Monday, May 4, 2020

Beja Rico! Thousands of 'Em! - Project Update

40 Beja figures on 10-figure movement trays from Litko.


I have been cranking out the Dervish figures at a rapid clip during the pandemic shutdown, and watching my Dervish army grow by 8 to 10 figures per day. The Armies In Plastic 54mm figures are fun to paint and easy to do.
Some of the Ansar figures painted previously - 54 of them.

I had run out of Testors clear gloss coat spray and my supply of primer was getting dangerously low due to the accelerated rate of finishing painted figures. I couldn't find any gloss coat online at Michael's stores, so I scored a few cans on eBay. The problem is that they won't arrive for a week. Finally, it occurred to me to call Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL and they had curbside pickup of the needed supplies. So I am back in business with the gloss coating.

Last week my order of movment trays arrived from Litko. I ordered some 10-figure trays and some 6-figure trays so that I could see what each one looked like. I placed the Beja on the 10-figure tray and the Ansar on the 6-figure trays. I rather like both options, so going forward I think that I will put all of the Beja on the 10-figure and all of the Ansar on the 6-figure movment stands. The circles are 40mm rounds, which seem sufficiant to accomodate the bases of all of the different types of AIP bases.

On the left are 40 Beja warriors and on the right are 24 Ansar. By yesterday I had finished painting the 12 figures that go on the blank squares. Bases are from Litko.

A close up view of the Ansar, showing the 3 by 2 ranks of figures on a 6 figure stand.

The Beja are mounted on movement trays that have 10 figures on a 5 x 2 formation.

My Egyptian regulars, being formed troops, will be placed on 1-inch by 2-inch rectangles and then further placed on movment trays that hold 8 figures (4 in the front rank and 4 in the rear rank).  I just ordered some custom size trays from Litko this morning and they were very helpful in fixing me up with the type of stand that fits my needs.

One 16-figure company of formed troops plus one officer. The company will be placed on two 8-figure movment trays.

Here is a wider view of the various troops with the Egyptians at the top of the picture, the Beja on the left and the Ansar  in the center and on the right.

So here is the tally on the number of figures painted as of today, compared to the number of figures that I plan to paint for the Dervish portion of the project:

                      Finished      WIP    TOTAL    EXTRA    FINAL TOTAL
Beja                    46              8           54         36               90

Ansar #1             54             0           54          36               90

Ansar #2             30             6           36          54               90

Rifles                  20            20          40           0                40

Totals                150           26          184       126             310

The column labeled "Total" represents the original number of figures that I had planned to paint for the Dervish portion of the Sudan Project. But after seeing how the units looked in their movement trays, I decided to increase the size of the units to 90 figures. Naturally, the overall size of any unit can be adjusted by adding or subtracting movment bases from the unit for a particular game.

In our rules (a 19th Century Colonial version of B.A.R. rules by Bill Protz), the Imperial's (British and Egyptians) fire power is significant and so the Dervish need larger units in order to have any chance in the game. The Imperials are configured in companies of 10 to 16 figures and a regiment could be as many as 10 companies at the 10-figure company formation, but that doesn't happen very often. My Egyptians will have three companies of 16 figures plus one officer. In general, our Imperial units all number around 50 figures per regiment.

After I get my Dervish army up to its new size, I will return to painting mounted Camel Corps figures, in plastic, and then work on some Royal Navy Brigade infantry and a Gatling Gun crew.

Naval crew manning a Gatling Gun in the Sudan

310 Dervish are more than enough figures to use on my regular 12 x 6 feet game table. I can add an extra table to lengthen the overall table to 15 feet. Major General Pettygree has two 6ft by 24ft tables, plus a side table of 3ft by 24ft and most of our Sudan games are played on his home pitch.

Hopefully we can play our annual Big Battalion game in September on Kieth L.'s massive three table 6ft by 30ft tables. Using this size table will easily accomodate our large toy soldier (54mm) figures.


  1. Shaping rather nicely there, Jim. Superb looking figures and units.

    Best Regards,


    1. Thank you Stokes. Now comes the hard part, basing all of the figures. 😳

  2. I’m following with great interest this project. Sudan is one of my favorite periods.
    Perhaps you already know the site, but I wanted to share a different (?) take on the same topic:

  3. Thank you for your interest, it is much appreciated. I will the Quindia site a look.

  4. These are looking quite wonderful Jim. Tremendous looking figures arent they?

  5. The project is looking great, the bases and trays compliment the figures really well.

  6. I'll be interested how you 'base up' the movement bases. For the first time I have used a number of irregular sized bases to fit some sailors from Graham based on coins. After attempting to terrain in my usual way one base and throwing it away as a failure I just dried brushed them with some paint and added some grass tuffs. I'm awaiting inspiration from you!

  7. Jim, Love your project mate. Although not a 54mm gamer myself one of my long time opponents is and like you he rates Armies in Plastic very highly. I'll stick with 28mm but love the look of 54's. Best wishes for your project. Regards Delta Coy.

    1. Thank your DC, I'm a 28mm guy too, but I'm really enjoying painting the 54's.

  8. I was surprised that Armies in Plastic figures could be painted up that well! Thanks for posting all this.


    1. Yes, they are easy to paint. I can knock out 6 to 10 of them per day if I have the time.

  9. Beautiful brush work! I love the depth you put into robes. Outstanding!
    Makes me want to run another Sudan game.
    Sgt G

  10. Absolutely beautiful. Great job. How do you prepare the figures for painting so they do not chip ?