If there’s one image of the Napoleonic period you’ve seen, it’s probably of British Heavy Dragoons. The painting Scotland Forever! is absolutely iconic and while probably all over the place in terms of historical accuracy, captures what it must have been like to stand as an infantryman in front of a heavy cavalry charge: absolutely pant-shittingly terrifying. The British Dragoons depicted are the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), a unit with a long history, a proud combat roll and, in the Napoleonic period, doers of exactly one thing – breaking a column at Waterloo and then getting smacked around by Milhard and Jacquinot.
The image is a classic of the Napoleonic period, and amazingly, hasn’t been properly represented in sheer mass and movement in a plastic kit before. The new Victrix British Heavy Dragoons 1812-1815 deliberately sets that goal in sights, draws sabre and charges right at it. It’s a rare rule set where you don’t want a big solid unit of heavy cavalry, and this is as heavy as Brits get – so do you want this kit?
Before getting into it, I’d like to thank Victrix for sending a set of these guys over to us to review.
What you get
Victrix have been on a roll with Napoleonic Dragoons recently. I reviewed the French Dragoons kit in July, and found them a fun, dynamic and powerful kit, with a little bit of a fiddly edge. The British Dragoon kit is their direct equivalents: two implacable enemies, on big horses, with fancy hats and carbines. But only one can rule the field of battle – and only one kit can win the great Dragoon Showdown.
The kit gives you 12 Heavy Dragoons, broken up into three frames of troopers and one command frame with officer and trumpeter. They’re on fully charging horses, equipped accurately for the late Napoleonic period and come with options for three heads. You can build them as Heavy Dragoons or the Scots Greys themselves, giving you a nicely versatile kit, for the heaviest cavalry the British used in the Napoleonic period.
While the frames, and the kit itself, is all the high quality and considered layout you’d expect from a modern Victrix kit, it’s the heads that really sell it for me. In the run up to release, Victrix talked a lot about these heads, and showcased the three options – Dragoon Helmet, Scots Greys bearskin and (excitingly if you’re a big Napoleonic hat nerd – like me these days), the Greys in bearskin covers for your full, accurate, Waterloo look. The heads are detailed, full of expression and take paint really well. They’re most certainly charging heads, and that’s important – because you want these guys snarling and shouting and crying “Scotland Forever!” because you’re modelling them at the charge, right?
That attention to detail to the dynamism of the models and their sense of movement and momentum is present everywhere in the kit. Scabbards and webbing are modelled to be in movement. The horses, while a little more restrained than the hell-for-leather French Dragoons are straining and galloping, with their cropped tails in flight and the troopers all lean forward into the pommel. Even in the heads – and I liked this a lot because it’s often forgotten about – the plumes on bearskins look like they’re bobbing and swaying with the horses movement, rather than solid lumps of plastic as they are in many, many other kits.
In contrast to the French Dragoons, the build is easy and the component count is substantially more reasonable! The French kit, while detailed and very posable, was a little fiddly. Here, the choice has been made to condense what was several parts into one – the legs and torso are a single piece, but arms, heads, scabbard and carbine are all separate. This is, to me, a much better balance than the French kit. Lots of posability and options, but much much less of the fiddliness, particularly when matching horses to trooper poses.
Cleanup is fairly minimal, though some horses have a vicious mould line across the mane that requires careful removal. As always with a Victrix kit, follow the instructions carefully! Each horse is matched to a trooper, and each trooper has their own scabbard. This has the cost of making the build a little longer, but it gives fantastic movement and weight to the models in comparison to stiffer body and scabbard single piece models from other manufacturers.
Once built, they scale perfectly with the French Dragoon kit, as you’d expect, and fit in well with other cavalry from other manufacturers. As you can see below they’re a little stockier in the waist and shoulders than the Perry Cuirassier and Dragoon I used as a comparison, but this is all to to the good! Mixing them in with other modern 28mm scale miniatures will be fine, though I’d give some thought to mixing them with trad-Napoleonic scale models at their often 25mm size.
I haven’t actually painted Brits before, so I only managed to get paint on a few of these – they’re a great paint as you’d expect from Victrix, with the right level of raised detail to allow and encourage time-saving washes and dry brushes, and a good amount of flat surface for nice, deep colour. All the trims, weird shoulder bits and fancy-ass uniform pieces are prominent and raised, and they are in all just a really fun kit of paint up!
French Vs British
It’s not a particularly useful direct comparison, unless you’re looking for both French and British armies (good idea that, thinking about it), but it’s worth looking at the two Dragoon kits side by side. The downsides of the French kit – the sheer number of components and some of the minor uniform inaccuracies – have been emphatically corrected here, without sacrificing any of the detail, options or movement that made the French Dragoons a solid recommendation. I really like this for Victrix – changing up how the unit has been put on the sprue and the troopers cut into pieces has produced a much better kit. Looking forward to seeing more lessons put into practice like this as they produce more kits for the period. Hopefully, in a kit or twos time, we’ll have a perfect Éclaireurs of the Guard kit and I won’t have to kitbash my own!
If you’re playing the Brits, and you want heavy cavalry, you almost certainly want this kit. Not just because it’s a relatively rare offer – British Plastic Dragoons! – but because it’s a damn nice kit that’s up to the usual high standard of Victrix and indeed above it, presenting a new level of ease, detail and options that I hope they take forward into future designs. It’s learned a lot of lessons from the French Dragoon kit to push the template there, of dynamic, interesting Cavalry with amazing modelled momentum and speed, into a kit that’s easy to build, full of options and looks pretty much perfect on the table. British players beware – your Cavalry is about to get a whole lot heavier.
Have any questions or feedback? Completely disagree that for the duration of the entire Napoleonic wars British heavy cavalry achieved bugger all? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.