Verlinden 120mm Napoleon 'Field Commander'

KIT #: 1678
PRICE: $27.00 SRP
REVIEWER: Blair Stewart
NOTES: Resin figure

Considered one of the world’s greatest military leaders, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), also known as Napoleon I, was a French military leader and emperor who conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century. Born on the island of Corsica, Napoleon rapidly rose through the ranks of the military during the French Revolution (1789-1799).

In 1786 as a young artillery lieutenant, Napoleon returned to Corsica. There Napoleon sided with the Corsican resistance to the French occupation, but after a falling out with the resistance leadership, Napoleon and his family relocated to France in 1793, where they assumed the French version of their name: Bonaparte. For Napoleon, his return to France meant a return to service with the French military.

All of this turmoil created opportunities for ambitious military leaders such as Napoleon. In 1795, Napoleon came into the good graces of the Directory – a group of five men who held the executive power in France according to the constitution of the French Revolution - after he saved the government from counter-revolutionary forces. For his efforts, the Directory named Napoleon commander of the Army of the Interior. In addition, he was a trusted advisor to the Directory on military matters.

In 1796, Napoleon, at the age of 28, took command of the Army of Italy, a post he had coveted. The army, just 30,000 strong, disgruntled and underfed, was soon turned around by the young commander. Under his direction the rebuilt army won numerous crucial victories against the Austrians, which greatly expanded the French empire and helped make Napoleon the French military's brightest star.

After squashing an internal threat by the royalists, who wished to return France to a monarchy, Napoleon was on the move again, this time to the Middle East to counter Great Britain's empire by occupying Egypt and disrupting English trade routes to India.

But his military campaign proved disastrous. On August 1, 1798, Admiral Horatio Nelson's fleet decimated his forces in the Battle of the Nile. Napoleon's image was damaged by the loss, and in a show of newfound confidence against the commander, Britain, Austria, Russia and Turkey formed a new coalition against France. In the spring of 1799, the coalition defeated the French armies in Italy, forcing France to give up much of the peninsula.

After returning from Egypt, Napoleon engineered a coup in November 1799 and became First Consul of the Republic. Another victory over the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo in 1800 secured his political power. With the Concordat of 1801, Napoleon restored the religious privileges of the Catholic Church while keeping the lands seized by the Revolution. The state continued to nominate the bishops and to control church finances. He extended his political control over France until the Senate declared him Emperor of the French in 1804, launching the French Empire. But unresolvable differences with the British meant that the French were facing a Third Coalition by 1805. Napoleon shattered this coalition with decisive victories in the Ulm Campaign and a historic triumph at the Battle of Austerlitz, which led to the elimination of the Holy Roman Empire.

Many military historians consider The Battle of Austerlitz as one of Napoleon’s greatest victories. His 68,000 troops defeated almost 90,000 Russians and Austrians under General M.I. Kutuzov, forcing Austria to make peace with France and keeping Prussia temporarily out of the anti-French alliance.

The battle took place near Austerlitz in Moravia after the French had entered Vienna on November 13 and then pursued the Russian and Austrian allied armies into Moravia. The arrival of the Russian emperor Alexander I virtually deprived Kutuzov of supreme control of his troops. The allies decided to fight Napoleon west of Austerlitz and occupied the Pratzen Plateau, which Napoleon had deliberately evacuated to create a trap. The allies then launched their main attack, with 40,000 men, against the French right (south) to cut them off from Vienna. While Marshal Louis Davout’s corps of 10,500 men stubbornly resisted this attack, and the allied secondary attack on Napoleon’s northern flank was repulsed, Napoleon launched Marshal Nicolas Soult, with 20,000 infantry troops, up the slopes to smash the weak allied center on the Pratzen Plateau. Soult captured the plateau and, with 25,000 reinforcements from Napoleon’s reserve, held it against the allied attempts to retake it. The allies were soon split in two, and Napoleon’s army vigorously attacked and pursued them both north and south of the plateau. The allies lost 15,000 men killed and wounded and 11,000 captured, while Napoleon lost 9,000 men. The remnants of the allied army were scattered.

Two days later Francis I of Austria agreed to a suspension of hostilities and arranged for Alexander I to take his army back to Russia. In October 1805, however, the British fleet, again under Admiral Nelson, destroyed the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, allowing Britain to impose a naval blockade on the French coasts. In retaliation, Napoleon established the Continental System in 1806 to cut off continental trade with Britain. The Fourth Coalition took up arms against him the same year because Prussia became worried about growing French influence on the continent. After quickly knocking out Prussia at the battles of Jena and Auerstedt, Napoleon turned his attention towards the Russians and soundly defeated them in June 1807 at Friedland, which forced the Russians to accept the Treaties of Tilsit.

Hoping to extend his Continental System, Napoleon invaded Iberia and declared his brother Joseph the King of Spain in 1808. The Spanish and the Portuguese revolted with British support. The Peninsular War, noted for its brutal guerrilla warfare, lasted six years and culminated in an Allied victory. Fighting also erupted in Central Europe, as the Austrians launched another attack against the French in 1809. Napoleon defeated them at the Battle of Wagram, dissolving the Fifth Coalition formed against France. By 1811, Napoleon ruled over 70 million people across an empire that had domination in Europe, which had not witnessed this level of political consolidation since the days of the Roman Empire. He maintained his strategic status through a series of alliances and family appointments. He created a new aristocracy in France while allowing the return of nobles who had been forced into exile by the Revolution.

Tensions over rising Polish nationalism and the economic effects of the Continental System led to renewed confrontation with Russia. To enforce his blockade, Napoleon launched an invasion of Russia in the summer of 1812. The resulting campaign witnessed the catastrophic collapse of the Grand Army (as a similar invasion of Russia in 1940 by the Germans would similarly impact the Wehrmact), forcing the French to retreat, as well as leading to the widespread destruction of Russian lands and cities.

In 1813, Prussia and Austria joined Russian forces in a Sixth Coalition against France. A chaotic military campaign in Central Europe eventually culminated in a large Allied army defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in October. The next year, the Allies invaded France and captured Paris, forcing Napoleon to abdicate in April 1814. He was exiled to the island of Elba. The Bourbons were restored to power and the French lost most of the territories that they had conquered since the Revolution.

Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815 and took control of the government once again. The Allies formed a Seventh Coalition, and Allied forces under command of the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in June.

While much has been written about Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, David Chandler in his voluminous work “The Campaigns of Napoleon” cites these major causes:

According to Chandler, these errors led Napoleon to delay the opening of the battle on June 18 and then to refuse to reinforce Marshall Ney at the critical moment in the battle. In addition, throughout the battle, Napoleon apparently failed to control his major subordinates, thereby robbing them of his overall supervision to execute the master battle plan in a timely manner and with a minimum of confusion.

After the Battle of Waterloo, the British captured Napoleon and imprisoned him on the remote island of Saint Helena. He died in 1821 at the age of 51. In 1840, a million people witnessed his remains returning to Paris, where they still reside at Les Invalides.


The figure is another finely detailed 120mm cast resin military figure by Verlinden Productions. When completed, the figure strikes an interesting pose as a commander surveying the battlefield.

As is typical of these figures, the kit comes in 14 separate cast resin parts with some of them attached to resin casting blocks. The arms, torso and legs are separate components, as are the figure’s saber, riding spurs and hat. As usual, the sculpting of the figure is extremely sharp with the great detail afforded by the large 120mm scale.

Another plus is the base, which includes battlefield “debris” represented by a broken cannon wheel.


As usual with these figures, my first step was to remove the various pieces from their casting blocks and then clean them up. For the larger pieces, I use a razor saw to cut the piece off the resin block, and then use a sharp Xacto knife to clean things up (a note for you younger modelers: DO NOT do as I do; i.e., carve toward you with an xacto knife. Not only is it inevitable that you will cut yourself, but you will feel especially foolish when you do so. Needless to say, in my old age I am getting pretty good at “suturing” self-inflicted knife wounds using Super Glue and a variety of other clamps/tourniquets to stop the bleeding).

One can also use a piece of sandpaper on a flat surface to remove the final casting block resin (also exercise caution here if you use this method: it’s easy to get carried away with the sanding and sand away more material than you want). Once I did this, I used Super Glue to assemble the torso, legs, arms and hands.


I started by spray-painting the figure with Testors flat white enamel to serve as the base coat and provide a light base for subsequent hand painting.

The next step was to hand paint the figure. I began with the head and hands. For these parts I used Testors flat flesh enamel. As always, with figures, a major challenge is the skin tones, and then the proper shading to get some kind of expression on the face. I mixed some Testors flat white with the flesh paint and highlighted raised portions of the figure’s face and hands. later detailing of the face with lighter shades of flesh tones.. I then painted the figure’s hair with acrylic burnt umber.

One of the most difficult things to do on a figure is to paint the eyes. For figures that are in an action pose, one can generally get by with a “squinting” look that does not require a painted eyeball. But this figure clearly has open eyes, although they are somewhat “squinted”. I used Testors flat white to paint in oblong eyeballs, then some acrylic black to represent the irises. The key to achieving realistic eyes is to then paint a bottom and top lid over the white eyeball so that the figure doesn’t have that “bug-eyed” look. For those of you who are deterred from figure painting by this aspect, trust me: it takes practice and more practice. I personally am not there yet, but I can see positive progress with each figure I complete.

For most of the other parts of the figure, I primarily used relatively inexpensive flat acrylic paints. Another figure painting challenge is finding the right “tint” of colors for uniforms and other items. This just takes experimentation of mixing and remixing colors until achieving the right tint.  For the riding boots and the bicorn hat, I used black acrylic, and then picked out the emblem on the hat with Testors silver and acrylic red. For the uniform buttons, saber tips and handle, epaulets and uniform decorations, I used Testors gold enamel.

To finish my figure, I painted the base with acrylic tan, and then used a black wash to bring out the definition of the soil, sand and rocks. I painted the cannon wheel with a darkened tan and then dry brushed the wood grain with a light gray to give it a weathered look. I painted the metal parts with Testors Gunmetal and then highlighted the edges of the metal parts with a Prismacolor metallic silver pencil. Finally, I painted the bottom of the base with acrylic burnt umber to simulate wood.


This is another outstanding Verlinden figure, and the base really highlights it. When it is completed, the figure presents a great likeness of Napoleon. If you are into military or other figures, I highly recommend this kit.

  1. Napoleon Biography,, February 2016.

  2. Napoleon, Wikipedia, February 2016.

  3. David Chandler, “The Campaigns of Napoleon: The Mind and Method of History’s Greatest Soldier,” Macmillan Company, New York, NY, 1966.

  4. Battle of Austerlitz,, February 2016.

  5. Summaries of Selected Military Campaigns,” Department of Military Art and Engineering, US Military Academy, West Point, NY, 1960.

Blair Stewart

February 2016


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