The box for this set tells us that the dragoons were the bread and butter of the French cavalry, which is quite true. Though they were sometimes called upon to fight on foot, for the most part they were essentially medium cavalry, having shrugged off their role as mounted infantry. With an important role, it was lamentable that for a long time there were no sets of dragoons in plastic. However suddenly that all changed with this set from HaT and another from Italeri.
The four poses include three men wielding their sabres as if in the charge, plus a man with sabre on shoulder, perhaps on the march, but equally suitable during a battle. The pose with the arm across the chest is a popular one with manufacturers, though we are not fond of it, but all the poses are reasonable and appropriate.
These men wear the habit, which saw service throughout the Napoleonic wars until it was replaced in 1812 by the habit-veste. Though there would have been a delay in introducing the new uniform, these men would not be correct for the Waterloo campaign. They also wear the classical dragoon helmet, and carry both sabre and musket. However the musket is shown with the barrel pointing down to the ground when it should be barrel up, with the butt resting in a holder near the foot of the rider.
What lets this set down is the sculpting. In some places there is almost no detail at all. For example, there are no coat tails sculpted, apparently because the sculptor believed they would not be visible once the individual was in the saddle. All the men face directly into the mould, and the mane on the helmet is limp, so it is lacking definition and is simply a ridge. Similarly, the musket each man carries is of the correct basic shape but is largely featureless. There is also a problem with the sabres, which are long (good) and curved (bad). They should be the classic straight heavy cavalry sword.
The two horses also have problems. Though adequately carved, and certainly better than the very early sets, they have been given tiny horse-cloths under their saddles, cloths that do not even reach as far down as the saddle. This is incorrect and means there is no room for the device that always appeared in the corner of the cloth. These animals are also apparently lacking the pistols that they should have under the cloth in front of the rider. However the portemanteau that is behind the saddle is correctly represented.
One of the frustrating things about this set is that some of the errors on the figures are correctly portrayed on the box artwork, as seems to happen with many sets from many manufacturers. In this case the box shows correct saddlery and the correct straight sabre. It also manages to capture a lot more action than the figures do. Interestingly, both the picture and the painting instruction show the post 1812 uniform, though that is not what the figures wear.
This was the first cavalry HaT produced after their early Prussian and Mameluke sets, and though the horses in particular are much improved, they were still very much on a steep learning curve. This is one of the poorer sets to come out from HaT, which is a pity since it is of a very important subject. A certain amount of flash does not help matters, though the fact that the excellent Italeri set appeared shortly after this one means it is generally seen in a comparatively poor light.