You will sometimes hear people who do not know their history say that the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 was a fight between a Scottish army under ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie and an English one under Cumberland. This is very far from the truth, and in fact the British army that faced the ‘Young Pretender’ included many Scottish troops. Some were in ordinary line regiments, but there were also units clothed in Highland fashion, and this set depicts such men for the first time in this hobby.
As you might expect there were many differences between Highland uniform and that of the rest of the infantry, with the most obvious being the wearing of the belted plaid. This traditional but less than entirely practical article has been mostly properly sculpted here, being wrapped round the waist and pinned behind the left shoulder. It is however rather neatly rendered, without some of the more untidy folds that the real thing would generally exhibit, although for many this neatness will make the figures more appealing. The jackets are short, as they should be, and the men wear the bonnet rather than the tricorn, which caused some concern that they might be mistaken for Jacobite rebels. They wear a sporran, which is flanked by the bayonet and, in some cases, the dirk too. Although hard to see it seems some of these figures have a cartridge pouch on the belly, which if so is also quite correct and replaced the normal pouch suspended from a crossbelt. The canteens are very good, as are the basket-hilted broadsword each man carries.
The first row is filled with the rank and file, and the second with the more unusual troops. The first is a grenadier, who is identifiable by his peakless grenadier cap. Unfortunately such a cap was only introduced in 1747, so for the Jacobite Rebellion this should be the usual mitre cap. The officer to this man’s left is dressed similarly to his men but correctly holds a halberd. The drummer is the first of the single poses, and is also dressed much like the men but carries only a broadsword as armament, so has no cartridge pouch or bayonet. The ensign and senior officer complete the line-up, with the latter having a sash across his body as a sign of rank. So, apart from the grenadiers fur cap everything here is accurate.
The poses are all very nice, but the good number of specialists means there are only five ordinary private fusilier poses. These are all fine as far as they go, but although there are a couple in the act of reloading there are none presenting their weapon ready to give fire, which is a shame. The single grenadier pose is OK although as we have often said before we would prefer a full set of such men rather than an occasional figure like this, which does little more than reduce the available poses of ordinary soldiers. The officers and ensign are very nicely posed, although the ensign seems to be treating his colour with surprisingly little respect as he has it uncased and draped carelessly over his shoulder, which would surely attract the ire of any officer and probably many of the men too. The drummer too is a surprise as he carries his drum on his right side. We have never seen this before, and nor could we find any evidence that it was permitted or even practised. For obvious reasons drums had to be all on the same side when marching in formation, regardless of whether the drummer was naturally right or left-handed, and even if the drummer was alone it is highly unlikely that switching the side of the drum would be tolerated, and would be contrary to all his training. The drummer then is not much use, and the ensign less than ideal, but the rest are good although leaving some obvious gaps in the range of poses.
Sculpting is very good, with excellent detail everywhere on these quite demanding figures. The hilts of the broadswords are particularly well done, and the plaid has been engraved with a square pattern, both to suggest the design and to aid painting no doubt. The faces are nice and expressive and the figures posed very naturally, so these are very nice figures. Some of the poses seem to have their hair clubbed at the back while others have it brushed up under their caps – both fashionable methods at the time. The drummer is noticeably shorter than the rest, so is perhaps a teenager just starting out on his military life. The one main pity with these figures is that they exhibit a noticeable amount of flash. This is not everywhere, but in places it is quite significant, so some trimming will be required, but compared to the sets RedBox produced prior to this one the quality of the mould is much improved.
Compared to what came before this is a wonderful improvement in quality from this company, but it falls just a little short of excellence in many respects. The grenadier’s cap is post Jacobite Rebellion, though of course useful for later conflicts, but the left-handed drummer is unlikely to be historically accurate for any period. The poses are good but missing one or two basics, and the ensign is just too relaxed to be believable in our view. The specialist poses are interesting but impinge too much on the ordinary troops – a set of 15 poses could have successfully had this many specialists, although even then the grenadier could have been saved for a later project. The sculpting is very good, but we were not entirely convinced the sculptor understood the admittedly complex plaid, and there is certainly a problem with flash that needs some more attention. Despite having said all that however, we really liked this set and with a little trimming most of the figures are very acceptable for the middle of the 18th century. A great addition to the ’45, and should look very impressive painted and displayed facing a Highland charge.