Monday, 1 September 2008

At last a promising range of Zulu War figures.

The new Empress British. The painter did a great job. If I can do half as well on mine I will be pleased!

As I noted on the introduction to my Sudan blog it was the film Zulu that got me into colonial wargaming and I painted a lot of those Revell plastics. I never found a satisfactory range in 28mm. The two main rivals, I suppose were Black Tree Design and Redoubt.

Black Tree Design have a wide range of poses but the anatomy of the figures is variable: some are excellent, some are a bit odd. The real problem with them is the strange interpretations of the helmets with odd ridges on them where all there should be are seams.

The Redoubt range is also comprehensive as to different troop types although their are less poses of individual infantry. The figures look quite old and on the internet anyway look a bit indistinct in their sculpting and casting. One of the reasons I like the Musketeer Miniatures figures so much, even though they are rather exaggerated compared with, say, the Perries, is that you know exactly what you are painting.

So I was delighted to see a new range of Zulu War figures by an equally new company called Empress Miniatures. These are sculpted by Paul Hicks, who is rapidly getting up there with the best sculptors on the planet now. They look a bit chunkier than my usual taste (but that is often the result of the photography) but are very crisply sculpted. I immediately ordered one of each of the four packs that have come out.

The owners (who claim to be women, which is unusual in itself) say that the range will be complete for all troop types in the war. Sensibly, they are going for a release schedule of first some redcoats, then some Zulus, then back to British again, so you can build an army and its opponents at the same time.

I know these will distract me from the Sudan but I have always wanted to do Zulu War British!

The first Zulus are up on the site too now and I just took delivery of a batch of those as well.


  1. About 20 years ago, I was interested in miniature wargaming, and to some extent still am, but I have been trying out some of the PC computer games, and have been playing some military historical games (they are mostly WWII).

    There are two other lines of miniatures I know, but I imagine one line is defunct.

    There was a company in the U.S. called "Ral Partha" which made a good line of Colonial miniatures covering the Zulu, Sudan, Boer, and Pathan (North-West Frontier) theaters; they were 25mm, which back then was considered the "True Fig(ure)", but now, it seems most miniatures are 15mm-20mm, and I have even seen 6mm.

    Ral Partha had its headquarters in Cinncinati, Ohio; I think they are still around, but I don't know if they make historical miniatures anymore (they made other historical figures, mainly Samurai, medievals, and Romans.

    The other company is called Minifigs, which was located in Maryland, but they also have a U.K. office. They are still in existence and I believe they still make British Colonials.

    Their lead figurines at that time were 25mm too, although they also made 15mm . Their figures were a little "chunkier" than Ral Partha's (RP's were a little thinner), but both made very good figurines (so, the Minfigs are just a little "bigger", so they may look just a little bit funny side by side, but they're compatibile).

    There was also a good set of rules called "The Sword And The Flame"; I forget who published them, but I would think you probably could find a set for sale somewhere on the net; there was a second edition of the rules published, so you may want to try and find those.

    I'm not sure what the difference was (besides being revised), but I think the second edition contained rules for the Chinese Boxer Rebellion.

    Perhaps the only drawback with these rules was the scale where one figure=one soldier.

    Most wargames had a one fig=10 men scale; some Napoleonics Rules set the scale even hire.

    So, if you want a really huge battle, like a 100% miniature recreation of Rorke's Drift, with 2,000 Zulus, well, it may be rough on the pocket and the paint brush.

    But the Rules were entertaining and good.

    You may want to find some books by Donald Featherstone, like "Solo Wargaming", an enjoyable read for the wargaming hobbyist even if not so useful and even if one is not a solo wargamer.

    (Sorry for the double post; made some egregious spelling errors in the first)

  2. Are you interested in the Italian colonial period.I'm bringing out plastic 54mm pieces for Adua