Since Germany had only come into being in 1870 she was late to the business of building an empire and had few overseas possessions in 1914. Nevertheless German planners saw an opportunity to tie down large numbers of British, French and Belgian troops in their colonies, thus ensuring they were not sent to help on the Western Front. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was commander of German forces in her East Africa colony, and throughout the war he conducted a brilliant campaign, keeping a much larger British and South African force busy in fruitless pursuit. Most of the force von Lettow had under his command was made up of native African troops - askaris - who are the subject of this set from HaT.
These figures all wear the standard uniform for these troops apart from the final pose, who appears to be a German regular, although he could also be a mobilised German colonist. However it should be remembered that difficulties of supply meant uniform was often anything but. They all carry German-style packs, although when on campaign such items were always carried by indigenous porters rather than the men themselves, so this is an error here. They are armed with rifles, but these are too poorly done to allow any kind of identification, particularly as several different models were actually carried at various times.
These figures are never going to win any beauty contests. In fact they wouldn't even get to the swimsuit section as they are very poorly shaped and pretty ugly. Detail is generally there, but not always, and on more than one pose half the face is not formed as it is perpendicular to the mould. The officer has suffered the most - his left hand has no fingers at all. To their credit these figures have no flash to speak of, although they are quite flat both in terms of poses and basic anatomy.
The poses themselves are mostly the standard selection for eight-figure sets, although the askari firing well up into the air won't have modellers dancing in the streets with delight. In fact, delight is likely to be in short supply all round, despite the fact that this is the first time these interesting troops have been modelled in this scale plastic. Africa may have been a sideshow in the war, but it was a campaign full of movement and strategy, in stark contrast to what was happening in Europe at the time. However anyone using these figures to model or game this campaign will find themselves with one of the poorest World War I sets on the market.