by: Darren Baker [ ]
During WWII both the Russians and Germans had Cossacks fighting for them. The history of the Cossack goes back to before the birth of Christ, and their history (what is known of it) makes for an interesting read. They were seen by the west as defenders of Christianity against the Turkish around the time of the crusades. The Don Cossacks decimated Napoleons army on its retreat from Russia.
From 1591 until 1914 they were utilised by the Russian Tsars to put down any and all uprisings, a task at which they excelled as they did not associate themselves with these groups and their use of the nagaika (a whip which when used correctly cut like a knife) soon made rebellious elements see the error of their ways.
With the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Bolsheviks rise to power, a concerted effort to eradicate the Cossacks began with most being liquidated or deported. In 1936 Budyenny, a marshal of the Soviet Union, reviewed a parade of mounted men in Rostov, these men were said to be Cossacks of the Sotnyas and showed their readiness to serve in the army of the Soviet Union again.
This resulted in five cavalry divisions being created in 1936, two Don Cossacks, one Kuban Cossacks, one Kuben-Terek Cossacks, and one Terek-Stavropol Cossacks.
In this set, Zvezda provides four Cossacks in Russian service charging at an unseen foe. Supplied in a stiff cardboard box, the kit contains six light grey sprues along with a large set of instructions.
The horses are provided on two identical sprues, which cleverly provides you with four horses in different poses. The horses measure out at 15 hands (60 Inches) which is I believe a little large for horses/ponies used by Cossacks, however it is possible that they were provided with horses from the military rather than their own mounts.
The horses are each made up of six pieces;
Two body halves
The horses appear to be proportional with well defined body structures, the only possible negative being the mane which could do with some work. The horse tack is well defined despite being mostly moulded on the horse, and with careful painting and washes should come to life. The saddles are also well defined and accurate for Cossack mounts with the exception of the saddle bags which are the wrong shape, being square rather than triangular in appearance. The saddle bags and stirrups are separate pieces, the stirrups being well made despite the limitations of the material used.
The last part provided for the horses are stands with marked points that need to be pushed through for the pin on the horses hooves to locate. I am not suggesting that the horses should be mounted on these permanently, but they will provide a good handling surface during construction and painting.
The figures are supplied on two identical sprues, which have been moulded in such a way to allow four different figures to be assembled, by mixing and matching the various parts.
Each figure consists of seven pieces;
The right hand holding a sabre with a separate scabbard (the sabre blade is a little thick due to being injection moulded plastic).
The four heads (two of each) are very well detailed, with two being clean shaven, and two with well defined moustaches. The hats have some nice subtle texture on them.
The uniform shown on the box art is that worn by the Don Cossacks, and is the Cossack parade uniform (the uniform worn by all the different Cossack divisions at the time was the same but with different colours used, usually the piping on the breeches and the hat). The uniform appears to be accurately depicted and has some nice detail with well defined creases. Do not be put off by the fact it is a parade uniform as there are quite a few pictures showing this uniform being worn in the field during WWII.
The uniform consists of a hat called Papakha, which has been faithfully replicated. If you want to depict specific Cossack units this is one piece of clothing that will need careful checking of references to get right. The jacket shown is called a Cheresska, which is accurate and includes the cartridge pockets on each breast. The dark blue breeches are another area where different units had different colours of piping down the outside of the leg. The uniform is finished with a pair of knee boots.
The equipment supplied with this set is the standard cavalry pattern 27 sabre with a wooden scabbard covered in leather or canvas. There are also two tethering pickets provided which look like a short Roman sword. There are two 24/27 carbine rifles included, which when viewed against pictures of the real thing appears accurate, there is a small amount of flash on the two rifles in my box. I was unable to find details on size in regards to this weapon, and so I am unable to say if they are dimensionally accurate.
Also in the kit are two sets of binoculars and two pistol holsters, which I believe are the Nagant revolver holster. Lastly there are four rolled up greatcoats which lay over the front of the saddle, and I suspect many will scratch their own version of this item. The greatcoat could also be a Burka which would be black in colour, with the greatcoat being khaki in colour.
I have assembled two of the horses supplied in this kit with the exception of the ears. They have been assembled using Humbrol Liquid Poly applied with a brush. I have not done any cleaning of the joints but I did remove the connecting points where needed. I hope this shows clearly how well these parts fit together, and what minimal cleaning of joints will be required.
I have partially assembled one of the supplied figures, I could not go any further due to a number of factors. These being I wish to hollow out the sleeve of the sword arm and make a partial arm for the sword hand, as I feel this is a fairly basic improvement. I also do not want to go any further until the painting has been done. The only negative I can see (if indeed it is a negative) is that I cannot remember ever being that slim.
What I hope these pictures show is just how well these parts go together. The horses and figure where selected at random and thus I have no reason to believe any of the other figures or horses will cause me any problems. It should be mentioned that neither the horses, nor figures, have any locating lugs. When assembling the horses I lined up the saddle and the girth strap which seems to have worked. The heads have a V profile which locates cleanly and solidly into the bodies with the breast plate reigns hiding the joint very well.
As can been seen by the figure I have assembled, all of the joints at the groin, waist, and shoulders go together without the obvious need for any filling, filing, or surgery. Having made this figure and these horses I feel they go together as best as can be expected of injection moulded parts, and so I cannot recommend or praise this figure set enough. Well done Zvezda.
I highly recommend this offering from Zvezda. I believe that for price, details, and overall impression of the product it cannot be beat. Anyone who has been put off by the quality of Zvezda figures in the past should take a closer look at this offering, as you will be surprised. The small negatives I was able to find will all be easy to correct, and I honestly believe there is no need to pay for after market heads for this product.