Carpathian Kitten Loss

The title of this post is a phrase used by Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters II, referring to what Vigo the Carpathian is suffering from and why he looks so grumpy in his painting.

It’s also… The. Best. Title. Ever.

After my brief diversion to announce the Forgotten Heroes 2019 event, we return to my ongoing Ghostbusters project and something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but not got around to yet.

As I’d previously built the first room of my museum ‘board’ (go here if you missed this genius idea) and discussed in the comments that it could be used for any large internal space, including an art gallery, this started those insidious cogs turning in my brain…

As the villain of the second Ghostbusters movie spent the majority of the film as an oil painting, to have a ‘complete’ collection of 28mm Ghostbusters and related characters, I really needed a scale representation of this. I mean, I’d just built a museum hall, so how difficult could it be?

Turns out there were some teething issues, but as I’ve now overcome these, I can show you the best way to create scale paintings for your scenery, that are; 1. easy to make, 2. dirt cheap and, 3. with the right bits, can be added and removed from your scenery without any issues.

So, the first thing to do is to find the relevant images that you want to replicate. I decided that my portrait of Vigo should not hang alone, so decided to source some other images of like-minded folk. Having selected my ‘Rogue’s Gallery’, I used Google Images to find the largest, most detailed version of the picture I wanted, then simply copied and pasted these into a blank Word document.

Using the Formatting facility, I then reduced these images in size to what I felt was the correct proportions, ensuring that the aspect ratio was locked, so it didn’t distort the image. Using the ‘Picture Styles’ Formatting option, I then added a “frame” to each picture, using ‘Compound Frame, Black’. Having done this, I then printed this out on a piece of A4 paper, using my colour printer, along with one other image, like so:

So, Vigo is at the bottom left of the portraits and above him is a portrait of Ivo Shandor’s mother, which features in Ghostbusters – The Video Game, which I’ve mentioned before. As for the other three portraits, they are all historical personages and anyone who can name all three gets bonus points and my everlasting respect.

The final image is the actual logo for Stay-Puft Marshmallows that appeared in the first Ghostbusters movie, on the packet that Dana had on her kitchen counter. Yes, I am THAT much of a geek…

Interestingly, the image of Mr. Stay-Puft is a bit more angular than the one that manifested in the final reel and I’m tempted to try and recreate this…but maybe not full size.

Anyway, as I had printed this out on A4 paper, I decided to cut out the pictures and glue them on to thin card using a gluestick…

This was a mistake, so don’t do this.

The glue make the colours run and you get weird lumps everywhere. Instead, print the images straight on to card, as most home printers will take the sort of white card they give to kids to make greetings cards from and is therefore available from most stationers and handily comes in A4 size. (As a side note for any overseas readers, A4 is a standard paper size in the UK, equivalent to 8.27 × 11.69 inches, because having it 9 x 12 would be FAR too easy…)

Once you’ve done that, use a steel rule and a craft knife (as even with the best will in the world AND a steady hand, you won’t cut ’em straight) to cut out your paintings, like so:

You will then need to colour the edges of your ‘paintings’, as otherwise when viewed from the side, you’ll see the white card they’re printed on. This can easily be done with a black felt tip such as a Sharpie, although someone’s wandered off with mine, so I had to paint the bloody things. Don’t do this – it takes too long and you can end up with paint, ironically, on your ‘paintings’.

The next stage is to cover the paintings with transparent sticky=backed plastic. I used a 50p roll from Wilko, intended for covering school books. This is to protect the images when being handled, as ink from an inkjet printer will wear off if treated too rough and gives the ‘paintings’ that sheen that you see on oil paintings. Once you’ve done this, flip them over and glue 1 pence pieces to the back of each one, like so;

It doesn’t have to be a 1 pence pieces, you can use any coin of your choice, or a washer, although washers do tend to be more expensive than a penny each. The important thing is that the coin (or coin substitute) be of a composition that is ferromagnetic…

And the reason for this is because that way, by placing a strong enough magnet on the reverse of the wall you are intending hanging the ‘picture’ on, it can be placed anywhere on the wall and removed just as easily, so will not be a permanent fixture.

To show you what I mean, here’s Dr Floyd Petersen of the Rookhaven Ghostbusters franchise, examining a portrait he has discovered hanging in the museum, which appears to be giving off a significant amount of Psychokinetic Energy…

“There are no strings on me…”

Did I hear someone say… ‘genius’?

Until next time…

Advertisements

Unnatural History

Anyone who has visited one of the big museums, such as the British Museum or the Natural History Museum in London, will know that not only are they filled with cool and interesting things, but they…are…HUGE. I’m not just talking about the exteriors, but once you walk in through the front doors, you find yourself within a cool, marble-floored hall, whose ceiling and walls stretch away from you – almost to infinity. This sense of scale, of grandeur, is deliberate, as it puts you in the right frame of mind to full appreciate the artefacts that you will shortly be viewing.

Now, back in 2009, Sony released Ghostbusters: The Video Game across various home console platforms, including PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and the Wii. There were two ‘versions’ of the game – realistic and stylised – depending on which console you had, but the general plot was the same.

It was set in New York in 1991 and the Ghostbusters, with the addition of a new “Experimental Weapons Technician” (controlled by the player), attempted to thwart the convoluted plan of Ivo Shandor to return from beyond the veil and complete the work he had begun back in the 1920’s.

Now, unlike a lot of the games published under the Ghostbusters banner, the script and story for this had been created by Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis, and featured the actual vocal talents of the majority of the original cast, including the notoriously reclusive Bill Murray.

And it was awesome, especially on the Wii, as you actually felt like you WERE a Ghostbuster.

You may be wondering how this video game and my introduction regarding museums are related to one another…or to wargaming, which is the purpose of this blog and probably why you’re here in the first place. All WILL be explained, so read on.

So, one of the levels of this game featured the American Museum of Natural History, star of the first Night in the Museum movie and novel Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (NB: the movie based on the latter – The Relic (1997) – whilst not too bad, moved the action to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, so not the same place.) You got to explore various parts of the museum and bust a variety of supernatural menaces along the way.

This got me thinking that having a tabletop representation of a museum – a museum ‘board’ if you will – would be a great location to play a variety of games on. A heist of a valuable artefact could be thwarted by costumed vigilantes or uniformed police; a group of stalwart, square-jawed adventurers could sneak in to prevent cultists from opening a portal to another dimension and releasing some squamous horror; paranormal exterminators or meddling teens could investigate and eliminate a haunting, whether real or faked. Just think of all the movies you’ve seen that have featured a museum or art gallery as a major location and think of what fun YOU could have with your figures, if you had one yourself…

Now, I am aware that Sally 4th does as part of their Terra Blocks range, under the sub-heading of Exotic Locations, The Museum of Antiquities, which is constructed from 17 100mm cubes, that can be rearranged to your heart’s content, for £17.50.

However, whilst nice, this doesn’t really convey the scale of the big museums to me, so I sat on this idea for a while until I had one of my unbelievably genius ideas. You may be somewhat sceptical at this point, but just you wait and see…

Right, first thing you need is a box, but not just any box. You need a box that is pretty big, robust and deep. I was initially going to use a box file for this, as they’re pretty cheap and easy to get hold of wherever you happen to be in the world, but then remembered that Ikea do black storage boxes for a very reasonable £2.00 each. Obviously, being Ikea, you’ve got to build them yourself, but no tools are necessary, as these are the only parts you get:

As you can see from the instruction sheet, this box is called ‘Tjena’, and comes in three parts; the pre-assembled lid, the sides and folded bottom and a flat insert to go in the bottom of the box for added stability. The box is 13 3/4″ long, 9 3/4″ wide and 4″ tall (or 35cm, 25cm and 10cm, if you use Metric) and looks like this once you’ve built it;

You can now see why you have a insert, as the folded part of the base of the box means it hasn’t got a flat bottom.

Each one of these boxes will represent one hall within our museum, so depending on how large you want your museum to be depends on how many boxes you buy. As each ‘hall’ is only £2.00 (in the UK at least), your playing area and budget will dictate how many halls your museum has.

Once you’ve decided how many halls you are going to have and the approximate layout, you need to cut openings in the relevant walls of your halls, so that the visitors can move between halls. Make sure that the openings in each hall are the same size, so that when you put them together, they marry up. I have decided that as my museum may have exhibits such as prehistoric animals or modern art in the form of giant plastic pigs, the openings need to be 3″ wide and this hall will have three openings, so I cut these out.

The reason I did this first is because whilst the box, insert and lid are coloured black, the card it’s made from isn’t, so the cut parts show the original colour of the cardboard it’s made from. As the next stage involves paint, it’s better to have all the bits you’re going to paint on show at the same time.

As museums tend to have neutral coloured walls, out came my £4.00 can of Wilko ‘Soft Taupe’ spray paint and the interior walls (and the cut parts showing the base card colour) were given a liberal coat, then left to dry whilst I moved on to the next part. And this is what it looked like once it was dry.

However, whilst it was drying, I tackled the ‘floor’. The idea here was to cover the card insert with suitably patterned self-adhesive decorative vinyl. Having found a role of said product that featured 1 inch squares, that looked like floor tiles (and is actually fairly similar to the tiled floor of the British Museum) in Poundland, I thought it would be ideal.

So, I cut a section big enough to cover the insert and overlap the edges, peeled of the backing paper and carefully applied the sticky-back plastic to my card insert, like so;

As the walls of my hall were now dry, I simply dropped my floor into place and had the first of my basic museum halls completed;

And to give a sense of scale, here’s Jake Hudson of the local Ghostbusters franchise facing off against some Oriental beastie stalking the halls of the Rookhaven Museum of Natural History;

Now, it’s not complete, as I am intending on adding skirting boards, light switches and power outlets to the walls, to make it look more ‘real’, but I wanted to get this up on the blog so others could see just how simple, quick and inexpensive creating a large interior space to play in was. It doesn’t need to be a museum – it could be ANY interior. And it doesn’t need to be a room this size – it could be easily divided up into smaller rooms, to represent a secret base or a prison or…well anything YOU need.

And, once you’re done playing, pop the lid on and stack it up with the other halls you’ve built. Robust, quick and easy to build and store, and cheap.

Genius.

‘Nuff said.

Size of a Cow…

Like the other seasonal holidays, whilst Easter does see the shelves of our favourite discount stores filled with suitable bits and bobs, unlike Halloween, these don’t tend to be of any use to the average wargamer.

Having purchased a small wicker basket from Poundland, with the intention of filling it with a veritable cornucopia of small chocolate goodies for my wife, I found that I’d left it a touch late to buy the ‘goodies’, so had to buy normal eggs instead.

This left me with an unwanted and unnecessary item. As I detest waste and have absolutely no shame, I took it back to Poundland and exchanged it for something else…because that’s how I roll.

And what I got was these:

Five injection-moulded hollow plastic bath toys, representing various farm animals, in suitably restrained colours. For a £1, so that makes them 20p each. Bargain!

Now, you might be wondering why on Earth I bought these in the first place and why am I featuring them on the Buffet. Well, in typical Jez fashion, I saw these and immediately started thinking outside the box. The cartoon-like styling of these, their size (they are approximately 3 inches long and 2 inches tall) and their weight (being hollow, they don’t weigh very much) means that I immediately started thinking they could be used as parade balloons, fibre-glass restaurant signs, or corporate mascots brought to unholy life and unleashed on the Ghostbusters…

This give a better idea of how big these toys scenery items are, compared to a standard 28mm Crooked Dice figure. The horse/pony and the chicken are a bit taller, being 3 inches tall and the chicken certainly looks like it should be gracing the roof of a “Chicken Shack”…

However, looking at the pig next to my Ghostbuster figure….

And remembering the beginning of the second Toy Story, where the evil Dr. Porkchop has a vast pig-shaped spacecraft, I thought that this would make a good shuttlecraft for….Pigs in Space!

Of course, in order to do that you’ll need some 28mm Space Pigs…

Luckily, Interloper Miniatures has some;

Join me next time, when we’ll be off to the museum…

 

Re-Scaping

In my last but one post (I’ll Put a Hex on You…), I discussed my plans regarding re-purposing my Heroscape hex terrain to make it less ‘cartoon-y’ looking. I have decided to christen this “Re-Scaping” because…I can.

Now, I am aware that not everyone is as familiar with Heroscape as myself, so I thought I’d do a quick history bit first. It was originally published/released in 2004 by Milton Bradley and was a complete turn-based miniature wargame, which came with 30 pre-painted miniatures. The main difference from other games of this ilk is that it came with interlocking hex tiles, which could be combined in whatever fashion you chose, to create your battlefield. Lego for wargamers, essentially.

Until it was discontinued in 2010, several expansions were released, introducing different coloured tiles to represent different types of terrain, including dungeon, snow and lava field tiles.

At one point, I had a copy of every terrain expansion released, bar the castle set, but various financial issues resulted in me selling off the Volcarren Wasteland (lava-themed), Thaelenk Tundra (snow and ice-themed) and the Battle for the Underdark (Dungeon-themed) sets.

This still left me with a fair amount of tiles of varying types of terrain, which are shown below:

Starting from top left and going clockwise, the green/brown tile is a Grass tile and the grey/brown is a Stone tile, both from the Rise of the Valkyrie base set. Grass tiles are those you get the most of. Next we have a cobbled Road tile, from the Road to the Forgotten Forest set. You get about 20 of these, so not enough to cobble the entirety of Blackwell. The black tile is an Asphalt tile and the light grey is a Concrete tile, both from the Marvel base set The Conflict Begins. I ended up with three of these sets, as The Entertainer was selling them off at £10 a set. The two-tone green tile is a Swamp tile, from The Swarm of the Marro set and the yellow tile is a Sand tile from The Arena of the Planeswalkers set.

Typically, each type of terrain comes in 1-hex, 2-hex, 3-hex and 7-hex tiles, with certain variations, like the 24-hex Grass tiles.

Those who are fully conversant with the game and the sets I have mentioned will have noticed that one type of terrain tile is missing – the cream/brown Sand tile which featured in the base set as well as a few other places.

This is because I took ALL my Sand tiles and with a can of ‘Soft Taupe’ Gloss Acrylic Spray from Wilkinsons (£4.00 for a 400ml can), re-coloured them all. However, whilst the spray gave a nice coverage, it did teach me two important things regarding doing this type of re-colouring. Firstly, don’t apply the spray too thickly, otherwise your interlocking tiles will fit a bit TOO snugly together and it will be a bugger to get them apart and, secondly, the colour of the can’s lid and the sample board showing the spray applied will not match the actual paint that comes out. Both the lid and sample board suggested that ‘soft taupe’ was a browny-grey colour. It is…but it’s not as dark as it appeared, as you can see if the picture below:

The bottom tiles are a light grey concrete tile on the left and a dark grey Road tile on the right. Above them is the ‘soft taupe’ tile, which is a pretty similar colour to the Concrete tile.

After some gnashing of teeth and a bit of compound swearing, I resorted to Plan B – in which the B stands for ‘Burnt Umber’. Utilising a bottle of Docrafts Acrylic of this hue, I grabbed the 24-hex tile that I’d sprayed with ‘Soft Taupe’ and gave it a liberal coating of this, as a test piece.

And do you know what? It came out rather well, as can be seen from the quick scene I set up below, featuring some of my other ‘Re-Scaped’ hexes that had cheap trees from China attached and a Time War Dalek, who is hunting squirrels…

So, as I now have a solution, I just need to give all my ‘Soft Taupe’ sprayed tiles a coat of Burnt Umber and I will have my first set of Re-Scaped tiles, which I think shall be dubbed Mud tiles. Should double up as patches of earth, dirt roads in the countryside or possibly compacted dirt roads in urban environments.

Of course, the comparison with the original Grass tiles now shows that they need Re-Scaping too. Luckily, Wilkinson’s does have at least 3 different shades of cheap green spray paint, so hopefully at least one of them will be a closer match to the colour I want.

I shall finish up with a small piece of good news – it appears I will be attending Salute this year after all, so keep your eyes peeled for the grumpy old crow stalking the aisles and descending upon the Bloggers Meet in a flurry of feathers.

Jez

Theatre Studies

So, as it’s my birthday weekend and I’m usually gallivanting around the country at this time of year, this weekend doesn’t usually see much in the way of hobby-related activities being completed. However, what with the reduction in overall salary coming in, a jaunt to far-flung places couldn’t really be justified this year – so I was treated to a surprise lunch at an Ascot restaurant, followed by a trip to the cinema. And because my family like to surprise me, it wasn’t until the title card came up on the screen that I knew which movie I was about to see…

It was the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which, for a long-term Queen fan such as myself, was a treat in itself. Not strictly 100% historically accurate, but an enjoyable celebration of Messrs Mercury, May, Taylor and Deacon, with some spot-on performances by the actors concerned. And plenty of cracking music.

Anyway, birthing-day stuff aside, I found my modelling talents called upon this weekend to assist my daughter, who is studying Drama at A Level. She was required to produce a model of a theatre set to show to her teacher how she would stage a specific play.

There she was, sitting in the middle of the lounge, surrounded by cardboard boxes, mouth turned down at the corners and getting stressed due to the fact that she had a few rough sketches of what she wanted to achieve, but no real idea of how to go about it.

My wife turned to me and said, “Jeremy, Can you help her?”

I, of course, being a responsible parent, immediately said “Yes, of course,” whilst rubbing my hands together inside my head with glee.  So, I cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war…gaming.

She needed the ‘black box theatre’ main building, the set – which must have two working doors and a large picture window – and a variety of scale furniture, including a filing cabinet, desk, two chairs, a coat-stand and what she described as an ‘old telephone’, i.e. a rotary dial ‘phone.

So, having talked it back and forward with her, we began work and it was finally completed about 10.30pm last night. And this is the result;

To give a sense of size, it’s approximately 1: 24 scale, so 1 inch equals roughly 2 feet. This is a bit of a departure for me, as I usually work at 28mm, which is approximately 1:56-ish.

I was responsible for the all the furniture and have to say I’m pretty pleased with how it came out, as everything is immediately identifiable as what it was intended to be. Whilst not obvious in the picture above, the filing cabinet does have individual handles on each drawer.

So, a weekend where I was treated to lunch out, a visit to the cinema and actively encouraged by my wife to unleash my inner geek for the benefit of my daughter.

Can’t really complain now, can I?

Until next time…

In a Dark, Dark Wood…

After a flurry of emails back and forth between myself and my co-collaborator Steve on our Age of Unreason project, we discovered a slight flaw in our plans…

My initial idea was to use the time-frame of the French Indian Wars (1754 – 1763) as the overall setting for this project, as my Dark Haven thread required an isolated location in what would become Northern Maine and I thought this period offered the best options for the type of thing I was looking for. However, Steve had a slightly different period in mind, approximately 30-40 years further on…

Now, whilst both periods share a similar level of technology, you couldn’t really say they were the same campaign/project and it would mean that the shared location of St. Gilbert’s couldn’t really be shared – unless it exists in some strange pocket universe, time warp or a geographically shifted Bermuda triangle. Although, as Varian from The Fantastic Journey WAS initially disguised as an Arawak native, that could be a possibility…

So, we could have split the two threads into two separate and semi-related campaigns, but what would be the point in that?

As Steve possessed the lion’s share of the existing figures and mine were currently ‘on sprue’, it seemed more sensible to shift my time-frame forward, as my thread was not really event or time-specific.

So, we have decided that the Age of Unreason will be set in the 1790’s. America has fought and won its independence and the new government of the United States has decided that it doesn’t need a standing army, so the Continental army has been disbanded and replaced with individual state militias. But whilst revolution is no longer on the agenda of the American people, this doesn’t mean that other nations are immune to its effects, as the French monarchy are soon to find out.

The latter aspect of this will be where Steve will be concentrating his efforts, dealing with the French Revolution and those conflicts that arose from it. He will no doubt provide a bit more information on what exactly he will be doing, so I’ll leave that up to him to explain.

For me, as Dark Haven now actually exists IN the State of Maine, rather than one of the other innumerable names it laboured under as its borders shifted back and forth, I don’t have to worry about what the actual name of the province/colony/etc. was where the town is situated or who owns it.

《Edit: As rightly pointed out by Bob in the comments below, Maine didn’t actually become a state in its own right until 1820. During the time selected for this campaign, it was still part of Massachusetts and was known as the District of Maine. I must check my sources a bit more thoroughly in future.》

Whilst my plans and themes have not altered – if you’re thinking a cross between Sleepy Hollow and Twin Peaks, you’re pretty much there – the make-up of my small group of hardy soldiers sent to Dark Haven has. As the area is now part of the United States, I can’t be really sending British redcoats into the woods – it will have to be Maine Massachusetts state militia, wearing a mix of hand-me-down Continental army uniforms and buckskins. As I had not yet assembled my troops, this doesn’t represent an issue for me.

So, no redcoats will be showing up in the Dark Haven thread.

Well, not living ones anyway…

But before I can send anyone into the woods, I do actually need to have some woods to send them into. Having already secured my remarkably cheap trees from China, I decided it was time to dip and base them.

I mixed up a jug of very thinned down PVA, to seal the flock on the trees and prevent any more shedding. The consistency needs to be slightly slimy to the touch, which means that it will seal, but not end up in big gloopy lumps all over your trees. The slight problem with this is that as the clump foliage/flock is absorbent, it will take a bit longer to dry. And it’s a bit messy.

I decided to do this outside on Saturday, thinking that I could peg the trees up in the sun and they would dry nice and quickly. Of course, the weather decided to take a turn for the inclement and it began to rain. Not being one to let the weather dictate what I can and can’t do, I did this:

That’s right – twenty dipped trees, suspended under my patio table, out of the rain. Where they stayed for the rest of Saturday afternoon, Saturday night and a bit of Sunday morning.

Sunday, being a day of Sun, hence the name, was a bit nicer. After dispensing with the outside jobs that required Man (as all the gardening tools are stored in a place where the spiders live – which is a no-go zone for my wife), I commenced basing my trees.

Selecting one, two and three hex Heroscape tiles and the relevant diameter drill bit that matched the trunks of my trees, I drilled twenty holes in the centre of each hex. I then pushed the trees through the holes, adjusted the rotation of the trees to get them to sit nicely together, then flipped each tile over and hot-glued the protruding trunk underneath. Unfortunately, some of the holes were slightly bigger that the trunks – whether this was the drill moving or different sized trunks, I’m uncertain – but it meant that not every tree is perpendicular to the ‘ground’. Plus some of the protruding trunks are a little too long to enable them to sit flush on top of other Heroscape hexes, so will have to be trimmed down a smidge.

But, this is what the entire ‘forest’ looked like once they’d been based, all crammed together:

And a low-level shot, showing what they look like from a miniature’s point of view, which also shows the wonky trees and bases that need trimming.

So, once they’d based in this fashion, you can then move them around to your heart’s content, combining them with other Heroscape hexes, to create a modular, robust and reasonably convincing landscape or battlefield, like so:

Now, I appreciate that these may not be particular ‘Dark’, but I think you’ll agree that I’ve covered the the ‘Woods’ part pretty well.

Whilst I shall be gaming in 28mm, imagine what these 10cm tall trees would look like with 15mm figures! Heroscape hexes are 1 3/4 inches across, for those of you unfamiliar with them, so the clearance between each trunk is just under this distance, so a fair bit of space to manoeuvre your figures about in or fill with shrubs and low-lying vegetation. Or Jackalopes…

Until next time…

Into The Woods

Regular visitors to the Buffet will have noted a distinct lack of content relating to the stalwart members of the Black Museum.

Whilst I still have tales to tell (and games to play) of their adventures, we have reached a plateau and other projects have been singing their siren songs, encouraging me down other avenues.

So rather than ‘force’ my hand and produce additional content that might not be up to the standard I’ve already set for this project, I thought it best to take a respite and move on to something a bit…different.

My simple mass combat rules – Feast of Crows – are complete and have been passed on to a third party, in order for them to be tested and (hopefully) not broken. The results of this will probably be published here, with a review and AAR done by someone other than me, with the rules available as a download, so you can try them for yourself.

And as June is fast approaching, this will see the return of spandex-clad shenanigans, as Forgotten Heroes returns for the third year running. Once again we offer you the chance to exercise your creative muscles and create a 28mm miniature of a costumed hero or villain who has yet to be produced, or has, but the figure was a bit rubbish. Details of the previous two years outputs can be found on the ‘official’ Forgotten Heroes website, set up and run by my glamorous assistant, the lovely Roger Webb. Come join us – it’s a lot of fun!

So, what other things can you expect to see on the Buffet for the remainder of the year?

Well, the main project will not only be something new, but also a new era for me, as we travel back to the 18th century, a time of horse and musket, drums and shakos and Sean Bean shouting “Bastard!”…

And for this I blame Steve Gilbert. However, he has redeemed himself regarding this, as I shall explain.

We’d been discussing various topics and Steve had expressed a desire to do some kind of joint project, where we shared a ‘world’, to which we could both contribute, adventure and play within. I’d said I was quite keen on doing something involving pirates and highwaymen, flintlocks and powdered wigs, where if your hat had less than two corners, you weren’t taken seriously. Steve like this idea, as it was an era he was interested in and had a fair few existing models which he could use.

However, I didn’t. Steve then kindly offered to send me a few sprues of suitable figures from Warlord Games‘ AWI range, so I’d have the necessary core figures to do this.

Now that obstacle was removed, ideas began to flow and the world began to take shape…

So, this joint sandbox project will have three threads. Each of us will have a dedicated personal setting or campaign, with the third part being a shared location we both utilise.

The project as a whole will fall under the umbrella title of “Age of Unreason”.

Steve will be following the exploits of a group of ‘chosen men’, as they take to the field in various conflicts and will follow their globe-trotting career. This may feature here or may end up on a new blog of Steve’s. This will be entitled “Sharpe’s Progress.”

The shared location will be the small Caribbean island of St. Gilbert, located in the Lesser Antilles. Whilst entirely fictional, it was originally colonised by the very real Order of St. Gilbert, hence the name. For more details on this unique order, follow this link. This part will be entitled “Île des Mortes.”

As for my setting, I will be concentrating on a small British Colonial township located in the deep woods of what will become the state of Maine. And this part will be named after the town itself – “Dark Haven.”

Understandably, given who’s involved, you can expect a wealth of historical detail and a big dollop of the macabre. This is an era where the major powers of the World are expanding past their borders into regions filled with unfamiliar cultures and belief systems. Whilst the majority of what they encounter can be dismissed as mere myth and superstition, not every tall tale is untrue…and some things are best left undisturbed.

Now, as with every ‘new’ project I start, the first thing I do is to work out what I’ve already got that can be used/re-purposed for the nascent project, before deciding whether I CAN do and what else I will need.

As Steve had provided me with troops and my collection of HeroScape hexes would provide the terrain I needed, it was time to decide what else I needed.

Short list consisted of; North American fauna, suitable settler’s dwellings and trees…lots and LOTS of trees.

I’d already picked up some wolves from Warbases at Salute (see my post ‘Sa-Loot 2018’ for details) and Roger very kindly offered me a toy bear he had, that he felt was the right scale. When this arrived, it was not only the right scale, but also a better sculpt than the metal figures I’d been looking at, as you can see from the picture below;

Rather cool, ain’t he? Big thanks to Roger for this (as well as the other figures, you bad man).

Due to miscalculating exactly how much of my Salute budget I had left (it was more than I thought I had), I failed to pick up the Renedhra Noeth American Farmhouse, which was on offer at Salute, so don’t yet have any buildings. However, as I do have a crapload of coffee stirrers, some wooden cabins are on the horizon.

This left the trees…

Now, gaming trees are not the cheapest item you can buy. True, they do look rather nice and usually come pre-based, but you’re looking at roughly £15.00 for three, which if you’re trying to plant a forest, is a substantial outlay.

Having dismissed this idea, I watched various online videos on how to make your own, which whilst is a cheaper option, does require a fair outlay of time to do.

And then I had a brainwave and went to eBay. I remembered that Andy had picked up some inexpensive trees for his ATZ terrain and thought I’d see if they did something similar for my needs.

After a browse, I came across a listing for “10 pieces 10cm plastic model trees”…for £1.80 including shipping! The pictures looked pretty good and 10cm tall was a good size – tall enough so they didn’t look too small, but small enougb that stiorage wouldn’t be an option. So, I took a gamble and ordered two packs.

Six days later (yes, it only took six days for them to ship them from China) they arrived, and this is what they look like;

Each tree IS actually 10cm tall and consists of an injection molded plastic tree, to which has been attached ‘blobs’ of flock to represent the foliage. The coverage is a little uneven, with a few bare branches, but this means that whilst each tree is effectively identical, there is a bit of variation. As the soft plastic of the ‘frame’ is easily cut, if you want to trim a few branches here and there, I can’t imagine this would be a problem. There was also a bit of shedding of the flock, but a quick dip in a solution of thinnned down PVA will solve this issue.

All well and good, you say, but how do they compare to a standard 28mm figure?

Like this;

Not had a chance to base them properly yet, so I just used a temporary solution to get them upright.

So, twenty trees for £3.80 – which is less than a pint of beer! Bargain!

Whilst mine were £1.80 for a pack of 10, this has now gone up to £1.95 for a pack of 10…but that’s still less than 20p per tree. And they can be found here.

A fair bit of assembly and basing to be done, but soon I shall be able to send some Redcoats into the woods. What will they encounter? Native tribes? Indigenous fauna? A French raiding party? Or something far more inexplicable? Hopefully you’ll have as much fun as me finding out.

Until next time…

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something…Orange

Initially, the title of this post was going to be a time-related quote, but as I’d already used “It’s About Time” which would have been perfect, I had to think of something a bit different, hence the above. All will become clear as you read on…

So, let us start with Something Old

When I first started my Gothic Victoriana project (which became Tales of the Black Museum) way back in August of last year, the first structure that was shown for the London borough of Blackwell was the Chapel of St. Gilbert, with accompanying churchyard and scenery. The build for this particular terrain piece can be found in the post For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is probably worth a look so you can do a comparison, as it was pointed out at the time that my church was a little too clean…

So, I decided to do a bit of work on it to see whether I could make it look a bit more soot-stained and grimy, and this is the result:

Certainly looks a bit more worn than before and the roof tiles are now the appropriate colour. To be frank, the picture makes it look brighter than it actually is. The same applies to the tree in the churchyard, which was originally undercoated black and has had various shades and washes applied to it, but now looks a bit ‘spectral’ – although it is darker to the natural eye.

I still need to finish off the remainder of the churchyard and add a few details to the church doors, but when you progress a large terrain piece from ‘half-done’ to ‘almost done’, you do have a sense of achievement, as large terrain pieces do take a fair while to paint compared to figures.

Next up – Something New. As my last post did state that the churchyard was where Lord Edmund Blackadder’s time machine had ended up, I thought I’d best show it in place – as I’ve finally got around to finishing the bloody thing!

Trying to create tiny clock hands out of very thin plastic that were the right shape AND symmetrical proved quite tricky. Also discovering that I really should have made the trench surrounding the dial slightly wider to allow me to write the numbers around the dial more clearly was an annoyance, but it IS finished now, so I’m quite pleased.

And yes, this close-up of the time machine revealed that I’d missed painting one of the chapel’s buttresses, which is why it still has the warm toffee colour of the original paint job.

Now, we’ve got Blackadder’s time machine complete, but where is the man himself? He is our Something Borrowed.

So, I finally managed to get the figure I’m using for my version of the 1999 incarnation of Lord Edmund Blackadder based, undercoated and some paint on him. Strangely, the bit that took the longest was mixing up the colour for his velvet jacket, as I did not have a suitable colour pre-mixed – Imperial Purple being too pink and Worm Purple being too purple. So, “Blackadder Plum” was tinkered with until it matched what I thought the colour should be.

Still a bit of work to go, but he’s coming along and at least he can now appear in physical form for his adventures in Blackwell.

So, something old (the church), something new (the time machine), something borrowed (Edmund Balckadder), which leaves…something blue. Or in my case, something orange…Zygons!

I took advantage of Black Tree’s post-Christmas sale to add some classic characters to my Doctor Who collection, including a couple of the classic Zygons from the 1975 Fourth Doctor serial Terror of the Zygons.

Now, I know that the modern re-design of this alien race has changed their colouration slightly, so that they look more crab-like in colour, but my recollection and online images from the original story, showed they were a greeny-orange colour, so that’s what I went with. Both figures were given an undercoat of white, followed by a coat of GW Bogey Green, and then a coat of my ‘Pumpkin Orange’ mix. And that’s it.

As the orange paint is quite ‘orangey’, but also quite thin, it kinds of acts like a glaze, pooling in the right places and allowing hints of the underlying green to show through. I think it works really well and am now tempted to buy some of the new Warlord Zygons and paint them exactly the same way. May not be exactly canon, but neither’s painting their hands black…

Hopefully, this post signifies a return to more regular posting. The next post will be my regular post-Salute report, as it’s now less than a week away, and will be from an ‘insider’s’ point of view, as I’m helping out on the Wargames Terrain Workshop stall and demonstration tables this year. So, please feel free to drop by and say hello.

Until next time…

The Greatest Breakthrough in Travel..

…since Mr. Rodney Tricycle thought to himself “I’m bored with walking, I think I’ll invent a machine with three wheels and a bell, and name it after myself.

Behold, the time machine…

As I am now the proud owner of the surrogate figure I’m planning on using to represent Lord Edmund Blackadder (circa 1999), in order for him to visit the London borough of Blackwell, I decided that some additional work was needed to complete his time machine.

However, as I’m sadly lacking in my very own Baldrick to delegate this task to, I’ve had to do it myself…

When we first saw the machine, it looked like this;

The initial box was crafted from an Amazon cardboard ‘envelope’, with a circular hole cut in the front and the drawbridge-like door cut into the left side. A smaller disc of card was then covered in baking foil (dull side up) to create the clockface, then glued to a larger disc of card and fixed behind the hole, giving a bit of depth to the model.

All four sides and the top were then given a covering of textured wallpaper, to represent the canvass sides of the machine. A rubber washer, topped with a smaller plastic washer and then a plastic cap were glued together and added to the top of the device, to represent the viewing port of the original machine.

This made it look a bit like a washing machine with a hatbox on top of it, but as with most modelling projects, it’s all in the details…

The machine needed four decorative ‘spires’ on each corner of the roof, some feet, a cog or fly-wheel protruding from the right-hand side of the device and some rungs on inner surface of the door, so our intrepid time travellers had stable footing when alighting – so my bits box was raided and various beads, screws and washers were affixed in the relevant places, resulting in this;

And another shot showing the fly-wheel;

I also decided to add several cut down cotton-bud stems to represent the frame that the canvass is attached to.

It’s not exactly the same as the original design, but it’s a pretty good match and I’m happy with it.

Now, as it was fairly evident that it was cobbled together from a variety of disparate parts, I decided to give it an undercoat of Docrafts Linen, in order to blend them all together.

The bases and feet were given a coat of Docrafts Burnt Umber and the frame a coat of Docrafts Classic Gold. Referring to the Blackadder: Back and Forth, I then painted the roof spires, viewing port and clockface in GW Shining Gold, and the shallow trench around the clockface with Docrafts White. And this is the result;

The exerior requires dry-brushing with a dark pink, the ramp needs a coat of brown and I need to add the numerals, decorative marks and hands to the clockface, but it’s progressing well and should be finished…in good time.

I just need to base and paint Blackadder himself and he will then be meddling in the affairs of the residents of Blackwell.

Until next “time”…

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…