My two favourite French Imperial Guard sets are those produced by Airfix and Zvedza because they are well sculpted and wear Full Dress Uniform. However, you can not line these two sets up side by side or it will look like young boys along side their fathers. This sort of discrepancy in physical bulk is a real shame in our hobby where I think the sales of both would benefit from them being made correctly, in this case Zvedza got it right but I only bought 1 box of them whereas I have a few more of Airfix. At present I use the Airfix casualty figure with my Revell British Line Infantry for the AWI since he is hat less and well sculpted. The Airfix French Line Infantry casualty lying face down with no hat has also been conscripted into the same army.
And hi to you, too, Malcolm! The reason I use so many Airfix Grenadiers is because I got a ton of them early on, back when I was in the Navy on shore leave in Singapore and found a store having a half price sale. You should've seen the checkout girl's face when I brought all those Airfix sets up to the counter. A stack of boxes with legs! I got so many Napoleonic and AWI figures from that one purchase that I'm still painting them thirty-eight years later.
The Grenadiers were some of Airfix's earliest figures, along with their Cuirassiers, done in a smaller scale to match model railroad equipment that was closer to 1/87 scale. Later on Airfix changed to 1/75, hence the range being described as 'HO-OO' on the boxes. Unfortunately while they redid several of their WW2 sets, notably British and German infantry, they never got around to redoing the Grenadiers or Cuirassiers.
I agree, they are beautifully sculpted and nicely detailed. I've also found they actually paint up faster, easier and better than many larger figures. Reportedly they were sculpted by the legendary Ray Lamb, one of the finest designers of 54mm display figures of his time.
Zvezda figures are excellent, the plastic hard enough to take paint readily but especially assembled figures clip together perfectly. Their major drawback is the lugs inside the legs of their horsemen, intended to fit into holes in the horse sides, a retrograde feature I've only seen in very old dime-store toys. They do ensure the riders won't come off--but the stiffness of the plastic mean the pins are more likely to deform before they fit! Fortunately if clipped off completely the riders fit on very well, which reveals another minor drawback: each man is designed to fit best on one particular horse, and which one can only be determined by trial and error(guess who found out all this the hard way?). Once matched up, though, they fit like corks in a bottle.
I buy Zvezdas mainly to fill holes in existing armies. The French Cuirassiers and Grenadiers look very good alongside Airfix or HaT infantry, and fill missing slots in HaT's range.
I've found the casualty figures make good sources of heads, arms and weapons for conversions.One occasion I was short of charging Cuirassiers, but had an excess of ACW cavalry casualties. I took the Airfix man crouching behind a dead horse, cut him off below the cuirass and coat-tails, then matched him up with the ACW legs. A little trimming of the pants, and I had a passable charging pose. Painted to match and lined up with their fellows, the difference is unnoticeable.
Naturally I discovered a couple of extra boxes right after I finished them!