|Photo from ERM's website|
Finding ideal figures for the Zanzibari Arabs and Swahilis that faced off against Wissmann and his force is probably never going to happen. Short of winning the lottery and having specific figures commissioned (which also is probably never going to happen), I have decided to use a fairly obscure range of figures from East Riding Miniatures. There are a few reasons to use the ERM. First, the figures look close to what I would use in 28mm and there are a variety of packs available. Second, they are decently priced at $3.79 a pack. And third, the service I have had from ERM's Tony Barr in the past has always been outstanding. The only issue I may have is that the German forces, due to using Old Glory 15s and Blue Moon Manufacturing, may tower over the ERM figures as I have never seen a comparison picture of the three ranges side by side (which I will take once I collect figures for Ost Afrika). But, as these forces are on opposite sides of the coin, any height variation should not be that noticeable on the game table.
ERM has Arab swordsmen, musketmen, crossbowmen, command, and dead figures in their colonial range. I will forego the crossbow figures as they are of no use. I will use a fairly high proportion of musketmen as one source I have indicates that they were mostly equipped with small arms.
As for painting, I have this information:
Skin - varied, from olive to dark brown, with the number of generations a family had been settled in East Africa. Beards occasionally dyed red with henna.
Gown - a long shirt with full-length sleeves. Originally this was a dull yellow, but by the 1870s was usually white, its brightness increasing with status. At the waist there was usually a sash, often white although any color could be used. A shorter shirt, in a striped or patterned fabric, was sometimes worn over the gown.
Waistcoats and Jackets - dark blue or red zouave style with contrasting edging and decoration.
Overmantles - in very dark blue or red, worn by leaders.
Hats - white fezzes or turbans. Wealthier Arabs often used multicolored, striped silks for their turbans.
Flags - a blood-red flag was the sign of a caravan from Zanzibar, although the contingents of individual leaders carried their own flags. These were probably simple vertical or horizontal strips of blue, red or white fabric added as borders to a basic red flag. Sometimes patterned fabrics may have been used for these stripes.
So, there we have it, basic figure ideas for the Wissmanntruppe and their enemies. I've summarized this information on the Figures page.