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Set 285

British Infantry in Skirmish

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Date Released 2024
Contents 42 figures
Poses 18 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Brown
Average Height 23.5 mm (= 1.7 m)


In the wars of Napoleon, skirmishing, you might think, was something done by the light infantry companies, or dedicated light infantry regiments, but there is good evidence that grenadiers and battalion (centre) companies also received some training in skirmishing, and so could perform this role, with at least some competence, when the situation required it. Skirmishing was usually done with teams of two or four men, in open order, where each team kept up a regular rate of fire on the enemy. This could harass an enemy unit, disrupt their manoeuvres and potentially keep them away from your own troops while they prepared themselves, but if threatened by formed infantry or cavalry, they would retreat back to their own formed line if possible. The British had learned much about this method of fighting during the American Revolution, and it remained an important tactic despite their modern image of being either in a firing line or in square.

The basic principle was that one man was ready to fire while the other was reloading, and so this set is mostly filled with troops doing one or the other (in fact a nicely balanced mix of six firing and six loading). Most are standing (it is much easier to reload a musket whilst standing), but naturally kneeling where possible presents a smaller target for hostile fire. As such all of the main poses are examples we have seen many times before, but are absolutely appropriate for the skirmish. Various stages of the reloading process are depicted, but every pose here is typical, well done and useful.

Where things get a bit more interesting is with the speciality figures, of which there is one of each in the box. Since these are battalion men (as we shall see), they have drummers, and one is here lying on his back as a casualty. Drummers would not have been sent forward to a skirmish, but of course they could be hit by longer-range fire, and like the rest of these poses, this one is perfectly useful for many other aspects of a battle. Since there are already many examples of standing drummers, having one as a casualty makes a welcome change. Beside him we find a man pitching forward, presumably having just been hit. Again, casualty figures are always useful, and can come in very many forms, so this one works well, as does the third man in our row, who is on his back holding his leg and clearly in pain. Even if he was no more than hit by something blunt on the shin, it can be very painful, so again, a great casualty pose.

Our bottom row is particularly interesting, and not always in a good way. Strelets have made several sets of 1815 British infantry before, so they have the chance to be more experimental, having long since covered all the basics, but we think they may have gone a bit too far here. The first man is a sergeant, holding his spontoon/pike and a pistol high in the air. It is not an impossible pose of course, although we would ask where he got the pistol from, as this was not normal issue to sergeants, but we are not sure what he is doing. Perhaps celebrating something, or just making himself visible for some reason? We are all in favour of unusual poses, but this one had us scratching our heads, and wondering how often such a figure might seem suitable. The ensign beside him is also unusual in that he is on his knees, despite still holding the flag. Perhaps just cringing in the face of enemy fire, this is not the kind of heroic pose we usually see, and again, such a man would not be pushed forward into a skirmish line, so why he is on his knees and why he is reaching up is hard to say. Finally we have the officer, with a sword and pistol in hand and both arms outstretched to a degree. It is different, and particularly unusual to see an officer with a pistol, but not really a pose we cared for.

The dress of the British infantryman at Waterloo is well documented and widely published, so you would expect complete accuracy in this regard, and on the whole that is what this set offers. The closed tunic (with tufts on the epaulettes, denoting a battalion company) is fine, as are the trousers, and most wear the so-called ‘Belgic’ shako actually introduced from 1812. However, three of the poses wear the forage cap, which is accurate but not something you would expect on the battlefield, yet as the men are fully kitted, they otherwise certainly look like they are in action, so the choice of the forage cap is difficult to understand. The tunics of the ensign and officer look fine, as are the sashes these two have as well as the sergeant. The men are fully equipped with cartridge pouch, haversack, water bottle and knapsack with mess tin strapped to the outside and greatcoat rolled on top. The sergeant has just the water bottle and haversack, slung on the opposite side to make room for his sword, and the officers have no kit at all, just a scabbard for their sword (but no holster for the pistol).

Sculpting is good, and shows a good deal of detail. A few areas like the turnbacks of the officer’s tunics are without much detail, but the drummer has the wings and sleeve chevrons as he should. The faces are nicely done, so we can clearly see the sergeant is shouting, and the anguish on the face of the man holding his shin, and if some things like the muskets are rather plain, at least the locks are quite well done. The man falling is somewhat awkwardly done, as his bayonet is bent severely, so it is good sculpting but not faultless. Also, we were disappointed by the officer’s sword, which is rather a feeble example. In 1815 most battalion officers still carried the old 1796-pattern infantry sword, which was straight with a blade about 81 cm long. The sword on this figure has a slight curve and is 8 mm (57.6 cm) long, so a lot shorter, and it really shows. Had it been the newer but not popular 1803-pattern then it would still have been longer than this, and a lot more curved, so this is not a sword we recognised or thought fitting for the figure. On our examples we did find a reasonable level of flash, occasionally larger tabs of it in enclose spaces, but mostly just the usual ridge round the mould joins, so something that many will want to remove, but nothing too bad.

For the most part these figures are accurately clothed and armed, in very appropriate poses and well presented, and can of course be useful for far more than just skirmishing; they simply add new figures to the good array already available for this subject. However, there are a number of questions that this set raises which we felt detracted from the positive impression. Why, for example, do several wear forage caps in battle, why is the ensign on his knees, and basically what is going on with the sergeant? It may just be that this set is a bit too experimental for our taste, so everyone will have their own opinions on that, but even if you discount those more unusual elements this is a very workable set with some great figures (especially the casualties).


Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 9
Pose Number 9
Sculpting 9
Mould 7

Further Reading
"British Infantry Equipments 1808-1908" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.107) - Mike Chappell - 9780850453744
"British Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815" - Osprey (Elite Series No.164) - Philip Haythornthwaite - 9781846032226
"British Napoleonic Uniforms" - Spellmount - Carl Franklin - 9781862274846
"British Redcoat (2) 1793-1815" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.20) - Stuart Reid - 9781855325562
"Napoleonic Wars: Wellington's Army" - Brassey (History of Uniforms Series) - Ian Fletcher - 9781857531732
"The Thin Red Line" - Windrow & Greene - DSV & BK Fosten - 9781872004006
"Wellington's Infantry 1" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.114) - Bryan Fosten - 9780850453959

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