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Set 218

'Polish Lancers' French Cavalry

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 1985
Contents 12 mounted figures and 12 horses
Poses 4 poses, 3 horse poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Grey, Blue
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)


For their first Napoleonic French cavalry set, Esci chose the spectacular Polish lancers. Once again they labelled the set 'Waterloo', though only one squadron of Polish Lancers was present, and saw little action. Luckily these figures can also be painted as 2nd (Dutch) Lancers, which played a major part in the battle.

This set only contains four poses, two of which are carrying the lance, and are almost identical. Another figure is using his sword, and one trumpeter has been provided. All are wearing campaign uniform, more or less, with covers on their czapskas (helmets) and overalls covering the trousers. These have been correctly done although strangely (and admittedly of very minor importance) the sculptor has rather gone overboard with the buttons on the tunic as there are too many. More to the point the lapels were buttoned across when on campaign (in the direction of the aiguillette shoulder) and not left open as shown on all these figures. Though all are equipped with cartridge pouches, none have the musketoons or pistols that regulations required. However in the rush to prepare following Napoleon's return, such items were not always available, and indeed pistols had been in short supply well before 1814.

The most serious failing in this set is with the lance, which is separate and fits into a ring hand. These were actually 2.75 metres long so as to reach infantry targets, but those supplied here only scale up to about 2.1 metres, including blade. The loss of some 60 centimetres seems to make a big difference to their overall appearance, and is quite unnecessary as the full length could easily have been accommodated on the sprue with a little forethought. Late on in the war the lance was a more modest 2.26 metres long, closer to the model here but still not right.

There are three horse poses, all with pegs on their hooves to fix them to separate bases. Unlike the Airfix cavalry sets, however, these pegs are a good size and fit the holes tightly, so they will stay standing. The horse poses are satisfactory, but none have reins. The long saddlecloth is correctly sculpted, with one of the horse poses having the corner turned up to protect the white wool Imperial eagle embroidered on it - a common practice on campaign, and one we would have liked to have seen on more if not all of the animals. In a fault common to many early cavalry sets, all the horses have circular mould marks on them, which greatly spoils them and are not easy to remove cleanly.

Lances were issued to these troops in 1809, so the figures are appropriate from that year to 1815. Effectively having just three poses, plus the short lances and the open lapels, all contribute to making this set quite disappointing despite otherwise being well produced.


Historical Accuracy 8
Pose Quality 4
Pose Number 5
Sculpting 9
Mould 7

Further Reading
"La Garde Impériale - Troupes a Cheval" - Jacques Grancher (Les Uniformes du Premier Empire Series) - Cdt Bucquoy - 9788439970859
"Napoleon's Guard Cavalry" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.83) - Emir Bukhari - 9780850452884
"Napoleon's Imperial Guard Recreated in Colour Photographs" - Windrow & Greene (Europa Militaria Special Series No.12) - Stephen E Maughan - 9781859150832
"Napoleon's Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.440) - Ronald Pawly - 9781846032561
"Napoleon's Red Lancers" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.389) - Ronald Pawly - 9781841765082
"Military Illustrated" - No.128
"Military Illustrated" - No.132
"Military Modelling" - No.Dec 76
"Tradition (French Language)" - No.64
"Tradition (French Language)" - No.59
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