When launching their Crimean War range it was perhaps inevitable that Emhar would start with the most famous action - the charge of the Light Brigade, when through muddle and incompetence most of the British light cavalry charged Russian guns and were cut to pieces. The Light Brigade was made up of three elements - lancers, hussars and light dragoons, and all three are portrayed in this set.
The six figure poses in this set are as shown above, with the first two being hussars, the second pair being light dragoons and the second row showing the lancers. In looking closely at them we will take each type in turn.
The two hussar poses are both dressed as they appeared on that fateful day at the battle of Balaclava. They are lacking their pelisses, which had not yet caught up with the men, and they wear overalls on the legs. Both poses have a separate right sword arm, allowing variation in pose (we positioned the swords on both to simplify photography). The set includes six carbines attached to their crossbelt which can be placed on the hussars if required (it seems likely that most of the hussars did wear this during the charge). The second hussar pose is lacking most kit and looks much like an officer. This could be either a hussar officer or a more senior officer (Cardigan himself was dressed as a hussar while leading the charge). All the uniform and kit is correct, and the option to include or leave off the carbine is a nice extra choice for the customer.
The two light dragoon poses are quite similar, with the first being supplied as is while the second has a separate sword arm (again, we chose a convenient pose for this arm). The uniform of these men is fine except that the peaks on the covered shakos stick out rather than come down over the eyes, and one of the men seems to be missing his jacket tails. We also felt that the haversack was too low on both figures, in a position that would be inconvenient to the rider in action. Again separate carbines and belts are provided for these men as desired.
The lancers are very different from each other. The first pose comes in one piece and is holding the lance upright, which the second is holding his lance forward and straight ahead - this man has his right arm/lance as a separate piece. As with all the figures such assembly is easy enough as the plastic takes glue very well. As with the dragoons the peak on the lancer's czapska sticks out rather than being flat on the forehead, but the only other problem is that neither pose has sword or scabbard. This was a standard item for lancers, who could not always rely on their primary weapon, are should be included on every man.
The horses are a good selection. All are clearly charging, which is fine given the name of the set, although those wishing to wargame might have liked some walking or standing to increase their options. The saddlery is fine too except for two small omissions - one is the metal crescent decoration which all the light cavalry horses wore below their neck, and the other is the strap running underneath the belly of the horse to keep the saddle on. The bridle and saddles are well done, as are the rolled cloak over the front of the saddle and the rolled blanket at the rear.
When first seeing this set (for which see the unpainted version of our photographs) a natural question is 'what are they holding in their left hand?'. Well the answer is the reins. This is another innovation, as each man has his reins already in his hand. At the end of each rein is a peg which fits into the neck of the horse, and since the plastic used for these figures bends and stays where it is put, the rein arm can be moved to wherever it is required (as we have done on our painted examples), making a figure that truly controls his horse for the first time in this scale. Very clever, and the result looks quite good, but there is a down side. Getting the man onto the horse and both reins into the holes is a really fiddly business, and we found the reins are a bit too long. If the man and horse are to be painted (separately of course), then it is probably best that the reins are painted after assembly (or removed completely, as we have done). Also care has to be taken not to overbend the reins and snap them. Like we said, a great idea, but on balance we would prefer the old-fashioned method of moulding the reins on the horse and the horseman with left hand on the waist.
Another innovation can be seen on a couple of the horses, which have a sabretache on the left side of the saddle. This is usually moulded with the men, but in fact it looks much better here, where it belongs, so we thought this was very successful. However it does force the hussars, who were the only cavalry to have these items, to ride just those two animals.
Regular visitors will know we do not like mixed sets, and just two poses per type is very low indeed, but Emhar say this is a different approach since the poseable plastic means most poses can be achieved by the customer themselves. After a bit of bending we managed to achieve some very worthwhile poses for the lancers, light dragoons and hussars by moving arms and heads, and without boiling water or any other inducements! We have to admit that some very nice results are achievable, particularly for the lancers, who are notoriously difficult to mould. However we would still have preferred separate sets, which would have allowed for such variety as officers for each type, trumpeters and casualties or dismounted.
The bright colour of the plastic makes the detail very hard to see, both with the camera and with the naked eye, but in fact these are excellent sculpts. Everything is properly defined and areas such as the lace on the chest of the hussars is the best we have ever seen. Items such as buttons are not exaggerated, which makes life more difficult for painters but is entirely realistic, and the general proportions of all the figures is excellent. With no trace of flash, it is only the tricky setting of the reins that really slows down the delay from box opening to table filling.
Posing the figures is a lot of fun, and of course the result can be a huge body of men, all in different positions. However some may well choose to cut off the reins and fill the holes on the horse rather than spend the time needed to set them up. The lack of a full number of trumpeters and officers is definitely a limitation of this set, and there are not enough carbines to go round all the hussars and dragoons, but as individual models these are very nice and are perhaps best suited to fill out the ranks while special figures are obtained from other manufacturers.