I 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.
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.