Dear Fellow Collector,
Thank you to those of you who have written or phoned or spoken to me at toy shows during the past seven or so years an d encouraged me to produce Zulu War figures.
This exquisite range of proud Zulu Warriors and stalwart British Colonial troops has been a 'long time in the making", I have avoided producing this series--with the small exceptions of 2 beautiful Keith Rocco Zulu sets and a CCC release of some "Heroes of the Drift"--- for almost a decade due to the large number of other already existing Zulu War figures available in the marketplace .
I've always felt the product available in the market was very nice and personally i was very fond of the Trophy of Wales sets, but collectors have simply not let the subject rest. After the umpteenth time I heard 'but no one does the animation or hand to hand stuff or casualties like Conte does" I finally decided to make a few figures and address collector requests.
As usual, the few figures has become something of an avalanche of product as we've gotten a tad carried away. Initially, I thought we might just 'fine-tune" our Zulu and 24th Foot poses from our injection molded plastic playset ranges but when I revisited these wonderful 'old' figures it was clear that we could certainly do much better now than we did back them. Hence, a whole new range of sculpts which (while still the same size as our earlier figures from 1999 ) really are the 'next generation' of Zulu product. There are so many exciting vignettes and potential 'scenes' and characters from the Zulu War that it really was difficult to select only a few sets to 'start with....
Sure, we needed Chard & Bromhead but we also needed Durnford & Melville & so on. How could we do Bourne but leave out Hookie? How could we show one Zulu regiment but not another? How could we not show the "Saving The Colours" as we saw it happening or the proper come-uppance for the Quartermaster at Isandlwana (whether the stories of incompetence were true or not). How could we revisit Rorke's Drift without also visiting the Horns of the Buffalo in action as the British camp at Isandlwana is being overrun??? It's seemed to me for a long time that others have often paid homage to the Brits somewhat at the expense of the Zulus and I felt a real effort was needed to pay proper tribute and respects to the Zulu Army and to not just cast them as 'extras' in what many see as a British story.
To me the Zulu War has always been a tale of cultures colliding, an epic struggle of modern versus old, of change vs status quo, of the West using technology to change history and of individual heroism on both sides. The demise of the Zulu nation carries a certain sadness for me because as the story inevitably unfolds, human courage often is just not enough to overcome artillery, gatling guns, rockets, etc.......in short, the tale is heroic and gripping and tragic ...
While the Zulu were inevitably destined to lose the war, they sure made things 'interesting' and deserve to be presented in all their glory. Robert' Ortiz's sculpts of the Zulus in particular are stand-out magnificent --- I can't recall a toy soldier sculptor ever addressing human anatomy with such talent and understanding . This comment should not detract from the British sculpts as I think he has set a new standard for British Colonial troops as well.
The amazing Ortiz was turned loose with my concepts and designs and as he began to work his usual magic, it became clear to me that we really needed to 'redo' everything including the standard poses because his new creations were so fantastic that the older Zulu figures of ours looked a little (well ok alot) out of place. As good as our stuff is from years ago, we can do so much more now. I figured we best just do this thang the right way.
While we've redone the standard expected poses such as firing lines and casualties in an exemplary fashion, its with the character figures and the hand to hand combat vignettes that I think we are really going to be noticed. As the first sets were sculpted I couldn't contain my enthusiasm for the amazing work that Robert was doing. It seemed that each new figure cried out for the next set to be sculpted...and so on.....
While we are far from done sculpting everything I want at this point, I at last think we have enough Zulu poses and sets complete and at the factory to be able to now unveil to you a pretty good 'peek' at what we've been up to. Some of the set titles may be 'tweaked' but the numbers will remain the same.
With great pleasure, I would like to show you our new range:
Zulu-001 "Zulu Triumphant" (2 figures on a single terrain base)
I wanted a set which symbolized or encapsulated the Zulu victory at Isandlwana. This one says it all.
Zulu-002 "Durnford" (single figure)
This has always been one of the most interesting Colonial or British characters to me. I wanted him in action as he might have appeared during "Durnford's Last Stand" surrounded by a bunch of his men as welll as British regulars as they fought to the last round. His non functioning arm added a sort of quirkiness to the sculpt.
ZULU-003 Ammunition! Where Is The Ammunition?( 2 figures on terrain base)
The image of the Quartermaster paying for his 'sins" is a powerful one which to my knowledge has been avoided in the toy soldier world. Whether or not the legend of the missing screwdrivers and delay with the ammunition is true or not I don't care.....as director John Ford is quoted, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend!"
ZULU-004 Some General's Son / 24th Foot 'Lieutenant' (single figure)
I see this fellow standing next to massed ranks of Brit soldiers loading & firing, loading & firing. While intended for the Drift I think he works at Isandlwana or anywhere.
ZULU-005 With Some Guts Behind It ( 2 figures hand to hand on terrain base)
Brit bayoneting Zulu in intense combat. This range cries out for hand to hand sets...I like the 24th Foot using a bayonet vs a Zulu assegai. This is about as close to 'fair' or even odds as we can get in the Zulu war.
ZULU-006 Zulu Induna(single figure)
A somewhat aged Zulu leader.....could be at any of the battles...these generals were present commanding, strategizing,,,,,I always loved the image from the film Zulu of one of these leaders directing the battle by calmly directing their raised spear in some form of signal.
ZULU-007 To The South Wall! (single figure)
This is an indispensible pose; a Brit Royal Engineer Lt. directing 'traffic' but also clearly personally involved in the action as evidenced by his use of the Martini-Henry. Helmet clearly lost in the action, intensity written on his face, this is the man of action who typified those who built the British Empire.
I plan to use him at the Drift for rather obvious reasons.
Zulu-008 Taking One With Him....(2 figures in a sort of hand to hand set)
Wounded (dying?) Brit attempting to bag one more Zulu if he can.....I can envision this sort of scene occurring all over the field at Isandlwana as heroic death met heroic death with no one there to record it. I really like what Robert did with the implied emotion of the Zulu.
Zulu-009 Zulus Charging (2 figures charging/attacking in the 'fancier' of costumes)
Very special figures. At last I think a sculptor has succeeded in capturing the intensity of impending 'contact' with the British line.
Zulu-010 Brits Charging (2 figures charging /attacking 24th Foot)
Perfect for a 'flying squad" of bayonet experts in case one of the walls is overrun.
Zulu-011 Zulus Attacking
attacking, 1 with assegai & 1 with knobkerrie)
Using the simpler of Zulu costumes, I wanted the musculature and implied intensity of these poses to speak for 'itself' without elaborate costuming. I think it worked very well.
Zulu-012 Saving The Colours (2 figures, horse and terrain base)
Our version of the Melville 'retreat' with the colours....as far as i was concerned he had to be portrayed just as a Zulu was about to unhorse him......I may revisit this scene with a revised base and a few more Zulus in close proximity, closing on Melville, so that the action can be expanded.
This is a really special work of art from a sculpting perspective.
Zulu-013 24th Foot Standing Firing ( 2 figures)
First of several standing firing sets which will be forthcoming.
Zulu-014 24th Foot Kneeling Firing (2 figures)
First of several kneeling firing sets which are on the way.
Zulu-015 "Clump O' Zulus" ( four wounded/dead Zulus)
A revisiting of a sculpt which we did for plastic sets years ago which collectors went crazy for. We've seen other companies attempt to imitate the concept and finally decided to revisit it ourselves.
Was meant to illustrate the utterly horrible carnage which the Zulu suffered at the hands of modern technology.
Zulu-016 "Zulus Wounded" (2 figures)
Every range needs its casualties and unfortunately the ZW needs more than its fair share on both sides.
Zulu-017 Zulu Casualties (2 figures)
Zulu-018 Washing Of The Spears ( 2 figure hand to hand set)
Zulu finishing off a 24th Foot soldier with his spear.
Zulu-019 Steady Lad, Steady...(Salute to Fripp)(2 figure set)
Bandaged head Brit with boy based upon famous Fripp painting.
Zulu-020 24th Foot Command Set (2 figure set)
Officer and bugler..both appearing 'in action'
Advance reservations may now be made for sets 001 through 010 as these appear likely to arrive in the initial 'wave' of product. Prices will be posted in the near future as details are finalized.
Thanks for your kind attention. We hope you like what you see.
All the best,
Hail Sir Stanley Baker!