After suffering the loss of his duchy in 1807, the Duke of Brunswick raised troops to fight Napoleon, and in 1813 his duchy was restored to him. He immediately set about raising a new national army, which included an elite Leib-Bataillon built around a cadre of veterans from the Peninsular War in Spain. This new army would be tested sooner than it might have expected, for with the escape of Napoleon from Elba in 1815 the Duke hurried them to join with the British and Dutch in Belgium, where they would help to finally defeat the French emperor at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. For those historic battles the Leib-Bataillon was brigaded with the Avantgarde and the three light battalions.
While the most distinguishable feature of Brunswick infantry – their black uniforms – is irrelevant on unpainted figures such as these, the other elements of this unit are all present and correct. They wear shakos with an unusual falling plume and the famous skull-and-crossbones badge on the front. Their coats have an open standing collar and lines of braiding on the chest. Since this coat had no tails, it made it look much like a dolman, and this has been well represented here, although some of these poses have the coat ending at the waist, and some show a small amount below the waist. Three of the poses wear the forage cap rather than the shako, but all are correct. None of the men have a knapsack or rolled greatcoat, but all have the usual cartridge pouch and haversack held by belts over the shoulders. A few also have water bottles (of British design), and they all have a second strap over the right shoulder for a bayonet scabbard on the left hip, although this is apparently hidden by the haversack in all cases.
There are a lot of command figures in this set, each having their own identifying characteristics. The first two men in our second row are NCOs, and so have their cartridge pouch at the front, attached to a waist belt. The first man is a corporal, and has the two chevrons on his right sleeve to indicate this. The second is a sergeant, and he has both the three chevrons on his sleeve and the sergeants sash round the waist. Both men also correctly carry a short sabre. The bottom row begins with a sapper with a busby and wearing a long apron. He is the only man with a pack, and also has a sabre by his side. The drummer has a similar uniform to the men but with swallows nest wings at the shoulder and an apron to protect the trousers. He has a sabre but no firearm (so no pouch), and no haversack. The hornist next to him has a similar uniform, and again lacks a firearm or the usual items of kit. The flag-bearer and officer have a similar braid dolman-like short coat, along with a sash around the waist and a full sword from a belt. Again, all of these details are correct.
As can be seen the men are all at attention, so this is not the usual battle type of set. However the poses, both men and officers, are fine. Yet there is a cuckoo in the nest, because the Leib-Bataillon did not carry colours at any time, so the flag-bearer here is wrong. Perhaps Strelets included such a pose for those that wished to have a marker for a wargame, regardless of the historical reality, but to us this is a waste of a cavity on the sprue and we would have preferred something useful instead.
The sculpting here is really nice. Of particular note are the intricately done badges on the shakos, and the braiding on the chest, both of which are excellent, as is the drum, which many sculptors fail to do properly. In short everything about the sculpting is great apart from the length of the arms, which look a bit short to us. That aside the proportions are good and the poses seem natural and lifelike. There is a definite ridge of plastic round the seam between the moulds, but no other flash, and no extra plastic in hard-to-reach places, so these are nicely produced.
The uniforms of these men closely resemble the Brunswick-Oels Jägers who fought in Spain, so there is a secondary use for these figures, which is always good. However the main target is clearly the men who fought on the Waterloo campaign, and if you leave out the flag then you have a really attractive and accurate set of figures for these men. The plume on the shako means these figures cannot be used for the bulk of the Brunswick infantry present, which makes them less adaptable than the corresponding HaT set, but they are definitely better produced than that set, and we hope for more sets of Brunswick troops of similar quality in the future.