Forces Of Empire!

I’ve been continuing to work on those armies that I identified as having been neglected over the past few years (see my last post here), particularly those that can just have small bits and pieces done on them. Latest figures to be painted are Indian infantry for my Boxer Rebellion British Empire force.

My Allied forces for Boxer Rebellion games are spread across most of the Allied powers (I’ve got British Empire, US, French, Russian and Japanese troops) so none of the contingents are large, since they can operate as a combined force. One thing I’ve tried to do though is give each nationality the capability to operate independently, so most have infantry and artillery and some have cavalry and machine guns. My British Empire and US forces have all of these!

I’m quite particular in that my “Brits” are really British Empire forces. Only one infantry battalion in the force dispatched to China was from the British Army, the bulk of the troops being infantry and cavalry drawn from the Indian Army. Consequently, with the completion of these latest figures, I have two 10-man Indian infantry battalions to go with my other units.

When I started this project in the ’90s the only Indian troops I could get in 20mm or 1:72 scale were plastic figures from ESCI. These came boxed with Zulu War British infantry and were meant to be representative of troops in the late 1870s/early 1880s. Although the Indians’ uniforms contained a few inaccuracies and items no longer worn in 1900 they were all I could get (and they are nice figures). In the years since then IT Miniatures have produced 20mm Indian Army troops for WW1 and Newline Designs brought out some late 19th Century figures, so I bought a handful of each to bulk out my forces.

Of the figures shown above, the figure on the left is an IT Miniatures WW1 soldier, second from left is an ESCI plastic figure and the rest are Newline Designs figures (the picture could have been better I think). They were relatively easy to paint, essentially wearing khaki drill uniforms and brown equipment, but completing them means my British Empire force for the Boxer Rebellion is finished! I posted a while back covering my other Allied forces and their Chinese adversaries, so I now need to put together a post showing all of the British Empire forces together for completeness! Watch this space!


  1. They look great John! I’m partial to the idea of making sure to include troops from all over the empire. I’m trying to do the same for my WW2 desert forces, it’s such a crucial aspect to the British army in the years of empire.

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  2. Congrats on getting your force completed! I tried to tell the difference in the models, but to my untrained eye I would think they are all the same if you hadn’t mentioned it. No doubt due to your awesome painting skills! πŸ˜ƒ Are the scales slightly different on a few or is it just the different stances throwing me off?

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    • Thanks Faust! πŸ™‚ There’s not much difference between them, although the ESCI figure has white “socks” and a full pack (not really visible in the pictures). The ESCI figure is slightly taller than the others and the two figures moving and firing are leaning forward so they do look smaller, so I can see what you mean!

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        • From what I can see, the metal IT Miniatures and Newline Designs minis are accurate. The ESCI figure is wearing both full pack (which would be rare in action) and what is described as a “valise” (a second, smaller pack worn, below the backpack). From what I can tell, Indian Army troops never wore the valise and it was probably included on the models because some of the accompanying British infantry in the ESCI box of figures were also wearing it. However, if you didn’t know it was meant to be there, it wouldn’t bother you – I can live with it!

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  3. Great work John. I agree we are really spoilt for options. It is almost what you would call “Wargaming’s Golden Age” with the ranges of amazing figures and excellent rules systems that are available now. Far cry from the chop shop of the early years where we only had a few boxes of Airfix figures available.

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    • Thanks Dave! πŸ™‚ Most of the Indian troops I’ve got (and there are only two 10-man units) are the ESCI figures, with the metal ones being used to complete the second unit. Way back I had two six-man units, bought a handful of metal figures to make them into a single 16-man unit and then bought a few more to convert them to the two 10-man units, which is why the various manufacturers put in an appearance. So there does appear to be method in my madness, despite what my wife says!

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  4. I really like these, John! There’s a lot of personality in these small minis! Incidentally, I think the title sounds like some kind of new RTS computer game. Age of Empires, Command and Conquer, and Forces of Empire sounds pretty plausible to me πŸ˜€

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  5. Tbh. those troops fighting for the allies in the Boxer Rebellion were really small, so having very ‘small’ units not just in bodily size but numbers would be correct. πŸ˜‰ Their saving grace was their cohesion, superior technique, discipline and arms. I remember a German folk song being promoted by Youtube about 11 nations fighting together:
    Makes perfect sense, that the bulk of the troops stationed in Peking would be Indians though, as they were extremely intertwined by 1900 with the Empire, I think even more than most of the other colonies, especially when good ol Nan Viccy was the Empress! But to be more grounded: India is just east of China, so it’s the most logistical (see what I did there?) way, to use those.

    As for your paintings, they are top-notch. I always love that hue of grey-brown on your bases. You also can very well make out the faces of the minis and many details, even though the uniform-colors are rather bland for that. Great work!

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    • Thanks Anthony! πŸ™‚ I think the main reason Indian troops were deployed to China was twofold – they were closer but also a lot of British Army units were getting drawn into the Boer War, leaving spare British units few and far between.
      I paint my bases in Humbrol 29 Dark Earth and drybrush it with a white/dark earth mix, which tends towards a lighter grey shade than a sand highlight would.

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      • I did not think about the boer-war, but that makes sense. Were the Afghan-wars also still somewhat going at that time?

        Ah, that’s interesting. I think I also need to look into humbrol-colours. They’re still oil-based or are they acrylic?

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        • The Afghan wars weren’t going on at the time but the end of the 19th Century saw a lot of unrest on the North West Frontier, so I think British Empire forces were stretched thin.
          Humbrol colours are available in enamel and acrylic and I tend to use the acrylic Dark Earth on bases these days. Their acrylic paints seem to have gone through several changes over the years and they are now “thinner” and come in Vallejo-style dropper bottles (the paint seems to cover well enough though).

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    • Thanks Matt! πŸ™‚ I try to put a bit of background material in when I can just so that the minis can be viewed in their historical context! It frequently forces me to check up on things, which is a good thing (so, for example, I imagine that the day will come when I can’t name all of the Japanese WW2 battleships from memory)!


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