In 1884 the British press were in uproar. Nothing new there, but the story that was selling newspapers at that time was the predicament of Charles George Gordon, who had been sent to Khartoum in the Sudan to organise its evacuation. Instead he decided to stay and fight the Islamist rebels, yet he had few troops and his position seemed increasingly hopeless. Under intense pressure the British Government organised the Nile Expedition, sometimes called the Gordon Relief Expedition, which made its way slowly up the Nile to rescue the Victorian hero. They failed. The Islamists took Khartoum and Gordon was killed, but the expedition included a large number of British infantry and cavalry mounted on camels. Acting as mounted infantry, these men fought many battles during their time in the Sudan, and it is great to see them finally appear in 1/72 plastic.
The men of the Camel Corps wore a fairly practical uniform which has been correctly reproduced here. From the pith helmet with puggaree to the puttees and boots, these men are correctly dressed. Equipment too is mostly correct, with the haversack and water bottle as well as the goggles which all have. The only item missing is the bayonet and scabbard, which was of the sword type and specially issued for this campaign.
HaT cavalry sets commonly have four poses, and so it is here. The men would not normally be expected to fight while mounted, so the three mounted poses are in fairly relaxed mode as they should be. We thought they were all excellent and well designed. Once action was expected or joined the men would dismount and fight as infantry, which is represented by the kneeling man. Again this is great, although we can't help but think that more such dismounted poses would have been very useful, even without any accompanying mounts.
Camels walk in a different way to horses, with both legs on one side acting in tandem, and the most numerous pose in this set reflects that well. The other standing camel would have to be walking more slowly to achieve that gait, but is perfectly OK as such. When the men were in action the camels were made to lie down, so the animal for the dismounted man is perfectly correct too apart from lacking any stirrups. Our only complaint about the camels is with the first one, who has its front leg slewed right across its body, making it seem that it is about to fall. This is only apparent from the front, but does spoil an otherwise good line-up.
The sculpting is pretty good, and while the detail does not have the crispness found in some sets it is clear enough and well done. Some slightly odd sharp angles at the rear of some of the camels does not detract much from the whole, and while there is a little flash in a few areas most are completely free of it. The men fit their mounts extremely well, so gluing is not essential although still advisable.
While there are many fans of WWII Germans and Napoleonic French infantry, it is sets such as this that really expand the hobby and generate an interest in campaigns other than the usual favourites. This is a very attractive set and a great addition to the ranks of colonial figures, so while a few more dismounted poses would have been nice this should still prove very popular.