At the commencement of the 1806 campaign, Napoleon instructed his army to be particularly wary of the Prussian cavalry, which enjoyed a fine reputation. In the event it did not live up to that reputation, and the Prussians suffered complete defeat - a defeat that was to spawn much needed reforms in the army that eventually lead to the victories of later years.
Right from the start Italeri included a good many poses in their cavalry sets, and the ones here are a fine selection. As with earlier sets there is another figure with sword pointed forward, and though again it is less than perfect it is a worthy attempt. Several of the men are using their carbines, which is unusual for most sets, and the officer is particularly unusual in that he seems to be passing something in his hand.
This set is subtitled 'Garde du Corps', but in truth most Prussian cuirassiers looked much like these figures in 1806. The uniform is generally very well done, though there are some failings in this department. The most apparent is the hat, which was a type of tricorn so heavily modified as to resemble a bicorn. This was worn with the front edge over the left eye, which meant the right corner was down over the right eye. Though the hat has been accurately modelled here, the angle at which it is worn varies enormously. The plumed (front) side is shown (correctly) over the left eye (man charging with sword outstretched), over the right eye (man firing carbine), square to the face (man drawing sword) and square to the ear (officer). So if the sword-outstretched figure and the officer are compared, one must be wearing his hat the wrong way round as they are complete opposites. While it could be argued that this angle might shift during the course of battle, it seems the main consideration was the convenience of the mould. All the troopers have their sword belt visible when this should be covered by a sash 13cm wide. Finally the officer has been given a sabretache when they did not have them.
All the horses are lacking any form of kit when they should have a greatcoat bag at the very least. Also the cuirassiers had two pistols on the front of the saddle, but in this set one horse has one pistol and the others have none at all. However the saddle cloth has been correctly done. The poses are the usual selection, and it is nice to see a standing horse for the man firing his carbine.
The detail is good and clear, and there is little flash. These figures have been given very large heads, which is a feature some people find attractive, but we prefer anatomical accuracy so we were not keen on the style of sculpting. As with all Italeri sets the figures grip their horses really well.
Though we complain about the confusion over the hats and the large heads, this is a nice-looking set. With so many poses it is a pity that a standard bearer was not included, but the poses are all useful. At a time when most manufacturers concentrated on Waterloo, it was a refreshing change to see a major company address an earlier conflict, in this case Jena. Curiously Italeri have declined to produce any other 1806 Prussian sets so far, but one set is better than none, and this set has a lot going for it.