Sunday, 15 May 2011

If you like your figures glossy.....

If you like your toy soldiers on the glossy side then you will probably appreciate the work of Ana Donzino and her late husband, the creative duo behind Beau Geste and a number of other brands like Four Feathers Toy Soldiers, Laura Cuello Miniatures, South Lands Miniatures and Honour Bound

For those of you who may not have read the latest edition of Toy Soldier Collector, the good news is that Martin Ainscough, a regular contributor to the magazine and passionate reviewer of the Argentinian manufacturers' work, has accepted an invitation from them to become their UK agent and distributor. Needless to say, he will no longer be reviewing their products in the magazine, however, this is surely good news for those collectors who have been wanting to acquire some of their fantastic sets

For details of the sets he will be stocking, Martin can be contacted on 01245 472468 or by email at

I have included some photos of a very small selection of the Beau Geste sets currently available, just in case you haven't come across them before. I don't presently own any glossy toy soldiers, preferring the more rugged and 'realistic' matte figures over the more traditional ones, but who knows, that may well change now that they have a UK agent to represent them

Mameluk bandsmen of the Napoleonic wars. A drummer and two cymbaliers
If you have deep enough pockets, and a spare foot or so of display space, you might fancy stretching to the whole band!

The following pictures show German and German colonial troops from their extensive WW1 range, together with some historical information about some of the soldiers. Pictures and information courtesy of Treefrog Treasures in Canada

SWA Schutztruppe in tropical uniform
During WWI larger German colonies (German South West Africa, German East Africa and Cameroon) had their own regular colonial troops known as "Schutztruppe". They were the backbone of defense and counter-rebellion forces in the three main African colonies. The Schutztruppe of German South West Africa consisted exclusively of German officers and other ranks

On September 13, 1914 South African troops opened hostilities at the Ramansdrift police station. German settlers were transported to prison camps. The German Schutztruppe, along with groups of Afrikaner volunteers fighting in the Maritz Rebellion on the German side, offered opposition only as a delaying tactic. On 9 July 1915, Victor Franke, the last commander of the Schutztruppe, capitulated near Khorab

SWA Schutztruppe in winter uniform
The German Colonial Army (Schutztruppe) of the German Empire also employed native African troops with European officers and NCOs. The main concentration of such locally recruited troops was in German East Africa (now Tanzania). Originally drawn from Sudanese mercenaries, the German askaris were subsequently recruited from the Wahehe and Angoni tribal groups. They were harshly disciplined, but well paid, and highly trained by German cadres who were themselves subject to a rigorous selection process

Native Askaris with German officer
The Schutztruppe was formed into Field Companies ("Feldkompagnien") of about 150 or more troops and were based in various towns and small forts across the colonies. They were a well trained, loyal and disciplined force with high morale and a level of mutual respect between the askaris and their German superiors which was only strengthened during the long campaigns of the First World War

Native Askaris followed by one of the pictures which inspired the sets
German East Africa was one of  the toughest nuts for the Allies to crack; in fact, the campaign there outlasted the entire war. This colony was nearly self-sufficient, so economic blockades against it didn't hurt much. Furthermore, the German commanding officer there, Lt. Col. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, was a military genius. He had 3,000 German soldiers and 11,000 African askaris (warriors), and unlike many Europeans of the time, he recognized that the African could fight just as well as the white man if given the right equipment and training. It took a long time for the Allies, especially the South Africans, to accept this fact

German Colonial Navy regiment in winter uniform
One of the things Beau Geste are known for is the production of military bands, and they have a very wide and varied selection in their catalogue. I have included just a couple more here, by way of a taster, followed by some further examples of their German Western Front figures

German Seamen in winter uniform from their Imperial German Army range
German infantry regiment military band

These marching figures, gas masks at the ready, are some of my particular favourites..... are these wonderful mounted light dragoons
More information about these and all of the other figures in their catalogue is available form Martin, Treefrog Treasures or directly from the manufacturers themselves at

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