Exciting news (at least for me). There appears to be four new sets of Foreign Legion themed 1:72 scale plastic miniatures coming out in the near future. These are from the Russian company Strelets. For now these sets are in production status and not available but hopefully might appear in hobby stores by early next year.
Foot Rif Rebels (Set 185): This product will provide a great number of combatants to face off against the Foreign Legion. The figures represent the Rif rebels from northern Morocco that fought so savagely against the Spanish and then the French in the 1920’s. The Rif were very much a rebel force without much continuity in their uniforms so I have no problem with the figures depicted below. They did have a mix of older and modern rifles and their headgear was mostly absent or made of simple cloth. Many of the men kept their heads shaven and they were well supplied with captured ammunition and this set’s figures show plenty of slung bandoleers and other captured web gear. I would have liked to see more figures wearing the traditional hooded woolen djellaba. Definitely going to purchase a couple of these and experiment with putting together a large force by combining some of the figures from the already released Strelets Arab Uprising sets (Set 172, Set M127, and Set 115. You might also use these figures as Druze rebels for the Syrian uprising which occurred in the 1920’s as well.
French Foreign Legion Early XX Century (Set 186): This is the first time I’ve seen Foreign Legion figures in this scale that have been issued the colonial helmet (though it does appear in some Red Box Boxer Rebellion figures for the French Marines and Infantry). This set’s masters look very detailed and will be fun to paint. These legionnaires will be appropriate for fighting the Rif, the Druze in Syria or against any generic foe besieging their forts or ambushing them in the Sahara. My only nit-pics are that these poor guys are fighting wearing their large backpack which is a bit unrealistic. Also I’m not that keen on the fact they are all wearing the greatcoat which was most often not the case when they had perfectly decent tropical uniforms during that conflict (see picture below). Perhaps this set can be supplemented with another with legionnaires in their tropical uniforms (I can dream can’t I?).
French Foreign Legion WWII (Set 187): Getting away from the Rif War, Strelets also has this set of Free French legionnaires fighting in North Africa (Bir Hakeim). This is a very good set with much detail and accuracy. Most of the figures wear their kepi but two have the tropical helmet. None have the British helmets or French Adrian helmets which were seen occasionally. Also a good touch was the long scarf that was common to the Legion in the desert. If the sizes match, some of the heads from this set could be used on British 8th Army figures from ESCI/Italeri or even the old Airfix figures to create new poses.
French Foreign Legion on the March (Set 192): This is the latest announced set that features eight marching and six mounted legionnaires. Not sure if the mounted figures are riding mules or horses but either would be fine. I suppose the Legion cavalry units would have had the smaller Berthier carbines but these appear to be adequate.
I’m really getting to like Strelets products. They have an amazing variety of figures from so many different eras (which increases each month). Some of their older figures appear to me a bit bulky but the latest ones are really good. I bought the Arab Revolt figures and am pleased with the detail and variety of poses. I also have the Crimean War French Light Infantry and Zouaves, each of which contained 44 different poses (1 of each) which I found unusual. Admittedly I have not been indulging in war gaming or miniature painting for some time but these figures will surely get me motivated once again.