“We Deal with the Odd, the Unexplained.”

If you’re playing a  wargame, you need soldiers. And if you’re planning on gaming Doctor Who in miniature as a ‘traditional’ wargame, rather than a narrative miniature adventure, you will also need two opposing forces with which to battle.

Now, whilst it will be fun to pit the Daleks against the Cybermen, which is what Warlord Games have planned for the first release of their Doctor Who: Into the Time Vortex miniature game, sometimes you want to field a human force. And in Doctor Who, that means UNIT.

UNIT was first introduced into the Whoniverse in the 1968 Second Doctor adventure The Invasion, in which the Cybermen were attempting to invade Earth. At this time, UNIT stood for United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, and was described as an “independent intelligence group” whose remit was to investigate the odd and the unexplained and defend Earth against threats of this nature.

The heyday of the UNIT was during the Third Doctor’s tenure, as he had been banished to Earth and found himself working extensively with this group.

UNIT was re-introduced after the 2005 re-launch in the Ninth Doctor episode Aliens of London. However, UNIT now stood for Unified Intelligence Taskforce, as the real UN decided that it didn’t want a fictional organisation in a popular TV show to be associated with it. Since its introduction way back in 1968 right up to the 2016 Christmas special, UNIT has sported a variety of different uniforms, so the first thing you have to decide if you want to field a unit of UNIT is which version of UNIT you want to field.

To assist with this, I have found a rather interesting and useful blog called UNIT Uniforms, which details every variation of the uniforms worn by this organisation from its inception right up to the modern-day, with lots of useful images for painters.

However, to break it down, there are effectively three different styles of uniform – the classic ear uniform, the re-introduced ‘paramilitary’ look and the most recent ‘anti-terrorist’ look.

For the classic era uniform, your best bet for suitable figures is either our old friends Black Tree Design, who have the ‘official’ 28mm UNIT miniatures or Crooked Dice, whose ‘Army’ miniatures were inspired by UNIT.

For the ‘paramilitary’ look as sported by UNIT in the 2008 Tenth Doctor adventure The Sontaran Stratagem, i.e. all-black uniforms with red berets, Crooked Dice’s X-Commandoes fit the bill.

For the most recent ‘anti-terrorist’ look, I would suggest Moonraker Miniatures Future Skirmish Troopers.

Now, as I had some of the last suggested figures and required some UNIT troops for my first planned Doctor Who AAR, I set about painting them in the correct colours.

However, as I originally bought these back when they were sold by Grenadier Miniatures, they have been painted and re-painted several times over the years as I changed my mind what I was planning on using them for. So, when it came to painting them up as UNIT troops, they were so caked in paint, that any attempts to add more paint was just going to obscure the detail. Therefore, to use them for this purpose (or anything else for that matter) would require stripping off the existing paint, which is a job I detest.

But I needed some UNIT troops, so I had to either strip these figures or buy some more. However, in true Jez style, I went for secret option number 3 – use something else. “But Jez”, I hear you cry, “You’re primarily a sci-fi/horror/fantasy gamer, rather than a historical gamer, so what could you possibly have that could be drafted as proxy UNIT troops?”

How about these?

HeroScape comes up trumps once more, with the Airborne Elite. Based on my research, the uniforms and weaponry can pass as classic era UNIT, although they aren’t wearing berets. I could have cut off their helmets and sculpted berets on them, but the figures have very noticeable chinstraps, so I decided to just paint the helmets in the standard UNIT beret colour of beige instead.

So, having referred to the website above, I chose the colour scheme that fitted best with what I wanted my UNIT troops to look like and block-painted them:

So, uniforms in GW Goblin Green, webbing and pouches in GW Salamander Green, helmets is Revell Beige and rifles in Docrafts Chocolate Brown. I then gave the uniforms a wash of Salamander green, painted the boots Marine Dark Blue followed by Black Ink, used Chainmail on the metal parts of the rifles and a few obvious pouch buttons, then gave the brown parts of the rifles a coat of Brown Ink.

Faces and hands were Docrafts Flesh with a wash of GW Dwarf Flesh, and the chinstraps were just painted in with Black Ink. I then decided to try my hand at giving them UNIT insignia, which just consisted of a Black Circle with a White circle dotted in on their left sleeve and a white circle dotted in on the front of each troopers helmet. There would be absolutely no way of painting in a tiny globe with the UNIT lettering around the outside, so I left it as is. From playing distance, it will look fine and that’s what counts.

And this is what they look like now:

And just to prove that they do look different from what they originally looked like, here’s a comparison shot with one of the original figures.

I’m pretty pleased with them and best of all, they didn’t cost me anything! Result!

And finally, because I had to do something whilst I was waiting for my UNIT troops to dry, I’ve also finished off The Master. Here he is with his TARDIS:

I’m particularly pleased I managed to get his hair and beard right.

Right, that’s all for this week, but as I now have enough fully painted figures for my first Doctor Who AAR, using Way of the Crow naturally, hopefully next week will see the first instalment of a planned four-part Doctor Who miniature adventure. Expect thrills! Spills! Classic-era baddies! And a time-and-space spanning adventure that should prove that the Way of the Crow rules can be used for ANY type of tabletop miniature game!

Excited? You should be…

They ARE The Law!

In my previous post Primal Law, I announced that I would be hosting an article written by Steve Gilbert on the epic ‘Cursed Earth/Judge Dredd’ campaign that he, his wife Hilary and Tarot Hunt had been working on since the sad closure of “The Games Cupboard”.

However, those of you who were regular visitors to this site will know that, like Athos, Porthos and Aramis,  these three are inseparable and come as a kind of package deal, so rather than a single article on this subject from Steve, you get one from each of them. And pictures too!

So without further ado, I will hand you over to my very special guests…


You Can Play a Super Dredd Game…. And We Did it Oooouuuuuuur Way!

Or

“The Jeremy Effect”

Hi guys. Wow, feels strange to be writing on a blog again. 2017 saw me make a decision to `put my gumption where my mouth is` and concentrate a lot more, almost exclusively in fact, on getting things done and playing endless number and variety of games with the finished results of these endeavours. Before this, I was spending too much time sitting on my ass talking about games instead of enjoying them, and so I decided to take a back seat from computer altogether and actually do something worthy of personal creativity. But then your kind invitation to do an article or two simply sparked a desire to write…. and I thought it might be quite nice to share what we are all up to in sunny Ireland (ha, that`s a joke… hasn’t stopped raining here in the last six weeks, seriously lol). So thanks Jez for the cool opportunity to share a bit of the Gilbert & Extended Family Hobby – our way.

Long ago, actually long before the current wave of interest in 2000 AD`s Cursed Earth became so prevalent amongst fantasy hobbyists, I discussed (with a fellow blogger), an interest in the subject as a `do-able` role play and semi skirmish table top endeavour. I remember at the time saying how much I would like to give it a go, but felt my knowledge of the subject at the time was far too sketchy on the whole… at least, to do the subject proper justice. Since that chat, the whole table top Judge Dredd phenomena has really taken off within many fantasy hobbyist circles, and with many companies at least `dabbling their toes` in the Mega City waters, there has certainly not been a dearth of interest of available products, to get the avid would be enthusiast started on this venture.

My only concern about it really comes in two parts. The first is the way the hobby has become so commercialised. It is geared towards people with too much spare cash, buying an endless wealth of material and encouraging (what is affectionately known as) complete-ism, which gamers seem to embrace almost with a sense of pride. This of course makes the companies selling their wares smile like sharks, while rubbing their hands together with almost unbridled money lust and glee.

The second is that… well, while we just buy everything that`s offered, like children dutifully opening our mouths when the proverbial spoon of goodness is proffered, we deny ourselves the dignity and the right to use our own imaginations to arrive at the same point, ourselves, without being told what we need all the time, and lapping it up without even stopping to think about it.

Simply put, you can play a super Dredd game without even having to spend much money. Just takes the three O`s.

1 – Observation, by reading the original material (comics) and making sure you get the look, the tone, and the feel right by being mega-observant <– yes, there`s a pun there hehe…. then you can in fact do it without needing to spend a small fortune.

A good game, to me anyway, isn’t about how shiny and full of eye candy the rules are. If a set of rules is all about COMBAT COMBAT COMBAT **Yawn**  my interest will soon wane. Zombicide is a good example of that. With great TV shows like Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead out there, there really is no excuse not to find inspiration and put more narrative into our table top hobby, not just kill, blood, guts, maim, and slaughter. There`s much more to any good story, surely? Same with any other wargame or rpg. And so I always tend to avoid rule systems which concentrate, top heavily, on combat, weapons, and skills that all just seem to enhance yet MORE combat ability. STUDY THE BACKGROUND MATERIAL and that applies to any type of game you play, fantasy, sci-fi or historical. Otherwise you`ll just end up playing a bad mimicry of a computer console game with its endless, inane chalking up of virtual kills.

 2 – Originality is the key to any good game. Don’t follow hobby fashions, but find your own unique pattern to work with, which includes rules, you don’t need big glossy expensive rule books, all exactly the same as everyone else is using **yawns with disinterest** Make your bloody own up, check out free online rules, or use rules written by your friends if you can`t write your own. I have checked all the `official` rules out there I could find and you know what I discovered? With the exception (possibly) of the 172 page D20 system 3rd edition D&D Dredd supplement, every other set of rules out there is a glorified skirmish wargame, like everything else is nowadays. There seems to be no interest in the nitty-gritty of bringing a world to life with proper immersive role play aspects: instead it’s all about weapon stats, types of ammunition, combat skills, and… well, basically everything is geared towards gun fights, knife fights, ZAP, POW, BANG and RAT-A-TAT-TATT..!!!!! God it depresses me, that the narrative hobby of role-playing has been reduced to (as I said earlier) nothing more than a glorified computer game mentality of “lets chalk up the body count and call it a realistic story.” No! Wrong, wrong, wrong, on so many counts, wrong!

Where is the depth in that? Where are the other characteristics which go to make a story come alive? Where are the rules to allow characters to try beat the ticking clock and unlock the safe before the authorities turn up and ruin the show: “Come on, come on Bugzy, you said you could have this open in less than a minute… the Judges will be here any moment…. hey! I think I can hear the sirens.”

Where are the rules to allow casino gambling, 007 futuristic James Bond {aka Bruce Wayne} style: no doubt a beautiful women with smouldering lips, sitting across from our hero, also playing the wheel {we know from the John Wagner stories alone that Judges often go undercover}. Is she cheating, will the hero expose her and humiliate her there and then? Or will he simply allow her to win, follow her to her room and `investigate` further, over a couple of Martini cocktails.. shaken, but not stirred.

We need rules for climbing, disabling traps, hot wiring a parked vehicle, skills to allow you to hack computers and access vital information. Forge documents and passports. What about persuasion? rallying speeches, sleight of hand, acrobatics,.. speed chases through the city streets are always fun (as Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition covered really well in their Fritz Leiber Lankhmar supplement). The list of possible options which should be included is almost limitless. But it seems almost as though the hobby has `dummied down` and people expect less nowadays. Me I remember things, how the hobby used to be, and if the rules no longer fit that image, I don’t try and cram myself into a wrong shaped hole; I simply do it myself (DIY) and make my games work the way they really should.

and 3 – be Organic. Don’t feel the need to follow modern trends, which is a sure fire way to ensure your game is just the same as everyone else’s. no no and no! Let your game grow organically, so it feels natural and is not pushed into a generic shape it doesn’t want to go (like for example why the hell are all Warlord games JD minis depicted holding weapons? It’s just silly. Look at a Dredd graphic novel/comic and you will often not even see a weapon drawn or fired for pages and pages of reading. There`s so much more to good storytelling than waving guns and clubs about and going BLAM, BLAM, HACK, SLASH, and miniatures all depicted with weapons drawn like phallic extensions, are simply not always conducive to good role-playing immersion.

Don’t be afraid to tell a story, and most modern rules don’t usually encourage you to do that,…. only allowing for endless bloody skirmish games of cops and robbers. A Dredd game should feel more like Dungeons and Dragons and less like Gun Fights at the OK Corral.

Let me show you an example of what I mean. Mongoose Publishing until recently produced a really nice Judge Dredd starter set. This contained everything (in theory) the fledgling gamer needed to get started in the game: a complete set of rules, and two factions of miniatures.. i.e. a `squad/faction` of Judges and a Gang of Perps for the judges to battle across the table top…. all told, two forces containing 8 miniatures each – plus a set of rules.  So right away we can see this is all pretty much geared up to be another sci-fi skirmish wargame. This retailed for about £75 in most shops, until recently when it was pulled from the shelves, and will no doubt resurface at a higher price when it comes back again (as revamped it will be, for sure).

Now let’s analyse this a little bit. I`m not wanting to knock the game, I`m sure it’s fantastic and great fun and decent value, if this is the route you wish to take with your hobby. In fact I`ve seen it being played and it isn`t a bad system at all. No better and no worse than many others out there (I maintain though, that its immersive atmosphere and suspension from disbelief… not necessarily rules… which makes a good game). But I want to look at alternatives.

I started this article by saying that once upon a time I discussed (with a few friends actually) the tentative desire to explore Dredd, but at the time, I felt my work restraint and my inherent lack of exposure to the genre didn’t qualify me as expert enough in the field to start a game in this vast and immersive world.  So I let it go, thinking to myself: “one day, I may go back to this and really give it a fling.” 

Well, I thought to myself, it can`t be that hard can it? I`m used to studying 400 years of Roman History, over 100 years of history covering the Tudor and Stuart reigns; studied Napoleonic history till my eyes bled, and many other subjects as well, which have taken me a lifetime to reach my standard of knowledge as it stands at the moment… and I keep finding myself learning more each year. Study tends to become addictive after a while, if your brain is wired that way ha ha.

Time passed. I found myself with some of it spare and wanting to get into a new subject. And my mind wandered back to Dredd. Yet when I looked wistfully online, I saw I had missed the boat. It had been done, was well on its journey, and in fact gamers had been enjoying the subject for a good while at this stage. And so with disappointment I almost gave up at that stage, instead intending to dive deeply back into my love of English Civil War, Treasure Island and the whole Pirates of the Caribbean thing. But it was two people spoke words of wisdom to me and made me see that I may just have this ass about face, and be wrong in my thinking.

Jez was one of them. “DO IT” he said. “Hmmmm,” I thought, and then re-thought my… um… thinking some more. Then my lovely partner Hils said to me: “Steve,” she said: “There are thousands of people out there playing Napoleonic Wargames, and have been for decades. Does this mean that a person new to the hobby can`t follow in those footsteps and take up Napoleonic games as well, just because it’s already been done before? Or are you saying that hobbyists must always search for things that no one else has done before them?”

Hit me square between the eyes like a boxing glove of wisdom. Knocked some sense into me, that`s for sure. “You SHALL go to the Ball, Cinders.” I thought to myself with happiness starting to enthuse into my face. And I began to ponder how I wanted to go about it.

So, I thought about the price tag needed to `buy into` the Dredd hobby. £75.00 for the starter set… hmmmm. Okay, lets analyse that a moment. Two lots of 8 miniatures.. 16 in total. Not a lot is it! Not many options for repeated games, and not really enough to immerse in Mega City One and Post Apocalyptic adventures into the vast wilderness…. not with just 16 figures 😦  Course, there was an option, just buy more. NO! I thought. What am I, money bags? That`s money I need to support my family, pay bills, and generally see everyone is looked after. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to take my family out for a nice breakfast at my favourite cafe in town, or an evening meal at the yummy curry house, than spend half a week’s wages on indulging my whims within the hobby every time I get an itch. It`s nice sometimes to think of myself, but not every time the passion takes a hold on me.

Hmmmm, £75:00. That`s a lot, just to make an initial stab as a new project. So I looked into details about the rules book: hmmmmm, not many pages of background detail. 30 or so pages, not enough for me. I wanted detail man, not simplified magazine style blurb.

Then I looked at the free 20 page Warlord Games PDF JD rules primer. Hmmmmm, it was all combat, combat, combat. *sighsss* okay, this was obviously all going to be a combat oriented table top wargame, to the exclusion of all else. Any immersion and essential world narrative was going to have to come from our own interpretations, supplemented by the meagre atmospheric blurb included in the package. Not enough. How the hell would this help me? I needed to learn all about this amazing world of the Cursed Earth. But oh my GOD, there was 40 years of it to learn *gulp*.

Then it struck me and I started to laugh heartily. If I could learn real life history for 45 years of my life, I could learn the information contained in a comic book.

“Hmmm, £75:00.” my mind returned to that price tag.

And I began to work that out. I then turned to Amazon.co.uk and scoured the site, gleaning all the options I had available to me. At the end of two hours in front of the screen, the smile of satisfaction that played over my lips was a picture of joy. Okay I would allow myself £75.00 to plough into this hobby, and NO more.

This was fast becoming a project obsession. Immersive gaming on a shoe string.

It was also fast becoming clear (the general consensus of opinion) that the newbie `jump in` point for getting into Judge Dredd was Case Files 5. Each case file graphic novel anthology contains about 400 pages and covers about 1 year of the comic books (unlike any other comic books, 2000AD Judge Dredd… which has been going for 40 years… runs in `true time.` i.e. a year in that world is also a year in the real world, “neat.” I thought to myself. So a young Judge Dredd written about 40 years ago, started at about thirty, is now a seventy year old man, “wow that`s neat,” I thought). The price tag of a Case File on Amazon is (if you shop wisely) about £7.00. “Okay I thought, I`ll buy Judge Dredd Case Files 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. That gives me the first 5 frickin years of the magazine… WOW,” all in all, around 2000 pages to read, enjoy, absorb and immerse deeply into the world and learn exactly how to do this subject right.

So I clicked – PURCHASE!

That was £35.00 spent. Yeeeey, not a bad start.

From here I can buy them one at a time from now on, for about £7.00 each. So wont break the piggy bank slowly collecting the lot. I t-h-i-n-k there`s about 26 of them to collect to bring me up to current speed and 2016. After Case File 12 they stop being black and white and go full colour, Oooh nice. Though I actually like the starkness of the early black and white programs. Like the Walking Dead graphic novels, it’s really atmospheric at times.

Next, I really wanted that Ape gang. But not at £30 (with postage) for 8 bloody figures. So I turned to another source. A big set of plastic apes, chimps, gorillas, and various simians, sold at the local Wild Life Park in Cork, but also sold online at Amazon for 11 euro. That`s about £8.00 English money. This would give me a pile of fur covered critters to inhabit my Mega City concrete jungles, and the wild lands beyond. Fun, fun, fun to convert these to a truly unique gang… with plenty of figures spare to place elsewhere in the game too. “Real neat.” I thought. £41.00 spent.

With the remainder of my self allotted budget, I blew on purchasing Terminator Genisys – The War Against The Machines. This boxed set, which normally sells for a hot £70.00 is currently on sale at a special price of £35.00 at Warlord Games. I paid £25.00 for mine as I already had a £10.00 voucher to use up. A synch I thought. WHAT amazing potential for crossover games. You get a veritable horde of various terminators, an even bigger load of freedom fighters/rebels (which all painted up for me nicely as MC1 Gangers, Psykers, Block Def Security Guards, City Tech Judges, with some figures still spare for useful optional variations, as new ideas come to me along the way. There`s a huge double-sided terrain `cigar style` map, and some nifty card terrain bits (the counters are nice, and I will find a use for these for sure, and there is a 128 rules book.. which I won`t be using, though contains some excellent ideas I will use, like the FATE dice idea… has an almost invaluable section on homemade terrain making, and offers some comprehensive tutorials at the back of the book. Whole thing looks really nice too).

https://store.warlordgames.com/collections/terminator-genisys/products/terminator-genisys-the-war-against-the-machines-1

This takes me up to £66.00 of my planned budget. Meh, I really don’t need to spend the other £9 quid, so I consider my experiment a complete success.

However I am going into the city next week, and will pop into all three pound shops that I know of, and will scour the shelves for cheap plastic children`s toys I can convert to space-y MC1 vehicles and speeders. Failing that (though I`m bound to get lucky) “Deals” in Killarney or our own Bantry toy shop is bound to have things on the shelves that will grab my attention. I’m already thinking a 28mm-ish toy dustbin lorry I’ve seen, which I believe would convert nicely into a cool MC1 Mopad vehicle.

If I didn’t already have all the spare figures I needed to convert to Mega City One, I would simply not have bought my Terminator set, and would instead have spent £30.00 on eBay and purchased a 250 figure group lot of random Wizkids HeroClix miniatures and lopped them off their bases. These are always appearing on eBay and represent a great investment to any gamer wishing to DIY their hobby on the cheap. Very handy, as practically any and every Clix fig has a use in this genre, and as I have been growing my collection of these for a while now, I currently have a good thousand or so to play about with.

So there we have it. I envisage a Cursed Earth with plenty of scope for crossovers… with Dark Horse Aliens and Hellboy, DC Gotham, Marvel Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D, weird WWII Hydra, and possibly even a bit of X Men: all tastefully done, accurately faithful (in tone and style) to the 2000AD comic genre, and yet allowing us enough scope to play about with creative originality. Should be a fun couple of years experimenting with this fun subject. After that, maybe up, up, and awayyyyyy.

God I love my hobby.

Steve


Hillers Afterword on the Subject.

The interesting thing about our future intentions with Cursed Earth is, we are going to do things `bum about face` a little bit. The normal expectation would be for someone to set up a 2000AD Judge Dredd game and then carefully work in all the crossover elements they want to add, at a later date. However, we are doing it completely the other way round, because we`re strange like that he he.

Yes we are working hard to pull this all together. Chopping up miniatures, rebasing, converting, customising and in some cases scratch building things we need when we really have no other alternative. An example of this would be Judge Death. We really wanted this character for our world, but we simply don’t have a suitable model to convert, and can’t find a Heroclix one at a price we are happy to pay, and so we decided in the end it would be simpler all round if we just made our own from scratch.

Terrain has to be made, and is being created almost daily. It’s frightening when I look at just how much we have made this year alone, and already I think it fair to say we could do a sizable and varied table top cityscape (which would easily fit onto a table tennis table if we put it all out) without too much problem at all. Best of all, it didn’t really cost us anything to make, just time and materials.

We are all of us pouring over the original Dredd comics, in anthology form, which makes collecting them so much easier, is aesthetically pleasing, and is rewarding to see the collection grow on the book shelf. Interestingly, the more we read and learn, the more we spot blinding errors in some of the (shall we say) latest rules manuals that have hit the shelves this last few years. I guess it’s not easy to stay true to 40 years worth of knowledge base, but *shrugs* is it that hard.. we`re managing it ok, so why not the professional game companies out there?  Anyway, before I step into a mine field there and upset anyone by knocking their favourite rules (not that I specifically single out any of them), I will quickly move on. Where was I.

 Oh yes. Bum about face.

So we are learning all we need to bring this game to life and make it an epic we would feel pleased and proud to run as game hosts, and happy to adventure in as player characters – both on the table top as skirmish run wargames, and as rpg games for the club to immerse in.

BUT why bum about face?

Well, when we have finished and feel ready to unveil our new `baby` and our grand magnum opus, we are not actually doing the sensible thing which most other normal and sane people would do, which would be to set our game firmly within the Cursed Earth. No, when we are ready for the next stage of game development, we are then going to move the entire campaign over to Gotham, and move all the other elements we want to add into that world. So instead of crossovers entering Cursed Earth and Judge Dredd`s Mega City One, we will move all our crossover realities and story-line-arcs into the DC world of Batman. This will include Marvel realities, Dark Horse, and of course, heavily feature as much of the Idea and Design Works Publishing (and others) as we feel necessary to complete our world.

Simply put, the world of The Bat, Robin, Catwoman, The Question, Black Mask, The Riddler, The Joker, HarleyQuinn, Poison Ivy, Croc, Mr Freeze, The Mad Hatter, Harvey Two Face, Scarecrow, Bane, and all the rest, is too rich a fictitious world of potential not to explore in all its neon gothic glory.

So there we have it. It should, hopefully, all be one hell of a ride.

Hils xxx


Tarot’s Thoughts

I really couldn’t let the guys write about this without bringing my own tuppence worth to the table. Reading up, I see that I agree with all that has been said so far: but I do feel something intrinsically important has been left out.. maybe even missed entirely.

Yes, I completely agree that Gotham  city of the great Bat himself  is a rich resource to tap into and add to any neo-Gothic or post modern supers setting; and I would be the first to place my proverbial cup under that tap and start to pour liberally from it.

In truth I would be deeply divided in my loyalty and my love of both genres: Judge Dredd`s Cursed Earth (Mega City One and its vast explored environs), or the alternative reality Gotham City and the neon infused futuristic vision of the USA and beyond. Certainly it would (from a gamer`s perspective) be a crying shame to play one setting, at the prime exclusion of the other. But need we just rely on crossover `programs` or `episodes` to achieve this harmonious marriage of playability between the twain?

I`m not so sure.

For me, I think the answer can perhaps be balanced on the scales and achieved with a little bit of lateral thinking games master-ship.

 Everyone knows the 1986 movie “Highlander” starring Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery and Clancy Brown, right? Remember how the movie kept switching (seamlessly) between old pre-Jacobite Scotland, kilts, targes, dirks and all including lots of Och aye the noo.. and the film kept flitting back and forward to and from old Scotland to the modern day setting of Yew York? The film literally worked on two levels and told separate but deeply interlinked stories.. set in different times, and best of all.. the movie worked because of it.

So, please stay with my thoughts a little longer. I will get to the point I promise.. he he he.

Now imagine for a moment that Batman`s Gotham is (a) either a futuristic version of New York.. i.e. is what the city will one day evolve into: or (b) assume that Gotham is an alternative reality version of a futuristic New York (after all, we are used to alternative realities in this kind of thing aren’t we. Just look at the five Terminator movies. Look at film one for a prime example, where Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor about humanity`s approaching dark destiny and of the terrible guerrilla war against the machines. Sarah Connor turns to Kyle and says: “can it be stopped. Is this our written future?” and Kyle replies: “I don’t know. From your perspective possibly.. one possible future anyway.”

Hmmmm. I`m thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to use portal gates to explore possible alternative realities. We already know that Gotham is/was New York.. simply placed in a different setting. And so New York is also Gotham too.. in a sense? Soooo, it stands to reason that the two places can`t exist in the same space – not in the same reality, so why not have them both exist, but merely as two faces of the same coin?  When we think of portals we usually think of travel from one point in space to another. Well what I`m suggesting is two places divided by a reality curve, like two sides of an elastic band. One side is Gotham City and the surrounding lands existing in an utterly alternative (but similar) reality to real life; and another reality is Mega City One, and the terrible apocalypse swept wilderness of The Cursed Earth.

Other realities might include the Terminator Wars, the Cthulhu mythos, or any others you wish to explore (why not Fantasy Flight Games “Shadows of Brimstone” or “Tannhauser” even). Already I am thinking of using Mayan temples and pyramids to induce my gates to `awaken` (perhaps because of the dabbling of Hydra) and create opening s to these various realities. See where I`m going with this?

I can see two campaigns here. Both rolled into one, but each with a distinct and unique flow, tone, and feel. Cursed Earth would be grim, gritty, stark, and based in a mind boggling advanced futuristic setting. And Gotham would be all neo-Gothic, film noir, neon lighting, full of comic book supers and larger than life heroes. Both games would be `bridged` allowing access back and forth between them both, and yet each world would have its own unique themed development of back-story and in-game campaign tales.

Stepping back a moment, and talking  about Cursed Earth being stark and grim. I actually think the new Mongoose/Warlord Games Judge Dredd rules miss the mark by a very wide mile. They are a shiny, poppy, stylised lightweight skirmish table top miniatures set of rules, held together by some fairly `thin` in themed blurb to keep the readers happy: but ultimately designed to keep the customers interested in buying lots of expensive figures. That`s all cool, and good marketing. But if you really really want to immerse in culture of The Cursed Earth, you should be looking to The Judge Dredd D20 System Role Playing Game: by Wizard of the Coast/Mongoose Publishing (under licence from Rebellion A/S). This book has guts, is packed with information, it is a complete role-playing guide in its own right and also serves as a good wargame/skirmish table top game.. all at the same time.  I have heard others say that games nowadays are `dummied down` a lot for  modern public, and this book is living proof of that. Now out of print and longer readily available on the shelves, it IS available from various sources, including Amazon, eBay, and even online as a free PDF, if you know where to look. This book is all you will ever need to enjoy a lifetime gaming in a Judge Dredd world, and best of all, if you like using miniatures… actively encourages you to use any miniatures you own in your collection.. or dispense with miniatures altogether if you just want to play this setting as a pure paper and pencil rpg.

I seriously can`t praise this 256 page book enough. We had written our own rules for playing in the Cursed Earth, and were happily intending to do just that, until discovering this amazing gem of a book (a big bonus to those of you who like the 2nd and 3rd edition of the Dungeons and Dragons D20 system). Its deep, immersive, allows full character customisation,  and best of all, lets you run characters, perps and monsters just like you would in a roleplaying game… with lots of options and possibilities.  The book has it all. You seriously would never need to hold another book in your hands. Its masterpiece of (British written) work from 15 years ago, which is when it first hit the hobby store shelves.

I think this whole theme has amazing potential for us would be world builders. To explore endless games for our miniatures and/or rpg campaigns.

Happy gaming.

Thanks for reading,

Tarot.


I hope you all enjoyed the insights provided by my guests – let’s hope this isn’t the last time they’ll grace my humble blog with their efforts.

Next time we should be seeing some more progress on my Doctor Who project, unless I get distracted by something else, like grafting the heads of plastic ‘toob’ animals onto Heroclix bodies to make Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew

Actually, that’s not such a bad idea, after all…

Jez

Primal Law

Regular visitors to this blog will know that whilst the majority of the content posted here is relatively sensible, there are times when my brain experiences a spasm and we get something a little bit mad. Today is one of those days…

So, if you’ve turned up here expecting more Doctor Who figures, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. However, if the above has intrigued you, then read on…

One of my favourite blogs to visit, until it sadly closed it’s doors, was “The Games Cupboard”, the majority of the content for which was provided by Steve and Hilary Gilbert, ably abetted by Tarot Hunt. I always looked forward to reading what they had posted, as their love of the hobby was evident and they chose to discuss all aspects of it, rather than just providing an endless parade of figures that had been painted in the preceding week.

I became very good friends with all three of them and have remained in contact ever since. Whilst they may not have been making regular postings on a blog, this does not mean that they have been idle, as they actually been painting and building and, most importantly, playing with their miniatures.

So, the current focus of their attention is a long-planned Judge Dredd/Cursed Earth campaign, which, from the sounds of it, will be absolutely epic. Rather than going the route of buying every single available ‘official’ figure, they are utilising their existing figure collection and converting, scratch-building and generally being awesomely creative to ensure that their vision of the world of Dredd matches what they think it should be, rather than being a cookie-cutter, straight-out-the-box version, like everyone else’s.

The good news is that you won’t have to hear about this second hand from me, as Steve has very kindly agreed to write some articles regarding this project, which I will be hosting here on the Buffet – so watch this space.

The bad news, however, is that the discussions about this project inspired me to create some characters for their campaign and I went a bit…off road.

So, first order of the day was to decide what characters I wanted to create and the obvious choice is Judges. In order to do this, I required some suitable ‘bodies’ and felt that the original ‘womble’ Space Marines from Games Workshop would be ideal. They have big boots, elbow pads and massive shoulder pads and the particular figures I chose were all armed with bolt pistols, which make suitable proxy lawgivers.

So, I removed the backpacks and all their heads and tidied up the torsos a bit, as there was a fair bit of glue residue, due to these being originally put together in the early 90’s.

Looking at them, I decided that whilst they were pretty close, they weren’t exactly right, which led me down the thought path of ‘alternate reality’ versions of the Judges. If these were Judges from another dimension, this would explain why their uniforms were slightly different…so why not make them really different? Which led to the next component parts, namely these:

This is a selection of small plastic dinosaurs, the kind that come in a ‘toob’ and are roughly 30mm tall.

That’s right – I’m making….DINO-JUDGES!!!!

So, having selected the relevant heads and tails, these were removed from the torsos, trimmed and dry-fitted into the neck collars and rears of the Marine bodies.

Once I was happy that the fit was correct, out came the superglue and I discovered that the rubbery plastic used to manufacture these dinosaurs doesn’t like superglue. Having had this issue with plastics before, I went straight to the understairs cupboard and fished out the ‘No More Nails’. This stuff will stick anything to anything, and this indeed proved the case in respect of the dinosaur parts and the Space Marine bodies, as shown below:

Once these had dried, it was just a case of painting them up in the appropriate colours, although I did decide to go with dark blue rather than black for the jumpsuits and gold for the shoulder pads and the buckles for their harnesses.

Now, these may not be the correct colours for ‘official’ 2000AD Judges, but these are DINO=Judges, so they can be whatever colour I like.

I have to say that I’m pretty pleased with how they came out, although my initial assembling of the marine bodies shows that I didn’t consider how I’d paint them, as some of the nooks and crannies were a pain to get too. But now I have completed four Dino-Judges, ready to be dispatched across the Irish Sea to join in Steve, Hils and Tarot’s campaign – which hopefully means this won’t be the last time we see them.

Yes, I know it’s a little bit bonkers, but they’re anthropomorphic future dinosaur policeman – and that’s feckin’ cool!

“You have the right to become extinct! I am the ROAR!!!!

Next week should see a return to ‘regularly scheduled’ programming, but I’m not promising anything…

March of the Daleks

I had such good intentions this week… I was going to finish off my Ogri that I’d made a start on in Mobile Stone AND my Gel Guards that I’d almost completed in Blobby Aliens.

However, I am mere weak flesh and the siren call of the Daleks was too strong…

This was compounded by the arrival on Wednesday of a small package from Roger Webb, the generous chap who not only provides a great deal of eye candy on his blog Rantings from Under the Wargames Table, but is also the proprietor of Wargames Supply Dump – go there, browse his ranges and don’t be surprised when you’ve found you’ve placed an order…

Anyway, back to the package. This contained 6 of the ‘new paradigm’ Daleks, which have become known as ‘iDaleks’, along with some other new series aliens that were also given away as a free gift on the front of the British Doctor Who Adventures magazine. To be frank, the other figures were wildly out of scale with 28mm or just not very good, with the possible exception of the Weeping Angels and the Silence. We shall see what I can do with them at a later date.

Actually, whilst we are on the subject of the generosity of fellow bloggers, I want want to publicly thank Keith aka The Angry Piper, who is the proprietor of Dead Dick’s Tavern and Temporary Lodging. He recently contacted me because he’d remembered a discussion from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in May of 2015, that my preferred Heorclix version of the Thing was the one that was wielding a hot dog cart from the Fast Forces set, but that I’d not been able to get hold of one.  He’d recently ended up with a double and very kindly sent it winging it’s way over the Atlantic to my door. A very generous gesture and one that is much appreciated.

Go visit his blog, as he’s currently trialing Scott Pyle’s new ruleset Super Mission Force, by utilising an old scenario from TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes to pit the X-Men against various foes, including French-Canadian trappers! Well worth a read.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the Thing figure concerned, in a crossover you probably never thought you’d ever see, here’s why a single Dalek is no match for the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing…

Right, back to the ‘March of the Daleks’. Now, as those who have seen the new series episode Victory of the Daleks, which introduced the new paradigm Daleks, will know, they are a bit bigger than the ‘Time War’ Daleks, as the picture below illustrates;

Image result for idalek

So, how do the plastic Doctor Who Adventures ‘iDaleks’ compare with a ‘normal’ 28mm Dalek, which we know are roughly the same size as ‘Time War’ Daleks? Well, unfortunately, they are widely out of scale, as can be seen below; 

I am, of course, joking. The one on the right is the motorised toy Dalek I recently rediscovered whilst rummaging through my cupboards, who I was asked to put away because someone doesn’t find it trundling about on tabletops screaming “Exterminate!” quite as funny as I do. Regretfully, I was unable to locate this person’s sense of humour during my searches – I fear it may be lost for good.

THIS is actually the comparison shot:

As you can see, they are pretty much in scale with ‘normal’ Daleks, so if you’re a fan of the new paradigm Daleks, they are worth getting.

They are made from hard plastic and assembled from four individual parts; the left and right sides, a ‘cap’ in the centre of the dome and a small rectangular panel at the front of the skirt. The detail is quite good, although there are noticeable mold lines, but due to the material these can be cleaned up with a needle file.

Now, the front panel can prove to be a bit of an issue, as depending on the care in which the Dalek was assembled and whether the two notches that the tabs from this panel go into are cast correctly, you might find that the panel is at an angle, like a small door opening “into the Dalek”. This can be rectified by carefully prising the panel out and re-seating it. This may involves widening the notches or filing off the tabs completely, but it is worth spending some time on, otherwise they look ‘broken’.

As ‘iDaleks’ also have a larger ‘skirt print’ than normal Daleks, you’ll also need bigger bases. I based mine on some spare Heroscape bases, as you can see below;

Now, I have to apologise to Roger at this point, as I believed there were six different types of new paradigm Daleks, and this is what I told him when he offered to send me some across. There are actually only five different types; the white Supreme Dalek, the yellow Eternal Dalek, the orange Science Dalek, the blue Strategist Dalek and the red Drone Dalek. So, the darker orange Dalek above will become a further Drone Dalek when I start painting them.

However, if you want to see what can be made of these cheap plastic toys, I suggest you visit Germy’s website, specifically this page, as he has painted 120 of these little buggers up in the colours of the renegade faction of normal Daleks and Time War Daleks, as well as the most recent red and gold version of the Supreme Dalek.

I’ve obviously not got as many Daleks as him, but I do have some more to show you, namely my normal Daleks;

Whilst the Dalek Patrol set from Black Tree Design does come with six normal Daleks, I decided to only assemble and base five of them. I’m undecided whether I’m going to use the final Dalek to make a mold, so I can have a ‘Glass’ Dalek, like the one in Revelation of the Daleks or whether to add the top half of a DC Heroclix Psion to the skirt, to make my own version of Davros, seeing as he’s not currently available. We shall see.

However, I also discovered that I had enough parts from the remaining plastic Games Workshop ‘Daleks and Cybermen’ boxed set from 1987 to make a single ‘engineer’ Dalek, so built and based him too, along with the Special Weapons Dalek. And here are all the current variations that I have, showing how they all compare:

Whilst there is a slight variation in size between the plastic GW Dalek and the Black Tree metal Dalek, as they are different types of Dalek, I’m not overly concerned. Obviously the ‘iDalek’ is bigger, but they are supposed to be, so this is also not an issue.

So, currently, I have 13 Daleks ready to trundle out and exterminate their enemies;

Where’s Absolm Daak, when you need him?

Now comes the hard part – I need to decide which of the many colour schemes to use on my ‘classic’ Daleks.

That’s all for this week. Next week – even more Doctor Who, but ‘Who’ or what I’ve yet to decide.

Comments appreciated and welcome, although WordPress has been refusing to allow certain people to comment, so feel free to comment on The Miniatures Page instead.

Buffet of the Daleks

Hobby time this week has been limited and taken up with the super-special secret project I mentioned last week, so I’ve not actually got anything new or any progress to show you.

However, when has they ever stopped me from posting before?

So, as you may have gathered from the title, this week we will be looking at Daleks, as whilst you could play a Doctor Who game without them, at some point you going to want/need some.

Now, since their introduction in the aptly named First Doctor serial The Daleks in 1963, the actual design of the Daleks has not varied all that much. Yes, they may have had rings or slats on their mid-section or a slightly bigger skirt, but the basic design remained pretty much unchanged right up until the end of the classic run in 1989.

The only variation we got during the classic run was the Special Weapons Dalek, which appeared in the 1987 Seventh Doctor serial Remembrance of the Daleks, which had a single high-powered energy weapon and no eyestalk.

Obviously, when the series was re-launched in 2005, it was felt that the Daleks required a bit of a re-design and our first look at what has become known as the ‘Time War’ Dalek was in the  Ninth Doctor episode Dalek in 2005.

Then, in the 2010 Eleventh Doctor episode Victory of the Daleks, we were introduced to the controversial design that has become known as the ‘iDalek’.

Lots of fans kicked off about this design, so much so that it’s quietly been ‘retired’, last appearing in the 2012 episode Asylum of the Daleks.

For a full guide to Dalek designs, hierarchy and, more importantly from a miniature gamer’s point of view, colour schemes, your best resource is the very comprehensive “Dalek Colour Schemes and Hierarchy” guide on The Doctor Who Site, which can be found here.

However, this is a miniature gaming site, so let’s talk about miniature Daleks.

If you want the ‘iDaleks’, your only option are those that came as free gift attached to the front of the Doctor Who Magazine here in the UK. They were pretty well-detailed, the right size to scale in with 28mm figures and pretty inexpensive. You may be able to find these on eBay, if you weren’t lucky enough to pick some up at the time – like me. So, if anyone’s got half a dozen of these knocking about spare and would be willing to sell them on, I would be quite prepared to give them a new home.

For ‘Time War’ Daleks, you will be able to buy multi-part plastic ‘Time War’ Daleks from Warlord Games when they finally decide to release them. Obviously, they still have to release a couple of boxes of obscure monsters that only appeared in one episode first, because these are so much more useful…

So, until these are released, you will have to track down the Doctor Who Micro Universe figures if you’re desperate for some new-style Daleks.

Which leaves us with the classic style Dalek. Luckily these are readily available from our old friends Black Tree Design.  And as I took advantage of their 30% off sale, I can do a review of them!

So, first up the classic style Dalek;

As you can see, they come in three parts; the ‘skirt’, mid-section and head, which means that you can rotate the head to provide variation in ‘pose’. As they are metal, you can also ‘adjust’ the gun and plunger arms for further variation. The detail is very crisp, although they did come with quite a bit of flash, but this was mainly on the underside of the skirt, so didn’t obscure any of the detail. The other thing I noted was that as the ‘skirt’ is a solid piece of lead, these figures do have a bit of heft to them.

As I got the Dalek Patrol set, this also came with a Special Weapons Dalek;

The SWD comes in two parts; the skirt and mid-section/head. As you can see, the skirt comes with a square platform on the top, so it’s fairly obvious which of the skirts belongs to the SWD. Detail is also very nice, with minimal flash and the same heft that the normal Daleks have.

Now, showing you the components is all well and good, but what do they look like assembled and how do they scale with say, a Crooked Dice Third Doctor 28mm figure?

Like this…

So, accurate, ‘official’ classic style Daleks which are nicely detailed and scale well with modern 28mm figures. I really like them and as the Dalek Patrol set offers six normal Daleks and a Special Weapons Dalek for just over 21 quid, they’re pretty good value too.

That’s all for this week – join me next time for more Doctor Who…in miniature.

Mobile Stones

This week I was blessed with quite a bit of hobby time, but due to a number of factors, it actually doesn’t look like I’ve achieved that much. The first reason is because I’m working on a super-special secret project, which I can neither divulge nor show you until such time as it is finished AND the recipient has received it – we don’t want to spoil the surprise now, do we? The second reason is due to the particular material I was working with, which I will explain about below. But first, a little background…

Back in 2007, the Doctor as portrayed by David Tennant, first encountered the alien race known as the Weeping Angels in the superb Stephen Moffat scripted episode “Blink”. These creepy ‘quantum-locked’ predators utilise time paradoxes to feed on the potential temporal energy of people by sending them back in time to a point before they were born and usually manifest as stone angels, similar to those found in Victorian graveyard statuary.

Image result for weeping angels

But this is not the first time that the Doctor has faced off against animated statues, as the Third Doctor had to contend with a gargoyle animated by the Daemon Azal in the 1971 story The Daemons, who went by the name of Bok…

Image result for bok doctor who

However, my favourite ‘mobile stone’ from Doctor Who are still the Ogri from the 1978 Fourth Doctor serial The Stones of Blood, which were essentially mobile semi-sentient blood-drinking monoliths.

Image result for ogri doctor who

Now, unlike Bok and the Weeping Angels, you cannot currently buy 28mm miniatures of Ogri – Bok can be purchased from Black Tree Design for £2.75, whilst a pair of ‘Angels of Sorrow’ can be purchased from the Reaper Bones range for $4.99 (or from Miniature Heroes in the UK for £4.38).

But as they’re just monoliths, they should be relatively easy to make, right?

Yes they are, but would have been even quicker if I’d been able to get the right material.

Ideally, you want blue insulation foam for this, which seems to be a popular choice for hobby builds but, for some reason, doesn’t appear to be readily available in my local DIY shops. So I went for something cheap and readily available, namely ‘oasis’ foam.

This is basically the stuff used by florists and flower arrangers to stick the stems of flowers into. It’s very lightweight and a block about 12″ tall by 4″ square only costs £1.50. It also comes in two colours, the standard green you associate with this product and a nice sandstone-y brown. I obviously went with the brown.

So, the first thing I did was to cut several ‘blocks’ about 20mm square and 35-40mm tall out of my foam. This can be easily done with a sharp craft knife and this leads to the very first problem with this material – when cut or knocked or even lightly brushed against, it sheds little particles everywhere, a bit like sand, as you can see from the surface of the cutting mat below, along with my ‘stones’.

The second issue is the weight. This stuff is remarkably light, so sneezing would send these blocks flying. However, I had anticipated this and prepared some bases made from 2 pence pieces, to which I superglued a flat-headed drawing pin/thumb tack, like so.

Having doused the tops of the drawing pins with superglue, I impaled each block onto the spikes, then carved bits off each ‘stone’ until I had a shape I was happy with – obviously creating more dust as I did so.

As the ‘stones’ currently looked like they were floating, the Milliput came out and the base of each ‘stone’ was given a scenic base. As the Ogri, when active, glow from within a golden light and have distinctive circular patterns around their midriffs, I used the handle of a needle file to make some circular depressions on each ‘stone’ with the intention of painting this gold. I only did this on one side, so that it’s not so obvious what they are if you’re approaching from behind. And here are four of them with one of my UNIT troopers, to give a sense of scale.

So far, so good, but it’s called ‘oasis’ foam for a reason – it’s because it’s designed to be porous. Good for plants inserted into it, but not so good for painting.

Seriously, if you’re going to make some of these yourself, only use this stuff as a last resort, as whilst it’s really easier to work with, actually getting it to the stage where you can apply paint takes a lot or preparation.

So, whilst I was happy with the size and shape, it was still shedding particles and would drink paint like a thirsty man in a desert. The solution to both of these problems was to use some watered down PVA glue as a sealant. This stops the material shedding everywhere and also creates a thin ‘skin’ over the top of the material, which will take paint. What actually happens is that the material absorbs the watered down PVA, so whilst it does allow  for painting, it also doesn’t obscure the texture of the foam and also makes the foam slightly heavier.

I then gave each ‘stone’ an undercoat of Docrafts Linen, then another coats of watered down Linen to fill in the holes. This was followed by a coat of Revell Beige, with a further coat of watered-down Beige for the same reason. Basically, all those little holes mean that whilst you do get a texture like stone or concrete, which will be a joy to dry-brush, it will need one or two washes to ensure that the colour covers the whole ‘stone’. And that’s as far as I’ve got with this so far, as can be seen in the picture below.

The Third Doctor looks a little concerned that he is surrounded by the blood-drinking Ogri – I don’t think his Venusian Aikido will get him out of this one…

It was only after I’d compared the photos from the unpainted to the beige-painted stones that I realised that they don’t actually look that much different, as the Beige paint is actually very similar in hue to the original colour of the foam. Oh well…

The next stage will be to paint in the golden glowing circles on each Ogri, then give them a darker wash, then several dry-brushes to bring out the detail.

Possibly a little more work than I had originally anticipated, but once they’re done I’ll have five Ogri miniatures, which can also double up as ‘normal’ standing stones, for £1.50.  And I’ve still got about 90% of the original block left – perhaps I’ll use it to build a replica of Stonehenge for a rock band or something…

That’s all for this week – join me next time for some more Who-inspired goodness.

View From the Crow’s Nest: Year Two

Can it really have been two years since the very first post on this blog? Whilst, strictly speaking, tomorrow is the official two-year anniversary of this blog, what’s a couple of hours between friends, eh?

Over the last year there have been Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe, Super-Clowns and Oriental Fantasy. I’ve scratch-built buildings, hamburger carts, starships, road tiles and a rather nice pumpkin patch. I’ve published several short stories and introduced people to my own rules – Final Frontier for Star Trek-inspired space combat and Way of the Crow, an all-genre skirmish rules.

We also had the very first Forgotten Heroes event, in which fellow bloggers on three continents produced a 28mm costumed character, of which a figure has either not yet been made or the official figure was a bit pants, which was a great deal of fun.

I also attended my very first Salute, in which I had the pleasure of meeting some of my fellow bloggers face-to-face and the displeasure of trying to eat a Cornish pasty hotter than the sun with just my fingers…

I want to thank all of those who’ve visited my blog and a bigger thank you to all those who took the time to post a comment – I know from personal experience that you don’t always get the time to comment on every post on every blog you follow, so those who’ve chosen to comment on mine, many thanks.

Right, that’s the retrospective bit, so what have you got to look forward to in the next twelve months? Will you see me pandering to the needs of a wider audience, featuring the next ‘big thing’ and tailoring my content to increase the number of visitors? Will you see me ‘bigging up’ a company’s products because I’m in their pocket? Will you see me covering genres or games systems that I have no interest in just because I feel I should?

Of course you bloody won’t.

What you WILL see is; more Way of the Crow, as I finish writing up the rules so that it can be used for every genre. More AARs, as I’ve decided that I really should play with all these figures and terrain I’ve collected, otherwise what’s the point? Plus it’ll give me the chance to play-test the rules in a variety of settings. More inventive scratch-building, from the long-promised fire hydrants to inexpensive and simple trees. More Oriental Fantasy, more starships and more superheroes, as Forgotten Heroes WILL return in June 2017, so get planning!

But wait, there’s more! Final Frontier will get a 2nd Edition, as I incorporate the various suggestions and ideas I’ve had regarding it (for those of you that missed it the first time around, you can find it on this post). There will also be another set of rules published which will allow you to fight riverine engagements between armed and armoured narrowboats and barges, along with articles on how to scratch-build the craft needed for this, as the long-planned Pirates of the River Thames finally sees the light of day! There will be strange, unusual and possibly bonkers diversions (one such ‘secret project’ is currently under way as we speak…). And I’m hoping to have the pleasure of hosting some guest articles from some very good friends – so you might actually end up with something worth reading…

And there will be, of course, more Doctor Who…

In fact, here it comes now – cue the theme tune…

As I was surprised to get a little more hobby-time this week, I decided to base up some of my Games Worskshop Cybermen, along with my Black Tree Cyber Controller, reasoning that if they were based, the actual painting of them shouldn’t take that long, as they’re essentially one colour. I was right and this is the result:

So, they were initially undercoated in GW Chainmail, a pot of which is still going strong, then painted with GW Black Ink. I then drybrushed them with GW Mithril Silver, then painted in their chest panels and the ends of their Cyberguns with Docrafts Black, and the rings on their guns with GW Imperial Purple. The bases were painted Docrafts Chocolate Brown, with a wash of Burnt Ochre.

And now I have a five ‘man’ squad of Earthshock Cybermen, with a Telos Cyber Controller. I did consider altering the pose of the GW Cybermen, but felt their uniformity actually suited them better.

Now, for those of you who prefer the newer version of the Cybermen, I give you a Cybus Industries Cyberman:

This Mirco Universe figure was painted in exactly the same way as the Cybermen above, but as the standard base for these figures looks more like starship decking, I undercoated it in GW Chainmail, then washed it in Brown Ink. I think it looks like slightly oily decking, which was the look I was going for.

Finally, as I’d based the Master and he’d threatened to use his Tissue Compression Eliminator on me unless I built him a TARDIS, that’s what I did:

The Master’s TARDIS is simply a 30mm lipped base, with the plastic casing from a fluorescent light actuator glued onto it, which was then undercoated in Light Grey, painted in GW Chainmail, with a further coat of Chainmail mixed with a tiny amount of black.

As both my sons took one look at it and identified it as an uncloaked TARDIS without any prompting, this means two things; it looks like what it’s supposed to and, more importantly, I’ve brought my kids up right.

That’s all for this week – join me next time for more Who-related goodness.

Blobby Aliens

Once again, various external factors have conspired against me to reduce the amount of hobby-time I had available this week, including a stinking cold which is starting to really annoy me.

So whilst I have been able to get some stuff done this week, it’s not a huge amount.

Firstly, I decided to slap some paint on my TARDIS, but the initial blue I chose was not the ‘right’ blue, so resulted in me having to repaint the entire thing a darker shade. As you can see in the picture below, it now looks like it should. Certainly the Third Doctor thinks so, as he’s loitering around outside it, in the hopes that this TARDIS has its dematerialisation circuits intact.

If you look at the windows, you can see the original blue I used, which was a little too light.

Now, one of the good things about Doctor Who, in my opinion, is the aliens. True, the majority of the aliens that appeared in the original series were men in reasonably unconvincing costumes, but no-one can deny that the design of the Daleks was not only iconic, but also different from anything else that had appeared up until that time.

But not all the aliens that have appeared in both the classic series AND the new series are as complicated, design-wise, as the Daleks. The Rutan, from the 1977 Fourth Doctor serial The Horror of Fang Rock was essentially a big green glowing blob, the Ogri from the 1978 serial The Stones of Blood were mobile blood-drinking standing stones and the Vashta Nerada from the 2008 Tenth Doctor two-parter Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead manifested as additional shadows attached to their victims.

The point I’m trying to make here is that if you want Doctor Who aliens, you don’t actually have to buy them. With a bit of ingenuity, you can make your own.

And to prove this, I will show you how.

Back in 1972, the writers on Doctor Who had the bright idea of creating a story where the current incarnation of the Doctor, which was Jon Pertwee, would be joined by his two previous incarnations, played by Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell, to face a foe that required more than one Time Lord to defeat. This story, in a flash of originality, became the 4-part serial The Three Doctors.

Now, the villain of this particular story was the renegade Time Lord Omega, who had created servants out of the anti-matter universe he was occupying and sent them to Earth to kidnap the Doctor. These ‘blobby aliens’ are known as Gel Guards and look like this:

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So, how do you go about making your very own Gel Guards? Well, a while ago I discovered a rather interesting product called Floam. Floam consisted of small airtight tubs, containing a substance that was essentially tiny polystyrene balls in a gel-like medium. This could be moulded into whatever shape your heart desired and, if left out to dry, set hard overnight. The ‘sculptures’ made from this could then be painted, as the Floam would accept standard acrylic paint with no problem. The only slight disadvantage with this substance was that the ‘balls’ were all the same size, so if you wanted to create a shoggoth, for example, you’d need to add additional different sized balls to make it less uniform.

Now, the major stumbling block for all of you is that they apparently don’t make this stuff anymore – not sure why, perhaps children were eating it or something.  However, I found a website that provides a ‘recipe’ for you to make your own, should you be so inclined. Think of it as mouldable polystyrene, but with the little balls going everywhere, so ideal for bulking out large structures, but without increasing their weight.

I had a tub of own-brand ‘Floam’, which I moulded into suitable ‘Gel Guard’ like shapes on 25mm circular plastic bases, then inserted a small faceted bead into the ‘head’ to act as an eye, then left them to dry overnight.

As I had an imperfect recollection of what the ‘Gel Guards’ looked like when I made these, they were then painted bright orange, with yellow eyes. These were then popped in a box and forgotten about.

I came across them recently and decided to repaint them in the correct colours, so gave them an undercoat of white, then painted them gold. I then had terrible issues with trying to find a suitable brown wash – I though Burnt Ochre would work, but it still left them looking too gold. I finally decided to overpaint them with Brown Ink in the hopes that this wouldn’t make them too dark. Once this had dried, I painted in their eyes with GW Imperial Purple, which is actually a dark pink colour and this is as far as I’ve got:

Now, they need a bit more variation on their colouring, with patches of orange and brown, but I do think they’re recognisable as ‘Gel Guards’.

To give a sense of scale in relation to a 28mm figure, here they are next to a Copplestone-sculpted Trooper, who is currently on his way to become a member of UNIT.

“He’s behind you…!”

So, if you’re planning on gaming Doctor Who (or any other sci-fi game), don’t feel you have to limit yourself to ‘official’ figures. Even if you want specific aliens, a little bit of thinking outside the box can get you inexpensive substitutes, the added advantage of which is that you now have something totally unique.

That’s all for this week. Tune in next week for more Doctor Who – what it will be only ‘Who’ knows…

“Definitely a Madman with a Box”

As I mentioned in my last post – Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box – I am now the proud owner of not one, but nine incarnations of the Doctor – First through Seventh, with the Eleventh and Twelfth as well. However, in order for whichever incarnation of the Doctor I decide to use to be able to travel through time and space, I found myself in need of a TARDIS.

Now, there was a time (pun intended) that if you wanted a 28mm model of a police box, you had a variety of options. You could buy one from Fenris Games, Hasslefree Miniatures, Black Cat Bases and best of all, the option of having both an opaque and a transparent one from Ainsty Castings, who also did a TARDIS control console. However, this is no longer the case, and believe me I’ve looked. Whether this is due to ‘cease and desist’ letters being issued or the companies concerned sensing that it would be in their best interests to withdraw their products from the market, I don’t know. The end result is the same – you have very few options left if you want a 28mm TARDIS.

So, Option 1 is to purchase an ‘officially licensed’ TARDIS model from Black Tree Design.

Now, as far as I am aware, the set only comes with the TARDIS and the control console, rather than the figures shown in the image above (or the walls). It’s not the most inspiring of models, but my main problem with this set is the price – it’s £26.49! Even taking advantage of one of Black Tree’s 30% off sales, that’s still eighteen and half quid! Outrageous…

Which brings me on to Option 2 – Reaper Miniatures Bones range. In this range you will find 80037: Telephone Box:

I think we all know what this model is supposed to be and at $4.29, it’s a much more affordable alternative, What’s more, it’s also a nicer model. For those living in the UK, it can be purchased from Miniatures Heroes for £3.66.

However, having blown my gaming budget on Doctors and monsters AND being me, I went for secret Option No. 3 – make your own.

Now, having previously built a small model TARDIS many years ago, which was so good (apparently) that someone decided to steal it, I knew I could make one. However, what I failed to take into account during my initial attempts was that the previous TARDIS was not in scale with 28mm figures, being about one and half times bigger. Which meant that when I attempted to use the same materials and technique for a 28mm scale TARDIS, it didn’t go entirely to plan…

The results of this first attempt were duly consigned to the bin, but I did keep a note of the measurements I’d made. As 1mm Greyboard proved too thick for the particular technique I was planning on using, I cast about for a suitable material and found one in my sketch pad.  This A5 pad is “135gsm Pure White Cartridge Paper”, which is similar in thickness to thin card, and as I had a pad of approximately 50 pages, plenty of ‘material’ available, should I muck it up. I actually only ended up using one sheet…

So, the first thing I did was to transfer my dimensions to the cartridge paper and create the initial internal structure, like so:

After scoring the creases, I used a Pritt stick (other glue sticks are available) to assemble the main ‘box’, which you can see below with the Eleventh Doctor, to give a sense of scale:

Obviously a Type 40 TT Capsule, or TARDIS as it is more commonly known, does have a ‘chameleon circuit’ which allows it to blend in with whatever surroundings it might find itself in, but the ‘uncloaked’ TARDIS are a little less exciting, being essentially a silver column with a door, like below:

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However, it’s still a bit more interesting than my plain white box, so we need to add more detail in order to make it actually look like the TARDIS we all know and love. And this is the fiddly and time-consuming bit…

Having previously marked out four further rectangles the same size as the sides of my box, I marked each of these with eight smaller panels, to represent the panels and windows in each side of the TARDIS. Then using a steel rule and a sharp craft knife, I preceded to cut out these panels, leaving me with the sides as shown below:

You may be wondering why I would go to all this trouble…and about halfway through I was wondering exactly the same thing. However, if you’re going to make a three-dimensional model of a TARDIS, you might as well do it properly, otherwise you might as well just print out a papercraft TARDIS ‘box’ with all the detail printed on…which of course IS another option, should you be inclined that way.

After these side panels were completed, the glue stick came out once more and they were attached to the internal box structure, like so:

And now you can see why I bothered, as it now gives depth to the model. Starting to look a little more TARDIS-like now, isn’t it?

Having referred to my reference material, I then cut four strips of paper the same height as the box, to act as corners, four panels to go just above the ‘doors’ and four further strips to act as the central ‘spine’ down each side. More gluing ensued and the additional detailing was added to the model, like so:

Now, as I was getting close to completing the model, I got a bit excited and didn’t take any further ‘work in progress’ pictures, so you’ll have to imagine the remaining interim stages.

The next step was to add four panels at the top of each side, which is where the ‘Police Public Call Box’ signage will go. As these are thicker than the other features, these were cut from 1mm Greyboard (or Brownboard in this case) and glued on.

As I’d decided to not try and replicate a particular version of the TARDIS (as there have actually been about eight different designs), I referred to various pictures to try and get a sense of what I wanted MY TARDIS to look like, utilising the materials I had to hand.

The next step was to add a square of 2mm Greyboard onto the roof, to provide a ‘stepped’ roof. This looked fine, but the next and final ‘step’ on the roof needed to be taller and shaped. A rummage through my bits box uncovered an unused 25mm square slottabase with angled sides, which was duly dry-fitted and turned out to be exactly what I needed. I widened the slot in the exact centre of the base slightly, then covered this with a square of cartridge paper, with a circular hole in its centre. This was then glued into place with superglue.

Into this hole was inserted an appropriate length of transparent plastic tube (could have been a cotton bud stem or an empty ballpoint pen tube – the amount of bits I keep “because they could be useful” is staggering…), which was then super-glued into place. To finish the whole thing off, a GW plastic ‘shield boss’, after filing down, was added as a cap to the roof light.

The final touch was to glue the whole structure to a 40mm square GW base and this is what I ended up with:

And to give a better view of the roof, here’s an overhead view:

Not bad for an evening’s work and the only thing it cost me was time, which is appropriate given the subject matter. All that needs to be done now is to paint it and print out suitable signage for the illuminated panels and external phone door. Thinking about it, I may need to insert a further panel where the external phone door will be, as I think this is not as recessed as the other panels. Oh, and add a door handle.

That’s all for this week, but there will be more Doctor Who goodness next time. The Master is a bit miffed that I’ve only built a TARDIS for the Doctor, so I’ll probably have to build him one to, unless I want to end up on the wrong end of his Tissue Compression Eliminator.

Thinking Outside The (Blue) Box

A quick apology to those who’ve been visiting this site and not found any new content over the last couple of weeks. January always seems to be rather busy for me and I’ve not had much opportunity to indulge myself hobby-wise. On those occasions that I did, things didn’t go quite as planned, so  rather than post for the sake of it, I thought I’d wait until I’d actually got something to post about.

So, the focus of my blog for the next couple of weeks (or possibly months), as you may have guessed from the title, is Doctor Who miniature gaming. As I took advantage of Black Tree Design‘s 30% off sale on their Doctor Who line, I am now the proud owner of the first seven Doctors, as well as the Roger Delgado version of the Master. Then they went and extended the sale…

So, I now have additionally winging their merry way to me a set of seven classic Daleks (including a Special Weapons Dalek), a Cyberleader to join my Games Workshop Cybermen, an Ice Warrior and Aggedor, the Monster of Peladon – because who doesn’t need a big hairy monster with a horn? And for those of you not familiar with this character, here he is:

Image result for aggedor

Ah, bless…

Now, you might be currently thinking to yourself, “Actually, I quite fancy the idea of doing a bit of Doctor Who gaming, but I don’t have any suitable figures or rules…” and this is where the title of this post comes from.

Whilst it’s nice to have every version of the Doctor and all his iconic baddies (and those funky weird ones, like Aggedor), you don’t actually need them to do a bit of Doctor Who-esque gaming.

As far back as 1965, we were introduced to another renegade Time Lord, specifically the character who became know as the Meddling Monk, played by Peter Butterworth. Here was another Time Lord interfering with the course of history who had his own Tardis – on which the Chameleon Circuit actually worked. Then in the 1969 adventure The War Games, we were introduced to another renegade Time Lord, the War Chief. Then in 1971, The Master turned up, followed by the Rani in 1985. Even if you’re a fan purely of the new series, the 2011 episode The Doctor’s Wife introduced us to a character called the Corsair, another renegade Time Lord and friend of the Doctor, who had unfortunately already fallen foul of the entity known as House.

My point is that just because you currently haven’t got a miniature of Jon Pertwee or David Tennant, this doesn’t mean that you haven’t got a figure in your collection that could be a Time Lord.

Take this figure, for example;

This is 0763 Eccentric Individual from Moonraker Miniatures, available from their website for £1.50. A suitable ‘eccentric’ paint job and you’ve now got yourself your very own Time Lord, whose sobriquet you can come up with yourself.

Similarly, as Doctor Who has introduced us to a vast array of alien races, if you have some alien miniatures, or even some of the more weird and wonderful D&D monsters, you’ve got yourself some ‘aliens’.

The other wonderful thing about gaming in the Doctor Who universe is that you have no restrictions on time or place. If you’re primarily a historical gamer, it doesn’t matter which period of history you prefer and collect, you already have the rest of your cast for your Time Lord to interact with. The same applies for pulp, modern or science fiction gamers.

Basically, all you need to game in the Doctor Who universe is a Time Lord, his Tardis (which could be anything, if the Chameleon Circuit is working), an alien threat of some description, a supporting cast of locals and some scenery and terrain. Which is probably stuff you’ve already got.

“Okay, you’ve convinced us,” I hear you cry, “but what rules should we use?”

Well, as Warlord Games official “Doctor Who – Into the Time Vortex” miniature gaming rules have failed to materialise yet (see what I did there?), probably your best bet is the 7TV rules from Crooked Dice, either 1st or 2nd Edition. The profile for the ‘Unearthly Traveller’ from 7TV2 basically IS the Doctor and you can find a profile card to match most, if not all, of the various monsters, aliens, allies and companions that you could want.

Another option would be a copy of the original, unlicenced “Doctor Who Miniatures Game” which was the first published ruleset by Crooked Dice, and was available free to download on the Internet. Obviously, these have now been removed, so you will have to find someone who has a copy lurking on their hard disk and is willing to send them to you. After an extensive search, it would appear my own copy has vanished into the Time Vortex. I blame the Master…

I, of course, will be using my own rules The Way of the Crow, of which the basic rules were introduced back in June of last year (here, here and here). This year will see the completion and collation of these rules, and they will then be available to download from here for FREE!  Previews of the rules in action for gaming Doctor Who will appear on my blog as AARs, so you can get a feel of how they work.

So, during the next couple of months, you will see a variety of Doctor Who figures, both official and seconded, along with some classic and Nu-Who monsters cunningly fashioned from easily available resources and some AARs featuring the above as I fine-tune my rules.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to build a scale model of a quarry…