Skip to main content

Hausa Project - converted War and Empire Arabs

So, a new project begins, is nearly finished!
Hausa Kingdoms.

So, who is this lady?
She is Queen Amina, an almost legendary queen of the Hausa kingdom of Zaria. Reading about her, she deserves her fearsome reputation, and is the ideal CinC for my army.

With her bodyguard of Khurasan heavy cavalry to act as guard cavalry recreating the scene above.

The shields were an inspired moment of 'hey that looks good'!

These have come our really well.

With her bodyguard.

However, there is no actualy figure that suited my requirement, so I needed a female warrior that I could convert.
After a long search, I found some female Skythians from  Xyston Miniatures ia Scotia Grendel. (The rest of the pack I gave to Paul).

Quite different from what I needed.

Rear view

Front view of the proposed changes.

Rear view.

 Modifications in place. Thanks to Phil Lewis for the Greenstuff.

 And a few extras to go with,

Second in command, Muhammed Rumfa. Beautiful figure from Khurasan. Flanked by War and Empire Arabs converted up to Hausa.

General to go with the infantry, Prince Karama.

That is the Hausa symbol on the flag.

With an assassin in the ranks.

Or, Prince Karama might appear with the light horse, mounted.

Gotta love Peter Pig magic carpet riders.

Plus Peter Pig Vizer and Eunuchs (thansk Pete). In case I need a magic user in a fantasy version of the army. Slight conversion on the left arm for ice flame affects.

I have been gifted (very generously, thank you) a War and Empire Kickstarter by the great Bill Wilcox. This was Forged in Battle's phase III Kickstarter, featuring Dark Age armies. After looking at the list for quite a while, I plumped for something out of my usual Anglo-Centric world view.

I went with the Arabs.

People would give their left arm for a War and Empire Arab army by Forged in Battle, they're not even released yet, still on the Kickstarter fulfilment stage. Why trash them and paint them as a less successful army than the obvious choice of the all conquering Arab Conquest?

So, why convert an army of Arabs to a series of African Kingdoms? Why?

Well, firstly, I did Arabs, in the 90s, before they were cool!

So, I was looking for something different.

The Hausa are a sub-Saharan African people, famed as horse men from modern Northern Nigeria.

The list in MeG is not that impressive, short spear cavalry, unprotected archers and unprotected long spears, a few javelin/short spear tribal infantry and a couple of decent upgraded other units. I could have picked up to two dozen Arab influenced lists with brilliant troops, so why this?


Over the years, I have come to realise that I idolised Jim. He was a great raconteur, he always had a great tale to tell, his war exploits held my imagination as a young boy and a teenager, and as I grew older, I wanted to know more about his other lives.

My Grandad, James Whalley, after serving in the Navy during WW2 (commanding secondary batteries,starboard side on HMS Duke of York at the Battle of North Cape), and then finishing at Oxford, looking for something to do, he joined the Foreign Office, and was sent out to Nigeria, where he became a District Commissioner.
This was the British level of authority over Colonies and Dominions during the last days of the Empire. A District Commissionaire was, in effect, another level of admin on top of the local governance, where he would basically work with the traditional local authorities to administer British rules. He claimed to be in charge of an area of Northern Nigeria the size of Wales.
My Granny followed him out there, and my Mum (Hi Pinney) was born out there in Jos, so, technically, I can claim some Nigerian citizenship.
His main role appears to have been chasing tax evaders...
He eventually went on to help secure Nigerian Independence, gaining an OBE from the Nigerian Government, and was great friends with Abubaker Tafawa Balewa.
But he had some formal responsibilities too.

One of his great tales was that while working up in Kano, in Hausa territory, he attended the end of Eid celebrations known as Durbar.

To paraphrase this tale:
The Emir and local dignitaries sat on a podium at one end of the parade ground, while I, as a visitor, sat on a small stool at the other in diplomatic uniform, sword drawn. Between us were gathered the horsemen of the Hausa tribe, all dressed in their finery and armour, and they were armed with lances. They saluted the Emir, and then turned round, levelled their lances and, at full speed, charged at me.
I sat their with my Diplomatic Court service sword, thinking 'This is not going to help me much!'
The cavalry thundered in, and stopped inches away from me, still with lances pointed at me, then turned round and trotted back to salute the Emir again to great applause from the locals.

Jim was a great story teller, and I have no idea how much of that was true, but it certainly stuck in my head as a young man.

So, it was decided, my camp (vital in a MeG army) would be one thing, and one thing only.
James Whalley Esq. OBE.

Figure is from the Peter Pig 19th Century Sudan 1885 range Naval Command pack, but to represent a stocky European in formal dress, perfect.

Medals are correct for Jim in 1950s Nigeria.

Moving onto the main troops.

Two allied units and a general. These are Tuareg warriors, those with lances are Forged in Battle and converted, those without are Old Glory Ansar from their Sudan range (yes, 1880s) from Mark and Barrie at Timecast.

Camels in MeG are rather disrupting, so yes please!

Next two units of heay cavalry, the main strike arm of the Hausa army. Not as powerful as other armies, but still pack a punch en masse. Small conversions with head scarfs, but I love the massed look of these guys.


After the lights, it's time for the heavies. Here is the first unit out of four of these. Again, small conversions of head scarfs, and the idea was to keep them colourful, they have a couple of horse archers added in, for reasons that will be come apparent later..

So, this was my opportunity to paint up a Hausa army. This has been further supplemented by Pete Entwistle donating some Mirliton Arab spears and archers, and even more so by Khurasan Miniatures, after their owner Jon Katz mentioned on the MeG Players site on Facebook that he also does Western Sudenese miniatures. Some were ordered, quickly dispatched and now I'm assembling and painting them, my review is: Ohhh they are lovely!

So, how do you convert Arabs to Hausa.
The simple answer is, Hausa traditionally wear the Alasho, much like Tuaregs to the North.
Most Forged in Battle figures were a shmarg or Turban, but not this distinctive lower half face cover, instead their figures sport fine beards, which, while beautifully sculpted, are not Hausa style.
So, after advice form Phil Lewis (world renowned figure sculptor), I set about with my Dremel to alter and resculpt 200+ lower jaws...
Not all at the same time, I'm not that mad (yet).

The first batch to get the 'treatment' were the 16 bases of compulsory archers. The first batch was done with Milliputt standard green/yellow, wonderful stuff I've used for basic work (like bases and filling gaps) for years.
Not bad for a first attempt, but bless Techno, he was very encouraging, and sent me a pack of 'Greenstuff', and a few well placed hints for later work.

The next problems with Hausa is they are very, very, very colourful. They don't like single colour outfits. Now, the research and footage of the Durbar does show them in their absolute finery, so I could tone them down a bit, but, it's too good an opportunity to miss to have really colourful troops!
The archers.
 Basing was also a headache, as while Kano is not desert, it is very pale soil (Google Earth is your friend), so I amended my desert basing, and here we are.

They look pretty.
The next two units are unprotected shield cover long spear foot. Again, Khurasan do the perfect figures for these, which I have mixed in to the bases, along with Mirliton spears for a nice variety. This time I have used greenstuff for the Alasho, and I am far happier with the results, thanks Phil.

Progress as of last night. They will look better, honest!

The next three units preparations underway (with Hammy's Meerkatmen to the rear)

Greenstuff in action, a much cleaner finish.

Three more infantry units assembled, back left, swordsmen, back right, mixed short spear protected archers (drilled, wooppee) and front a unit of short spear javelin men.Not sure two of these will make it to the final army, but always nice to have flexibility.

The Heavy Cavalry contingent, cleaned and ready to assemble. On the board is the average cavalry (Forged in Battle), to the front is Khurasan's superb Sudanese cavalry that will be the armies elite unit.
That was until I realised I had run out of superglue!

Not sure these will all be done by Monday mind...

(and the weren't)

Two weeks later:
Finished up the foot units. Hausa foot are interesting, as the main emphasis of the army is a very strong cavalry wing, the foot tended to be more ad hoc units, nearly all (in MeG speak) tribal loose, which sounds a bit odd if the army is based on the plains (as is is high, sub-Saharan Savannah), but most Hausa battles happened on river flood plains, and then these foot were used for either defending or attacking the nearby towns. Also, if I lose the terrain pick, I will need something to ferret out all those enemies hiding in the rough!

It has been pointed out that I have painted the Hausa in their finery, not their every day fighting garb, but I wanted troops that stand out and look pretty!

Javelin and short spear troops.  Again, converted War and Empire Arabs.

Swordsmen, tribal loose, melee experts, perfect close terrain troops, not manoeuvrable, but will stick around in a fight.

The Hausa, along with many other Sub-Saharan tribal groups, used close order, unprotected, shield cover long spears. As I want my army to represent many influences, these are a mix of War and Empire, Mirliton (thank Pete E) and Khurasan steel spears (which are more like a claymore and if I had the time/money to do this army again, I would have used more of)

I like the way these have come out quite dark and brooding.
 Nasty piece of kit.
Image result for hausa spear

Finally, guard archers, short spear and bows, protected loose and most importantly DRILLED. Again a d mix of Pete's Mirliton contribution and War and Empire Arabs, converted up.

This whole batch, five colourful units, plus the two archer units, gives me 7 out of 13 TUGs, not all will be used at any time, but it gives me flexibility.

Onwards to the cavalry!

Light horse first, all normal horse, with helmets removed and  Alesho added.
Two units of, a mixture of Forged in Battle Arabs and Khurasan Light horse.


  1. I have a Bornu & Kanem army in 15mm for my African Napoleonics, which has similar figures to the Hausa Kingdoms. Irregular Miniatures do most of them. I never got round to doing a Napoleonic Hausa army.

    Problem is now I'm switiching to 10mm, so want Pendraken to do all these armies in their deliciousness!

  2. An excellent start to a fascinating army Will, I'll look forward to seeing more.

  3. Interesting to read about your Grandfather, who probably knew my wife's late God Father, Brian Fenton, who worked in Jos and at Kurra Falls. Maybe your mother might have known him? Anyway, the Hausa colourful robes would have only really been worn by the Emir's bodyguard etc. Most other cloth would have been fairly plain and one colour, as the top and trousers are always the same. The head dress would be any colour, but again fairly plain. If you start adding in Tuareg or Boozo, then the blues come into their own.

  4. They do look rather grand Will :)


Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mortal Gods

Footsore recently released this rather fun game, based around 28mm skirmish fighting in ancient Greece. Tried it at Campaign, then got a set for my birthday from Manny and Rob at Boards and Swords.

Picked up these two from Annie at Bad Squiddo games, Thea an Amazon hero, and her fairy friend scouting on guinea pig, because, well why not!

Turns out Ray also has Mortal Gods! He asked me to paint his stuff, who was I to deny him?
Slingers, Peltasts and light hopilites done, which finished Ray's Mortal Gods bits (just in time for Keith's order to arrive)

Light hoplites (shield transfers by Little Big Man & Victrix)



A musician, called Jeff

A spare base...

Ray's Heavy Hoplites and heroes from the core set, plus a Medium Promachos because I like the figure, I bought it twice and this one is now Ray's.

The heavies, 4 bases of.

With their veteran at the fore.

As the core set is meant to b etwo faction, here are two sets of commanders, including the Polymachos.


Fantasy Egyptians in 10mm

First force of lockdown an new-old project - and now completed (completed - verb - wargamers, thinking they've done).

Pendraken Fantasy Egyptians that will become a Saitic Egyptian army for MeG and now the army is finished.
Latest batch, final units and loads of terrain! 20 Diamond Dogs - skirmishers with javelins.

240 Greek spears in 4 units - shiled transfers from the awesome Baggage Train

This is just one units of them, a highlight of them, as they represent the shades of the underworld.

Slight tilt so you can see the eyes

Side view of the cloaks

Rear and out of focus

General Amenthes

Ptepic, Ptraci and the Discworld's greatest mathematician - Youb****ard!

Terrain by Scotia Grendel
Before I trashed them...

After muddying the terrain looks better.
Small tomb front

Larger tomb front


Fallen piller

Two bits of terrain/characters for other games. Thanks to Drew at Studio Bergstrom for finding these old sculpts from Eureka for me. Guarding the Stargate!

Really like the way these came out…