in Belgium.
This set is really one of three, all of which depict different aspects of the Prussian Army during the later Napoleonic Wars. The three sets include one with figures in action poses, this one of marching poses, and a third of various command and musician figures. This allows customers to buy the poses they want without having those they do not, so giving great flexibility. It can also allow a wider range of poses. Few standard sets have more than one marching pose, but this dedicated set can boast no less than six. All are on the same step and vary only in the manner in which they hold their musket. As well as allowing the rapid building of long columns of identical marching troops, this set allows for a more informal march with a natural variation of pose. As such then it provides everything a set dedicated to marching figures could reasonably offer (for specialists and heads of column see the command set.
The general look of these figures dates them to the post-Jena reforms, namely from 1808 to the end of the wars with Napoleon. Small details limit that range more, so while the coats, covered shakos and gaiters are valid for the whole period, the knapsacks held by two straps with a third across the chest date only from 1810. The men have high open collars, which were theoretically abolished in 1813 but seem likely to have continued to 1815 at least. Bayonets are fixed in all cases, as they should, and the muskets have bands attaching the barrel to the stock, making them either foreign or late-period Prussian, which is accurate in either case. All the men have sabres, which was not always the case in reality, but these are easily removed if not desired. The rolled greatcoat round the body completes this authentic representation.
The sculpting is very nice, good detail and correct proportions. All the figures have their pack, sabre and pouch as a separate piece which fixes to a peg on the back, which works very well and fits snugly without gluing for the most part. It is this feature that allows the easy removal of the sabre, but it generally improves the look of the figure a good deal too. There is no flash, so although the soft plastic can cause the muskets to need straightening this is a very well produced collection.
By the appearance and location of these men’s cartridge pouch and the attached badge they are musketeers or grenadiers rather than light infantry (fusiliers), and therefore depict the majority of Prussia’s line infantry. By its title this set has only a modest scope but it delivers it very well and will no doubt be an essential element for any modeller wishing to create the Prussian military machine in those last fateful years of war with Napoleon.