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.