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Mittwoch, 21. August 2019

Review: Chasseurs á Cheval 1808 - 1815



Hey, look at this! It's a miniatures review. It's been a while since I've done one of these. Recently a box of the new-ish plastic Chasseurs á Cheval by Perry Miniatures came into my possession. Good enough a reason to review them!




The Box


As always, let's start with the box. And as always, I find the look of what the Perrys have to offer very pleasant to look at. A nice, dynamic Peter Dennis illustration in warm colours. We get all the important bullet points right there - Line Chasseurs 1808-1815, 14 figures, 28mm, hard plastic.

In the back of the box we get further information, which I'm sure piques the interest of many wargamers out there:



A whopping four uniform variants! Kinski coat (a war-time, simplified new jacket introduced from 1808) and the later habit-veste (introduced from 1812). For either you can do a campaign dress or full dress version.

We also see some colour illustrations as examples of the regiments and uniforms you can build. Look, the chap in blue - a cheeky Hussar snuck in! More on this in a bit.



Box Contents


Compared to other Napoleonic cavalry boxes by the Perrys, such as the Dragoons for example, this box is a fair bit bigger. Because it has a LOT of plastic to offer:


4 troops sprues, 4 horses sprues, 1 command sprue, a sprue of bases, and a leaflet. Right away I go for the latter, because these are always a highlight of these boxes. 

This one sure does not disappoint. It's bigger than ever, and full of useful information:


Info on all the Chasseurs regiments' colour schemes (well, the turnback/cuffs/collar colours being the defining thing there). On the other side we got the pompom/plumeau regulations (highly welcome, because with these illustrators often seem to take a lot of liberties, and they're a bit of a pain to research), how the regiment deployed in battle line, and then... Hussars! 


Yup, this set does something extra secret - you can build Hussars in campaign dress from this kit. 

Hussars look great in full dress, but on campaign from 1808 on they probably were mostly seen in Kinski jackets, overalls and covered shakos. A great option to have.

This leaflet is worth its weight ...no, that doesn't make much sense. This leaflet is well more worth than its weight in gold. It's never wrong to have an Osprey and other literature at hand, but for an overview of all the important bits, this 2-page leaflet will have you covered.


The Sprues


Now let's take a closer look at the individual sprues.

The Troopers Sprue:


The box holds 4 of these, on each you get four heads with covered shakos, four heads with uncovered shakos, four heads with the full dress version of the shakos, including plumeau and all the bells and whistles, two heads wearing colpacks (the big fur hats) with plumes, and even a head wearing a bonnet de police, the typical headwear in camp, for labour or hot weather.

Apart from that we get four torsos in kinski coats, four torsos in the later habit-veste coats, plus one of each with the overcoat rolled up and slung around the chest for additional protection. One of each torsos with kinski and habit-veste jackets wears an epaulette on the left shoulder, for use with elite company troopers. If you want you can easily shave those off and just use them for regular troopers (and just paint or sculpt the regular shoulder straps on).

Six pairs of legs, three with overalls (bascially over-trousers to protect the Hussar-style breeches on campaign. Along the inside of the legs they were besat with leather and they opened along the leg, held together by a row of buttons. These are for the campaign dress versions. The normal breeches for the full dress versions got all kinds of details sculpted on, like the Hungarian-style embroidering on the upper thighs, the regimental-coloured piping along the outside of the leg, boot piping, and so on. This kit won't really require you to freehand anything except maybe for rank or service insignia on the arms.


Left arms are cast onto the torsos, right arms are separate. Of those we get 10 on each sprue, wielding the curved light cavalry sabre in various poses ('shouldered', stretched out to the front, holding it at the ready, etc.) Two of the arms wear epaulettes, again for the elite company. On top of that there's an eleventh arm with an open hand, which is always handy for conversions. This one's meant to hold a carbine, for troopers on picket. 

Great stuff, right? So we can build six troopers from just one sprue, for a total of 24 Chasseurs in each box... well, not quite. All the parts are there to build three troopers in campaign and three in full dress (or mix thereof), three wearing the kinski jacket, three wearing habit jackets. The only problem is the sword scabbards. We only get three of those per sprue, plus another one with a sheathed sabre in case you want to model a trooper holding a carbine in his hand. And there's another little problem...

Here's the horses sprue:

It's the Perrys' generic French light cavalry horses sprue. It comes with three ingeniously designed horses (hard to describe, but they're sculpted in such a way that they require basically no gap filling. Each sprue also comes with three cavalry carbines.


So, horses aside, the carbines will also be a bit of a bottleneck that keeps us from building a total of 24 Chasseurs from this box (plus command figures). 

Due to the fact that we'd need another 12 horses to accommodate the riders, we'd also need 12 more carbines. Which happen to come on the horse sprues anyway. Yay! Leaving us only with the problem of the missing scabbards.

The Perrys actually offer the French Light Cavalry Horse sprue to be bought from their website individually at a very fair price. However, four of those would come up at GBP 14.00, plus shipping. Depending on where you are located, this may result in costing more than just getting another box of Chasseurs from your friendly local gaming store, which also instantly solves our scabbard problem. But again leaves us with yet more wonderfully nice cavalry figures without horses.  Quite a pickle. And not unlike problems the French army was always facing - a lack of horses!

Let me know what you do with all the surplus chasseurs from this box - I'd really like to know.

Anyway, let's proceed to the last sprue, the command sprue:


This is the Chasseurs command sprue, holding again four torsos and four pairs of legs. Just two heads, but we get enough of those on the troopers sprues. The trumpeter's later outfit of course featuring the imperial livery adornments, and, due to this, comes with two trumpet arms variants. Again, no freehanding that livery required, it's all cast-on. Not in all the horrible detail, but detailled enough.


Overall, the sculpting is just wonderful, the casting quality is really, really nice - usual Perrys fare. I wouldn't wanna have it any other way.


Assembly & Painting


Easy peasy really. Stick torsos and legs together, stick on heads and arms, fill gaps between arms and shoulders.

I went for a campaign dress look with Chasseurs wearing Kinski jackets. It's Chasseurs á Cheval, they don't need to dazzle. Four of the troopers I built to carry carbines, four I built to depict elite company troops, wearing the nice colpacks. Another reason why I went with the Kinski jackets is that this way I can depict earlier (intersting) things as well, like the whole 1809 stuff featuring Austrians. Implementing the later habit jackets took a long time too, so these will also work for 1812 and even up to the battle of Leipzig, I think.



All right out of the box, except for one little conversion: There are no outstretched-arm pose for the elite company troopers, so I took a regular one and sculpted on epaulettes with some green stuff. I've sculpted epaulettes several times before - it's really not hard to do and adds some variety. And I just love that pose on cavalry.



I chose the 19th regiment for these figures. They served in Italy, Northeastern Germany, were present for Wagram and Essling, for Smolensk, Borodino and Leipzig. So those should be pretty universally useful. As with my 28mm infantry, I went for single-basing (45mm x 25mm) so I can use them in Sharp Practice. If need be, I can put them on a regiment base or magnetize them to use them for battles.



To make life easier for myself I kept the horses and riders separate until late in the painting process. I also kept carbines and sabre scabbards off the riders. In fact, I had everything finished before I painted and attached scabbards and carbines. The straps by which the scabbards dangle from the belts seemed too long, so I shortened them by 1 to 1.5mm



Verdict


This is a new kind of Perrys plastics box, in that it gives you plenty of options. Sure, so did the WW2 ones, but I think that this is a new dimension, and especially for Napoleonics it's remarkable how many different options we get from this box. Plus: Hussars! It's weird, but we may have to start having "bitz boxes" for our historical wargaming now. 


The figures themselves are of the usual great Perrys quality. The details could be sharper, but I've seen plastic kits with sharper details, and it's not necessarily an improbement. I really like the soft Perrys style. The faces are really nice, as usual, based on my limited knowledge of the period everything seems correct. The casting is excellent as usual, just the odd "sinking shako top", but that can easily be filled up with some putty, if need be.

I think it's a bit sad that all we ever get in plastic for the period is for the later stages of the Napoleonic Wars. Lately I developed a taste for French uniforms before the Bardin regulations. There certainly are worse problems to have though, and I hear the Perrys are working on something VERY nice to offset the pain... 


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