The most famous infantry of the Ottoman Army were the Janissaries, who were the paid regulars of the Sultan’s standing army. Also included in that army were household cavalry, the artillery and some technical support units, but a large part of any Ottoman army was made up of the Eyalet Askerleri, literally the 'Provincial Army', who were raised as required and might be paid, given grants of land or simply promised a share of the plunder. In addition it was usually they that were responsible for local security when the Sultan's army was not around, particularly when a neighbour conducted raids into Ottoman territory. They were effectively auxiliaries, and there were many different types of both infantry and cavalry, partly depending on where in the Empire they came from, so this is the first set in this hobby to depict these men.
The appearance of such men varied greatly based on region of origin, ethnicity, local military tradition and so on, so this set seems to cover a cross-section of such soldiers rather than concentrating on any one type. Most wear typical Ottoman costume of a kaftan or coat over very loose trousers and shoes, and the Muslims amongst them wear various turbans, while the rest wear one of several styles of caps. The second figure in our second row wears a mail cuirass with plates on the chest, and probably a helmet too, while the man next to him also wears a helmet with mail neck protection. Such men would probably be assault troops, first into some battle, as armour was increasingly rarely worn by soldiers as this long period (16th and 17th centuries) progressed. The last figure in the bottom row, who we take to be an officer, along with the drummer, both wear a long coat with false sleeves at the rear, which was common. In an era when size of turban was a direct indication of your rank we would have expected the officer’s to be a bit bigger than this, but in total we were very happy with all the clothing and armour on show here.
As with clothing, so weaponry would vary depending on many factors. Many here have firearms (presumably matchlocks, though it is hard to see clearly), which were only slowly taken up by such infantry, and one man still uses a bow. Again the proportions of older and newer weapons would change greatly over such a long period, but both weapons are appropriate to at least part of these two centuries. Four including the officer and standard-bearer have drawn their curved swords, and one handles a large axe/short polearm, while the helmeted man carries a spear. Finally several carry round shields, all of which is again correct for at least part of the period.
Given the assigned weapons all the poses make good sense, and most are quite well done. We were not keen on the first swordsman in the second row, who should have his body facing his opponent more, but everything here is quite useful. Our favourites were the last four figures, of which there is only one of each in a box. Both musicians are nice, though the man with the wind instrument is holding it directly down against his chest - an inevitable compromise if he were not to be made up of multiple parts. The man holding the standard is well done with a particularly expressive face, and his Tug standard, from the Mongol tradition, is well done and accurate. The officer is in a common yet slightly artificial pose, so like the swordsmen he is a bit flat, but nothing too bad. The use of multiple copies for the ordinary infantry and just one of each for the specialists works well, as always. The basic tactic for such men was simply to charge the enemy, since there seems to have been little in the way of training to allow much else, so we were disappointed to find no real charging poses here.
The sculpting is good, with quite good detail where it is needed and some fine faces. The swordsman holding a shield does so quite awkwardly, however, and to our eye some of the hands are extremely small and almost disappear entirely. There is little excess plastic, but there is a noticeable amount of flash in some areas, though this may well vary between different sets. There is no assembly required here, which will be welcomed by many even though a couple of the poses are something of a compromise.
With good accuracy, fair sculpting and useful poses this set has much to like. Inevitably by covering such a wide subject it does so in very little depth despite having a healthy 14 poses, and some of the weapons are hard to realistically portray without multiple pieces or a more sophisticated mould. Yet the faults are little ones and as a first set for what could be a large part of an Ottoman army during some of their most important campaigns this does pretty well, and is certainly a must for anyone wishing to model those momentous battles.