Of the many states that made up the Indian subcontinent in the middle of the 19th century, the largest was the territory controlled by the East India Company, a British trading company that by 1857 had taken over many Indian states, and had divided its territory for administrative purposes into the presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay, each with its own army. When in 1857 many elements of the Bengal Army mutinied, some units considered untrustworthy were disarmed and disbanded, but the three battalions of Gurkhas suffered no such action and proved to be completely loyal, participating in many of the actions of the conflict including that to recapture Delhi from the rebels.
A glance at our images of these figures will tell you much of what you need to know about them; they are really quite crude and not at all pleasant to look at. There is hardly any detail, and the clothing only has the most rudimentary of creases to suggest fabric. Faces are almost flat (no one has a nose) and very hard to make out, and many elements like kit and decoration on the uniform are simply plain, featureless blocks. Nowhere is this more clear than with the muskets, which are little more than strips of plastic with a stock on the end, and the kukri knives, which are thick and so have absolutely zero credibility as bladed weapons. For some reason this gets worse round the back of the figures, where several seem to have been damaged or failed to fill the mould properly, causing random shapes, cavities and flat areas that would challenge the most skilled modeller to repair. The plastic used is very hard, but there is a lot of flash and many untidy burs round the seam, as well as some completely filled-in areas (our photo shows examples, but this varies between individual figures), so a great deal of work will be required to make these more presentable.
The uniform of the Gurkhas at the time of the mutiny was a Kilmarnock cap (sometimes called a pill-box hat), shell jacket and trousers, and given the limitations of the sculpting this seems to be what these figures are wearing. The large shoulder wings are present, and the men may or may not be wearing covers on their caps – impossible to tell. The men have a belt over the left shoulder which supports their cartridge pouch, but otherwise the kit is a mess. They should all have the carrier for their famous Kukri knife on the right hip, next to the cartridge pouch, but none do as far as we can see. Some have this on the left hip, which is wrong, and is where they should have their bayonet, which none of them have. Some have a pouch over the buckle of their waist belt, which is not a thing at all, and none have the cap pouch on the right of the waist belt, although it is unclear if this was worn in India at this time anyway. The last figure seems to be an officer and has a long, curved sword, but no other kit. It is possible that he wears a braided jacket, but again far too poor a sculpt to be sure.
The poses are extremely odd. All of them are exceptionally flat, so even the last man in our top row, who is presumably meant to be running, in fact has a straight leg and upright body and looks nothing like he is running. The two poses with musket held out to the side are really bad – no soldier ever does this, and it is an excuse to show the kukri in action. However, while this is a magnificent weapon, it is a knife and not a sword, so waving it about like this seems immensely unlikely, and like all poses with a weapon in each hand, we have to ask how exactly either can be used effectively. However these are not the worst of the poses, because we are faced with the baffling pose in the second row, holding a bucket or something and with one leg high in the air. We have absolutely no clue what is going on here, but it would be pointless in a set with very many poses, never mind one with only seven. The officer, clearly not in action, is standing and reasonable, and the other two poses in the top row are also reasonable.
One more big problem with this set is the size of the figures. We have labelled them as too tall for Asians of this period, but in fact they are far too tall. The average Gurkha was less than 160 cm tall, which is 22 mm at our scale, so apart from the officer, who might well be a European, all these figures are considerably too tall. However that is only one of the many serious woes with this small collection of ugly figures, which really has very little to recommend it.