Warfare 2018

Last Saturday saw my annual visit to our local wargaming show here in Reading – Warfare, run by the Wargames Association of Reading.

Even before I started attending Salute (which has now become my other gaming show), I would always attend this one, as it’s really close, gives me the opportunity to see the models up close and, as it occurs just after my birthday, I usually have a few spare pennies to spend.

Now, Warfare takes place in the Rivermead leisure centre, spread over four separate rooms. There’s plenty of space in the competition/club demonstration room, which takes place in the indoor bowling green, but traders hall always seems rather cramped, as the aisles are fairly narrow and some attendees are less considerate than others.

As I arrived rather later than usual and the trader shall was heaving, I headed straight into the competition hall, as sometimes the table are worth looking at. Now, there are usually a few nice-ish tables on display, but nothing that usually makes me want to take out my camera. However, this year, there was, so I did actually take some photos.

First, a rather nice 28mm Pegasus Bridge set-up for Bolt Action, which wasn’t actually being played upon, but I felt warranted a picture because it was so nice.

Not sure where the kid with the 70’s haircut came from…possibly from off the set of The Omen remake…

Next up, one of several 28mm full-size galleons for a (probably) pirate-themed game.

This one was the biggest and loaded to the gunnels with British seamen. The fort they were attacking was okay, but the ships themselves were lovely.

The final table was probably another Bolt Action table, as it appears to be a war-torn city.  An absolutely HUGE amount of detail – trains, planes, a crane, plumes of smoke, etc. Just click on the picture and enjoy.

After wandering up and down the aisles for a while, I decided to brave the traders hall. And found it somewhat…lacking. It would appear that some of the standard traders that usually attend had decided to forego this year. And the traders who were there didn’t appear to have very much in the way of new stuff.

A couple of manufacturers did – Sally 4th being one (as noted by Simon over at Fantorical) and Warbases, who have extended their range of laser-cut MDF buildings into several areas that I wasn’t aware of such as sci-fi, ancient Rome and soon to be the Orient. Worth a look on their website if you haven’t visited in a while, as their range has expanded a fair bit, their prices are reasonable and they have a good range of 28mm animals, should you need to populate your British countryside with both farm and wildlife.

And it was Warbases who manged to part me from some of my cash, as they had a set of two MDF handcarts, complete with metal ‘loads’ and attendants. Ideal for adding to colour to your street-scenes and reasonably generic clothing-wise to be used from Victorian up to Post-war, as shown below.

Two metal figures, two loads and two MDF handcarts…for £7.00. Bargain! Unsurprisingly, the handcarts don’t come with instructions, but it’s pretty obvious how they go together, with the T-shaped part being the stand which prevents it from tipping over – which will be used for the vegetable seller.

So, a couple of likely lads ready and waiting to be purvey their wares on the streets of Blackwell.

My only other purchase was the main reason for attending. Earlier in the year, Crooked Dice launched a Kickstarter for their ‘Children of the Fields’ range of figures and programme guide. Obviously, as this is Crooked Dice and 7TV, this was a range of creepy villagers, sinister Morris Men, devious Huntsmen, possibly possessed scarecrows and all the other various accoutrements of a 70’s British village that welcomes strangers, but doesn’t let them leave. I was almost tempted by this KS, but felt that for the models I did want, I’d end up with some models I didn’t.

However, there was one model I knew I had to have. Now, I could have taken advantage of the ‘pledge a £1’ option that allowed you to just select an add-on, but I worked out that if I did this, the model I wanted would actually cost me more, taking into account the postage, than waiting until it was released and picking it up at Warfare.

So that’s what I did…and here ‘he’ is.

This is The Straw Man, an 80mm tall corn/wheat golem and he’s rather bloody cool. A nice three-part model which looks like it will go together with no issues, with nice, crisp detailing. Basically, it does look like it’s made of bundles of hay…or possibly “Shredded Wheat”. And, not being period specific, I can use this for Age of Unreason, Tales of the Black Museum, Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo and even Doctor Who games should I wish.

Now, it’s not cheap – being £15.00, but I do feel it’s worth it, as there is literally nothing else like it on the market. And if you want lesser minions for your giant Straw Man, Crooked Dice do a Straw Bear (which is a Morris Man dressed in sheafs of straw, rather than an actual bear), as part of the same range.

Mummers Procession

So, whilst not as good a show as previous year’s, was still worthwhile me going…and I did get to have a nice long chat with Karl from Crooked Dice, where I suggest stuff I want him to make and he laughs at me or says “funny you should mention that…”

Until next time.

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Spirits of Vengeance

“Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise…” – Isaiah 26:19

As we’re within a transition period here at the Buffet, with my Tales of the Black Museum being temporarily shelved as the focus shifts to the new Age of Unreason campaign, I find my hobby-time is split between finishing off a few odds and ends for TOBM and preparing the miniatures, terrain and fauna for the new project. And, for some reason, an urge to paint Daleks…

However, whilst there are no Daleks on show in this post, it does highlight the juxtaposition between the previous project and the new, with figures from both, which do happen to have a rather coincidental link…

First up, the most recent recruit to the forces of the Black Museum, the Penny Farthing-riding Constable Jack O’Lantern.

Constructed from various odds and ends from my bits box, including a plastic GW skeleton, who was then clothed in a Milliput uniform, when we first saw him, he looked like this:

As my intention was to have him as a Victorian version of the Marvel character Ghost Rider, he would not only require painting, but the addition of mystical flames boiling forth from his skull and a trail of fire behind him…which is why his base was made that long.

The painting wasn’t an issue, other than the wash I’d applied to his hands, feet and skull leaking on to his uniform, requiring a bit of touching up.

The flame effects were a bit trickier. Having previously used transparent silicone bathroom sealant to create a ring of mystical fire around an Oriental vampire model, mainly to hide the fact that he was a bit shorter than the other models he was going to be used with, I knew that it was possible. But it proved a little troublesome, as teasing the blobs of sealant into suitable flame shapes takes a steady hand and a medium that behaves itself – both of which were slightly lacking on the day.

However, I persevered and finally got what I wanted. Once dry, it was just a case of dry-brushing the ‘flames’ with a light blue, followed by a coat of blue ink, as the type of flames I was going for were similar to gas flames.

And this is the tinal result:

I’m pretty pleased with how the completed figure came out, bearing in mind that, other than the skeleton, it’s completely scratch-built.

Next up…imagine you’re a member of his Majesty’s armed forces, dispatched across the Atlantic to the New World, to protect the hardy colonists who have chosen to make a new life in a new land. You and your colleagues are thrust into a completely different environment, required to fight against natives whose tactics seem alien to the ordered warfare you are used to.

Imagine that due to being far from home, some of your colleagues resort to behaviour that goes against your very nature and values and, when you rebel, your supposed friends and companions turn on you, murdering you and leaving your body in a hastily dug shallow grave…

Would you rest easy? Or would your soul be consumed with vengeance against those who betrayed you?

If the latter, you may become a Revenant, dispensing your own form of justice from beyond the grave. You may become…a Deadcoat.

I appreciate that is a tertible pun, but it suited the figure that I’ve been working on;

This is a figure from Black Cat Bases, part of their Pirates of the Skeleton Seas range. However, as this particular figure was bought many moons ago, whilst they still do a similar figure, this particular sculpt is no longer available – which is a shame, because it is rather nice.

I believe it’s supposed to be a member of the Royal Navy, resurrected to serve an undead master, but I decided to paint it in a uniform similar to that of the British Regular Infantry, as worn during the French Indian War. I’ve not got very far, as yet, but I think you get the idea.

Until next time…

Sa-Loot 2018

I usually attend two gaming conventions each year – Warfare in my home town of Reading, as it’s right on my doorstep, and Salute in London, as it’s the biggest wargaming event on the UK calendar.

Gaming conventions give you the opportunity, if you’re fortunate, of picking up those rulebooks, miniatures and terrain that you’ve been drooling over on the Internet for the previous couple of months, but without having to budget in the shipping and handling costs, which can sometimes be greater than the items you’re ordering.

Being somewhat anal, I do meticulously plan what I intend on buying prior to the event and always set myself a budget which, so far, I’ve not exceeded. My willpower is Legendary

Purchases at events fall into four categories; Definite, Potential, Gift and Impulse. Definite purchases are those things I know I’m going to buy, as long as the vendor has it in stock. Potential purchases are things I quite like the look of, but want to see close up before I decide if I do actually want it. Gifts are those things that would either make ideal presents for my gaming friends or stuff they’ve asked me to pick up because they can’t attend themselves. Finally, Impulse buys are things that I wasn’t aware of before attending, that fulfill a specific gaming need or are just too cool not to buy.

So, this year’s Salute budget was set at a very modest £40, which may not sound like a lot, but to a canny buyer such as myself, was more than sufficient for my needs. Knowing that I only had about an hour and a half to make my purchases, I did a swift sweep of the hall to locate the purveyors of my Definite list. I then returned to my targeted vendors and bought the items I was after.

Next came the Gift category, for which I had to collar one of the organisers, as I knew who had the item I was after, but couldn’t find their stand. Better signage needed next time, chaps…

As time was rapidly slipping through my fingers, I then visited the vendors who stocked my Potential purchases. However, whilst they all had the items in stock, I decided that the items in question were A) not as nice as they looked online, B) not worth the asking price or C) not really necessary at this point of the project.

As for Impulse buys, I did try and make one near the end of the show, but as this was from Wargames Terrain Workshop and was a small terrain item (rather than a big-ass dragon), Sarah decided to give it to me as a thank you for all my help.

So, having sat through my explanation of my buying philosophy, you’re probably wondering what exactly I spent my pennies on, so I shall show you. And, more importantly, explain the reason behind each one.

First up, Constanzi, Katerina and Elena – Vampire Sisters of the Moon from the Belt Ged Gaming range carried by Colonel Bill’s.

Three very nicely sculpted Victorian female vampires for £8.50. I’d seen the pre-release ‘greys’ for these on Roy’s Never Mind the Jankers blog and knew they had to be mine. Ideal for both my Tales of the Black Museum project (can’t really do Gothic Horror without vampires, can you?), as well as a new project that is looming on the horizon.

Next, some Wolves from Warbases.

£4.00 for four different sculpts. Whilst I do own a fair few figures of both people and monsters, my collection is quite light when it comes to animals. I own a couple of foxes and some pigeons, but that’s about it. As the new project will see me venturing into the wilds of Colonial Maine, I needed some wolves. Of course, I now need a bear too. And possibly the terror of the Maine woods, the whiskey drinking fiend known as…Razor-Shins.

Next, a Steampunk Female from the Kaosball range carried by Tritex Games.

On their website, this 30mm plastic figure retails for £1.99, but they sell the individual figures at Salute for a £1.00 each. I’d previously bought this figure as a Harley Quinn proxy for Tarot as a gift and had decided I wanted one too. Whether she ends up actually AS Harley Quinn in a supers game or as a Victorian version in Blackwell remains to be seen, but it’s a nicely detailed figure and you can’t argue with the price. Especially if you compare it with the licensed figure from Knight Models…

My final item is the Dragon Bell from Wargames Terrain Workshop.

I’d recently taken delivery of a new figure case from Tabletop Tyrant, as my figures had stsrted to spill out of the cupboard. This resulted in me sorting all my miniatures by genre, including all those I’d gathered for Oriental Fantasy gaming. I thought the addition of this well-detailed terrain piece would enhance my games, so decided to add it to my collection. It normally retails for a very reasonable £1.00, but as mentioned before, mine was a gift.

Not a huge haul, but every item was purchased with a use in mind, so all will see play sooner or later. And surely that’s the point of buying them, isn’t it?

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…

(Re) Making History

Time travel is a tricky prospect. Your first issue is discovering a means to propel your physical form through the space/time continuum in a safe and controlled fashion. Whether you utilise a limited edition American sports car, an antique call box or a map allegedly left over from when the Creator was building the Universe matters not – you still have to possess the item.

Your second issue (and this is the biggie) is whether your actions in the past will effect the future. If you meddle with a past timeline, when you return to your starting point, will the World you encounter be the same as when you left? Will the inadvertent loss of a cigarette lighter in the distant past have caused an earlier technological revolution, resulting in you previous ‘present’ being reduced to a radioactive cinder? Will the wrong thing said at the Nuremberg Rallies have changed the outcome of the Second World War, with the majority of Europe now occupied by the Nazis? Will the Earth have been invaded by super-intelligent Koala-like aliens, who have subjugated the population and forced them to mass-produce soft toilet tissue? These are all things that the intelligent and responsible time traveller must take into account when venturing into the past, as even the most subtle of changes could have wide-reaching and devastating consequences.

However, if you have a Plan and a goal, if you know exactly what result you wish to achieve, then maybe, just maybe, you can carefully tweak the past to improve your own future.

But it would have to be an extremely cunning plan…

With a slightly disappointing displacement of air, a canvass and wood contraption, looking like a carriage clock writ large, appeared suddenly, then dropped to the ground. As the booth-like object settled into the damp earth of the churchyard, there came from within the sound of someone falling over, followed by what appeared to be a toilet flushing.

Lord Edmund Blackadder closed the heavy tome he had balanced on his knee and looked askance at the crumpled heap of his manservant, who had endeavoured to prevent his fall by grabbing the toilet chain.

“Given that we have made innumerable jumps through time and space and upon reaching every destination, the time machine always drops the last few feet to the ground,” he began, “it truly astounds me that on every occasion, without fail, you seem unprepared and fall over. Either you have the memory of a goldfish, Baldrick, or you are the stupidest man in existence. On past experience, I believe it is the latter.”

Yes, my Lord…sorry, my Lord.” Said Baldrick, clambering to his feet.

Now,” said Blackadder, “as we – and when I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘me’ – have ascertained that the time machine is keyed to our individual DNA, wherever – or to be more precise when-ever – we have appeared, one of my ancestors should be in close proximity to our arrival point. We therefore need to find out when we are – and on this occasion, when I say ‘we’, I actually mean ‘you’.”

Er…I don’t understand, my Lord.” Stammered Baldrick.

Blackadder sighed.

You never fail to disappoint, do you, Baldrick?”

“Thank you, my Lord.”

What I mean is that it is time to stretch your legs, Balders…to venture forth into the World beyond and find out where we’ve ended up this time.”

Blackadder released the cord holding the door and lowered the gangplank.

But…it might be dangerous, my Lord…” said Baldrick fearfully.

Exactly,” said Blackadder, pushing Baldrick out into the crisp night air, “which is why you’re going instead of me.”

A Study in Scarlet

Sir Byron Carpenter stepped back from the slumped form lashed to a chair in his study, taking a towel from his desk to wipe the blood from his hands. Whilst he did have people who could perform this kind of interrogation, sometimes it was necessary to take a more hands on approach. It reminded his staff that he was not to be trifled with and allowed him to vent his frustrations.

He gazed impassively at the swollen features of the broken figure in the chair. He had used all of his formidable strength and techniques upon him and had discovered precisely…nothing.

It appeared the girl was more adept at concealing herself than he had first thought. She must be receiving some kind of assistance, as no-one had managed to elude him for such a considerable amount of time without outside help – especially with the resources and influence he had at his disposal.

Carpenter reached for the bell-cord and summoned one of his many servants, the muted echoes of the chimes offering a counterpoint to the final laboured breaths of the dying man.

This situation was becoming tiresome.

On the surface, Blackwell appeared to be a normal London borough, but the reports and rumours that had filtered back to him suggested that there was much more to this seemingly innocuous area than met the eye. The local ‘talent’ he had recruited had, so far, proved ineffective in locating his quarry and at least one of them was no longer amongst the living, having been found decapitated in an alleyway. Of his head there was no trace.

It was time to call in some professional help and, from recent reports, one such individual had recently taken up residence in Blackwell itself.

The door to the study opened and the immaculately-clad figure of Carpenter’s butler entered.

“You rang, Milord?”

Yes, Atkins,” said Carpenter, “send an invitation to a Mr Jefferson Lake, currently lodging at the Four Horseshoes in Blackwell. I have need of his services.” He glanced at the cooling corpse, his lip curling disdainfully. “And dipose of…that.

I shall attend to it immediately, Milord” said the butler.

Carpenter pulled back the drapes from the window and stared into the night.

Where are you, girl?” He muttered under his breath. Hopefully, this Jefferson Lake would provide the answer.

The Thin Blue Line

Whilst this post shares its title with the ‘comedy’ starring Rowan Atkinson about the police department of the fictional town of Gasforth, I’m fairly certain that this post will be more entertaining…

However, the title does fit the content, in which I shall be showing you the full complement of the Blackwell police department, in their various stages of completed-ness.

Whilst every character has previously been introduced in the narrative, I now have models to represent each one and thought I’d show how far I’d got with each one.

First, the first quartet who were introduced;

So, from left to right, we have Constables Moore and Nash, Sergeant Webb and the newly promoted Sergeant Rowan. I just need to complete the detailing on each of these figures and they will be finished. All these figures are from GHL0003 – London Bobbies pack from  West Wind Productions, for a very reasonable £6.00.

Next, this trio;

Here, from left to right, are Sergeant Doyle, Inspector Neame and Dr. Davis Stone. The first two figures are from VBCW14 Telegram Rifles “communications team” from Ironclad Miniatures, for £3.00. The third figure is RSF-08 Chrononaut Grandfather from Miniature Figurines, for £2.75. Also progressing well and almost finished.

Next, a new trio of models:

Once again, from left to right, these are Sergeant Randall, Constable Murray and Constable Arkwright. All these figures are from Artizan Designs, with the two figures at either end being from the Thrilling Tales range, and are, strictly speaking, from the ‘interwar’ period. However, as the British police uniform did not really change all that much until fairly recently, I think that they can pass for Victorian peelers. The middle figure if from their Victorian Science Fiction range and the weapon is supposed to be a flamethrower. As soon as I saw it, I thought “Victorian ghostbuster”, so this is Constable Murray armed with the galvanic rifle. All these figures are £3.00 each.

Finally, we have Constable O’Lantern, who cost me nothing, because I made him myself!

The head, hands and feet came out a little darker than I expected, but as he’s not finished, I’m not overly concerned. However, he is progressing pretty well.

So, that’s the current roster of the Blackwell police department, who are almost finished. I could do with a Black Maria and the actual police station, but I’m pretty pleased with what I have so far.

Join me next time for more developments in the London borough of Blackwell.

This is How I Roll…

January is finally over and it’s been a bit of a bugger of a month. Various external factors have prevented me from regaining momentum after the Christmas break and that is why there has been a lack of posts here on the Buffet.

However, I haven’t been idle and as I am renowned for coming up with crazy ideas, I thought I’d try to give an insight into how my devious little mind works.

So, in previous posts I introduced the Court of Shadows, an organisation run by the Night Mayor and made up of various entities that are considered ‘nursery bogies’.

For those of you unfamiliar with this term, this is the definition as per the Encyclopedia Mythica:

Nursery bogies are a class of frightening spirits, ogres, and monsters used by adults to frighten children into good behavior or to prevent them from entering dangerous situations. These bogies have a terrifying appearance and reputation of harming or eating children.”

So, tales of Jenny Greenteeth were used to discourage children from venturing too close to deep bodies of water and the ‘great, long, red-legged scissor man’ was used to discourage them from sucking their thumbs,which apparently is a bad thing.

Having decided that the Court of Shadows and the Black Museum would form an alliance, I thought it would be quite cool to have one of these ‘nursery bogies’ become a constable…but which one?

After some thought, I selected Jack O’Lantern. Due to outwitting the Devil, he was barred from Hell and because he was a rather naughty chap, was also barred from Heaven, which makes him effectively immortal. Furthermore, he carries a lantern carved from a gourd (a turnip in the original tale) which contains an ember from the fires of Hell. So, a constable who cannot die and has his own mystically empowered lamp – an ideal recruit to face off against the horrors of Blackwell.

And then it went a bit…Jez.

As a regular visitor to Ironclad Miniatures site, who do a lovely range of VSF characters, I’d noted that they had produced Victorian versions of the Marvel characters Iron Man (Ironcladman) and the Thing (Grim Ben). With this in mind, I started contemplating how I could create a model of Constable O’Lantern which highlighted his ‘unnatural’ aspects, but also tapped into my love of superheroes. As my version of Jack O’Lantern was envisaged as a gaunt, almost skeletal figure with a flaming lamp AND I needed ‘cavalry’ for the Black Museum, it wasn’t a great leap to re-imagine the character as a Victorian version of…Ghost Rider!

Once that idea took hold, I searched the internet for 28mm penny farthings (because it’s suitably Victorian and a pretty damn cool idea) and images of a ‘Victorian Ghost Rider’. The penny farthings I found didn’t match my vision AND weren’t immediately available and the only image I could find was this:

Close, but not quite right…

So, flexing my creative muscles, I rummaged in my bits box and began work…

After a false start involving a disc of plastic cut from a blister pack, which proved too flimsy, I rethought my build.

A lozenge-shaped base was cut from an expired gift card, then covered in textured wallpaper to provide a cobbled street. Off cuts of the gift card, paperclips, cotton bud stems, drinking straws and the biggest transparent button I could find were used to construct the penny farthing. Jack himself was a GW plastic skeleton, suitably assembled and then given a uniform sculpted from Milliput.

And this is the result;

He now needs to be painted and have his flaming head and trail of fire added, but I have to admit to being pretty pleased with him.

Is it bonkers? Yes.

But it’s also unbelievably friggin’ cool.

Well…I think so.

Join me next time, when the FULL force of the Black Museum will be arrayed in all their finery.

A Light Against the Dark

Constable Rowan was whistling merrily as he entered the Blackwell police station, which faltered as he beheld the expression on Sergeant Randall’s face.

“The inspector wants to see you,” said Randall, “you’ll find him up by the pigeon loft. We’ve had a…visitor.”

Randall refused to go into further detail and Rowan felt slightly apprehensive as he ascended the stairs and climbed out on to the flat roof at the rear of the station.

Inspector Neame was attending to the station’s homing pigeons, which he claimed was a chore, but Rowan knew that the inspector had named each individual bird and was able to identify them each by their plumage. As Rowan approached, the inspector turned, brushing maize husks from his hands.

“Ah, the infamous Constable Rowan,” he began, “who seems destined to make my life more interesting with every breath he takes.”

He reached for a sheaf of papers held down on the parapet with a half brick and perused the top sheet.

“Whilst your report covers the salient points on the investigation into the abduction of the Darling children and their subsequent recovery by yourself, some of the details seem somewhat opaque. ‘Known sources’ and ‘civilian consultant’ especially…”

He gazed Northward, across the courtyard from which a sustained rattling was coming, towards the bare branches of Blackwell Common, above which could be seen the carillon tower at its centre.

“It may intetest you know that I received a visit from you ‘known source’.” He turned at Rowan’s sharp intake of breath. “That’s correct, Rowan, I have had the dubious pleasure of making the acquaintance of the Night Mayor, or Mr Thomas Morrow as he introduced himself intially.” He paused and looked sternly at Rowan. “I have to admit to being slightly disappointed in you, Rowan. Whilst the Darling affair was handled well and wrapped up swiftly, the fact that you chose to withold information regarding this…gentleman and his organisation, information that could have proved useful on several prior occasions, does not sit well with me.”

He sighed and continued.

“Howevet, the Night Mayor has proposed a mutually beneficial arrangement, in which he will put his resources and personnel at our disposal, in return for which he would like the protection provided by the Black Museum to be extended to include the members of the Court of Shadows. And you, Sergeant Rowan, are to be the official liaison between our two groups.”

It took Rowan a moment to realise just what the inspector had said.

“Sergeant?” He stammered.

“Yes, Rowan, I am promoting you. Don’t thank me just yet, as you’ll find the responsibilities of your new rank will far outweigh the increase in salary.” He beckoned Rowan forward and pointed down into the courtyard.

“That,” he said, pointing out a gaunt figure dressed in an ill-fitting uniform who was riding one of the station’s high-wheelers around in circles in the yard, “is your first constable. His name, if I recall correctly, is Jack Landers and he is one of the Night Mayor’s…people.” The inspector frowned. “Apparently he is a former blacksmith and seems obsessed with the station’s wheeled conveyances. He has been sworn in and issued a uniform. However, he refused the police issue lantern, stating that his own is far superior. Constable Landers is now your responsibility – try and keep him under control. You may go.”

As Rowan descended the stairs, he racked his brains. The name seemed familar, but he was certain the inspector had not pronounced it correctly. As he emerged into the courtyard, a cheerful voice with an Irish lilt greeted him.

“Well, if it’s not me old friend Stanley Rowan…” said the figure. “Oops…I mean me new boss, Sergeant Rowan. What d’ya think of me penny farthin’? Isn’t it grand?”

Rowan put his head in his hands. It seemed that the first Umbral police officer was to be Constable Jack O’Lantern…

Out, Out, Brief Candle…

It was New Year`s Eve and dreadfully cold. The snow fell quickly in the darkening night as evening came on. In the cold and the darkness, there walked along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded and with no shoes on her feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true, but they were much too large for her feet. Her mother had used those slippers ’til then, but the poor little girl lost them running across the street when two carriages were passing quickly by. When she looked for them, one was not to be found, and a boy grabbed the other and ran away with it. So on the little girl went with her bare feet, that were red and blue with cold. 

In an old apron that she wore she had bundles of matches and also carried a bundle in her hand. No one had bought so much as a bunch all long day and no one had given her even a ha’penny.

Poor little girl! Shivering with cold and hunger she crept along, feeling miserable.

The snowflakes fell on her long hair, which hung in pretty curls about her neck, but she did not think of her beauty or of the cold. Lights shone from every window, and she could smell the beautiful aroma of roast goose and turkey being cooked in all the houses… for the New Year’s festivities had begun. She could not bear to think about it. Honey roast hams, and sizzling bacon rolled around spiced sausages (pigs in blankets they were called by the wealthy who could afford them); game pie, pork pie, pheasant and rabbit, duck pâté and a host of other succulent rich savouries.

In a corner between two houses, she sat down. She tucked her little feet in underneath herself, but still she grew colder and colder. She did not dare to go home, as she had not sold any matches and could not bring any money. Her father would certainly would not be pleased. Besides, it was cold enough at home, as they had only a roof above them and that was full of holes.


Now her little hands were nearly frozen with cold. She thought that maybe a match might warm her fingers if she lit it, so at last she drew one out. She struck it: and oooh! How it blazed and burned! It gave out a warm, bright flame like a little candle, as she held her hands over it. A wonderful little light it was. It really seemed to the little girl as if she sat in front of a great iron stove with a lovely fire inside.

So nicely it burned that the little girl stretched out her feet to warm them. How comfortable she was! But then the flame went out, the stove vanished, and nothing remained but the little burned match in her hand.


She rubbed another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall she could suddenly see right through it into the room beyond. A snow-white cloth was spread upon the table, on which beautiful china plates 
were laid, while a stuffed roast goose cooked away and gave off a most delicious smell. And what was more delightful still, and wonderful, the goose jumped from the dish, with knife and fork still in its breast, and waddled along the floor straight towards the little girl.

But the match went out then, and nothing was left to her but the thick, damp wall.

She lit another match. And now she was under a most beautiful Christmas tree, larger and far more prettily decorated than the one she had seen through the glass doors at the rich merchant’s house. Hundreds of candles were burning on the green branches, and little painted figures, like she had seen in shop windows, looked down on her. The child stretched out her hands to them, but then the match went out.

From the distance in the darkness there came a mischievous cackle. But when the girl strained to look – there was no one there: only the shadows and the night.


Still, looking up along the arch of the alleyway, to the market square and the lights of the big public Christmas tree which burned higher and higher into the sky… she saw one candle light fall from the branch, forming a long trail of fire.

“Now someone is dying,” murmured the child softly, for her grandmother, the person who had loved her the most, and who was now dead, had told her that whenever a star falls a soul goes up to Heaven.

She struck yet another match against the wall. It lit and in its brightness her dear old grandmother appeared before her, beaming love and kindness.

“Oh, grandmother,” cried the child, “take me with you. I know you will go away when the match burns out. You, too, will vanish, like the warm stove, the splendid festive feast and the beautiful Christmas tree.” But when the match died away, only an evil cackle remained, quite close by this time.

The girl lit another match and allowed its warmth to fill her soul with radiant warmth. But when the flame went out the girl could feel hot breath on her neck, and fingers curling around her shoulder. “mine now” a guttural voice whispered in joyful glee.

The girl was so woozy she hardly felt scared, but to make sure her grandmother would not disappear, she lit a whole bundle of matches against the wall this time.

And they burned with such a brilliant light that it became brighter than the midday sun. In her mind`s eye, her grandmother had never looked so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms and both flew joyfully together, climbing higher and higher, far above the earth, away from cold and hunger.. away to Heaven, the little child hoped.

But the vicious imp beside the child held her by the throat, by one hand, and long fingers grasp, and turned her round by the neck so she could stare into the child`s glazed over eyes. The child murmured a word and smiled.. “Grandmother?”  But the vicious little old woman merely grinned and slashed once with her other hand. The knife danced in the glorious blaze of the match light, and sliced the match girl`s throat open from ear to ear so that her head pulled back from her neck, to lean awkwardly looking the wrong way, down her back. Blood pumped from her wound and formed a rapidly growing, steaming puddle of crimson on the ice and snow covered cobblestones.

Now she is mine.” The vicious female imp leaned in close and placed her mouth over the wound and drank her fill in great gulps of passion and hunger.

They found her the next morning, slumped against the wall, with pale bloodless white cheeks, and a sweet smiling mouth – frozen to death on the very first day of the New Year. A gaping wound revealed yet another dead victim of `the Beast`.  

“She wanted to warm herself, the poor little thing,” the people of Whitechapel said.

 “I wonder why she looks so happy?” some people asked. 

Good people might have imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone traipsing with her grandmother into the life beyond.

 

No one knew of the vicious little bitch who had stolen her life, and dragged this child’s soul down to hell and eternal torment. No one saw the imp place her long clawed fingers to the child’s face and twist the silent horror filled scream into a mimicry smile of peace and tranquillity…so the little match girl appeared happy at last.

No one saw that night, as the imp changed shape, just like she had done so many times before… and no one watched the thing walk away, looking the very aspect of the little dead girl, dress and matches and all.

That night.. the first of the New Year, the vicious little bitch would kill again. And when she was done, the doppelganger set lighted matches under the finger nails of its victim; and jabbed red hot lucifer’s of spent light into the sightless eyeballs, to create little carnivals of delight: and the imprisoned agony of eternal unrest.

The vicious little bitch was very old you see, and knew how to play a merry jig with the dead.

 Another `soon to be` victim of the night, of a punter scoring some cheap fun?

 This little RPG tale was actually played out using rules (above) created by Stephen Gilbert.

End Comments. I figured if Seth Grahame Smith could rewrite Jane Austen`s Pride and Prejudice – and add Zombies to it,  I could rewrite “The Little Match Girl”, and add a bit of horror hehe. I hope you enjoy my macabre little Victorian tale. The idea  was totally inspired by one of Jez’s throw-away comments about an unresolved Black Museum case file. Well,  I thought I`d just fill in a few blanks **grins**

Enjoy.

Tarot