The Rif War of 1920 to 1927 was the latest in a series of rebellions by local tribesmen of northern Morocco against the Spanish, who in 1920 had tried to extend their control over the territories they already possessed in the area. What followed was a series of Spanish disasters, of which the worst was the Disaster of Annual. The Spanish soldiers suffered appallingly as they fought the tribesmen who had the advantages of local knowledge and support, and thousands of them died in this bitter conflict. Only in 1925, when France entered the war, was significant progress made, and Spain did not fully regain Spanish Morocco until 1927.
This is a combined set of infantry and artillery. The infantry are mostly wearing typical dress of the campaign - shirt-sleeve order with a minimum of equipment, as might be expected in such a hot environment. Many have the popular slouch hat that was so comfortable in the sun, but a few have the more formal tunic, reminding us that the temperature was not always so high. Most have the simple two-pouch arrangement of the Spanish army, but a few have what appears to be the British Mills system, suggesting these might be for La Legion (Spanish Foreign Legion), who acquired this kit from the British upon their formation. Certainly the flag-bearer seems to be part of the Legion, as may be the bugler. Overall there is a pleasingly dishevelled mix of uniform and kit here, and everything is quite appropriate.
The second row shows the gunners. They are mostly passing ammunition for the gun, but there is only one man actually serving the gun, which is a pity. The gun itself is the Krupp 77mm M96nA, a German gun of Great War vintage that saw regular use in the Rif War. The model here is not as nice as the model of the same gun done by Emhar in their German WW1 Artillery set, and it is somewhat simplified, but it is still an appealing model and quite quick to assemble, having only five parts.
Apart from the lack of sufficient men serving the gun the poses are a fairly decent bunch. Several have been seen before in other BUM sets, or are adapted from previous figures, but all of them are quite suitable and apart from the last two in the bottom row all could easily be useful in numbers. Buglers were not uncommon but carrying a flag in the field would be virtually unknown, and the final figure does not lend itself to multiple copies. This figure is of Comandante Franco, second-in-command of the Legion and later to become dictator of his country. It is taken from a photograph of him directing fire against Rif tribesmen with his cane.
The sculpting is not of good quality compared to the best being made today but it is not bad either, and while it is a bit rough all the necessary detail is there and the proportions are OK too. The light brown figures are made in the less robust plastic material that all recent BUM and German figures use, but the grey figures are in a traditional grade of plastic and benefit from a cleaner finish as a result. Neither type of figure has much in the way of flash, and the parts for the gun are quite well done and go together easily.
The rather general name of this set might lead you to expect more types of troops, including Regulares (locally raised troops) and, of course, the Rifs themselves. Since these are both required to complement the figures that are in this set, it is to be hoped that they will make an appearance before long. In the meantime this is an adequate set for a conflict that is little-known outside of Spain, and could also be utilised for the Spanish Civil War.