Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Colonial Wars - Zulu part 3

Just a simple post this time and a quick update on the progress I have been making with my colonial wars project.

When I left you last I mentioned that I had acquired a box of the wargames factory plastic Zulus. This box contains 30 multipart Zulus. Unlike the Warlord Games set this comes with five different bodies (WG has 4), heads, arms and weapons. Interestingly all the hands are open allowing the user to determine which weapon the figure will be using. In a sense this box gives more versatility than the WG box.
The figures themselves stand virtually the same height and body proportions between the two are ok. Indeed the two sets combine well to create variety within your Zulu army. Unfortunately mixing the pieces from the types of  two boxes is not possible without significant modification and given I am building hundreds of these guys it’s something I am unlikely to do.

As regards to the building I can now confirm that all 270 Zulus in my possession are now constructed and a very large number are painted. These are all based on washers and the basing (sand and grit) has been added. 

As you can see from the picture below that’s a lot of Zulus ! These have all been mounted in the excellent movement trays from warbases. As a rule I have used two types of trays 6’s and 12’s. This allows me to configure regiments in multiples of six and if necessary use the smaller trays to represent skirmish units.

Since the above picture was taken I can confirm that 200 are now painted and the rest have all been primed dark brown with the Halfords camo paint.

270 Zulus in various stages of painting

At present I am painting each warband as a group of thirty - this includes six rifle/musket armed troops.

One of the things we found by basing the ECW troops this way was that vast amounts of troops can be moved swiftly across the table but also cleared away quickly.

I have decided that the final volume of Zulus will probably count out around 400 so one more box of the Zulu Starter army from WG should be sufficient for my needs. This was ordered last night on ebay for £58. Total spend on the Zulus is now running at £200 so about 50p per figure

In time I'll select some of the plastic ones and purchase a few metals to create the Indunas (Bosses). These will be mounted in much the same way that I did my ECW commanders on round bases.

So 400 Zulus to paint is no easy task…however with the matt brown spray option I have been able to churn out a total of 200+ Zulus painted very quickly inside two weeks. Each figure has typically 7 colours added to the base – wooden hafts on spears, sand for shield inside, gun metal for spear heads, white for the shield pompom and arm/leg hairy decorations, a variety of browns and yellows for loin cloths, black for the hair and the appropriate colour for the shield. I have been painting these in blocks of 30. This is a manageable number in an evening’s painting session and on the current run rate the end of September to complete this army looks achievable..

Finished Zulus - all the bases will be done at the same time along with the movement trays - apologies not the best picture 

Once the base colours have gone on the figure is painted with Army Painter Strong Tone Dip and left for 24 hours. Following this the figure is then painted with a matt varnish.

The final job is then to paint the base, I have been using a chocolate colour from a Homebase tester pot and then dry brushed over with a sand colour. Only when all this is done is static grass added to the base. I was concerned that the matt brown was too dark however once the base is finished it does lighten up the figure.

Zulu army shields come in a variety of colours and were used to denote each regiment by experience. Shields that were solid black reflected an inexperienced unit whereas all white shields were issued by the king to the most elite regiments. Between these two extremes the greater the amount of white on the shield better reflected the quality of the unit. For the purposes of my army I’ll be painting my troops up in equal thirds – all black, all white and the mixed pattern. I also read somewhere that some units were issued with red hide shields. I’ll probably add a couple of dozen of these as well.   

As a footnote I realised that I needed a storage solution for these guys  - a quick hunt on ebay revealed these plastic trays  10 for £27.00

These are perfect for 28mm figures - the depth is around 5cm and each tray is robust enough with its lid on to support a stack of trays. The trays themselves can hold 66 figures on movement trays.

A4 Box with lid

270 Zulus don't take up a lot of room

On a final footnote whilst clearing away the sprues from the constructed Zulus it stuck me that the volume of wasted plastic was criminal. In a world where resources are becoming scarcer by the day I really do feel that the games companies should consider this waste. Either by reducing the spruie count and adding more bodies to the sprues or alternatively promoting ways that these sprues can be used in an alternative manner. For example it would be great if the sprues themselves could be embossed with a brick pattern so walls could be constructed from the waste.

Box of sprues - add a comment if you have an idea what could be done with these please

More to come very soon

Part 4 here


  1. I am amazed at the speed that you are able to churn out minis that still look great. Always a delight to read you blog and looking forward to seeing more of this project.

  2. The old Wargames Factory had a sprue recycling program where you got store credit for sending your plastic in, but that's probably not feasible these days.

  3. That is a LOT of Zulus! Very impressive.

  4. Maybe not 'fahsands' of Zulus but they certainly look impressive!

  5. My Zulus are all in 6mm...a bit easier to paint!

  6. My Zulus are all in 6mm...a bit easier to paint!

  7. Super progress, I'm impressed! Those A4 boxes are usually £4-5 at Hobbycraft and the like so you got a bargain.

  8. Nice looking Zulu's. Impressive number of troops. The boxes are a great idea, I might look into that with my Wargames Factory figures.

  9. I used some of the spare sprue from various GW kits and a chopper to make bricks, which was reasonably easy and does not look bad.

    Also, they may be recyclable in your area, although alas, not in mine as they are not marked as being polystyrene!

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