The Zouaves earned themselves a great reputation fighting for many European armies and even the Americans during the Civil War and so deserve the respect of all. It would appear that the first Zouaves units were formed by the French in the early 1830ís and were primarily of Algerian extraction. The units were made up of Muslim, Arabic and French with French officers, and so could be considered a true multi ethnic force fighting as one. The Zouaves had a long and distinguished history with the French, only being disbanded in the early 1960ís.
The Zouaves served with the French Forces during World War 1 forming three Battalions that served in the trenches of World War 1 in Europe, other battalions served further afield. The uniform worn in 1914 by the Zouaves is as indicated by the artistic representation on this offering from ICM
, only switching to a khaki uniform in 1915. The red trousers and headwear made for a great look on parade, but on the battlefield these colours made them far too easy to spot and the colourful uniforms seen on soldiers of many countries faded from the battlefield. It is my understanding that the uniform presented here could be utilised on the figures covering a long period of history rather than early World War 1 only.
The model is packaged inside a substantial cardboard tray with a flip top lid, and that has a card lid with all of the artwork and model information. ICM
are one of the few companies where I feel I can reasonably post one of their products without further protection. Inside the box is a single re-sealable plastic bag containing the sprues. There is also a single sheet of instructions covering both assembly and painting of the figures and an additional sheet cover the weapons and equipment. The figures are indicated as fighting in a built up area and so I have to believe a setting before trench warfare really set in.
The poses of these figures are a little odd in that at least one of the poses does not fit with the others in my opinion. You have a French officer down on one knee firing a revolver, but the pose looks more as if the officer has been hit in the leg or slipped rather than being in a designated firing position. One of the Zouaves is in a nice interactive pose with the officer in that he is reaching out to the officer as if attempting to help the officer rise; these two figures would make a great vignette scene. Another Zouave is in standing position sighting down his rifle and could easily be used with the two figures already mentioned. The final Zouave is the one I have concerns about as regards belonging in this group. His pose is more of a stand too pose or waiting to go into action rather than in action; I suppose he could be placed as being behind cover but my gut says he does not fit this puzzle.
The French officer is suitably dressed in red trousers with long blue jacket. There is a shoulder strap going to the right hip where ICM
has indicated the officers sabre should go, my searches indicate this is wrong and instead a holster from the weapons sprue should be utilised. The officer is wearing shoes rather than boots and this again is indicative of very early in the war as boots were the norm from very early in the war. The officers flat hat is another nicely replicated feature of this figure and the modeller should note the very well replicated braid on the top of it. The officer has a medal on his left breast and a search reveals only one match for this; the Knights Cross in the Order of the Legion of Honor. A number of these medals were issued during World War 1, but I would not expect to see one this early on. The hands are of a very good quality as is the face with an especially well replicated moustache that will add a lot of attraction to this figure.
The uniform of the Zouaves is another very well replicated aspect of this figure set from ICM
. The red silk pantaloons designed to catch on anything and everything look good in this presentation and have very nice crease detail. The short open bright blue jackets and red braiding are well done with the braiding detail needing a little care in some spots, these results in a uniform that should never have been worn in a war with artillery and machine guns. The black shoes and white spats have also been well replicated. Under the open jacket there are shirts that I believe are buttoned at the front, ICM
has depicted this as black but I have found red, white and even blue in addition to black. The pantaloons and undershirt are brought together with a cummerbund in a bright sky blue indicated here, but I have found reference that indicate red as an alternative, I am wondering if these colour changes relate to different units but I am unable to say for sure. Around the cummerbund is a standard belt with ammunition pouches. The hat indicated in my limited reference is a Fez, but ICM
has provided is a material tube that is folded over the top with a tassel. The hands and faces of these figures is especially exceptional and I do not believe I have see their better in injection moulded plastic.
The figure sprue supplies a holdall that is hung from a strap beneath the open jacket, searches provided me with no information on the contents but I believe it would contain food and water and general personal pieces of kit due to the ease of access. When this is attached the scabbard for the bayonet should protrude from beneath it. The scabbard and bayonets are on the weapons sprue. A backpack is supplied for each of the three Zouaves which is a very good match for photographic reference. I believe that the mess tin is on the centre rear and one each side there is a change of footwear that could be the difference between life and death as trench warfare really set in due to the risk of trench foot that would lead to gangrene and amputation at the very least. Supplied on the weapons and equipment sprue are the items below that can be used as wished while supplying lots for the spares box.
- 2 x Hotchkiss Mle 1909 machine guns
- 2 x Chauchat CSRG Mle 1915 machine guns
- 2 x Chauchat magazines
- 2 x Chauchat magazine pouch (right)
- 2 x Chauchat magazine pouch (left)
- 3 x Lebel-Berthier Mle 1916 rifle OF-15 grenade
- 6 x Label Mle 1886/93 rifle with bayonet
- 18 x Lebel ammunition pouch
- 2 x Ruby pistol holster
- 2 x Ruby pistol
- 6 x F-1 grenade
- 6 x Lebel rifle bayonets in scabbard
- 6 x Lebel bayonet scabbards
- 2 x axe in case
- 2 x sickle in case
- 2 x wire cutters in case
- 2 x wire cutters
- 6 x small shovel in case
- 6 x ARS respirator canister
- 6 x M2 respirator canister
- 2 x mess tin (big)
- 2 x basin
- 6 x mess tin small
- 2 x coffee mill
- 6 x mug
- 2 x canteens
- 6 x canteens
- 2 x binocular
- 2 x binocular cases
- 8 x Adrian M1915 steel helmets
- 30 x equipment fastening small strap
This offering from ICM
is truly stunning in my opinion. The figures offer some extremely good detail in just about every respect. The only complaint I can really lay at the door of ICM
is that one of the figure poses does not really fit with the others and the mistake with the officer having a sword rather than a holster, an issue that is easily resolved due to the supplied equipment. I believe the faces of this set surpass everything I have seen before in this material and have the possibility to look exceptional when painted. The officer and the Zouave aiding him would make a great last stand vignette possibly improved with the Zouave firing beside or in front of them.