In 1745 the British Army could call on seven regiments of Horse, excluding the Horse Guards, Royal Horse Guards (Blues) and short-lived units raised for the Jacobite emergency. They saw themselves as of a higher standing than the dragoons, yet dragoons were much cheaper and generally more adaptable, so much to their chagrin three of the Horse regiments were converted into dragoons (called ‘Dragoon Guards’) in 1746. In fact by this date the difference was not as great as the Horse would like to believe, and much of the mounted action during the Jacobite Rebellion was conducted by dragoons rather than the Horse, but they still had their part to play as well as serving in the War of the Austrian Succession of course.
British Horse regiments dressed much like those of any other European army of the day. These figures all have the tricorn with cockade, and gauntlets partly covering the large cuffs of the coat, which correctly has the skirts turned back. Horse regiments had a narrow lapel on the coat, but here the broad belts effectively obscure the whole of the chest, so this is not visible anyway. Another distinguishing feature of the Horse was the long boots which are properly done here. Each man has a carbine suspended from a belt over his left shoulder and with the butt resting in a bucket by his right foot. Beside this is a flask of various designs hanging from a cord. Another Horse-only feature was the sword belt, which as here was hung from a belt over the right shoulder. In short then, everything about the uniform and kit of these men is correct.
The men have their hair quite long, and in some cases this is tied, while others have it loose. This may have varied depending on regimental practice or personal inclination. The officer of course has a much more decorated coat, and his skirts are correctly full rather than with turnbacks. He wears a sash – a universal mark of rank – as does the standard-bearer, but he alone also has a shoulder-knot. The trumpeter is clothed in traditional fashion, with a riot of lace on his coat and the same tricorn hat as the rest of the men, which again is correct for the Horse.
The selection of horses is the same as those available in some 18th century sets from Strelets, and happily they are also perfectly appropriate here. The saddles with the pair of pistols and the rolled cloak at the back are fine, and the small shabraques are the correct shape and without an engraved design, allowing the customer to choose their own from the varied and colourful ones used by these regiments. The box points out that the tails of these animals were routinely docked, and it says you should cut down the tails accordingly. This is correct, but would not be the easiest of tasks for many modellers. The poses all look good, being a mixture of walk, canter and gallop, which works well for the riders. Certainly the man firing his pistol would want a steady mount.
The poses of the men follow the usual sort of selection you might expect from an action set, with a majority having sword drawn and perhaps held high as if in use. Several have their sword in a more relaxed position, but all of them are quite reasonable. The third figure in the top row suffers from being very flat, so he holds his arm and sword in an impossible position, behind his head, so could not deliver a blow even if his anatomy allowed it. The figures holding carbine and pistol are useful additions, as are the command poses. Of these, the trumpeter deserves a mention in despatches because he has been done holding his trumpet at a reasonable angle, unlike the many sculpted with the trumpet directly to the side – usually an unconvincing pose.
Sculpting is very nice, with lots of detail and good proportions. The figures are a bit heavier than some, but look good, particularly the faces, which have plenty of personality. A couple of the poses photographed above have a very short sword – about a 9 mm blade (65 cm) when the real thing was more like 89 cm. This is likely to be a problem with the plastic not fully filling the mould, but the rest of the swords are a more acceptable 11 mm long (79 cm). You may find your copy is better filled than ours. The riders fit the horses very easily, but will require gluing to stay in the saddle. Finally, we struggled to find any flash, which is always an impressive result.
As Horse these men follow a rectangular standard rather than the swallow-tailed guidon of dragoons, and the one in this set is nicely done, with the correct finial and a fringe. The size is good, and it has no design engraved on it, which is just as well as knowledge of such designs is very poor these days. It does stick out straight to the side, which is a bit unlikely, but those wishing to replace it with a paper one will have no difficulty cutting away the necessary plastic here.
The basket hilts on the swords are a particularly nice feature of these figures, although it is unfortunate that the officer has no scabbard for his sword, even if it is much too short. Pistols were meant to be only for use when pursuing a defeated and broken enemy, so just the single pose is about right here. Despite the small niggles we liked this set very much, and were impressed by the careful research to mark these men out as Horse rather than dragoons. With plenty of uses for the war on the continent as well as during the rebellion, this is a collection of figures that should delight those with an interest in this period.