As the 19th century drew to a close the situation in China greatly alarmed the western powers. Since her humiliating defeat by Japan in 1895 China was becoming increasingly anti-foreigner, and not without reason. When full scale fighting broke out in 1900 the western powers sought to send more troops to China, and for Britain, with large numbers already heavily involved in Southern Africa, India was an obvious and relatively convenient source. There were no Indian troops involved in the siege of Peking, but around 1,500 Indian infantry formed part of the relief force that ultimately raised that siege.
Right from the outset we must say these are deeply unattractive figures. Detail is not good and generally far from clear, with some items such as rifles being almost featureless. Some of the shapes are not at all realistic (particularly the turban or pagri), and clothing has few or poorly done folds. There is a good deal of flash too, with some to be found on virtually every seam and in places this is very considerable. The roughly done bases are too small or badly placed on a couple of the running figures, meaning they cannot stand unaided.
The poses are something of a mixed bag too. Some are OK but we saw no particular reason why so many prone figures should be included. The man running with his hands empty is largely a waste, and the other running figure in our top row is not particularly natural. Having several firing poses is fine but we would have liked to have seen a marching pose (that applies to almost every set ever made!). As usual with RedBox there are no officers, musicians or other 'specials', which is understandable given that every pose is repeated four times, but in this case such necessary extras will be hard to source from elsewhere.
So, are the figures at least partly redeemed by their accuracy? No, quite frankly. In this day and age information on uniforms is not hard to find and even the poorest modern sets generally manage to be accurate except perhaps in small details. With this set there are bigger problems. All the men wear the kurta and pagri, which is OK, as is the trousers with puttees and boots or shoes. From the front they seem to wear the Slade-Wallace belt system, which is correct, but it all goes wrong at the back. These figures have a central rear strap which did not exist, and they all lack the rear ammunition pouch which the Indian version of this system had. More obviously not one man is carrying any piece of kit apart from his front ammo pouches. There is not one canteen, haversack or other item between all of them, which contradicts every photograph and drawing of these men as well as common sense. Even those pouches that they do have are incorrectly detailed, and the rifles are almost entirely plain. Most could pass for Martini-Henrys (which is fine) but a few look like they were meant to be Lee-Metfords (which is of highly debatable accuracy).
If you can look beyond their various shortcomings then these figures can also be used for North-West Frontier models, and our comparison refers to the corresponding Esci set, but that comparison just serves to underline the inferior quality of this product over the set made more than two decades earlier. This then is a set for die-hard colonial modellers only, as there really is no other reason why you would want to own these figures.