This is a companion piece to the Zvezda French Dragoons game set for their Art of Tactic system, which delivers the usual specialists to go alongside the ordinary troopers. Here we find three poses, as usual, which are of a trumpeter, a standard-bearer and an officer. On display is the uniform introduced in early 1812, with the closed lapels of the habit-veste, so are perfectly correct for the stated period, and indeed also for 1815. The officer’s uniform is much like that of the men (although doubtless of better quality), except that he wears a fringed epaulette on the left shoulder. The trumpeter wears the surtout with braiding across the chest, which was normal for the pre-1812 period as well (when design and colours were largely down to individual colonels). He is illustrated on the box with reversed colours, as was common, although after 1812 such trumpeters adopted the standard imperial livery, but there is no sign of the lace for this design on this coat, so although painting can remedy the situation, it does look like a pre-1812 coat to us.
The poses pretty much speak for themselves, with the officer raising his sword as if at the advance or charge, and the trumpeter using his instrument - a pose rarely done properly in this hobby, with the trumpet in front of the face, due to the limitations of the usual two-piece mould. Here however Zvezda have used multiple parts to achieve some excellent poses, where not only is the trumpet in the correct position, but the officers sword genuinely points forward and the flag naturally flutters behind the man’s head, which you would expect if he were moving forward! All the horse poses are very good too (again each animal is made up of two halves), so full marks for the poses.
The sculpting is the usual standard from Zveada, with good detail and perfect proportions, although since the men are moulded from the side the detail on the front of their coats is not as sharp as it could be. Although everything requires some assembly, the parts fit together well and the results are impressive. There is a little flash, however, which is unusual for this range. The flag is engraved, or at least partly so. It has the border of wreaths, eagles and so on which identifies it as of the 1812 infantry pattern, but it lacks the central text where the unit was designated and battle honours listed, leaving the customer to choose a unit for their figures. As always we would prefer no design, and particularly here, since sources are contradictory on what the dragoons carried. Terence Wise states that the dragoons carried a standard (rather than a guidon) only in 1815, in which case it would have been the simpler 1815 design rather than that of 1812. However Keith Over states all cavalry were issued reduced-sized infantry flags in 1812, which is what this is. However he says these were 55cm square, whereas the model here is about 12mm by 16mm (86cm x 115cm), so it seems too large and the wrong shape.
By this period only one eagle was carried per regiment, so figures like the standard-bearer here would be few on the battlefield, but the officer and trumpeter would be much more numerous, and so a very useful addition to the trooper set. These are nicely done, and although expensive per figure the relatively smaller demand for such figures makes them more viable, and they are certainly nice pieces in themselves.