The impact of French aid on the American Revolution has long been debated, but what is undeniable is that thousands of French troops operated with the Americans during the war, and were particularly active in the campaign that ended with the British surrender at Yorktown. In addition, with various other French actions that occurred in support of the war all over the world, it is clear that a set depicting these troops is a worthy addition to the currently very small range of Revolutionary War sets.
The industry-standard 15 poses (including one horse in this case) are a fair selection, though the absence of a marching figure will disappoint many. One man is kneeling and apparently about to fix bayonet, presumably in preparation to receive cavalry. While not impossible, we felt this was not a useful pose, particularly as cavalry were only a minor part of this conflict. The pose of a man kneeling taking a cartridge is reasonable, but we felt each set did not need eight of him - perhaps more of the running man and fewer of this one would have been more useful.
As far as the uniform is concerned, these men are mostly OK. They all wear the new uniform introduced in 1779, which is likely to have been the dominant style for the metropolitan army by the time of Yorktown. The tricorns have a high front corner, marking the transition towards the bicorns that were to follow, but they are generally too short on these figures. We also took issue with the cuffs, which have one button on them when they should have four - two above and two on the cuff. All wear a cartridge box (which is much too small) on a belt over the left shoulder, and also a hanger (for sword and bayonet) over their right. This marks them out as grenadiers or chasseurs, and since all are also sporting moustaches, they must be grenadiers as other types were clean shaven. However they do not have fringed epaulettes or pompons in their hats, which grenadiers should have.
Generally detail is pretty good, though the odd belt seems to all but disappear in a few places. Flash too is at a low level, and there is not a lot of trimming needed here. The drummer has been given a small toy drum - a fate suffered by many plastic figures, and one that makes him look quite silly. The fifer, by contrast, has a quite enormous instrument. Size is also an issue for the flag-bearer. The flag should be about two metres square - hugely bigger (and a different shape) to the one shown here. It has been engraved on both sides with a complicated pattern that resembles, but does not accurately represent, the colour of the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment. This is not representative of most French flags of the time, which were more geometric patterns, and we continue to complain loudly about the fact that it was engraved at all. Let the customer decide what colour is to be used, or at least engrave the most typical type of pattern, and do it accurately!
The proportion of kneeling poses is excessive, and mostly of use only for skirmishers rather than grenadiers, while most of the poses do not lend themselves to large well-disciplined formations, so wargamers will find little of interest here. However the officers, including the mounted one, are nice, though the French army did not carry pole-arms at this time. All the figures are fairly well proportioned apart from rather large heads - in fact the overall style of sculpting is not one of our favourites. Overall a set with good detail but some very avoidable faults caused by poor research and a lack of appreciation of how these troops would normally look in the field.