Forgotten Heroes month is finally here, where myself and a group of like-minded individuals will be attempting to recreate in 28mm those superheroes and villains who have been sadly overlooked by the purveyors of gaming miniatures. For a detailed explanation of the ‘rules’ and an explanation of what’s going on, please pay a visit to the official Forgotten Heroes site, which was kindly put together by Roger Webb of Rantings from Under the Wargames Table fame.
As I was the instigator of this little project, I thought you might like an insight into how this came about. Back in July last year, Roger and I decided to indulge our childhood love of the Masters of the Universe franchise and recreate characters from Eternia in 28mm. Almost a year later and there have been three ‘He-Month’s and about a dozen or so characters created. Roger was keen to return to Eternia, specifically so he could call it “Masters of the June-iverse”, but I had an altogether different cunning plan in mind…
As recreating He-Man and crew is a little niche for most of those within my immediate blogging circle, I suggested to Roger that by choosing a different subject matter, we might get a larger number of people involved, especially is the subject matter was those superheroes or villains that had not yet had an official or unofficial miniature made for them yet.
To be honest, the response I received was lukewarm at the time, but as with most of my ideas, they have a way of worming their way into your mind and taking over, so a couple of days later Roger was an enthusiastic supporter. I put together the rules, but Roger came up with the name, as my original suggestion was a bit…pants. He also put together the ‘official’ website, to allow those who wanted to take part, but did not currently have their own blog to do so. So, massive thanks to Roger for that.
As for the subject matter, when I started miniature gaming, the only superhero miniatures available were the Living Legends range from Lance & Laser. These were true 25mm figures and were decently sculpted, but weren’t the heroes and villains I was reading about. So, in true Carrion Crow fashion, I made my own. My first forays into converting commercially available figures into something else started with making my own versions of Captain America and Spider-Man from figures from the Living Legends range. They weren’t perfect, but at least I had the heroes I wanted. I next converted a GW Imperial Guard commissar into Marshal Law and could see an improvement in my ‘skills’. The last ‘super-conversion’ was to make the version of Devil Dinosaur who appeared in issue #12 of NextWave, complete with smoking jacket, revolver and champagne glass;
Yes, it is bonkers, but also kind of awesome. Full details on this particular version of this character and how I made him can be found here.
So, having done one or two of these before, I thought I’d offer some advice to those of you starting your first conversion or contemplating having a go.
Firstly, don’t underestimate your own abilities. Just because you haven’t done a full conversion yet, doesn’t mean you can’t. If you can paint figures (which I’m assuming everyone who’s reading this can), the simplest ‘conversion’ is to repaint an existing figure, such as the DC Heroclix Blue Beetle into the obscure Marvel villain Goldbug – the costumes are almost identical, it’s just the colouring that’s different.
Secondly, don’t make too much work for yourself. Try and pick a base figure that has most, if not all, of the features you want your planned conversion to have. If your chosen character has a cape, choose a figure with a cape. You have to get used to looking beyond the paint job, to the figure beneath.
Thirdly, if you’re doing a conversion, try to pick an inexpensive figure as a base. That way, if you do muck it up beyond recovery, you won’t have invested too much money in it. I tend to use Heroclix or other collectible pre-painted figure for my conversions, as they’re cheap (the cheapest I’ve bought being 29p!) and easily available.
Fourthly, do not limit yourself to just using the modelling putty of your choice to add details to your figures. Not all of us are blessed with the ability to tease putty into the features we require (unlike Roger, who’s a bit of a dab hand). I’ve used shirt buttons, paper, lengths of cotton bud shafts, paper clips, plastic bags and the odd limb or appendage ‘donated’ from other figures. A good example of a simple yet effective conversion is the transformation of the DC Heroclix figure Triplicate Girl into the Marvel character Marvel Girl, done by Kaptain Kobold here and here. I actually prefer his version to the official Heroclix version!
Now, conversions aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but the satisfaction you get when you end up with not only a version of the character that matches your vision of the character, but also a figure that no-one else has got or will ever have is worth it, in my opinion.
Right enough rambling, time to reveal my ‘Forgotten Heroes’…
The first character I will be doing comes from the 1996 DC vs Marvel event, which was a 4 issue limited series collaboration between the ‘big two’. The basic premise of the series was that heroes from each universe were pitted against once another, with each victory scoring a point for that universe, with the losing universe being erased. The victor of the majority of the battles had been pre-decided by the writers, but a few match-ups were decided by the fans voting for who they wanted to win.
However, between issues #3 and #4, in April 1996, due to events within the storyline, both universes were merged, and out of this was born the Amalgam universe, in which characters from each universe were ‘amalgamated’ into a new character which shared aspects of both existing characters. Wolverine was combined with Batman and became the vigilante Dark Claw, Ghost Rider and the Flash (with elements of the Demon) became Speed Demon and Dr. Doom and Doomsday became, unsurprisingly, Dr. Doomsday. And my favourite character from this event and the first of my ‘Forgotten Heroes’, Captain America was combined with Superman, to become…Super-Soldier.
For those of you who want to know more about the Amalgam universe and the characters it contained, this Wikipedia article is strangely more accurate than the one on the Marvel Wiki.
The second character I will be doing first saw his exploits published in the inaugural issue of the British comic Nutty in 1980, then went on to appear in both The Dandy and The Beano. In 1983, he also got his own televised cartoon, courtesy of the BBC, with the voice talents of Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie, better known as the comedy trio The Goodies. I am, of course, referring to the costumed superhero described as having “the muscles of twenty men, and the brains of twenty mussels”, the Man of Peel himself…Bananaman!
For those unfamiliar with this character, a detailed history of Bananaman can be found here.
So, one sensible character and one daft one, which will be crafted from these base figures:
Both from the DC Heroclix range, we have Captain Atom on the left who will become Super-Soldier and Bizarro on the right, who will become Bananaman. As noted above, I tried to pick figures that were as close a match to the end result as possible. The pose, lack of fussy detail and hair made Captain Atom ideal for Super-Soldier, whereas the physique, cape and awkward pose of Bizarro made him ideal for Bananaman.
Captain Atom will require careful trimming of the star on his chest, which is raised, sculpted boot-tops, a belt and the addition of a shield, whereas Bizarro requires a haircut, reshaping of his cape and the addition of ‘banana’ gloves, boots and cowl. The rest will just be down to painting.
A relatively modest goal compared to the various iterations of He-Month, but this allows me the time to get them right. Depending on how much time I have available, I do have a third possible figure in mind, but I have been receiving threatening messages from Wayne Enterprises regarding the delayed opening of the Gotham City branch of Cupid Burgers (see my last post)…
“Yes, I am Batman and I know what you’re thinking…the answers to your questions are, yes, I do want fries with that and yes, the Batmobile does have a cup-holder…”