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Re: "Early" WSS

Hello everyone,

Just another perplexity about the French soldiers for the Spanish Succession. I do not want to start new discussions, I would just like to know why Strelets chose the term "Early" to label the period for which the French line fusiliers and musketeers have been made. Do they wear different uniforms from their late war comrades?

Thank you all,

Question: "I would just like to know why Strelets chose the term "Early" to label the period for which the French line fusiliers and musketeers have been made."

Answer: Ignorance.

Set 236 can fairly be used for the whole of the WSS, but is not specifically early war. A specifically early war set would have cartridge boxes on shoulder straps. Strelets cannot have understood the material if they believe this set is specifically early WSS.

Set 234 is pre-WSS. The fact that it was made in the first place, apparently as a companion for Set 236, is the result of ignorance. That might be a tad harsh on my part. I note Plastic Soldier Review states that matchlocks were not withdrawn from frontline service until 1708, whereas, I have been unable to find anything that suggests their use beyond 1700 and Chartrand's most recent work seems pretty clear on the subject. Still, this period is viewed through a glass darkly, but if you admit the possibility of matchlocks at this period, you need to grapple with the issue of Strelets' short barrels.

It is important to note here that, in relation to Set 236, the consequences of Strelets' lack of detailed knowledge of the period is confined to the mis-naming of the set. Understood as a general WSS set, it's absolutely fine. It typifies the look of Louis XIV's infantry for much of the conflict and does so very well, with inaccuracies confined largely to the standard.

Question: "Do they wear different uniforms from their late war comrades?"

Answer: No. Set 236 is pretty much the standard uniform of the day. A proportion of the troops may have worn older shoulder-slung cartridge boxes in the early years, which these do not.

The only potential change to the uniform that might have come in late in the war that I can think of is the use of gaiters. French troops seem to have adopted them by the 1720s and British troops are said to have worn them increasingly as the WSS wore on, but I don't know the extent to which the French did,

If you want a French set that was specifically 'late war', and which might cover the WAS, make some with gaiters.

The more I see of this new range, the more convinced I become of two things:

- First, it is a superb range, beautifully done, and, on the whole, is pretty accurate and to be commended.

- Second, Strelets are nevertheless proceeding with an inadequate understanding of the period and subject matter, which means we can, unfortunately, continue to expect a proportion of 'misses' along with the 'hits'. In some cases this might affect some figures in a set, or some sets will just be useless. This is a pity and I hate to see wasted effort and opportunity and a set, once made wrong, will never be made right.

Frankly, too much is being left to chance, as the range is clearly being produced without a sufficient understanding of the period. It cannot help but be a hit and miss affair. The hits are brilliant, and most sets, so far, are hits, but I'm increasingly nervous about what comes next.

Clearly copying some pictures, however brilliantly and faithfully the sculpting is done, is proving insufficient where the context is not understood properly. More attention to research and, again, perhaps eliciting contributions from those outside the company who could help.

So, perhaps Strelets can for now reproduce some of what it has got right and give us, please, a second set of Fusiliers, in the same uniform and equipped as Set 236, but this time including a drummer (two would be nice) and some Grenadiers?

The long version again:

"French Fusiliers, set 236

These are superb and exquisite sculpts.

They are a good match for the British WSS troops we have seen, and certainly fit the WSS period.

There are examples of both horizontal and vertical pocket flaps, allowing many different regiments to be depicted. That is useful and much appreciated.

I am unsure why they are specifically labelled as "early war". They all wear the ventral cartridge box attached to the waist band. Prior to that the French wore a cartridge box on a strap over the left shoulder (like the British, Dutch etc).

Referring to the newly published The Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715, Rene Chartrand, 2020, cartridges are given as introduced during the 1690s, and the shoulder suspended boxes were first used. Naturally, reasons Chartrand, these would not have been replaced overnight by the ventral boxes, so, he reckons, the latter would be adopted by most, if not all, soldiers by 1705-1710.

As, in any case, these are clearly figures showing a later stage of evolution than set 234, I am unsure as to the thinking behind identifying them as "early".

Sets 236 and 234 do not represent different troop types, rather, they both represent ordinary French infantrymen at different stages of their development."