Friday, 16 September 2011

Isandlwana at Colours

I was most impressed by the one to one Isandlwana display at Colours at Newbury last week.  The figures weren't that brlliantly painted but the sheer number (around 3,000) gave an excellent idea of what a small (!) colonial engagement looked like.

It certainly gave me pause for thought as regards how many figures I needed to paint to to recreate this batttle.  I have been thinking about 1/10 but this set-up offered 1/1 as regards numbers.

Isandlwana, as a wargames refight, is really about recreating small segments of the battle at a company level, I think, and this vast version really gave me an overall view on how this might be broken down into individual elements.

In a way it was rather like the Gripping Beast/Grand Manner Gallipoli set up at Salute this year in that it made such a definitive statement as to be beyond the capability of the ordinary gamer to reproduce.  Nevertheless I will have a good go at producing some more figures.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Zulu War Meerkat

I saw this in a local garden centre last weekend and should have bought it; although he is carrying what looks like a Lee-Enfield rather than a Martini Henry.  The black facings come from the film Zulu, I think, where the recent digital remastering has turned what was a very dark green into black on the otherwise stunning looking blu ray.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

First unmarried Zulu regiment completed: the umCijo

The black shielded umCijo (the sharp pointed) regiment (also known as the oKhandempemvu) formed part of the central "chest" at Isandlwana. There were 2,500 of them at the battle and their unmarried regiment was made up of 28 year olds who were heavily involved in the central attack. Indeed, they were so keen they actually false started the attack and had to be brought back. The induna of the umCijo was Mkhosana kaMvundlana who was instrumental in getting the Zulu centre moving again after their initial attack was stalled by the volleys of the British, although he was killed in the resultant charge as the Zulus poured out of the dongas where they had been sheltering. Nevertheless, it was this action that drove the British line back to the camp.

They also formed the left horn at Khambula and formed part of the 12,000 warriors under Chief Somopho at Gingindlovu.

The Sword and the Flame units are twenty figures but the umCijo made up over 10% of the Zulu army at Isandlwana so I will probably paint another twenty figures to join them.  I also need a figure to represent the inspirational Mkhosana.

Most of these figures are Empress miniatures but there are a few of the new Foundry figures in there too.  The younger warriors tended to have the smaller shields so I have given them the smaller Zulu shields that Empress helpfully sell seperately.

Next I will paint a brown shield regiment but am not sure which one yet.  I have two more units of twenty based and ready for undercoating.  As with my Sudan force I am probably aiming at an army of around three hundred all together, which at the current rate will take about fifteen years!  The problem is that Zulus just aren't quick to paint!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Warlord/Empress Zulu War plastic Zulus

I wasn't impressed by the recent greens of the forthcoming Warlord/Empress Zulu War plastic British.  I think Paul Hicks' sculpts for the metal Empress British are the best 28mm Colonial figures out there (and I include the Perries Sudan range in that).  The Empress metal Zulus are horrible, however, with chunky, wierdly proportioned anatomy which makes them look more like pygmies than Zulus. These new plastic Zulus look tremendous, however, and look like they will become the standard for Zulus in this scale.  Can't wait to see them!

My isijula Zulu throwing spear, showing the binding joining the tang of the blade to the haft

One thing that plastics can do better than metals is good weapons and these are the first accurate representations of Zulu spears I have seen in this scale.  I own a Zulu Wars period assegai (throwing spear) myself and they appear to have modelled the plaited cane binding really well.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Zulu War - Military Dioramas blog

I had a comment on my previous post by a chap called Steve Collins who has just started a blog about his fabulous diorama of Isandlwana in 28mm (I must say that when I first looked at it I thought it was 54mm). 

I too was a great diorama builder many years ago; both using Airfix 20mm plastics and Tamiya 1/35th for World War 2.  Like many people, following an article in Military Modelling, I built a diorama using their Hanomag and Panzer Grenadiers.  Oddly, these days I don't take advantage of the diorama opportunities of my wargames figures simply because I don't use element basing so don't have a large enough canvas.

I'm looking forward to learning more about his techniques and seeing some more photos of this amazing work.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Warlord/Empress Zulu War plastic British

I've just come across these pictures of Warlord Games planned plastic Zulu War British which they are launching with Empress miniatures.  Apparently, these were on display at Salute but I never saw them.  I am not convinced I saw the whole of the Warlord stand.  It just seems to have been a few packs on a wall and a table, which was empty.  I was rather disappointed by it as I was looking for the new Hail, Caesar rules but never saw them.  Maybe I missed a bit.  Not sure.

Anyway, I am not overwhelmed by these figues as they have the usual awkward looking arms of many plastics.  Empress's metal figures are so superb, and you are never going to need that many British, that I don't see the point, really.  They still look like four panel helmets, though.  On the metal figures I have to file them all down and paint on the panel lines in the correct places.

More interesting will be the look of the plastic Zulus.  I haven't been too happy with the Empress Zulus but maybe the plastics will be better.  Due out in the Autumn, it seems.