The Heart of Blackwell

Having seen A Study in Grey posted earlier today, you could be forgiven for thinking that was this week’s post.

It wasn’t.

That was, in DVD terms, ‘bonus content’. This is the actual post for this week.

Now, in The Blue Lamp, I introduced a particularly important location in the fictional London borough of Blackwell, namely The Red Lion public house, chosen watering hole of the estimable Sergeant Webb and renowned for its delicious home-made meat pies, guaranteed to not contain anyone you know.

It was always my intention to build this structure for my boards, and to base it on the actual Red Lion pub here in Reading, which looks like this:

Image result for red lion reading

At least, this is what it looked like before it closed down. I felt that it looked suitably Victorian in style and would make a good model on which to base my fictional pub.

So, having examined the pub quite closely, I used an empty cereal box to construct the basic structure, making sure to copy the specific profile, which has a flat lip at both the front and back, from which the roof rises from, like so;

Now, as I was concentrating on building the detail up on my blank building structure, I didn’t actually take many Work in Progress pictures, so what I intend on doing is showing you the front and rear of the building, prior to painting, and explain what I used to make it.

So, here’s the front;

So, the front of the pub was coated with textured wallpaper, the same stuff I used as my ‘grass’ for the Chapel of St. Gilbert (see For Whom the Bell Tolls). The idea behind this was this will represent the plastered front wall. Prior to gluing this to the front of the pub, I cut out rectangles where I intended to have the door and windows.

Matchsticks of various sizes were then cut and glued into place as window sills and the front step. 2mm brown card, similar to Greyboard, was used to create the sign and the first layer of front wall’s base, which then had another layer of cereal packet card glued on top, to create the ‘lip’ you see on these kind of buildings.

A cut down bamboo skewer was glued midway down the front to represent decorative moulding and cut down coffee stirrers were glued at the top of the wall to represent the soffit.

Both the front and rear roof ledges were covered with strips of sandpaper, as flat roof ledges on these sort of buildings do tend to be filled with gravel ( for drainage, I’d guess). The roof tiles themselves were made from an old greetings card, suitable scored, then cut into strips and glued in place, saving the crease of the card for the roof ridge.

The chimney was a carefully measured box made from cereal packet card, with three push pins…um…pushed in and glued into place.

The front door was a suitably sized and score piece of ‘Brownboard’, with a panel cut out for the window, and a picture pin with a rather nice swirly head used as a doorknob.

And round the back;

Not a great deal of variation here – the textured wallpaper used on the sides and rear wall is one continuous piece, as the pattern looks remarkably like brickwork and I wanted to have the building look like it was built, rather than made from individual panels.

The rear door has no window, but does have a lintel, created using a small strip of card. The rear wall to the left of the back door was left intentionally blank, as I may build a wooden cellar hatch to place up against this wall.

So, once it’s been given an undercoat of grey primer, I can paint it up in the appropriate colours, adding the window details and signage as I go. I am considering whether I should try and construct some gas lamps to attach to either end of the sign, but will definitely be printing out, resizing and pasting some suitable Victorian handbills and music hall posters to the blank side wall…maybe for Li H’sen Chang – Master of Magic and Mesmerism or Colonel Brewster’s Wild West Show?

 

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A Study in Grey

Sir Byron Carpenter eased his vast bulk into the leather-upholstered armchair and considered the men assembled in his study through heavily-lidded eyes.

They were a disreputable looking group, their patched and threadbare clothing hinting at an existence far removed from the opulence that currently surrounded them. Yet, rather than appearing ill-at-ease, an aura of menace, of barely restrained violence, could be discerned by those sensitive to such things.

However, Sir Byron was unconcerned for his safety amongst this band of ruffians, for though he appeared to be nothing more than a corpulent gentleman of means, this carefully cultivated facade concealed something far more dangerous and deadly than a mere handful of street-hardened bravos.

Normally, he would have assigned a task of this nature to his own people, but these man had something they lacked – local knowledge. Whilst his ‘business enterprises’ had spread like an insidious disease through most of the seedier areas of London, Blackwell had yet to succumb to his raddled touch. 

And that was where she had gone to ground.

He ground his teeth and inwardly seethed. After all his careful planning, the pressure applied to those in positions of power, the bribes, the threats and the expense, to have her slip though his fingers and vanish into the night was near intolerable. He would have taken his frustrations out upon the man assigned as her jailor, but whatever power she had used upon him had fractured his mind beyond all repair and no amount of physical punishment could now penetrate the labrythine twists of his insanity.

And just what could HE accomplish with such powers at his command? His breath grew short with excitement, as he imagined the entire city under his control. But why stop with just one city? If the legends were to be believed, and he  had no reason to doubt them, once she was bound to him, nothing would be beyond his grasp.

He now had the artefact…he just needed the girl.

“Gentlemen,” he wheezed, addressing his assembled cat’s paws, “I have a commission for you…”

The Blue Lamp

The fog was thick in Blackwell that evening, but did not seem to impede the two men as they approached the sputtering gas lamp on the corner. As they drew closer to the warm circle of light spilling from the mantle, it revealed the blue serge and silver buttons of two members of the Metropolitan Police Force.

The elder of the pair, sergeant’s stripes evident upon his sleeve, paused beneath the lamp post and reached for his pocket watch, flipping the cover and angling the face so he could discern the hour.

“It’s just shy of eleven o’clock, Constable Rowan.” He said.

“And all’s well, Sarge?” queried the younger officer.

“That remains to be seen , Constable…” Sergeant Webb glanced about the empty streets, their details obscured by the all-enveloping fog. “Remind me of the purpose of our evening’s constitutional, Constable,” he said.

Constable Rowan withdrew his notebook, never far from his reach, and rustled through the pages until he found the entry he needed. “There have been several reports,” he stated, ” of a young woman, in a state of undress, roaming the streets around the Chapel of St. Gilbert’s.”

“And the rest, young Stanley.”

Constable Rowan, paused, licking his lips.

“I’m waiting, Constable…”

“It is also reported,” continued Rowan, “that the young lady is question is…um…blue…”

“Blue, you say?”

“Yes, Sarge.”

Sergeant Webb harrumphed and sucked on his moustache. “Now, young Stanley,” he said, “it is my considered opinion, me being somewhat more experienced in these matters than yourself, that what we have here is a dollymop, so addled with drink, that she’s taken to a-roaming the streets in her undergarments – which would explain the perceived hue of her skin, what with the weather being somewhat inclement of late. However,” he paused significantly, “Inspector Neame is of the opinion that whilst my theory does have merit, there exists the possibility that these reports may be of something…Other. So, as duly appointed members of Her Majesty’s (God bless her) Metropolitan Police Force attached to the Black Museum, it behooves us to keep our eyes peeled.”

“Very witty, Sarge.” said Constable Rowan.

“What?”

“Well, what with us being ‘Peelers’…keeping ’em peeled…”

Sergeant Webb gave Constable Rowan the eye. “Have you been reading them books again, Stanley?”

“Yes, Sarge…sorry, Sarge.”

Sergeant Webb looked up at the looming bulk of St. Gilbert’s, its spire pointing heavenwards like an admonishing finger, then felt his gaze being drawn inexorably to the lambent light spilling from the The Red Lion public house, just across the road. His eyes narrowed speculatively and, reaching a decision, he turned to his young subordinate.

“It occurs to me, Constable, that as all the reports have come from this area, the landlord of The Red Lion may be able to furnish me with some additional details…”

Me…, thought Constable Rowan, here it comes… 

“So,” continued Sergeant Webb, “as the superior officer currently on the scene, it is my duty to put him to the question.” He straightened his jacket. “You, Constable Rowan, will continue to patrol the streets hereabouts, keeping your eyes open for anything that my be considered…unusual. Got your truncheon?” Rowan nodded, “Lamp? Whistle?” A further two nods. “Good lad. Now, should anything untoward occur, give a couple of blasts of your whistle and I shall come a-running.”

Constable Rowan sighed heavily as he watched the Sergeant stride purposefully across the street, to be greeted by a brief blast of light and laughter, before The Red Lion welcomed him into its warm and malty embrace. Silence once more reigned in the streets of Blackwell.

Well, not quite silence, as Rowan was certain he could hear, very faintly, the sound of sobbing. Opening the cover of his regulation issue lamp, he cast about until he could pinpoint where he believed the sound was coming from – beyond the railings surrounding St. Gilbert’s, somewhere within its grounds. He approached the gates and cautiously pushed one open, wincing as the creak of un-oiled hinges echoed in the still night air. 

Stepping forward into the churchyard, Rowan cast his lamp about, trying to discern if the sobbing was still occurring or whether his entry to the grounds had stilled it. Furtive movement near the gnarled Oak drew his eye and he shone his lamp in that direction, taken out his whistle in his free hand, just in case. There appeared to be someone or something hiding in the darkest shadows cast by both the brooding Oak and the moss covered wall. Rowan approached cautiously, trying to catch the figure in the beam of his lamp.

“Hello?” he called, his voice shaking slightly, “This is the Police. Are you alright back there?”

He edged nervously forward, the light from his lamp preceding him across the ground, until it caught the now still feet of the figure standing in the shadows.

Rowan played the light upwards, his hand shaking ever so slightly, noting as he did so that this was definitely a woman, she was definitely not wearing very much in the way of outer garments and she was most definitely…blue. The warm yellow light of his lamp followed the curves upwards, dispelling the shadows that clung wisp-like around the young woman’s form until they fell upon her face. Her face was downcast, but as the light played across her delicate features, her face slowly rose and she locked gazes with the young Constable…

And in that moment, he was lost.

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Welcome back to the next instalment in my ongoing ‘Gothic Victoriana’ project!

Before we start on this week’s topic, a request was made in the comments of my last post ‘Let There Be Light…’ to show the inexpensive O Gauge Victorian lamp posts I found after I scratch-built my own, so here they are:

Currently available on eBay from here. Now, I know theses are designed for model train networks and do have an LED built-in, so they can light up, but from an aesthetic point of view, I think the gas mantle at the top is too big. But that’s a personal opinion, if you like the look of them, they work out at approximately 75p each including shipping.


“The London district of Blackwell, although not as infamous as St. Giles, Limehouse or Whitechapel, does have an unsavoury reputation. The streets are not safe, for not only do the criminal element prey upon its populace, it also seems to attract those predators of a more…unnatural nature.

However, all who reside in Blackwell know that there is one place that is considered inviolate, a sanctuary against the darkness, and that is the Chapel of St. Gilbert.

And woe betide any evil that dares trespass on its grounds, for St. Gilbert’s is…protected.”


As discussed in ‘Let Me Take You By the Hand…’, whilst I had created three of my four tiles for my small slice of London, I still needed a fourth. I could have created another cobbled road tile, but decided I needed something a little…different.

Regular readers will know that whilst as Salute earlier this year, I picked up some of Renedhra’s ‘new’ iron gates and railings, as I’d been after some for a while and wasn’t happy with the MDF ones I’d seen. I also had a Plasticville O Scale ‘cathedral’, which looks like this:

Image result for plasticville cathedral

Not exactly what I’d describe as a ‘cathedral’, but given its size, it would make a good village church or small chapel. I also had a plastic ‘tomb’ from the HeroQuest game and some assembled Games Workshop plastic trees from their woodland terrain set, which keeps changing its name, depending upon which edition of Warhammer is ‘current’. Look at all these disparate elements, it seemed fairly obvious that my final tile would be a churchyard with chapel, railings and tomb, so having done a few preliminary sketches, I began work.

First stage was to flip one of my Poundland self-adhesive 12″ floor tiles and remove the backing paper. Then, using my assembled chapel as a template, I cut out a ‘T’ shape from the mosaic textured wallpaper I had left over from doing the pavements on my cobbled road tiles, to form the path and ‘foundation’ of the chapel. This was centred in the tile.

I then cut half-inch strips of another tile and laid these face up around the sides and front of the tile, to form a foundation for the railings. I then glued the gate columns and five of the railings to these strips, to form the front and left hand side perimeters of the churchyard, like so:

Now, a couple of things regarding this; firstly, the gate columns are designed so that the railing are supposed to come out of the corners of the columns and have moulded parts on the column opposite the hinges that you’re supposed to attach the railings to. However, I didn’t like this set up, so decided to have my railing running from the centre of the side of the column. This has the added advantages of taking up less space and puts the hinges at back of the column, rather than in the middle.

Secondly, the width of the gates, their columns and a railing each side was a little short of 12″. Rather than cut down another railing to fit this gap, I decided to make some brick columns from some rubbery dense packing foam, which I had in my bits box. This stuff is lightweight and pretty dense, but takes surface detail well, so two columns were cut to size and brickwork inscribed with a ballpoint pen.

The next stage was to find a suitable material for the rest of the grounds, as I’d decided that it was going to be grass. I considered foam sheets, felt, towelling and microfibre cloths, but they just weren’t doing it for me.  On one of my regular wanderings around my local DIY, I came across some textured wallpaper that had a random swirly pattern that I felt would, when painted and dry-brushed, would look suitably ‘grass-like’, so helped myself to a free sample.

This was then cut to size to go around the already existing paving, with a slight overlap. However, I forgot that this wasn’t going to be an 11″ square, as one side was longer, so cut the wallpaper too small. So, I had to cut cut the paper in to three sections and use some putty to cover the joins.

As I wanted the tomb and tree that were going to decorate the front of the churchyard to look as though grass was growing around their bases, I glued two pipe cleaners to the wallpaper in the relevant places, to act as ‘sockets’ for these terrain elements to plug in to.

Using some more of the dense foam, I created a small brick wall to complete the left-hand perimeter and a very long brick wall and end column to make the right-hand perimeter. And this was the result:

I popped the gates on for the photo, only to discover that I’d glued the columns a teensiest bit too close together, which means the gates overlap by a couple of millimeters. I was initially annoyed, but actually feel that it makes it a bit more realistic, as I’ve seen several wrought iron gates where the settling of the foundations, etc. has shifted the columns so the gates don’t…quite…fit.

As I wasn’t sure if the foam would take my cheap grey primer without melting and didn’t want to have to repaint my ‘grass’ from a grey undercoat, out came the paints and the paving and brickwork was given a coat of Docrafts Dark Grey (which isn’t very dark at all), whilst the grass was given an initial coat of Docrafts Chocolate Brown.

“What? Brown grass? Are you insane?” I hear you cry. Don’t worry though, there is method to my madness, as you will see, but this is what it looked like after the initial undercoats.

The next stage was to build up my ‘grass’ on my Chocolate Brown basecoat (representing the mud beneath the grass), by the application of three different shades of Games Workshop green, namely Woodland, Goblin and Bogey. These were put into my mixing tray – a metal tin lid – and using a decorator’s brush, were stippled on to the brown, one after another. The pipecleaner templates were given a thorough soaking of Woodland Green, but I wasn’t able to drybrush these at the same time, as they take bloody ages to dry.

I then went back and tidied up the edges of the paving by giving it another coat of Dark Grey, and decided to paint one set of railings black, just to see what they will end up looking like. And this is how it turned out;

Now, ideally, I would have liked to have finished this piece in its entirety, but I had run out of time and my ‘rings’ of grass were still wet. I need to paint all of the brickwork properly and cover up some of the parts where I got a bit messy with my stippling, paint all of the railing black, give the paving a darker grey wash and dry-brush my ‘rings’ with lighter shades of green to make them more grass-like.

However, to give you all an idea of what the completed tile WILL look like, I thought I’d put the tree, tomb and chapel in place. All three items do need to be completed, but it should give an idea of what I have in mind.

And could that be the mysterious protector of the Chapel of St. Gilbert, hiding in the shadows?

That’s all for this week. Next time, MORE ‘Gothic Victoriana’ – might be another build, might be an AAR. Depends on what kind of time I have available during the week.

Let There Be Light…

If you’re building a small slice of Victorian London, there are two things that you really need to have to make it have that ‘Victorian’ feel – cobblestones and gaslights. So, as my last post dealt with the cobbles, this post will deal with gas lamps.

Now, those who regularly trawl the Internet will know that a search engine is only as good as the parameters entered.  So, should you enter “28mm Victorian lamppost” or “model railway Victorian lamppost” you will discover that those gas lamps made specifically for wargaming can be a little on the pricey side and the majority of model train lighting is similarly expensive, as they are designed to actually light up. Based on this, you would conclude that it would probably be within your hobby skills to make your own for the fraction of the price.

However, if you’d remembered that 28mm is approximately O Scale/Gauge and put in “O Gauge Victorian Lampposts”, you would have found you could actually get a pack of 10 Victorian gas lamps (with integral lighting) 73mm tall, for just under £7.00 including shipping. The key word in that previous sentence is the word “if”…

Annoyingly, I only found the cheap model gas lamps AFTER I’d built my own. I could claim that showing you how will save you money in the long run (these actually cost me nothing but time, as I already had all the components) or that the same principles could be used to make street signs or lamp posts for other eras (which it obviously can), but the real reason I’m showing you this is because I spent several hours slaving over the ruddy things, so the least you can do is read the bloody post.

*ahem*

Right, first you need a few components, as shown below:


What we have are some cup washers, some dressmakers pins, some cotton buds (or Q-tips), some small nails(which didn’t get used) and the most important component, some ink cartridges for pens. You can get a pack of thirty of these for £1.99 here in the UK, and these can be used as shell casings for howitzers, jet engines for space craft, missiles, gas canisters, etc. so quite a useful little item.

So, the first thing we do is prepare some bases to attach our components to, which consists of some 2 pence pieces (or 25mm washers) to which I glued some textured wallpaper, the same that I used for the pavements on my cobbles boards:

These would also make pretty good bases for dungeon-crawl figures, be they monsters or adventurers.

Next, we need to prepare the ink cartridges, as we’re only going to be using part of them, so we need to cut them up without getting ink everywhere. The easiest way to do this is to actually just cut them on a wad of kitchen towel and let that soak up the ink. For our lamp posts we need the top 20mm of the cartridge, with the tapered end. Once you’ve cut you cartridge down to size, rinse both parts out with clean water and use one of your cotton buds to dry out the inside.

The cotton buds need to be stripped of their cotton before they can be used, but once they are, using a bradawl or similar pointy object, break the seal at the top of the ink cartridge and push one end of your stripped cotton bud into it. Then glue it onto the cup washer.

You will now have a post 90mm tall. Using your judgement and/or eye, push a pin through the post at the correct height to make the cross-bar typical for Victorian gas lamps. As the whole length of the pin will be far to long, snip of the pointy end at a length that is pleasing to the eye (mine are about 20mm long). You will then end up with something that looks like this:

And yes, one of them is a bit wonky. Next I decided to paint each one of my six lamp posts with GW chainmail, as I know metallic paints do tend to give a much better coverage than non-metallics, so they looked like this:

Now, I apologise that there aren’t that many WIP shots during the next part, as how I had intended on making the gas mantles for the tops of my lamp posts didn’t quite go according to plan, so I had to come up with an alternative, which I actually think worked out better, but I’ll leave that for you to judge for yourselves.

I had intended on carving rhomboid gas mantles, the standard shape for Victorian lamps, from a partially transparent pencil eraser, then pushing these onto the tops of my posts. However, cutting six rhomboid gas mantles that have exactly the same dimensions AND straight sides is not as easy as I thought it would be – in fact, it was an absolute nightmare, so back to the drawing board I went.

After giving it some thought and rummaging through various different boxes of bits, I came up with what I hope would be an elegant solution.

First, I shortened the off-cuts from the ink cartridges to approximately 15mm in length and made a small hole in the base (now top) of each one. Taking another dressmaking pin and half a small popper/snap fastener, I fed the pin through the popper with the ‘knob’ upwards, then through the hole in the top of my off-cut. I now had a transparent mantle with knobbly decorative top and a pin shaft that could be fed into the hollow stem of the cotton bud, meaning that it could be glue in place without the superglue further frosting the ‘glass’.

My lamp posts were then painted matt black, followed by black ink to give them that shiny black paint look common to Victorian ironwork, except for the top 15mm, which was painted with a bright gold, to represent the lit gas lamp. The mantles were then glued on top, and the top of each mantle received its Chainmail base coat, matt black mid coat and black ink final coat. The end result was this:

So, they may not be exactly 100% accurate, but I think they look pretty damned good and they cost me nothing! 

And as you’re probably wondering exactly how big they are compared to a standard 28mm figure, here’s everyone’s favourite grumpy Victorian monster hunter, Lancelot Grimm himself, taking an evening stroll:

Of course, we can’t really finish off the post without showing what the lamp posts look like on my cobblestone boards, now can we?

Look pretty good from GEV (Gamer’s Eye View), but here’s a closer shot;

And there’s the wonky lamp-post again…apparently this was damaged when an orangutan dressed for the opera used it to escape the peelers, after he’d brutally cut up a dolly mop with a straight razor. Can’t trust those damned dirty apes…

So, yes, you can buy inexpensive scale Victorian gas lamps which work out at roughly 70p each, but you will have to gut the electrics and they are about 25mm shorter than the ones I’ve built. Or, if you’ve got the mind to do it, you could have a go at making your own, as I did. They may not be exactly right, but as you can see from the pictures above, once in place, they do add to the overall Victorian ambience, which is what I’m trying to achieve.

Next time, more ‘Gothic Victoriana’, as I complete my quartet of tiles with the Chapel of St. Gilbert and it’s attendant graveyard. It’s “Gothic” Victoriana…gotta have a graveyard…

 

 

Let Me Take You by the Hand…

…and lead you through the streets of London…

As announced in my last post – Eliminating the Impossible – the Buffet will be travelling back in time to the Victorian era.

Now, whilst I have both a selection of suitable figures and some suitable buildings, what I didn’t have was anything to put them on.  I could go out and buy a suitable ‘cobbled streets’ gaming mat, but having had a look at these before, the smallest I’ve found is 3′ square and about £40. As my usual gaming surface (my dining table) can just about cope with a 2′ gaming mat, the smallest available mat was a bit too big, not to mention a bit too expensive…

However, I have actually been planning this particularly project for a while, working out exactly not only how I was going to do it, but how I was going to do it cheaply.

Way back in November, in the post Welcome to Easy Street, I showed how I made a remarkably cheap and easy 1′ square modern road tile, using self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles, sandpaper and hobby foam. This post will show you how to do the same thing for Victorian streets, but with a few variations.

So, at the end of this project, I intend to have my own small slice of London, represented by four 1′ square gaming tiles, a selection of street furniture and buildings and a handful of suitable dressed civilians and personalities…and a bunch of monsters.

First things first, we need some Victorian streets and nothing says Victorian like cobbles. Now you can buy both resin and plastic sheets of cobbles, which can then be attached to whatever basing material you choose, but here at the Buffet, we like to show you how to do things more cost effectively. So rather than spending money on these, take a stroll down to your local DIY shop and walk into the wallpaper section.

Wallpapers come in a wide selections of styles, colours and prices, but we don’t care about this, because we’re looking for texture. Probably about 30% of the wallpapers on offer in any DIY shop will have some kind of texture on them, but the kind you’re looking for will have lots of little bumps on it that, when suitably painted, will give the impression of cobbles. And the best thing about this wallpaper is that the shops actually encourage you to rip off a sample and take it home. That’s right, boys and girls, it’s free! (I do have to admit to always feeling a little bit guilty when walking out of the shop with my tightly rolled sample, which is probably a good 18-20″ in length, knowing that I have no intention of every buying a roll of the stuff, but that won’t prevent me from going back if I haven’t got quite enough…)

So, we have our ‘cobbled’ paper, a pack of Poundland special self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles and some Poundland grey primer spray paint. After some measuring, cutting, sticking and spraying, you end up with something that looks like this;

The figure in the picture above is a West Wind Productions Victorian policeman, from their Vampire Wars: jack the Ripper 28mm range, which gives an idea of scale.

The next picture gives you a better idea of what the ‘cobbles’ look like in close-up.

Whilst one of my friends felt that a proper representation of cobbles should have the cobbles closer together, this isn’t a diorama, but a gaming tiles to give the impression of cobbles. As the three tiles I made took a couple of hours and cost me a grand total of £2.00, I think they look pretty good.

However, whilst they looked pretty good as a base, they needed a bit more detailing to match my idea of what I wanted to achieve. And this is where things didn’t go according to plan…

So, having got my base tiles, I decided that I was going to scribe pavements onto the inch wide strips, scoring these into the vinyl floor tiles with a bradawl. Once this was done, I would wash the whole tile in a brown ochre wash, which should not only ‘fill’ the scribed lines between the paving slabs, but also dirty up my road a bit, making them look more realistic.

However, whilst the scribing looked good, all it actually did was remove the top layer of spray paint, so when I applied the wash, all it did was show up the underlying colour of the tiles. And it made the tiles look a bit crap. After a bit of rethinking and a further visit to both Poundland and a different DIY shop, I had another can of grey primer and some different textured wallpaper, this time what was described as ‘mosaic’, which was basically lots of little squares.

As approximately two and a bit of these squares covered about an inch, I cut several strips an inch wide of my sample, then glued these down over the sections I had previously scribed as pavements, then re-sprayed the tiles. The end result was this;

Whilst they may not be offset paving slabs like I had originally intended, I think they look a lot more effective than if I’d tried to either paint the paving slabs on individually or tried to paint the lines on freehand.

As I’ve only completed three of the intended four tiles, I dug out my pumpkin patch tile I made last October, to show what the completed playing area will look like;

I decided to cut out the pavement on the bottom left tile to make them more modular and give me more options in layout. The final fourth tile, which will replace the pumpkin patch, will be a churchyard, utilising the iron railings I got at Salute from Renedhra and a Plasticville ‘cathedral’, which is a little too small to be a cathedral, but does make an acceptable small church.

I still need a few rows of Victorian housing and probably a pub, which will be scratch-built, along with some gas lamps. Having looked online at the various gas lamps available, I will probably be scratch-building these too – I know roughly how I’m going to do these, just need to work out the best way to do the actual lamps, as the bases and posts will be a cinch.

So, that’s how far I’ve got with my Gothic Victoriana tiles, and so far it’s cost me just under a fiver, which is pretty good going.

Join me next time and we’ll hopefully see my small slice of London look a bit more built-up.

Eliminating the Impossible

My recent holiday, which wasn’t the most intellectually stimulating, did give me a lot of time to think. As it was kind of an enforced exile from both my blog and the hobby in general, unsurprisingly most of my thoughts were of the future direction of the Buffet.

Regular visitors to the Buffet will know that I tend to do things my own way here, so whilst a large percentage of the blogging community may be enthusing about the latest “big thing”, I’ll be off doing something completely different, probably involving re-purposed or cheap figures and scratch-built scenery.

The last few posts here at the Buffet have been focused on gaming Doctor Who in 28mm, but as the populist movement seems to be leaning towards the slightly larger scale “official” DW miniatures from Warlord Games AND there seems to be a glut of these on the Internet at present, I have become somewhat jaded with this subject. Rather than continue and fall completely out of love with it, I’ve decided to take a break from Doctor Who and do something…else.

So, the new project that the Buffet will be focusing on for the next few months arose out of a conversation with Tarot and taps into one of my favourite eras of history, namely the Victorian era. However, being who I am, I will be eschewing the goggles and brass doohickery of ‘Steampunk’, leaving the Martini-Henry and Pith helmet hanging behind the door and steering clear of the Red Planet. However, I will be shrugging myself into an Inverness cape and venturing onto the fog-shrouded cobbles of Victorian London, as I’ve heard that there’s monsters abroad…

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“The British public, safely ensconced within their cosy parlours, have thrilled to the exploits of staunch defenders of the Realm, such as Sherlock Holmes, Abraham van Helsing and Thomas Carnacki, never for one moment suspecting that these accounts concealed truths far stranger than the published fiction.

But that was the entire point. Should they ever comprehend the nature of the threats that stalk the streets of the Capital, Bedlam would have more inhabitants than the rookeries of St Giles.

Whilst those members of the Metropolitan Police Force attached to the Black Museum have some experience in battling the unnatural, sometimes more specialised expertise is needed and they call…him. 

Lancelot Grimm – Eliminator of the Impossible.”

So, over the next few months you can expect stalwart member of the Black Museum force, unnatural creatures of myth and legend, cobbled streets and iron railings, Victorian tenements and alleyways, the Chapel of St Gilbert on the Hill, and Lancelot Grimm himself.

The game is afoot!

The Best Laid Plans

I don’t know which evil entity decided July would be the month in which it would attempt to unravel all aspects my life, but someone obviously failed to inform it of exactly who it was dealing with…

So, having been lashed to the mast, screaming obscenities into the teeth of the gale, I have weathered all that July has thrown at me and returned, if not unscathed, at least unsunk.

However, it does mean that my ‘best laid plans’ have gone awry. No rules have been written, no games played, no figures painted…nothing even remotely hobby-related has been done.

But when have I ever let that stop me from posting, eh?

Regular visitors will know that I constantly keep my eyes open for inexpensive items that can be re-purposed for gaming. They will also know that, given the choice, my personal material preference for wargaming structures is hard plastic, rather than MDF.

So, if I happen to come across an injection-moulded plastic building that is not only approximately scaled to 28mm, but also only £4.00, I’m hardly likely to leave it on the shelf now, am I?

Zomlings in the Town” is a range of collectible plastic figurines made by Magic Box Toys, representing cartoon-like monsters that are just under an inch tall, which are sold blind-packaged to encourage multiple purchases. However, we’re not interested in the main range, but an ‘expansion’ from Series 5, known as Parking.

This expansion consists of three buildings, approximately 3.5″ by 2.5″ in area and 2.5″ tall, moulded in single colour hard plastic and sold separately accompanied by two ‘themed’ zomlings. The buildings are hollow and have a hinged door at one end, as each building is supposed to be a garage for the appropriately themed ‘zom-mobile’.

There is a red fire station, a blue police station and a green ice cream shop, as shown below:

Image result for zomlings series 5 parking

Stylistically,  the buildings are somewhat cartoony, with the kind of slightly wonky architecture you’d expect to see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, so these are probably best utilised with either Chibi figures, such as those from Super Dungeon Explore or Ninja All Stars, or with Heroclix TMNT.

“But Jez”, I hear you cry, “You don’t own any Chibi figures or any Turtles, so what use are these to you?” Patience, dear reader, I will explain…

Whilst both the fire and police station certainly wouldn’t fit in with any of the figures I currently own, the ice cream shop is another matter, as the ‘style’ of this building can be rationalised away. Most ice cream parlours are somewhat stylised anyway, so having examined the item in question in detail, I bought one.

And here it is:

So, an injection-moulded plastic building with plenty of surface detail and texturing for £4.00. As you can see, the detailing covers the entire exterior, including the roof. I’ve shown it with its ‘door’ open, to give an idea of how this works.

Of course, I did claim that this was approximately 28mm scale, let’s stick a couple of figures in front of it, to show what this looks like:

“I am the Master…and I do want a flake with that.”

To the left we have one of my repainted Heroclix figures and to the right, my Black Tree Design Master, which gives a good indication that, whilst the door might look a touch small, generally speaking it doesn’t look too out of scale.

As the roof is flat, what with it being a box, there is enough room to place at least one figure on the roof, depending on base size.

“I am the Master…of all I survey. Oooh! I can see you house from up here.”

And, as the building is hollow, this mean that it can be opened and figures placed inside.

And what would you expect to find inside an ice cream parlour? I don’t know about you, but mine appears to be full of Daleks…

“Refrigerate! Refrigerate! Refrigerate!”

Bloody things get everywhere

A very useful addition to my urban scenery and I can see this being used in a variety of genres, from Scooby Doo to Ghostbusters, superheroes to Doctor Who. I am actually quite looking forward to giving this a lick of paint, but feel it probably needs an undercoat of spray primer first, as all buildings, even small ones such as this, do seem to take a looooooong time to paint.

That’s all for this time and whilst this may not have been useful to all of you, I hope its been of use to some of you.

Next time…at present, your guess is as good as mine. Could be Doctor Who, could be Victorian adventurers, could be superheroes, could be something really weird

But there WILL be something here. And July can go fuck itself.

Jez

 

Showing Your Metal

Whilst I did state in my last post that there would be no new content on here during the month of July, it appears that I can’t resist talking about our wonderful hobby, especially when I have something I feel I need to share.

So, just over a week ago, I received the very generous and very much appreciated gift of the Doctor Who – Exterminate! miniatures game from Stevie and Hils from The Games Cupboard.  As those of you who have tried to give me gifts in the past will know, I’m quite stubborn when it comes to accepting presents –  so Stevie and Hils basically didn’t tell me they were doing it until almost the last moment and ignored me when I tried to convince them NOT to do it. Still not entirely sure I deserved such a nice present, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ve now got the game I was probably going to buy myself anyway…

Whilst I’ve opened the box, enjoyed the smell (it does smell rather wonderful) and read the rules in their entirety, I’ve yet to have the time to play the game. However, I did decide to put together a couple of the figures, just to see how east they were to assemble and to get an idea of how well they scale in with my other figures.

And this is the reason for this post, as I am in the unique position of owning at least one of every Cyberman and Dalek released by different manufacturers since Games Workshop first had the licence way back in 1987. And as there have been various questions asked regarding how well these figures scale in with other miniatures, I thought I’d provide a few pictures to assist in answering this question, followed by my own personal opinion.

First, the Cybermen…

Okay, from left to right we have; a Games Workshop plastic Cyberman (25mm), a Black Tree Design metal Cyber-Controller (28mm), a Doctor Who: Micro Universe new-style Cyberman (God knows) and the Warlord Games plastic Cyberwar Cyberman (32mm?).

Next the Daleks…

So, a GW plastic Dalek, a BTD metal Dalek, a Warlord Games Time War Dalek and a Doctor Who Adventures New Paradigm Dalek. As the Warlord Games Daleks don’t come with bases and their ‘skirt-print’ is too big for a standard 25mm circular base, I’ve not yet decided if I am going to base them or not.

And finally, as the WG figures are both the most recent version of each race, who better to give an idea of scale for those already owning a large collections of 28mm Doctor Who miniatures, than the Twelfth Doctor himself, as depicted by Crooked Dice?

Now you’ve seen the pictures, this should give you an idea of how compatible these Warlord plastics are with your existing figure collection.

Now, for my own personal opinion, which can be summed up in one sentence;

The Cybermen are too big.

Whilst you could rationale away that these represent the most advanced iteration of this species and that essentially a Cyberman is a normal human encased in a metal shell, so it’s bound to be bigger, it still doesn’t alter the fact that the Warlord Games Cyberman stands a good head above a normal 28mm miniature and that’s on a base that’s at least half as thick.

The Daleks, however, are another matter. Even if based on a base the same thickness base as my existing figures, the Time War Dalek would be a little larger than the Black Tree Design ones, but still smaller than the New Paradigm Daleks, which is as it should be. Plus the detail on these figures is excellent.

If you’re new to Doctor Who gaming, with no existing figures in your collection, then there is nothing stopping your from buying those figures produced by Warlord Games, However, if you already have a reasonable collection of 28mm Doctor Who figures, and just want to expand into the newer era of the Whoniverse, I would suggest avoiding the Cybermen, as they really do look too big in my opinion, although they are easier to paint…

I will give my opinion of the actual rules and the game itself once I’ve had a chance to play a couple of games, so there will be plenty more Doctor Who content to come here on the Buffet – and more Daleks! And you can never have enough Daleks!

Gone…But, Not Forgotten

Whilst I only had a very small amount to do to complete my Forgotten Heroes for this year’s event, due to issues at work over the last week and half, the first time I actually picked up a paint brush was last night!

That’s right – they almost didn’t get finished within my own self-imposed deadline, which obviously would have meant that I’d have to tell myself off…again.

As everyone else has been busy beavering away and producing far more accomplished and imaginative conversions than myself, it would have been a pretty poor showing for the crazed individual who came up with this idea to not actually finish his own bloody entries…

Luckily, some feverish daubing into almost the wee hours last night meant that my ‘quantum quartet’ are now complete. So, the task I’d set myself for this year’s Forgotten Heroes event was to create 28mm versions of the Image Comics Fantastic Four pastiche, Mystery Incorporated.

This ‘fantastic foursome’ are made up of the the malleable crystalline Crystal Man, the electrifying Kid Dynamo, the gaseous Neon Queen and the super-strong Planet. All were conversions from existing (and cheap) HeroClix figures, which initially looked like this:

However, with a bit of minor modification and repainting, we end up with this:

I decided to use the Star Wars interlocking tiles that I ‘improved’ as a backdrop for them, to represent their high-tech subterranean base beneath Manhattan, known as the Mystery Mile.

I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve come out, although in hindsight, I probably should have made the Planet’s head more spherical, as he looks like he’s got a jelly bean for a head. However, I did manage to paint the question mark logo on both Neon Queen’s and the Planet’s uniforms in one go without mucking it up, so that’s a plus.

I really need to make their arch-enemy, Doctor Apocalypse, in order to pit them against a worthy adversary, but that may have to wait. However, a certain resident of the Baxter Building, upon hearing that the Planet was a direct pastiche of him, decided to pay a visit to the Mystery Mile. I think you ALL know what time he chose to visit…

“Eat hot-dog cart, Ya big, green galoot!”

And that’s Forgotten Heroes done for another year. Be sure to pay a visit to the official site, where the dynamic half of this duo – Mr Roger Webb – has been posting and re-posting the efforts of all taking part this year and marvel at the sheer inventiveness of those who took part.

And now, an announcement. As I am taking a much-needed and long-delayed holiday during July, the Buffet will be closing its doors for the entirety of next month. I will still be dropping in on my favourite blogs and posting comments, but there won’t be any new content on here until at least the beginning of August. This should give me an opportunity to finish off some outstanding hobby projects and actually play a few more games, so hopefully they’ll be a few more AAR’s ready to be posted come August, including the next part of my Doctor Who adventure.

Until then, here’s a picture of a creepy girl and her equally creepy soft toy, which used to signify that transmission had been interrupted on the BBC here in the UK…

“I know where the bodies are buried…”

Thanks to all my followers and visitors and see you in August!