In many ways the Russian infantryman differed considerably from the infantryman of other countries during the Napoleonic wars. He might well be a serf, and whether serf or peasant he would be used to a wretched standard of life at home which meant that the harsh conditions of army life were easier to bear. He was able to endure incredible levels of neglect and misery, and was fiercely loyal and dependable. This set contains the first, and for a long time the only, Russian Napoleonics in this scale.
Most of the poses in this attractive set follow the Esci formula, and most can be seen in other sets from them. However most are perfectly usable and useful. There are several advancing poses, but we would have liked to have seen more copies of the marching figure on a sprue. The man bayoneting is an Esci favourite, but not one of ours, since we feel the whole stance is unnatural. However the only serious problem with the poses is the trumpeter. Quite simply, Russian grenadiers never had them, only drummers and fifers!
At first glance these seem like typical Russian infantry in the 'Borodino' uniform, pretty much as most people imagine them. However a closer examination reveals much that should have been done better. The shako is of the style introduced in 1812 with the concave top, immediately limiting the use of these figures to 1812 onwards. However it is rather too tall - more the height of the previous model - and it is missing both the long thin plume that Grenadiers wore and the circular brass bosses at the top of the chinscale. Moving down the body, the men wear coats with open collars whereas by this time the collar was closed. Most Russian infantry wore their greatcoat either on their body or rolled across the chest, yet many of these figures are missing this important item completely.
The problems continue with the equipment. Several are missing the sabre and bayonet frog that should be on the left hip, though some have the belt for this with nothing at the end! Some of these men correctly wear the rectangular knapsack which replaced the previous cylindrical one around 1808, but none of these have any straps to keep them on. The muskets are a little short for all the men (though very many types were used at the time), but the marching man has a still shorter version, measuring at just 15 mm (108 cm), whereas the standard 1808 musket measured 145 cm long. Finally, a common problem in many sets is the drum, and here again it is too small. Also the belt by which this drum is suspended only connects to the drum at the back - the front belt passes under the arm, making the drum impossible to position where it is.
As with all Esci sets, the detail, right or wrong, is beautifully realised and very clear. There is no problem with flash, and the accuracy faults are probably mostly down to taking shortcuts or avoiding problems with undercutting on the mould. This is still a very nice set, and if you can overlook the inaccuracies then this makes an impressive display of massed figures on the tabletop.