“I Love This Town!”

I must first apologise both to regular visitors to this blog for the lack of content over the last couple of weeks and to those whose blogs I follow for not posting any comments. I do have a valid reason though – I was out of the country from New Year’s Eve until last Thursday, so wasn’t really doing anything gaming-wise and didn’t have reliable cost-effective Internet access.

So, where have I been? Well, if the quote above was a little obscure for you, I think the following picture may give it away…

That’s right, boys and girls, the Crow spread his wings and flew (with a little help from British Airways) across the Atlantic and arrived in New York City in time to potentially join the thronging masses assembled in Times Square to watch the ball drop. However, we wisely decided that rather than attempting to breach the barriers set up by the NYPD to limit the revellers on the streets (they DO carry guns after all), we’d watch it on the TV in the hotel room instead. And, comparing the fireworks and general spectacle of New Year’s Eve in London, I was somewhat under-whelmed.

That aside, the Big Apple did not disappoint. As we were only there for three days, we weren’t able to do everything we wanted and some things took longer than we anticipated – I’d say we probably did about two-thirds of the things on our combined “to-do” list.

But I have been up both the Empire State Building by day, from which  managed to take this photo of a rather iconic NY landmark….

and the Rockefeller Centre by night, visited both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, wandered about Grand Central Station, ridden the subway, walked partway across the Brooklyn Bridge, visited the 9/11 monument and museum and eaten a grilled cheese sandwich in Central Park whilst watching members of my family ice-skate. I also watched members of family skate at the base of the Rockefeller Centre and Bryant Park – not that I can’t skate myself, I’m just not as confident as the others and all the rinks were rather busy. I’ve eaten both pretzels and hot dogs purchased from hot dog stands, slices of $1 ‘pie’ and numerous almond croissants – which seemed to be my go-to breakfast whilst in New York.

I took a huge number of photos, of which I’m not going to bore you with, as these were ‘holiday’ photos, rather than reference photos…except for a couple.

This being the first;

Apparently, fire hydrants in NYC are black and silver, rather than red or yellow, as I had assumed. Now I know, any future hydrant builds will be this colour if destined for New York.

The second photo I didn’t take – because I’m IN it! I actually promised myself that if I ever did visit New York, there were two things I was definitely going to do. This was the first;

Yeah, baby! Who you gonna call?

That’s right, ladies and gents, that’s me, on the streets of NYC, specifically outside 14 N. Moore Street, the location of Hook & Ladder No.8, which any die-hard GB fan will know was used for the exterior shots of Ghostbusters firehouse. As you can see, it is still a functioning FDNY firehouse, but does bear the Ghostbusters logo on both a banner and the sidewalks. As you can probably tell from the photo, I was quite happy to be there, and was grinning from ear-to-ear for a good hour or so afterwards. Just so many levels of awesomeness…

The other thing I’d promised myself was that I would find and purchase a die-cast American school bus to use in both my Ghostbusters and Supers games set in the U.S. The reason for this was that previous searches for American school buses online suggested that I would be paying through the nose for someting I wasn’t entirely sure of the scale of, dispacthed from America. Obviously, nowadays you can pretty much buy anything from anywhere for a reasonable price, but my quick search after I got back only turned up one potential model at 1:55 scale that would set me back around £20.00 including postage. However, after dropping $19.37 (which is about £15.00), I ended up with the following;

Okay, so it’s New York specific, but it does fit my needs admirably and was exactly what I was looking for. The next picture gives a better idea of scale – it’s not exact, probably about 1:50-ish, but close enough that I’m not bothered;

After my three days in New York, I got on board a boat and cruised back across the Atlantic – which involved no gaming whatsoever, but lots of eating and dressing up in tuxedos for formal dinners. Unfortunately, me in a tux looks like either Johnny English or Statler from The Muppet Show, so you won’t be seeing any pictures of THAT…

An lovely start to the New Year, courtesy of some very generous relatives.

I will be catching up on all the posts I missed during my digital exile, so expect to see a few comments popping up in the next few days.

Happy New Year to you all and join me next time, as we see exactly what’s on the menu at the Buffet during 2019.

Jez

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“Everyone Can Relax, I Found the Car…”

Whilst I know it’s been almost a month since my last post, I do have a valid reason. The agency that sourced the contract that I was supposed to have started on 26th November telephoned me a WEEK before it was due to start, to inform me that it had been cancelled. This caused consternation in the House of Crows and much scrambling about to ensure that I actually had some kind of employment in the lead up to Christmas.

I DID manage to secure another contract, but am commuting via car to Aylesbury every day, rather than by train to London. Not ideal, but better than no work at all.

However, once this was secured and I had completed the first week on site, I felt I could relax slightly and take a look at what models/projects I had outstanding and what would be the best thing to progress with.

As Doctor Who has been on my mind of late, both because of Simon’s showcase of those Black Tree and Warlord models he’s been painting over on his Fantorical blog AND the adventures of the latest incarnation of the Doctor have been airing here in the UK (for more on my considered opinion on this series, you can read my views on my Corvuscope blog – however, those of a delicate sensibility may wish to avoid this, as there is a little bit of swearing – which I refuse to apologise for), I did consider completing some of my half-finished DW figures.

But then I changed my mind and decided to make a start on a couple of resin models very kindly gifted to me by Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop.

Whilst I’d been sitting on these for a while and had already earmarked one of the models for a particular project, I realised that another piece, when painted appropriately, could also be used for the same project.

And that project was my ongoing Ghostbusters project – and the two pieces are the Digestion Pool and the Post-Apocalyptic Falcon. Both of these were treated to an undercoat of matt black spray, left over from when I helped build my daughter’s theatre set (see Theatre Studies), like so;

As I’d decided that the Digestion Pool was going to be re-purposed as a terrain feature from the Ghost World, accompanying my Soul Takers (see here for details), there was only one colour the contents could be…pink.

As in psychomagnotheric slime (i.e. “mood slime”), not Angel Delight. As I’d not managed to get to the Range and pick up some pearlescent pink paint, I opted for giving the pool part of the model a coat of GW Mithril Silver, followed by a couple of coats of GW Imperial Purple…which is actually pink. Worked out pretty well, as you can see from the picture below:

That’s how far I have got with the simplest of the two models, as the other one took a bit more time and several coats of paint until I got it to a point where I was happy to leave it.

So the Post-Apocalyptic Falcon is going to become the transport for my Vin Disesel inspired Ghostbuster, as he needed a beefier car than the 1950’s style ambulance I used for my Ghostbusters main transport. Which meant it had to be white – ideally gloss white. As my previous Plastikote Gloss White had set hard, due to an imperfect seal, I had replaced it with some Tamiya Gloss White. The only problem with this is that it’s not particularly thick and as my matt white had run out, I had to do several coats to get it to a stage where it started to actually look white. rather than dirty grey.

If you look at the windows of the car, you’ll see what it originally looked like after one coat. Still needs at least one more coat, but at least it’s glossy white now. The under carriage, wheel interiors, fenders and engine were all given a coat of GW Chainmail and the rear tanks were given a coat of what Docrafts like to call Dark Grey. which is actually a fairly light grey. The idea is that these tanks will end up yellow, with hazard symbols on. I’ll have to check my Haynes Ectomobile Owners’s Manual (yes, such a thing does exist – and covers all three versions of the Ectomobile, including the wrong one) to decide what they actually contain.

So, it may not look like I’ve progressed very far, but it’s certainly more hobby-stuff than I’ve done over the last couple of months, so it’s better than nowt.

Join me next time for further progress on this project.

A Visit to the Workshop

As previously mentioned, I will be attending Salute again this year, but will be doing so on the other side of the fence, as I will be assisting Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop on his stand. So, I felt that I really should meet Dave in the flesh prior to April and therefore arranged to visit him in Gloucester last weekend.

Dave was a very welcoming host, plied me with copious amounts of coffee and treated me to a very interesting insight into the creative process behind the models he creates for WTW. We also managed to get a game of Death Match in, in which my Revilli Gladiator managed to slay her Ceratid opponent, TWO of the released beasts, then got pounded into the dirt by a Horned Hominid. If you haven’t had a chance to play this game yet at a show, make sure you visit the stand at Salute, where we will be running demonstration games for most of the day.

When I left, I was presented with a few items to take away with me. Some I was expecting, as these were prizes from the Death Match competitions run on The Game Cupboard last year, but Dave had very kindly added some extra items – namely a few bits that I’d enthused about when he’d shown them off on TGC.

Now, as a beneficiary of Dave’s generosity, I thought I’d take the opportunity to show some of the items Wargames Terrain Workshop does or will be releasing in the future, but with a standard 28mm miniature in the pictures, to give you some idea of scale. As the majority of the time, we gamers buy online, its always good to know exactly how big some of these models actually are…

First up, one of my competition prizes, the Creminisci;

This aquatic race was designed by Tarot Hunt for the Death Match universe, and are a race of fish-like mystics, who can harness their mental power to produce a variety of effects. As the DM range is nominally 32mm scale for standard humanoid races, you can see that the Creminisci are roughly the same scale as a DM Human, but are larger than the 28mm figure in the picture.

I asked for mine to be cast in translucent blue resin – because I’m an awkward bugger – but I believe the general release figures will be in opaque grey resin.

Next up, my winning contribution to the Death Match universe, the Nisari;

The Nisari are a sect that believes that ‘The Games’ are an abomination and have dosed their most fanatical warriors with a potion that increases their effectiveness as warriors, but also burns them up from the inside, hence the bloodstained bandages.

As you can see from the picture, the Nisari tower over a normal 28mm figure and are still pretty big in comparison to a standard DM human. But they are supposed to be, as they are Traventians, who are bigger than the humans in the game. The two figures shown are the Nisari male and the Nisari Priestess, currently milking a Dust Viper for its venom. The Nisari female comes with separate arms and as I’ve not attached these yet, I decided not to show her.

Now, as you may not be a Death Match player, you might be thinking why would I buy these models? The Creminisci would quite easily fit into any fantasy or sci-fi game of your choice. As for the Nisari…could you imagine Conan facing this in the wastes of Stygia? Or your Pulp Alley league being menaced by this because they opened the wrong tomb? Or maybe your Tomb Kings army needs a giant freaking insane mummy, because…well, who doesn’t?

Now, these aren’t on general release yet, but I’m sure Dave will let everyone know when they will be available.

Next up, the Venucian Man Eating Plant, which has been released;

The figure in the picture is one of my Victorian thugs from Ironclad Miniatures, which gives a good indication of the size of this terrain piece. Three open ‘traps’ and one currently digesting an unfortunate victim. If you play Congo, Pulp Alley or, to be frank, ANY game that ventures into the jungle, be it terrestrial or off-world, get this piece. It’s well-detailed, versatile and only £6.00.

Next, a model that came about from a conversation I had with Dave about monstrous pigs…the Grice;

I had mentioned in my ongoing Tales of the Black Museum a previous case featuring the ‘Black Pig of Awdry Gardens’. Now, I quite fancied having a model to represent this, and mentioned to Dave that I had not yet found something suitable. He queried what sort of beast I was after and after much to-ing and fro-ing, he’d got a good idea of what I was after. Thus was born the Grice. The name is actually that of an extinct Iron Age pig that was common in Scotland, but as this beast was supposed to represent a monstrous swine, either demonic or primeval, artistic licence was employed. The Grice is now an official part of the Death Match universe, but can be used wherever you need a bloody great porker. Available now for a very reasonable £7.00.

Next up, the Digestion Pool;

Designed for the Exuvium race in Death Match, which they use to break down the bodies of the animals they catch into a delicious and nutritious soup, this terrain piece has so many other uses. It’s reminiscent of the architecture in the Alien movies, but what the fluid bubbling away in it is, is entirely up to you and your paints to decide. As you can see from the picture, this is currently being scanned by one of my Ghostbusters, so it may contain psycho-reactive ectoplasm of ‘mood slime’. A nice solid bit of terrain for £5.00.

Finally, a lovely surprise for me – the Falcon Interceptor. Now, this is actually a “off-cast” (not sure if that’s the correct term). Basically, this was a model that Dave couldn’t sell, as it was mis-cast. You can’t see it from the picture, but there are a few cavities on the underside that will require filling. I’d commented that it would make an ideal alternative mode of transport for my Vin Diesel inspired Ghostbuster, especially with the tanks at the rear, but would need a light bar for the roof. Dave was already in the process of creating one of these for a new futuristic car, so Vin-Buster is now the proud owner of his very own Ecto-V8;

“It’s got, like, a cup-holder and…everything.”

He looks pretty pleased with it and it’s going to look awesome once painted in the appropriate livery.

Hopefully this post has given you an idea of how these particular items scale up against standard 28mm figures and maybe added a few items to your online or Salute shopping list.

Next time, we will definitely be back in Blackwell…

“Who Ya Gonna Call?”

The answer, of course, is…

GHOSTBUSTERS!

Given my previous postings on my ongoing Ghostbusters Project, which started back on 4th December 2015 and ran until 27th February 2016, you may be forgiven for thinking that I’d decided to drop all things Oriental and return to it. However, this is not the case.

On 15th July 2016, the ‘reboot’ of the Ghostbusters franchise was released upon the viewing public of the UK. Even though I don’t often venture to the cinema, as I find the prices extortionate, I had vowed that I would see this film. And last Friday, I did.

Whilst I had been aware of the controversy surrounding the ‘reboot’, from the casting of an all-female crew of Ghostbusters to the choice of director, AND I could honestly say that the original 1984 film is my favourite film of all time, having given it some considered thought, I put myself in the box marked “cautiously optimistic”.

As the release date got nearer, the trailers and images seemed to support the fact that the makers were striving to ensure that the fans of the original were going to be well-served by the new movie. Even the new logo was just a slight tweaking of the original:

As people who followed my posts during the Ghostbusters Project on here will know, I have very strong views on what does and doesn’t constitute “Ghostbusters”. Just because something has the official logo on it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it IS Ghostbusters. And the reverse can also be true, as I discussed in my “Beyond Ghostbusters” series of posts, which suggested addition non-canon entries into what I dubbed the “Expanded Ghostbusters Universe”, the first of which can be read here.

So, being an opinionated and self-confessed ‘expert’, IS the new movie ‘Ghostbusters’?

To sum it up in a nutshell, Yes.

 

 

It’s not perfect – the plot will seem very familiar to those who’ve seen either of the first two movies and it does represent a ‘reboot’, rather than a continuation of the film series. However, having said that, it manages to match the original’s balance between the supernatural elements and the comedy without swinging too far either way.  And it IS funny – I wasn’t the only one in the cinema laughing out loud,

There are several new additions to the Ghostbusting arsenal, all provided by McKinnon’s Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, and the way these are introduced and tested will remind many role-players of trips to R&D in Paranoia.

The ‘ghosts’ are wonderfully realised and come in a variety of shapes and sizes (including a couple of very familiar faces), and whilst comical looking for the most part, there are a couple of pretty creepy moments. The ‘big bad’ is particularly well-done, being both cartoonish and nightmarish at the same time.

So, it may not be the ‘Ghostbusters III’ that die-hard fans were clamouring for (which was actually covered off by 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game, featuring a script partially written by Ackroyd and Ramis and the vocal talents of all the original cast), but is does represent the ‘Ghostbusters’ for a new generation.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the original. As soon as it’s released on DVD, it will be joining Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Freddy vs Ghostbusters and the Return of the Ghostbusters on my shelf – more details regarding these rather good fan-films can be found by clicking the links.

Not-So-Grand Designs

The problem with celebrities is that you think you know them, due to having been exposed to them via television, magazines, etc.

Take Kevin McCloud, for example, the host of Grand Designs on Channel 4…

Comes across as an enthusiastic and passionate advocate of architecture and all-round nice chap, right? However, should you suggest that there might be room for another television show following the same format as Grand Designs, but concentrating on those of us in the hobby who scratch-build buildings for our games, possibly called “Grand Designs…in Miniature” and maybe hosted by everyone’s favourite Eagle Muppet lookalike, well, then you might get a different view of him.

Especially when he pulls a katana out of God-knows-where and launches himself across the table at you, whilst screaming “There can be only one!”in a French accent…

So, in the absence of my own Channel 4 television series, for the month of May I shall be concentrating on buildings for wargames, specifically scratch-built ones. And attempting to ‘complete’ some half-finished ones that have been gathering dust – literally in some cases.

So, as the majority of my gaming takes place in an urban environment, I need some-where to ‘place’ my buildings and currently I use this:

image

This is a Mars Attacks Deluxe Gaming Mat, which used to be available from Mantic Games for a very reasonable £14.99. Strangely, whilst you can search for it and find it on their website, when you try and view it you get an error message, so perhaps they no longer want your money…

It’s 2′ square and has 3″ squares for the Mars Attack game, but these are so faint that they can be ignored. It’s a thin pre-printed cloth mat with rubber backing – so essentially a giant mouse mat. The detailing is very nice, although the roads are a little narrow for 1/43 scale vehicles, but if you’re primarily using it for skirmish gaming, this isn’t an issue. And for what you get, it’s very reasonable. I think I only paid half retail including shipping, which was a bargain.

However, I personally have two issues with it, 1. It would appear Mantic no longer sell it and 2. as my primary playing are has change from a 3′ x 4 1/2′ oblong table to a circular 3′-ish table, it’s no longer really suitable except for very small games.

So, I intend to replace it, when funds allow, with one of these:

Urban District 3'x3'

This is the Urban District 3′ x 3′ gaming mat from Urbanmatz. This will set me back 35 Euros, but is a rubber-backed cloth-topped gaming mat, similar to my Mars Attacks one, and comes with its own carrying bag. And the image above is of the 3′ square one – they do bigger sizes for those with greater table space. Follow the link above to see a gallery of the may being used for the Batman Miniature Games, which was one of the reasons I decided on it.

Digression over- bring on the buildings…

The first building I intend on completing is this one;

image

This is my kura, from Oriental Fantasy month back in August last year. As I ran out of time, I failed to provide a scenic base and door, which means that as storehouses go, it’s not particularly secure. So, that’s the first building.

Next up is my converted firehouse, which is intended to be the headquarters of my Ghostbusters;

image

Whilst I know this isn’t strictly scratch-built, it has been modified and still needs finishing, so it’s been added to the list.

Next is a building that has been used as a backdrop in a variety of my previous photos – the Bank;

image

One of the first buildings I ever made, it’s a sealed unit on its own base. Lsts of nice fancy detailing, but I made the mistake of painting it a very dark brown and it needs a face-lift.

Finally, what will eventually become a fast-food restaurant, which may look a little familiar…

image

I think the previous owner may have run it as a bar…

So, four weeks – four buildings. Let’s see how well I do…

“We Came, We Saw, We Kicked Its Ass!”

And with one of the most famous quotes from Ghostbusters, I am announcing a brief hiatus from my Ghostbusters Project, as next month sees the return of the popular Buffet feature – He- Month – which, based on the month it is occurring in, just had to be called “March-sters of the Universe.” Luckily, the quality of the figures far outweighs what passes for ‘humour’ round here…

So, as this was quite an ambitious project, which did go off on tangent here and there along the way, what have I to show for all my ‘hard’ work? Let’s have a look…

Firstly, my plan was to convert the Plasticville Fire Station into my Ghostbusters HQ, which started off looking like this:

Firehouse

And now looks like this:

Firehouse6

Not completely operational, as we need to give the interior and exterior walls, doors and windows another coat of paint, finish the detailing on the containment grid and other equipment and obviously put some signage up.

Then we had their mode of transport, which started off as a Lledo Ambulance:

Ambulance

and now looks like this:

Ecto1

It still requires one more coat of white before I’m entirely happy with it and the roof-top equipment needs some final detailing, but other than that, it’s almost done. But what of the logos, I hear you ask? Well, my freehand painting skills are not precise enough to replicate the Ghostbusters symbol, so I’m going to cheat…

I found a Canadian company called FX Miniatures, who produce replica decals as both waterslide transfers and vinyl stickers, in a variety of scales, running from 1/87 to 1/10. They seem to mainly concentrate on police decals, but do have a selection of ‘Movie & TV’ stickers, including decals to transform the vehicle of your choice into a Mystery Machine, Love Bug or General Lee. And an Ectomobile, of course. So, I shall be purchasing some to not only decorate my Ectomobile, but also the Ghostbusters HQ as well – probably in 1/64, as I reckon this will be the right size.

As for the Ghostbusters themselves, they started off like this:

Ghostbusters1

And currently look like this:

Ghostbusters5

As these figures are quite detailed, I didn’t want to rush them, so they’re not quite finished yet. As you’ve probably noted, Vin’buster currently has different coloured boots, as I’m currently in two minds as to how best to do them. My female scientist’s scarf will (hopefully) end up tartan, but so far all I’ve done is the base colour…

During the project, we were also introduced to the Soul Takers…

Soultakers3

…who have added a further monstrosity to their number. The figure in the centre is an D&D Miniatures Cerebrilith from the Night Below set. I originally bought this to bolster my Marro forces in Heroscape, as someone had produced a custom card for this figure, but as I’d already re-purposed my Marro Warriors as Soul Takers, I decided to repaint the Cerebrilith in the same colours. Not quite finished, but I think it makes a good addition to their forces, as it has a similar look. The figure is available from Troll and Toad for a very reasonable $3.49.

Finally, I did promise a look at my ghostly horde – so far, that is – so here they are:

Ghosts2

As you can see, there are now quite a few, including my home-made Ithaqua the Wind-Walker, details of which can be found here. And this only includes the ‘ghosts’, as we still have were-creatures, mummies, vampires and some more pumpkin-headed monstrosities to come – although these may make an appearance when Enigma Investigations revisits the Buffet (details of their last visit can be found here).

So, the Ghostbusters Project is officially on hold, but it will return, as I need to finish the HQ, Ectomobile and Ghostbusters off. And I will no doubt have thought up some other cool stuff by the time it returns – which will hopefully not involve me jamming sweets onto plastic stands this time…

As noted above, March sees the return of He-Month, where Roger Webb over at Rantings from Under the Wargames Table and myself here will be re-creating characters from the Masters of the Universe franchise in 28mm, with varying degrees of success.

As a final tease, these are the figures I am planning on converting…

Masters3

However, you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out who they will (hopefully) end up as – feel free to guess away in the meantime.

Comments and feedback appreciated.

 

“More Sightings Are Reported…”

Due to parental responsibilities this week, I haven’t had any ‘hobby-time’. However, as last week was very productive, I do have some ‘banked’ figures, which I decided not to post last week, as my last post was rather lengthy.

I still haven’t completed my Ghostbusters, but I have managed to increase the number of ghosts haunting the city, so once they are completed, they will be rather busy…

Having thought myself rather cunning, I have finished off some Nurglings to use as ‘ghosts’, only to find that great minds think alike and Simon over on Fantorical had also posted some painted Nurglings! However, Simon’s appear to be the one-piece plastic ‘stack’ of Nurglings, whereas mine are the individual metal miniatures, from when they were first released.

Nurglings

I based them individually, with a minor conversion on the one with the outstretched arms to make a more ghostly ghost, by adding a Milliput tail, which you can’t actually see in the photo above, because I took it from the wrong angle. D’oh! The converted one was painted GW Sunburst Yellow, then given a coat of GW Brown Ink, so actually looks like he’s made of brass, which looks quite cool, but also doesn’t show up in the photo. Brilliant start, Jez…

Next we have some re-based Heroclix  and a repainted Ral Partha zombie from the Ravenloft line, all re-purposed for Ghostbusters;

Ghosts

We have, from left to right, the DC Heroclix Orange Lantern Construct, DC Heroclix Fire, Marvel Heroclix Living Lightning and the Ral Partha zombie.  Yay, more transparent ghosts!

Finally, I’ve managed to finish (almost) my repainted Marro Warriors from the Heroscape games as the Ghost World’s equivalent of the Ghostbusters, the Soul Takers. When we last saw them, they looked like this:

Soultakers1

And now they look like this:

Soultakers2

The reason I say they’re ‘almost’ finished, is that when I was dry-brushing them I noticed that I’d failed to repaint the figure on the far left’s left hand – it was still green! So I had to repaint it red and have yet to finish the dry-brushing on this.

A relative straightforward paint job on these – bodies were undercoated in GW Red Gore, with the ‘guns’ being painted with Docrafts Linen. The figures were then dry-brushed in their entirety with the same colour, giving that exposed bone look. The guns were then washed in GW Spearstaff Brown, which makes them look slightly pink and bony-looking. The globes on the guns were then painted with GW Mithril Silver, followed by a coat of GW Purple Ink, which was also used to colour the eyes.

The Soul Hound (a Grenadier Hound of Tindalos, now re-named as a Bloodsniffer of Chaos by Mirliton), received the same treatment, but his tongue was given a thin coat of GW Imperial Purple, which is actually a dark pink.

And there we have a particularly unpleasant band of undead and/or ghostly warriors to plague the Ghostbusters, or anyone else I feel like…

Join me back here next week, where I will hopefully have finished my Ghostbusters, as the number of ghosts seems to be increasing in both size and number.

You know who to call…

“Something Lonely and Untamed, Wild and of Abominable Power…”

Due to various factors, details of which I won’t bore you with, my last post was over a week ago, so things have been a little quiet here at the buffet. However, as today is the first anniversary of my blog, I couldn’t not post today.

And what a year it has been – we’ve had superheroes, Frostgrave, Oriental fantasy, dinosaurs in smoking jackets, the unstoppable juggernaut that this the Ghostbusters Project and not one, but two visits to Eternia! During this period, I have enjoyed the support, feedback and comments from my fellow bloggers, which has made this first year a pleasurable experience, so here’s to Year 2!

So, what have a planned for the next 11 months (we’ll take it up to December, this time)?

More Ghostbusters, obviously, as the monster I have unleashed shows no sign of slowing down or stopping. However, as a sorbet, during March we will see the return of He-Month, or March-sters of the Universe as He-Month 3 is currently being known. Once more both Roger Webb over at Rantings from Under the Wargames Table and myself will be recreating the heroes and villains of our youth in 28mm, with varying degrees of success. For my first foray into Eternia, go here and for He-Month 2, go here.

The reason I’m announcing it so soon is to give others a chance to join in. The ‘rules’, such as they are, are simple. You pledge at the beginning of March the number of Masters of the Universe characters you intend to create during the month, then post regular updates throughout the month. Both Roger and I include links to each others sites during this period, and should anyone else want to join in, we’ll do the same for you.

Now on to other “things”…

The above quotation is taken from the Algernon Blackwood story The Wendigo, written in 1910. This particular tale first saw publication in the collection The Lost Valley and Other Stories, but remains one of his most published tales. It features a possible encounter with the titular creature in the backwoods of Canada, and was the inspiration for the creature known as Ithaqua the Windwalker in the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s very atmospheric and very creepy, so well worth a read.

Anyway, as the Cthulhu Mythos has spawned numerous fiction, role-playing games and miniatures over the years, it was fairly certain that it would also spawn board-games, the most recent of which is Cthulhu Wars.

An expansion pack for this game is the Windwalker Expansion, which has a figure representing Ithaqua the Windwalker, cast in one-piece plastic. It’s a really nice figure and a unique interpretation of the creature, depicting a swirling ghostly entity with clawed hands. However, the Windwalker Expansion has a recommended retail price of $59.00 and whilst you do get a bunch of other figures, this was a little out of my price range.

However, Fenris Games here in the UK do Cthulhu Wars singles, cast in resin, including Ithaqua. Here he is:

FGCW26 - Ithaqua the Windwalker

However, whilst it may be 110mm tall, it’s still £28.00, which, whilst getting closer to my price range, is still a bit steep.

But I wants it, my precious…

So, weighing my desire against my limited gaming budget, and wanting a big-ass ghost for my Ghostbusters to fight, I decided to make my own…

So, for a large figure, you need an armature and I decided to use these:

Pipe Cleaners

That’s right, Dr. Plumb’s finest pipe cleaners. Who Dr. Plumb is, I have no idea. I bought this pack around ten years ago for a couple of quid, as uncoloured pipe cleaners are a lot cheaper than the coloured ones you get in craft shops.

There are two ways of using them – the first is to cut a suitable length and glue to a figure, then paint. This creates shaggy hair, as the paint colours the fibres, but does not clot them together. I’ve used this technique to give hair to my Oni and Oriental Dragon conversions, the results of which can be seen here.

The other use is to twist the pipe cleaners together into the shape you want, then paint the whole thing with watered down PVA glue, which glue the fibres together and gives you a lumpy texture, like a Twiglet. I’ve used this technique to make tree armatures, which is a cheaper alternative to buying them from Woodland Scenics.

So, the first thing to do was create my armature and a number of pipe cleaners were twisted together, to create the ‘body’ and ‘arms’ of my ghostly Windwalker. I tried to go for a swirling shape, to give a sense of movement and that it was a manifestation of the North Wind.

Wendigo1

At this stage, you can kind of see where I’m going with this. The problem I discovered was that whilst pipe cleaners are not particular heavy, the top part of this ‘model’ was, so it wasn’t going to stand up on its own, which is why it’s leaning against my brush pot. I therefore needed a suitable circular base, and appropriated one from a set of Scooby Doo figurines I had bought (which were too large for my purpose). The circular base came in 4 quarters, which I glued together and then added a piece of self-adhesive floor tile to, to give it added heft and strengthen it.

I then discovered a problem – none of the hobby glues I had wanted to stick the Wendigo to the base. In hindsight, I could have used some ‘Non-Solvent Adhesive’ from the toolbox, the sort of stuff you stick brackets to walls with, but you don’t always think clearly when something’s going wrong, so I resorted to smearing Milliput all over the top of the base, then blending the ‘tail’ of my ghost into it, so it wouldn’t fall over.

It was then ‘painted’ with a solution of watered down PVA, the idea being that I’d get the ‘knobbly’ surface I’d had before. However, the solution was too watered down, which meant that I still had a slightly ‘shaggy’ look to the figure, which actually looked better.

Out came the Milliput, as although the main armature was fine, it had no face and the individual pipe cleaners were fairly obvious where the ‘fingers’ of the hand split from the arm. After much moulding, blending and teasing, the whole figure was given an undercoat of Docrafts Light Grey acrylic and looked like this:

Wendiog3

Pretty cool, eh? Once dry, I gave the whole thing a Black wash, then dry-brushed it with more Docrafts Light Grey, followed by Docrafts white, then picked out the eyes, nose and mouth with some Black. The base was given a wash of Black, to resemble concrete/asphalt and this is the finished article.

Wendigo3

And to give a sense of scale, here’s one of my currently unfinished Ghostbusters, facing the “Spirit of the North Wind”…

Wendigo4

As you can see, he’s a big lad, approximately 110mm tall (so just as tall as the figure which inspired him) and is mounted on a base which is 65mm in diameter. And best of all, it cost me nothing, as I already had all the bits I used to make him.

Hopefully this has been a worthy ‘Anniversary’ post and shown how useful pipe cleaners can be, with a little ingenuity.  That’s all for this post, but next up will be more ghosts and my finished Soul Takers (and their dog), which I’m pretty pleased with.

Comments, feedback and Anniversary cake welcome…

“Get In My Belly!”

Whilst the above is exclaimed by the character Fat Bastard in Austin Powers – The Spy Who Shagged Me,  we are not yet venturing into the realms of inch-high spy-fi, but continuing with the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut that is the Ghostbusters Project. So, why this particular quote? Read on and all will be revealed…

As regular visitors to the Buffet will know, I have garnered the reputation of “thinking outside the box”, usually by re-purposing miniatures from a wide variety of genres into whatever project I’m currently indulged in. However,  long-term followers will also know that sometimes I go so far ‘outside the box’, that the box is but a teeny,  tiny brown dot on the horizon. So, bearing that in mind, this post is either a work of inspired genius or, to quote Mr Michael Awdry,  “Bonkers”. I’ll leave that for you to decide…

Whilst researching figures for my last post (Beyond Ghostbusters – Part 6), I was trying to find suitable figures to represent the ghosts haunting the cinema in Return of the Ghostbusters. Whilst I did eventually find something that would work, I wasn’t entirely happy with my choice.

From my knowledge of the various incarnations of the Ghostbusters franchise, I’ve gathered that non-human ghosts tend to be semi-transparent blobs of various colours, with rudimentary features and vestigial limbs. But where to find such a thing?

How about in the confectionary aisle of your local supermarket?

That’s right, I’m referring to the fruit flavoured sweets known as Jelly Babies. You are probably questioning my sanity at this point, but bear with me, as it’s not quite as crazy as it sounds.

As the majority of this type of ghost tend to float, the idea was to ‘mount’ (I.e. jam the Jelly Babies onto) a suitable transparent flight stand, which I’d run out of. A quick visit to eBay netted me 10 GW flight stands for £1.79 including postage. Next was a trip to my local supermarket, where a 230g bag of “own brand” Jelly Babies cost me 85p. I then proceeded to assemble my ‘ghosts’ and this is the result:

Jelly1

As the average Jelly Baby is approximately 30mm tall, they are pretty much in scale for 28mm figures, as shown in the picture below.

Jelly2

Putting aside the whole ‘playing with your food’ aspect of this idea, there are several advantages to doing this. Firstly, it’s cheap – the total cost of this was £2.64, including the flight stands, and for this I got 39 ‘ghosts’. Secondly, Jelly Babies are readily available pretty much everywhere. Thirdly, when you bust a ‘ghost’, you get to eat it…

Jelly3

nom nom nom…

That’s all for this instalment, but be sure to join me next time, when I may have actually done some painting. I’m not promising anything, however…

You know who to call…just hopefully not the men in the white coats…

Beyond Ghostbusters – Part 6

As mentioned in my previous post (Beyond Ghostbusters – Part 5), after the success of Freddy vs Ghostbusters in 2004, Braxtan Films decided to film a sequel 3 years later, the aptly named Return of the Ghostbusters.

After the events of the first movie, the Ghostbusters continue to provide their services to he citizens of Denver. Ed Spengler (Tim Johnson) has been developing new Ghostbusting equipment, including remote-controlled traps and the experimental Neutrino pack, whilst also hosting a science-based TV show. Neil Anderson (J. Michael Weiss) is described as a ‘ladies man’, but does not appear to be having much luck on this front, probably because he’s become a little bit of a dick since the first movie. Eugene O’Fitzpatrick has been replaced by Pavel Karnov (Joel Hanson) a laid-back Russian, although no explanation is given as to why. A bit of digging on my part has revealed that Braxtan Films published a webcomic covering a diastrous mission to Egypt, in which Eugene lost his life and Pavel joined, but I’ve yet to find a copy online.

However, when a face from Pavel’s past utilises a particular aspect of stolen Ghostbusting equipment (with a nice nod to what appeared to be a throwaway line in the original Ghostbusters) to power an ancient Egyptian artifact, the city is threatened with a supernatural invasion from another dimension. So it’s up to the boys in beige to prevent an interdimensional crossrip and save the Mile High City.

Whilst Freddy vs Ghostbusters essentially followed the general outline of the plot from the original movie, but gave us Freddy Krueger as the main antagonist, Return is an original story, building on the characters and premise set out in FvG. At 85 minutes, Return of the Ghostbusters is a much more ambitious film. Freddy vs Ghostbusters was created on an estimated budget of $500, whereas Return boasts a budget of $3,000. And it shows. We have more ghostly encounters, improved special effects, a larger cast and better acting. And the script is again engaging and funny, with the longer running time allowing for more character development.

Both Weiss and Johnson continue to shine as Neil and Ed, and Hanson’s addition to the cast makes it feel like a proper team of Ghostbusters. Ron Vischer, who plays the main antagonist of the film, Klaus Konstantin, also gives a stand out performance.

As both Freddy vs Ghostbusters and Return of the Ghostbusters are referenced in the official canon Ghostbusters: The Video Game, as the developers of the game were fans, can this also be considered ‘canon’? I’ll leave that up for debate, but I’m happy to include both within my “expanded” Ghostbusters universe, as the tone and content mirrors that of the original movies.

Whilst a friend of mine managed to download and burn a copy onto DVD for me, sadly the official site is no longer live. However, as always, someone has uploaded the full movie to YouTube, so you can go and watch it here.

As I have already ‘cast’ Ed Spengler and Neil Anderson in my previous post, it’s not necessary to do this again, although Neil now sports a hairstyle similar to Crooked Dice’s Paranormal Exterminator A (Venkman) and no longer has a goatee, so this figure can be used as is.

Paranormal Exterminators

For the new addition to the crew, Pavel Karnov, we need to decapitate one of the existing Paranormal Exterminators (your choice) and add the bearded Travelling Tweedy head from the pack of the same name, also from Crooked Dice.

Travelling Tweedy heads

For Klaus Konstantin, I have found the perfect figure, from Black Hat’s Mutants & Masterminds range:

MM101E – civilian 10 1

This is MM101E Civilian 10, available direct from their website for £2.50, who is not only wearing the correct dishevelled outfit, but also has the slightly crazed expression of this character.

For the ‘campfire’ ghost at the beginning of the movie, we have this:

This is 77369 Shadow from Reaper Miniatures ‘Bones’ range, available for $2.99. It also comes in metal as 03027 Spectre for $4.99, but as ghosts are supposed to be transparent, I’d go for the purple one…

The two ghosts haunting the cinema proved a little more tricky, and the closest I could find was this:

DC Heroclix War of Light #001 Orange Lantern Construct

This is the Orange Lantern Construct from the DC Heroclix War of Light subset, available from Blue Rat Games (amongst other places) for £0.99. Whilst it may have more arms than is strictly necessary and is wearing a domino mask (no idea why), this is not a deal-breaker for me, as the extraneous arms can be trimmed off and a quick wipe with nail-polish remover will take the painted on mask right off.

Finally, during the finale, Denver is invaded by what the female reporter in the movie calls “ghost dragon-things”, which are essentially spectral dragon-worms. I had almost given up on finding suitable proxies for these, but whilst browsing Reaper’s ‘Bones’ range, I came across this:

This is the ‘Bones’ Hydra, available direct from their website for $19.99. As I am assuming that the heads are separate castings and you get five of them, you could mount four on suitable flying bases and still have a single-headed dragon!

That’s all for this instalment, but be sure to come back to see where the currently unstoppable juggernaut that is my Ghostbusters project takes me next. I think I can guarantee that you definitely won’t be expecting what’s coming next…