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:

Related image

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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21 thoughts on “Blobby Aliens

    • To be fair, Andy, the original blue does dry a fair bit darker. But it was still the ‘wrong’ blue .
      And thank you – they’re not quite finished, but I’m quite pleased with my ‘gel guards’. They may not have the claws if the originals, but I actually think mine are more creepy looking.

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  1. That Tardis is excellent, though the new colour is definitely nearer the original;-)

    I do like you gel guards, they remind me of something else though, just not sure what, I think its a 50’s sci/fi movie but can’t recall the name of it.

    Cheers Roger.

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  2. Truly ingenious, in a barking mad sort of way. Now funnily enough I picked up ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’ just the other day, I thought that it would make a nice addition whilst I was prepping and priming my Fourth Doctors only to discover that my DVD player has jammed shut with ‘The Force Awakens’ inside! Something else to worry about in due course, anyway get well soon and keep up the good work.

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    • Thank you Michael. “The Horror of Fang Rock” is one of my favourite Fourth Doctor tales, although one I’ve yet to reacquire. I still think my favourite is “The Talons of Weng Chiang”, even if the ‘giant rat’ wasn’t that convincing.
      Sorry to hear about your DVD player, let’s hope it surrenders the disc so you can get back to watching ‘proper’ sci-fi. And I appear to be on the mend, thankfully. I usually don’t suffer too much illness wise, so it’s doubly annoying to have to jump up every five minutes to blow my nose.

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  3. okay, these Gel Guards have got me quite excited. Soon as Hils gets back I`m gonna get her to make me some… she`ll enjoy that. that link for making the foam is invaluable, ta for that. I can envisage many, many uses for these critters. Totally inspired.

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    • No problem, Steve. Once you’ve got your hands on this stuff, you’ll want to play with it yourself. By varying the size of the ‘balls’ you can get different effects. I reckon you could probably build pretty effective drystone walls with it too.

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    • My thinking on this is that if you replaced the polystyrene balls with a similar lightweight medium, such as cat litter, you would end up with mouldable ‘stonework’, which could then be used to make drystone walls or coat the exterior of a card shell to make ‘flint’ buildings. If stored in an airtight container, it won’t dry out, so you could have a big tub of this for a variety of building projects. For example, added to a suitable wite armature, I think you could make a pretty good-looking stone golem.

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    • Cheers Simon. The Black Tree ones are a bit too static in my opinion, although they do reflect the original costumes. And I haven’t gone for the claws either, but feel this doesn’t detract too much from people knowing what they’re supposed to be. And of course, as my tub of own-brand ‘Floam’ was only £1, a bit cheaper too. Shame you can’t stiil get it, as this post has made me think of various other uses for it – might have to whip up a batch.

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    • Thank you. I’ve actuslly discovered that Hobbycraft do their own version of this stuff – called ‘foam clay’ – which comes in 5 little tubs for £5. Not sure if you have Hobbycraft in Ireland, but if you do, it saves making your own.
      And being in Reading ‘the belly-button of England’ means that I’m within a day’s drive of lots of interesting archaeological sites. The Cerne Abbas giant, Maiden Castle in Dorchester, Silbury Hill, etc. Luckily, having taken an Archaeology O Level, I did get to visit some of these as part of the course.

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  4. Pingback: March of the Daleks | Carrion Crow's Buffet

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