Ashantees or Zulus Reborn

img_1172
A pile of Zulus and natives ready for the painting table …

Recently I have been experimenting with using Revell Gloss Acrylic paints as they are not as smelly as the Matt Humbrol or Airfix enamels that I used in the past.

Just one whiff of enamel paint brings back happy memories of childhood and teenage years busily painting in a tiny fume filled room.

A spot of gloss painting is a change from several post Christmas weeks of  “F and B”, Flocking and Basing (or rebasing)  vintage Airfix and Peter Laing figures.

I am finding  it difficult to get a dark brown gloss Revell acrylic for painting savage natives defending their tribal lands against imperialist  aggressors.

Whilst I have been doing this, several interesting batches of Zulus have popped up in wargames blogs.

Ross Macfarlane on his Battle Game of the Month blogpost has been busy these last few days battling with some impressive Zulus. http://gameofmonth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/the-published-portable-wargame-pt-3b.html

The Michigan Toy Soldier Company blog has also featured some impressive looking plastic 54mm Zulus from Expedition Force:

http://michtoy-from-the-front.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/tom-starks-plastic-passions.html

My fierce but motley playbashed bunch of Britain’s natives have been slowly collected together over several months  from job-lot, damaged,  scrap or for repair lead hollowcast figures bought mostly through EBay. Such damaged figures  have little value to collectors. So it doesn’t really matter if I repaint or repurpose them.

img_1171
Original paint play bashed or palely repainted, ready for the brown gloss paint.

I bought some Humbrol Gloss  Brown Number  10 and used this only very briefly on a couple of figures before I got fed up of the fumes  … not very family friendly!  Next time I will paint with these enamel paints outdoors or with doors and all the windows open.

img_2293

The end gloss results look promising already, even before gloss varnish, and suitably toy soldier like.

Shield designs aside, a suitable weapon such as a spear needs to be added to the hand. I have tried filing and adding a wire spear but on first attempt it did not stick.

These chunky Zulu figures are second grade Britain’s figures that were sold in A Series sets or singly. The fragile  knobkerry on each of these figures is usually found broken, the original is shown in Andrew Rose’s excellent The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander 1985/97).

img_2298
Zulus with arms – Detail from Page 89 of Andrew Rose’s The Collector’s Guide to Toy Soldiers (Salamander, 1997)

Andrew Rose’s book also shows various arm versions of the Britain’s classic running Zulus of Africa Set 147, 1906 to 1959 and another version of the set into the final Britain’s lead year of 1966.

Handy to see these more slender Zulu figures as shortly  before Christmas I bought a Britain’s Zulus “jigsaw  puzzle” in the form of a  job-lot of bashed legs, bodies and bases. This should keep me busy fixing throughout the year. Recast Britain’s type arms with spears or even rifles from firms like Dorset Soldiers http://www.dorsetmodelsoldiers.com

or GBE Toy Soldiers spares will be handy here

 http://www.gbetoysoldiers.co.uk/sparescatalogue.html

img_2301
A Britain’s Zulu “jigsaw puzzle” ready for repair and repaint.

Interestingly these loincloths on these jigsaw Zulus seem to have been painted by their owners in stripes and spots for a more tribal animal skin look.

img_2302
Spotty or striped loincloths added by owners? on these Britain’s Zulus.

Britain’s used to indicate ‘native’ or ‘non-uniform’ troops by using at random three basic colours of yellow, red and blue for clothing  –  “The loincloths were painted in three different colour schemes,  as Britain’s always did for native troops or irregulars who might not be expected to wear uniform.” (Page 107, Britain’s Toy Soldiers 1893 -1932 by James Opie, published by Victor Gollancz, London, 1985)

img_1241
Rough repair and rebasing using polymer clay (Fimo / Sculpey) of a Britain’s running Zulu and (left)  Crescent Zulu A162, a former Reka product.

Not sure whether to preserve (if  I can) the strange ‘Black and White Minstrel’ style extraordinary face painting on some of these Britain’s Zulus.

Not sure yet what to do with the shield designs as I don’t really intend these  to be Zulus, rather more Generican Natives or Ashantee tribes.

Ashantees?

In the Bronte juvenilia of Glasstown and Angria, these tribes are the savage Ashantees.

The Bronte family juvenilia stories feature various tribal forces such as generic ‘Arabs’ or also Ashantee warriors, for their map of their Glasstown Confederacy and Angria ‘Imagi-Nations’ was based on West Africa, the natives based on early 19th Century journals and prints (pictured in the blogpost shown below)

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

The Ashantees are led against Angria by the fictional Quashia Quamina Kashna, son of the equally exotically named King Sai Too Too Quamina.

Quashia was adopted as a baby by the Bronte’s fictional Duke Of Wellington and a rivalry grows up between Quashia and his stepbrother Zamorna, Wellesley’s eldest son who becomes King Of Angria.

Quashia and several Western characters successively invade Angria including Branwell Bronte’s fictional alter ego  ‘Northangerland’, Ardrah (who opposes the creation of Angria by Zamorna) and MacTerrorglen.

Confused? So am I, still slowly figuring out the complex and intricate Game of Thrones style cast of characters and events created  over many years by the young Bronte sisters and their brother Branwell. If it proves too difficult to create scenarios, I may keep the places but fast forward the Bronte  “Imagi-Nations” a few decades clear of the Bronte’s main fictional characters that populate their  Gondal, Angria and Glasstown sagas.

Stranger than fiction?

This fictional story of Quashia is not that dissimilar to true stories of how native princes were assimilated, educated or westernised such as Alamayu, the son of Theodore, King of Abyssinia (buried in 1879 at Windsor Castle Chapel and commemorated on a plaque by Queen Victoria). Alamayu  was captured in the Magdala Campaign of 1867-68.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_Alemayehu   This  Wikipedia entry links to original Victorian photographs.

The Magdala campaign in what is now modern day Ethiopia is described in fascinating detail in Ian Hernon’s Britain’s Forgotten Wars: Colonial Campaigns of the Nineteenth Century  (Sutton, 2003), republished as  a compilation of a trilogy of Hernon’s books. You may have also read this as the first part of the trilogy previously published by Ian Hernon as ‘Massacre and Retribution’ (Sutton, 1998).

So the Bronte juvenile stories, albeit fictional, are not much stranger than some real life Nineteenth Century events.

The  Bronte family Gondal stories (devised by Emily and Anne) are based on North and South Pacific islands (mixed with a bit of Yorkshire for good measure!) so the islands of Gondal (North Pacific) and Gaaldine (South Pacific) no doubt have their own tribes.

Illustrations from the Ashanti Empire Wikipedia entry show left an Ashanti warrior and right one with a simple musket and powder horn.

Plenty of scope for many interesting scenarios. That’s why I’m keeping the figures “Generic” rather than “Zulu”.

Still lots of lovely repair and repainting work to do … I will post photos of the finished results.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN, February 2017

 

 

 

Advertisements

Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

3 thoughts on “Ashantees or Zulus Reborn”

  1. Have tried Gloss Enamels again myself but couldn’t get on with the fumes or the need for turps to wash the brushes in , I used Acrylics and gave them a coat of yachts varnish to get the high gloss finish .

    Like

    1. Thanks Tony for the yacht varnish tip in case I decide to ditch this brown enamel. I find that Acrylic paint handles very differently from enamel, takes a bit of getting used to but I am really enjoying Gloss paints. I wonder why I ever used Matt 30+ years ago!
      Best wishes, Mark Man of TIN blog.

      Like

  2. Nice recovery work. I have 2 Johilco running Zulus, 1 serviceable, 1 baseless. Much nicer than the Britain’s I think and a good match for Call To Arms. It is very tempting to strip him, file off a teeny bit of flash, make a mold and copy him.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s