The British infantryman had entered the Napoleonic Wars with a poor reputation after defeat in North America two decades earlier, but during the wars with France he gradually became a confident and effective soldier, comparable with any other in Europe, and he reached a peak with the Waterloo campaign, establishing a reputation internationally that would last for decades. Although less than 20,000 British infantry actually fought at the Battle of Waterloo, this has long been a popular subject for model soldiers in 1/72 scale plastic, including several ‘action’ sets and, more recently, sets such as this of men not actually in combat.
In this collection we find all the ‘other ranks’ at attention with musket by their side, so basically just the one pose, with the variation between them being in details of costume and equipment. The five command figures are also at attention, and so match the men well. It’s a simple idea and all the poses here have been well done, giving us no cause for complaint.
The uniform is immediately dated by the form of the shako most here are wearing, which is of the style now called ‘Belgic’ or ‘Waterloo’, first approved in 1812, so only seen in the final years of the Wars. It is nicely sculpted here, and several of the poses have theirs in a cover, as may well have been common at Waterloo itself. Three of the men however wear the forage cap instead, which suggests they are likely to be in barracks and well away from any action, as otherwise they would normally wear the shako. The rest of the uniform has also been accurately done, including the campaign trousers normally worn by this late date. A point worthy of note is that two of the poses have tucked their trousers into their short gaiters, which was a habit apparently only seen in the First Foot Guards, although occasional use by others cannot be discounted. The drummer has the wings and sleeve darts (chevrons) always associated with musicians, and the officers are also correctly clothed, while the sapper wears his apron, so no problems here either.
The men have a mostly complete kit of knapsack, haversack, cartridge pouch and water bottle. One man has a different design of water bottle (perhaps a gourd), but the rest have the regulation ‘Italian’ barrel model. The knapsacks have two straps restraining them, and a rolled greatcoat on top, so look good, as do the rest of the kit items. Each man also has a mess tin strapped to his pack, another late-war item.
Since the muskets are all being held to the side, the mould has little opportunity to pick out detail, yet as far as is possible they all look good here. Every man has bayonet fixed, and the scabbard on his left hip. The officer, ensign, sergeant and drummer all have a straight sword instead, and again all look good. In addition the sergeant is gripping his pike or spontoon, the most obvious symbol of his rank and status.
The standard of sculpting on these figures is excellent, even better than the British infantry sets made a few years previously, which were themselves an improvement on earlier production. All the detail here is really clear, and the proportions are up with the best Strelets have yet done. Faces are good and you can clearly make out the beard on the sapper, and even the lace on the front of the coat is good. We were particularly impressed by the drum, which often seems to cause sculptors problems, but here it has been extremely well done, and looks very natural, as the rest of the figures do. Thin items like the pike are nice and thin, and the flag, which hangs loosely around the head of the ensign in a very natural-looking way, is also very believable (and with no pattern engraved on it). There is a little visible mould line in places, but generally these are free from flash, and the simple poses mean no excess plastic either, so a very impressive piece of work.
The only thing we could find to say against this set is that the flag is rather on the small side, as it should be about 25.5 mm by 27.5 mm but is more like 18 mm by 21 mm. This is not at all evident when it is limp, as here, so it does not really have any impact on the look of the set (although those wanting to substitute a paper flag will have a big job removing the plastic flag). What we have here is great sculpting, simple but perfectly good poses and a nice range of clothing, all of which is correct but which offers either different situations or a mix that would be reasonable in some circumstances, so there is much versatility here. The set may have fairly modest goals, but to our eye it achieves them really well, and you can’t really ask more than that.