Boxers, Bannermen & Braves!

Since I’m not currently finishing figures (although I’m half-finishing loads) and my last game was set against the background of the Boxer Rebellion, I thought it was maybe about time I posted something on the wargames forces I’ve got for this conflict (and it is something I’ve planned to do for a while).  The logical way to present these forces is to look at Chinese and Allied troops separately – this means splitting it into two posts but, unfortunately, it means they still might be a bit on the long side (particularly this one).

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So, this post covers my 20mm Chinese forces, both Boxers and Chinese army units (some of them are shown in their storage box above).  I’m not going to go into depth on these and am doing this from memory, so lets hope it makes sense!  There are pictures further down for the impatient among you!  I started painting Boxer Rebellion minis in 1996 and am still going strong.

Early 19th Century Chinese armies were composed of Bannermen and Green Standard troops, but the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s/60s showed them to be quite ineffectual.  Volunteer units of Braves (yung) and subsequently Brave Battalions (yung-ying), owing allegiance to their commanding officers, were raised and these proved much more capable troops.  In the 1870s/80s Disciplined Armies (lien-chün) were formed by amalgamating some Green Standard troops and Braves, but these formations could not generally be considered the equivalent of European regular troops.  Finally, following China’s defeat at the hands of the Japanese in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894/5, steps were taken to form and train units based on European models, and I’ll refer to them here as Westernised units.

The Boxer movement was a popular movement essentially promoting “China for the Chinese”!  Might sound strange, but by 1900 the European nations (and I include the USA and Japan within that term for convenience) had all “negotiated” treaties with China that let them basically exploit the country, so foreigners were gradually seen as more unwelcome (the Boxers originally demanded the overthrow of the ruling Ch’ing dynasty as well, since it originated in Manchuria and was also considered foreign).  With poor harvests in China at the end of the 19th Century, and the spread of Christian missionaries and native Chinese converting to Christianity, the Boxers started to cause trouble which the authorities generally seemed to turn a blind eye to (although some Chinese provincial governors did take harsh measures against the Boxers when necessary).

In 1900, the European powers (and I’ll refer to them subsequently as Allies) called up small numbers of troops to increase the security of their legations in Peking, but in June they found themselves besieged by Boxer forces (at least tacitly supported by the Chinese authorities and military).  Fearing for the safety of their nationals in Peking, the Allies dispatched further forces to improve security in the Chinese capital, but these forces failed to get through and became besieged themselves.  Allied commanders in the warships gathered in the Gulf of Chihli at this point decided that more troops were required, so they landed troops and captured the Taku forts to provide a secure base to advance inland.  At that point, China declared war on the Allies.

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Shown above are my Boxers.  I’ve got 33 figures with another seven I can add from my Sino-French War forces, giving me four units of 10 men each.


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The group above are Kennington Miniatures (currently SHQ, but being offered for sale) and Lancashire games figures.  The Boxers generally favoured traditional Chinese weapons.

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The bunch above are Kennington Miniatures.  I tended to vary the colours of these first units, but would probably now concentrate more on black, blue and dark-coloured clothing.

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The last group of Boxers (above) are plastic figures by Orion and I think are very nice figures.  Boxers tended to wear red turbans and sashes.

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Moving onto Chinese army troops, first up are the bulk of my units (above) that can be used as Bannermen, Green Standard troops, Braves or Disciplined Armies (I’ve lightened photos on my Chromebook, so sometimes the flesh tones look a bit pale – they’re not meant to be zombies).  There are four infantry units, an HQ and two light gun batteries.

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Infantry above are Kennington Miniatures again.

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And Again!  The guns are scratchbuilt and the gunners are converted from Irregular Miniatures Very Useful Gun Crew with turbans, also shown below.

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Next up are some Chinese regular support weapons.



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A Maxim machine gun, Hale rocket launcher team and field gun.  A mix of figures here.  Next figures (below) are Chinese Westernised troops.

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A field gun and crew, HQ and infantry unit.  The figures are B&B Miniatures Russian Civil War troops with caps without peaks (two of the gunners.  They’re based on an illustration in the Osprey Men At Arms Boxer Rebellion book, but I’ve not seen the uniforms shown elsewhere.

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As far as volunteer units are concerned, I’ve got some Kansu Braves (above), mostly Kennington Miniatures.

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Jingal teams are Britannia Miniatures Viet Cong with some Orion plastic Boxers in charge.  These Braves also have a scratchbuilt Hale rocket launcher.

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The cavalry (above) are converted Newline Designs ACW cavalry with plastic/Milliput bamboo sun hats!  These were painted as two groups of three figures painted years apart, which is why the bases and hats are different.

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I’ve got some regular troops armed with spears and bows and supported by some tigermen (above).  Despite looking a bit comical, the tigermen’s shields are based on those shown in the Osprey book and were painted freehand (back in 1996, when I could paint freehand)!

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I’ve got two further units of Tigermen (above), converted from Elheim Miniatures WW2 Russians in snowsuits!  Last units feature are my Mongol irregulars (below).

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The Jingal teams are converted Strelets plastic Cossacks, the cavalry are Kennington Miniatures Turcoman riders from their Crusades range and the mounted officer is a B&B Miniatures RCW Russian officer with a Milliput bamboo hat!

If you’ve got this far, well done!  Next post will hopefully cover Allied troops, based on the assumption that I won’t have got anything new painted in the meantime.


  1. Great post mate. I always look forward to your posts as they’re easy to follow, informative and full of lovely pix of even lovelier miniatures. I kinda wish you did have some zombies haha. The scratch built guns are brilliant and I love the freehand work on the Tiger Men. You’re right they do look a little comical, despite being historically correct. Do you know why they were that way? Also, did the boxers prefer traditional weapons because they couldn’t get their hands on, or afford, modern weapons? I love that you’ve painted beards on some of the chaps too. Oh and the Milliput hats are well done. Great post

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks IRO! Glad you liked it!

      Most pictures I’ve seen of Tigermens’ shields seem to show them somewhat stylised, but the majority seem to have a more fearsome aspect then these, probably to make them look scary to their opponents.

      I think the Boxers attitude to foreigners influenced their use of traditional weapons, but they tended to fight as mobs anyway and attempted to close for hand-to-hand combat. They did use firearms when they could get them and I think once the conflict escalated, Chinese authorities provided more, although I’m not sure how successful the Boxers were at using them. In some cases Chinese troops dressed as Boxers and fought with them.

      I think some of the guys got beards because the figures had them cast in and it would have been too tricky to remove them – small beards would have been the norm for those Chinese that had them.

      And Milliput hats on plasticard discs make it easy to create Chinese troops (don’t even need to sculpt them – blob it on, let it dry and file it to shape)!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. thats an impressive array of figures you have there, and all painted beautifully too, tell me, is it actual battles you re-enact during your war games, there is so much information in your post, great to see..

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Steve, appreciate that! I don’t have enough troops to re-enact battles really, so mostly it’s just wargames set against the general backdrop of whatever conflict it is I’ve got the troops for. But I do keep my eye on anniversaries/centenaries etc. of battles that I have armies for and then try and have a game based broadly around the circumstances of those battles (if that makes sense).

      Me and my wife both like your painted rocks by the way, particularly the owl – it’s brilliant! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you , i planted the owl in the owners garden by suprise just this morning, she hasn’t seen it yet, the cat is under a tree in the woodland walk we made her. looking forward to your posts, fascinating..

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Nice history lesson. I like this set a lot as there’s so many accessories and different weapons. My particular faves are the cotton bud-esque hand rammer and the spotter with the binos.
    And of course the hats.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Amy! I never thought of using a cotton bud for the rammer/sponge – I did it the hard way and sculpted it in Milliput! Since the Boxers got their common-use name from the martial arts they practiced, I should maybe get some more painted up!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. More astonishing troops and conversions and a feast for the eyes with so many exotic troops. I must confess, I wasn’t even aware of the Tiger troops – I had to do some research! Amazing stuff with the milliput and paint to recreate them.

    That cabinet of Boxer troops is a real treasure. Looking forward to Part 2! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Marvin, I thought you might like these! I waited years and years for some figures to come out that could be converted to Tigermen (apart from the Kennington Miniatures figures) and was over the moon when I spotted the Russians in snowsuits with hoods up! All I did was add tiny plasticard “ears” to the hoods and slap on a bit of greenstuff. Half the figures had one-piece suits, so I painted them as complete “tiger” suits, the others I just painted the tiger hood in stripes and the rest as standard Chinese uniform items – both variants are correct, and not all Tigermen carried shields! I did a post a while ago on them that you can find at

      Liked by 2 people

  5. That’s a mighty looking force you have there John, can see the love and dedication you’ve put into these ( even if you may have sworn lots doing the horses ! LOL)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. To rehash a line that I’ve used before – there is so much eye candy here that you have given me ocular diabetes or may even ophthalmic diabetes – either way a truly impressive post from ya John. The history was wonderful to read, and the minis are great conversions. The tiger men conversions are great, and I thought that perhaps this link will inspire future conversions:

    Anyways, much respect on this!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow that was a long post John I’ve just finished now ! Nah simple me missed it during the week ,sorry mate .I’m with the guys in regard to the tiger men and it’s always good to find that the figures you really wont get made and I think 400 figures is quite a lot mate ! And as TIM said very informative as I’m not right up with the Boxers even though I have seen that movie a couple of times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Pat! No need to apologise for only just having got through it – I’d have made it shorter, but it was a difficult one to see how to split it up! The post on the Allies should be shorter (hopefully)! “55 Days In Peking” concentrates on that location and doesn’t really give an idea of the much larger scale of the effort involved in its relief by the Allied powers.

      Liked by 1 person

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