Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lords of the Horizons & the Golden Horn - Is A 54mm Ottoman Multi-period Army Possibe?

1. I always do a ‘planning document’ along these lines for new projects, and even additions and revamps of old ones, and wondered if it might make this one an attempt at a blog at long last? The only difference is that I would be sharing it on line rather than keeping it to myself 

2. My interest in the Turks and Ottoman Empire has persisted over many years and covers a wide historical range, roughly from the siege of Vienna 1683 to the Russo-Turkish War 1806-10. (It actually extends beyond this to the Russo-Turkish War 1877-8 and WWI but here we are only concerned with the earlier period).

3.   It would actually be quite feasible to go back further with the same force, to Renaissance and Medieval clashes if the enemy could be found – eg if the ECW forces were redesignated Europeans

4.   Not quite sure why the fascination, except that they are very colourful and slightly off-mainstream, which has always attracted me. They are also seen as not very effective on the battlefield/tabletop and therefore shunned as an army of choice – again, exactly what would attract me to them

5.   One thing which has made the idea of raising such a force more sensible is the Skirmish Wargamers launch into Napoleonic! Once we shifted away from Waterloo to Leipzig, the creation of Austrian and Russian forces meant the Turks would have someone to fight. Both nations fought the Ottomans during the period, and whilst they are both  nations which I ended up doing, others have started to get involved. SW'ers Gordon H is doing some Russians alongside his Prussians and Adam P is talking about doing some Austrians so the provision of the whole of both sides will not fall entirely on  my shoulders.

6.   I’d got general ideas about what an Ottoman army should consist of – lots of heavy and light cavalry, Janissaries, a ‘rabble’ besides, and some stupidly big guns (plus some ‘modern’ infantry for the later period replacing some of the Janissaries and Rabble)! What was clearly needed was a more careful study of what was really involved and they a mapping of it across the Black Powder (BP) template (with input from the two supplements, Last Argument of Kings (LAOK), and Pike & Shotte (P&S)) to show what the wargames army should/could consist of. 

7.   From the research I would also need to identify what changed over the time period and then how best to refelct this in the army I produced. I want as much as possible, hopefully the bulk, to be ‘multi-purpose’, to keep the number of figures needed to the minimum. I thought along the lines of the Pareto Principle (it usually works!), with 80% serving right through the time frame and 20% having changed so much that it had to be changed and represented with different figures. At this stage this is pure speculation, of course, but will do as a working hypothasis. 

8.   FIGURES. That brings us on to the big one - nobody makes figures for the Ottomans for the period in plastic! Given that the Ottoman army of the time consisted of so many different elements it ought to be possible to fit all kinds of figures in somewhere somehow.

Britains still do some heavily armoured foot and mounted ‘Turk’ figures in their Super Deetail range. They are full of action, and ‘almost’ but not quite right for me. I will examing them more closely however, to see what might be done with them, as I do have quite a number. 

There are other Middle eastern warrior types, usually sold as Saracens, which should be usable. These include Italeri and Supreme/Tiger, and a couple of Continentals (Jecsan and ????). I used all of these in my Al Andalus Moorish Army and they came out quite well. 

Other sources of the various types will become clearer as I get deeper into the research. The Supreme/Tiger Russian Knights look to have potential, perhaps even some of their Vikings and even Crusaders and Knights. Tehnolog also have a couple of medieval sets which out to provide some useful figures. 

One major hurdle would have been (and may still be) Janissaries. Because of their iconic nature, exemplifying the Ottoman army in many ways, they are absolutely essential. I knew of the existence of only one maker of these Ottoman Turkish infantry in plastic - Elastolin/Hausser . these had been copied in about 60mm 1/30th by an Italian company, Cave? Cape? I had even seen some Peter Berger ( was selling at a London show a number of years ago, but made the fatal mistake of ignoring the 1st Law of Wargaming Modelling and did not buy them, not even 1 of each! 
Abdullah Turhan, a Turkish friend and wargames figure maker, put me in touch with an Italian who had lots of the larger 75mm figures for sale. I thought that if I had 1 on each I might be able to make some 54mm masters based on them so I contacted him explaining what I was trying to do. After an initial response I heard no more from him. Foiled again!

However, thanks to the kind generosity of Belgian 54mm wargamer Dirk Donvil (take a look at his amazing games at xxx damn can't find the link! ) I now have one figure of each of these Italian copies. What a wonderful example of the fraternity of the 54mm wargaming community - he actually removed them from his painted army to send them to me to strip and cannabalise! The way in which I aim to make use of these will feature heavily in this blog – watch this space as they say.

Anyway, more of this in detail when I get deeper into identifying the various types and a better idea of what I will need - and what they look like!


  1. Firstly I am a big fan of your work. 2nd how do I join your blog? So glad you have one please post up photo of your Austrian Cavalry!.
    I have tried some Ottomans on my blog (in under 15yrs I hope my stuff looks like yours).

    Right with Ottomans, Buy a box of those Mars taliban guys. good heads on them and I am working on conversions now.
    Please post some of your old conversions.

  2. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for tthe nice words.
    These are my links:

    Did you test About Bonaparte?

  3. Gosh - I haven't publicised this - how did you find it guys? Having done it as you will see I have rather neglected it!

    As to 'joining' it I have no idea, sorry.

    About B - no, not yet but a friend who plays more regularly than me has my copy now and is going to give them a go.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Did read the Ottomans had very good and modern artillery in the Napoleonic period. Was also a surpice for me.

  4. Mike and Dirk,

    Do either of you know of any dealer still carrying stock of the 60mm Elastolin/Hausser/Preiser Turk copies? I would dearly love to obtain a bunch of the archers shown and several of the Azabs as well. They would be easy conversions for my Later Saracen army.

    Sir William the Aged

    1. Hi Bill,

      I obtained them from pbtoys, mentioned by Mike. Never have seen them on another site.

      Maybe Mike could make extra copies....


  5. Hi Mike, I'm also just starting on an Ottoman army to use in our C18th games (influenced by dirk's video) but also plan to use it against the C16th Wars of Religion army I'm building. I go more for the feel of the thing than accuracy so I'm using, Replicants and Hat zouaves, ACTA ECW artillery men, Barzo Barbary corsairs, Cafe Storme and various Deetail bits and pieces, also have some useful Janissary heads from Maros.

    Blog On! I find photos can blow up much larger on blogs than say in Yahoo Groups so they are a better source for gaining inspiration, also many of the groups are getting abit tired nowadays.

    Best wishes, Brian

  6. Hi Brian,
    Honoured you 'll do the Ottman army based on my video.
    don't know Maros. you have a site?

  7. Hi Dirk, Maros don't have a website and George Weygand who designed the figures died many years ago but his widow, Rose, still has stocks to sell. These are the only contact details I know of for her: it's a copy of their only catalogue scanned and posted in the files section of the Little Wars Yahoo group.

  8. Thanks Brian. Will take a look.