How to Convert Ansar Figures to Riffi

As discussed on my 15mm Wargaming Figures for the Rif Wars page, nobody that I’m aware of does an accurate Riffian figure. I decided to buy 19th Century Mahdist/Ansar figures with rifles and convert them to Rif. I’m not a figure designer so my aim was to give the impression of a Rif rather than get pure accuracy. This page describes what I did.

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Rif “Green”

Step 1: Get Inspiration

OK, the first step was to figure how what Rif should look like. I’ve got a variety of images of Riffi so I thought I’d put them together as a collage so I had them all together in one place. A bit of scanning, photo cut and pasting, followed by printing, and I had what I needed.

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Rif Collage

Step 2: Buy Figures

As I said I decided to buy 19th Century Mahdist/Ansar figures with rifles as the basis for my Riffi. From the figures available – see 15mm Wargaming Figures for Morocco – I picked Ansar figures from Two Dragons Productions, Peter Pig and Essex Miniatures. I picked these ranges because they are compatible in size and style and between them they give a good variety.

I also got some Old Glory 15s Ansar but rejected them because, although nice figures, they are much bigger than the others. They won’t go unused … I will probably paint them as Crossfire Hidden Movement Markers (Ghosts).

Step 3: Trim Figures

Obviously flash has to go. As the project developed I also started to trim off ammunition belts, pouches and those giant swords carried by the Peter Pig figures.

Ok I didn’t cut off all the giant swords as they look cool but a few got cut off.

The Two Dragons Productions figures have those cloth patches typical of Ansar so they got cut off too.

Step 4: Apply Green Stuff

I’m not a figure designer so my aim was to give the impression of a Rif rather than get pure accuracy. Essentially I turned the Ansar tunic into a Riffi chilaba by lengthening it and adding a pointy hood. And that meant Green Stuff.

Most of my hoods are draped over the figures back because I was too scared to try to put a hood over one of those rather large Ansar turbans. The Riffi did do this but their turbans were smaller. One of the Essex Miniatures and one of the Peter Pig figures had no turban so and I thought it safe enough to add a hood over the head of these guys.

I’ve included some before and after shots of the unpainted figures so you get the idea.

Two Dragons Productions: Victoria’s Enemies

MIX PAX 14 VE (E) 1 – 10, x 2 each

Two Dragon Originals

Two Dragon Conversions

Peter Pig Range 22 “Patrols in the Sudan”

4. Dervish Rifles – Originals

4. Dervish Rifles – Conversions

6. Dervish command – Conversions

Essex Miniatures : 15mm Colonial

OC24 Mahdist/Ansar Riflemen – Originals

OC24 Mahdist/Ansar Riflemen – Conversions

Step 5: Iterate

This was not a science by any means. My style changed as the project progressed. I found myself going back to the first figures I did and redoing aspects as I got more confidence … and got more fussy. For example:

I originally left some of the Ansar’s breaches showing, but in the end lengthened the chilaba of most figures so much that none of the breaches showed.

The first figure shows the shorter tunic and breaches peaking out the bottom.

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Shorter chilaba
and breaches showing

The second photo is after the 2nd chilaba extension on a different figure. You can still see, because of my lack of skill, the level of the 1st extension.

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Longer chilaba

On a very few figures I left the shirt showing out from under the bottom of the chilaba, but generally I didn’t bother. On the figure shown I carved away some of the green stuff to suggest the chilaba has pulled apart to show the garment underneath.

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Showing gap in
chilaba at the front

I initially tried big fat hoods because at the start that was all I could do. Then I moved to small thin hoods but they didn’t look right. Finally I used a fairly hefty affair so I could indent the fabric to suggest a gap where the head would go.

This guy also shows the giant sword carried by the Peter Pig figures. Not too historical for Riffi so I cut the swords off some figures, but they look cool so left them on others.

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“Hefty” hood

I also put a thin bit of green stuff from the hood on the back around to the chest of some figures. This was to suggest that the chilaba was over a shirt.

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Suggestion of a shirt

Things I didn’t do

Aside from the chilaba the other distinctive Riffi item of dress was the cloth shoulder bag. I haven’t added those mainly because I’d then have to add the straps, which are small and fiddly.

The rifles of the Ansar are also a bit antiquated … by about 40 years! but I didn’t bother updating them. On the table it will be clear they’ve got rifles and that is enough for me.

If I was a purist I would have trimmed down the turbans a bit. Riffi Rexa were fairly slim affairs compared to the turbans on the Ansar. But once again it wasn’t worth the stress.

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