Wednesday 7 April 2010

Zvezda's Russian Dragoons Have Finally Arrived!

Well, according to both PSR and Zvezda's own site, the long-awaited Russian Dragoons for the GNW started shipping on April 1st, close-on the heels of the Swedish Artillery.

From an "artistic" standpoint, these figures look lovely! If one can judge by the painted samples and the box art (which with Zvezda you usually can), then these are just what many gamers and plastic aficionado's have been waiting for. Unlike their Swedish Dragoon set, this time you actually get several dismounted Dragoons, 9 to be exact (3 X 3). Two of the sculpts are very useful firing and "at the ready" poses and the third is a very welcome horse holder with reins leading to two mounts. This time it is the mounted side that appears to suffer a bit. There are only six actual troopers included, in two poses (2 X 3), along with four single Command figures. Three of the Command figures are great sculpts, while the fourth is what seems to be the obligatory fellow (the Ensign this time) shooting his own saddle-mate with his pistol.

While these sculpts are good enough to justify the wait for them, I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing that Zvezda understood something of the "mechanics" of wargaming. Had they added three more dismounted figures, you would have the usual number of twelve total for a dismounted squadron, with one-quarter being detailed as horse holders, about right for most rules of the period. Then they could have ditched the Ensign shooting sideways (never a good thing morale-wise) and added three more of another pose of a mounted trooper, giving nine troopers and three Command, again, a twelve-figure squadron that would have been about right for most rules. I think, my opinion only as always, that this would have greatly increased their value to most gamers even if there had to be a slight cost increase for the box set.

Now, as to the actual sculpting choices, for some odd reason (catering to the dioramists or non-gamers?) both the Ensign and the Drummer appear to be on slowly-walking horses, almost standing, while all of the other mounted figures are on cantering, trotting or galloping steeds. While many gamers will purchase multiple boxes of these and mix-and-match the horses, it is a bit distracting from the quality of the set. Zvezda also appear (by the shot of two of the sprues) to have employed the separate arms for the dismounted figures again. They do look right for their poses and actions, but as we have seen before, all does not always go as planned when assembly time arrives! The horse holder with one separate arm holding reins leading to one of the two included horses will have to be carefully assembled if this pose is to work properly.

We shall have to wait for PSR, or our friend Will McNally (who has been beating PSR to the punch quite a bit lately), to actually review the figures "in hand" for a full report, but I would say this is a "good effort" by Zvezda, if perhaps a bit short of the mark in actual execution. Now if they will only get on with some heavier cavalry! Many gamers and modellers are waiting for these, as they should easily exceed the quality of the available Strelets and BUM offerings. As always, the opinions are my own, your actual mileage may vary.



Fire at Will said...

Bill, don't add to my temptations.

Martin said...

Loud Huzzahs are coming from the Prince-Bishop of Spires Palace. Up to now the Zvezda Swedish Dragoons recruited by the Markgraaf of Raubenstadt have sabered and chivied his troops at will.

It looks to me like Zvezda has another winner on their hands!

andygamer said...

Thank you for the review and links, Bill. The figure composition was the first thing I said to myself, too, when I clicked on the photo link before I read your views.

Sir William the Aged said...

But Will, you know that we are all counting on you to "scoop" PSR once again with the first in-hand sample and painted unit ;-)

And by the way, sorry for not commenting on your blog, but your "Construction Company's" recent efforts were excellent. I especially liked the multi-span bridge with the ruined sections. I'm now contemplating one of those myself for my 15/18mm lot.


Anonymous said...

Great figures but the size of the Zvezda horses, whether Samurai or GNW, seems too small. Nonetheless I'll be adding these to my armies.

Corporal_Trim said...

Great post, Bill. Thanks for the heads up. Have to agree with you on the poses. The guy with the pistol is pretty much a throwaway, would've been a lot more useful aiming towards the front.

Have to agree on the mixture of poses for the horses as well. Although I'm glad that the whole set is not posed for seemingly obligatory hell-for-leather charge so beloved in the world of 1/72 plastics.