When Napoleon's ill-advised 1812 adventure into Russia is mentioned, say Russian cavalry and most people will immediately think Cossacks. Yet the Russian heavy cavalry, highly regarded during the Napoleonic period, also played its part in this momentous campaign, not least at the battle of Borodino. As with any army it was the cuirassiers that were the heaviest shock troops, and these fearsome riders form the subject of this set from Zvezda.
The basic tactic of this type of cavalry has the charge with sabre, and three of the four trooper poses are suitably wielding their swords here. The last man on the top row is more likely to be engaged in close-quarter combat as he is looking to his left, and the position of his sword and hand is quite awkward and flat. One man is using a pistol, of which two were issued to each trooper, so the pose is perfectly valid but having a quarter of the trooper poses doing this will disappoint some customers. The second row begins with an NCO, then an officer, trumpeter and standard-bearer - all are well animated and look good.
The set claims the figures are appropriate for the 1812-14 period, and indeed it was only in 1812 that cuirasses were issued to these men. All except the trumpeter have cuirasses front and rear, although at the time some were certainly missing their back plates. All the men have one belt for their ammunition pouch and another for their carbine, but only one pose actually has his carbine. At this time the cuirassiers did not carry carbines apart from 16 men per squadron (about 125 men) who operated as flankers. Therefore the proportion of men carrying the carbine is reasonable, but we wonder why the others have the belt at all. The NCO and officers are correctly missing such a belt, and the officer wears the epaulettes and sash that mark his rank. In short, apart from the slight query about carbine belts we found the figures to be entirely accurate.
The four horse poses are all suggestive of the charge, which leaves the man firing his pistol with the task of firing while on the move. However all the poses are fine, and all elements of the horse furniture are correctly done. As might be expected, the men fit the horses perfectly - neither too loose nor too tight.
Zvezda have established a reputation for superb quality figures, and this set does nothing to detract from that. The sculpting is faultless and detail is both extensive and clear. Even the standard is correctly engraved, and while we usually prefer plain standards it seems all those carried by cuirassiers were of this same design. There is no flash anywhere, and the only fault lies with the packaging (thankfully), where the numbers of some poses are shown incorrectly on the box.
Until the release of this set these men were only represented by the HaT Cuirassiers, which is a fine product but only has a very few poses. Happily these figures match those of HaT well, and are a top quality addition to the expanding Napoleonic range from this Russian manufacturer. Recommended.