In any army the grenadiers were meant to be the elite, the tallest, strongest and bravest troops who would be first into the attack. In the French army under Napoleon a battalion was supposed to have six companies, one of which was of grenadiers, but of course the most famous grenadiers were those of the Old Guard. The Imperial Guard has been favoured with sets from several manufacturers, so while many are not currently in production there are a lot of grenadier figures already in existence. This set represents Odemars' entry into that market.
The poses in this set are well chosen, with most of the troops either on the march or in the firing line. The second figure in the top row is one you don’t see very often as he appears to be standing in the ranks, perhaps waiting to march away or perhaps about to engage the enemy (much to the frustration of his Old Guard Grenadiers Napoleon frequently left them standing like this rather than committing them to battle). All the firing poses are OK although fairly clumsy - the man using his ramrod is especially so although this is a notoriously difficult pose to get right. The third figure in the second row is the only one apparently charging, but we were not happy with the way he is holding his musket, and if he is indeed charging then we would have expected him to have attached his bayonet. All the speciality poses in the bottom row are fairly static but perfectly reasonable.
In looking closely at the uniform it seems an effort has been made to cover as broad a range as possible. All of the men wear the tall grenadier cap but some have all the ornamentation of cords and plumes while others do not. Although it is often difficult to make out, all the caps seem to have the common grenade badge on the rear patch, and all except the sapper (who is correctly missing his) have the metal plate on the front. All the soldiers wear the habite with tails down to around the knees, and trousers as commonly worn on campaign. Everyone except the officers and flag-bearer have knapsacks, correctly tied with three straps, but some seem to have the later longer strap that went round the knapsack and rolled greatcoat. Equipment is all in order, and includes some that have gourds as canteens while others seem to be without a canteen. Cartridge pouches appear to have an eagle design on them, but again this is unclear. In short, the uniform is fine and for most it would serve for any grenadier of the Imperial period up to 1812, and for the Guard grenadiers up to 1815. The purists will want to know that the turnbacks do not extend to the bottom of the tails - a feature seen up to around 1809.
The figures on the bottom row are also properly done. The drummer has a good sized drum and the flag-bearer has an unengraved flag, although three of this pose is much more than most will need as increasingly few eagles were taken on campaign. The sapper is very nice, with his axe, axe case, gauntlets and apron. An attempt has even been made to include the crossed axes badge on his sleeve, although as a result this is much too thick. The first officer in our picture is wearing a single-breasted surcoat, which was often seen when in the field. Both he and his companion have epaulettes, but only that on the left shoulder has a fringe - a mark of their rank.
The sculpting is what we have come to expect from Odemars. It won’t be winning any beauty contests as it is rather chunky and basic but it is not too bad. As we have said small detail items such as badges are quite vague, and some items seem to have been missed entirely like the bayonet scabbard that should be beside the sabre. The faces are quite nicely done, including the long side whiskers and moustaches for all but one of the soldiers (moustaches were not always compulsory throughout the year). The majority of the men have a queue, although we would have expected all to have this item, even if not in the Guard. On our example there was a minimal amount of flash and generally a low level of extraneous plastic too. However some of the figures still exhibit a certain flatness. Finally the average height is quite tall, with some being as much as 25mm (1.8 metres) in height. This is tall for a Napoleonic man, but the grenadiers were usually the tallest anyway so in this case the height is fine.
While not the prettiest figures ever made these are quite usable and the high number of appropriate poses should appeal to many. Just one more set with which you can revive the glory of l’Empéreur.