Another in the Zvezda Art of Tactic game pieces range, this one delivers a small selection of officers and other specialists for French infantry from 1812 to 1815. There are two officers, one mounted and one on foot, with the mounted man being particularly pleasing as there are few mounted officers available in normal sets. Both wear the square lapels of the 'Bardin' uniform introduced from 1812, and have the other distinctions that you might expect of officers, including long coat tails, one or two fringed epaulettes (which helped denote rank) and the gorget at the throat. Both have boots, swords drawn, and are in classic but perfectly good poses.
Also included is a flag-bearer. He also wears officer's uniform and carries a flag of about 1 metre square, which is fine. This has been elegantly engraved with the thick border decoration and the tricolour stripes, but lacks the text that denoted the unit on one side and the battle honours on the other, allowing the customer to add these depending on the regiment to be depicted. Perfect! Most important of course is the eagle which sits atop the staff as it should. Thanks to having multiple parts this pose is particularly realistic, with the flag flying behind the ensign's head.
The small set is completed with two musicians, a drummer and a fifer. The drummer seems to have been given the imperial livery, which began to appear in 1810, so although it never seems to have become universal it is a good choice for the period in question. With the braid on the sleeves and the chest this looks the part, although it is interesting to highlight that, like some of the other figures, this one differs from the box artwork; in this case it has no fringed epaulettes and has not been provided with a sword sidearm. The fifer is more tricky. Officially French regiments were permitted eight musicians, but many colonels wanted more. This they sometimes achieved by paying men serving in their ranks to act as fifers etc, with the extra pay being raised as a deduction from that of the officers. Some colonels allowed themselves to augment the usual musician uniform with extra braid etc., despite official disapproval. On other occasions regiments simply hired musicians who were not even soldiers, which were again paid by deductions from officer's pay. Official disapproval did not stop this practice either, and uniform could be quite varied. This fifer is depicted on the box as having the imperial livery like the drummer, and the model has the sleeve and chest braid in this style. Sources say musicians were dressed the same as the drummers, so perhaps the imperial livery is appropriate, although this figure could also be painted in other colours and still be authentic.
All the poses are really good - even the horse, and the sculpting is first class as usual. With several of the figures being moulded side-on, the chest sometimes suffers a little loss of detail, and we thought the braid on the musicians was rather thick and heavy-handed, but you can't complain much about these lovely figures. Unfortunately they only come on great big thick bases, which are good for display but bad for placing alongside ordinary soldiers on a 'battlefield'. But if you can get round that problem these are very nice figures.