As for the sculpting, there is a slight loss of definition along the sides and the detail is not as crisp as with metals (as you'd expect). I had an undercoat disaster on my first batch of figures, in which I oversprayed and the paint erased much of the detail. But even with the loss of detail suffered as a result I was still pleased with how the figures looked. Occasionally I had to guess where a cross belt should have gone, but generally these figures paint up very well. The faces, in particular, are very well sculpted. The metal figures are pretty easy to spot once you notice the things they have that plastics don't! The mud effect on the trousers was applied largely with pastels, which have the advantage of "running" when varnish is applied, so resulting in quite a pleasing effect.
Aside from the fact that the metal figures have far larger bayonets and are a bit thinner across the front, the only significant uniform difference between the metals and the plastics is that the former have "2nd/3rd battalion" disc pompons on their shakos whilst the latter have "1st battalion" solid pompons. This is my main quandary - do you just paint everything in a solid colour and forget about the battalion distinctions? I suspect that's easier, although you could of course use the plastics for first battalions and metals for other battalions.
But all in all, these are lovely figures. They paint like a dream, cost about 35 pence each and have just the right amount of detail. The speed with which you can paint them means that units can be built up double-quick, which, frankly, is what counts most when building up Napoleon's armies . So why buy anything else? And as for the all-important question of whether I preferred painting the plastic Frenchies to the metal ones.....it's no contest - I preferred the plastics, and I never thought I'd ever say that. The second battalion is progressing nicely, with half completed now. Any readers who despair that I have been seduced by the Dark Side of Naps may like to know that the 9th Foot, in its Saratoga uniform, is well under way as well...
28 figures. Painted November 2008. Flag by GMB.