March of the Daleks

I had such good intentions this week… I was going to finish off my Ogri that I’d made a start on in Mobile Stone AND my Gel Guards that I’d almost completed in Blobby Aliens.

However, I am mere weak flesh and the siren call of the Daleks was too strong…

This was compounded by the arrival on Wednesday of a small package from Roger Webb, the generous chap who not only provides a great deal of eye candy on his blog Rantings from Under the Wargames Table, but is also the proprietor of Wargames Supply Dump – go there, browse his ranges and don’t be surprised when you’ve found you’ve placed an order…

Anyway, back to the package. This contained 6 of the ‘new paradigm’ Daleks, which have become known as ‘iDaleks’, along with some other new series aliens that were also given away as a free gift on the front of the British Doctor Who Adventures magazine. To be frank, the other figures were wildly out of scale with 28mm or just not very good, with the possible exception of the Weeping Angels and the Silence. We shall see what I can do with them at a later date.

Actually, whilst we are on the subject of the generosity of fellow bloggers, I want want to publicly thank Keith aka The Angry Piper, who is the proprietor of Dead Dick’s Tavern and Temporary Lodging. He recently contacted me because he’d remembered a discussion from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in May of 2015, that my preferred Heorclix version of the Thing was the one that was wielding a hot dog cart from the Fast Forces set, but that I’d not been able to get hold of one.  He’d recently ended up with a double and very kindly sent it winging it’s way over the Atlantic to my door. A very generous gesture and one that is much appreciated.

Go visit his blog, as he’s currently trialing Scott Pyle’s new ruleset Super Mission Force, by utilising an old scenario from TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes to pit the X-Men against various foes, including French-Canadian trappers! Well worth a read.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the Thing figure concerned, in a crossover you probably never thought you’d ever see, here’s why a single Dalek is no match for the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing…

Right, back to the ‘March of the Daleks’. Now, as those who have seen the new series episode Victory of the Daleks, which introduced the new paradigm Daleks, will know, they are a bit bigger than the ‘Time War’ Daleks, as the picture below illustrates;

Image result for idalek

So, how do the plastic Doctor Who Adventures ‘iDaleks’ compare with a ‘normal’ 28mm Dalek, which we know are roughly the same size as ‘Time War’ Daleks? Well, unfortunately, they are widely out of scale, as can be seen below; 

I am, of course, joking. The one on the right is the motorised toy Dalek I recently rediscovered whilst rummaging through my cupboards, who I was asked to put away because someone doesn’t find it trundling about on tabletops screaming “Exterminate!” quite as funny as I do. Regretfully, I was unable to locate this person’s sense of humour during my searches – I fear it may be lost for good.

THIS is actually the comparison shot:

As you can see, they are pretty much in scale with ‘normal’ Daleks, so if you’re a fan of the new paradigm Daleks, they are worth getting.

They are made from hard plastic and assembled from four individual parts; the left and right sides, a ‘cap’ in the centre of the dome and a small rectangular panel at the front of the skirt. The detail is quite good, although there are noticeable mold lines, but due to the material these can be cleaned up with a needle file.

Now, the front panel can prove to be a bit of an issue, as depending on the care in which the Dalek was assembled and whether the two notches that the tabs from this panel go into are cast correctly, you might find that the panel is at an angle, like a small door opening “into the Dalek”. This can be rectified by carefully prising the panel out and re-seating it. This may involves widening the notches or filing off the tabs completely, but it is worth spending some time on, otherwise they look ‘broken’.

As ‘iDaleks’ also have a larger ‘skirt print’ than normal Daleks, you’ll also need bigger bases. I based mine on some spare Heroscape bases, as you can see below;

Now, I have to apologise to Roger at this point, as I believed there were six different types of new paradigm Daleks, and this is what I told him when he offered to send me some across. There are actually only five different types; the white Supreme Dalek, the yellow Eternal Dalek, the orange Science Dalek, the blue Strategist Dalek and the red Drone Dalek. So, the darker orange Dalek above will become a further Drone Dalek when I start painting them.

However, if you want to see what can be made of these cheap plastic toys, I suggest you visit Germy’s website, specifically this page, as he has painted 120 of these little buggers up in the colours of the renegade faction of normal Daleks and Time War Daleks, as well as the most recent red and gold version of the Supreme Dalek.

I’ve obviously not got as many Daleks as him, but I do have some more to show you, namely my normal Daleks;

Whilst the Dalek Patrol set from Black Tree Design does come with six normal Daleks, I decided to only assemble and base five of them. I’m undecided whether I’m going to use the final Dalek to make a mold, so I can have a ‘Glass’ Dalek, like the one in Revelation of the Daleks or whether to add the top half of a DC Heroclix Psion to the skirt, to make my own version of Davros, seeing as he’s not currently available. We shall see.

However, I also discovered that I had enough parts from the remaining plastic Games Workshop ‘Daleks and Cybermen’ boxed set from 1987 to make a single ‘engineer’ Dalek, so built and based him too, along with the Special Weapons Dalek. And here are all the current variations that I have, showing how they all compare:

Whilst there is a slight variation in size between the plastic GW Dalek and the Black Tree metal Dalek, as they are different types of Dalek, I’m not overly concerned. Obviously the ‘iDalek’ is bigger, but they are supposed to be, so this is also not an issue.

So, currently, I have 13 Daleks ready to trundle out and exterminate their enemies;

Where’s Absolm Daak, when you need him?

Now comes the hard part – I need to decide which of the many colour schemes to use on my ‘classic’ Daleks.

That’s all for this week. Next week – even more Doctor Who, but ‘Who’ or what I’ve yet to decide.

Comments appreciated and welcome, although WordPress has been refusing to allow certain people to comment, so feel free to comment on The Miniatures Page instead.

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Buffet of the Daleks

Hobby time this week has been limited and taken up with the super-special secret project I mentioned last week, so I’ve not actually got anything new or any progress to show you.

However, when has they ever stopped me from posting before?

So, as you may have gathered from the title, this week we will be looking at Daleks, as whilst you could play a Doctor Who game without them, at some point you going to want/need some.

Now, since their introduction in the aptly named First Doctor serial The Daleks in 1963, the actual design of the Daleks has not varied all that much. Yes, they may have had rings or slats on their mid-section or a slightly bigger skirt, but the basic design remained pretty much unchanged right up until the end of the classic run in 1989.

The only variation we got during the classic run was the Special Weapons Dalek, which appeared in the 1987 Seventh Doctor serial Remembrance of the Daleks, which had a single high-powered energy weapon and no eyestalk.

Obviously, when the series was re-launched in 2005, it was felt that the Daleks required a bit of a re-design and our first look at what has become known as the ‘Time War’ Dalek was in the  Ninth Doctor episode Dalek in 2005.

Then, in the 2010 Eleventh Doctor episode Victory of the Daleks, we were introduced to the controversial design that has become known as the ‘iDalek’.

Lots of fans kicked off about this design, so much so that it’s quietly been ‘retired’, last appearing in the 2012 episode Asylum of the Daleks.

For a full guide to Dalek designs, hierarchy and, more importantly from a miniature gamer’s point of view, colour schemes, your best resource is the very comprehensive “Dalek Colour Schemes and Hierarchy” guide on The Doctor Who Site, which can be found here.

However, this is a miniature gaming site, so let’s talk about miniature Daleks.

If you want the ‘iDaleks’, your only option are those that came as free gift attached to the front of the Doctor Who Magazine here in the UK. They were pretty well-detailed, the right size to scale in with 28mm figures and pretty inexpensive. You may be able to find these on eBay, if you weren’t lucky enough to pick some up at the time – like me. So, if anyone’s got half a dozen of these knocking about spare and would be willing to sell them on, I would be quite prepared to give them a new home.

For ‘Time War’ Daleks, you will be able to buy multi-part plastic ‘Time War’ Daleks from Warlord Games when they finally decide to release them. Obviously, they still have to release a couple of boxes of obscure monsters that only appeared in one episode first, because these are so much more useful…

So, until these are released, you will have to track down the Doctor Who Micro Universe figures if you’re desperate for some new-style Daleks.

Which leaves us with the classic style Dalek. Luckily these are readily available from our old friends Black Tree Design.  And as I took advantage of their 30% off sale, I can do a review of them!

So, first up the classic style Dalek;

As you can see, they come in three parts; the ‘skirt’, mid-section and head, which means that you can rotate the head to provide variation in ‘pose’. As they are metal, you can also ‘adjust’ the gun and plunger arms for further variation. The detail is very crisp, although they did come with quite a bit of flash, but this was mainly on the underside of the skirt, so didn’t obscure any of the detail. The other thing I noted was that as the ‘skirt’ is a solid piece of lead, these figures do have a bit of heft to them.

As I got the Dalek Patrol set, this also came with a Special Weapons Dalek;

The SWD comes in two parts; the skirt and mid-section/head. As you can see, the skirt comes with a square platform on the top, so it’s fairly obvious which of the skirts belongs to the SWD. Detail is also very nice, with minimal flash and the same heft that the normal Daleks have.

Now, showing you the components is all well and good, but what do they look like assembled and how do they scale with say, a Crooked Dice Third Doctor 28mm figure?

Like this…

So, accurate, ‘official’ classic style Daleks which are nicely detailed and scale well with modern 28mm figures. I really like them and as the Dalek Patrol set offers six normal Daleks and a Special Weapons Dalek for just over 21 quid, they’re pretty good value too.

That’s all for this week – join me next time for more Doctor Who…in miniature.

Mobile Stones

This week I was blessed with quite a bit of hobby time, but due to a number of factors, it actually doesn’t look like I’ve achieved that much. The first reason is because I’m working on a super-special secret project, which I can neither divulge nor show you until such time as it is finished AND the recipient has received it – we don’t want to spoil the surprise now, do we? The second reason is due to the particular material I was working with, which I will explain about below. But first, a little background…

Back in 2007, the Doctor as portrayed by David Tennant, first encountered the alien race known as the Weeping Angels in the superb Stephen Moffat scripted episode “Blink”. These creepy ‘quantum-locked’ predators utilise time paradoxes to feed on the potential temporal energy of people by sending them back in time to a point before they were born and usually manifest as stone angels, similar to those found in Victorian graveyard statuary.

Image result for weeping angels

But this is not the first time that the Doctor has faced off against animated statues, as the Third Doctor had to contend with a gargoyle animated by the Daemon Azal in the 1971 story The Daemons, who went by the name of Bok…

Image result for bok doctor who

However, my favourite ‘mobile stone’ from Doctor Who are still the Ogri from the 1978 Fourth Doctor serial The Stones of Blood, which were essentially mobile semi-sentient blood-drinking monoliths.

Image result for ogri doctor who

Now, unlike Bok and the Weeping Angels, you cannot currently buy 28mm miniatures of Ogri – Bok can be purchased from Black Tree Design for £2.75, whilst a pair of ‘Angels of Sorrow’ can be purchased from the Reaper Bones range for $4.99 (or from Miniature Heroes in the UK for £4.38).

But as they’re just monoliths, they should be relatively easy to make, right?

Yes they are, but would have been even quicker if I’d been able to get the right material.

Ideally, you want blue insulation foam for this, which seems to be a popular choice for hobby builds but, for some reason, doesn’t appear to be readily available in my local DIY shops. So I went for something cheap and readily available, namely ‘oasis’ foam.

This is basically the stuff used by florists and flower arrangers to stick the stems of flowers into. It’s very lightweight and a block about 12″ tall by 4″ square only costs £1.50. It also comes in two colours, the standard green you associate with this product and a nice sandstone-y brown. I obviously went with the brown.

So, the first thing I did was to cut several ‘blocks’ about 20mm square and 35-40mm tall out of my foam. This can be easily done with a sharp craft knife and this leads to the very first problem with this material – when cut or knocked or even lightly brushed against, it sheds little particles everywhere, a bit like sand, as you can see from the surface of the cutting mat below, along with my ‘stones’.

The second issue is the weight. This stuff is remarkably light, so sneezing would send these blocks flying. However, I had anticipated this and prepared some bases made from 2 pence pieces, to which I superglued a flat-headed drawing pin/thumb tack, like so.

Having doused the tops of the drawing pins with superglue, I impaled each block onto the spikes, then carved bits off each ‘stone’ until I had a shape I was happy with – obviously creating more dust as I did so.

As the ‘stones’ currently looked like they were floating, the Milliput came out and the base of each ‘stone’ was given a scenic base. As the Ogri, when active, glow from within a golden light and have distinctive circular patterns around their midriffs, I used the handle of a needle file to make some circular depressions on each ‘stone’ with the intention of painting this gold. I only did this on one side, so that it’s not so obvious what they are if you’re approaching from behind. And here are four of them with one of my UNIT troopers, to give a sense of scale.

So far, so good, but it’s called ‘oasis’ foam for a reason – it’s because it’s designed to be porous. Good for plants inserted into it, but not so good for painting.

Seriously, if you’re going to make some of these yourself, only use this stuff as a last resort, as whilst it’s really easier to work with, actually getting it to the stage where you can apply paint takes a lot or preparation.

So, whilst I was happy with the size and shape, it was still shedding particles and would drink paint like a thirsty man in a desert. The solution to both of these problems was to use some watered down PVA glue as a sealant. This stops the material shedding everywhere and also creates a thin ‘skin’ over the top of the material, which will take paint. What actually happens is that the material absorbs the watered down PVA, so whilst it does allow  for painting, it also doesn’t obscure the texture of the foam and also makes the foam slightly heavier.

I then gave each ‘stone’ an undercoat of Docrafts Linen, then another coats of watered down Linen to fill in the holes. This was followed by a coat of Revell Beige, with a further coat of watered-down Beige for the same reason. Basically, all those little holes mean that whilst you do get a texture like stone or concrete, which will be a joy to dry-brush, it will need one or two washes to ensure that the colour covers the whole ‘stone’. And that’s as far as I’ve got with this so far, as can be seen in the picture below.

The Third Doctor looks a little concerned that he is surrounded by the blood-drinking Ogri – I don’t think his Venusian Aikido will get him out of this one…

It was only after I’d compared the photos from the unpainted to the beige-painted stones that I realised that they don’t actually look that much different, as the Beige paint is actually very similar in hue to the original colour of the foam. Oh well…

The next stage will be to paint in the golden glowing circles on each Ogri, then give them a darker wash, then several dry-brushes to bring out the detail.

Possibly a little more work than I had originally anticipated, but once they’re done I’ll have five Ogri miniatures, which can also double up as ‘normal’ standing stones, for £1.50.  And I’ve still got about 90% of the original block left – perhaps I’ll use it to build a replica of Stonehenge for a rock band or something…

That’s all for this week – join me next time for some more Who-inspired goodness.

View From the Crow’s Nest: Year Two

Can it really have been two years since the very first post on this blog? Whilst, strictly speaking, tomorrow is the official two-year anniversary of this blog, what’s a couple of hours between friends, eh?

Over the last year there have been Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe, Super-Clowns and Oriental Fantasy. I’ve scratch-built buildings, hamburger carts, starships, road tiles and a rather nice pumpkin patch. I’ve published several short stories and introduced people to my own rules – Final Frontier for Star Trek-inspired space combat and Way of the Crow, an all-genre skirmish rules.

We also had the very first Forgotten Heroes event, in which fellow bloggers on three continents produced a 28mm costumed character, of which a figure has either not yet been made or the official figure was a bit pants, which was a great deal of fun.

I also attended my very first Salute, in which I had the pleasure of meeting some of my fellow bloggers face-to-face and the displeasure of trying to eat a Cornish pasty hotter than the sun with just my fingers…

I want to thank all of those who’ve visited my blog and a bigger thank you to all those who took the time to post a comment – I know from personal experience that you don’t always get the time to comment on every post on every blog you follow, so those who’ve chosen to comment on mine, many thanks.

Right, that’s the retrospective bit, so what have you got to look forward to in the next twelve months? Will you see me pandering to the needs of a wider audience, featuring the next ‘big thing’ and tailoring my content to increase the number of visitors? Will you see me ‘bigging up’ a company’s products because I’m in their pocket? Will you see me covering genres or games systems that I have no interest in just because I feel I should?

Of course you bloody won’t.

What you WILL see is; more Way of the Crow, as I finish writing up the rules so that it can be used for every genre. More AARs, as I’ve decided that I really should play with all these figures and terrain I’ve collected, otherwise what’s the point? Plus it’ll give me the chance to play-test the rules in a variety of settings. More inventive scratch-building, from the long-promised fire hydrants to inexpensive and simple trees. More Oriental Fantasy, more starships and more superheroes, as Forgotten Heroes WILL return in June 2017, so get planning!

But wait, there’s more! Final Frontier will get a 2nd Edition, as I incorporate the various suggestions and ideas I’ve had regarding it (for those of you that missed it the first time around, you can find it on this post). There will also be another set of rules published which will allow you to fight riverine engagements between armed and armoured narrowboats and barges, along with articles on how to scratch-build the craft needed for this, as the long-planned Pirates of the River Thames finally sees the light of day! There will be strange, unusual and possibly bonkers diversions (one such ‘secret project’ is currently under way as we speak…). And I’m hoping to have the pleasure of hosting some guest articles from some very good friends – so you might actually end up with something worth reading…

And there will be, of course, more Doctor Who…

In fact, here it comes now – cue the theme tune…

As I was surprised to get a little more hobby-time this week, I decided to base up some of my Games Worskshop Cybermen, along with my Black Tree Cyber Controller, reasoning that if they were based, the actual painting of them shouldn’t take that long, as they’re essentially one colour. I was right and this is the result:

So, they were initially undercoated in GW Chainmail, a pot of which is still going strong, then painted with GW Black Ink. I then drybrushed them with GW Mithril Silver, then painted in their chest panels and the ends of their Cyberguns with Docrafts Black, and the rings on their guns with GW Imperial Purple. The bases were painted Docrafts Chocolate Brown, with a wash of Burnt Ochre.

And now I have a five ‘man’ squad of Earthshock Cybermen, with a Telos Cyber Controller. I did consider altering the pose of the GW Cybermen, but felt their uniformity actually suited them better.

Now, for those of you who prefer the newer version of the Cybermen, I give you a Cybus Industries Cyberman:

This Mirco Universe figure was painted in exactly the same way as the Cybermen above, but as the standard base for these figures looks more like starship decking, I undercoated it in GW Chainmail, then washed it in Brown Ink. I think it looks like slightly oily decking, which was the look I was going for.

Finally, as I’d based the Master and he’d threatened to use his Tissue Compression Eliminator on me unless I built him a TARDIS, that’s what I did:

The Master’s TARDIS is simply a 30mm lipped base, with the plastic casing from a fluorescent light actuator glued onto it, which was then undercoated in Light Grey, painted in GW Chainmail, with a further coat of Chainmail mixed with a tiny amount of black.

As both my sons took one look at it and identified it as an uncloaked TARDIS without any prompting, this means two things; it looks like what it’s supposed to and, more importantly, I’ve brought my kids up right.

That’s all for this week – join me next time for more Who-related goodness.