Zouave & Sophisticated!

You name it, this post has got it!  Christmas, maths, history, little painted figures and waffle (plenty of the latter, I believed termed “BS” in some circles)!  I’m assuming I can get away with all this in the immediate lead up to Christmas because no-one will be paying too much attention.

As far as Christmas goes, I reckoned I’d get one post done before Christmas anyway, so in the spirit of things I’ve stuffed a Christmas tree into one of the pictures.  Most of the little painted figures are wearing red hats that are likely to be the closest I’ll ever get to painting Santa and his elves!


OK, now for the maths.  I wanted a unit of 10 figures, but I already had two painted, so how many did I still need to paint?  That’s right, 10!  Hang on, that means I’ve now got 12 figures in total.  For those of you who are thinking only a complete idiot would paint more figures than he actually needed, I can only say that I’m well qualified on that basis!  Hopefully, the reason for painting extra figures will become clear.

Since it’s almost a year since I painted any figures for my Paraguayan War armies, I thought it was about time I did some.  This also sort of fitted into Azazel’s monthly community painting challenge, which I’ve interpreted as “paint something you’d really like to get finished”.


These 20mm figures form a Zouave unit for my Brazilian army.  Although the original Zouaves were formed by the French in North Africa, the combat record of these troops in the Crimea and Italy, combined with their colourful and rakish dress, meant they were emulated in other armies of the time (notably amongst volunteer units in the American Civil War).  From what I’ve read, the Brazilians raised three or four units during the Paraguayan War dressed in Zouave style.  The most famous were the Zouaves of Bahia, a unit comprised completely of black soldiers, but other units did exist.

Since I also wanted my Brazilian Zouave unit to double up for a French unit I painted the figures accordingly.  All of the troops are white and the uniforms are bordered/piped in red (the Brazilians preferred yellow, but I did find a source that said one of their units did use red).  Eight of the figures are Italeri plastic ACW Zouaves, while the officer and colour bearer are Newline Designs metal ACW Zouaves.  Two of the plastic figures were painted over 20 years ago when I first thought about this project (the two on the left of the picture above – I could paint eyes on 20mm figures back then) but they’ve had their blue and red touched up to make them a bit brighter.  I think I’ve now got the hang of Brazilian flags and I make them in PowerPoint and print them off, before overpainting the main colours and adding some highlights.


For the French unit, the officer and colour bearer needed to be replaced.  The officer is a HäT plastic figure from their WW1 French infantry set (second from the right in the front row of figures above), but his cape is not too far away from the winter dress worn by French Zouave officers (I think)!  I’ve replaced the colour bearer by a standard Newline Designs ACW Zouave (the figure on the right in the picture above).  Since colours/eagles were carried by the second battalion in each French three-battalion regiment, I’ve not bothered with a flag/eagle for this unit, since I’m not painting any more Zouaves.  Overall, the ACW Zouaves work quite well as French or Brazilians, although the headdress is maybe slightly more “floppy” than the French fez-like chèchia.  Emhar and Strelets both make French Zouaves in plastic, but I already had the Italeri figures and I don’t think I need any more figures now.

This will be my last post before Christmas, but only because nothing else that needs painting is anywhere near finished!  I’m not really a Christmas sort of person, but I hope everyone can enjoy some peace and happiness over the coming few weeks!  I’d particularly like to thank all of you that have signed up to follow my blog – I appreciate you being out there!  If you’ve got to this post by accident, you’ve had a lucky escape!


  1. I do enjoy seeing your unusual topics. Zouaves are so visually flamboyant, it’s easy to see why armies (and indeed painters) would want to emulate them. Clean and bright, very neatly painted = perfect result for these Brazilian troops.

    Have a great break over Christmas and take it easy. Looking forward to more inspiring “waffle” whenever you’re next back and blogging. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. As always another excellent post John with very well painted figures, all the more impressive at 20mm in my opinion. Love the Christmas tree touch, very festive. I also enjoy the historical content which comes with your posts, something to learn in every one. Like you I can take or leave Christmas, especially as I have grown older. I tend to find alcohol makes the whole experience more palatable and lets me sleep through the more boring bits! Have a good one. 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Sorry I’m late John, as you and Dave say Xmas isn’t that big to me but the wife and the girls are so I get a lot of jobs to do especially when we host all the other women in my life, I should say here John sisters Nieces and daughters and the wife.
    Well that’s all over along with all the BS ( I think us Aussies are the masters of it ) ,so its back to important stuff like modelling, Its good that you can mix the different makers figures in together, you wouldn’t pick it unless you mentioned it. One thing I have noticed is how you end up with such good faces, it reminds me of effort Marvin puts into his figures, something I feel I fail to achieve, maybe I’m just a little lazy eh !
    Maybe I should open another bottle, oh no there’s none left! HA HA .

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Pat, glad to hear you can now get on with the important stuff! 😉 Most of the figures fit in well with each other, but the Italeri ones tend to be taller, so others need a bit of plasticard under them to lift ’em a bit! Appreciate your kind comment about faces – I’m not as good with them now and don’t bother with eyes, but most of the time you just can’t tell unless you look closely! I now work on the assumption that all I’m likely to do by adding extra fiddly bits is make things look worse, so I’ll usually just let things alone!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Funnily enough I was just looking at the B&B Franco-Prussian War zouaves and thinking how they’d work as black Brazilians for the Paraguayan War this past weekend. I had visited their site with the intention of purchasing helmeted RCW Poles for use as WWII Chinese, but then I had made the mistake of picking up the Osprey Campaign tome on the conflict. Talk about serendipity!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, brilliant! When I had my first false start on the Paraguayan War (mid-90s) B&B didn’t do their FPW range. The only issue with B&B Zouaves is that they’ve probably all got beards so wouldn’t work well as Brazilians. Even Strelets figures would probably be too beardy. So I think ACW Zouaves are OK as a compromise!
      For my WW2 Chinese I’ve got a mixture of Caesar Miniatures plastic and Stonewall Miniatures metal with the odd Airfix Japanese infantrymen in caps in there (plus Caesar Miniatures knee mortar gunners).

      Liked by 2 people

      • You have a point there sir, as I have completely overlooked the preponderance of facial hair.

        It has also just come to my attention that the Perry brothers are bringing out a dedicated Triple Alliance line in 28mm. Guess there goes the war’s obscurity!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I like B&B figures! Their FPW French gun crew look like ZZ Top would look if they’d formed a gun crew instead of a band though!
          The uniform info on the Paraguayan War is quite good and there are a lot of different uniforms for the Triple Alliance Armies, so it’ll be worth seeing what comes out! I’m maybe just glad I got my armies so well on in 20mm that I don’t need to change scales. 15mm figures are available, but I’m not a 15mm type of guy!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I just love what you have done with the small Zouave figures.
    It reminds me of the character in “Gone With The Wind”, the son in law of Mrs. Merriweather, who sells meat pies after the Civil War and enjoys it so much!
    He’s such a charming, gallant figure in the book. So not Brazilian, but Confederate! I wonder if anyone has Zouaves in their Civil War games?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Brilliantly painted Zouaves John! And I love the Christmas touch. So, belated Merry Christmas and early (by an hour and a half) Happy New Year!!

    The whole Zouave movement was indeed interesting. Though, those uniforms had to be a pain in the ass in the field, no?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Mark! Your New Year wishes are not out of place, since I’m now reading this well into 2020! Hope you had a good Christmas!
      Zouave style uniforms do not look particularly practical for anything other than warm, dry weather! I have a feeling that in the Argentine and Brazilian armies during the Paraguayan War, the uniforms were replace by more practical tunics and trousers once they wore out anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

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