Askari were the native troops employed by the Germans (and others) to defend and police their African possessions. The usual rule was that the ordinary rank and file were native, and the officers and NCOs were European, although in German South-West Africa all the soldiers were European. Elsewhere naturally this meant the Askari greatly outnumbered their colonial masters, and could have been a source for rebellion etc., but those in the German colonies were remarkably loyal, and served them well even during the long cat-and-mouse campaign during the First World War when a German Army consisting mostly of native troops avoided capture or destruction at their hands of their Allied pursuers.
The uniforms given to Askari varied between colonies and units, but those on these men are quite typical. They wear a simple tunic with trousers and puttees, and as far as we can tell they wear ordinary army boots, which was common for German Askaris but unusual elsewhere. The ordinary soldiers in the bottom row wear the regulation short fez, although this is not so short as to be a good match for the Askari of Kamerun, so is better for German East Africa. Two have a neck curtain but one is missing this, and none have any sign of a badge on the front, which would normally have been there. Three of the figures on the top row have acquired brimmed hats, which is fine, and the fourth wears a peaked cap much like that of the officer. As the Great War progressed and the last colonial German Army marched all over south-east Africa, supply was virtually non-existent so items of uniform came from anywhere, making the mix of clothing found here perfectly suitable. Several have chosen to decorate their headgear with what looks like a feather or long leaf, which is plausible but of course can be trimmed off if not required.
Personnel equipment on these men is basic - a canteen, haversack and bayonet - but quite suitable nonetheless. Some of the men have acquired bandoliers, and some have the old belts and ammunition pouches they were issued. Askaris tended to get older rifles, and in 1914 most still held the Mauser M71/84, which those here could pass for.
Sculpting is not that good, with some vague detail and some areas apparently missed - for example the palm of the hand of the marching figure shows no sign of having been sculpted at all. The kit in particular suffers from this, and the faces are not that good, although the proportions are OK. We found only a small amount of flash on our sample, and very little extra plastic, but we did find some of the sprues in the box were damaged in that one of the advancing figure second from the left in our bottom row was either badly mauled or missing entirely - this will probably vary between boxes.
The poses are pretty respectable and we couldn’t fault any of them. Although most of the time was spent on the move, customers will probably want mostly fighting poses so those here deliver that quite nicely. The sister set of Schutztruppe provides a machine gun as well as the officers and NCOs for these men, so although only eight poses all the basics are covered.
This is another one of those HaT sets that is unremarkable but quietly delivers its subject matter in a workmanlike way. The sculpting is not great, but accuracy is fine, as are the choice and rendering of the poses. Especially when combined with figures from the other sets in this range to add officers, NCOs, machine guns and porters, this set allows the customer to recreate Germany’s African native soldiers to a respectable standard.