Back in 2007 Waterloo 1815 produced a set of Italian infantry for the First World War, and it was certainly long overdue. However we were disappointed by the quality of the sculpting in several areas, as well as issues with accuracy and posing (read the full review here). In short, it was a disappointment, but hopes were higher when this set 2 was announced, as Waterloo 1815 quality of late has been exceptional, and we looked forward to something much more impressive this time, perhaps replacing the original collection. Instead what we got was a set that included all the poses in the original set (in grey plastic above), plus nine new poses (in light tan colour above).
The difference between the original poses and the new ones could hardly be more striking. The originals struggled to cope with the two-piece mould, had some awkward poses and some quite ugly lines. The new figures are superb, with beautiful forms and all the delightfully clear detail you could wish. Faces and hands are lovely to behold, and all the clothing is entirely plausible with all the folds and creases you would expect. Equipment, and especially weaponry, is very nicely detailed, making identification easy, and all the poses are very natural and well-designed too. Four of the new poses require a separate right arm to be attached (last two in first row and first two in second row), which helps make a great pose, but does require some assembly. Despite the quality of the sculpting we found the fit of these arms was adequate rather than great, but a bit of trimming soon solves any issues. The results are first class, although just a shade too large for our liking.
The original poses offered quite a wide range, including two officers, a flamethrower and a wire-cutter. In general the ideas were fine but the execution left much to be desired. The nine new poses deal almost exclusively with the ordinary rifleman, and so do much to rebalance the range of poses in this new set. Some of the new poses are very similar to the old ones, but far better done, and all of them deliver standard and very useful figures that any customer will find easy to use. Even the officer, whistle in hand and revolver pointing high in the air, is a great pose and highly appropriate for the sort of warfare in World War I – so much better than men in soft caps waving swords about. So, the old poses are adequate, the new ones are excellent.
The new figures wear the same basic uniform as the old ones, which is the standard M1909 tunic and trousers with puttees. The tunic has concealed buttons, no visible pockets, padded shoulder guards and a stand collar. Again like the old, all the new figures wear the ‘Adrian’ helmet, introduced in 1916, and well done here. The old set lost marks for accuracy thanks to the kit and belts, but the new poses are a vast improvement. They all have the usual two pairs of ammunition pouches on their belt, supported by a strap running round the neck. They all have haversack, water bottle and bayonet scabbard, although annoyingly these sometimes appear on the opposite side to the norm, presumably to aid the sculptor. Whether this happened in reality is hard to judge, but was probably rare if at all. The new officer is much like the men (hooray!) but his tunic is of better quality with visible pocket flaps, and it has shoulder straps too. As well as his pistol holster and ammunition pouches, he has a water bottle and map case (which has had a corner snipped off, unfortunately, for no obvious reason). He also wears breeches rather than ordinary trousers, and long boots rather than puttees, but would still be far less of an obvious target than the sword-carrying figure in the old set.
All the new figures carry the usual 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano M1891 rifle, as do the old, but these are much better done, including slings which the old poses lack. Most also have a bayonet attached, which was normal practice when going into battle. The old poses include one man carrying a flamethrower, which would probably have been the French Schilt No 3 bis, but here it is modelled with two slim tanks rather than the single large tank of the actual item, so the accuracy here is doubtful. The man lying on his back is quite nice, and he wears body armour as he reaches up with his wire-cutters. As we have said, by mid-1916 no officer went into action in trench coat and sword, so that figure is of little use.
Apart from the slightly clipped officer’s case, the only other issue with the sculpting of the new figures is that on some the outer pouch of each pair is also reduced, but the contrast in quality and style between the old and new figures remains very stark. The new figures are superb, well sculpted, excellent poses and well-detailed, while the old ones are none of these. That leaves us with a problem with the scores, which many visitors see as very important. Had the set been made up exclusively of the new poses, it would have scored 10 for accuracy, pose quality, sculpting and mould quality (as there is no flash on any of them), but only nine poses scores 6 in this case. However we have to score the set as a whole, and of course the old figures drag down the scores as a result. The old poses do provide more variety of pose and weaponry, so we can understand their inclusion to a degree, but it is the new poses that make this such a good set, so do not worry about the scores below – if you want World War I Italian infantry then this is definitely the set for you, even if you do not use many of the old figures at all.
Note: In 2023 it became apparent that Waterloo 1815 have created a second set, numbered 043Bis, which contains just the new poses in this set. It is unclear just how widely available this 'bis' set is, and it may only be available through the Waterloo 1815 online shop, but take care when ordering this set as to which version is being offered!