Like many armies that of the French had had light infantry since well before Napoleon put himself in charge. A number of regiments were specifically 'light', although that often meant nothing on the battlefield as they were used in the same way as the line regiments. Then in 1804 every infantry battalion, even those in 'light' regiments, were given a company of voltigeurs, which were specialist light infantry or skirmishers. In theory they were the smallest, most nimble men, used to provide a skirmish line in front of the main body, but in practice their role was whatever was required at the time. Such men were immediately considered an elite (not least by themselves), and they cultivated a strong bond with light cavalry, adopting some of their features. Some companies took this as far as adopting the light cavalry busby rather than the usual infantry shako, and these are the troops to be found in this set from HaT.
These men wear the uniform that developed during the early years of the 19th century and would not see significant change until the Bardin reforms of 1812. Everything is in order here, including the short gaiters made to look like hussar boots, fringed epaulettes on the coatee and, of course, the busby with plume and bag. For those with an eye for detail the tail turnbacks do not reach the bottom, which was a style that started to disappear from 1809, and the cuffs have flaps rather than being pointed, but essentially these figures are good up to the 1812 changes. All have the sabre and bayonet combined frog, which is fine (despite orders to stop wearing them, which were widely ignored), but none have the campaign trousers that often graced such troops in the field.
The sculpting is pretty good too, with good detail and proportions. The officer's gorget is a little curious, as is the fact that his scabbard is rather less curved than his sabre, but these are a perfectly presentable sculpting job. There is some flash on many of the seams, but this is not too bad. All the men have separate knapsacks which fit onto a peg on their back. The fit is quite good, but gluing would still be advisable. Because of the presence of all the necessary straps, the pack is not an optional extra, but having it separate does improve the look of the figure and is a good idea.
Although as we have said light infantry sometimes fulfilled ordinary infantry roles, the poses in this set are largely aimed at their specialist role, and a pretty good selection there is too. All are very solid and if not particularly exciting are certainly very usable and a sensible choice.
HaT have once more come up with a set of Napoleonic figures in a uniform not previously modelled in this scale, and done it well.