On 11 December 1811, the Kingdom of Bavaria was issued Napoleon’s order to mobilize its forces for the planned campaign against Russia. At this time the Bavarian army had a strength of almost 50,000 men, and had not seen significant action since the suppression of the Tyrolean Insurrection two years earlier. The infantry was now organised into 12 line regiments of roughly 2,400 each, plus six battalions of light infantry, each approximately half that size. About 32,700 marched off with Napoleon into Russia, and about 30,000 never returned, so it was a disaster for Bavaria as well as for France.
Those troops that marched off on that ill-fated expedition to Russia would have looked much like these figures. All have the knapsack square on the back in the style introduced in 1808, and so date from then until the end of the Napoleonic Wars. They also have the very tall leather helmet with the large crest that became their trademark for many decades to come, which has been correctly done here with the front plate, metal band above the peak and very fine chain hanging between them. Had these been elites then they would have had a plume on the left side, but these have nothing, when as fusiliers they should have a short tuft above the boss. The short-tailed coat with the closed lapels is correctly done, as are the breeches and gaiters ending below the knee, although some here are wearing campaign trousers instead, which is likely to have been common.
Apart from the knapsack the men’s kit consists of the cartridge pouch on the right hip, mostly with the haversack underneath. However a few have the haversack on the left hip instead, outside of the bayonet scabbard and sabre, which fusiliers always carried. A handful also have a water container, but surprisingly most lack one of these.
On the whole the Strelets Bavarian range has been beautifully sculpted, and these are more of the same. The detail on the helmets in particular is extraordinary, but everywhere these are great pieces of work. The proportions are good, and the faces are little masterpieces in themselves. The flag has no design engraved on it, happily, but as with other sets this one is about 17mm square (122cm) when it should be more like 170cm square, so is a fair bit too small. The drum is also beautifully done, so we really cannot fault the sculpting. There is some flash though, and a generally quite rough feel to all the seams, so some tidying up will be required before sending into action.
The array of marching poses mainly concentrates on men in fairly relaxed mood, but there are also some more formal poses like those shown on the box. The fact that some wear the fatigue cap rather than the helmet adds to the relaxed impression, but by choosing only some of the poses you could create an orderly body moving up if you wanted. The drummer is one of the most believable drumming poses we have ever seen, so much credit for that, and the officer in his sash looking on is also a really nice figure. The command figure waving is presumably an NCO, although he has no cane, but we had no problem with any of the poses on offer here.
This set can boast great sculpting, lots of useful and natural poses and hardly any accuracy issues. The rough finish to the seams is a bit annoying, but otherwise you couldn’t really ask much more of a set of marching Bavarians than this set already offers.