"The enemy were massing in inconvenient strength among the hills, and the moving of many green standards warned.....that the tribes were 'up'.....Then the foe began to shout with a great shouting, and a mass - a black mass - detached itself from the main body, and rolled over the ground with horrid speed...."
(From 'The Drums of the Fore and Aft' by Rudyard Kipling)
Well not quite a mass, but 32 blocks or so done so far, for a total of 196 'figures'. As you may have seen in a previous post, the Afghan/Pathan range from Irregular is quite typical of their output; at first sight a bit lumpen, but on closer inspection, some detail and character emerge.
In a sense, I think a better painter than myself could do a lot with these figures, but I just went for a bright and cheerful colour scheme, and tried to show up the main areas of the sculpt, rather than outlining every strap, belt or fold.
Afterall, the curse of doing a Colonial period is the fact that the Native side always requires large numbers, but these figure blocks paint up quickly, and look good from a 'table top / three foot rule' distance. The basing is the same as the Imperial Troops; although you could argue for a sort of horde like basing in depth, given the characteristic use of ambush by these tribesmen, I went for a skirmish line that would allow them to line up behind terrain or scenery.
What I have done, however, rather than merely basing whole blocks side by side, is to continue the strategy I had with the command stands, and cut and chopped here and there to add variety, or even lopped off the odd miscast figure or two.
The only individual command stand I have done is the counterpart to the British Brigadier, in this case an Emir or 'Mad Mullah', accompanied by his Russian advisers. (Have to have some representatives of the Great Game on hand!) This base is made up of GWR15, Russian Generals and mounted messenger, and IND35 Gurkha Command with two kneeling figures removed from either end. This block has a good looking standard, as well as two native drummers, although it's important to note that it does not depict Ghurkas under British command, but rather a commander of an earlier era, so it adds a bit of variety to the Pathan leaders:
Cutting and chopping the various stands also allows better placement of flags, so that I could identify a Left, Right and Centre amongst the Pathan troops:
As the framework of the project was the Tirah campaign, there were, I'm afraid, no cavalry or artillery to speak of on the native side, so for a bit of extra interest I added in a couple of IND66 Afghan Regular Infantry; at the time, the British were nervous that the uprising might become more widespread, and draw in the forces of neighbouring Afghanistan, so these chaps are deserters, who have crossed the border to join their cousins in making war on the infidel.
Next we have a pic of the final group of native troops on the Imperial side; IND34 Gurkha Infantry, a stand of kneeling firers, and IND51, Mutiny era Gurkha Rifles skirmishing. Both of these are a little underwhelming, unfortunately not a brandished khukri amongst them!
Finally, as promised, a shot of the Elephant Gun tramping toward the Khyber Pass:
All in all, the figures from Irregular available to cover this period are cheap and cheerful, and sometimes do not quite meet expectations in terms of variety of poses or clarity of sculpts. For the life of me, however, I can't find it in me to be disappointed, as they allowed a quick and dirty painter like me to set up both sides of the conflict relatively easily, and overall gave a good enough flavor of the period, enough to inspire me to actually make it to the gaming table and try them out for once!