With the dream of a restoration of their homeland, Polish troops served Napoleon loyally for many years despite never gaining more than the French satellite state of the Duchy of Warsaw for their efforts. This set was the third on the market to portray the Polish infantry that fought so well during that period. Both its predecessors can boast an impressive number of poses, though they have their own areas of weakness too, so could this set bring anything new to the subject?
The nine poses are a fairly routine bunch, with all the important ones included. The inclusion of an officer, a standard-bearer and a drummer will prompt some cheers, but all the poses are fair. However the few occasions on which a Napoleonic soldier might find cause to kneel do not warrant having two of the nine poses doing so here. What may cause some disquiet is that there are exactly the same number of each pose, so there are the same number of flags as there are men advancing, which many wargamers in particular will find less than ideal.
The uniform is very good, and seems accurate although sources disagree on the exact specification. We would have expected cords on the czapka, but only the officer and drummer have these, which seems reasonable given the rigours of life in the field. Also the cuffs are rather indistinct and are not proud of the sleeve, but some seem to be missing the cuff flap. The epaulettes are plain and without a fringe, but some sources suggest a fringe should be present. All the privates carry packs, cartridge pouch and sword/bayonet frogs - the latter would suggest grenadiers or voltigeurs, although no particular type is claimed by the packaging. The standard-bearer has a cartridge pouch that has no means of support as there is no appropriate shoulder strap.
The flag is engraved on both sides with a crowned eagle and lettering below. This is a perfectly accurate design, though we would have preferred a plain flag to allow any of the many and various Polish flag designs to be applied. On top of the staff is an eagle, which is of Polish design and is quite correct. The muskets however are noticeably too short - one resting with butt on the ground should reach to around the shoulders, but these are considerably shorter, as can be seen clearly on the reloading figure. We also felt the drum was rather too small, a common fault in many sets.
Polish regulations stated that grenadiers should wear a moustache and side-whiskers, voltigeurs a moustache only and fusiliers should be clean-shaven. Since all these men appear to be clean-shaven, they would technically be fusiliers, although there were often exceptions in the ranks, and facial hair is easy to add with paint, so voltigeurs seems the most appropriate designation for these troops.
Many companies find that their first few sets betray their inexperience and are not of the quality later attained. Here however we have a very nice set, and Waterloo 1815 have of course benefited from the involvement of the experienced hand of HaT. The sculpting is excellent, flash is not significant and the overall impression is very positive, although the lapses in accuracy are disappointing. What this set lacks in poses compared to its enormously varied rivals it makes up for in quality of sculpting, so it does indeed make a notable contribution to the subject.
The confusion as to the identification of these men is a pity because they are great figures. That every man carries a sabre along with his bayonet suggests grenadiers or voltigeurs, but grenadiers wore a bearskin, and voltigeurs had fringed epaulettes, which these lack, so they are a bit of a mix. Also another time it is to be hoped that the company will consider evening up the balance of poses, but despite other subsequent releases these are still the best Polish Napoleonics so far produced, and the best of this manufacturer's first wave of sets. An extremely good start for a range that maintained this high quality of sculpting.