Napoleonic battles are often seen as colourful affairs with vast ranks of men in splendid uniforms moving with precision around the field, but naturally as with any battlefield the reality was far less palatable to the modern reader, with large numbers of men losing their lives and many others having their lives changed or wrecked with wounds. Compared to later battles however those of Napoleon were not as dangerous to the average soldier, who could consider himself unlucky if he became a casualty on the day. Nonetheless any battlefield was soon littered with broken bodies, particularly given the inadequate evacuation facilities to be found in even the best armies of the day. Many figure sets choose to ignore this particular feature, and there are many customers who are content with this approach, but for diorama builders in particular downed casualties are an unfortunate fact of any battle and this set provides such figures to meet that need.
The specified dates for this set are a little difficult to understand as there is little dating evidence to be found on these figures. Most are lying on their front, so all that can be said of them is they all have a full kit of knapsack, rolled greatcoat, cartridge box and canteen. All have campaign trousers, so that too makes them useful for quite a wide period. One man is lying on his back, and seems to show the square lapels of the 'Bardin' uniform introduced from 1812, but the officer in the middle of the second row is wearing a fairly generic uniform. However nothing here is out of place in a historical sense.
When discussing poses a collection of dead people presents peculiar challenges. Virtually any pose is possible, given the right trauma such as an explosion or being hit by bullets or blade, so there is really no going wrong here. All of these figures seem perfectly reasonable, and indeed some could be mistaken for simply sleeping.
The sculpting is fairly basic, with smaller details such as badges on pouches being merely blobs of plastic. Straps are fairly thick and obvious, while where faces are visible they too are pretty basic. Again the nature of the subject allows some leeway, and the officer is a prime example. His head ends at his eyebrows, which of course would be ridiculous on a living figure, but here the loss of the top of his head, intentional or not, is not beyond the bounds of reason and therefore cannot be seen as an error. If these were sculpted as living people then they would be very awkward, but as corpses this style is more acceptable, although by no means great.
The set includes a small number of metal accessories. In the top row there is a shako lying on the ground, while the second row has a spare head wearing a bonnet de police and three muskets. All are well done (the head in particular is excellent), and are therefore clearly not from the same sculptor. Headgear and muskets littering the battlefield would have been perfectly normal, but the spare head is really something for the spares box as it does not match the figures here at all.
This is certainly a morbid subject, and this set is the first of a series in the same vein. While the sculpting is not good it is perhaps best suited to such lifeless subjects. For those that have a need for good numbers of dead French soldiers this set uniquely delivers, and certainly saves cutting otherwise good figures from their bases.