Blobby Aliens

Once again, various external factors have conspired against me to reduce the amount of hobby-time I had available this week, including a stinking cold which is starting to really annoy me.

So whilst I have been able to get some stuff done this week, it’s not a huge amount.

Firstly, I decided to slap some paint on my TARDIS, but the initial blue I chose was not the ‘right’ blue, so resulted in me having to repaint the entire thing a darker shade. As you can see in the picture below, it now looks like it should. Certainly the Third Doctor thinks so, as he’s loitering around outside it, in the hopes that this TARDIS has its dematerialisation circuits intact.

If you look at the windows, you can see the original blue I used, which was a little too light.

Now, one of the good things about Doctor Who, in my opinion, is the aliens. True, the majority of the aliens that appeared in the original series were men in reasonably unconvincing costumes, but no-one can deny that the design of the Daleks was not only iconic, but also different from anything else that had appeared up until that time.

But not all the aliens that have appeared in both the classic series AND the new series are as complicated, design-wise, as the Daleks. The Rutan, from the 1977 Fourth Doctor serial The Horror of Fang Rock was essentially a big green glowing blob, the Ogri from the 1978 serial The Stones of Blood were mobile blood-drinking standing stones and the Vashta Nerada from the 2008 Tenth Doctor two-parter Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead manifested as additional shadows attached to their victims.

The point I’m trying to make here is that if you want Doctor Who aliens, you don’t actually have to buy them. With a bit of ingenuity, you can make your own.

And to prove this, I will show you how.

Back in 1972, the writers on Doctor Who had the bright idea of creating a story where the current incarnation of the Doctor, which was Jon Pertwee, would be joined by his two previous incarnations, played by Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, to face a foe that required more than one Time Lord to defeat. This story, in a flash of originality, became the 4-part serial The Three Doctors.

Now, the villain of this particular story was the renegade Time Lord Omega, who had created servants out of the anti-matter universe he was occupying and sent them to Earth to kidnap the Doctor. These ‘blobby aliens’ are known as Gel Guards and look like this:

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So, how do you go about making your very own Gel Guards? Well, a while ago I discovered a rather interesting product called Floam. Floam consisted of small airtight tubs, containing a substance that was essentially tiny polystyrene balls in a gel-like medium. This could be moulded into whatever shape your heart desired and, if left out to dry, set hard overnight. The ‘sculptures’ made from this could then be painted, as the Floam would accept standard acrylic paint with no problem. The only slight disadvantage with this substance was that the ‘balls’ were all the same size, so if you wanted to create a shoggoth, for example, you’d need to add additional different sized balls to make it less uniform.

Now, the major stumbling block for all of you is that they apparently don’t make this stuff anymore – not sure why, perhaps children were eating it or something.  However, I found a website that provides a ‘recipe’ for you to make your own, should you be so inclined. Think of it as mouldable polystyrene, but with the little balls going everywhere, so ideal for bulking out large structures, but without increasing their weight.

I had a tub of own-brand ‘Floam’, which I moulded into suitable ‘Gel Guard’ like shapes on 25mm circular plastic bases, then inserted a small faceted bead into the ‘head’ to act as an eye, then left them to dry overnight.

As I had an imperfect recollection of what the ‘Gel Guards’ looked like when I made these, they were then painted bright orange, with yellow eyes. These were then popped in a box and forgotten about.

I came across them recently and decided to repaint them in the correct colours, so gave them an undercoat of white, then painted them gold. I then had terrible issues with trying to find a suitable brown wash – I though Burnt Ochre would work, but it still left them looking too gold. I finally decided to overpaint them with Brown Ink in the hopes that this wouldn’t make them too dark. Once this had dried, I painted in their eyes with GW Imperial Purple, which is actually a dark pink colour and this is as far as I’ve got:

Now, they need a bit more variation on their colouring, with patches of orange and brown, but I do think they’re recognisable as ‘Gel Guards’.

To give a sense of scale in relation to a 28mm figure, here they are next to a Copplestone-sculpted Trooper, who is currently on his way to become a member of UNIT.

“He’s behind you…!”

So, if you’re planning on gaming Doctor Who (or any other sci-fi game), don’t feel you have to limit yourself to ‘official’ figures. Even if you want specific aliens, a little bit of thinking outside the box can get you inexpensive substitutes, the added advantage of which is that you now have something totally unique.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next week for more Doctor Who – what it will be only ‘Who’ knows…

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“Definitely a Madman with a Box”

As I mentioned in my last post – Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box – I am now the proud owner of not one, but nine incarnations of the Doctor – First through Seventh, with the Eleventh and Twelfth as well. However, in order for whichever incarnation of the Doctor I decide to use to be able to travel through time and space, I found myself in need of a TARDIS.

Now, there was a time (pun intended) that if you wanted a 28mm model of a police box, you had a variety of options. You could buy one from Fenris Games, Hasslefree Miniatures, Black Cat Bases and best of all, the option of having both an opaque and a transparent one from Ainsty Castings, who also did a TARDIS control console. However, this is no longer the case, and believe me I’ve looked. Whether this is due to ‘cease and desist’ letters being issued or the companies concerned sensing that it would be in their best interests to withdraw their products from the market, I don’t know. The end result is the same – you have very few options left if you want a 28mm TARDIS.

So, Option 1 is to purchase an ‘officially licensed’ TARDIS model from Black Tree Design.

Now, as far as I am aware, the set only comes with the TARDIS and the control console, rather than the figures shown in the image above (or the walls). It’s not the most inspiring of models, but my main problem with this set is the price – it’s £26.49! Even taking advantage of one of Black Tree’s 30% off sales, that’s still eighteen and half quid! Outrageous…

Which brings me on to Option 2 – Reaper Miniatures Bones range. In this range you will find 80037: Telephone Box:

I think we all know what this model is supposed to be and at $4.29, it’s a much more affordable alternative, What’s more, it’s also a nicer model. For those living in the UK, it can be purchased from Miniatures Heroes for £3.66.

However, having blown my gaming budget on Doctors and monsters AND being me, I went for secret Option No. 3 – make your own.

Now, having previously built a small model TARDIS many years ago, which was so good (apparently) that someone decided to steal it, I knew I could make one. However, what I failed to take into account during my initial attempts was that the previous TARDIS was not in scale with 28mm figures, being about one and half times bigger. Which meant that when I attempted to use the same materials and technique for a 28mm scale TARDIS, it didn’t go entirely to plan…

The results of this first attempt were duly consigned to the bin, but I did keep a note of the measurements I’d made. As 1mm Greyboard proved too thick for the particular technique I was planning on using, I cast about for a suitable material and found one in my sketch pad.  This A5 pad is “135gsm Pure White Cartridge Paper”, which is similar in thickness to thin card, and as I had a pad of approximately 50 pages, plenty of ‘material’ available, should I muck it up. I actually only ended up using one sheet…

So, the first thing I did was to transfer my dimensions to the cartridge paper and create the initial internal structure, like so:

After scoring the creases, I used a Pritt stick (other glue sticks are available) to assemble the main ‘box’, which you can see below with the Eleventh Doctor, to give a sense of scale:

Obviously a Type 40 TT Capsule, or TARDIS as it is more commonly known, does have a ‘chameleon circuit’ which allows it to blend in with whatever surroundings it might find itself in, but the ‘uncloaked’ TARDIS are a little less exciting, being essentially a silver column with a door, like below:

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However, it’s still a bit more interesting than my plain white box, so we need to add more detail in order to make it actually look like the TARDIS we all know and love. And this is the fiddly and time-consuming bit…

Having previously marked out four further rectangles the same size as the sides of my box, I marked each of these with eight smaller panels, to represent the panels and windows in each side of the TARDIS. Then using a steel rule and a sharp craft knife, I preceded to cut out these panels, leaving me with the sides as shown below:

You may be wondering why I would go to all this trouble…and about halfway through I was wondering exactly the same thing. However, if you’re going to make a three-dimensional model of a TARDIS, you might as well do it properly, otherwise you might as well just print out a papercraft TARDIS ‘box’ with all the detail printed on…which of course IS another option, should you be inclined that way.

After these side panels were completed, the glue stick came out once more and they were attached to the internal box structure, like so:

And now you can see why I bothered, as it now gives depth to the model. Starting to look a little more TARDIS-like now, isn’t it?

Having referred to my reference material, I then cut four strips of paper the same height as the box, to act as corners, four panels to go just above the ‘doors’ and four further strips to act as the central ‘spine’ down each side. More gluing ensued and the additional detailing was added to the model, like so:

Now, as I was getting close to completing the model, I got a bit excited and didn’t take any further ‘work in progress’ pictures, so you’ll have to imagine the remaining interim stages.

The next step was to add four panels at the top of each side, which is where the ‘Police Public Call Box’ signage will go. As these are thicker than the other features, these were cut from 1mm Greyboard (or Brownboard in this case) and glued on.

As I’d decided to not try and replicate a particular version of the TARDIS (as there have actually been about eight different designs), I referred to various pictures to try and get a sense of what I wanted MY TARDIS to look like, utilising the materials I had to hand.

The next step was to add a square of 2mm Greyboard onto the roof, to provide a ‘stepped’ roof. This looked fine, but the next and final ‘step’ on the roof needed to be taller and shaped. A rummage through my bits box uncovered an unused 25mm square slottabase with angled sides, which was duly dry-fitted and turned out to be exactly what I needed. I widened the slot in the exact centre of the base slightly, then covered this with a square of cartridge paper, with a circular hole in its centre. This was then glued into place with superglue.

Into this hole was inserted an appropriate length of transparent plastic tube (could have been a cotton bud stem or an empty ballpoint pen tube – the amount of bits I keep “because they could be useful” is staggering…), which was then super-glued into place. To finish the whole thing off, a GW plastic ‘shield boss’, after filing down, was added as a cap to the roof light.

The final touch was to glue the whole structure to a 40mm square GW base and this is what I ended up with:

And to give a better view of the roof, here’s an overhead view:

Not bad for an evening’s work and the only thing it cost me was time, which is appropriate given the subject matter. All that needs to be done now is to paint it and print out suitable signage for the illuminated panels and external phone door. Thinking about it, I may need to insert a further panel where the external phone door will be, as I think this is not as recessed as the other panels. Oh, and add a door handle.

That’s all for this week, but there will be more Doctor Who goodness next time. The Master is a bit miffed that I’ve only built a TARDIS for the Doctor, so I’ll probably have to build him one to, unless I want to end up on the wrong end of his Tissue Compression Eliminator.

Thinking Outside The (Blue) Box

A quick apology to those who’ve been visiting this site and not found any new content over the last couple of weeks. January always seems to be rather busy for me and I’ve not had much opportunity to indulge myself hobby-wise. On those occasions that I did, things didn’t go quite as planned, so  rather than post for the sake of it, I thought I’d wait until I’d actually got something to post about.

So, the focus of my blog for the next couple of weeks (or possibly months), as you may have guessed from the title, is Doctor Who miniature gaming. As I took advantage of Black Tree Design‘s 30% off sale on their Doctor Who line, I am now the proud owner of the first seven Doctors, as well as the Roger Delgado version of the Master. Then they went and extended the sale…

So, I now have additionally winging their merry way to me a set of seven classic Daleks (including a Special Weapons Dalek), a Cyberleader to join my Games Workshop Cybermen, an Ice Warrior and Aggedor, the Monster of Peladon – because who doesn’t need a big hairy monster with a horn? And for those of you not familiar with this character, here he is:

Image result for aggedor

Ah, bless…

Now, you might be currently thinking to yourself, “Actually, I quite fancy the idea of doing a bit of Doctor Who gaming, but I don’t have any suitable figures or rules…” and this is where the title of this post comes from.

Whilst it’s nice to have every version of the Doctor and all his iconic baddies (and those funky weird ones, like Aggedor), you don’t actually need them to do a bit of Doctor Who-esque gaming.

As far back as 1965, we were introduced to another renegade Time Lord, specifically the character who became know as the Meddling Monk, played by Peter Butterworth. Here was another Time Lord interfering with the course of history who had his own Tardis – on which the Chameleon Circuit actually worked. Then in the 1969 adventure The War Games, we were introduced to another renegade Time Lord, the War Chief. Then in 1971, The Master turned up, followed by the Rani in 1985. Even if you’re a fan purely of the new series, the 2011 episode The Doctor’s Wife introduced us to a character called the Corsair, another renegade Time Lord and friend of the Doctor, who had unfortunately already fallen foul of the entity known as House.

My point is that just because you currently haven’t got a miniature of Jon Pertwee or David Tennant, this doesn’t mean that you haven’t got a figure in your collection that could be a Time Lord.

Take this figure, for example;

This is 0763 Eccentric Individual from Moonraker Miniatures, available from their website for £1.50. A suitable ‘eccentric’ paint job and you’ve now got yourself your very own Time Lord, whose sobriquet you can come up with yourself.

Similarly, as Doctor Who has introduced us to a vast array of alien races, if you have some alien miniatures, or even some of the more weird and wonderful D&D monsters, you’ve got yourself some ‘aliens’.

The other wonderful thing about gaming in the Doctor Who universe is that you have no restrictions on time or place. If you’re primarily a historical gamer, it doesn’t matter which period of history you prefer and collect, you already have the rest of your cast for your Time Lord to interact with. The same applies for pulp, modern or science fiction gamers.

Basically, all you need to game in the Doctor Who universe is a Time Lord, his Tardis (which could be anything, if the Chameleon Circuit is working), an alien threat of some description, a supporting cast of locals and some scenery and terrain. Which is probably stuff you’ve already got.

“Okay, you’ve convinced us,” I hear you cry, “but what rules should we use?”

Well, as Warlord Games official “Doctor Who – Into the Time Vortex” miniature gaming rules have failed to materialise yet (see what I did there?), probably your best bet is the 7TV rules from Crooked Dice, either 1st or 2nd Edition. The profile for the ‘Unearthly Traveller’ from 7TV2 basically IS the Doctor and you can find a profile card to match most, if not all, of the various monsters, aliens, allies and companions that you could want.

Another option would be a copy of the original, unlicenced “Doctor Who Miniatures Game” which was the first published ruleset by Crooked Dice, and was available free to download on the Internet. Obviously, these have now been removed, so you will have to find someone who has a copy lurking on their hard disk and is willing to send them to you. After an extensive search, it would appear my own copy has vanished into the Time Vortex. I blame the Master…

I, of course, will be using my own rules The Way of the Crow, of which the basic rules were introduced back in June of last year (here, here and here). This year will see the completion and collation of these rules, and they will then be available to download from here for FREE!  Previews of the rules in action for gaming Doctor Who will appear on my blog as AARs, so you can get a feel of how they work.

So, during the next couple of months, you will see a variety of Doctor Who figures, both official and seconded, along with some classic and Nu-Who monsters cunningly fashioned from easily available resources and some AARs featuring the above as I fine-tune my rules.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to build a scale model of a quarry…