Matakishi's Tea House

A simple little site...

The Plan.

I've wanted to do a Zulu War project since before I was a wargamer. I've had some abortive attempts in the past but now it's time to get it done.

I'm going to start with Rorke's Drift using a variation of my The Natives Are Restless Tonight rules adapted for multi-based figures. This is a full circle for these rules as I originally intended them for this very purpose but ended up using them for the French Foreign legion and later the Boxer Rebellion, each of which pushed the intended Zulus further from the top of the project pile.

I'm going to start with six units of British and two command stands and 80 Zulus which will either give me ten units of 8 figures or eight units of 10 figures depending on which looks best on the bases with four command stands.

I've decided to use Redoubt figures because they do everything I want to use and I want bigger figures than the current crop of newer (and very beautiful) figures from Empress and the like.

Here's the buying list:


40 married ZX1x4 and 40 unmarried ZX2x4 £88.00
Commanders ZX4x2 ZX5x2. £4.80

Zulus:   £92.80   84 figures


Bromhead ZX46 and bugler ZU3 command stand
Chard ZX45 and Bourne ZX47 command stand
Infantry standing ready ZU9x3 ZU18x3 £9.60
Infantry firing in shirtsleeves as engineers ZU14x3 ZU15x3 £9.60
Adendorf ZX51 and Natal Mounted Police troopers firing ZU53x2 ZU54x3 £7.20
Infantry firing ZU10x3 ZU11x3 £8.40
Infantry firing ZU10x3 ZU11x3 £7.20
Infantry standing ready ZU9x3 ZU18x3 £7.20

British: £48.00   40 figures

TOTAL:   £140.00  124 figures

Once these are completed I will add in some extra cavalry and guns etc.

Extras: £47.20  19 figures 8 horses 3 guns

Gatling gun and naval crew ZX71 £8.00
Rocket and crew ZX28 £7.50
9lb gun and 5 crew ZX29 £10.00
Durnford mounted ZX66 and 3 mounted troopers ZU82x3 (horses ZX17x4) £11.30
Lancers (horses ZX18x4) Officer ZU86x1 troopers ZU87x3 £10.40


British Infantry will be based as 6 infantry on a 60x60mm base.
British Cavalry will be two figures on 60x60mm bases x2 for each unit (4 figures)
Officer/Induna 40x40mm or maybe 40mm round bases.
Zulus will be 8 or 10 men on a 120x60mm base

The Setting

Here are the two main buildings for Rorke's Drift, full building instructions are here.

I bought a load of Hovels mealie bag defences a few years ago when I couldn't find sandbags for my World War II games and I've tarted up the bases so I can use them for their original intended purpose rather than buying a completely new set. 

This isn't the final layout, I just wanted to make sure I had enough for a perimeter. I'll need to purchase some curved sections to make a redoubt and get a couple of wagons too. Once the wagons are in the outside wall I should have enough barricades over to make the interior biscuit box wall.

I'll make the little stone kraal too. 

I bought some Pegasus prepainted resin curved sandbag sections for my redoubt. They are usable straight from the packet and are very serviceable.I've also ordered a set of their stone walls to use for the kraal.

Here are the walls, each section is 150mm long. I eventually got these for under £10.00 including postage but they were hard to find being out of stock at most places. Anyway they'll do the job and be useful in a number of other settings as well.

The Figures

My figures haven't arrived yet but my pack of extra shields from Northstar did so I painted 20 shaken markers.

The figures are here! Here are the British, 40 stalwart souls.

And 85 Zulus to give them something to think about. I added an extra Induna (the one with the rifle) to my order to be an overall commander. Not as nice a picture as the British since the 80 warriors are multipart castings and are staying in their bags until the big assembly this coming weekend.

The Zulus are multipart castings comprising of various legs, torsos, weapons and shields. I was a little apprehensive about the time it would take to assemble them but in the end it wasn't too bad.

I began with the 40 unmarried warriors. This is quite an old range of figures and the castings looked like they needed a lot of cleaning up. However I didn't actually have to spend too long on it, most just needed a quick scraping and I wasn't fastidious; these are going to be grouped quite tightly on their bases and won't be scrutinised too closely during play.

It only took half an hour to get to this stage. It was now that I realised I had 40 legs and only 39 bodies. Oh well, he's the first casualty of the Zulu war as there isn't time to get a replacement. The other slight problem was the weapon mix, only three knobkerries, I'd have liked a few more as some of the poses suit them better than assegais.

Another two and a half hours later I had five units of Zulus assembled. The base with seven Zulus rather than eight isn't too obvious so the missing Zulu problem was overcome.

Assembing the miniatures was simple enough. The waist joins are big flat areas so I didn't pin and the weapons fitted the hands with minor drilling of a few individuals. The shields fit flush along the arms which are shaped to take them.

I have a couple of concerns; joining some bodies to some legs leaves 'overhangs' as the joining areas are not the same. There are some very good fits but keeping to these isn't possible as the mix of legs and torsos is random and you will inevitably have some bad matches forced on you. The variety offered by the multipart nature of the figures is also lost if you just stick to the good matches. The miniatures are drying on their individual painting bases at the moment and I will decide later which, if any, I'm going to fill. Again the grouped nature of the figures means I'm not going to be too fussy.

The poses themselves are a bit odd too, lots of upraised arms, which is no doubt exciting to some  but leaves me cold. I would prefer a more compact look with arms held closer to the bodies, Zulus are disciplined troops to my mind not howling savages. Also the way the shields are positioned makes it impossible to have a row of shields showing at the front of the unit which I would have liked.

Despite these reservations I'm still confident that the resulting units will look the part and I'm eager to start adding paint tomorrow (after the filling).

I've started the British. I'm doing the four units of red coats and the two command bases first to get the nasty red and white stuff out of the way.

Twenty hours later and they're nearly done.

And finally all done except the basing. These are all the redcoats, I have a set of engineers in shirtsleeves and some Natal Police to finish but the dreaded red and white is finished. Click on the picture for a larger version.


Here are the unmarried regiments:

Here are couple of photos of the five unmarried regiments together. Click on them for bigger versions.

Here are the five married regiments, same as above but different shield designs and they all have the married head band of course.

Two Indunas and some status markers for the British.

Some rifle armed units and another Induna for the Zulus.

I've done a unit of Zulus in full regalia. I might do more of these, certainly they take no more time to paint than the more accurate unadorned Zulus, and they do look good.

The British

Here are the finished stands of the 24th Foot. First with Bromhead...

and with Chard and Colour Sergeant Bourne.

Adendorf with the Natal Mounted Police and some British in shirtsleeves (to represent the engineer party) complete the defenders. I also painted some tents so the British can have a camp and the Zulus can have some cover when they attack. These tents are Ian Weekley castings available from Magister Militum.

Here's everyone together so far. I need to paint the four Induna figures to complete the set. Click on the picture for a larger version.

A Naval Brigade Gatling  and a wagon from Tiger Miniatures. The wagon costs £8.50 including the mules which makes it the best buy of all the one I looked at and, despite not being strictly accurate for the setting, is a good general purpose wagon that I can use almost everywhere. I've just ordered another one since I'm so pleased with the finished miniature.

The Redoubt Gatling gun on the other hand was a miserable casting with the gap between the gunner's face and left hand completely filled in with jagged metal where the mold has broken. I'd complain but the wait for a replacement isn't worth it and it wouldn't be any better I suspect. This recent lot of Zulu castings has been really poor all round. A sad epitaph for a once great range. I have two other orders awaiting delivery that contain the last of my 'extras'. If they're as bad as the others I won't be adding to this project with redoubt figures, I'll suck up the size disparity and go with Empress or Warlord which I don't really want to do.

Well, my lancers arrived and I'm amazed. On a good note Redoubt replaced this order because it had gone missing in the post, but, having opened the package I'm sorry they bothered. The figures are pitiful. The lancers have no right hands, none at all, just an indistinct area of arm and a body that I'd have to drill through to fit a lance. As an added bonus they aren't the same size as the infantry figures either, both horses and bodies match, and in the case of the horses are taken from, the Sudan range which is noticeably smaller than the Zulu range.

The mounted infantry figures were ok for the most part except for Durnford whose horse was missing part of its head and looked like a recast. Well, this writes off my Foreign Legion project I was planning, I'll save myself the grief.

Here are my mounted infantry bases. Apart from Durnford the castings were reasonable. Trevor from Redoubt says he's redoing the moulds for the Zulu range so hopefully things will improve in time.

Durnford and some Natal Carbineers:

Frontier Light Horse:

Some British artillery and Dalton and Reynolds to be another British command stand.

The second wagon (again from Tiger Miniatures).

Here are my lancers from Empress Miniatures. They look to be Paul Hicks sculpts on Ebob horses and are very nice figures. The fit between rider and horse isn't great though and one of the horses was missing a foot. I discarded the bugler that came with the officer because I couldn't comfortably fit six miniatures on the base which meant I didn't need the miscast horse in the end.

These cost £27.00 including postage which is a lot more than the Redoubt figures but at least they're usable. I replaced the cast lances with brass ones.

I also painted some Britannia mules to make the baggage train longer. I plan to use these for all sorts of settings, they're actually 7th Cavalry mules. I painted six altogether but I broke one of the bases so it's being redone.

2015 Update

This year I'm going to return to my Zulu Project and add a Zulu village. I also want to play a scenario based on crossing the Nyezane river.

Three Empress huts and some willow twigs make a decent enough kraal.

Here it is finished.

The huts aren't fixed so I can use the palisade for other settings if need be.