Underway again – painting the 1860s New Zealand Wars


Just in the nick of time as I was finding myself with no more figures to paint, along came Perry Miniatures with their ‘British Intervention Force‘, a what-if range portraying British soldiers as they would likely have appeared had they intervened in the American Civil War.  What attracted me to this range was that they are perfect for British troops in the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s.


Above: Modern reenactors of the 65th Regiment.  Photo source:  http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/eastern-courier/2959183/March-to-Howick-village

My existing colonial New Zealand Wars armies have all been for the 1840s conflict, when the British were still dressed in red shell jackets. But by the 1860s, the British soldier in New Zealand wore a simple blue smock or ‘jumper’, and a pork-pie shaped cap. And this is exactly the uniform that some of the Perry figures are sculpted wearing.


OK, here I go again, at the start of a new painting project. Firstly, I spray my figures with matt black automotive primer.  As cars are made of metal, I presume that automotive primer is good for lead figures – well, it certainly has never let me down after using it for many years on my figures.


For the spray-painting process, I attach my figures with blu-tac to a couple of long sticks. This makes it easy to hold the figures and turn them around so the spray finds most of the nooks and crannies – though I must admit it never finds them all, as I always have to touch up the undercoat with a brush in the end.


I leave the sticks in the sun so the primer dries hard before doing anything else. I love this stage where the shiny raw metal now looks like black ebony, and the figures start coming to life.


The next stage is attaching the figures to individual bases. I use 19mm diameter galvanised iron washers. First I spray the washers with the same black primer.  Then when they’re dry, I put a piece of sellotape on the bottom of each washer, and then turn them over and fill the hole to overflowing with Liquid Nails. Finally, I press a figure onto the Liquid Nails, and leave to dry. Later I’ll pull the sellotape off the bottom.


Of course, something goes wrong with any plan.   In this case, I’m six washers short, and can’t get to the hardware shop to buy more till next weekend!  Ah well, c’est la vie!


The figures are really starting to ‘pop’ now, with all the detail becoming crisp and clear.  For example, check out the exquisite frogging on this officer’s patrol jacket.  Once the Liquid Nails is completely set, I’ll dry-brush each figure with light grey, which will highlight the detail even more, and make it easier to paint than a jet black surface.


The main source I’ll be using for this project is The Colonial New Zealand Wars by Tim Ryan and Bill Parham.  It’s a simply superb book with loads of information and pictures to stir the hearts and fulfill the needs of any wargamer.


The second edition of this book also includes full-colour plates of reenactors in action.  These pictures are incredibly useful as painting guides.

I’ll post more as this project cracks into action.  But for now there’ll be a slight pause as I buy those remaining six washers!


9 thoughts on “Underway again – painting the 1860s New Zealand Wars

  1. Very cool & I look forward to seeing the finished models! Ryan and Parham are definitely a one-stop reference for the visual detail. I think there is also an Osprey publication. Very tricky otherwise. I recall having a lot of trouble sourcing authentic data down to jacket shades and atyles when commissioning some artwork for my 2006 kids book on the subject. I did get what was needed to brief the artist, but the ‘bang for buck’ calculation relative to time went out the window… 🙂

    1. Yes, there is an Osprey on the New Zealand Wars.

      Getting correct uniform colours from former times is always a bit of a problem. But you really can’t be sure anyway, because dyes were less consistent, and were also affected by the conditions.

  2. Excellent. I look forward to see them finished. I thought I might like to own a copy of that book too, sadly unavailable unless you have US$130 to spare!!

  3. Oh, like I need to see more ideas! Thanks mate…. 🙂 I saw these figures on Sunday at SELWG here in England; your previous post grabbed my interest and I was off….hate it when that happens! they are very nice figures with plenty of character and variation. I am now desperately trying to find reasons not to buy some. We spoke (typed?) last year about rules. You said you used Sharp Practice but do you have any tweeks you use for Maoris? I have just got a copy of the rules but wanted to check with you first. I still intend to use Muskets and Tomahawks too, but thought these did look very interesting. Thanks mate.

    1. I’ve only played a couple of games with my NZ Wars figures so far. I used ‘Sharp Practice’, with a little bit of ‘Terrible Swift Sword’ mixed in. But I’ve heard several people say good things about using ‘Muskets and Tomahawks’ for this period – however, I’ve not seen those rules yet.

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