Dragoons in the Thirty Years War were in their infancy. The principle was for infantry that was mounted so they could be more mobile, but which would still dismount to perform their normal foot duties. The first official French dragoons were introduced with the reforms of 1635, which was the same year that France finally became fully involved in the Thirty Years War, although the concept of the dragoon dated back many years previously.
Since dragoons were mounted infantry, when they dismounted they would look like, well, infantry. Sometimes shoes and stockings would be replaced by boots, and helmets were a bit more common than in ordinary infantry regiments, as were buff coats and other cavalry items, but for the most part it would be impossible to distinguish between dragoon and infantryman when both had their feet on the ground. So what we would expect from this set is more or less ordinary infantry, which is sort of what we get. The clothing is all authentic, with the usual range of coats, breeches and stockings, although we were a little surprised that more were not wearing boots instead. One man wears half armour of helmet, breastplate and tassets, which would have been more unusual by this later stage in the war.
The armoured man and one other are pikemen, and strange though it sounds some dragoons were indeed pikemen, with full pike at the ready. The majority however would have been musketeers, so it is right that most here carry this weapon. Dragoons were not issued pistols, which were a cavalry weapon and so not felt appropriate. Pistols were often carried by officers, but we were surprised to find no less than four of the twelve poses here carrying at least one. Two certainly look like officers, but for some reason the drummer has one too, and the figure in the middle row has two, looking more like a 19th century American gunslinger than a 17th century musketeer. This figure also has another peculiarity - a trumpet carried on his back. Dragoons were organised and equipped as infantry, so they had drummers rather than the cornets of the cavalry, so this is wrong here. Finally yet another officer holds a halberd, but this has a very short pole and he holds it in mid-air as if to compensate. Whether this is a problem with the plastic not reaching all parts of the mould (as happens elsewhere in this set) or an aberration of the designer we do not know, but it looks silly and is wrong.
The poses range from reasonable to rather absurd. We have already criticised the two-pistol gunslinger shooting behind him as he walks, and the plethora of pistols in general. Why a drummer would have a pistol we do not know, and why is he waving it in the air? The two pikemen in the middle row are not great either. The first is holding his at its maximum length as he holds it at the bottom, but holds it over his head and is leaning forward. This is not impossible, but clearly is not the easiest way to use a long, heavy pike. The other holds his to the side, which is OK, but we would have preferred some standard pike drill positions instead. The musketeers are about the best of the bunch here.
Where to start with the sculpting? Well, it is the usual pretty crude style we have come to expect from Mars. Hands are the usual mess, and the faces are not good either. Although there is no very fine detail here, what there is is fairly basic and sometimes quite messy. Many of the hats have one brim turned up, and to avoid having a bit of extra plastic between crown and this brim the sculptor has made the brim extend half way across the crown, which looks a great deal worse. Although the figures are quite light on flash, the poses are been portrayed in quite an awkward fashion, and then of course there are the pikes. Look at the image of the sprue, and at the bottom you will see a slab of plastic with some lines lightly engraved on it. Those are your pikes. Regular readers will have heard this before, because these are the same pikes Mars includes in many of its sets, but for anyone unfamiliar with this, the pikes are extremely hard to remove from what is laughingly called the sprue - indeed you might feel that you are being asked to sculpt the poles yourself from virgin plastic, because that is basically what has to happen. We tried this once when this item first came out, and quickly decided life was too short to waste on such an exercise. If you do manage to extract a decent pike, or substitute one from a really good set like that from Zvezda, then you will still have the problem of attaching it to the pikeman. The armoured man is not too bad, although the basic cupped hand hardly convinces that it is actually gripping it, but the second pikeman has absolutely no means of holding the pike, so you will have to trim or drill to make it work.
There really is nothing here to mark these men out as dragoons rather than ordinary infantry, and attempts to do so by adding far too many pistols simply make the set less authentic. As another set of late Thirty Years War infantry it has some worth, although we thought having a man standing holding the horses would have been a useful pose for a dragoon set. Instead we get some decent and some quite weird poses, all of which are poorly sculpted. Flash is occasional although in some places the mould has not been filled properly, so for example the last figure in the bottom row is supposed to be holding a sword in his right hand, but actually holds some short, very thick and shapeless stick. The general impression is not good, and the closer you look the worse it gets.