The Habsburg monarchy had been shocked by the revolution and subsequent events in France, but from a position of trying to stop and suppress republicanism, it soon found itself having to defend its own territory in Italy and, later, in central Europe. There would be plenty of victories and defeats over those years, but thanks to the inspired efforts of some such as the Archduke Charles, the Austrian Army would adapt to the changing world and implement a series of reforms, many intelligently learned from their enemies. Such a period of change requires good officers to make it happen, and while Austria suffered as much as any nation of the day from officers promoted through wealth and influence rather than merit, the reforms would lead to a much more effective army that would finally defeat the French Empire.
As with most command sets, this one provides the less common figures that would be few compared to the ordinary infantryman, thus avoiding much waste on the part of the customer. The first figure, holding his musket on his right side and with a cane dangling from a button on his coat, is an NCO. His uniform and equipment follow the regulations for the period 1799 to 1806, most obviously with the crested helmet that he wears, although this and the rest of his appearance would still have been seen on the battlefield at least until 1809. Apart from the cane, his appearance is that of the ordinary German infantryman, and has been properly done here.
Next in line we have the Fähnrich or flag-bearer. He too has been correctly given the uniform of the ordinary infantryman, and the kit is much the same too, except that he lacks the ammunition pouch (as he has no firearm) and he has the cane as an NCO. As can be seen, he carries no flag, allowing wargamers or anybody to add a paper one to their taste. This gives lots of flexibility and is a popular choice with many, and the stave, with the proper spearhead finial, is nice and long, so can take a full flag. What is not apparent from our photo above is that the stave has a definite kink in it around the right shoulder, so seen from the side this looks weird, and is quite unnecessary.
Another key element of any company was the drummer, vital for communicating orders in battle and much more, so a necessary inclusion here. This man wears ordinary uniform apart from the traditional swallow’s nest epaulettes of drummers, and he wears an apron on his left leg (admittedly very hard to see on this figure). Again as he has no firearm he has no ammunition, but his knapsack is hung low at his back, from a single strap, to make room to stow the drum. The pose is not particularly convincing as someone actually beating the drum (the right arm is good, but the left less so), but this is a notoriously difficult pose to do with a single-piece figure and we have seen much worse. The drum has a hole in it that fits on a peg on the man’s thigh, but the fit is very loose and will need gluing.
Completing the line-up on the top row is the sapper, or Zimmerman. The most obvious feature of his attire is the long apron with pockets that he wears, but otherwise the uniform is standard. He carries an axe over his left shoulder, which is achieved by a separate left arm/axe. Although the peg and hole arrangement to make these fit is more substantial than for the drum, the fit is again very loose and will need glue to keep it in place, though you do get to choose the angle of the axe this way. This man has what we assume is a sabre at his left side, but the detail is lacking at the top. Also he lacks the case with which he would normally carry his axe, which is a common problem on such figures.
The marching officer in the second row is a nice figure, but it illustrates what can happen when you don’t have separate arms. He rests his sword on his upper right arm, with that arm at a strange and very uncomfortable angle – all so the piece can be moulded as one rather than separate. Given the inability to make pieces elsewhere in this and other sets that fit well, this is understandable, but the result is an awkward pose that also has excess plastic that will be hard to remove. This man wears the ordinary infantry helmet, but covering his uniform is a frock coat (Oberrock) without epaulettes, which was a popular choice with officers. His waist sash and long boots further distinguish him from the other ranks. He looks to be gripping the top of his scabbard with his left hand, but this scabbard disappears after that, which is very sloppy indeed (the computer design clearly shows the scabbard, so something obviously went very wrong during production). We did like that he is armed with a pistol however.
Finally we have the mounted officer. There are precious few of these in the hobby, so always good to see a new one, although the Italeri set did the same. This man wears a plumed bicorn and a double-breasted coat without epaulettes, as well as the normal sash that helped to denote his rank. He holds his sword outstretched in a good pose (considering he is unlikely to actually have to use it on an enemy), and sits on his horse easily enough, though the fit will require gluing to stay put. The animal is in a suitably non-energetic pose, and both cloth and bridle look good, but he lacks any sort of saddle, though this is largely hidden by the man’s long coat anyway.
The set comes with some spare heads, which allows its use for a longer period should you wish to do some head-swapping. There are not enough heads to convert all the figures, but they are a welcome bonus. Four wear the grenadier fur cap, and 12 wear the shako first introduced in 1806, although it should be pointed out that eight have the rear peak and four the upturned dummy neck guard as worn by officers. These are good to see, and also nice to see the field sign on the shakos (presumably too complicated to add them to the helmets too).
In places the sculpting here is very good, particularly on the helmets, which are nicely done even when they face the mould rather than being parallel to it. Detail can be a bit soft in places, and there is a fair amount of extra plastic round the back where these figures carry water bottles etc. The bent flag stave has already been mentioned, but most of these figures have a bayonet and/or sabre, all of which stick out to the side in a strange and unnatural manner. Flash is very variable, and while some seams are quite clean, others have large tabs of flash that need to be removed. So while the proportions look good, this is not the best sculpting from HaT.
There is much to be positive about with this set, which offers the sort of figures often missing from more traditional mixed sets, and does so with no accuracy problems. The poses are conventional, but that is what most people want, and the sculpting is good rather than great, with a few rather major problems. Most people with an interest in the subject will find this set useful, but it will take some patient work fixing arms to bodies and carving away unwanted plastic to make the most of it.