The 54mm Napoleonic Military Miniatures of Imrie/Risley
Land of the Counterpane
Since the age of five, I have collected metal toy soldiers, generally those created by Britains Ltd. However, as I grew older and developed an interest in the Napoleonic period, I started to search for figures I could buy to depict some of the battles I was reading about and the fantastic paintings, albeit sometimes inaccurate, I was seeing of the period.
In the 8th Grade, I discovered the work of Bill Imrie and Clyde Risley in a local hobby shop, and I was hooked. The first figures I bought were of their superb American Revolution range, but after seeing their catalogue, they had a 12-pounder Gribeauval artillery piece, Grenadiers à Pied of the Old Guard, and mounted and dismounted hussars of both the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, in mirliton, shako, and colpack. I eagerly bought these as I could afford them and started to paint.
As the years went by, the Napoleonic side of Imrie/Risley slowly grew until today they still market the original range as listed above, as well as Cuirassiers and Carabiniers of 1812-1815, lancers of the 1st Polish Light Horse Lancers of the Guard, as well as the 2d Lancer Regiment, the famous 'Red Lancers.' Additionally, they have a very good selection of Highlanders in assorted poses, enough to make up an infantry square, along with officers, standard bearers, and pipers. Finally, there are dismounted Chasseurs à Cheval of the Guard, a mounted and dismounted Napoleon, and a mounted officer of Chasseurs à Cheval of the Guard, that can also be painted as a Guard horse artilleryman.
Now I realize that most collectors on the Forum are wargamers and work in scales somewhat less than 54mm, but these figures are well detailed, superbly sculpted, easy to work with, are clean castings, and are exceptionally well done. They compare favorably, and are just as good in quality, as the old Rose line owned by Russell Gammage. They are very suitable for single display, or for use in groups, even as pieces of a chess set.
Generally the castings come with the body in one piece, with or without a separate head, separate arms and weapon. The hussars are just a little different. The torso comes in two pieces for both mounted and dismounted versions, and this allows for easy animation. It is quite easy for example, to make a mounted figure leaning over in the saddle to either talk to someone, or to hand them a canteen on a hot day. Another interesting pose is to articulate the figure so he is turning in the saddle.
All mounted figures, with the exception of the Chasseur of the Guard officer, and the Emperor, naturally, come as troopers, officers, or trumpeters. Bill Imrie used to offer a selection of different French Napoleonic heads with which you could convert the figures into different units. For example with a Guard Chasseur à Pied or an Artillerie à Pied head, the guard Grenadier becomes a new figure. A general officer could be made from the mounted Guard Chasseur, and either a light infantryman, line infantryman, in shako or cocked hat for the infantry. The permutations and combinations were endless, and the end results were quite satisfying.
I have made up, using their excellent 12-pounder, both a horse and foot artillery crew of the Guard which are quite satisfying, as well as hussars with captured trophies. I've also produced a dromedary from the Armée d'Egypte, using the hussar casting, and troopers of Lauzan's Legion from the American Revolution, for which they do make an officer, by the way.
These well-done and quite remarkable figures are some of the best 54mm on the market today, and are moderately priced so as to fit into the average budget. I highly recommend at least trying some of the single figures out, as they will be a welcome addition to a bookcase or collection to be proudly put on display.
Reviewed by Kevin Kiley
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