Tucked away in amongst the impressive list of World War II sets, Revell included two World War I sets that showed considerable promise, but were never added to. Their French Infantry set was the weaker of the two, but was still worthwhile as at the time of release the Airfix Great War sets were out of production.
By Revell's standards there are not a lot of poses in this set - nine plus the machine gun group. Most represent riflemen in various advancing poses, and are therefore more suitable to scenes of French attacks on German trenches than defence of French lines. The man about to throw a grenade seems a little awkward, but in general the poses are quite nice and lively if rather flat. Most have their equivalents in the Airfix set, but the three that do not are all important and very useful. They are the kneeling figure with the Chauchat automatic rifle, the officer wearing a helmet and the heavy machine gun crew.
As can be seen, these figures are wearing the standard M1915 uniform that replaced the colourful and outdated uniform with which the French army began the war. The familiar greatcoat and Adrian helmet were to remain largely unchanged throughout the war, so these figures are useful for most of the conflict. The men also wear a rolled blanket and tent section round their bodies, and are in 'assault order', having canteens, haversacks and gas masks, but not the full pack. All these items are well detailed and correctly sculpted.
Apart from the rifles and the officer's revolver, the only other weapons are machine guns, but of course these are very important for this particular conflict. The kneeling man is firing a Chauchat, a light machine gun which was far from perfect but was issued in large quantities to all parts of the French army. The weapon is well detailed and accurate, as is the operator, who can be seen wearing one of the semi-circular ammunition pouches for this weapon. The other machine gun is the heavy Hotchkiss M1914, another well used weapon of the French. Again properly detailed, this weapon sits in a small enclosure of sandbags, but it is being fired from the side, a method that would have been possible but not normal. The other issue with this machine gun is it took rigid trays of ammunition, not flexible belts as modelled here. The gun and figures fit into holes in the base quite well, but this and the standing firing pose are the only real defensive figures in the set.
Though the detail is good and the homework has been done, the figures are all rather flat - not badly so but still quite noticeable. Apart from that the sculpting style is fine, with a small amount of flash to be removed, but with realistic and appropriate poses. The bugler is a nice touch, and the two machine guns are an important addition to the Airfix selection. With suitable painting these figures can represent most parts of the French army, plus several allies such as the Belgians and even a few Americans. Not one of Revell's best efforts, but still useful.