The Great War in East Africa
Gaming figures for the East African Campaign
For reasons unknown to mortal man I settled on 20mm scale for the figures in my "New" period. They are much less expensive than the 28mm figures now in vogue but still carry more detail than 15mm or smaller figures do. Currently there are four makers of 20mm figures for the Great War in Africa.
I started with the 20mm line from Outland Games which were being mmanufacured and sold by Tom Dye at Minifigs USA/Attactix, later GFI (Game Figures International). They come 10 per package for $6.50 a pack. Per Tom Dye these are old master figures, originally made for Airfix or someone who was going to produce these in plastic like Airfix. They remind me very much of Airfix's old Confederate box of figures for the American Civil war.
Note that as of early May 2011 GFI has ceased operations. The figures may be available directly from Outland Games in the future.
The images above are of a German officer (pistol barrel is drawn in) a German askari, and several porters, all from the Outland Games line. Photo by Jay Stribling.
These figures are "true" 20mm size and with moderate, somewhat soft detail. The artillerists are conversions from the infantry and of lesser quality. There are two guns in the line a 10.4cm "Koernigsberg gun" and a generic "field gun." The "Koernigsberg" gun is excellent. The field guns which are two to a pack have little detail and I would not recommend them.
The Koernigsberg Gun (front) and the Field gun (rear).
Outland figures, left to right: Askari standing firing, Askari kneeling firing, British officer with radium pistol
The small arms for these troops lack detail. Some of the rifles are bent or twisted and I had to do a good bit of filing on them. The officers' pistols lack barrels and one of the British officers is carrying a weapon that can only be a radium pistol from John Carter's campaigns on Mars.
From my reading, many of the guns used were smaller "mountain guns" on both sides. I have not found a source for them and I may use the "true 25mm" Ral Partha Colonial "Screw Gun" with the barrel trimmed back in length. I think that it is about the right size.
The Indian infantry pack is done by another sculptor and the figures are larger and of differing style. I do not like these as much.
Overall I give this line a "B" grade (probably should be a C) with the field guns and artillerists being a "D."
The Outland games "Koernigsberg" gun and two figures for scale.
An assortment of Outland German "european" infantry figures.
B and B Miniatures
B and B Miniatures in England makes a very nice line of 20mm figures for this period. There is no longer an authorized importer and I have been buying these directly. They are in the "Allenby's War" range along with the Palestine figures.
Their web site is here: B and B Miniatures
I like these figures. Infantry packs contain 14 figures for 7.70 pounds. Machine gun crew with a gun ar $2.70 pounds. I have not purchased any cavalry, since horses tended to die quickly in the campaign areas because of disease spread by the Tsetse fly. The British 13/18 lb gun with crew is 5.50 pounds. The gun is superb but the crew are odd - I received mounted figures (perhaps a packing error). Overall I give this line an "A" rating.
B & B Miniatures Lewis gunner with an infantryman modified to serve as loader.
IT FIGURES, made by Lancashire games in England is another very nice range. They go very well with the B&B figures above.
Their web site is here: I T Miniatures
I have purchased the German Askari pack, the "von Lettow with staff" pack, several poses of King's African rifles packs and the Northern Rhodesia Police pack. Individual figures are 60 pence each. 3-figure packs are 1.5 pounds each, and "Company packs" of 24 figures are $10.5 pounds. HMG packs with 3 figures and gun are 1.80 pounds, and artillery crew are 2.50 pounds.
I give this range an "A" also. Once painted, I find it difficult to tell the IT figures from the B & B figures since I mix up the poses in the units. Just a note that many of the IT and B&B figures are cast with bayonets on the weapons, but these often are very VERY short due to the casting process. I have had to remove half or more of the bayonets since they were just stubs.
IT figures, Northern Rhodesia police. Notice bare feet, no leggings.
IT figures Indian infantry and machine gun crew.
RAVENTHORPE miniatures are, I believe, made in Britain, and the authorized importer into the U.S. is RLBPS. Web site is RLBPS
These are tall and thin with few packs & water bottles cast onto the figures, unlike the above 3 ranges which are carrying all manner of gear.
These boys do not fit with any of the above ranges but they have some items such as German Sailors fighting as infantry that you can not get elsewhere. The weapons tend to be long and thin, looking like sporting rifles with an unsupported barrel. The German Askari do not have the neck cloth which the Askari of all the other manufacturers do.
Many of the Raventhorpe figures do not have cast-on heads which must be purchased in separate packages. Confusingly, I can never tell by reading the listing at RLBPS which figures have separate heads and which are cast on.
I have experimented with using the Raventhorpe heads "in campaign hat" to replace heads on the other ranges. This looks good, as the Germans especially began to wear a shapeless hat (much like the US "Boonie hat" during the Vietnam war) as the war went on.
I like these figures, but they do not blend well with the Outland, IT or B&B lines. Also the importer, RLBPS, does not keep much stock so if you order, you may get 1 or 2 of a range and back orders can take up to 8 weeks. Having said that, these are very nice people and Anne at RLBPS is very good about letting you know what is in stock and giving options.
Raventhorpe miniatures. Left to right: Native, Askari (with added neckcloth) and Boer.
Raventhorpe figures. On left, Infantry in soft cap w/neckcloth and three German sailors.
C & O Enterprises
There is another manufacturer of 20mm German East Africa figures called C & O EQUIPMENT but as near as I can determine, they are out of business. Jeff Baumal, a gamer in Florida, says that he sees "the guy" at conventions every now and then, but apparently as a gamer, not as a vendor.
I purchased an assortment of about 50 of these figures (used - partially painted) on the "Bartertown" web site. They are small, no more than 17mm tall, for the figures that I was able to purchase.
I found it necessary to insert a balsa "shim" under most of these guys to get them up to the same height as the B&B or IT figures. They are, even shimmed up, definitely more petite than the Raventhorpe figures. I will use the C &Q Equipment figures in their own units..
Outland games British machine gun team. Note the sun helmets, which look more like French Adrian helmets.
Outland games German artillerists. Note size of shell in hands of gunner on left. The gunner in center has had a head swap, and had the shell cut down in size.
I also purchased two machine-gun teams in Pickelhaube from somebody (Irregular Miniatures perhaps?) and had to convert the heads. On two figures I replaced the head with a Raventhorpe head, and on the other two, I converted the head by filing and using a bit of putty to create "Askari" heads in the covered shako with neck cloth.
I believe that virtually any British or German WWI figure will work if the shirt and trouser length is correct (shorts for the British) and the headgear is correct.
Outland games German MG team in Pickelhaub. Figure on left (Loader) has had replacement Raventhorpe head. Figure on right (gunner) had had pickelhaub resculpted into Askari shako with neckcloth.
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