For a very long time the casual observer of 1/72 scale plastic soldiers might be forgiven for thinking that the Napoleonic Wars amounted to no more than that one day at Waterloo. Companies like Airfix and Esci made most or all of their Napoleonic sets for that one battle, and it is a very long time before manufacturers started producing sufficient sets for the many other important actions of the war. Austerlitz must surely be one of the most important of these battles, and with this set HaT finally produced regular Russian infantry for it.
The eight poses in this set include two (a third of the total figures) on the march, but between them all the necessary positions have been covered, though there are none that justify particular comment except the NCO, who is walking along rather than adopting the more usual charging kind of posture, but looks good. A more senior officer can be obtained from the HaT Light Infantry set 8073.
After several upheavals over the previous few years, by 1805 Russian uniform had settled down to a modern design. At the start of that year the shako had been introduced, replacing the old fashioned bicorn. These figures wear this new uniform, and have been accurately portrayed with the correct detail, including the unusual valise rather than a knapsack. They all wear boots, which was winter wear, although here they look a little short. Every man also has his greatcoat rolled and wrapped across his body over the left shoulder in what is often seen as a traditional Russian method. At the time that this set was produced this was thought to be the correct way the greatcoat was carried, but recent research has shown that is is an old error oft-repeated in modern sources, and in fact the first regulation for carrying the coat this way only dates from 1808. It would now seem that in 1805 the usual method was to have it rolled and attached to the valise, as has been modelled in the much more recent RedBox sets. The figures have been given shakos with the tall and bushy busch plume, which was a feature associated with grenadiers and Guard infantry. However by removing this the figures represent normal line fusiliers. If they are to be used as Grenadiers, then a grenade badge should be painted under the cockade on the shako, and each corner of the cartridge box should also have a grenade symbol. Thus with some simple modification the figures are suitable for most types of regular Russian infantry at the time. Excellent.
The standard of sculpting is very good, and is reminiscent of the Revell Prussian infantry. Detail is excellent throughout and all correctly done, but though all the men are anatomically lifelike there is little apparent movement in them. The one charging figure is as close as they get, but even he is not really conveying a lot of movement. We particularly liked the officer, who is an NCO with his cane in his right hand and carrying a halberd in his left, both classic signs of authority.
This is a nice collection of figures, done in a slightly stocky style but looking good. The lack of action is perhaps excusable since Napoleonic soldiers generally fought in large slow-moving formations, but this set is more useful for a unit on the march than for one in battle. The change in opinion on the way the greatcoat was carried is unfortunate for HaT, who were merely following accepted wisdom at the time. However that aside these should look impressive in the vast armies that Russia deployed against Napoleon, and at the time of release were a welcome and unique broadening of the range of Napoleonic figures on offer.