Night Work

As Constable Rowan approached the end of Hob’s Lane and turned left into Brewer’s Walk, the warm smell of malt wafted over the wall of the Merton & Son Brewing Company and caressed his nostrils. Their Blackwell Porter was a particular favourite of Sergeant Webb’s, but the scent always reminded him of one of his first cases with the Black Museum, that of the Merton Cask Murders.

He still recalled his sense of horror as he confronted the grinning ape responsible, on the slick tiles of the brewery roof, as it gleefully stuffed another broken and mangled corpse into a barrel. If it had not been for the presence of Sir Aubrey Michaels, the renowned big-game hunter, and his elephant gun, that could have spelt the end of both Rowan’s career and his life.

Rowan turned right past the gates of the brewery onto Blackwell’s main thoroughfare and followed the Blackwell Road until he reached Victoria Circus, site of the Blackwell Police Station and current home of the Black Museum. Dodging amongst the costermonger’s carts and hansoms circling the statue of the Queen, Rowan walked up the steps to the station and stepped into the cool quiet of the interior.

Sergeant Randall was on duty that evening and as it was still early, was catching up on some paperwork before the usual parade of ne’er-do-wells starting filtering in. He nodded to Rowan as he passed through the vestibule and into the station proper, to be confronted by a wicker basket placed in the centre of the corridor, which appeared to be buzzing.

“I wouldn’t touch that, if I were you…” said a voice and Rowan turned to see Sergeant Doyle stepping out into the corridor. His usually pale features were marred by several welts scattered across his face like buckshot.

“What have you got there, Doyle?” Queried Rowan. 

“These little buggers” said Doyle, tapping the basket with his toe, which increased the angry buzzing from within, “are what’s been causing issues over at Pemberton Gardens. Someone reported a fairy ring by the bandstand and it appears that rather than docile little Faeries, it was a bloody Wysp nest. So rather than calm them down, the smoker got them all riled up and the little sods got me good and proper.” Doyle scowled at the basket, “If it had been up to me, I would’ve torched the lot of ’em.”

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Doyle gingerly picked up the basket, after ensuring the catches were fastened.

“If you’re on your way to see the Inspector,” Doyle continued, “watch yourself down by the armoury – Murray and Arkwright are testing their Galvanic Rifle and their aim’s a bit off.”

As Rowan reached the top of the stairs leading to the basement, he heard raised voices.

“There’s nothing wrong with MY design, Murray” snapped Arkwright, “it’s your ham-fistedness that’s causing the issue.”

“And absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the regulator overheating and causing the barrel to yaw?” Said Murray. “Watch…”

There came a crackling sound, a burst of actinic light and the smell of ozone – followed by the tinkling of broken glass.

“There…” said Murray, “definite yawing.”

“You may have a point,” conceded Arkwright, “hand it over and I’ll take a look.”

“Coming through, Gentlemen!” Called Rowan as he cautiously descended the stairs. As he reached the door to armoury, Murray stuck his head out, his face breaking into a grin when he saw Rowan.

“Stanley!” He crowed, “good to have you back. We heard about your encounter – fae women can be a bit of a handful, so glad to see you’re unscathed. Arkwright!” He called, “it’s Stanley.”

“m’busy” muttered Arkwright, tinkering with a long metallic object on his workbench.

“Don’t mind him,” said Murray, “he’s correcting a flaw in his design…”

It’s NOT a flaw!” Shouted Arkwright. Murray winked at Rowan and went back in to help his colleague.

Inspector Neame was busy poring over various reports when Rowan finally reached his office, looking up as Rowan gently knocked on the open door.

“Ah, Constable Rowan,” said Neame, “good to have you back on duty, especially with Moore still recovering from being stabbed.” 

“Thank you, sir, it’s good to be back.” Rowan cleared his throat, “However, I think there’s something we really need to discuss, sir…”

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Dangerous Denizens

As my birthday usually brings a bit of disposable income my way, mid-November (and Warfare in Reading) does tend to be one of the times that I splash out a bit of new stuff.

However, having checked the traders who were attending this year, it appeared that my shopping list would be rather small, as I knew roughly what direction I was going in with my purchases and most of the things I wanted were made by people who weren’t going to be there. Cue big heartfelt sighs and much pouting.

But all was not lost, as a random visit to Ironclad Miniatures‘ site in the week prior to the show revealed that they were currently in the throes of a 20% off sale. As I’d earmarked some of their figures for my ongoing Tales of the Black Museum, I placed an order, which was waiting for me once I got home from Warfare on the Saturday. And as I had managed to pick up an unexpected figure that was just perfect for this project, everything was coming together nicely.

So, let me introduce you to some new and dangerous denizens who will be venturing on to the streets of Blackwell soon.

First up, a quartet of disreputable thugs, who are in the employ of Sir Byron Carpenter…

This is ODD02 – Victorian Thugs, from their 28mm Victorian Sci-fi & Steampunk range, in which you get the four pictured miniatures for £5.50. They are all armed with hand weapons and dressed in suitable period costume. The figure on the far left looks a bit like an ex-Army officer by his dress, which would explain the sword.

Next up, two dangerous ladies that may stalk the night, but aren’t OF the night…

So, the figure on the left is CH10 – Mina Harker from Ironclad’s Victorian Sci-Fi & Steampunk Personalities range, available for £3.00. This also has the rest of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, from Nemo to Quatermain, as well as Victorian versions of Ben Grimm and Iron Man. The sword was bent quite severely when I took it out of its box and it appears I haven’t managed to straighten it out completely.

The figure on the right is Clara, Victorian Witch with Scorpion, a brand new release from Bad Squiddo Games which I picked up at Warfare for £4.00. Anyone who has watched Penny Dreadful will realise that this is a very good likeness of Vanessa Ives, even down to the scorpion she has on the palm of her hand. This is part of their My Last Sunrise range, which is described as ‘Vampire Gothic’, so an ideal range to compliment that of ‘Dracula’s America’ and probably has the best Dracula figure I’ve yet to see.

My final two denizens represent the Victorian equivalent of Twitter…

So, this two-pack is not strictly Victorian, being part of Ironclad’s small VBCW range, and is VBCW14 Telegram Rifles “communications team” available for a very reasonable £3.00. However, the uniform being worn is very similar to a Victorian police inspector, so the figure on the right will become Inspector Neame with his beloved ‘Speckled Jim’. As for the other chap, this is Sergeant Doyle, who has just visisted Cottingley and has a basket-full of fairies…

That’s all for this time, but now that I have some thugs, I feel that some kind of altercation may be brewing on the streets of Blackwell…

Not-So-Terrible Lizards

Some bloggers are painting miniatures with facial hair this month as they take part in Movember, but one blogger has consistently indulged his love of all things pre-historic with his own themed month – Dinovember – and that is Michael Awdry of 28m Victorian Warfare.

Now, I did kind of say that I’d try to take part this year, but it has become my duty to report the dastardly deeds occurring in Blackwell, I didn’t really feel I could commit to an entire month devoted to dinosauria. However, as one of Michael’s posts for this month did focus on a model I’d sent him, it did remind me that I had a box of these models awaiting whatever devious plans I had for them.

So, inspired by Michael, I thought I’d give a potted history of the range  and show you some of the models I personally own.

Back in 1974, a company called Invicta Plastics based in Leicestershire,  began a partnership with the Natural History Museum in London  to produce plastic models of pre-historic animals…and a Blue Whale, for some reason. This partnership continued for a good twenty years or so, with 23 separate creatures released from Glyptodons to Triceratops, Brontosaurus to Iguanadons. The NHM was still selling these models up until 2004, when the popularity of Walking with Dinosaur, meant that the Invicta models were no longer the ‘current’ idea of what a dinosaur’s stance should be. And because of this, when I visited in 2004, the Invicta models were all being sold at half-price – so I bought a load, with the idea that I could flog the extras on eBay. To be honest, I’d wish I’d bought a larger range, but I went for the ones I thought would be more instantly recognisable and cheaper to send through the post. Surprisingly, the Woolly Mammoths proved to be the most popular, followed by the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Now, this range was unusual for two reasons. Firstly, it the first accurate (for the time) representation of pre-historic creatures and secondly, every model produced (bar the Blue Whale mentioned earlier and the Baryonyx) were actually in scale with one another. Each creature was moulded in single colour hard plastic and had the creature’s scientific name and details of its length molded on its belly. Which led me to the discovery that, roughly speaking, the ‘scale’ of this model range was 28mm.

Unfortunately, the Natural History Museum no longer sell these models and do not have hoppers filled with unsold models tucked away in a dusty corner of their basement – I know because I’ve asked them. I also asked after the moulds, but was assured that they have been destroyed. However as these were in production for a couple of decades, there are a LOT of these models out there, so if you do want some for yourself, check eBay. However, bear in mind that some people seem to think that ‘out of production’ equals ‘really rare’ and subsequently are selling these models at outrageous prices. A good rule of thumb for judging whether the price they’re selling it for is reasonable is to ask what the equivalent size model would cost in resin, metal of plastic (like the ones produced by Schleich). If the price is higher, don’t bother, but keep your eyes peeled, as sellers do sometimes put job lots up, containing half a dozen or so models for a reasonable price.

Of course, before you buy, you’ll want to know if they’re worth the money, so here are the ones I own, pictured with one of my converted UNIT soldiers, to give you an idea of how well they scale in.

First up, a Dimetrodon, a carnivore from the Cisuralian Permian, known for its distinctive sail-like fin;

This is the smallest model I have, but one of my favourite pre-historic beasties, because I think it looks so cool. As you can see, the detailing on each model was pretty good, even on the smaller models.

Next, a Scelidosaurus, a Jurassic herbivore.

Another nice model, which I picked up because I thought it looked suitably reptilian, but without immediately screaming ‘Dinosaur’, so could have other uses.

Next up, we have a Stegosaurus, another Jurassic herbivore.

A pretty distinctive outline on this one, although modern interpretation of fossil records suggest that it held its head and tail more horizontal.

Another favourite of mine, the Tricertaops, a herbivore of the Cretaceous period:

This model, as you can see, is ridiculously well-detailed and will be a joy to paint.

Next, a Megalosaurus, a carnivore from the Jurassic era.

And finally, the big kahuna himself, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, a carnivore from the Cretaceous period.

As you can see, he’s a pretty substantial model, towering over my UNIT soldier.

And here’s the whole gang:

So, a nicely detailed range of accurate dinosaur models, that are a perfect scale for 28mm figures, and that were relatively inexpensive to buy for the size of the model.

Whilst the pictures do give you some idea of the detail, various people have taken the time and effort to paint these models and do them justice, so follow the links to the Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Megalosaurus to see what these models CAN look like.

For mine, I’m kind of leaning towards initially using them as museum displays, but basing them so they can come off their plinths when brought to life by whatever Maguffin I come up with. That’s the wonderful thing about dinosaurs, they can be used anywhere.

Until next time.

Turning Heads

Whilst Constable Rowan had not been attached to the Black Museum for very long, he had already faced some particularly challenging encounters; the Black Pig of Awdry Gardens, the Merton Cask Murders and, although he wished he could forget it, the Strange Case of the Vicious Match Girl. However, none of these had prepared him for his most difficult challenge to date…

Ayesha is NOT wearing THAT!

Stanley flinched as the words echoed around inside his skull. Ayesha sat perched on the side of his bed, disgust evident on her elfin features, as she gazed contemptuously at the dress he was holding up for her inspection. He had been assured by his sister Molly that this garment did represent what demure ladies about town were wearing this season, but Ayesha had taken offence at his suggestion that perhaps she should show a little less exposed skin before appearing in public. And he had not even broached the subject of the veil yet…

“I know it’s not what you would normally wear, given the choice,” said Stanley, “but you do kind of draw the eye and this will help you blend in a bit better. It’s for your own protection and you did ask me to protect you…”

Ayesha scowled at Stanley, then her features relaxed somewhat, although her pout still remained. She sighed.

Stanley is correct…but Ayesha does not have to like it.

“Look,” continued Stanley, shrugging into his jacket, “I have to go to work now, so you don’t have to make a decision immediately. At least try it on and if you don’t like it, I’ll try to come up with an alternative idea.”

He buttoned up his jacket, attached his whistle to the front and hung his truncheon from his belt. Casting about, he retrieved his helmet from where it had rolled under the bed and brushed dust from it, before tucking it under his arm.

“And please stay away from the window – we don’t want to alert those who are searching for you to your whereabouts.”

Ayesha regarded him through her lashes, before turning her head coquettishly on one side.

Will Stanley bring Ayesha some dates?

Stanley sighed, “Yes, Stanley will bring you some dates.”

Then Ayesha will not watch Stanley through the glass…this time. 

Stanley stepped out in to Hob’s Lane, closing and locking the door behind him. He saw the curtain twitch out of the corner of his eye and frowned pensively. He really should inform Inspector Neame of the situation, but was worried what would happen to Ayesha is he did. She had been a prisoner once before, of the mysterious ‘fat man’ she had mentioned, and Stanley did not want her to suffer the same fate again, even if it was at the hands of the forces of law and order. Preoccupied with his thoughts, he did not notice that Ayesha was surreptitiously watching him from the window, as he strode off into the deepening twilight.

However, not all eyes were turned inwards and the one good eye of the disreputable-looking man lurking in the mouth of a shadowed alley across the street noted Ayesha’s presence. He grinned around his pipe. Word on the street was that a certain party was prepared to pay handsomely for the location of a young woman with blue skin. And now it appeared that he, Henry Jackson Esq. of this borough, was about to become rather wealthy as a result. 

Jackson peered at the house across the street and noted its number. The fact that the house was occupied by a peeler was not his problem, but it would probably be best to mention it when he received his reward. He was about to step out into the street, when he felt the cold touch of metal at the base of his skull.

Not so fast, friend,” said a voice from behind him, “You look like a smart guy, so you know I’ve got my gun on you. So, let’s keep this nice and easy.”

Jackson froze. He had kept his head down, not crossed any of the local gangs and restricted his thievery to rolling drunks or lifting the occasional purse from unsuspecting pedestrians, so why was he being threatened in this way? Especially by what sounded like an American.

“What d’ya want?” spat Jackson, “Ain’t got no coin…”

“Well then, today’s your lucky day, friend,” drawled the American. This was followed by the sound of several coins falling to the ground at Jackson’s feet. He involuntarily glanced down, momentarily forgetting the threat of violence and saw a good handful of large silver coins lying amidst the detritus of the alley. He then noted the gun was gone from his neck. Looking back, he saw the American holstering his gun and nodding to the coins.

“Help yourself, friend,” he said.

Avarice warred with Jackson’s sense of self-preservation, but greed won out and he scrabbled for the coins, gathering them all up. Holding one up to the light, he examined it more closely – it appeared to be a silver dollar, but something was not quite right about it. Flipping the coin, he noticed that it had two heads…in fact ALL the coins had two faces.

“Hey Mister, these coins ain’t right,” said Jackson, “they’ve got too many heads.”

“Ain’t no such thing as TOO many heads,” said Jefferson Lake, and swung the axe.

 

Relight My Fire

Regular visitors to the Buffet will have noted that there have not been any recent posts. The reason for this is that I’ve been busy enjoying myself, so haven’t had much time to indulge myself hobby-wise.

The previous weekend I was in Dublin, to celebrate my birthday, doing the whole tourist thing and I may have had one or two pints of Guinness…

Last weekend I took my daughter to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour as a reward for doing well in her GCSE’s, and I may have had one or two glasses of Butterbeer…

There seems to be a pattern forming here…

In between these trips, there was a trip to the theatre, a new position at work to get used to and work on my entry for the Death Match competition being run by The Game Cupboard. So, not a lot of time for personal hobby stuff…

Having finally managed to secure an evening to dedicate to gaming, I was a little unsure how best to utilise my time. However, constant nagging from Stevie and Hils of ‘The Game Cupboard’ did point the way, so out came my painting station and the subject of this post, namely this:

This is the Aztec Fire Demon produced by Wargames Terrain Workshop, run by the very nice and talented Dave Stone. This particular model was a very generous  birthday gift, along with a beautifully painted Pitilliad, a set of Death Match dice and a female DM gladiator, from all at The Game Cupboard. There were squeals of delight when I opened this unexpected gift and whilst I have privately thanked everyone, I do want to publicly thank them all here as well. I have the best friends. 😁

Now, I haven’t previously painted a resin figure, as up until recently, all my miniatures were either plastic or metal. And this particularly figure is also partially translucent, so would require careful work to ensure that I didn’t paint over the bits I wanted to stay translucent.

The usual procedure in these cases would be to study tutorials, to work out the best way to do this. Or, you could just go for it and hope for the best. Guess which option I went for…lol

The first issue I had was that due to the colour of the resin, the actual detail of where the bones end and the flames begin is a little difficult to make out under artificial light. This isn’t a criticism of the model, just an observation. As my eyes are a bit crap anyway and I require glasses for close-up work, this was also a contributing factor.

So, having block-painted the skirt front and back, I then proceeded to gently dry-brush the exposed bones in Docrafts Linen. These were then given a wash of Docrafts Burnt Ochre, which gave a nice aged bone look and also highlighted the bits I’d missed with my intial dry-brushing. A second touching up and wash covered the bits I’d missed the first time.

I then gave the skirt a wash of GW Woodland Green and painted the feather head-dress with GW Enchanted Blue. The headband and necklace were painted Docrafts Bronze, then given a wash of Burnt Ochre. Moving back to the skirt, I painted the border Docrafts Cherry Red and the sun decoration GW Sunburst Yellow, then gave the whole thing a wash of dark grey, to dirty it up and enhance the detail.

Moving on to the spiked club, the points were painted the same as the bones, with the exposed front of the club being painted black. The feathers of the head-dress were then given a coat of GW Blue ink, to give them a bit of a sheen. It was then time to move on to the flames…

I first mixed some GW Blood Red with some Docrafts Bronze, to get a sparkly reddy-orange wash, which was liberally applied to all the flames. This was followed by a thin wash of Pumpkin Orange, then a few touches of Sunburst Yellow, especially where the orange was too fierce. 

To finish off, the base was painted with several coats of Mid Grey, until I was happy with the coverage. 

The end result was this:

I’m pretty happy with how it’s come out, as it kind of looks like I wanted it to.

Just to give you a sense of scale, here is the Demon menacing the unfortunate Miss Timms:

A nice model that was fun to paint. Who could ask for more?

Next time…who knows?