Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The Colonial Wars - Zulu Part 1

Having recently completed my English Civil War project and loving the image of big battles with 28mm figures I am going to kick off another painting spree...this time I am going to focus on Victorian Colonial period.

The motivation to do this is threefold -

1. I have always had an enduring fascination with this period of history (thanks to my Father). Indeed the films Zulu, Khartoum, The Man who would be King, are some of my long lasting favourites. The idea of replicating some of the engagements of this period in 28mm fills me with real excitement.

2. I recently read that Dan  Mersey of :Lion Rampant fame is launching at the end of the summer a new ruleset for this period. You can get advanced copies from Amazon here

coupled with the release of Studio Tomahawks Congo ruleset I think Colonial Wargames will be coming to the fore in the months to come.

3. I surprised myself and actually really enjoyed painting the vast numbers of ECW figures - I now need to get my teeth stuck into something else ! What better than Zulus and Redcoats.

So which theatre should I start with - stupid question really - it has to be Zulu !!

So with my heart and mind set I decided to kick off proceedings with the Army starter set of Zulus from Warlord Games - I managed to find a good priced set on ebay (£53) and 48 hours later 120 Zulus came through the post.

A quick request on the Lead Adventure Forum for Zulus revealed my good friend from BLAM  - HU Rhus was willing to part with a box for a similar price. This arrived on Weds. Thank you Sir.

240 Zulus awaiting construction - I'll need two more boxes to finish this force

These boxes each contain 120 Zulus  - 60 married and 60 unmarried men - but with the number of heads available its possible to increase the number of married men units and create a number of induna (bosses?). On top of the plastic each box also provides a mounted boss, a runner and a witchdoctor.

These figures are great, my only gripes being

1. Each sprue has a single large shield with no arms to attach it to*
2. Each sprue has two large and two small shields - I don't like the small shields rather would have had large ones only.

Lots of plastic - married sprue on left

* I am thinking that these are for scatter terrain - I'll use them for casualty markers with a number of spots denoting hits.

Whilst trawling for inspiration on this subject I also discovered that Wargames factory produced a plastic box of Zulus. Again ebay was my friend and a box procured for £15 inc postage.

I'll review this in my next post.

NOW then here is a first for this blog...

If there are any manufacturers out there involved in this period who want to send me some examples of their wares for review or want to offer me a good deal just send me a message. 
The Zulus should be complete by September and I'll be starting on the British in the Autumn months.

Hopefully this blog demonstrates that I do complete projects and can showcase this to an interested audience. 

At present I have spent £120 on 270 Zulus so my army is working out at about 44p per figure

The plan is to build the force to around 500 of these boys. These will in the main be based individually and then mounted on movement trays. This allows for for easy reconfiguration of different rule systems.

Back to the project....

Assembly of the plastics can be daunting - there are a large number of figures. Each body has to be cut from the sprue, along with the heads and arms. To speed things along I removed all the bodies from the sprues and superglued these to 25mm washers to add weight. Whilst these were drying I removved all the heads and arms I needed. So rather than building one at a time - I glued on all the heads in one sitting etc.

The first box took around 2 hours to assemble (1 minute/figure) after all the pieces were cut from the sprues.

Once the glue was dry I primed the steel wash base with standard acrylic paint and onto this I glued my basing material (sand & ballast). Only once all this was dry I primed the figures using Halfords Matt Brown Camouflage Paint.

This colour is in my mind suitable for the natives skin and allows a speedy paint process to follow immediately.

120 Zulus are now primed for painting - 150 to follow

What do you call a tray of primed Zulus??

I have even started to paint some...

24 nearing completion

The start of a long journey

More soon...

part 2 can be found here


  1. Fantastic to see such enthusiasm and dedication. I will simply watch from a distance 😀 As it is too much for me.

  2. Welcome to the glorious insanity of Victorian Colonial wargaming. Will look forward to more posts about this project.


  3. I have a friend who wants these rules (when they com out),. I will have a Zulu army by then as well, but in 10mm I just do not have the space for a larger scale Zulu army, so I will watch yours grow with very much interest!

    1. ive got a 10mm zulu army but I am now bitten by the big 28mm bug

  4. That's a heck of a project! I look forward to more on this!

  5. Looking good already, I admire your stamina I have long given up big forces in 28mm I just can't stay at them.

  6. They're shaping up well. I have a batch of Warlord Zulus and found they accept acrylic craft paint easily, which saves on 'proper' model paints.

  7. Excellent choice!

    I have a massive 40 Zulus and 30 British painted! No doubt you will get that mount done in a week!

    My much neglected ZuluWars blog is here: Maybe I should restart my Natal Native Infantry.

  8. Most of the time we just recycle dead units of natives. Do you really need 240 of them for what appears to be a skirmish level game? That's a LOT of painting. It would take me years.

  9. Great stuff, will be watching with envy!

  10. I will be watching this, trying not to fall into the trap of doing this in 28mm...and probably failing...

  11. Zulus - thousands of 'em

    Good luck with your new new project

  12. Another project? My, what admirable insanity! I think you will need some pukka wargame rules though, not these 'figure fiddling' versions.