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.

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15 thoughts on “Mobile Stones

  1. What an absolutely genius posting Jez, I’m just the sort of mug who would have forked out for some Ogri too!! Wonderful idea and a great end result too. As to whether “a replica of Stonehenge” would be in order – how about the megalithic stone circle at small village of Milbury – “Children of the Stones” style 🙂

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    • Thank you Simon. Part of the reason I do this is to point out that you don’t always need to buy the figures/scenery you want = sometimes you can make your own. Oooh, “Children of the Stones” = now that WAS a particularly creepy kids show. I think I’ll add ‘megalithic stone circle’ to the list of terrain tiles. I mean, we can’t just have a pumpkin patch now, can we?

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  2. Great stuff Jez, I believe the green oasis is for live flowers and the coarser grey/brown stuff is for artificial. (sad that I know this!). I always loved the Ogri myself they were really creepy in their day.

    I think I would have used straight up polystyrene (as I have lots of the stuff about) and painted it over with a mix of PVA/ water and filler, but your idea looks excellent, how did you get the watered down PVA onto the Ogri, did you paint it on or did you stand them in a “bath” of the stuff and let them soak it up? I suppose they would have taken an age to dry off this way.

    I guess a simpler (if less accurate) method would be to just use some of the pieces of “bark” ground cover mulch you can buy at garden centres, I made up a couple of standing stone circles like this…

    Cheers Roger.

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    • There were several stories from the Hinchcliffe era of Who which had a ‘gothic’ feel about them – Horror of Fang Rock, The Talons of Weng-Chiang and State of Decay – along with this one. The scene in episode three where the unfortunate campers ran afoul of the Ogri stands out as one of the more memorable scenes.
      As for the foam, the PVA was liberally applied with a big paintbrush, then left to dry overnight. As it was a 50/50 mix, whilst the foam absorbed it somewhat, it only went in approximately a couple of millimetres, so retained the surface texture, but created a ‘skin’ beneath the surface which prevented the paint from just being sucked up. At least, that’s my theory, as I chose not to dissect them to check.
      If I did it again, I’d probably use blue insulation foam or the kind of polystyrene packaging that’s more rubbery than the normal stuff you get, but as I had none too hand, i went with what I had – and I’m quite pleased with the results.

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    • Thank you very much, Michael. They were pretty simple, if slightly time-consuming. But i’m slowly filling up my ranks of classic Doctor Who monsters without having to spend very much money. And I believe i may have worked out how to make a Rutan as well, so watch this space…

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  3. I would be rather tempted to make Stanton Moor`s “Nine Maidens” (which feature in a couple of episodes of the classic 80`s show Robin of Sherwood). Standing stones might go really well if included on the odd English Civil War battlefield or two, of even as an unusual village feature in a narrative game or skirmish. Seeing your creations got me thinking… hmmmm they look really nice.

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    • Thanks Steve. As we’re blessed with several megalithic stone circles in both the UK and Ireland, they can be used for a variety of historical games. The stone circle they filmed ‘The Stones of Blood’ at was the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire and Avebury, where the village is inside the circle, is just down the road from me. I found it atmospheric and fascinating, my wife less so – who then sulked in the car whilst I went up the hill to look at the White Horse in Uffington.

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      • You live near Avebury, I`m so jealous. I could spend hours, days, weeks going back and back and back there again. I`d very much enjoy staying at that haunted Inn inside the village overlooking the stones.. As for the Uffington Horse, yes I have enjoyed that too, but would very much like to return there one day.

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  4. Yes, I shall make you nine of these Stevie, the Nine Maidens right? And you want a 17th century British style star fort, hehe, the list of things to do is mounting up (give me three weeks and you`ll have both).

    Jez, these are very well made and I think you have done it again. You have written a post that has prompted others to have a go at making similar things for their own table tops. Only, I think I shall use Papier-mâché as I find the medium works well for what I have in mind, like the (circa) 1775 colonial fort I made last year.

    As an aside, I really like the soldier in the red beret and the green coat. I could easily find a specific use for him in my game ideas.

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    • Welcome back, Hils, and thank you. I do try and show how easy it is to make good-looking stuff for the tabletop without spending too much money. Yes, you CAN buy resin monoliths, but my way is so much cheaper.
      I think Steve wants you to build him some blobby aliens too, based on my ‘Blobby Aliens’ post, so probably welcomed you back with a hug, a kiss and a list of the things he wants you to make…lol
      As for the soldier in the beret, this figure is available from Roger’s very own webstore – Wargames Supply Dump – for a very reasonable £1.50. Can be found under ‘Miscellaneous Miniatures’.

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      • yes you are not so far wrong there Jez, and pretty much in the order you mentioned, but he must have forgotten to mention the blob things :-). I`ll go take a look myself at what you wrote. And thank you, its really good to be home, phewww!!.

        Thank you for the heads up on that figure. I will check him out in a few days.

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  5. Intriguing. I too could see the stones being put to good use in other similar type things. As you have them Jez as a Doctor Who creation: I must say they are rather intimidatingly creepy. The Children of the Stones series mentioned earlier really reminds me of that (I have seen the DVD series and adored it), and must mention another of a similar ilk, the 1979 series staring John Mills ” Quatermass”

    link to it below.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quatermass-Complete-Disc-Box-Set/dp/B00008OP7B/ref=sr_1_9?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1487243730&sr=1-9&keywords=quatermass

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    • Thank you Tarot. The idea of a seemingly innocuous object, especially something as solid and static as a monolith, actually being a malevolent being just biding its time IS deliciously creepy. And your adoration for “Children of the Stones” is understandable – it was a particularly unsettling (in a good way) series. Whilst some prefer their ‘horror’ visceral, I’d rather have my spine chilled than my stomach turned.

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

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