When Italeri first began producing 1:72 military figure sets, they started on safe ground with British and French Napoleonics. Their first French cavalry set was of long awaited Carabiniers, one of the most spectacular troop types of the Wars, and not previously done by anyone. They were spectacular from around 1810 when they were issued a new uniform that included a Grecian-style helmet and a cuirass, making them cuirassiers in all but name, As the box tells us, this was still their appearance in 1815 during Napoleon's last throw of the dice, at Waterloo.
After their first cavalry set (Scots Greys) had set the standard, the Carabiniers matched it with nine poses and five horse poses. What's more the poses are not just of men holding their sword up at slightly different angles - these are a good mixture, including men handling and firing the carbine. This set also saw the first attempt at producing a figure that is charging with sword pointing directly in front of him. Due to the limitations of the two-piece mould this is a very difficult pose to make, and yet arguably it is the most important of all. Italeri showed a lot of imagination and came up with a figure moulded partly sideways, which was indeed broadly in the desired position. However, one leg is well forward of the other, and there is a slightly ungainly look about it. Still, it is probably as close as can be achieved with the technology (without having separate parts), and fully deserves its place in the set. We liked all of the poses, although the man next to the trumpeter has his sword arm at a strange angle.
The set also includes an officer and a trumpeter - figures that are often missing from sets that only offer a few poses. The officer, at the end of the first row, is presumably shouting encouragement to his men as they charge, while the trumpeter is in classic pose, using his instrument.
The five horse poses are all galloping, charging etc. They are well sculpted and correctly furnished. However a standing pose should have been included, mainly for the man firing his carbine, as his slim chance of hitting anything virtually disappears if he is firing from a moving mount. Much the same applies to the man holding his carbine, who does not look like he is on a fully-galloping animal, and even the man about to thrust down with his sword would be better on a horse either standing or at least not moving with the full fury all these poses show. Some of the poses are more natural than others, but all of them are at least respectable.
All the figures wear the armour that made them so spectacular. Strangely though, all are missing the carbine belt which held that weapon, and those that actually have a carbine have it hanging by their side with no visible means of support. Also, while all the troopers have a cartridge pouch, the belt on which it hangs is missing from the front of the body in many cases, leaving this belt to disappear at the shoulder and hip, which is very strange. All the clothing looks good, and the officer has correctly been given the sunburst badge on the front of his cuirass, which the unarmoured trumpeter has a coat with lace on the chest that could serve for either the 1810-style coat or the post-1812 coat with imperial livery.
The sculpting is excellent, with beautiful detail everywhere. The cuirass and the helmets in particular call for a high standard, and these figures deliver that standard very well. Even where the man directly faces the mould, making the helmet very hard to produce, the results are good with minimal loss of detail. Apart from the one awkward swordsman all the poses are natural and the proportions great. There is no flash, and the men sit easily on the horses but grip them well enough to need little or no gluing, so these are precision pieces.
Apart from the problem with the belts, these are very fine figures indeed. The mismatch between some of the poses and the fully charging horses is a tricky feature to overcome, and Italeri should have provided a horse pose that was standing or walking, but other than that this set is full of positives. Although others have since done Carabiniers, this remains a popular set and demonstrates that Italeri's entry into the figure market was marked by very high quality right from the very start. This is an interesting choice of subject, and a very well executed set that has stood the test of time.