Perry French Napoleonic Heavy Cavalry Review

I purchased a box of Perry French Napoleonic Heavy Cavalry to make some late wars French Carabiniers.  I’m very disappointed.  I find this set really inadequate, and after assembling 8 of the horses and riders have just given up on it.  Happy to sell if someone wants a partially assembled set.

So, after you read this you may ask, why did I even bother buying it in the first place, so I’ll start with what attracted me and what I think is good about the set.  It was appealing to me to be able to do both Carabiniers and Cuirassiers from the same set.  The math of 14 figures per box doesn’t align perfectly with what I wanted to build, but pretty close and at around 3USD per figure, the price was right.  If you look down through my blog you’ll see that I’ve done quite few Perry plastic WotR figures for WotR and Venetians in the 15th century.  I like those figures a lot.  I am not particularly fond of the mounted figures in that range primarily because of the horses.  But I’d read a lot of nice reviews about the Perry horses in the Napoleonic range so assumed many of my concerns there were fixed.  Lastly, I’ve become quite fond of plastic – not because of the cost but because of the ability to do conversions easily.  For Napoleonics for battles the conversion ability is not that important as I really just want big units of guys marching or guys charging and doing a lot of one off conversions isn’t that important.

The riders in this set are pretty nice.  They all have separate heads and the heads are kind of same-ish.  But what can you do with guys with mustaches in a helmet like that?  So those are fine.  They have arms so you can make shouldered are swords extended and that is a nice touch.  I was only interested in the charging pose really so experimented with positioning the arm at various heights and it was easy and believable in a number of positions.  The scabbards are a little bit fiddly.  The instructions note that the built terminates under the cuirass and the turnback which was a helpful instruction.  The end result is really nice because the strap is clearly separate from the rest of the figure casting for a good result.  I gave up before I glued the carbines on their straps.  I was curious about the note instructions that say to attach them to the saddle rather than the rider?  Maybe if I got to glueing the rider onto the horse I would see what they meant but that’s really a bit of a head-scratcher otherwise.  There is a nice touch with a separate piece of plastic for the sunburst on the carabinier officer.  And lastly, the cleanup of mold lines on the riders was hardly necessary.

That’s about all I have to say about this set that is nice.  The rest of it is, shall we just say, extremely disappointing.  You get a command sprue with two horses, one for the officer and one for the standard bearer, presumably.  Interestingly the officer will set in the standard bearer’s horse, but not vice-versa.  The lower body of the standard bearer was carved too deep for the horse with the portmanteau.  You can’t really swap them because then you’ll end up with two layers of fringe underneath the cuirass for the officer and none for the standard bearer.  I ended up stealing a body from one of the other sprues and sticking the standard bearers torso on that.  You end up still not having fringe under the bottom of the cuirass, but at least it fits the horse.

I’m also not keen on having only one officer’s horse in the set.  I had envisioned doing 4 squadrons of carabiniers, each with an officer and a trumpeter, and the thought of the same horse for every officer in the two regiments sounded a little boring.  I’m told by folks online that I could raid the dragoon command sprue to get additional officer horses and that seems reasonable.

I wanted to do the units as charging so needed the horses in galloping poses.  I think the officer’s horse in the set might be thought to be believably at the gallop, but I’m not quite sure.  At first blush it looks like a horse that has had a mild fright and is starting to rear rather than a horse somewhere in stride at the gallop.  It’s clearly not standing or trotting, so not sure.

The rest of the horses come in two parts.  I fiddled around with them for awhile.  I ended up making three of the horse out to be in a reasonable trot.  I tried making the others somewhere in a gallop.  None of them are really convincing, and only one of them is really plausible even as a horse in a gallop.  And actually apart from the horses that are clearly trotting, I’m not at all sure what these horses are supposed to be doing.  Some kind of horse fantasy contortion I guess.  Of these 4 I think the 2nd from the left is possibly believable as being at the gallop.


My second gripe is the amount of gap filling that is needed on the horses.  That was kind of my main beef with the war of the roses horses was the seam down the back of the horse’s rump that needed to be filled.  These are better, or so I thought, because there is a strap down the middle of the rump that will hide that seam.  It does, which is nice, but there are still gaps in a couple of places on most of the horse.  Here is the gap in the saddle furniture.


And in the right front flank.


On the first 8 horses I put together, 7 of them needed gap filling to hide rather noticeable gaps.  In fact, I prefer fixing the seam on the WotR horses because it’s a little bit of filler and a little bit of careful sanding and it’s done, whereas on these, the gaps are noticeable in places that either need sculpting afterwards (in the middle of the portmanteau in the top picture) or hard to reach (in the neck below the reins in the lower picture).  I don’t know whether this is a sculpting problem or a casting problem, but it’s a lot of work.

And that brings me to my last issue.  I’ve been building a lot of plastic models in the past year – 1/700 ships, 1/48 tanks, 1/72 planes – and coming to these after doing those made me think how awful the casting quality is.  I wasn’t able to get a really good photo of this, but here is my one attempt:


It doesn’t show it all that well, but there’s a pretty clear mold line down the middle of the horse’s nose and along the front and back of both legs.  This is true and noticeable on the back legs also.  It makes for a lot of work to clean up and I’m just thinking about how these kinds of casting lines are all but non-existent with model making companies.  I imagine these are harder to cast than halves of ships or tanks, or planes, but still, the amount of work on this is quite noticeable.  Is that really the best we can get?

In conclusion, the tradeoff of the extra work required for assembling plastics is worth it to me personally, but not this much work, and not when the end result is pretty hard to believe.




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