Austria was perhaps Napoleon's most implacable continental opponent, and her armies participated in most campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars. Nevertheless the hobby had to wait until this set was released from Italeri before it got its very first full set of Austrian infantry. The set is a mixed one of ordinary line infantry ('fusiliers') and grenadiers.
The set is dated 1806/7, which is a reasonable date for these figures, though they could serve for the period 1798 to around 1809. The fusiliers wear the distinctive helmet introduced in 1798 which was worn at such battles as Marengo and Austerlitz, and which started to be phased out in 1806. Their uniform as sculpted here is mostly correct, with the square cuffs, gaiters and plain breeches revealing them to be 'German' troops. The drummer correctly carries a sabre and has the traditional 'swallow's nest' wings on the shoulders. The mounted officer is holding a cane, a symbol of his rank, and his horse is correctly furnished.
The grenadiers wear the fur cap which in this form was introduced somewhere around 1801. Their uniform is very similar to that of the fusiliers, although here Italeri have got themselves confused. They have chosen to make the grenadiers Hungarian rather than 'German', and this is done by making the cuffs pointed and giving the men Hungarian lace knots on their thighs. However they should be wearing pantaloons (which cover the full length of the legs) and shoes, not the gaiters these guys are wearing. To remedy this would require either squaring the cuffs and removing the thigh lace to make German grenadiers (tricky), or trimming away the gaiters to make true Hungarian grenadiers (even more tricky). However the differences in uniform between fusilier and grenadier have been correctly done, with grenadiers having the sabre the fusiliers lacked, although there is no evidence of the match case that should be on the grenadier's crossbelt.
We don't like mixed sets like this. The result is fewer poses per type and the customer being forced to buy figures they may not want as grenadiers and fusiliers often operated in separate units at this time. The nine fusilier poses include some we did not care for. In particular, the man reloading his musket while kneeling would have found such a task difficult, and is a poor choice. The five grenadier poses are a better selection, although again the man firing while on the move would have been unusual and should have been modelled standing still. This figure is also firing high, when a figure firing on the level would have been much more useful.
This set has its fair share of problems. One of the most noticeable is the drummer, who is carrying a very small drum, and for some strange reason he has a cartridge pouch, despite having no firearm. He also has a strange sausage-shaped apron on his left thigh which is manifestly not protecting his breeches from the drum. Both the fusilier and grenadier marching figures are carrying their muskets on their right shoulder, though our research suggests this should be the left (though the evidence is somewhat contradictory). Both these figures are also missing their cartridge pouch, though both seem to still have the cross belt that carries it. The marching fusilier is also handicapped by loss of detail on his front and back - a consequence of being moulded from the side to achieve the pose.
Other problems are less noticeable. The fusiliers have one button on each cuff seam when they should have two, and we felt the grenadier officer's sabre was too straight. Finally, the fusiliers all have a queue, though strangely the grenadiers do not. The queue was abolished in the Austrian army in 1805.
As might be expected from an Italeri set, the detail is very nicely done and for the most part very neat and clear. The style of sculpting is good, and there is very little flash or excess plastic to be removed. The mounted officer grips his horse in the usual excellent Italeri fashion, and this is certainly a well made set. It is a pity that obvious mistakes like the Hungarians in gaiters have been allowed to spoil what should have been an excellent set, but at the time of writing this remains one of the very few Austrian infantry sets, and those wishing to depict this army have little real choice but to use these generally good figures.