Much of the Ottoman cavalry in 1877 was made up of irregulars, mostly Circassians, who wore Cossack clothing such as fur caps, long coats and high boots. However as the box points out, this set is made up of the regular cavalry. Ottoman cavalry was not highly regarded, particularly by foreigners, and was often accused of standing well apart from the enemy and relying on carbine fire, which had little effect. Part of the reason for this was the very poor quality of the horses, which was often observed at the time, and a chronic shortage of remounts, so little wonder the men chose not to meet the Russians face-to-face. Naturally they still played a part, but this was not really a cavalry war and as elsewhere it was infantry and artillery that dominated the battlefield.
While the breadth of information of Ottoman cavalry of this period is far from satisfying there are basically two schools of thought on their appearance. Both agree that the uniform largely followed that of the infantry, which was increasingly turning away from the much disliked 'Christian' (i.e. western) appearance and returning to a traditional look with short jacket and baggy trousers - exactly the look that inspired the French Zouaves. However where the two schools differ is with the headgear. All the modern commentators state that the cavalry wore a sheepskin cap, yet just about every contemporary illustration shows them wearing the fez. Unfortunately these contemporary illustrations are mostly illustrated newspapers, who certainly often got uniforms badly wrong, so clearly the artist often engraved what he imagined to be the case, having never set eyes on the real thing. Since the fez is so popularly associated with the Turkish, the suspicion is that this is what has happened here, and unfortunately all the figures in this set are wearing a fez. Typically Ottoman it may be, but is it right here? Unfortunately we are inclined to believe no, although we cannot prove that either way. In all other respects however the uniform looks fine.
Ottoman cavalry carried swords, revolvers and either the 11-shot or 15-shot model 73 Winchester carbine. All here have the sword, and all but one of the troopers has the carbine too, but fully half the poses also carry a lance. Now only Guard cavalry carried lances, and even then only four squadrons per regiment, so that does limit these figures a little more, although they are still accurately armed. The officer holds a revolver and wears a tunic rather than traditional garb.
The poses on offer are pretty standard but unremarkable, although not all the lancer poses are ideal. Everyone has the usual straight back and is either looking straight ahead to severely to the side, so about the only feature of note is the officer, who has a separate right arm so that he can be aiming his revolver in a more realistic forward direction. The horse poses leave plenty to be desired, yet are better than some on the market! All are clearly moving smartly forward, which would leave the trooper firing his carbine posing little threat to anything he is aiming at.
The sculpting is a little below average for this manufacturer in our view. All the usual characteristics are here, with thick, chunky elements and smaller items done overly large. Of particular note in this regard are the carbines, which look like toy guns. Amazingly they are actually about the right length (a scale 65cm, just right for the 15-shot Winchester), yet look awful because they are so thick and wide. Some of the faces are just weird, and occasionally things just seem to go random, suggesting a bit of the master fell off before the mould was made. The scabbards - another thick and unrealistic item - tend to be in unlikely positions, and one man (ironically the only man who has drawn his sword) has a scabbard not even long enough for a penknife. The many separate lances fit the ring hands well enough, and while you will have to glue the officers arm in place and trim off the surplus peg, this too is not too bad a fit. However even if you can forgive Strelets all this then our last observation is surely too much - most of the men cannot be persuaded to sit on their horses as the legs are simply too close together. Some hover well above the saddle, while others are simply propelled off as soon as you let go. Be prepared for a lot of filing before a reasonable seat can be obtained.
If it is true that the fez is inappropriate then it will take some work to fashion a suitable cap as a replacement, but otherwise accuracy is fine. The style of the figures cannot be fixed so easily, so it really depends on how you feel about the Strelets look in general, but making the men sit on the horses is a lot more work than it should have been. This is a set that fails to impress but could be made to work with a fair bit of effort, but since it currently has no competition there is no choice if you want regular cavalry for your Ottoman armies.