These figures may seem familiar to some, for this is not the first time they have made an appearance. In fact this sprue was previously marketed as part of the set of Thin Red Line, which means they were intended as Ottoman infantry for the Crimean War, not for 1877. A quarter of a century later however, and in some ways not much had changed for the Ottoman Army, hence this rebranding. Although we have in effect already reviewed these figures, we will do so again here with the new subject in mind.
By the time of the Crimean War in 1853 the Turkish armed forces had been through a period of 'westernisation', following the French model in particular in clothing and other aspects of war. After that conflict there was a change, and the old traditional clothing became the fashion once more, so by the 1860s the Turkish infantryman had a more distinct non-European look. The balance would swing again in the late 1870s and 1880s, but at the time of the war with Russia in 1877 most of the regular infantry wore the traditional uniform, which is familiar to many today thanks to its imitation by the famous French zouaves. These figures wear that uniform, with the short open jacket and the baggy trousers. Actually the trousers on these figures are not nearly baggy enough to our eye, and we were less than thrilled by the footwear too. All these men wear a slim shoe with thongs wrapped round the lower leg, which is a legitimate form of footwear, but apparently much less common than either a shoe and gaiters, or simply long boots. Had these figures been made specifically for 1877 then better footwear could have been chosen. Everyone has the ubiquitous fez of course, so with the stated reservations the uniform is OK.
All the men have a cartridge pouch on the stomach and a haversack, plus a bayonet scabbard. A few also have a knapsack to which a rolled greatcoat and canteen are attached, although this is an inconvenient place to keep a canteen as it is hard to reach when required. However these are the lucky ones as the rest have no canteen at all.
If their uniform harked back to an earlier tradition then at least the weaponry of the Ottoman Army was more modern. Much of the regular infantry carried the excellent Martini-Peabody rifle (first issued in 1874), which was better than anything carried in the Russian Army. This is an obvious area of change from the 1850s, and sure enough none of these men carry this rifle. Instead they all carry a musket with a hammer which in 1877 could pass for the less common but still used Snider rifle. The Strelets chunky and unpolished sculpting does much to make precise identification of the weapon impossible anyway, so they have pretty much got away with this too.
As we have previously commented, these figures are quite 'classic' Strelets in style. The detail is there but smaller items are often exaggerated and many components such as rifles are much fatter than they should be. However there is no flash worthy of the name and thanks to the fairly flat poses there is no extra plastic either.
The poses are nothing special but all the basics are here, and there is even a fairly decent figure using the butt of his rifle as a weapon and another bayonetting which is better done than many efforts in other sets. There is not much animation here, but many will find the selection perfectly adequate and none of them are inappropriate. What is lacking of course are any speciality poses, and in particular any officers. As of the time of writing, you will have to raid the Strelets Crimean range to get those.
Our general impression of this set was that Strelets had got away with calling old figures something new. Although the trousers are not great the uniform is pretty accurate, and by trimming away the hammers on the muskets you would get something much like the rifle these men would have been given if they had been designed for 1877 from the start. The style and production standards will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the output from this company, and nor will the poses and general anatomy. It is not uncommon to attempt to get more utility out of figures by selling them under more than one name, but on the whole it works in this case, so while many wishing to depict the war of 1877 will probably have already seen the possibilities in the earlier set, this new packaging does at least deliver a credible result.