Forgotten Heroes 2023

June is here, which can only mean one thing…

It’s Forgotten Heroes Month! This annual challenge, now in it’s 8th year, gives you the opportunity to indulge your creative side and produce a figure of a character that either has not had an official or unofficial miniature produced for it or, if it has, you’re doing your own version.

Anyone can take part – all you need to do is let me know you want to in the comments or by other means of contact and I will add you to the roster.

The rules, such as they are, are simple. During the month of June, you must a produce a fully painted figure of a character who has yet to have an official or unofficial figure produced of them or, if they have, you want your own version (which no doubt will be better). Any scale is allowed, so no restrictions there. The only real restriction is that you can’t use a figure that is an unofficial version of the character you want to produce, so repainting a Heroclix Blue Beetle as Goldbug is allowed, but using a Copplestone Castings “American Adventurer” as Indiana Jones is a no-no. I mean, if the figure you’re using is a representation of the character with the name filed off, where’s the actual challenge? Your first post should also include a picture of the character you are attempting to create, so we can see what you’re aiming for.

As Real Life has got in the way for some of our normal participants, only those below have confirmed they will be taking part this year so far.

Dave Stone of Wargamesculptor Blog, who will be creating D.R. & Quinch, along with Crazy Chrissy from 2000AD, which is pretty awesome, as they are depicted by my favourite comic book artist of all time, Alan Davis.

Keith, over at Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging, who has described Forgotten Heroes as “Only the single greatest painting challenge ever created,” will no doubt be pulling out an obscure comic book character or two, that no-one has ever heard of.

And joining us this year is Sabrina from Uthwulfminis, and she will posting on her Instagram feed – because here at the Buffet, we embrace ALL social media platforms, because we is L££t, whatever that means…

As for myself, I’ve dug deep into the obscure archives of ancient British superheroes and uncovered this character:

This is The Tornado, who appeared in Oh Boy! Comics published by Paget Publications in 1948. Apparently, the Tornado is Steve Storm, the 13th member of the Storm family, which meant that he was the first to escape the Curse of Grosta after 500 years. As a result, “the mighty force of the Storms thundered into the soul of Steve, that this young hero might, at will, transform into the giant superman of justice, whirlwind prince of the storms – Tornado!” He has superhuman strength and speed and, for some reason, the ability to breathe underwater.

So, a fairly cheesy origin, but he does look quite cool, as most of his appearances were illustrated by Mick Anglo. However, more interestingly, he was created by a teenager by the name of Bob Monkhouse…

Yes, THAT Bob Monkhouse, which is also pretty cool.

Anyway, I shall be using the below Heroclix Signalman figure as the basis for my Tornado conversion:

However, as this particular figure is not armed with Tornado’s pistol and has no holster, there will be some conversion work needed. And possibly some other cosmetic sculpting of boots and gloves. Not sure whether I’m going to go with the pink cape, however, but we’ll see.

So, stay tuned for more Forgotten Heroes madness and be sure to check out the other participants. And it’s not too late to throw your hat into the ring, if you want to join the craziness…

Brazen Heroes

Those of you who read my last post on the 40-year old superhero RPG, Golden Heroes, especially those of you who reside in countries other than the UK, may be wondering why you’d be interested in a game which purports to be a British superhero RPG. If the game is Anglo-centric, it would be of limited use AND interest to anyone hailing from somewhere other than the UK, surely?

Well, having reviewed every article and scenario that was publicly released for the game AND having run several games using this ruleset, I can confidently state that this is not the case. The main rules (other than referring to the currency used in the game as ‘Golden Pounds’) do not assume that your game is set in the UK. And whilst some of the sample villains have backgrounds that suggest a UK origin, this can be easily tweaked so that the villains hail from other shores.

The same applies to the scenario included with the main rules and most of those published in White Dwarf. The settings are generic enough that they could take place in ANY city in any part of the World, as long as they have the necessary locations (such as a park, street, secret base of a multinational intelligence agency, isolated research facility, etc). As all of these adventures were written and published in the 1980s – the ‘Modern’ day at that time – they also would need a few tweaks to reflect the improvements in technology, if they were to be set in the present.

The two main exceptions are the adventures that were directly published by GW as supplements to the game. The first, Legacy of EAGLES, deals with the reason behind the disappearance of a superhero team of the 1950s/1960s, who haven’t been heard of since 1964. The background suggests that this was the pre-eminent team of this era who operated Worldwide, but were based in Britain and made up of British heroes. However, as the final location of this adventure is the ‘lost’ undersea base of this team, the location of which is never specified, background details can be altered to reflect wherever you wish to place the events of this scenario.

The second adventure, Queen Victoria and the Holy Grail, however is firmly set in the UK. This scenario assumes the player’s are a team operating out of Britain and are predominantly British. The hook for the adventure relates to the British Royal family and mines deep into the folklore of Britain, and even though the team take a brief trip to New York in the middle of the scenario, the locations for the rest of the adventure are quintessentially British and the finale takes place in a well-known London landmark. It could be revised for an alternative non-British setting, but this would take a lot of work and would take away the heart of the adventure, in my opinion.

Simon Burley, the main author of the rules, has always given the advice that you should use your own town or city as the setting for your superhero adventures, as this familiarity with the setting allows for a more immersive experience. If you live in Chicago, for example, your players are more likely to jump at the chance to fight Doctor Anarchy if he is threatening to blow up the Willis Tower (which was called the Sears Tower when I visited many moons ago) because they know it.

One of the games I ran using these rules was set in Reading, Berkshire, which is where I live. As the players were all locals, I didn’t need to describe the locations in any great detail, as everyone was from Reading and knew where the Butts Centre was, that there were railway arches off Portman Avenue and that the Atomic Weapons Establishment was just south of Reading in Aldermaston, which was where the main villain of that particular scenario was heading in his giant robot to acquire some nuclear weapons.

They did succeed, but the results of their final battle closed the eastbound M$ motorway for several days, as the authorities cleared up the wreckage.

I also ran a campaign set in the world of Marshal Law, which underlines the flexibility of this set of rules.

For those of you not familiar with this character, Marshal Law started off as a parody of superheroic conventions and was written by Pat Mills and illustrated by Kev O’Neill, in 1987. He was an American ex-supersolider, genetically engineered by the government to fight in “The Zone”, an unstable area of South America filled with Communist insurgents. Once this conflict was over, he and all the other super-soldiers created to fight in this war, returned to the USA. However, whilst the procedures used to create these super-soldiers gave them incredible powers, the majority of them returned mentally scarred by the war and formed super-powered gangs in San Futuro, the semi-wrecked remains of San Francisco after ‘The Big One.’ Which is where Marshal Law comes in. He is a government-sanctioned hero-hunter, a super-powered ‘cop’ whose job is to protect the normal folk from the excesses of these super-powered surplus heroes, sometimes with lethal force.

The series was characterised by extreme graphic violence and nudity, which may seem commonplace now, what with series such as The Boys, etc. delving into super-powered folk who appear to be heroes, but are anything but, but was new and edgy back in 1987.

As some of the ‘heroes’ in this world were explicitly over-sexualised, I gave my players carte blanche to create whatever characters they wanted, as long as they ‘fit’ into this World. I ended up with; Blitzkreig, a superstrong, flying Marshal Law wannabe; The Dribbler, who manifested cosmic mucus which he could use in a number of ways; Major Organ, who could increase his size and strength and carried a throwing baton which he dubbed his ‘love truncheon’; his kid sidekick, Private Parts; who had detachable exploding testicles and Gravity Girl, who could fly, manipulate gravity fields and, as she herself stated every time she introduced herself, “my breasts defy gravity.” (NB: The last was played by a woman, so no sexism here).

As you might gather, my players did commit to the setting and although the game may sound less than serious, it did involve these disparate heroes attempting to discover who had been murdering the members of the pre-eminent team of the time, The Justice Squad, before they too were targeted by the same shadowy foe. Not all of them survived.

So, if I can use the Golden Heroes rules to run a game in a dystopian future overrun by less-than-super heroes, without any great additional work on my part, I think that proves that these rules can be used to run a superhero game in whatever setting you want.

I’m currently working my way through all the material I have and will be making the three final ‘books’ available to any who want them. There will be a Players Book, a Supervisors Book and an Adventure Book. The default setting will be the Golden Heroes Universe, and I will expand on the ‘official’ background to explain why the UK seems to have the greatest amount of super-powered folk, rather than the US. The underlining reason makes sense and is based on real-World events, but I’ll say no more at this point.

However, you will be free to disregard this setting and use it for whatever type of superhero game you want to run. Remember, the best sets of rules are the ones that inspire you to make them your own.

Close Encounters of the Gaming Kind

Due to venturing out of the UK to bake myself in the summer sun and then my daughter’s graduation and moving her back home, this has not left me a great deal of the right sort of hobby time.

Rather than remain silent, I thought I’d post a bit of a retrospective piece.

Now, I’ve been a gamer (on and off) for nigh on 40 years and as I came into the hobby via tabletop RPGs, I’ve not only played many, many systems (including several that my friends/gaming group made themselves), but also attended several gaming conventions.

As a Brit, this was mainly Euro GenCon (when that was still a thing), although I did get the opportunity to go to actual GenCon in 1992.

Which brings me to the point of this post. If you attend a gaming convention, you do, on occasion, get the opportunity to interact with “gaming royalty.” I’m not talking about attending a seminar with Larry Elmore, where he discusses his artistic technique and creates an original piece of artwork before your very eyes (which I have done and was very cool), but those random encounters with famous gaming “celebrities” that give you geek cred when you tell your mates what happened – sort of geek “claims to fame.”

So, as I have a couple of anecdotes regarding this, I thought I’d share these with you all – because at least you guys will know who I’m talking about.

So, we’ll start with the aforementioned GenCon ’92…

Second day of GenCon ’92 and the guys I had come with were all off doing other stuff, so I was wandering around the main hall, looking at all the stalls, minding my own business, when I was stopped by a bloke who had noticed my t-shirt (“Die Laughing – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld”) and wanted to know if I’d bought it at the Con, as he wanted one the same. I regretfully advised him that I’d actually purchased it in the UK and not bought it at the Con. Then I looked at his name badge… it read “Mike Pondsmith.”

As in THE Mike Pondsmith, big cheese at R. Talsorian Games, responsible for Cyberpunk 2020, Castle Falkenstein and Dream Park (which was released at GenCon that year). My response to him, once I realised who he was, was “I just bought a copy of Dream Park,” for which he thanked me. Being a little shell-shocked, that was the extent of our conversation.

Still, it was pretty cool.

Rewind to (I think) Euro GenCon 1990. This was held at Pontin’s Holiday Centre, Camber Sands in the UK, between 30th November and 2nd December and was my first real gaming convention – and also the first EuroGenCon, which I didn’t realise at the time. The Ravenloft campaign setting had come out earlie rthat year and I was a big fan, so signed up for a one-round Ravenloft tournament, which as it was a newish setting, they’d brought a couple of the TSR staff from the US across to run this scenario. This was Bane of the Shadowborn, written by William W. Connors, who was one of the guests running this scenario. However, as the scenario was pretty popular, they had two sessions running, and I ended up with the other guest DM. Which was Jim Ward…

Yes, THAT Jim Ward, he of Drawmij’s Instant Summons, designer of Metamorphosis Alpha, co-author of the original 1st edition Deities & Demigods, etc. etc. Basically, a gaming legend.

And he killed me.

Well, he killed the entire party, but that’s because we were rubbish and hadn’t got the necessary stuff to defeat the Big Bad. But we had so much fun – I mean, this was one of Gary Gygax’s original players, so this guy knew how to run a game. I distinctly remember various players stating what they wanted to do, and Jim’s response was invariably “Well, wouldn’t it be nice if you could do that…” with a little twinkle in his eye.

So, two gaming geeky claims to fame – Mike Pondsmith liked my t-shirt and Jim Ward killed me.

But let’s finish off with an actual, genuine 100% geeky “claim to fame,” which can be proven to anyone who owns a copy of a particular TSR product, as if you peruse the credits section of Domains of Dread, which was effectively the third iteration of the Ravenloft campaign setting published in 1997, under the ‘Special Thanks’ section you will find MY name!

Obviously my contribution was enough that I was named, rather than being relegated to the “countless others” section. Look at me, sandwiched between Skip Williams and Steve Winter, both of whom I’ve heard of. I think it’s safe to say they have NO idea who I am…

Right, enough grandstanding from me. I’m sure those who’ve been indulging in our wonderful hobby for roughly the same amount of time as I have, have similar anecdotes, so I’ll open the floor to you all. What geeky claims to fame do you have? And it doesn’t necessarily have to be gaming related, so if you’ve had a pint with Patrick Stewart, then share your story.

“Spider on the Spot!”

Bearing in mind that I only had to paint a single figure white, then add spots to it, you’d think it wouldn’t take very long…

Au contraire, mes amis! I failed to take into account the consistency of my white paint, which needed several coats to give a suitable solid base of white. I initially painted the whole figure and supplementary stand with GW Corax White, which as I’ve mentioned several times in the past, is actually a pale grey. I then went over the Spot’s body and disembodied fist with Docrafts Blanc and the floating “spots” with Docrafts Noir.

And then a further coat of white… and another… and another.

Once I’d finally managed to get a level of whiteness I was happy with, I then gave the white parts a wash of Corax White, to define the musculature of the figure, which wasn’t quite as successful as I’d hoped. However, it did give me a base on which to start adding spots, as shown below:

Now, there are various different interpretations of how the spots appear on the Spot, including a relatively popular version which has a single ‘spot’ in the middle of his face. However, this makes him look like the Marvel character A.D.A.M. Unit Zero, a character associated with Cable, so I decided to go with the original version from the Spot’s first appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man.

Now, you may think that adding spots of varying sizes would be slightly tedious, but it was actually quite cathartic. Although it did take slightly longer than I’d anticipated…

However, I think the time was well-spent, so I can now present my finished Spot conversion;

I have to admit, I am pretty happy with how he’s turned out and therefore decided to take several pictures of him, showing both his front, as above, and his back, as below;

And because I was particularly pleased with the expression I managed to get on his face, here’s a view of it;

The base was textured using a ball of kitchen foil, to give the look of concrete and then painted with several cost of my own mid-grey mix, which although does take several coats, does allow for a graduation of grey, which is quite handy. The white residue in the clear column is due to it being partially hollow, so when I filed the top down, it gathered in this hollow and wouldn’t bloody shift. Oh well…

Looks like Spidey has fallen afoul of the Spot;

Anyway, that’s my entry finished. As for the others;

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table has completed Captain Kremmen, Carla and Dr Gitfinger from Kenny Everett’s radio and TV shows and very good they are too.

Simon from Fantorical has used the HeroForge site to create character’s from his own Time’s Rambler graphic novels.

Keith from Dead Dick’s Tavern has completed both the obscure character Rainbow Boy and the Spidey villain Hypno-Hustler in all his 70’s Disco glory.

Dave from Wargame Sculptors Blog is working through the cast of that 80’s classic “Battle Beyond the Stars” and now has over half of these sculpted AND painted.

Matt from PM Painting has not yet posted his entry, having had to consign two attempts to the bin, but he’s still got time before the event finishes and if it’s anything like last year’s entry, it will be worth the wait.

So, another successful year of Forgotten Heroes! And you know it’ll be back next year, so you’ve got eleven months to come up with something…

Maybe 2023 will be the year of the Big Wheel…

X Marks… the Spot

So, having had to revise my initial plans, how far have I got turning this;

…into this?

Well, the initial part was lopping off limbs, so that was pretty simple. But how to replicate the Spot’s ability to throw a punch through another dimension?

My original idea was to take the plastic from a blister pack and using a hole punch, make two identical circles, then glue these to the stump on the Silver Surfer figure and the fist from the Hydra figure.

Whilst I did do this, creating a stand for the ‘floating’ fist proved somewhat challenging, so I had a bit of a rethink.

So, I had some transparent shafts from flight stands, but in order for it to be the right length so the fist was at the right height, this needed to be cut down. I then glued this to a 1 pence piece, then filed a groove in the top of the shaft.

The  reason for this was that I’d decided to replace my initial plastic discs with two small black buttons from the sewing box. I glued the spare fist to one of these, then glued it into the groove.

It was then just a case of adding Milliput to the base, texturing this and then filling in the holes in the button.

So we ended up with this;

The Silver Surfer was cut from his flying stand, then cut from his board. I then reduced the part he was standing on to two platforms under his feet. After filing these down, the figure was glued to a 2 pence piece and the base built up using Milliput.

After texturing the bases, the second button was glued to his forearm and the holes in the button filled.

And this is how this part turned out;

So, the idea is that the Spot punches through one of his ‘spots’ and his fist comes out of another one, which as this  on a separate base, means I can position this wherever I like – like so;

Obviously, I didn’t realise the button attached to the main body was at an angle until I’d put them together. However, it doesn’t bother me too much.

Once these are painted up in the matching colours, it should be more obvious that they are part of the same figure.

I think it works, but until it’s done, we won’t know for sure.

So, that’s my current progress. Be sure to check out the other participants;

Roger at Rantings from Under the Wargames Table is doing Captain Kremmen and crew, Simon at Fantorical is doing character’s from his own Time’s Rambler graphic novels, Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern has completed Rainbow Boy and is intending on doing a further character, whilst Dave is working on the cast of that 80’s classic “Battle Beyond the Stars” and Matt has yet to post anything, but is beavering away behind the scenes on his entry.

That’s all for this time, but join me next time when hopefully you’ll have spits before your eyes…

Redo From Start…

Sometimes, the best laid plans go awry…

I’d set aside some time Saturday night to crack on with my entry for this year’s Forgotten Heroes challenge, prepared all the bits I needed, with only my donor figure needing stripping of the various layers of paint that had been applied.

This did not go well. Having attacked the figure with various cleaning agents and tools, after an hour or so scrubbing the little git, I was left with a figure still caked with so much paint that you could hardly see any of the detail. So, after much cursing, I consigned him to the bin and then spent another hour or so searching through every box that possibly contained donor figures, which meant a visit to my garage and clambering around in the Aladdin’s Cave of Crap that I call my loft.

I could only find two figures which had possibilities, the first of which is this;

A 30mm figure of a “Steampunk female” from a game called Kaosball, which I bought a couple of years ago from Tritex Games at Salute. This is my “back-up” figure, which should my other cunning plan not work, will be painted up as Harley Quinn, as the outfit does resemble the one she wore in the Arkham Knight video game.

However, Harley is a little too… cool for Forgotten Heroes, as I generally try to do obscure (i.e. crap) characters.

The only other full donor figure I had was spare HeroScape Silver Surfer, as who needs two?

So, if we clip him off his flying stand and reduce his board down so that it fits on a 25 mm base, what can we do with him? If you ignore the coloring, he’s a generic, bald-headed chap in form-fitting costume.

My initial thought was to add some putty to his face to smooth it down a bit and make him into Lightmaster;

But, given what those who’ve posted this year so far have done AND taking into account that I did a blinding M.O.D.O.K. last year, I needed something a bit… more.

So, my revised entry will be the obscure Marvel supervillain, the Spot:

First appearing in Spectacular Spider-Man #97, Dr Jonathan Ohnn did not become the Spot until the following issue. He was attempting to replicate Cloak’s powers on behalf of the Kingpin, but ended up being able to generate “spots” that traversed another dimension, enabling him to attack at distance, as shown in the image above.

Now, rather than just repaint my spare Silver Surfer as the Spot, I’m going to attempt to replicate his ability to punch at a distance, by lopping off his right forearm and creating a separate base with his fist coming out of a “spot.”

Now, as the Silver Surfer is not actually punching, I needed a clenched fist, so I elected to take this from the figure below;

“Cut off a limb, and two more shall take its place!”

As he’s Hydra, it will supposedly grow back – not sure the Hydra goons actually believe that, of course.

Anyway, that’s my new plan.

regarding the others taking part, Roger at Rantings From Under the Wargames Table has made serious inroads into Captain Kremmen and his crew, Keith at Dead Dick’s Tavern & Temporary Lodging has posted his first creation, Rainbow Boy, with more to come and Simon at Fantorical will be painting up some 3D-printed versions of his own creations from his Time’s Rambler graphic novels. Matt from PM Painting and Dave from Wargame Sculptors Blog are taking part this year too and I’m sure we’ll see something from them soon.

I mean, I can hardly talk – all I’ve done is tell you what I’m going to do. All because of fucking stubborn paint that won’t come off… *sigh*

A Brief Diversion to a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Waaaaaay back in May last year, I backed my first Kickstarter, details of which can be found in this post.

It was supposed to ship around September 2021, but various issues led to delays, but finally my pledge arrived last Monday! Yay!

However, I wasn’t in when the postie turned up, so had to wait until last night to collect my goodies. I pledged £30 ($40) for a squad of 28mm Astroguards cast in white metal, which would have been 8 Astroguards, so £3.75 a figure. However, due to the success of the campaign, I ended up with the bonus add-ons, so ended up with 22 figures, which works out as £1.36 a figure. Result!

Here is the Astroguard squad, with two female Astroguards swapped out for the duplicate sculpts from the original squad, along with two of the bonus figures, armed with heavy weapons – a light repeating laser on the left and a meson blaster on the left.

They kind of remind me of the cloud car pilots from The Empire Strikes Back, so I may very well paint them to resemble that uniform.

Next, more bonus figures. These are, left to right, top to bottom, “cantina celebration” aka party walrus-man, Gary, Beefhead Elder, Rod Roebuck, Space Cadet, Ensign Packman and Man Hunter.

Obviously, you can see these were inspired by Star Wars, Star Trek and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, but all will join my Distant Stars project.

Finally, we have the droids…er…bots. A Power Bot at the top, with a selection of arms and four Scouter Bots, all with a different head. I may add the two spare arms to one of the Scouter Bots, if I feel inclined.

Nice clean sculpts, although some flash on a couple of the figures, but nothing major. Strangely, they were supplied with 20mm slotta bases, rather than 25mm, which is fine for the Bots, but look too small for the others, so these may have to get swapped out.

These were just the figures from the basic pledge, so there are more in the range. Should you be interested in getting some for yourself, this is what the Kickstarter page has to say;

“Missed the campaign? Don’t worry, there’s still an opportunity to pick up figures from the Star Schlock Astroguards Kickstarter. 

Visit for info!

That’s all for this brief diversion, as I still have a giant made from Shredded Wheat to paint up before the end of the month – then we’re in to Forgotten Heroes territory!

God knows what I’m going to do for that… I’m not quite as organised as I was last year. I have a vague idea, but we’ll have to see if if will work.

And The Dead Shall Rise…

I’d taken the day off with the intention of taking my wife shopping, as it was her birthday.

However, as she was thick with cold and did not want to venture out, I spent the morning doing all those little jobs I’d been putting off, then offered to wash her car. She was of the opinion that as it was my day off too, I should do something I wanted to do…


As there had been some tedious modelling stuff I’d been putting off, I decided to combine that with assembling my Chainrasp Horde, which have been sitting unassembled for a fair old while.

The tedious stuff was adding sand to the bases of a shit-load of figures, as I’d been following Soroastro’s guide to painting Star Wars miniatures for my Distant Stars figures, in which he uses basing medium after he’d assembled and painted the figures.

Not having any basing medium, I decided to use watered down PVA and sifted sand, which actually works quite well, but is a bit long-winded and messy.

Basically, watered down PVA on the base, dip into the sand, knock off any loose grains, more PVA where coverage isn’t great, re-dip, knock off the loose stuff, repeat until brain dribbles out of head.

Once, completed, I thin the PVA solution down a bit more, then paint this over the top of the sand to seal it and glue it in place a bit more.

As I said, tedious and long-winded, but I now have 31 figures based in this fashion, so this saves me from doing it later.

Mainly from my Distant Stars project, but I’m also doing a conversion for my uncle, as he’s a massive Tolkien fan and styles himself as Adrian, Lord of Menadine, so decided that one of the HeroScape vikings was a pretty close match to the painting he’d done of this character (he’s an artist, who works in oils mostly). And as the Chainrasp wraiths are mounted on normal 25mm circular bases, I did them as well.

You get enough components to build 10 wraiths on the sprue, most of which are two-piece models. Detail is nice, as you’d expect from Games Workshop, but I did lose a bit of one of the chains due to it being in an awkward place. Here’s the first three;

And the next three;

The next three;

The final figure you can assemble as either a standard Chainrasp wraith or as something called a ‘Dreadwarden’, whatever that is. I went with the latter, as I thought it looked cooler;

This one will receive a different paint scheme than the others, as the intention is to make him a personality &/or leader, so I’m thinking tarnished brass and dark red robes, rather than whatever colours I go with the others.

Won’t make a huge difference to the Rookhaven Ghostbusters, he might just take a bit more effort to trap.

That’s all for this time, but at least I’m posting more regularly, so that’s a good thing. Until next time…

New Year, New (ish) Project

If you’ve been regularly checking in here to see if I’ve been actially doing anything, you will have been a little disappointed, as it has been quite a while since I’ve been anywhere near anything hobby-related.

However, with the imminent (hopefully) arrival of my Kickstarter goodies and a financial windfall in the shape of some Christmas money, I decided to splash out a little on some hobby stuff.

Way back in 2015, Michael Awdry of the 28mm Victorian Warfare blog posted about a game called Space Cadets. Now, whilst I quite liked the idea of the game and the way it utilised hexagonal tiles to represent the exploration of a derelict spacecraft, the price point was above my available funds and I was only really interested in the tiles.

This had been on the back burner for the last 6 years, and with the Distant Stars project, I decided that I would still like to do something of this ilk, but using my existing figures from that project.

As Kallistra produce a range of interlocking plastic hexagonal tiles, 100mm across the flats AND do packs of ten individual hex tiles in black, for a very reasonable £7.50, I ordered a set, to see if they could be used for this.

They arrived yesterday, so out came the camera and some figures, so I could see whether my nascent idea had any legs.

As you can see, you get ten hexagonal tiles, hollow on the underside and 20 clips, which allow you to clip the tiles together.

The edges of each tile have a recess, so that when the clips are attached, the tiles sit flush with the table and are a pretty tight fit, so they won’t become detached during play.

They can be attached along each flat edge, so if you have a tile attached to every edge, you’d need 6 clips, hence why you get 20 in the pack. I’d not realised this when I ordered, so had ordered a further pack of 50 clips, in case I needed anymore – which I didn’t.

Using all 10 tiles, I set them up as a random complex of corridors. The initial idea was to spray them with a metallic dark grey, and use thin card or plastic card between the tiles, held in place with the clips, to represent walls. However, the clips are designed to hold the tiles quite tightly together, so this won’t work.

However, as the tiles are designed to be be stacked when not in use, they do have a recessed edge, so when clipped together, there is a recessed channel around each tile edge, so I might be able to slot a suitable ‘wall’ into these.

Now, whilst I’ve given a measurement across the flats, this doesn’t really help with working out whether they’re any good for 28mm figures, so let’s dump some miniatures on them and see what it looks like…

A couple of Protectorate Outriders, accompanied by a Androne, explore an abandoned facility…

However, it would appear that the facility is not as abandoned as they believe.

“Danger! Danger! Hostile entites approaching…”

We shall leave the brave folk of the Protectorate to their potentially grisly fate.

So, I’m pretty happy with both the size and price for these and think they should work pretty well, but feel I may need at least another pack. As they’re only £7.50 a pack, this isn’t a great expense, but bear in mind that the minimum order quantity is £10.00 before postage, so you might want to have a look at some of the other stuff on the site before ordering.

They do single hex terrain features which sit on top of the standard hex tiles, including craters, hills, broken ground, etc. which are only advertised in the standard brown colouring, but I did query this with Kallistra and they would make them in the other two colours (black and blue). However, as this would be a special order, it would take longer to produce.

If you’re planning on spraying them anyway, that probably doesn’t matter, but it’s good to know that the option is available.

That’s all for now, but rest assured that the Crow is on the wing once more, so expect more regular posts.

Especially since I’ve now seen the new Ghostbusters movie (which is what the 2016 one should have been, but wasn’t) and I feel that the Rookhaven Ghostbusters franchise needs to have their uniforms completed and be sent out to bust some heads…in a spiritual sense.

Going Off on a Tangent…

If you were expecting more progress on my Action Man inspired figures, I’m afraid you will be disappointed.

Whilst I have been indulging my creative side, it has been in the arena of the written word, rather than converting and painting teeny-tiny men.

To prove that I’ve not been abducted by aliens, brought low by COVID or been sojourning on Barsoom (take note, Keith), I thought I’d share the first chapter of my ‘magnificent octopus’, which is my first sustained attempt at writing more than just a short story.

And because it IS my birthday today, I can pretty much do what I want…

So, without further ado, for your delectation and critique, here is the first chapter of The Last Knight.

Chapter I

Down the Rabbit-Hole

It always starts the same…

Shadowy figures in suits, their faces obscured, burst into the room, hands filled with guns and a glint of sliver on their lapels. I try to focus on the pin they wear, knowing instinctively that it is important, but everything is blurred, like looking through a Vaseline-smeared lens.

The woman opposite me reacts, throwing out her left hand and somehow pinning the figures in place. She speaks in tones of urgency – I can’t make out the words but get the feeling that it is imperative that I leave, for I have something that must be done.

She thrusts her right hand towards me, and, with a jolt, I am suddenly falling backwards, away from the light…

I awoke with a start, banging my head on the coach window. Someone sniggered nearby, the sound somewhat jarring in my disorientated state.

It always takes you mind a few seconds to reboot when you wake, as information is gathered from your environment and your memories to fill in the nebulous period when you were wandering in the Lands of Nod.

Certain information is usually a given, unless you’ve been drugged or are suffering from concussion, so you should at least know who you are. Where you are being a slightly more complex matter, as whilst you should be in the same place you fell asleep, this is not always the case. If you wake in familiar surrounding – your own bed in your own home – you will not experience that momentary panic you get when waking in a hotel room on the first day of your holiday.

I had woken on a coach, which appeared to be travelling down a country road, as I could see cattle in the fields across from me, between the trees.

As my mind processed this, alarm bells stared going off in my head, as various questions jostled for attention; Why did I think there was something fundamentally wrong with those cows? Why was I viewing what was obviously an Autumnal scene, in shades of red and gold, when it was surely May? And, most importantly, how the fuck had I ended up on what seemed to be, from glancing at the uniformed teens around me, a school bus?

Furthermore, my body felt…swollen, as though all my insides had been scooped out and then stuffed back into a slightly smaller frame. I looked at my hands, noting that they were slimmer and smoother than I recalled, no rings or liver spots and, from the cuffs of the jumper sheathing my arms, I appeared to be wearing the same uniform as those about me.

I turned to the girl sitting across the aisle from me and spoke; “Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to have a compact with a mirror, would you?”

My voice was higher pitched than I remembered and the fear that had been lurking at the back of my mind raged forward.

The girl frowned, reached into her bag, and pulled out a compact, wordlessly handing it to me. With trembling hands, I opened it, dreading what I was about to see.

There, staring back at me, was MY face – but a face I hadn’t seen in a mirror for a good 35 years… the face of my 16-year-old self.

What. The. Fuck…

Sherlock Holmes is often quoted as stating that “when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” So, by applying deductive reasoning to the scant evidence that had been presented so far, what possible explanations could there be for my current situation?

Option 1 – Like the plot of a cheesy family movie, I had been physically regressed to my previous age, but remained in the same chronological year – no doubt to teach me some kind of valuable moral lesson that had so far escaped me in the 50-odd years I had been on the planet.

However, I currently had no way of discerning the date and no memory of making a wish via battered brass lamp, automated fortune-telling booth or ancient Buddhist skull, so whilst the evidence partially supported this, there was no way of telling for sure.

Option 2 – My mind had been thrust back in time to occupy my own teenage body (rather than someone else’s – à la Quantum Leap) to rectify a mistake made in the past. As with option 1, I had yet to find out when I was, so this was another unproven possibility.

Option 3 – I was currently inside a highly advanced virtual reality simulator, the creators of which had decided I was better suited to experience their creation as a teenage boy, rather than a grey-haired Saganaut. If the technology was advanced enough and I was connected to it physically or by way of a direct neural interface, there would be no way of telling whether this was real or not – at least until Laurence Fishburne showed up to offer me drugs.

Now, the main problem with all three options was they required certain things – a supernatural artefact in respect of option 1, mental time travel in respect of option 2 and highly advanced &/or alien technology in respect of option 3 – all things that exist within the annals of Science Fiction (emphasis on the last word) rather than in the world in which I was born into.

All this led to probable Option No. 4 – that I’d been involved in some kind of serious accident, was lying in a coma in a hospital somewhere and all of this was the product of my subconscious mind.

In which case, DCI Gene Hunt would be along shortly to call me a soft, Southern, lager-drinking twat.

Of course, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got this:

“You Crowe?”

I looked up from my reverie, still clutching the compact, to find a blonde, muscular lad, swaying slightly due to the motion of the coach, leaning over me.

Now, there were a number of responses I could have given to this query, from the factual ‘yes, I am Alexander Crowe’ to the challenging ‘Who wants to know?’ Due to my mouth not always checking with my brain first and the belief (whether justified or not) that I was a witty person, I chose to respond thus:

“Yes, I AM currently a Crowe, but am hoping that someday soon I will become a beautiful swan…”

The girl I’d borrowed the compact from snorted with laughter and I glanced across, grinning as I did so. She was stifling her laugher with her hand and I passed the compact back with a nod of thanks, then looked up at the boy, who was frowning. I decided to give him a break.

“Yes, “I said, “I am Alexander Crowe.”

“So…” he seemed to be having some difficulty marshalling his thoughts, so I took the opportunity to examine him more closely.

Blonde, muscular, handsome. Jumper sleeves pushed up and shirt cuffs folded back. Tie loose at his throat, top button undone. Nicely cut trousers and expensive shoes, so not off the rack. Home counties accent. Probably good at sports.

I focused on the uniform next – Navy blue V-neck jumper with silver trim on the neckline, embroidered silver tree of some description on the left breast, surrounded by the legend ‘Oakdene College’ also in silver – which probably meant it was supposed to be an Oak tree. Striped tie in the corresponding matching colours.

Oakdene College? Now, why did that sound familiar?

“…you must be the scholarship boy, them.” The boy eventually finished.

“I…guess so.” I answered. Scholarship? Interesting…

“So, that means your parents are poor then.” He said disdainfully.

 And there we had it. Not asking out of genuine interest, but due to ingrained snobbery from hereditary entitlement. Probably flogged his servants too.

 “Sorry,” I said, “I didn’t catch your name?”

 “Bond,” the boy said, with a touch of pride, “Aubrey Bond.”

 “Now, scholarships are not only granted to those in financial need, you know…” I began before my brain caught up with my ears. “Hold on, did you really just say Aubrey Bond?”

 “Yes, why?”

 “Seriously? Aubrey Bond?” I started laughing. “I suppose it could have been worse, your surname could have been Shortcake. Or Jambe. Or Fields.” I paused for a moment in thought. “Actually, that last one wouldn’t have been too bad, especially if you’re a Beatles fan.”

 I looked up at Aubrey smiling brightly. He did not look happy.

 “Are you making fun of me?” He growled, clenching his fists.

 I was just considering the best response to this, ideally one which not involves one of Aubrey’s fists ending up in my face, when we were fortunately interrupted.

 “Oi, you at the back there!” shouted the coach driver, “Get back in your seat!”

 Aubrey shot me a venomous look, muttered “This isn’t over, Crowe” and made his way back to his seat.              

Whilst this encounter had provided additional information and introduced me to the school bully, I was no closer to fathoming out whatever “this” was. However, I was starting to doubt whether this was all in my head.