Contents of the box:
Now I got a battery boxed set. It contains 24 men (six for each gun), four guns and some loose equipment (two spare wheels, two stacks of cannonballs and a total of six ammo chests). In my case, since I went for FNFR251, this meant three 12pdr. guns and one 6″ Howitzer.
The minis themselves wear the pre-1812 uniform with uncovered shakos. Each mini is in there twice, so there are 12 different poses in all. While one crew is loading / running the gun and the other firing, there are a few poses in each set, that are not distinctive of that phase, so one could shuffle them around a little, to create 4 different crew compositions. All the minis are nicely animated and anatomically correct.
The guns are from the Gribeauval system period. Since the newer an XI (Year 11) guns did not arrive in Spain these would be suitable for the Peninsular Campaign. I doubt that a complete transition had taken place by 1813, so in small numbers they should work until that time, too.
Price (as in June 2012):
If you buy these as a single gun with crew, the price is 12 GB£ for six minis, one gun and some spare equipment. If you buy them as part of a battery set the price for each gun with crew comes down to 11,25 GB£.
By comparison a Perry gun with six crew (FN 132) costs 10,50 GB£.
If you buy a Front Rank gun and add six crew to it the cost is 13,25 GB£. (They do have discounted packs as well, but those have a different composition.)
Wargames Foundry would ask for 17 GB£ for six minis and a gun. (They have discounted packs as well, but those have a different composition, too.)
So price wise they are at the lower end of the metals around, especially when bought as a pack, like the sample here.
Now the detail on the minis is really good. Nice crisp and clear with no undercuts (as can be expected from metals). The animation is good and lively, as well as anatomically correct. I had no bubbles or mould misalignments with these minis and flash was minimal. In some cases (as could be expected with the lively animation) there are mould-lines running over the faces, but these were removed easily and without damage to the faces.
Generally much the same goes for the guns. Minimal flash and no misalignment either. I was very impressed with the insides of the wheels. Those were all cast perfect with no bubbles in the spokes and even less flash.
The 12pdr. barrels all had a minor dent at the same spot, which suggest damage to the mould, but this can easily be fixed with greenstuff or even white glue.The carriages feature a very nice woodgrain detail. On the 12 pounder carriages these is obscured around the handles, my guess being that this is glue from fitting together the parts on the master. This can be recut with a sharp knife, but it still is a shame. Do not take these “defects” as major shortcomings though. I have had more miscast spokes and carriage details on an average Perry piece.
Size wise these minis should work well with the Napoleonic minis produced by the other mayor companies. Obviously the real test comes if you want to mix them in one unit or even on one base.
While they offer no French plastic artillery (yet) I also decided to compare them to the Victrix French, since their infantry is a good fit period wise. As you can see from the shot above, they are smaller than Victrix, with the bases about the same size. The heft is vastly similar and the same can be said for the sculpting style. The main differences comes from the different mediums (metal and plastic) and the fact that the faces on the Victrix minis are a bit more exaggerated. I would not base them together on one base (maybe if you cut off the base from the Victrix minis), but would not mind fielding an Offensive artillery battery besides Victrix infantry.
I would have loved to compare the guns to other manufacturers (size wise) but the only 12 pounders I have are from Perry and those are an XI models, so they can not be compared.
All in all this is a very good offering. You get very detailed, historically correct and animated minis, for a price at the bottom end of Napoleonic French artillery. Plus some extra parts, which even if you do not use them on these bases will make great battlefield clutter on infantry or command bases. (By the way… there is also a very nice set of French artillery casualty markers that go with the artillery and if you want to add a little flavour to your bases you should take a look at those as well!) The minor defects do not offset the quality and value of the rest of the set and I would recommend them to anyone who feels they do fit his collection period wise. I shall definitely get myself the 8 pounders in due time.
Dave at Offensive has also hinted, that they will add to their Napoleonics line in the future and am looking forward to seeing those as well!