Goonhammer Historicals: Victrix Chasseurs a Cheval Review

The Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard. A title that made enemies quiver, quartermasters shudder, cavalrymen tremble and husbands frown, all across Europe. The flashiest of the flash, the very epitome of Napoleonic style and finesse. Now, finally, in plastic. Can any kit stand up to their historical reputation of vim, vigour and exceptionally intricate uniforms? Victrix have given it their best shot.

Before diving in, we’ll thank Victrix for sending these over for review.

Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard

When I got this set, I was intimidated at first just by the reputation of the regiment. Twelve of the fanciest uniforms and fastest horses in the French Empire, all in Victrix’ habitual quality and high level of detail – how was I going to manage this? The Chasseurs of the Guard were the best light cavalry Napoleon possessed, long-service veterans of multiple campaigns that could be either described as adventurous, strong-willed, dashing and handsome or downright rogues on horseback. They fought long and hard throughout the campaigns of the Empire, evolving out of Napoleon’s original Guides bodyguard through Marengo, Austerlitz, Eylau, Borodino, Leipzig and, finally, meeting their end at the last gasp, Waterloo. Their uniforms and exploits were – and remain – dazzling, drenched in orange, red, and glory. Many manufacturers make the Chasseurs a Cheval, but mostly in metal. There’s a lot of fiddly raised detail, overlapping textures, dynamic movement and flowing pelisses, all a struggle to make in multi-part plastic. Cutting a potentially long story short, with this kit Victrix have produced a fantastic set that stands up to the reputation of the Guard.

What you Get

Just like Victrix’ previous Napoleonic Cavalry sets, the Chasseurs a Cheval gives you 12 highly dynamic cavalry modelled at the charge in multi-part, posable plastic, with options for 9 line troopers, one officer, one eagle-carrier or additional trooper, and trumpeter. The sprue layout is one that’ll be familiar to anyone who has picked up one of these cavalry kits – three trooper sprues of three cavalry each – and one command sprue.

There’s a wide range of options, including several bodies with entirely separate pelisses (the small, exceptionally stylish, jacket held over the shoulder), multiple arm and head choices. Each model is composed of 8 components (and two horse components), including separate reins arms, scabbards and carbines, allowing you to fit the four basic trooper horse options to any trooper body.

Victrix Chasseur a Cheval components

One of the issues I felt with the French Dragoon kit from Victrix was that assembly was fiddly, with several components that were hard to locate properly on the riders and horses. These issues have been corrected here, and assembly is shockingly easy for such dynamic models as a result. Elements of the models in multiple pieces – like the Pelisses, which are in some cases half sculpted on the body – are keyed intelligently into the bodies, with seams between components cunningly hidden in fabric folds. Scabbard and sabretache pieces don’t float over the legs but are attached by subtle yet easy to locate grooves, making them easy to settle appropriately onto the model. A lower component count from the Dragoons doesn’t sacrifice detail and speeds up the build considerably. You’d think these would be a nightmare to put together, but while they’re not a beginner kit, they’re significantly easier than the Dragoons that preceded them.

The Pelisse intelligently fits to the body – this is a dry fit, with glue the seam completely disappears into the arm

Uniforms are mostly full-dress, with riding breeches rather than trousers, colpack flamme’s out and cords aplenty. If you wanted to model the Chasseurs without pelisses there’s one body on the trooper sprue where the peliesse is entirely separate, but the others are integrated, which does reduce your options a little. You use the kit to make other hussar-style uniformed French troops as well, and I’ve used one of the bodies sans-pelisse to make one of the Guardes d’Honneur, using a full-dress Shako head from the Perry Line Infantry kit to create headgear suitable for the pay-your-way Guardsmen and a spare Victrix French Dragoon horse.

Guard of Honour of the Imperial Guard.

Detail on the models is fantastic, both in terms of uniform detail and the attention paid to movement and flow. Uniform detail is crisp, correct and modelled down to the tiniest detail. I was particularly impressed with the belt buckle (in it’s proper, complicated, Guard shape), and the pelisse and dolman lace, where delicate detail is modelled accurately and with enough relief to take paint easily. The cartridge boxes are a little slim (how I have changed since my early days of Napoleonic modelling!), but as they’ll be hidden by the pelisse you’ll barely notice. Much attention has also been paid to the flow of movement through the models. The pelisses, colpack flamme, tassel, knots and plume, sabre-knot and sabretache are all modelled “on the bounce” with animation. You can’t help but feel the movement in the models, with every element in motion – as they should be!

Horse in motion – all elements flowing naturally in the charge!


Again, Victrix have outdone themselves with the Horses, another set with a full range of running and charging poses. These aren’t horses stood for review, or trotting around the battlefield at a leisurely pace. Most Napoleonic cavalry kits are modelled somewhere between a walk and a canter, possibly with hoof raised – not so the Chasseurs! It’s a full on gallop, with manes and tails flying. If – and it’s a big if! – there is something to improve about the horses it’s that the saddlecloths are flat to the horse when they could have a little curl at the tip to imply the movement present in the riders. There’s the weird issue that the “N” on the saddlecloth seems to be the wrong way around – but other than that it’s all beautiful raised detail that was a joy to paint.

Trooper horse

There are three trooper frame horse poses and one additional trooper horse on the command frame, in addition to unique poses for both drummer and officer horse. With 6 unique poses out of 12, that’s better than the majority of near-competitor kits, and, as each rider can be posed uniquely you’re unlikely to notice duplicate poses if you spread them around the unit.


As it’s the Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard, I expected these to be a very difficult task on the painting queue. Victrix go a lot of the way to making this easy – piping around the collar, cuffs and saddlecloth is prominent and obvious, while lace and ribbon detail strikes a good balance between realism and ease of painting. They are, undeniably, a fiddly paint job and a slow one, but that is much more down to the uniform than to the models. Leaving the carbines off will make for a much easier paint job, as will skipping out the detail on the reverse of the dolman – in both of these examples it was fully painted, then completely hidden to the eye and camera underneath the pelisse. I’ve tried for the darker side of the mysterious “Aurore” colour that marked out the ribbons on the pelisse and it’s come out orange – further experiments required, but a touch more yellow in the mix is definitely needed.

Work in progress on the slower, more methodical paint scheme attempt!

Take extra care around the pelisse ribbons as they are shallower than those on the dolman, and I advise really taking your time with each one. They’ll look good batch painted but treating each like a character or a general (as is only right and proper for the Chasseurs!) will produce some really great results. I’ve tried a “quick” paint scheme for one of my tests and a slower, painstaking scheme for another, with good results for both. If you usually paint horses on riders, I think this would be particularly difficult with this kit and strongly recommend painting them separately. When I paint the command models I’ll paint the heads separately too – there’s a lot of detail in the neck and chinstrap that becomes difficult to access otherwise.

putting time into painting the Pelisse ribbons and buttons carefully will really pay off – this WIP is about half way through the process

Done until I can work out a good “Aurore” mix for the final coat- but curse the man who decided a red pelisse needed dark yellow ribbon!

Crush them!

Chasseurs a Cheval of the Imperial Guard. Credit: Lenoon

I’ve decided to go all out on the base for the Chasseurs, so I’ve only painted four for now – they’ll be smashing through a stream, so a full scenic base will eventually emerge! I’ve left off the front rank for the review as I’ll be chopping their horses apart to model them all leaping up a raised bank, eventually with a full resin pour stream and splash effects!

I often don’t know how to end reviews, because come on! It’s Victrix Napoleonic Cavalry! If you’ve been following their release schedule over the last few years you’ll probably already know you just flat out cannot get better cavalry in plastic. The Dragoons (both British and French) were great kits, but this one is outstanding. If you want a kit that really does justice to the men it depicts, or you want the greatest painting challenge of the Napoleonic wars, well, go get them!

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