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Strelets

Set 035

Reitars of Charles XII

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 12 figures and 12 horses
Poses 12 poses, 6 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Blue
Average Height 23 mm (= 1.66 m)

Review

Something like half the Swedish army under Charles XII was composed of cavalry who were trained to charge with the sabre rather than use firearms from the saddle, as was normal in many other armies of the time. Although the horses were small the cavalry enjoyed a reputation for bravery which often saw them charge larger numbers than themselves, usually triumphing thanks to their aggressive spirit and direct approach.

All the figures bar the drummer are wearing a cuirass, a garment that was going out of fashion at this time. Some nations certainly still had armoured cuirassiers during the early 18th century, but Charles XII of Sweden banned the cuirass early in his reign. Thus cavalry with a cuirass over their coat was a rare sight in Sweden's armies, and only likely for the first year or so of the Great Northern War, severely limiting the usefulness of this set. The majority of the troops have only a front plate, but those with helmets also have a back plate. However if the cuirass was rare then there seems to be no evidence for helmets of any sort. The few in this set seem to hark back to the previous century and have no place in the Great Northern War.

As has already been mentioned, Swedish cavalry did not use firearms in an offensive role. They were equipped with two pistols and a carbine, but these were intended mainly for personal defence. Most of the figures in this set are using their sword, which is fine, but one man is firing his pistol and another is using his as a club. Both these figures would not normally be seen on the battlefield. Two of the men have separate sword blades which fit into ring hands, making reasonable poses. The drummer is not one of our favourites, but the trumpeter from the Leib-Drabants could be utilised instead.

The standard of sculpting is about average for the early Strelets releases. No one would call these figures attractive but everything is pretty much where it should be. The horses are OK and have reasonable saddles and equipment, but the men's legs are a bit too close together to sit well on them. The separate sword blades fit easily enough, but they have no hilt and so look unrealistic. The detail is adequate, but some swords and scabbards are much too short, so overall these are not good-looking figures.

The main problem with this set is the lack of opportunities to use armoured Swedish cavalry in the Great Northern War, and particularly those figures with helmets. The cuirass is clearly defined, which means painting it out would be difficult and unconvincing. In our view this was a bad choice for the first set of Swedish cavalry - a generic set of dragoons would have been far more useful both for Sweden and other nationalities. However there are plenty of conversion possibilities for cuirassiers from other nations and for the years beyond the Great Northern War.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 5
Pose Quality 7
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 6
Mould 8

Further Reading
Books
"Cavalry" - Arms and Armour - V Vuksic and Z Grbasic - 9781854095008
"Poltava 1709" - Osprey (Campaign Series No.34) - Angus Konstam - 9781855324169
"The Great Northern War 1700-1721" - Acedia Press - Lars-Eric Höglund
"The Swedish Army in the Great Northern War 1700-21" - Helion & Company (Century of the Soldier No.26) - Lars Ericson Wolke - 9781912390182

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