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Set 286

British Infantry in Square

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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)


The square was the means by which infantry could defend themselves against cavalry by showing an unbroken line of bayonets in all directions, and if they remained steady then there was nothing much cavalry could do about it. Waterloo was a classic example of this tactic, where for several hours the allied infantry held square against some massive charges by the superb French cavalry. Not one square was broken, and indeed witnesses suggest virtually no one in the squares was hurt during the attacks, since once the cavalry reached the allied lines, all they could do was mill about aimlessly and, at worst, fire off a carbine into the footmen. Many at Waterloo recorded their relief when the French cavalry arrived, because it meant the infantry were safe, particularly from the deadly artillery fire, and the solid British squares became an icon of the battle down the years.

In the British Army, squares were usually formed with sides either two or four ranks deep, with the front rank kneeling (even if there were only two ranks) and presenting their bayonets, point held roughly at chest height to any attacking horse, while the rear ranks either also presented their bayonets or else fired at their attackers. In this set we find all of the men are presenting the bayonet, which is fine as there are many sets offering firing poses should they be required. A third of the poses are kneeling, and the rest standing, all holding their musket in various ways, but all to the same effect. We thought all the poses were very good, and in particular we liked the couple of figures who are particularly reaching forward (end of rows two and three), for while this might not have been how they were instructed, it is easy to imagine individuals making this extra effort to keep the enemy away from them, or perhaps to plug a gap immediately to their front. In short, these are perfect poses for a square (and of course elsewhere too), and represent the most abundant collection of such poses in any British Infantry set so far made.

The men all wear standard British infantry uniform of the period 1812 to 1816, including the ‘Belgic’ shako that was widely worn by Waterloo. The short-tailed coats and campaign trousers are all properly done, and the shoulder epaulettes have tufts, meaning these are men from the battalion or centre companies – the most numerous in any regiment. A curious habit of Strelets is to give a few of their men the forage cap to wear, which was not normal battle attire, and here three of the figures wear this. This seems to us pretty unlikely, so we would have much preferred all shakos instead. The men’s kit is again all standard and typical, with knapsack as well as haversack, cartridge box, and water bottle, although the bayonet scabbard all should have seems not to be present, or at least not visible, on some. The blanket is rolled on top of the knapsack in all cases, and the mess tin attached to the outside, so the kit here is fine.

The set also includes some nice extra figures which always grab our attention. The first of these is of a man apparently being hit in the side while moving, and while all such casualty poses are very welcome, we felt this one did not work quite so well as some. By contrast, the wounded drummer next to him, supporting himself on his drum, is a wonderful figure, very lifelike, and a reminder that non-combatants were just as much at risk on a Napoleonic battlefield as anyone else. The third man is on all fours, having dropped his musket, and from the pained expression on his face he is also a casualty. Again, it would have been common for a battlefield to have wounded men crawling about like this, perhaps heading for the rear, though had it been our decision, we would not have included the musket lying on the ground. None of these three poses are particularly pertinent to the square, but all have wider uses on the battlefield.

The last row contains some command figures. First is a sergeant, who has no firearm so no cartridge pouch, and also no knapsack. He wears the typical sash round the waist, and has a water bottle and haversack on the correct right side, leaving room for his sword on the left. He holds the usual pike or spontoon, but in an interesting way, looking like he is planting it as if to present a further sharp point to an attacker. On the whole, the spontoon was a symbol of rank more than a weapon, although of course it could be used if needed, particularly if defending the colours, for example. Using it to add to a bayonet wall is not something we have seen depicted before, and while not impossible, we are not sure whether this was done much. It feels like an emergency measure to us, so an interesting addition, but not one you would generally expect to see very often. The colour-bearer in the middle of the row is much more conventional, holding his staff with no flag attached, which will please a lot of customers wanting to attach their own choice of flag. This ensign has the correct uniform for his rank, and carries no kit apart from his sword, and the officer to his left is similarly properly turned out. Officers would be observing their men from behind the ranks, and monitoring for any problems in the square, so this pose is perfect. However, we would seem to have holding some sort of very short sword in his hands, which has a blade of only 7.5 mm in length (54 cm to scale). The most common sword held by British battalion company officers in 1815 was still the old 1796-pattern, which had a straight blade about 81 cm long, although a few had the slighter shorter 1803-pattern, which had a significant curve to it, so clearly this is neither weapon. Officers could please themselves of course, but we found it impossible to accept that any would choose a really short one like this, which frankly does look rather silly. Clearly this is an accuracy problem rather than one of filling the mould, since the scabbard of this man is equally short, matching the weapon, so not a good figure.

The sculpting of these men is good, with all aspects nicely picked out. The faces are particularly expressive, and detail is reasonable, though sometimes missing such as the pockets (real or false) on the jacket tails, but the drummer’s chevrons and wings are well done. There is a fair amount of flash to be seen, including some quite large tabs, although some of the seams are quite clean, so a very mixed bag. Also there seem to be problems with filling the mould, so on our example the first figure in our row two is virtually missing his left hand, and the same is true of the officer. This feature may vary between copies of the set, and does not greatly detract from the overall appearance, but is still annoying.

Although the casualties are fairly generic, the poses are otherwise very well chosen for a square and will be very useful for that role. Although generally good, we would have appreciated some better detail, such as on the muskets, which are largely plain apart from the locks. However, most customers will probably still find the standard of sculpting plenty good enough, and with good poses, the work required to remove flash would seem well worth it for some very nice figures that depict one of the key tactics at Waterloo, and one that could arguably have been the deciding factor in the allies winning the day.


Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 10
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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