As with the line infantry French light infantry of the Napoleonic period was subdivided into several types, and at least in theory the largest and most battle-hardened men went into the elite companies called carabiniers (much like the grenadiers in the line). In fact this was more about status than any real tactical distinction as all types of light infantry performed the same tasks, but as usual the differences were evident mainly in the uniform, and for the first time such light carabiniers are presented in this set.
This set is intended to cover the period 1808 to 1812, and as such these figures all wear suitable uniform. The usual habit-veste and breeches were common to most of the infantry, but these men have the Hessian boots that were usual for the carabiniers, and of course most obviously they all have the fur cap, without any plate, which was worn in combat and on parade. The caps all have plumes and cords, and there is no sign of campaign trousers, so these figures are in the ideal uniform that would not always have been achieved, especially after a long campaign. Those with an eye for the detail might want to know that the cap patch is quartered, which was the correct official pattern although others were also adopted, and the turnbacks on the habit tails do not fully reach the hem, which was a practice introduced during this period.
The kit on these figures is entirely as per regulation, which includes the sabres that at least officially were limited to the carabiniers. One non-regulation item that would normally have been present however was some form of canteen or water bottle, which does not appear here at all. All the common soldiers are wearing their packs, but neither the officer nor the NCO porte-aigle are doing so. The former is correctly shown with his gorget about his throat and waist belt supporting his sword, while the latter, who accompanied the colours, carries a halberd and sports a pair of pistols in his belt.
While there are not a great many poses in this set all the important ones are present, given the light infantry’s role of skirmishing. The man advancing with bayonet forward would have been more unusual but certainly not unlikely. The pose of the officer is particularly pleasing, apparently content to watch events in a fairly casual manner.
We really can’t have any complaints about the sculpting either, which provides all the necessary detail and produces some very fine faces for these warriors. The sculptor has avoided any areas of excess plastic, partly by making all the knapsacks separate items which fit onto pegs on the back of the figure. This fit is not tight and requires gluing, but it does give a more realistic feel to the knapsack and happily we found the figures glued very securely with ordinary polystyrene cement. The presence of all the necessary straps etc mean that the pack is not optional however. The only slight fly in the ointment is the pistols on the porte-aigle, which the sculptor has seemingly failed to understand and therefore are of a very odd design.
No manufacturer has been more prolific than HaT, and none has supported the Napoleonic period more thoroughly, and this set is a worthy addition to their range. The very occasional small area of flash does not detract from a very attractive and workmanlike set which adds yet another group of soldiers to the kaleidoscope which was Napoleonic warfare.