Since the days of Peter the Great the artillery had been the senior service in the Russian army, with its officers paid more and generally better trained than any others. In the Crimean War much of the artillery was employed in defending the walls of Sevastopol, but of course it was also employed in the many set-piece battles, the most famous example being where Don Cossack horse artillery was charged by the British Light Brigade as Balaclava. The artillery in this set is based on that particular action, and therefore depicts horse artillery, although uniforms and guns were common to all Russian artillery.
In looking at the pictures the first thing that strikes you is the large number of poses. This is a reminder of the glory days of Revell, when they produced artillery sets with many poses to allow virtually any element of serving the gun to be modelled. The same principle applies here, with men loading the gun, firing it and moving it back into position afterwards. The two men firing muskets seem a little out of place, even though artillerymen were issued muskets, but these could equally be infantrymen detailed to protect the battery. All the poses are excellent and entirely appropriate.
In the field, Russian artillery wore much the same uniform as the infantry, namely the ubiquitous greatcoat and peakless forage cap. Here these have been correctly sculpted, unlike the corresponding set from Esci/Italeri. Some of the coats are turned up on the inside to shorten them, which is correct, and the various arrangements of straps all seem reasonable. One item apparently peculiar to the artillery was the 'bucket', a tall hat that was, well, bucket-shaped, and was in fact an oilskin cover for a helmet but often worn by itself, as here.
The three guns in the set are all identical, and are most likely to be 6-pounders. As this is horse artillery the carriages are quite light and have the relatively small wheels favoured by the Russians. The sculpting of these is exceptional, with lots of detail in all the right places. Emhar have done something most manufacturers seem to not bother with - they have moulded good detail on the sides (cheeks) of the carriage. This includes all the necessary bands and hooks, making them at least as good as the highly-detailed Zvezda Napoleonic Russian Foot Artillery while still having the carriage as just one piece. Emhar have also neatly solved the problem of settling the barrel in the cut-outs on the carriage. The trunnions on the barrel were held in place by iron bands, called cap squares, which are always missing in sets (apart from the many-part Zvezda guns). Emhar have simply solved this by including the cap squares on the trunnions themselves, so there are again no extra parts to fiddle with. Simple but very effective.
Having said how well the guns are sculpted you might imagine that the figures would be just as good, and happily they are. There are no innovations here, just simple top notch sculpting with excellent proportions and good facial expressions. The uniform is about as simple as you can get, so is hardly a challenge, yet it has been done flawlessly and with good natural folds and clear crisp detail. As with recent releases from the likes of IMEX and Pegasus, these figures were sculpted in China, and like them the quality is superb. A couple of the figures have separate arms to achieve a better pose, and these fit easily and securely (as do the cannons, which are equally well engineered). The plastic used takes ordinary polystyrene glue very well too.
What else can we say? Lots of poses, all well thought out and perfectly delivered. This is the best so far of the many recent Crimean War sets, and replaces the old Esci set with ease. More to the point, what else could we want?