Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Options in 25mm / 28mm scale to Represent Herero Forces in 1904

The Herero forces in 1904 took the field in an assortment of European clothing and were well armed with modern weapons.  They were able to deliver a rapid rate of fire, even though at the outset about about half their fighters had rifles and the rest carried knobkerries.  Their commanders made use of mounted messengers and some of the troops were mounted, although most of the engagements were fought on foot.

Finding figures in 25mm or 28 mm scale that are appropriate to represent Herero fighters can be very challenging.  Two manufacturers offer Herero figures (Tiger and Askari), and I have ordered one set from each for my table.  Several others offer African figures in elements of European dress armed with firearms that work nicely as well, but there are very few mounted troops available and some of these will require modification to be reasonably authentic representations.

Tiger Miniatures has a Colonial German Range distributed in the United States by Richard Brooks at Recreational Conflict.  Richard is great to deal with and is aware of other manufacturers to suggest to build up both German and Herero forces for this period.  I'll discuss the German figures in a subsequent post, but as for the Hereros, there are three sets available.  I chose GC-20 Herero/Hottentot, a set of five 28mm white metal figures, because none of them would require further modification to convert those wearing an inauthentic fez to the more appropriate wide brimmed hat.  They have pangas for sidearms and their heads are a tad large, but they have character and should paint up well.

   Askari Miniatures has an expanding range of German Colonials and their Herero opponents in
Askari Hereros HE-1
Southwest Africa.  These are 28mm scale and are among the most faithfully recreated figures available for this period.  There is only one Herero set currently available and it was just released.  It consists of ten figures in five poses, all wearing wide brimmed hats and all carrying captured German weapons and accoutrements.  They are delightful figures, some of which fight barefooted, and I will eagerly acquire more of them in this range if they become available.

An intriguing option to stand in for Herero fighters is available from NorthStar Military Figures in the Africa range. Northstar has a number of four figure sets in 28mm  scale depicting Matabele warriors armed with muskets or rifles, some in European articles of dress,  representing the conflict with the British South Africa Company in the 1890s.  I chose to use both sets of Matabele Rebels (NSA 1013 and NSA1014) as well as NSA 1012 (Matebele Warriors Firing Rifles).  One of the figures wears a head ring that requires removal or modification to a brimmed hat to be accurate for the Herero, but otherwise they are well sculpted and a nice fit for Herero fighters.  The NorthStar range also offers many excellent sculpts of southern African wildlife and native cattle to dress up your table.

Even more unusual are two sets made by Perry miniatures on commission for a diorama depicting the
Perry Minatures Mafeking Range MF-5

Siege of Mafeking during the 2nd Boer War that have now been made available to the public.  These 28mm figures come in sets of six and two of them represent armed black civilians carrying or firing rifles.  Two figures in the set of walking figures are in shirtsleeves and braces and wear caps that will paint up nicely as captured Schutztruppe corduroy field caps.

Brigade Games Great War in Africa range offer 28mm figures as  BGWIAG08- Schutztruppe Askaris in Shapeless Slouch Hats who while not appropriate for use in the German forces in SWA make excellent Hereros in captured uniforms.  These 8 figures in four poses are wearing puttees rather than boots but are otherwise appropriate for Herero War use.

Foundry Miniatures Darkest Africa Range, sculpted by the Perry brothers, has only one set that will work for Hereros infantry with firearms and European clothing (eight 28mm figures DA038 - Tribal
Foundry Darkest Africa DA038
Musketmen in Hats and Coats), but I also picked up DA027 - Women and Children to represent noncombatants and a set of 3 mounted Native Horsemen in European clothing from the Foundry Zulu Wars range (DA 15/6).  These latter figures will require conversion to remove the throwing spears from the quivers they carry over their shoulders, but are among the very few options available for African horsemen in the late 19th or early 20th century who can stand in for mounted Hereros or Namas. 

Another source that I am considering using that would require the same conversion are the Native Horse figures (mounted and dismounted) offered by Empress miniatures in their Anglo-Zulu War range. Beautifully sculpted in 28mm, they include a number of troops that would be suitable without the spears over their shoulders (ZWB42-48), including a horse holder with four mounts.  I did pick up a dismounted and mounted figure and horse from Redoubt Enterprises representing the Edendale Mission troop of Native Horse from the Zulu Wars that did not have the throwing assegais in the quiver.  If these prove to be good sculpts I may order more.

With these manufactures and figures as sources, there are sufficient miniatures available to put a credible force of Herero in the field representing these fighters largely as they appeared in 1904.  I would like to see other figures offered, perhaps from Askari, that include Hereros armed with knobkerries and Nama fighters in their white cloth covered hats, as well as a few more noncombatant Herero in traditional dress.  By and large, though, with some weakness in their mounted arm, the Hereros that await my table should make an excellent showing.


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