Napoleon's Imperial Guard - possibly one of the most popular units in this hobby. Certainly several manufacturers have seen fit to produce a set of them, but the Revell set is different in that it portrays them in greatcoats and campaign dress rather than the popular full dress. With the Airfix set showing full dress, and to an extent the Esci set doing the same, this was a smart move by Revell to show these men as many actually appeared on the field of Waterloo, which was clearly the focus of the Revell Napoleonics range.
This set was produced during Revell's hey-day, when they were making four or more high quality historic figure sets every year. Consequently we find 14 poses of beautifully animated guardsmen in many useful poses. As well as the ordinary privates, the set has a full complement of 'extras' that many customers look for in a set. There is a sapper, a drummer, an ensign with eagle and two officers, one of which is mounted. The marching figure has his musket on the correct left shoulder (the man with his on his right is an NCO), and we particularly liked the well-animated figures moving forward. The kneeling man looking up as if attacked by cavalry is outstanding, and far in advance of the stiff and sedate kneeling figures most companies have produced, while the two officers are great - one is sedate and viewing affairs from his horse while the other is very animated and clearly encouraging and leading his men. The sapper and flag-bearers are also great, so there really is not a weak pose anywhere in the set, and all the basic functions are certainly covered.
The sculpting is very good too. While the coat covers the finer detail of the uniforms, everything here has been really nicely done and all the necessary detail is here. There are some nice expressive faces too, and the sculptor has made a good job of the small parts like the moustaches and beard. The flag has been very finely detailed, but only on one side for some reason. However it is of a good size (12 mm square, = 86 cm) and has been rendered in a very realistic shape - one of the best in the hobby. The design is the 1812 pattern, which was not issued to the Guard until 1813, but that is fine for Waterloo. On our examples there was almost no flash, although as usual this may vary over the years.
The double-breasted greatcoats are correctly done, although there is debate today as to precise style, so this is merely a very likely choice. The equipment too looks good, although no man has a canteen or water bottle, which would be strange despite it not being officially issued. The officers and flag-bearer are wearing bicorns rather than the bearskin bonnets, which was common practice on campaign. The bearskins themselves are rather slimmer than those on the Airfix figures, which makes them seem taller, though they are not. However contemporary illustrations seem to disagree on the exact proportions and there is reason to suppose that both might be valid. The various differences in the uniforms of the officers and specialists have all been corrected shown, and the horse furniture is also appropriate. However the sapper is a curiosity because he wears an apron outside of his greatcoat. We could find no evidence for this rather cumbersome arrangement, but in fact sappers did not wear aprons when on campaign anyway, so the point is moot and we would have preferred no apron at all.
Since the Guard often dressed for battle in parade dress, these figures are mostly useful for the Waterloo campaign, when such high standards were impossible to make universal. The good array of poses and the excellent sculpting, combined with some imaginative design make this a splendid set and a worthy beginning to their Napoleonic range for Revell.