War with Japan in 1904-05 had revealed serious deficiencies in the Russian field artillery, and as a result a number of reforms had been instigated and new equipment developed or purchased. It is often said that armies learn more from defeat than they do from victory, and the lessons learned in 1905 would help Russia in the European war in 1914. The workhorse of the field artillery throughout the Great War was the Putilov M1902 7.62 cm field gun, which HaT have already produced, so this set of crew figures is a natural progression.
Russian artillerymen wore the same uniform as the infantry, which by the opening of hostilities was a shirt in imitation of the traditional peasant costume, the gymnastriorka, trousers and knee-length boots. A peaked cap completed the simple outfit, and all of this has been correctly reproduced on these figures. The caps have quite a stiff appearance to them, suggesting they have not had the reinforcement removed - a popular fashion which delivered a softer look much like that on the box artwork figure. The gymnastriorka shirts all have the opening offset to the side, which was one of several common styles, and while none of the men have any items of kit this was normal when serving the guns. The officer is the man pointing, but he is dressed in the same manner as his men, which was deliberate and common. He is only distinguished by the pistol he carries, the binoculars he holds and the slighter larger and stiffer shoulder boards (pogoni) on his shirt. One other feature of this figure is the medal that he wears. Russians were more disposed than most to wear such things in the middle of battle, so its presence here is authentic, but it should be on the left breast, and certainly not on the right sleeve seam as here!
The poses are similar to those in the other HaT World War I artillery sets, which, along with the size of the rounds being handled, suggest they are crewing a small field piece such as the Putilov. The poses are fairly generic but that is no bad thing, and they look well around the gun in question. The two mounted figures for a caisson will be particularly useful, but all these figures make for a very decent crew and are apt for their role.
The sculpting is very agreeable too, with good proportions and nice moustachioed faces. There is little call for detail here, but these do the job well with no flash or unwanted plastic.
The accessories in this set amount to a number of boxes and cases for rounds, as well as some different shells. The larger piece could be a form of platform or part of a fence, but all these are the kind of thing you would expect to find littering the ground around a gun in action.
The uniform is simple but accurately done, the poses are suitable and the sculpting pretty good, so there really is not much else to say about this set. Simply put, this is another very useful HaT set which does the job well enough and will doubtless be a part of any World War I Russian army in this scale.