Tag Archives: scratchbuilding

Zulu War: British Volunteer and Auxiliary Cavalry

I have wanted to include a unit of Volunteer and Auxiliary Cavalry in my British force for some time but various reasons – mainly cost and other spending priorities, has put this on the back burner. However, I splashed out and ordered some Empress dismounted volunteer and auxiliary cavalry from Nathan at Elite Miniatures Australia.  While waiting for them to arrive I decided that of course that meant that I needed to represent these guys in their mounted form as well. So…I decided to give converting a go.

I looked through the lead/plastic mountain and found a box of Perry ACW Cavalry.  I also had sprues of Warlord Games British infantry and Natal Native Contingent available, along with a tube of really old greenstuff.

These guys came out a bit huckery in places but on the whole I was happy enough with the outcome considering it was a two day job.  I made four Natal Mounted Police, four Natal Carbineers, two Newcastgle Mounted Riflemen and two Buffalo Border Guard.

The horses were used as is. The tack and harness is not exactly Zulu Wars Imperial but I could live with that.

Bodies were mostly used as is, with some tunic lengthening and ration bags added with greenstuff. Helmets and hats came from Warlord Zulu Wars British infantry and cartridge belts from their plastic Natal Native Contingent sprue. I also took the odd NNC hand and rifle as well.  Not the greatest conversions but I think will pass muster on the tabletop and three feet of distance.

IMG_5138 IMG_5139 IMG_5141 IMG_5142And the finished product.

Natal Carbineers
Natal Carbineers
Natal Mounted Police
Left – Buffalo Border Guard – Right – Newcastle Mounted Rifles.

reduc_IMG_5166 reduc_IMG_5167 reduc_IMG_5172 reduc_IMG_5173 reduc_IMG_5176 reduc_IMG_5177   reduc_IMG_5190 reduc_IMG_5191And a Redoubt Miniatures Col. Durnford to lead them. I couldn’t remember what colour his uniform in the movie Zulu Dawn was so just went with the blue-grey tunic. Might get another Durnford at some stage and paint up as Burt Lancaster.


Stone Walls – made from stone.

Courtesy of gravel chips off the road when the road was resealed. I swept a few plastic bags full – have enough stone chips for modelling projects for the next hundred years I think.

Balsa wood bases, stone chips glued on with PVA.  When dry spray painted matt black and drybrushed with a grey, then a house paint remarkably similar in colour to GW “Bleached Bone”. Some flock and done.

I had made some stone walls ages ago but left them as natural stone – decided to try painting these ones and was glad I did.  Making these reminded me that I really have to fix some fences on my actual property.

Wagons Ho!

I have no idea what the cost of a wagon was in terms of 19th century incomes, but when it comes to 28mm models they are bloody expensive items – especially when they are generally used as little more than a bit of cover for gunfighters in 28mm skirmish games.  I had brought a couple of the excellent wagons from the Blue Moon “Wagons Ho!” range (available from Old Glory). These were BMM1302 Covered Wagon and BMM1312B Flat Bed Supply Wagon with Spoked Wheels.  What can I say about the Blue Moon wagon range?  They are just fantastic. Beautiful little models and I am sure I will get a few more in due course.  The following photos are of those two models. I still have to do the reins and traces…another project.  The driver is from Knuckleduster. (Forrest Harris threw them in with another order I made – I am not sure if they are a separate code or not but you could always just ask him like I did)




But as much as I liked these models, and even with the discount from Old Glory Army Card, I knew that making an entire wagon train would be pretty expensive.  So I began looking around for an alternative.  What I found was this.


It is a cheap die-cast pencil sharpener. It had real possibilities. You can buy them in bulk for about US$2.50 a piece. I landed a dozen here in New Zealand for about $5 each in our money.  So, without further ado….

The canvas cover (which is molded brilliantly – even looks like canvas) just pops off. I removed the pencil sharpener from the guts of the wagon and then built up the sides and front with scrap pieces of balsa wood to make a driver’s seat and footrest.  I added a wooden tongue, hounds and the doubletree thingy that the horses harness will eventually be attached to. The rear of the wagon also got extended and a piece of cardboard covered the hole where you would have stuck the pencil in.


A quick check that everything fit. The driver sits OK and the cover is still all good.


Undercoated with black spray paint.  The cover was just drybrushed with some off white.


The almost finished product – still have not done the reins and traces. Horses are spares available from Old Glory.


The next one will be a bit more tarted up but I was pretty happy with this first attempt.


The next project is this stage coach which is sitting on the workbench.


Thanks for looking.  You can find a good range of pencil sharpener wagons here: