Dragoons had originally been mounted infantry, but the cavalry was a much more glamorous arm and by the Napoleonic wars dragoons were usually used as pure cavalry. In Napoleon's army there were 30 such regiments, and they saw service in every major land campaign.
The dragoons in this set are wearing the habit that was worn until around 1812. They also wear the splendid helmet with mane seen on dragoons of many countries. This uniform has been correctly sculpted in every detail, and that detail is excellent. The turnbacks on the habit reveal a triangular green patch of the coat beneath them, meaning they are either genuine turnbacks or false ones made to look genuine. This dates these men to before 1810, though such coats may have been seen for some time after this in certain regiments. The box claims these figures are dated 1815, but they are several years earlier at the latest. One further detail is the pocket flaps on the tails of the habit. They are horizontal rather than vertical - a feature common to half of the dragoon regiments, so while a very minor detail, this technically limits these figures for purists.
The set includes an impressive nine poses - impressive both in quantity and quality. These men are full of action, clearly in the heat of a battle, with sabres flying in all directions. Two of the poses are in the by now usual Italeri style of charging with sabre pointed straight ahead. Though these are a little awkward and have an uncomfortable arrangement of legs, they are the best representations of the correct posture as a charge reaches its target and are worthy additions to the set. We particularly liked the man resting his musket on his leg, though this would be impossible on any of the charging horses provided here.
By the time this set was released, several companies had produced cuirassiers or others with manes on their helmets, yet no-one had successfully represented this item. Italeri solved the problem brilliantly by ensuring that no man is looking directly into the mould. By making the mane fly up, and therefore make it both more realistic and more accessible to the mould, every strand can be beautifully recreated, and the result here is just superb.
There are five horse poses, which allows for a realistic mix even when large numbers are put together, and all the poses seem to be at the charge. They all have the saddle and horse-cloth common to all dragoon regiments, as was the rectangular portmanteau. Better yet, they include the sheepskin shabraque which was not officially part of the troopers kit but was still commonly used by both officers and men. However the pistols under the cloth cover seem to be on top of the sheepskin when in fact the sheepskin was the topmost article.
Beautiful though this set is, there are a number of problems. First of all, all but one of the poses has no musket, which should be hanging by their right leg. Secondly, the corner of the horse-cloth bears a grenade device on these figures when the regimental number would normally appear here, though there are a few sources that do show a grenade instead. However all sources agree that the ends of the portmanteau had the regiment's number, but there is insufficient room on these models for such a number. Finally, the guidon, which is a welcome addition to the set, is correct in size and shape, but the design has one error in that the central portion has an eagle when it should have an inscription.
These errors aside, this is an excellent set of Napoleonic cavalry, with superb detail and an excellent sculpting job. Italeri have made many very fine cavalry sets, and this is a noble addition to the range.