Rorke’s Drift Part 1. The plan and a start.

think I was, maybe, ten or so when I first watched the movie Zulu with my Dad and boy did it have a lasting effect on me.

Directed by Cy Endfield and starring Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins and debuting Sir Michael Caine, Zulu tells the story of Rorke’s Drift. The battle that took place there on the afternoon of the 22nd of January 1879 has gone down in history as one of the greatest “against the odds” battles of all time.

Now let’s not forget that, after the battle, Rorke’s Drift was also utilised as pure gold propaganda for the British Government to help smooth over the significant loss, earlier the same day, at Isandlwana. What better way than promoting the British Empire than covering over the massacre and highlighting the bravery of a few redcoats against a heathen horde! How very English. Haha.

Still though, it can’t be argued that, 156 men didn’t bravely stand their ground against, approximately, 4000 Zulu warriors!

The movie and the story has stayed with me all my life. I watch the movie, at least, two to three times a year. I actual watched it this morning, see next pic haha.


My 40k Praetorian Guard Army is heavily based on the 24th Foot (like many other Praetorian Guard armies) and the Zulu movie but I’ve always wanted to build a diorama of Rorke’s Drift. As I don’t mind the odd tabletop wargame here and there what better choice than the Rorke’s Drift Box set from Warlord Games to satisfy my diorama and gaming needs.


I was lucky enough to get the special release version with the expansion pack and WOW there is a lot of gear in there. British infantry, Zulu Impis, mealie bags, biscuit boxes, buffalo, stone walls, outhouses, the hospital, the storehouse, wagons, special characters (in metal) and even some clay ovens. Brilliant!!!

I’ll put the photos of some of the bits and bobs at the end of this post.

So what’s the plan?

Well, nothing unique. I won’t be cutting their heads off and replacing them with zombie heads or building some kind of diesel-punk war-machine. Haha. Not this time. Nope, it’s all going to a sexy blend of historically correct and movie based.

For instance, I’ll be mapping out everything as close to what Rorke’s Drift actually looked like. Eg the floor plan.


I probably won’t include the cookhouse or larger Kraal on the right.

I will also have a Michael Caine version Bromhead in there. Much like Captain Caine I showed you guys recently but without the Las-pistol haha.

Another, very key, thing I want to do is have every miniature at Rorke’s Drift represent an actual person who was there. I’m talking the British side of things. I don’t just mean the main characters either. Not just Chard, Bromhead, Bourne and Hooky etc but also people like this guy –

Everyone one who was actually there will be a miniature. I hope to name and rank them under their bases somehow.

Therefore there won’t be a whole bunch of unnamed redcoats. I kind of wish I could do the same for the Zulus but alas I do have a deadline. I want this project done and dusted by the 22nd of January 2021. Why? Well 1. I think it’ll encourage me to get it done. 2. It’ll mark the 142nd anniversary of the battle.

Even though I won’t be naming the Zulus what I will be doing is having an absolute shit load of them!!! As I said before there were, roughly, 4000 of them charging at Rorke’s Drift that hot afternoon. I can’t remember the total count of boxes I have already and have coming but there’s a lot. Not quite 1000’s though haha. I’ll have both married and unmarried. For those of you not sure what that means exactly I’ll explain. Zulu Warriors were not permitted, by their chief, to marry until they were 40 years of age. This was because the chief believed that if the warrior had a wife he would be less inclined to throw himself into battle and be as courageous.

As mentioned it will be a diorama and a playable game. How I’ll do that will be by keeping it, accurately, set up on one of my tables in the “Fungeon” on a gaming mat. None of the pieces, including the miniatures and building, will be glued down to one big base. Basically meaning I can transport it or set it up differently for a game if I want to etc. I hope this is all making sense haha.

One thing I’m a bit unsure about is how I will go about creating the mountains and hills that overlooked Rorke’s Drift? I’m not sure if I’ll be able to buy hills from somewhere or if I should build my own. Ideas suggestions on suppliers would be appreciated.

I’ll be doing work in progress posts on this project so you and I can track my work. I’m hoping it’ll also help encourage you lot to give me advice or even little fun facts along the way. I know, at least, some of you love Zulu and the battle of Rorke’s Drift like I do.

So that’s the main plan guys.

The start.

Ok so, after watching Zulu, going to the tip and hanging with the kids I made a start on this exciting project of mine.

I made a total of 40 (married) Zulu Warriors.


Quite fun to do. A little challenging to make all of them unique because the kits are a little limited for options and the bits are a tad too small to do any major conversion work. You might spot one in there wearing a pith helmet though and another chap, who is obscured in the photo, is actually wearing a red coat tunic.

I also put together 19 (the box came with 20 but I cut one up for the Zulu wearing a tunic) British Line Infantry.

These were fiddly, especially for my big fingers. The arms were a little annoying to get right and it looks like I may have to use my Bicarbonate Soda trick to fill some of the armpit gaps.


Despite them being a bit tricky to put together I still enjoyed myself immensely.

That’s all I managed for today but I hope to tackle more British this week and, possibly, make a start on the buildings but we’ll see. I have other hobby irons in the fire too.

Here are the character models from the box which I’m looking forward to figuring out who’s who and also painting them.


Here’s just some of the bits and bobs that came with this Rorke’s Drift Box.


So that’s it gang. A good start to, hopefully, a fun series of posts on my new project that’s been a long time coming.

Stay cool




41 thoughts on “Rorke’s Drift Part 1. The plan and a start.”

    1. You and your plasterboard hehe. I bet you’ll be eating it next… Or are you serious? I’m thinking insulation foam, built up high. Thanks for the empress link but yes I’m all over it and have ordered some. I’m a bit concerned the scale might be slightly different to the plastic warlord gear now though but we’ll see.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. This is great! I too saw this as a kid and its always stuck with me and really solidified that love of the redcoat in any gaming medium. Would love to do a project like this but for now I really enjoy seeing how you do yours 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. So, I’ve got my favourite chair and bag of popcorn, not gonna miss any of this. My word you know how to give yourself a lot to do, wish I was closer and I would help you paint them, next instalment please…

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well well mate, this is going to very interesting, I’m all for big projects and You will get a lot of fun out of doing this and I bet the kids are buzzing as well. I don’t know what Dave means when he talks about plasterboard but I would assume he means what I call plaster sheets, ones that we use on the walls of houses, if so I feel this would add a lot of weight to the project. I’m more inclined to go with you and use insulation foam, the tech adviser used it on her tiny house and has left me with quite a lot. I have just purchased a hot wire foam cutter and it works a treat cutting through the large chunks, a quick Google on these will show you how well they work. with my experience using the foam your terrain would be very light even if you put a coating of plaster over it like I do. Cheers Pat

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Afraid I lost interest when you said you wouldn’t be including a diesel-punk-zombie-war-machine. Nah, I’m messing – this sounds excellent – good luck mate, I’ll be watching with interest!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Loving this. It is a classic film too (as an aside an old mate of mine actually wrote his MA thesis on it).

    Played a bit of Zulu war stuff in 20mm but nothing as detailed and as characterful as this. Have you set up a timetable for what you are going to do when?



    Liked by 3 people

  6. Awesome buddy. I fecking love Zulu. I even got into reading military history books by a Colonel Mike Snook about that and Isandlwana (and General Gordon and Khartoum
    – another favourite film when I was younger). Looking forward to this immensely

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a coincidence, I was just watching some things on YouTube about Khartoum. Any “against the odds” kind of battles are very much my cup of tea. The battle of Camarone is a good one. The Alamo of course too.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Catching up with some posts and I find this beauty! Right up my street, this. I love the idea of personalising each figure. With such a small number of defenders, each individual really did count for the British.

    For the Zulus, there was their commander Dabulamanzi, brother to the King, not sure if he could be represented by one of your mounted indunas?

    Really looking forward to seeing this develop. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hey buddy, just catching up (yet again) on posts and I am really looking forward to your progress on this. I loved the movie as well – and The Washing of the Spears is even better. As a former US Army Engineer officer, I was always a bit favorable to old Chard. And Caine’s Bromhead missed one important aspect – Bromhead was deaf! As for Isandlwana, one major reason for the Brits getting overwhelmed was that the ammo boxes for the Martini-Henry rifles were bound with copper bands that were very difficult to open even by the quartermasters. So when they needed the ammo quickly, it was not available. Of course, at Rorke’s Drift the defenders had all the ammo easily available and nothing like an Engineer to set up defenses! I know you like your documentaries (“doco’s as you call them), but I really recommend reading The Washing of the Spears to get insights into the Zulu history – it will blow you away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marky Mark. I looked into the ammo box thing and apparently there was a trick to opening them, as seen in the movie Zulu Dawn, but the soldiers at Isandlwana were either in a panic or didn’t realise the way to open them was quite simple by knocking out the middle panel.

      Liked by 1 person

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