Challenging the Unknown

The mid-point of June has passed and those of us taking part in the communal craziness known as Forgotten Heroes can now see the finishing post fast approaching, so are gearing up for that final sprint.

Or that’s what you’d expect. However, some of us decided that the figures they were doing were really easy and would be finished with plenty of time to spare, so they became…distracted – by something else.

I can’t take the entire blame for this, as certain people who will remain nameless (but you know who you are) have commented that I talk a lot about doing hobby-related stuff, but the don’t follow this up with actually doing it. Looking at the various half-finished projects I have lying around, they do have a valid point…curse them and their feminine intuition!

So, I decided this week that not only would I work on my fantastic-ish four, but also work on a few outstanding projects as well.

First up, let’s look at where we’ve got to with Kid Dynamo and Crystal Man:

Actually, all I’ve done with these two is block paint both their bases with Docrafts Chocolate Brown. However, as I managed to take a photograph in natural rather than artificial light, you can see how effective my wash was on Crystal Man, so that he’s still semi-transparent.

Next up, the Planet and Neon Queen:

Having dug out my copy of Mystery Incorporated #1, I sat and read the entire issue – I was only supposed to be checking it for reference purposes, but sometimes you just have to read a comic book.

Whilst the cover does show that the non-white part of the uniforms is more pink than purple, all the interior art shows it more purple than pink, so I decided to repaint the two figures who do have part of the uniform on display. At the same time, I added the other purple detailing on their outfits – which was a bit more fiddly than I’d anticipated, especially on Neon Queen. She was also given an initial coat of GW Spearstaff Brown for her hair, before I used some GW Purple Ink to colour her gaseous lower form.

Just a few more details and their bases to finish off, and they will be done.

So, what other projects have occupied my time this week? The first will remain ‘under wraps’ at present, as this is intended to be a surprise for the person concerned, but it DID involve my first attempt to paint a 28mm Tweed jacket – which was a lot trickier than I thought it was going to be. And I still have Tartan to paint as well… *sigh*

The second was due to my realisation that whilst I have a whole stack of HeroScape tiles that I can use to construct ‘rural’ battlefields and a mat and scratch-built tiles for ‘urban’ gaming, if I wanted to play a game set in a space-station, starship or other sci-fi environment, I was a bit stuffed. I looked at the various options around, from the pre-printed slot together card terrain to the print-on-demand sci-fi tiles, but nothing really grabbed my fancy at a price I was prepared to pay (NB: I know that POD stuff is actually pretty cheap, but my printer isn’t that great for this kind of thing).

Ideally, I wanted something similar to HeroScape tiles, i.e interlocking plastic tiles, but NOT hexagonal and more science-fictiony looking. Of course, no bugger makes this kind of thing, which is a shame, because I reckon that it would be quite popular. However, it did remind me that lurking in my loft somewhere was this:

Image result for star wars display arena

This particular item is known as the Star Wars Display Arena, and was a mail-away special that you could get for a number of ‘proof or purchases’ and a postal order to cover the postage and packing. Designed for the 3 3/4″ Star Wars figures, the set contained four injection-molded L-shaped bases and four double-sided card inserts. Around the edge of each base are two projections, which the cards slot into, effectively making ‘walls’. The bases themselves were covered in little pegs that the figures could be attached to and each base had little hooks on every edge, so you could interlock the bases any which way you wanted.

So, having dug them out, I spent an evening removing every single bloody little peg on all four bases, then attempting to get the remaining nubs as flat as I could. Then, when I had a  fairly windless sunny evening, all four bases were taken outside and sprayed with Plastikote Fast Dry Project Enamel paint, specifically Chrome Effect. And this is the end result:

Ooooh, shiny! After the initial coat has dried, I did need to re-spray a couple of the tile sides again, as the underlying beige colour was still showing through, but as it was nice and warm, it didn’t take the paint long to dry.

So, these tiles can be put together any which way you fancy, as can be seen from the picture below:

All well and good, you say, but how big are they, Jez? Well, each tile is just under 8″ square, so if they were put together into a rectangle, the playing area would be 12″ x 16″ approximately. But that defeats the purpose of their interlockiness (new word – tell your friends). What you want to do is utilise them to build corridors and rooms, then maybe…I don’t know, stick some Daleks and the Third Doctor on them?

Like this:

And a slightly closer shot, that shows the detail and the tabs. As you can imagine, some greyboard painted suitable colours, could be slotted into these tabs to make actual ‘walls’, should you so wish.

Unfortunately, I only have four of these bases, and could really do with another set to expand the playing area, so might have to keep my eyes peeled on eBay of elsewhere for another set.

Right, that’s all for this week. Next week – the final Forgotten Heroes post, where Mystery Incorporated will be finished (I hope). As for what other things may also appear…well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

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You Look Like You Need a Doctor…

This week, I’ve been mostly drawing snowmen…

Due to agreeing to help with the ‘best decorated Christmas area’ competition at work this week, I found my ‘spare’ time being consumed by drawing cartoon snowmen to populate a frieze (or should that be ‘freeze’) for the wall. This, of course, meant that whilst I was being arty and creative, it wasn’t hobby-focused, so no further progress has been made on the figures I showed you last week.

But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to show you, as I’ve been venturing once more into the wilds of the Internet and have discovered a few choice items, all related to my current focus – Doctor Who.

Now, we all know that Warlord Games have managed to secure the official licence to make Doctor Who figures and that certain manufacturers have received ‘Cease & Desist’ letters regarding miniatures they produce that were inspired by or resemble characters or creatures from the series. We also know that the Warlord Games Who figures are not 28mm, which means that they won’t fit in with majority of the figures I own.

However, all is not lost for the 28mm Who gamer, as I will now show you.

Okay, first up is obviously Black Tree Design, who produce the original Harlequin range of Doctor Who figures, which run from William Hartnell’s incarnation right up to Paul McGann’s – so 1st through 8th Doctor. Their licence to produce these figures appears to still be in place and they have a wide selection of characters and monsters, including the Peter Cushing movie Doctor and companions. The sculpting varies in accuracy and quality, with some being less convincing than others. However, they do provide at least one additional version of each Doctor from the 1st to the 7th, with the exception of Colin Baker’s incarnation, which only gets the one. The other bonus with Black Tree is that they run weekly sales, in which at least one or two of each Doctor’s sub-ranges has a discount, so if you’re after characters from a specific era of Classic Who, it might be worth waiting until that particular range is on offer.

In the previous post, Back to the Future, I featured the Retro Sci-Fi range from Miniature Figurines, which has a rather nice version of Peter Cushing’s movie Doctor and the spin-off character Abslom Daak, so follow the link for fuller details on that.

And waaaay back in December of last year, during the Ghostbusters Project, I flagged up this miniature from Ironclad Miniatures:

This is Dr How, from their 28m Victorian Sci-fi range, retailing at £3.00.  Whilst to me he looks more like Parker from ‘Thunderbirds’ than the 1st Doctor, it does give you another option.

Of course, everything I’ve shown you so far is from the ‘Classic’ era of who, so if you want characters and creatures from Nu-Who, where do you go?

The 2005 9th Doctor two-parter Aliens of London/World War Three introduced the Slitheen to the Whoniverse – large, bug-eyed, clawed hunting aliens, who could disguise themselves as humans by compressing themselves into ‘skin-suits’. A creation of then-showrunner Russell T Davies, they were used and re-used in both the first series of Nu-Who and also in Sarah Jane Adventures, although these were yellow ones called Blathereen. Not one of my favourite Nu-Who inventions, but the 28mm Who gamer might want some, so should pay a visit to C P Models, who have five variations of their big-eyed alien at £1.65 each, or £6.00 for four.

They even do a ‘youngling’ at £1.00.

In series three, a Paul Cornell 7th Doctor novel called Human Nature, was adapted for the 10th Doctor, in which the Doctor was hiding out at an Edwardian boys boarding school, having placed the majority of his memories and Timelord-ness into a pocket watch via a device called a ‘chameleon arch’, making him, for all intents and purposes, human. The reason for this was that he was being tracked by The Family of Blood, a group of aliens who wanted to steal his Timelord essence for themselves. These aliens possessed various local humans in an effort to locate the Doctor and animated scarecrows to act as minions.

If you want to replicate this 2007 two-parter, which featured a battle between armed Edwardian schoolboys and the aforementioned scarecrows AND have the entire supporting cast, pop along to Gripping Beast, who under the Woodbine Design Company Specials range, have four sets of figures, each containing 4 figures, at £6.00 each.

TWDCSP07 Squire and family (4)

TWDCSP08 Schoolmaster set (4)

They even do the scarecrows…

TWDCSP10 Scary Scarecrows (4)

Plus if you need some armed or unarmed Morris Men for the 1971 Jon Pertwee serial The Daemons (or for any other reason, for that matter), they do them too.

Finally, we move on the 11th incarnation of the Doctor and some of his foes. During the 2011 two-parter The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People, we were introduced to the “Gangers” – doppelgänger made from ‘programmable matter’ controlled by their progenitor and used for hazardous work. Of course, something went wrong and they became independent and attempted to kill and replace their ‘originals’.  As they became more fanatical, their matter deformed, turning them into monsters.

To populate your tabletop with some Gangers, we need to turn to Attica Games, who within their ‘Shiver’ range, have the Plastic Population;

Attica Games: - The Plastic Population - jpeg image

£3.50 each or £6.00 for a pack of two, although some of the bigger figures are a little more expensive.

Matt Smith’s Doctor also had to contend with the Silence during 2011, who first appeared in the Series 6 opener The Impossible Astronaut. Whilst Warlord Games do a pack of three Silence for £11.99, they are not the most dynamic of poses, not really conveying the creepiness of this race. However, Attica Games also have the ESPchers:

Attica Games: - The ESPchers - jpeg image

£4.00 each, £10.00 for a pack of three or £17.00 for all six. So a similar price to the Warlord Games ones, but certainly more creepy.

As far as I am aware, all of these figures have so far managed to stay off the BBC’s radar, but that may not last, so if you want them I’d order sooner rather than later.

Hopefully my next post will show some progress on the figures I featured last week, but as Christmas is creeping ever closer, I’m not entirely sure when that will be.

So Merry Christmas to All, and to All A Good Night!

Back to the Future – Part II

Should you own a copy of 7TV (or indeed 7TV2e) or just have a hankering to recreate the adventures of your favourite spy-fi or science fiction shows of the 1970’s, your first port of call in respect of suitable miniatures would be Crooked Dice. With their range of figures, you can adventure in the fictional worlds of Blake’s 7, Space: 1999, Planet of the Apes, Captain Scarlet, Life on Mars, James Bond, Austin Powers or Danger 5.

Sadly, you can no longer populate your tabletop with figures resembling characters from Doctor Who. For that, you’ll have to go to Warlord Games and their ‘officially licenced’ range…

If the spy-fi aspect of this genre appeals to more than the science fiction part, you also have the option of the ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ ranges, produced by both Artisan Designs and Copplestone Castings respectively.

However, if the Science Fiction aspect appeals more, whilst Crooked Dice’s range is quite comprehensive, there are a few characters missing. It’s all very well giving us Cylons, but we can’t recreate Battlestar Galactica without some Colonials as well.

Luckily for you, my unending search for the ‘right’ figure on the Internet has turned up some more hidden gems. So, buckle your seat-belt and accelerate to 88mph, as we travel Back to the Future once more. However, be warned, this post may have you reaching for your wallet…

As regular followers will know, I’m a big fan of the original Ghostbusters movie and it’s sequel, and found that the recent 2016 ‘reboot’ failed to crap all over my childhood, so the fact that Crooked Dice produces a variety of Ghostbusters of both sexes makes me happy. However, 9 years before the release of Ghostbusters, in 1975, the children of America were exposed to the exploits of ‘The Ghost Busters’, a trio of bumbling paranormal investigators who used their ‘ghost dematerializers’ to defeat supernatural threats to their city. The trio was made up of Kong, Spencer and Tracy, who was a gorilla. Yes, you read that right.

The series was quite popular and ran for 15 episodes, but wasn’t quite popular enough to be renewed for a second season. Whilst I was aware of the series, due to the fact the Columbia had to pay its producers for the right to use the name Ghostbusters for their movie, I’ve never actually seen the show. However, I do know what the main characters look like.

Whilst hunting for Teen Angels, I paid a visit to Nexus Miniatures website, who you may be familiar with due to their Super Dinosaur Zombie Apocalypse range of figures, which includes Battlestar Galactica Colonials, the visitors from V and Mulder and Scully from The X-Files. It would appear that since my last visit, they’ve been rather busy and I was delighted to find these on their site:

The Real Ghost-Facers

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, it is our intrepid and original Ghost Busters. Currently, they are priced at £11.45 for the three, as part of a pre-order deal, with the price going up to £13.50 once they are on general release, which appears to be in the second quarter of next year.

Impressed with the sculpting, I perused the remainder of the catalogue and found some more familiar faces…

The New Defenders (Major John Colt, Mike Chicane, and Patti Pretty)

Whilst these are listed as the ‘New Defenders’, I think we can all recognise that these might actually be Avengers rather than Defenders. £12.50 at the moment, rising to £13.50 when on general release.

And whilst Crooked Dice may have one Tomorrow Person, Nexus Miniatures have a full set…

The Morrow Men

Currently £16.50 for the four, rising to £18.00 when on general release.

Finally, the set that almost made me reach for my own wallet, which is very unlike me.

Future Force

Could it be the bird-costumed defenders of the Earth known as G-Force? I think it could! Currently £20.00 for the five, rising to £22.50 once on general release. And you can’t have G-Force without their enemy, Zoltar.

Sub-Finem & Imperatorem - Machine Empire Commanders

Or the ubiquitous masked goons.

Equitum Troopers of the Machine Empire

Now, all these miniatures were sculpted by the very talented Carl Stoelzel, of Stoelzel’s Structures fame. Looks like card models are not his only forte. From what I can gather, the pre-order prices apply to the figures they currently have in stock, prior to the general release of these next year, so if you want them at these prices, I suggest you get ’em quick. Think of it an early Christmas present to yourself.

The Nexus Miniatures site is well worth a look, as they also have Varian from The Fantastic Journey (him with the ‘tuning fork’ weapon), all the ‘interdimensional operatives’ from Sapphire & Steel and, oddly, the cast of Gilligan’s Island.

So, now that the retro sci-fi bug has bitten me, expect some Doctors, aliens and scenery over the coming weeks here at the Buffet, along with a few leftovers from The Long Halloween…

Edit: Apparently, according to WordPress, this is my 100th post. Go me!

Back to the Future

Unlike the majority of my blogging peers, I do not enjoy either the acceptance or support of my partner in respect of my devotion to our wonderful hobby. My wife considers any time spent on ‘that role-play crap’, as she terms it,  as a waste of time – time which could be better spent elsewhere. Bless her…

So, in order to continue doing what I enjoy, I have to make certain…concessions. I don’t make extravagant hobby purchases (so no Kickstarters for me), keep my hobby spending to an ‘acceptable’ minimum and try to limit my time spent on my hobby to short periods or when she’s not around. Not an ideal situation, but it has made me a master of cost-effective gaming and given me the ability to use my time constructively.

Anyway, there are times when due to work, planned events or the reasons stated above, I find the weekend has crept up on me without anything to show for my efforts. Some would sulk in the corner and rail against the unfairness of an uncaring and cruel Universe.

I, however, am not one of those people.

So whilst I may not have any of my own work to display, that doesn’t mean I have nothing to show you…

A comment made on Roger’s most recent post from his ‘Ranting from Under the Wargames Table’ blog, sent me scurrying to the Internet, searching for suitable 28mm figures to represent Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels…

Image result for captain caveman and the teen angels

The reason for this was that as I felt this would make a fun ‘cast’ for 7TV, as Captain Caveman regularly produces various prehistoric solutions from the interdimensional space concealed by his body hair. Now there’s a sentence you didn’t think you’d read today. I thought this ability was a pretty good match for the Gadget cards used in the  7TV rules. And it’s also a bit silly, which is a good thing for a hobby that can sometimes take itself a bit too seriously.

However, whilst I did find potential figures for Cavey and Brenda, Taffy and Dee Dee proved somewhat elusive. This combined with the cost of the figures I did find shelved this vanity project for the time being.

But my research did not prove a total loss, as I came across a nice range of miniatures I was previously unaware of, the contents of which will explain the title of this post.

The company concerned is Miniature Figurines & Matchlock Miniatures, which is part of Caliver Books. I was aware of the company before, as they do a small but interesting 28mm range called “Winter of 79  – Living on the Frontlines” which has armed British policemen, grenadiers and, more importantly, Wolfie Smith from Citizen Smith.

You have no actual need for this figure, but you want him anyway… and he’s only £2.25.

The range that I was not aware of, however, can be found under the title Wayne’s World of Wonder, with the innocuous title of Retro Sci-Fi 28mm. Now, there are only nine figures in this range, but when I came across them, five of the nine immediately went onto my wishlist. Not because they’re £2.75 each, which is very reasonable for a 28mm miniature, but because I recognised them…

So first up is RSF 01 – Retro Space Pilot – Spacesuit:

And RSF 02 – Retro Space Pilot – Uniform:

As Crooked Dice have recently released a not-Mekon and our very own Mr Webb’s Retrovians from his Dick Garrison range make very passable Treens, you’re certainly going to need a Dan Dare, and now you have the option of having him in both sets of his ‘work clothes’.

Next up we have RSF 04 – Pepperpot Hunter, and this is where I think I may cost Simon (aka Blaxkleric) some money…

I think it’s fairly obvious that this is the infamous Abslom Daak – Dalek Killer. As the BBC have (allegedly) sent a badly written ‘cease and desist’ letter out to those companies that they have been made aware of who were producing what Paul from Warlord Games has referred to as “rip-off ‘not’ Doctor Who figures”,  you may be concerned that this too may disappear. However, I believe that the rights to this character are currently owned by Marvel, so he should be safe for the time being.

Next we move on to RSF 07 – Mercenary:

Now, this one may not be as familiar to the majority of my readers – this is a character called Grimjack, who first appeared in Starslayer #10 in November 1983, published by First Comics. If you are curious about this character, this Wikipedia link will fill in the blanks. To be honest, whilst I was able to identify the character, that was about all I did know about him – other than he looks cool. Because of this, two other figures in this range, namely RSF 05 – Young City P.I. and RSF 06 – Demon Hunter, may be other versions of this character, but someone more knowledgeable than me would be able to tell you.

For the final figure added to my wishlist, we return to the Whoniverse, but the alternate reality version as presented in Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., in which the Doctor was portrayed by Peter Cushing:

This is RSF 08 – Chrononaut Grandfather and is a far better sculpt, in my opinion, than the one produced by Black Tree Design. I’m not sure if the movie version of the Doctor falls within Warlord Games’ licence to solely produce Doctor Who figures, so if you want this figure, it might be wise to get it sooner rather than later.

Whilst I’ve touched on two of the other nine figures in the section on Grimjack, the other two figures in this range – RSF 03 Freelance Assassin and RSF 09 Psycho Cyborg (which is £3.99) – I wasn’t able to identify, so if anyone does know who these are supposed to be, I’d be grateful if they could shed some light.

The moon has now set on the Long Halloween and the pumpkin pies, candy and cinder toffee have been cleared from the Buffet…

You’ll have to wait until next time, to see what’s next on the menu!