At the outbreak of the Seven Years War in 1756 Austria had many grievances to remedy, and on the face of it the means to do so. The first and second Silesian Wars (1740-42 and 1744-45) had seen Prussia take Silesia from her, but now Austria was again at war with her German rival, and this time she had powerful allies including France and Russia, making what looked like an overwhelming coalition. The fighting over the next few years would see both significant victories and disappointing defeats for Austrian arms, but just when it looked like Prussia would have to concede defeat Russia suddenly withdrew from the war, which soon ended with the borders in the same place they had been at the start, frustrating Austrian designs and enhancing a rivalry between the two German powers that would last for more than a century.
Sets of figures engaged in just one activity have become very popular in recent years, and it is not difficult to see why, since it allows customers, particularly wargamers, to purchase only the poses that they need. The marching pose is always a popular one, and there are many sets dedicated solely to troops on the march, including this, the first of three sets from HaT depicting Maria Theresa’s troops during the Seven Years War. Some dedicated marching sets provide a good variety of poses in similar but subtly different poses to provide a good, natural mix of men as they would actually have appeared, but here we find just three poses, two of fusiliers and one of a grenadier, all for 'German' (i.e. not Hungarian) infantry. As a result, a block of such men would all be identical, which looks smart but is not natural, though for many that is of little consequence. The poses all have their musket on the correct left shoulder, so while very limited in number they are perfectly correct.
The grenadier wears the tall bearskin cap with the bag hanging down at the back, while the fusiliers (the ordinary or ‘centre’ infantry) wear the normal tricorn hat. Some grenadiers had a badge on the front of the cap, but others did not, and this figure is from the latter group. The fusiliers have a cockade on the left of their hat, but surprisingly neither fusiliers nor grenadier have the sprig of greenery that served as a traditional field sign. The basic uniform of long-tailed coat with turnbacks over a long waistcoat, plus breeches and above-knee gaiters, is the same for both types of soldier and correctly done here. They have a single shoulder strap behind the left shoulder, although this has been missed on one of the fusiliers, meaning his belt ends abruptly in thin air. Kit too is quite similar for both, with a cartridge pouch on the right hip and the knapsack on the left hip along with the water bottle, all held by straps across the body. Some grenadiers had their cartridge box on the front of the waist belt, but this example has his in the same place as the fusiliers. All have a bayonet scabbard held from the waist belt, and the grenadier should also have a sabre beside it, but we found many examples of this pose suffered from a failure of the plastic to fill this item. As designed however these are correctly uniformed and equipped.
The sculpting is in the premier league, with good detail which is a little soft but still plenty good enough for most. As always we look for the smaller details, such as the moustaches and the match case on the belt, and these are pretty good, so no problems there. The cream colour of the plastic matches well with both the old Revell sets and the base colour of the actual soldiers, so is a wise choice, but it makes it difficult to see detail. We had to apply a dark wash over the figures to properly see the sculpting, and when we did the results were very good. The failure to fill the grenadier’s sabre has already been mentioned, and there is a small amount of flash, but nothing to worry about, and no ugly extra plastic except behind the lock of the musket, so these are nice pieces.
Prior to this set, if you wanted marching Austrians you had to use or convert the grenadier in the Revell set, or go without marching fusiliers at all. This fills that gap, and with good sculpting, no accuracy issues and a fairly clean result, it fills it pretty well. As we have said, a number of slight variations would have been nice, but this small set undoubtedly covers the basic requirement pretty well, at least for 'German' infantry, and is a much-needed boost to the available Seven Years War figures.