Uniforms of the Napoleonic era were typically colourful and elaborate complete with cords and plumes. However while these uniforms looked great on the parade ground they soon lost their luster with the rigors of war. In order to preserve their relatively expensive gear on campaign most soldiers adopted more practical gear such as overalls or waterproof covers for headgear and stowed their fancy cord and plumes.
WNF 02 – “Trumpeter, Campaign Dress. German Light Horse. 1808-1809. (Lancers of Berg)” is a 54mm resin & white metal figure from Wolf Models sculpted by Rendal Patton. The Trumpeter is in typical campaign wear including leather re-enforced button-up overall, oilskin cover for his czapska with his bedroll worn over his shoulder for added protected against sword cuts. The figure is portrayed in an action pose, dismounted in battle. With his sword drawn and feet set apart he prepares to defend himself. He has received a nasty wound just below the left shoulder and his left arm hangs limply at his side. The figure is inspired by plate F2 in Osprey’s MAA #83 “Napoleon’s Guard Cavalry”.
Lancers of Berg
As part of the Confederation of the Rhine the Grand Duchy of Clčves-Berg was obliged to supply troops for the Grande Armeé. To that end a regiment of light horse was raised as Chevau-Legers du Grand Duc de Berg. Between 1807 and 1812 the unit’s name was changed four times and its uniform and equipment also underwent several changes.
In 1808 the newly formed squadrons were sent to Spain to support Napoleon’s brother Joseph whom he had installed as King of Spain where they served until 1811 although some squadrons were detached and sent to Naples and France. In 1809 the regiment was reorganized as lancers. A second regiment was raised in 1812 and participated in the disastrous Russian campaign after which the 1st and 2nd regiments were merged and reorganized. The under strength regiment took part in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and was all but destroyed when cut off and captured as part of Poniatowsky’s rearguard. The last remnants of the unit surrendered at Mainz in 1814.
As varied is the history of this unit so too is the uniform it wore. From hussar style to lancer style, from cream/white with amaranth (red-pink) trim to dark chasseur green. This particular figure represents a trumpeter between 1808-09. At this time the regiment was dressed in white with amaranth and in keeping with the tradition of the time the trumpeters would have been dressed on opposite colours. In this case the kurtka would be amaranth with white turnbacks, facings, cuffs, collar and epaulettes.
The trumpeter has replaced his regulation tight amaranth lancer style overalls with more utilitarian leather reinforced button-up coveralls typically in a brown or grey material as was common among cavalrymen of the time.
His elaborate and expensive czapska is protected by a wax impregnated cloth or black oilskin cover. The associated plume and cords have been stowed presumably in his portmanteau.
It should be noted that there really isn’t anything about this figure that identifies it specifically as a Berg lancer so one could paint him as any similarly accoutered lancer unit of the time.
Okay, first things first, the title of the figure is a mouthful so I’ll just refer to it as Trumpeter from now on. The figure comes in a smallish soft cardboard box (about the size of a deck of cards). The box-art shows the painted figure from the left side. Inside the box the kit’s parts are held in a sealed poly bag. What is interesting here is that the bag is divided into three compartments to protect the various parts from damage.
Figure kit WNF 02 Trumpeter consists of the following eleven (11) parts:Full figure, excluding head and arms (resin);
Head wearing oilskin covered czapska (resin);
Left and right arms (resin);
Scabbard, sword blade, trumpet with tassels, spurs (white metal);
A length of braided wire;
Display base; and
An instruction sheet/painting guide.
Historical data was not included. The resin parts are molded in beige.
Overall the figure is nicely sculpted and the casting generally crisp and clean.
There is a seem running up the neck on either side of the head but they don’t pass through any fine details so there shouldn’t be any problems with clean-up. The casting block is logically located under the neck. There is a small air hole on the rear band of the czapska, the top of which is flat and devoid of detail. The czapska overall looks small to my eye however I measured it out to 7mm which translates to a little over 24cm. That makes it 2 cm taller than it should be – go figure. I find the facial expression is too passive for my liking considering the trumpeter’s situation.
The figure proper is well detailed. I particularly like the overalls which are part leather and part cloth. The folds gather realistically for the materials portrayed. Finer details such as the belt rings, turnbacks and epaulettes are neatly represented and crisply and clearly cast. The belt buckle should have a crown and “J” cipher for Jerome. Even though the bedroll covers half the buckle, enough of it would be seen. It may seem minor but the devil is in the details. The bedroll itself is well done though a couple of the creases where it gathers are a bit over done. Overall the casting is generally very good, I tried very hard to find any seem lines and couldn’t. There was a bit of flash around the crotch, however, and another air bubble at the back of the left heel. This needs to be filled carefully because the guide hole for the metal spur is just above it. Small casting blocks are placed beneath the feet and need to be removed.
The arms are well detailed and cast. The right hand is holding the hilt of the AN XI sabre, which is delicately cast so that the front guard is separated from the knuckles as it would in real life. Unfortunately, there was a hairline crack in mine. While that may be fairly easy to fix/fill, I can see how there could have potentially been more serious damage. Some clean up is needed around the elbow where it appears the casting block had been. I thought it odd that it had been removed prior to packaging. I like the way the injured left arm is represented. Even on the casting block it looks lifeless. On this arm the casting block is placed at the top of the shoulder.
The metal parts are finely cast. Some care will be needed to clean up the flash on parts of the trumpet as it is quite thin and delicate. The tassels were cast on the trumpet but one of mine broke off in transit. The inclusion of the saber blade as a metal piece is a plus for me as it is not subject to warping like resin can. The blade too looks very delicate. It looks like the modeler will need to drill a receiving hole in the sword hilt to support the blade. The scabbard is nice but it is shorter than the sword blade itself. I thought at first this was an optical illusion but I lay one atop the other and sure enough the scabbard is about 2mm short. This inclusion of the braided wire to simulate the trumpet cord is a nice touch but it made me wonder why a strip of foil was not also included for the scabbard straps. Of course this also means there are no buckles for said straps either.
There is a small oval base included which is rather non-descript. There is some sort of wilted plant thing on it and it is just big enough to allow the figure to stand upright. It actually reminds me of the base you’d see on a plastic toy soldier. I would be surprised if anyone actually used it.
Lastly, I wanted to address the size of this figure. My first impression of this figure was that was a bit small – almost to the point that I thought it was 1/35 scale rather than 1/32. Given that the figure is in an action pose I took some measurements as best I could and determined it to be about 55mm from the bottom of his foot to estimated top of his head (not top of the czapska). That translates into approximately 1.76m or 5’9” which is pretty respectable considering the average height on a man in 1810 was 1.73m or 5’7”. Curious, I checked some of my other figures and found a range of height between 55mm – 60mm resulting in heights between 1.76m/5’9” and 1.92m/6’3” so the Trumpeter is right in line.
If I had to pick one word to describe this figure in one word it would have to be delicate. This is due to the medium which allows much finer detail. The collar for example is so thin it is almost translucent. Even the metal details are finely cast. However, this is a double edged sword as extra care must be taken so as not to break the parts. To that end a little more padding in the packaging would have been nice.
The facial expression could have been more animated. Otherwise the sculpting and casting are actually pretty good – none of the previously mentioned flaws or detail omissions are what I’d call “deal breakers” and the pose is rather nice. I could see this figure as a stand alone (with scratched groundwork) or as part of a vignette or larger diorama. Another advantage of resin is of course the cost factor. At a MSRP of $20.50 CAD that’s significantly lower than most 54mm metal foot figures.
This is a good kit but not a great kit which is a pity because I for one would like to see more historical figures available in resin.
The following material was consulted for purposes of this review, and is suggested reading for more information on the subject: Bukhari, Emir “Napoleon’s Guard Cavalry”. Men-at-Arms Series 83. Illustrated by Angus McBride. London: Osprey, 1978.
“Light Cavalry of the Grand Duchy of Berg 1807-1814”. Napoleopnic Association.