brigade of cavalry and several vignettes of Napoleon and his staff I felt I had to paint something that was the polar opposite of Napoleonic splendour - Beja tribesmen fitted the bill perfectly. A couple of months ago I started suffering again and spent a week painting Matabele tribesmen from the 1880s. These are figures from the North Star Africa range, designed for wars in East Africa from, I suppose, 1850 to 1900. I've always been interested in "Darkest Africa" stuff, so this isn't really a new period as such. I actually have most of the Foundry DA range painted but unbased (I keep meaning to spend a month going through all those to make them "table-ready"). I first came across the Matabele when watching the BBC's "Rhodes" mini-series, which I re-viewed as prep for my honeymoon to South Africa in 2009. At the same time I was reading "Diamonds, Gold and War: The Making of South Africa" by Martin Meridith - an excellent history of the country from 1800 to 1900, which covers the Matabele Wars in depth. More recently, White Hart Wargamers' Shangani Patrol game at Salute 2012 was terrific inspiration.
In January this year North Star had a sale, and I found myself unable to resist the temptation of a Matabele army at a decent discount. The "impi" has over 100 figures, and I'm going to make a real effort to slowly work through these over the next year or so. The men themselves don't take that long, but I found the shields required more work than I was expecting (there's probably a much quicker way of painting them), but I was pretty satisfied with the end results. I'll post full paint details when I've finished my first "regiment".
The figures are based in threes for Chris Peers' "Death in the Dark Continent" rules. The most challenging part of painting these figures was trying to find a realistic set of colours for the base and capture a proper "African" look. My recollection of South Africa is that ground can look very dusty, almost white and then also quite reddish when it's been raining and the underlying soil shows through. I went for a bright, dusty look (using some new GW paints I picked up at Salute) and, for the first time, used some "jungle" tuffs instead of my usual static grass. I'm not sure that the basework here is that authentic, but at least it's different to my other figures.
The final pic below is a wip photo of a new unit of AWI militia, which I have started wityh figures from the Galloping Major F&IW range. I've been wanting to paint some of these up for a while. The range currently has 2 packs of settlers and there is the promise of further "characters" and some proper "militia" packs. All should be suitable for the AWI. So this unit is half finished until the other packs are released, hopefully later this year. The figures are quite a bit larger than Perry/Foundry sculpts, but are beautifully made and certainly worth being added to the collection.
9 figures. Painted April 2013.