Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Next painting target: 24th Foot

24th Foot so far

Having finished over forty Force Publique figures in the last couple of weeks and being well on the way with 20 Carthaginian veterans the next mass painting project will be my Empress Miniatures 24th Foot. I've got over forty to do (and no doubt will pick up a few more at Warfare this weekend) but I am now coping with doing dozens of figures, rather than a handful, at a time.

At the weekend I based and undercoated the figures I hadn't already started. By the end of this coming weekend I would like to have completed all the hands and faces base coat and, possibly, the jackets too.

New Zulus from Foundry

Well, in something of an unexpected move Foundry have come out with eight packs of Zulu warriors sculpted by their new sculptor Ronnie Shilton (who sounds like a big band leader). I have to say that these look like excellent figures with beautifully rendered shields. At £10.75 for six, however, they are a lot more expensive than the Empress figures at £5 for four or the Wargames Factory ones at £15 for 30 figures. If you buy the deal you get 48 figures for £73.40 but for £1.60 more you could get 150 Wargames Factory figures!
It seems a curious choice for Foundry but then curious choices are the stock in trade of this once great company. All the warrriors are spear armed and it seems a shame that they haven't taken the opportunity to do some with rifles, which are sadly short in the other ranges; particularly shooting poses rather than waving rifles in the air poses. Something like Mark Copplestones's lovely Azande musketmen poses are what are needed for Zulu armies.

Nevertheless, next time I send in a Foundry order (and I've just had one back, annoyingly) I will order a couple of packs to see what they are like.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

First British Figure: 24th Foot

My first British have been sitting on my workbench for a year now. To be honest I have been a bit frightened of them and happier painting Zulus. This weekend I decided to try to finish one figure to see how it looked. Well, I needn't have been worried; he was very easy to paint. Now I love the Perry figures but sometimes they can be tricky to paint but the Empress one was very easy. So much so that I immediately started on a few more including my rocket team. While watching Strictly Come Dancing with the family I assembled the rest of my first batch of Wargames Factory plastic Zulus and based a few more Empress British. One thing, though, I can't think that too many British soldiers would be fighting Zulus without fixed bayonets so I am going to make sure all my subsequent figures have them. I am going to approach the Zulu war slightly differently than the Sudan in that whilst I will try and reproduce every regiment at something like 1/33, for the 24th foot I will paint more figures so I can do Isandlawana and Rorke's Drift with rather more figures on the British side.

I was hoping to finish three Zulus and Masai warrior today but my daughter hogged my desk all day doing GCSE course work (she claimed!) so I didn't quite get them done. This is doubly annoying as I go abroad on Tuesday and am not back until October 14th. Grr! Just when I was getting into my painting again too. Oh well. I will just have to take one of my Zulu War books away with me to keep me inspired!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

10mm Zulu War

10mm figures by Steve Barber

I don't do 10mm figures on account of the fact that I can't see them to paint but if I did I might be quite tempted by this new range from Steve Barber models. http://www.sbarber-models.clara.net/main.htmlI know this firm best from its enjoyable Prehistoric Settlement rules. Barber's figures can be rather crude and many of his 25mm figures suffer from big head syndrome. There are the occasional figures with strange anatomy here but on the whole I think these are rather good.

I love the little Hales rocket team here!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Zulus with Rifles from Empress Miniatures

It's always been slightly annoying that rifle armed Zulus weren't available seperately from Empress but now they have gone and rectified this with this very nice set. This is excellent news. Once I have finished my next batch of Beja I'm going to move back onto Zulus for a bit. I wasn't very happy with the way that the first ones came out so am hoping the next batch will be better.

Prince Dabulamanzi KaMpande, Cetshwayo's half-brother was the commander at Rorke's Drift and Gingindlovu. His troops have a wide variety of firearms.

The Zulus had been arming themselves with firearms for some time before the Zulu War. One contemporary report estimated that there were around 20,000 guns available to the Zulu at this time. However, it was reckoned that only about 500 of these were modern breech loaders. There were rather more percussion guns but most were old, often condemned, flintlock muskets. The British army recovered nearly 450 guns from the Zulus after the Battle of Gingindlovu but only five of these were Martini-Henrys (presumably captured at Isandlwana) with most being old British Tower or German muskets. In addition the gunpowder the Zulus had was very low quality and bullets could be anything from bits of metal scrap to stones. So although the Zulus had guns, they would not have been very effective.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wargames Factory plastic Zulus

I, at last, managed to pick up a pack of these at Orc's Nest today. I have not been very impressed with Wargames Factory's output so far and had already decided that I wouldn't be buying their British Infantry. Mainly this is because Empress Miniatures British are so good (despite their four panel helmets), and the promise of the range is such that I wanted all my figures from the same manufacturer. The Zulus were different, however. I had seen some previews on The Miniatures Page and they looked..well pretty good actually.

Unlike the other figures from Wargames Factory these are packed in a bag with a card insert which has one of the most amateurish looking paintings I have ever seen on a commercial product. Plastic figures are more fragile than you would think so I am a bit worried by the bag but they seem to have got from New England intact.

You get five each of two sprues:

The first holds five different legs/torsos and 18 arms. 12 of the latter are right arms and six are left.

The second sprue holds 14 heads (2 with headdresses) six married and six unmarried heads. This means that you can easily field a force of each from one box.

There are 9 distinct heads, which is pretty good. This sprue also holds six shields, two of which have spare assegais attached. There are also three arms holding rifles (two Martini-Henrys and one flintlock) plus one each of a seperate Martini-Henry and a flintlock. There is one seperate belt with a powder horn. There are five longer throwing assegais and five of the shorter, stabbing Iklwa plus two knobkerries or Iwisa.

I quickly assembled one this evening to compare it to the Empress figures and I have to say that I am impressed. The anatomy is very good; probably better than the Empress figures, although the heads are slightly bigger and, indeed seem to vary in size. The arms have that slightly uncomfortable look that stick on arms always have on plastic figures but they are not too odd looking.

Heightwise they are slightly bigger than the Empress figures but this is no bad thing. Many of the contemporary accounts of the Zulu War written by British troops commented on the size of the Zulus; these were big men. The Empress figures are smaller than their British counterparts however.

The best thing about them are their weapons, however. Nicely in scale and nicely modelled. Best of all are the shields which are much thinner than metal and are also modelled to show the characteristic wavy surface of the hide shields: a really excellent job with fine rear detail too.

In conclusion, and rather to my surprise, I can see myself buying a lot of these whilst still using Empress figures for characters. I will try to paint one up to see what he looks like over the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

A small Zulu Wars project...

Contents of ZWB 09: Bombardier, infantry "hired help", rocket trough and 3 9pdr Hale's rockets.

I haven't got any painting done at all this month as I have been away in the Gulf and Washington. Any spare time I have had has been taken up with Guy's D-Day project. This weekend I am transferring all my files from my old 80GB computuer to my shiny new 750GB computer. Hopefully all those long waits whilst things process will be a thing of the past as they jolly well should be for £1,000 without a monitor!

However, I am keen to get started again, especially with Salute coming up, and I just took delivery of some more of Empress Miniatures lovely new Zulu War British. I bought the new officers set which includes two figures in patrol jackets (hooray!), the infantry firing with fixed bayonets and the rocket set. I have decided to make the rocket set my next project as it has only two figures in it!

The first stage was to attach the rear legs to the rocket trough. Sounds simple but what a nightmare! I used superglue and just couldn't get the thing to stick. After 10 attempts I gave up and decided on an alternative approack of sticking the legs to the base first. It kept falling over so I sellotaped a match to the the base so I could lean it on it at the right angle while the glue set. There is just too little surface contact to make this easy I suppose. Anyway, this worked and then I could glue the trough on top and let gravity keep it in place.

The trough (the technical designation was "Machine Rocket, War) set up.

In the picture on the Empress site they have the rear legs at 90 degrees to the ground and the trough is, as a result, horizontal. They also seem to have cut off the bent end of the leg which also stops it pointing upwards. As you can see from the diagram below the curved end to the leg was part of the design.

Machine Rocket,War: note angle of the rear legs

In reality the rear legs were at an angle to the trough. Changes in elevation were made by shifting the upright (on the right in the picture above) along the arm at the bottom, but of course it doesn't move on the model. This isn't a problem as the maximum elevation of the trough was only 15%; we're not talking a howitzer-type trajectory here!

Here is the team ready for action. Some people like to make little diorama type bases with figures like this. I don't! For some reason I have always wanted my soldiers to be individually based. No element basing for me! This is why I will never play Field of Glory, DB whatever or anything else that involves "stands". Warhammer and The Sword of the Flame are much more my style!

More about the Hale rocket in the next post.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Rorke's Drift in 54mm: 2

By John 54 on the Miniatures Page has put up some photographs of a Zulu War game they put on at theMuseum of the Royal Logistics Corps in Camberley, Surrey, last weekend (annoyingly as it's only about 20 miles from where I live!). It looks great!
I have a box or two of these Call to Arms figures http://www.acalltoarms.co.uk/132_2.html somewhere in the loft and I might dig one out to paint for fun, as I haven't painted a 54mm figure for years.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

A birthday anniversary

The site where Number 3 Column's crossed the Buffalo at Rorke's Drift on January 11th 1879

Today (January 11th) is my birthday and also the 130th anniversary of the beginning of the Zulu War in 1879. Lord Chelmsford's 5,000 word ultimatum had been delivered by John Shepstone, acting Natal Secretary for Native Affairs, to the Zulus on 11th December 1878 giving Cetshwayo 30 days to comply. January 10th arrived and went and no compliance was seen (or expected).

Col Richard Glynn of 1st Battalion 24th foot. Photographed in 1878

At dawn on January 11th Colonel Richard Glynn's number 3 column crossed the Buffalo River at Rorke's Drift. The column consisted of the first battalion 24th foot, seven companies of the 2/24th, a battery of Royal artillery, two battalions of the natal Native Contingent, some European Mounted Police and Volunteers, 2,000 oxen, 67 mules, 220 wagons and 82 carts. In just over a week's time the force would make camp close to a mountain called Isandlwana...

Monday, 5 January 2009

Back painting Zulus again..

I had a look at Empress Miniatures site again for the first time in a few weeks and saw that they had put some more stuff up on it. They also have some greens of some interesting looking British: artillery? rocketmen?

The best thing was that the Zulu command was out so I zapped off an order. I like the way they are highlighting the bare metal figures now; it really lets you see the detail.

My wife gave me a new daylight craft light for Christmas which I got round to assembling today. It's brilliant! I realise that the reason I haven't been painting much (other than the fact that I have spent three weeks travelling around North America) is that I couldn't really see to paint properly in artificial light but this gives a real white light. Now I have two lights either side of my painting area I should be able to paint in the evenings again. To celebrate I put down the base coat on my next batch of 20 Zulus. Maybe tomorrow I can do the black bits (hair and rifles). Doing 20 figures in a batch is a lot for me but with Zulus you need to go for mass not driblets!