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Esci

Set 238

Muslim Warriors

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All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 1987
Contents 50 figures
Poses 15 poses
Material Plastic (Medium Consistency)
Colours Light Brown, Mid Brown, Light Tan
Average Height 24 mm (= 1.73 m)

Review

The title 'Muslim Warriors' is a bit vague really. Since its beginnings in the seventh century, Islam has had many warriors of different types in many parts of the world. This set from Esci was intended to provide more than one set of opponents for colonial forces, and was made with their Historic Battles series in mind. This meant the set could be used for several things, though only a proportion of the figures would actually be suitable for any particular subject. Therefore it is a mix of different nationalities and time frames, and so far from the easiest set to put to use.

Esci don't give many clues as to what each figure is supposed to be, so here is our best guess:

Top Row

  1. Tuareg (?), 1916
  2. Ansar, Sudan 1898
  3. Beja Warrior (?), Sudan
  4. Pathan tribesman, North-West Frontier, India 1880
  5. Pathan tribesman, North-West Frontier, India 1880
Middle Row
  1. Ansar, Sudan 1884 - 98
  2. Pathan tribesman, North-West Frontier, India 1880
  3. Hadendowah Warrior ('Fuzzy wuzzy') , Sudan 1884 - 98
  4. North-West Frontier (?)
  5. Ansar Emir
Bottom Row
  1. Leader, Sudan 1884 - 98
  2. Dervish Drummer, Sudan 1884 - 98
  3. Standard Bearer, Sudan 1884 - 98
  4. Baggara Warrior (?), Sudan
  5. Arab, 19th - 20th Centuries

In our view then many of these figures were created for the campaigns in the Sudan in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The box artwork confirms many are Ansars, warriors in the Dervish army of the Mahdi and later the Khalifa, who fought British and Italian forces. They wear the simple jibbah decorated with coloured patches. The Hadendowah warrior wears his own traditional garment, and has a typical double-bladed sword and hide shield. The leader bears a striking resemblance to the Mahdi, though could of course be any chieftain. The drummer has a dole drum, and the standard bearer is a nicely evocative pose, blowing his horn to encourage the men.

There are also several Pathan tribesmen, who inhabited the North-West frontier of India, around the famous Kyber Pass, and regularly fought British and Indian troops. All have typical costume of the region, and two are armed with the long-barrelled jezail rifle with which they were extremely effective. Another man is carrying a knife (not a typical example, it has to be said), and wears a poshteen jacket. Though few in number, these are all nicely done and pretty accurate.

The rest are something of a mixed bag. The first man holds a daraqa shield, and since he has a veil he could possibly be a Tuareg, suitable for the 1916 revolt and pitted against the Foreign Legion. The third would not be too out of place in Sudan, but we could not positively identify him. The fourth man in the second row could make a very good pirate, and the last man on that row could be a Saracen, but could just as easily appear in the nineteenth century, when armour and antique weapons were sometimes to be seen in the ranks of the Ansars, particularly the elite. The penultimate figure is Arab-looking, but the final figure is easier to be certain about. It has been suggested that this figure could be of T E Lawrence, immortalised in the film 'Lawrence of Arabia', but every photograph and drawing we could find of him shows him clean-shaven, though certainly in native dress such as this.

Aside from the vagaries of identification, these are classic Esci figures with superb sculpting and beautifully details. Well proportioned, natural-looking and with no flash to speak of, they are a fine example of the technical quality that can be achieved with figures in this scale. However once again Esci went and spoiled it all by trying to cut corners. These figures seem to represent all manner of 'native' forces for the European colonial powers to do battle with. The set appeared in both 'Khyber Pass 1879' and 'Sidi Bel Abbes 1912' battle sets, battling British/Indian and French Foreign Legion troops respectively. Perhaps an 'Omdurman' was also planned but never made. Unfortunately, by trying to cover so many subjects it fails to cover any of them well. A full Dervish army would have had many spearmen, and three figures is hardly adequate for the Pathan fighters. Individually these are excellent figures, accurately realised and realistically armed and posed, but as a set this is something of a mess, teasing the consumer with what could have been delivered but ultimately leaving them less than satisfied.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 5
Pose Number 8
Sculpting 9
Mould 10

Further Reading
Books
"Go Strong Into The Desert" - Perry Miniatures - Mike Snook - 9780956184214
"North-West Frontier 1837-1947" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.72) - Robert Wilkinson-Latham - 9780850452754
"Queen Victoria's Enemies (2) Northern Africa" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.215) - Ian Knight - 9780850459371
"Queen Victoria's Enemies (3) India" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.219) - Ian Knight - 9780850459432
"The Frontier Ablaze" - Windrow & Greene - Michael Barthorp - 9781859150238
"The Last Charge" - Crowood - Terry Brighton - 9781861261892
"The Sudan Campaigns 1881-98" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.59) - Robert Wilkinson-Latham - 9780850452549
"Victoria's Enemies" - Blandford - Donald Featherstone - 9780713720815
"War in the Sudan 1884-1898" - Partizan (Special Edition Series No.3) - Stuart Asquith - 9781858185392
Magazines
"Military Illustrated" - No.18

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