Friday, 10 November 2017

Sudan Project part 5 - The Mahdi's Cavalry

Having almost painted 360 plus infantry for my Mahdi army its time to start thinking about their cavalry. (part 4 can be found here

Like most wargamers I am constrained by budgets and my biggest priority whenever putting together a new army is do this with value always in mind. As you have probably noticed in my last three big projects (ECW, Zulus and Napoleonic) delivering a meaningful army to the table takes a lot of figures – at best guess my Zulu project topped out at around 1000 x 28mm figures and through some rough calculations I reckon I paid less than 50p per figure to complete the project. £500 might seem to be a great deal to spend on one genre but by my reckoning the finished product is probably worth three times its initial investment (not that it is likely to be sold).

As you can see in the folowing pictures I have started painting these...

The Mahdi (Perry) based on a large warbase base (he's the General)

Back to the Mahdi’s horse - The typical Ansar cavalryman including horse sells for around £3 on the Perry website. This appears to be comparable to other Sudan ranges offered by Bicorne, Redoubt etc.

Fortunately I picked up some of these for a good deal and I spent a few quid on the Perry Website (mainly Camels)

However I have a vision of fielding around 60 horse (this should give 5 units at 12 figures strong or around 8 units - 8 figures strong) and at £3 a pop this is a big cost for metal. What are the alternatives unless I can get lucky on ebay?

Is there a plastic alternative ? When I put together my Saracen army it was at a time when Gripping Beast had yet to launch their Arab cavalry but the thought occurred to me that these figures (in particular the light versions) might work for a period later than the crusades, so I bought a box….

12 Horse & Riders for £20 (source ebay)

These figures are compatible in size (height) with some Perry horse I got from a deal on the Lead Adventure Forum but the GB horses look heavier in the flanks. They also have an annoying knot tied in the tail  (sadly if you cut it off the tail looks too short).

The riders however are almost perfect when you add arms and heads from the Ansar infantry box range. By adding a few of the fuzzies heads, some of their weapons including rifles and their distinctive swords you get a very different looking unit. The cost of 12 cavalry figures is about £20 ( or £1.66 each) – significantly cheaper than the metal equivalent.

Two Gripping Beast Horse & Rider Combos with Perry Dervish heads & arms (being painted)

Comparison of Gripping Beast/Perry combo with Perry Mounted Dervish - not bad scale wise

So I better go and buy some more boxes at the forthcoming Warfare show (hopefully somebody will have a multibuy discount)

So the cavalry starts to take shape - 32 Horse, 9 Camel six brigade commanders and the Mahdi General

Come back soon

part 6 can be found here


  1. Coming along nicely. Getting the biggest bang for your buck is certainly a consideration these days.

  2. Very good idea. But were there any mounted fuzzy wuzzies?

  3. They look fine, I think it's a really good compromise.
    Best Iain

  4. Wayland Games sells the GB olastic sets for £16.- (20% off).

  5. Interesting approach to the project Eric. I’m not a fan of plastic but I can see your point. I built my Sudan War collection over a couple of years so didn’t really notice the overall cost in the same way.