The Scots have long been considered excellent soldier material, and the history of Scottish regiments in the British Army goes back over a quarter of a millennium. This set focuses on one of the most popular moments in that history - the fight against Napoleon and, in particular, the events of 1815 (by which we mean the Waterloo campaign - Highland regiments serving in North America and the Empire in that year will not be taken into consideration here). For the kilted regiments involved in the fighting of the Waterloo campaign (the 42nd, 79th and 92nd), the hotter action of the campaign was at Quatre Bras, but their distinctive uniform and brave endeavours mean they will always be a popular icon for the Waterloo fight, and this is the latest of many sets to depict these men.
For starters we must explain our slightly unusual numbers under the figures. In each box you get 44 figures, which are made up of three whole sprues plus half a sprue (see the sprue image). Which half a sprue you get is random, so you will find either three or four of each piece. This can mean you get more ensigns than any of the standard infantry poses, although of course with a multiple sprue approach like this a less than ideal balance of poses is inevitable. All the ordinary privates are really nice poses in our view. The box mentions 'in square', so there are no men advancing here - just standing their ground. Of course square was the normal anti-cavalry formation, so several of these men are clearly engaged in hand-to-hand combat with mounted opposition - an unusual pose to find in figure sets, but perfect for this one. The man using the butt of his musket against a mounted opponent is very well done, although you might expect that he would be more likely to use the bayonet. The second figure in the second row is doing just that (his hand is not near the trigger, so he is not firing), and the last figure in the top row is also a nice one of a man looking up at an assailant. The other poses are more conventional, but all are perfect for a square. The sergeant in the bottom row is also fighting some higher enemy, and looks terrific, while the ensign and the mounted officer are absolutely fine although not actually engaging the enemy, which you would not normally expect them to.
All three kilted regiments on the Waterloo campaign wore much the same uniform, which has been well depicted here. They wear the Kilmarnock bonnet which could have a separate peak added but in this set only the officers have this, which is fine. The black ostrich feathers that top the bonnet and always present problems for figure makers have been well done here, as have the plume and cockade. The shortened Highland jacket is OK too, although this only has six rows of lace on the front instead of the regulation eight or the more likely 10 that it should have. However as only one pose has his chest fully visible this makes virtually no difference. All the men have 'wings' on their shoulders rather than tufts, so they belong to either the grenadier or the light companies of their regiment - we might have preferred the tufts of the centre companies, but these are easier to fabricate should you wish to do so. The kilts of course are the most unusual feature of these men, and here they are well done with no sporran and the pleating at the back, but some are a fraction shorter than they ideally should be (the hem was supposed to be 25mm off the ground when kneeling). Then we have the hose covered by the half-gaiter and the shoes.
The officers in the bottom row deserve more comment. The ensign with the flag is dressed in pantaloons and has what seems like some shoulder plaid, but this flourish was never part of field wear (not very practical, for obvious reasons), so unless this man has come straight from the Duchess of Richmond's ball (as some did) this looks to be out of place in this set. The sergeant is dressed like the men although the sash over his left shoulder, which he must have, has been sculpted to look more like a crossbelt, even though he has nothing on his right hip that such a belt would support. The mounted officer is also correctly dressed for such a rank, and like the ensign he has his double-breasted jacket buttoned right across rather than only part way - this was normal practice in Highland regiments as it was simpler with the sash. Neither officer has a gorget, which they were supposed to have, but apparently this was often not worn in battle.
All the privates and the sergeant have the proper rectangular pack with rolled blanket on top, and all the privates have the usual cartridge pouch. However most of them are missing either the haversack or the canteen - for some reason the sculptor has chosen to avoid entirely the usual practice of the canteen resting on the haversack, which here has been made rather small and well filled. One of the kneeling men is missing his bayonet scabbard, and of those that have a canteen, none have any trace of the strap with which this item has held. The sergeant lacks a haversack but does have the canteen, correctly placed on his right side to avoid fouling the sword. Finally, the single pose with a visible chest shows no sign of the breast plate where the belts cross, although this would be simple enough to paint in.
The muskets and bayonets of the men are nicely done. The sergeant carries a spontoon, which immediately tells us that he belongs not just to a flank company but to a grenadier company as light company sergeants carried fusils like the men. However the spontoon here is 34mm total length (about 2.45 metres) when the real thing had a shaft of 2.75 metres and a blade of over 30cm, so this is much too short (some books shows illustrations with a shorter version like this, but this seems to be artistic licence to help the composition of the page and in reality they were longer). However this man does correctly carry a broadsword. The ensign wields a straight-bladed infantry sword (another sign these are not lights) so apart from the spontoon the weaponry is fine.
The ensign's flag comes as a separate piece. It is engraved with a design on both sides which does not match any particular flag but is fairly generic of any regimental of the day, with the union design in the upper staff canton and the devices based around crowns and 'GR'. It looks a bit like that of the 42nd, but works quite well as a generic flag, although as always we would much prefer a plain canvas on which to place our chosen design. That canvas however is a good deal too small. The real thing was roughly 1980 mm wide and 1830 mm tall, which at this scale would be 27.5mm and 23.5mm. In fact it is 20mm wide and 19 tall. By contrast the shaft, though it has a nice and accurate finial, is 55 mm long, which is almost four metres, when it was only actually three metres. However this is very easy to remedy by trimming it at the base.
Sculpting is really excellent, with plenty of good sharp detail and great overall proportions. The poses are nice and animated, yet apart from the last figure in the second row they come complete on the sprue, so the price for the good poses is that some have extra plastic in places. The two men biting the cartridge suffer most from this, although it is hardly the worst we have seen. On all of the figures however there is a bit of a ridge round the join which some will want to remove, although there is no other flash anywhere. The fourth figure in row two has their right arm separate, which needs gluing in place and is an adequate but not great fit, and the flag must be glued to the cupped hand of the ensign - again not the greatest of fits but OK.
In total these are really nice figures with some great poses and very attractively sculpted. The quibbles about missing items are small for the most part, but while there are only 11 poses the relatively specific subject matter means you can create a very decent-looking square, with the inclusion of so many kneeling figures being particularly useful. Perhaps one day we will be treated to a companion set 'at the charge', and if it happens then we will be looking forward to enjoying that set as much as we enjoyed this one.