In-Box Review
French Zouaves 1914
French Zouaves 1914
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]


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.
Darren Baker takes a look at the latest figure release from ICM in the form of French Zouaves 1914 in 1/35th scale.
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: 35709
  PUBLISHED: Nov 17, 2019

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. All rights reserved.


The hat is called a "chechia" which was a kind of floppy fez with a tassel. It is not a cumberbund, but a waistband similar to the Foreign Legion and the alpine chasseurs. Zouaves were native Frenchmen who lived in the colonies and some battalions were actually raised in Paris and Lyon. The different color in the circle are actually for the different regiments of Zouaves. The colors were used by the Algerian and Tunisian Tirailleurs to indicate countries of origin. The Tirailleurs wore the same uniform as the zouaves but with a lighter blue jacket, yellow piping and red waistband. White trousers were worn in summer and all the regiments switched to mustard khaki in 1915. In fact much of that cloth was supplied by Great Britain. There were only slight changes in the uniform between 1853 and 1915 so with appropriate weapons the figures could be used as Zouaves or Tirailleurs in Crimea, Franco-Prussian War and 1914. Some American Civil War Zouave regiments had uniforms that closely matched the French as well.
NOV 17, 2019 - 09:27 AM
Steven thank you for your input but they were not French Nationals as it would appear that they were originally a tribe that was beaten by the French and agreed to fight for the French. As time progressed men from many different countries joined up due to the great record they had and it only required that the person had 2 years military service. The information on the hat is very helpful. I also found that many countries raised Zouaves regiments including the US.
NOV 17, 2019 - 10:41 AM
Didn't we recently discuss these guys and their "Oh shoot me as I'm ever so colourful" uniforms recently? Could have sworn that we did.
NOV 17, 2019 - 10:42 AM
Steven thank you for your input but they were not French Nationals as it would appear that they were originally a tribe that was beaten by the French and agreed to fight for the French. As time progressed men from many different countries joined up due to the great record they had and it only required that the person had 2 years military service. The information on the hat is very helpful. I also found that many countries raised Zouaves regiments including the US.[/quote] Though originally organized from the Zoudaouas militia of the Dey in 1832 by the time of the Crimean war the native element had almost completely disappeared. Three of five regiments were French and the native regiments were about 3 to 1 Frenchmen to native. By 1914, they were nearly all Frenchmen. (Refer you to L'Armee Franciase by Edouard Detaille) The US Zouave craze started with the Ellsworth US Zouave cadets of 1860. McClellan admired zouaves in the Crimea and his HQ guards were a NY zouave regiment. (Osprey Elite: American Civil War Zouaves) Wow, you'd almost think I knew what I was talking about.
NOV 17, 2019 - 10:32 PM
And just so we're clear: the Zouaves who fought in the American Civil War (mostly for the North) were NOT in any way related to the French Zouaves other than that the Americans adopted their colorful uniforms. That's because when the war started, troops were largely raised by individuals or occasionally state militias to fill state quotas. Some of them procured their own uniforms, as well as the NY Fire Zouaves who joined up as a group and had very colorful uniforms to start out. As has been pointed out, these bright colors (especially the red coats and fez hats) made good targets. By mid-war, most of the Zouave units had adopted the regular Army-issue indigo fatigue wool blouse and sky-blue kersey pants that other units wore. In some cases individual soldiers retained the fez, but not overall.
NOV 18, 2019 - 08:30 AM
Hi Bill in fact the colorful uniform was replaced in 1915 by the "mustard" one. Only the chechia was retained : This uniform was worn until the 20's and even after... H.P.
NOV 18, 2019 - 09:02 AM
You mean this one? LINK
NOV 18, 2019 - 09:16 AM
Some US Zouave units also adapted the drill of the French light infantry which was different from standard drill. Some zouave uniformed regiments hung on to their distinct uniforms out of unit pride until the very end of the war. Others adapted standard uniforms only to revert to zouave uniforms when they became available again. And other regiments received zouave uniforms as an award for excellence in drill such as the 3rd NJ in 1864. A number French zouave veterans served with the US regiments, especially officers. See Osprey elite Zouave regiment and William C. Davis' books on ACW equipment and units, and Embattled Courage the experience of battle in the Civil War. The basic zouave/Tirialluers uniform changed little from 1853 to 1914. The ACW uniforms varied in how well they copied the French originals but are close to that worn by many regiments. I need these figures for a Franco-Prussian War diorama.
NOV 18, 2019 - 09:20 AM
I think you will be very impressed with what ICM has offered here Stephen.
NOV 18, 2019 - 09:38 AM

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