Some years ago Zvezda made a very good if slightly curious set of French artillery - French Foot Artillery - claiming the valid period of 1810 to 1815, so overlapping with the period mentioned on this box. This however is a far less impressive model, containing just one gun and six figures, as it is intended as a game piece to merely represent the French artillery. The figures have no bases of their own, and must be inserted into a single large base as shown here .
Apart from the considerably less plastic in this product, the main difference between the two is that the figures here wear the 'Bardin' uniform introduced from 1812. This took time to reach everyone, so certainly would be seen at the same time as the previous version, but the curious thing is in this set all the men are wearing dress uniform, just as they are in the older, full set. While there is mention of some men dressing in full uniform prior to a battle, it is far more likely that these men would wear trousers, shako covers and other campaign garb rather than the glorious full dress here. Another issue is that every man wears his full pack and has slung his musket on his back. While not impossible, it would be a considerable hindrance having so much equipment whilst serving a gun, and such kit would normally be put aside, as might tunics and shakos, during the action. So in general we thought this was a set that was designed to appeal to the eye rather than truthfully reflect an average French gun in action.
The gun has a barrel length of about 22mm, which at this scale suggests the gun would be a four-pounder, which matches the fairly slim look of the barrel. The gun is made in many more pieces than most manufacturers, and the result is a much better model with a lot more detail. The gun is faultlessly engineered to fit together without need for glue, and looks great when complete. The figures too call for some assembly, but here we found some of them were very hard to put together - tight joins are all very well, but when you have only very fragile items like musket barrels to hold, it is hard to force home the peg without distorting or even snapping something thin and vulnerable. Occasionally Zvezda figures are a bit too hard to force together, and this seems to be just such a product, which is a pity because all the figures are very well detailed and realistically posed. When placed together we see that one man is applying the portfire match to the barrel while two others are holding the carriage with handspikes and the rest of the crew are crowding round closely. Surely someone is going to get hurt like this - not least the two men holding the handspikes, as the carriage would be expected to leap back a metre or more upon firing. In reality, when the command to fire was given everyone made sure they were a step or two away from the unpredictable bucking carriage.
As a representation of artillery for a game of course it hardly matters, but we were unimpressed with the unlikely arrangement of poses - nice though all of them are individually - and we felt the full dress uniform and heavy kit did not reflect the reality of the situation. Add to that the much shortened sword being waved by one man (surely a moulding fault and perhaps better in other examples) and the difficulty of assembling many of the figures, and we were not much taken by this set, which is a pity as Zvezda sets, even very small ones like this, are usually better thought out.