by: Gareth McGorman [ ]
The art of Men's fashion came as close to perfection as it ever will with the cavalry uniform of the Napoleonic era. As is so often the case in this art form, France was a leader in this field. From the armoured breastplates of the Cuirassiers, to the dashing Hussars to the exotic Mamelukes (whose uniforms were almost certainly a major influence on Shaquille O'Neal's costume design for the hit movie Kazaam) France fielded the most impressive looking cavalry of the era.
My first observation here is that there is a lot more flash than I would like to see. Most of this is fairly easy to clean up, but I do have a minor gripe with the fact that the lancer's head is mounted sideways on the sprue, thus ensuring that the seam travels right down the centre of his face. It's a layout issue which makes cleanup slightly more annoying than it should be.
Since this is a lancer, it would have been nice if a lancer were included. It's not the end of the world though and one can easily be scratchbuilt.
More importantly, an alternate Czapka would also make a huge difference for this kit. Napoleonic headwear, especially for Cavalry could look splendid. The red and gold Czapka (or square topped shako) of the 2e Lancers was no exception. The Headwear issued with this kit is portrayed with a cloth cover. These would have been worn on campaign to protect the faceplate and to keep the time that lancers would have to spend polishing brass down to a minimum on campaign. It still would have been nice to have the option of showing the czapka as it would have been worn on the parade square in all it's red and golden splendour.
Historically accurate, but perhaps an opportunity to try some basic scratchbuilding, is the fact that the lancer does not have a canteen. In the modern era, the idea that soldiers in the field would not be issued with some kind of vessel for carrying water would seem absurd, but that was an unfortunate reality of the French military of the time. Since an army on the march still needs to stay hydrated, soldiers improvised in a variety of ways. Gourds, wine bottles and wooden or metal canteens of various patterns were all used. I would highly recommend adding a canteen or water container of some sort when building this figure. For those who would prefer to use items from their spares box a 1:35 scale wine bottle wrapped around the base with cord, or a WW2 British army canteen ( bare metal with the cloth straps painted white) will work just fine. Images of canteens that would have been in use by the French army of the era are included with this review.
There are some inaccuracies in the painting instructions here that should be pointed out. The main issue is that the facings on all the box art is incorrect. The breast should be painted blue, not red as portrayed on the box.
Regarding painting instructions, it should also be pointed out that the cut of a trumpeter's uniform was essentially the same as that of a Lancer. With some added scratch built braid and a bugle it would be possible to transform this figure into a fine looking musician. This kit does include a woman and as we all know, musicians always get the girl. Musicians would have worn white coats with red facings.
The woman included with this kit is nicely sculpted, but has the same issues with flash as everything else on this sprue. In a nice allusion to the 2nd Lancer's Dutch origins she is wearing a pair of wooden clogs. These would be accurate for most of Europe of that era. Overall she is a nice addition to the kit.
Cavalry will always be an interesting subject matter for me. They dressed sharper, had a slightly more aristocratic air about them than the infantry and remained part of all major military forces well into the 20th century. Speaking for myself, I also like to broaden my palette once in a while and always appreciate the opportunity to paint a model figure wearing a uniform that isn't in earth tones or green.
It's exciting to see good quality plastic models of Napoleonic cavalry in 1:32 scale, and it's a shame Masterbox did not expand this line further.