By the time of the wars of Napoleon the value of light infantry was widely recognised, and all armies would field such men in increasing numbers. The Russian Army chose to name such men using the German word Jäger, and by the later years of the Wars they constituted almost a third of the total infantry of the Tsar. While they received special training, they could and often did act as ordinary infantry, and the skirmishing role could also be performed by many musketeer regiments, yet the considerable numbers of Jägers is more than enough to justify their being depicted in this hobby. Surprisingly, this is the first set to show them in winter clothing, which is their most likely appearance in the campaign of 1812, one of the most significant of the whole period.
Strelets have already made a set of such men in summer uniform, and this set is very much a straight winter version of that. The poses are pretty much the same, so most of the men are either firing or reloading, which for soldiers engaged in skirmishing is reasonable enough, and also explains the high number of men kneeling or even sitting, although the choices are less well suited to deployment in formation. The man holding the flagstaff is also much the same in both sets, and we still find him a rather curious pose, while the officer firing his pistol with a dead straight arm is not one we thought was particularly well done. The poses are not very animated, but then that is appropriate in this case, so for most of the figures we thought the poses were pretty good.
The first set impressed us with the standard of sculpting, which is some of the best Strelets has ever produced. This winter set looks like it came from the same stable, and so you might expect a similar positive reaction to the sculpting here, but to our eye these figures have suffered somewhat in the manufacturing process. The sculpting is probably to the same high standard as the summer set, but here some of the detail is really quite indistinct, most notably the faces and the musket barrels, while the hands and sticks of the drummer have almost been lost in a confusing mess of plastic. There is also a considerable quantity of flash, much more than we would expect these days, so the somewhat rough appearance would seem to be down to an unsatisfactory conversion from sculpt to mould, and the original sculpting was probably excellent. However it may have happened, the result is that these are not attractive figures and will require a lot of effort to clean up if they are to look their best.
The similarities with the summer set continue with the dating and accuracy, because these men all wear the knapsack straps (across the chest) and shako cords that date them to 1809 at the earliest. The shape of the shako here is not consistent, and looks to be something of a compromise between that worn in 1809 and the 1812 model, so arguably could serve for either. Most of the uniform is of course concealed by the wearing of the single-breasted greatcoat, which has been properly done here, and the kit being worn is also correct, including the knapsack with water flask attached, cartridge pouch and haversack. Beneath the haversack can just be seen the bottom of the scabbard for either a bayonet or sabre – the bayonet seems more likely to us by this date, but it is a moot point. The muskets have a lock but little other detail, and none have a bayonet attached, which is a point of debate amongst historians, but we would have preferred to have the bayonet attached so customers could choose to keep or remove it as they wished.
Since all wear the coat, most differences in uniform between the troops and the command figures are hidden from us. The drummer wears the same as the men, including what is certainly a sabre rather than a bayonet scabbard, and also a cartridge pouch, which is a bit strange as he has no firearm. The only kit for the flag-bearer is a knapsack, but he also wears a sash as a mark of rank, and has a long straight sword scabbard, although it is unclear whether there is a sword in it or not. The officer has a straight sword and a holster for his pistol, plus a small pouch on the holster belt, presumably for its ammunition.
The flag staff has again been left empty to allow the customer to add a flag of their choice. Many customers will be happy with this arrangement, although officially Jäger regiments were not supposed to have flags anyway (though some did). The staff is 40 mm long and ends with a spear finial, so is a good size, and the kink would be easy to rectify.
In total then, this set is well-sculpted with workmanlike but useful poses and no particular accuracy issues (leaving aside the debate on fixed bayonets) The amount of flash and the general loss of detail is the only real problem here, although as always how much that matters will depend on to what use you want to put these figures. Certainly any model or game of the Moscow campaign will need such figures, particularly as so few sets show infantry in greatcoats, so this is a vital addition to the available ranks which suffers from the production process but is still well worth having.