Following on from my earlier post I have had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Perry plastic ACW Zouaves and boy oh boy, they are really nice! I have pinged off a couple of questions to Perry about these and the other ACW models in general and so hope that the answers will help my decision process somewhat. One thing I did establish though is that the command figure can wear either a kepi, a fez or a turban which is really useful for the planned Fezian infantry.
The usual Zouve uniform was, for all intents and purposes, a stylised version of what was deemed to be typical Turkish national dress of the period. The baggy trousers, short jacket and fez featured for a long time in the Turkish army until replaced by a more modern looking German inspired uniform around 1890. I am particularly pleased with the fact that the Perry Zouave has the fez unadorned or with a cloth wrapped around it which was largely a campaign dress feature. The fez must be one of the most useless pieces of military headgear ever devised so having the headcloth around it would help it during inclement weather or dusty conditions, as well as providing a modest level of protection for the head. I am researching the evolution of Turkish uniforms over the course of the 19th century but needless to say, it is not an easy task although the Ottoman archives are legendary for the amount of detail contained therein so I am sure it must exist somewhere! I must confess to finding it a little ironic that the Turks only appeared to have two units of official Zouaves despite the fact that the rest of the army were dressed in a similar fashion!
From the point of view of interpretation the Perry plastic option gives me a degree of flexibility with the figures that the Spencer Smiths do not and this is an important consideration for me. Obviously it means I will have to dip into metals for artillery and personalities but this would not be a problem simply because the numbers needed would be so low. It would depend greatly on how well the Army Painter dip works should I opt to go down the plastic route. I cannot imagine that a highly detailed 28mm figure would respond particularly well to being painted in an 'old toy soldier' style, complete with gloss varnish, but perhaps it is an option worth considering.
I have the unit organisations planned, the uniforms are in hand, the 'back story' and dramatis personae is coming together and even the naval dimension has had some preliminary work on it (well I have looked through Conways!). I am keen to get started but have a number of pre conditions to be satisfied first of all and the choice of figures is of course the main one
To be frank I am torn between the two figure types and have swung either way on an almost daily basis. With this in mind I am happy not to have to make a decision just yet until I am certain about the path I wish to take.