The Greatest Breakthrough in Travel..

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

Behold, the time machine…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And another shot showing the fly-wheel;

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next “time”…


A 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.

A Visit to the Workshop

As previously mentioned, I will be attending Salute again this year, but will be doing so on the other side of the fence, as I will be assisting Dave Stone of Wargames Terrain Workshop on his stand. So, I felt that I really should meet Dave in the flesh prior to April and therefore arranged to visit him in Gloucester last weekend.

Dave was a very welcoming host, plied me with copious amounts of coffee and treated me to a very interesting insight into the creative process behind the models he creates for WTW. We also managed to get a game of Death Match in, in which my Revilli Gladiator managed to slay her Ceratid opponent, TWO of the released beasts, then got pounded into the dirt by a Horned Hominid. If you haven’t had a chance to play this game yet at a show, make sure you visit the stand at Salute, where we will be running demonstration games for most of the day.

When I left, I was presented with a few items to take away with me. Some I was expecting, as these were prizes from the Death Match competitions run on The Game Cupboard last year, but Dave had very kindly added some extra items – namely a few bits that I’d enthused about when he’d shown them off on TGC.

Now, as a beneficiary of Dave’s generosity, I thought I’d take the opportunity to show some of the items Wargames Terrain Workshop does or will be releasing in the future, but with a standard 28mm miniature in the pictures, to give you some idea of scale. As the majority of the time, we gamers buy online, its always good to know exactly how big some of these models actually are…

First up, one of my competition prizes, the Creminisci;

This aquatic race was designed by Tarot Hunt for the Death Match universe, and are a race of fish-like mystics, who can harness their mental power to produce a variety of effects. As the DM range is nominally 32mm scale for standard humanoid races, you can see that the Creminisci are roughly the same scale as a DM Human, but are larger than the 28mm figure in the picture.

I asked for mine to be cast in translucent blue resin – because I’m an awkward bugger – but I believe the general release figures will be in opaque grey resin.

Next up, my winning contribution to the Death Match universe, the Nisari;

The Nisari are a sect that believes that ‘The Games’ are an abomination and have dosed their most fanatical warriors with a potion that increases their effectiveness as warriors, but also burns them up from the inside, hence the bloodstained bandages.

As you can see from the picture, the Nisari tower over a normal 28mm figure and are still pretty big in comparison to a standard DM human. But they are supposed to be, as they are Traventians, who are bigger than the humans in the game. The two figures shown are the Nisari male and the Nisari Priestess, currently milking a Dust Viper for its venom. The Nisari female comes with separate arms and as I’ve not attached these yet, I decided not to show her.

Now, as you may not be a Death Match player, you might be thinking why would I buy these models? The Creminisci would quite easily fit into any fantasy or sci-fi game of your choice. As for the Nisari…could you imagine Conan facing this in the wastes of Stygia? Or your Pulp Alley league being menaced by this because they opened the wrong tomb? Or maybe your Tomb Kings army needs a giant freaking insane mummy, because…well, who doesn’t?

Now, these aren’t on general release yet, but I’m sure Dave will let everyone know when they will be available.

Next up, the Venucian Man Eating Plant, which has been released;

The figure in the picture is one of my Victorian thugs from Ironclad Miniatures, which gives a good indication of the size of this terrain piece. Three open ‘traps’ and one currently digesting an unfortunate victim. If you play Congo, Pulp Alley or, to be frank, ANY game that ventures into the jungle, be it terrestrial or off-world, get this piece. It’s well-detailed, versatile and only £6.00.

Next, a model that came about from a conversation I had with Dave about monstrous pigs…the Grice;

I had mentioned in my ongoing Tales of the Black Museum a previous case featuring the ‘Black Pig of Awdry Gardens’. Now, I quite fancied having a model to represent this, and mentioned to Dave that I had not yet found something suitable. He queried what sort of beast I was after and after much to-ing and fro-ing, he’d got a good idea of what I was after. Thus was born the Grice. The name is actually that of an extinct Iron Age pig that was common in Scotland, but as this beast was supposed to represent a monstrous swine, either demonic or primeval, artistic licence was employed. The Grice is now an official part of the Death Match universe, but can be used wherever you need a bloody great porker. Available now for a very reasonable £7.00.

Next up, the Digestion Pool;

Designed for the Exuvium race in Death Match, which they use to break down the bodies of the animals they catch into a delicious and nutritious soup, this terrain piece has so many other uses. It’s reminiscent of the architecture in the Alien movies, but what the fluid bubbling away in it is, is entirely up to you and your paints to decide. As you can see from the picture, this is currently being scanned by one of my Ghostbusters, so it may contain psycho-reactive ectoplasm of ‘mood slime’. A nice solid bit of terrain for £5.00.

Finally, a lovely surprise for me – the Falcon Interceptor. Now, this is actually a “off-cast” (not sure if that’s the correct term). Basically, this was a model that Dave couldn’t sell, as it was mis-cast. You can’t see it from the picture, but there are a few cavities on the underside that will require filling. I’d commented that it would make an ideal alternative mode of transport for my Vin Diesel inspired Ghostbuster, especially with the tanks at the rear, but would need a light bar for the roof. Dave was already in the process of creating one of these for a new futuristic car, so Vin-Buster is now the proud owner of his very own Ecto-V8;

“It’s got, like, a cup-holder and…everything.”

He looks pretty pleased with it and it’s going to look awesome once painted in the appropriate livery.

Hopefully this post has given you an idea of how these particular items scale up against standard 28mm figures and maybe added a few items to your online or Salute shopping list.

Next time, we will definitely be back in Blackwell…

A Plan So Cunning You Could Stick a Tail on it and Call it a Weasel

Regular visitors to the Buffet will know that I’m a big fan of the BBC comedy series Blackadder, which ran for four series between 1983 and 1989, with a couple of specials broadcast in 1988 and the final instalment of the saga – Blackadder: Back and Forthreleased in 1999.

During this time, we were introduced to NINE incarnations of the titular character, from Centurion Blaccadicus, way back in Roman occupied Britain, to the most recent Lord Edmund Blackadder, who through some unscrupulous tinkering with the time-stream, managed to end up as the King of England.

Now, you might be wondering what this possibly has to do with wargaming?

Well, it would appear that I’m not the only fan of the Blackadder series, as various companies have produced 28mm versions of Edmund and his chums.

Want Prince Edmund, the Duke of Edinburgh and his father, King Richard IV? Head on over to Rogue Miniatures, who have Eddy:


And Lord Loud:


at £3.75 each, from their “Sword” range.

Fancy something a little more Elizabethan? Then look no further than The Assault Group, who have amongst their Renaissance range REN438 – Cunning Courtier, Manservant & Percy:

At £7.20 for all three, that’s £2.40 a figure, which is pretty good value.

Finally, should you be more inclined to game amongst the trenches of the Great War, Scarab Miniatures have this collection of individuals for you:

Lieutenant George, Private “Bob” Parkhurst, Captain Darling, the drinks cabinet, General Melchett, Captain Blackadder and Private Baldrick, all for £8.20. Unfortunately, this is the best picture I could get from their website, but if you want to see them painted extremely well and in a suitable diorama, then pay Michael Awdry’s 28mm Victorian Warfare blog a visit, particularly this post, to see what they should look like.

Now, whilst we have three incarnations of Edmund, this still leaves us short of Centurion Blaccadicus; Sir Edmund Blackadder from the English Civil War; Mr E. Blackadder Esq., butler to the Prince Regent; Mr Ebenezer Blackadder, proprietor of the finest moustache shop in Victorian London, Lord Edmund Blackadder, time-travelling ne’er-do-well and Grand Admiral Blackadder of the Dark Segment. And believe me, I have trawled the Internet, looking at various ranges to try to find suitable proxies, so I could have the ‘full set’ without luck.

Now, I’d put the idea of ‘The Blackadder Project’ on hold back in 2014, but with my current focus on all things Victorian, I thought it would be quite amusing to add the Victorian incarnation of Blackadder to the narrative. After an exhaustive search of the Internet, I still haven’t located a suitable figure to represent Mr Ebenezer Blackadder.

Not giving up on this idea, I changed tack and started searching for a suitable figure for the modern version, as whilst I would have to build a time machine, this shouldn’t present a problem.

Which is a phrase I never thought I’d use…

Strangely, finding a suitable figure for an unarmed, bearded man in a suit in 28mm isn’t quite as easy as you’d think. I did consider Tony Stark from the Heroclix Avengers Movie subset, but the amount that this was going for online was silly for a single plastic figure.

Image result for heroclix tony stark

So, I went for a slightly different alternative and have decided to use the Crooked Dice Lionel figure:

United Radionics

It may not be exact, but I think with a suitable paint job, this will make a good proxy for the modern version of Lord Edmund Blackadder. And could that be a tranquiliser pistol? It would certainly suit his character…

As for the time machine…well, I’ve made a start…

Looks a bit like washing machine at present…

Just before I go, it seems that my regular posts on the Buffet have inspired a fellow gamer to take a crack at this blogging lark. His name is Harry and his blog is War Across the Ages. So far, he has provided a very interesting introduction into how he got into the hobby, which should ring a few bells with the majority of you out there. Why not pay him a visit and see what he has to say.

Next time…we shall be returning to Blackwell to see what’s been occurring.

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.

View from the Crow’s Nest – Year Three!

As today is the official three-year anniversary of this blog, I couldn’t really let this go unmarked. It honestly doesn’t feel like I’ve been unleashing my unique vision of what the hobby is for me for three whole years…

So, having looked at the statistics provided by WordPress, I know that I have (including this post) published 155 posts over the last three years, which roughly works out at one every week. Not too bad.

I’ve had a total of 29,029 visitors and a total of 49,351 views, which means that people come back for a second (or possibly third) look. I also have a total of 41 followers over various platforms.

Whilst these stats may not really compare to more well-established or more popular blogs, I’m pretty happy with them. For me, it was never about the stats, but more that this blog encouraged me to actually do something hobby-related, rather than just storing my figures in a box somewhere.

So, as per usual, I will offer a retrospective on what has occurred over the last twelve months and offer an insight on what’s to come.

Year Three saw a few changes in the content here on the Buffet, with longer term projects replacing themed months.

From February to July 2017 the focus was on Doctor Who, with brief excursions into the realms of Judge Dredd in March with a guest article from Stevie, Hils and Tarot of The Games Cupboard. This period also saw my second post-Salute report in April and the second successful Forgotten Heroes ‘community art project’ occurring in June.

After a break at the end of July, the Doctor Who project was put on hold and my Gothic Victoriana project, now known as Tales from the Black Museum, was launched. This began in August of last year and has been running ever since – and has proved quite popular.

November of last year also saw me taking part in a competition run by Dave Stone and Stevie Gilbert of The Games Cupboard to create a character or race for the Wargames Terrain Workshop Death Match universe, the winner of which would have their creation turned into a model. I won the people’ vote (much to my surprise) and my Nisari were transformed from my rudimentary sketch into three-dimensional figures! Which was pretty damn cool…

The last twelve months also saw a few changes in my immediate blogging circle, with Roger Webb – my longest supporter and good friend – of Rantings from Under the Wargames Table – sadly having to curtail his online activities. It has also seen the reduction of posts from other blogs I follow, as Real Life has prevented the owners from posting as often as they’d like.

One of the major changes was that my staunchest followers – Steve and Hilary Gilbert and Tarot Hunt of The Games Cupboard – have handed the reins of this blog over to Dave Stone, as changes in circumstances have meant that they cannot be as active as they previously were. Whilst the blog is in good hands, their articles, comments and presence are sadly missed.

Looking back at the plans I made this time last year, I feel that some of what I said I was going to do was a little…unrealistic. So rather than promise and never deliver, I thought I’d keep any proposed plans to a more sensible level.

There WILL be more ‘Tales of the Black Museum’, as certain outstanding threads need resolutions. There WILL be a return to Doctor Who gaming, as I took advantage of the sale after Christmas to bolster my collection. And there WILL be the ‘publication’ on here of simple mass combat wargame rules, currently going by the name of Feast of Crows, the first draft of which has been written.

I will also be attending Salute again this year, but on the other side of the fence, as I will be assisting Dave Stone on the Wargames Terrain Workshop stand. As I will be there the preceding evening, anyone who fancies having a beer with me on Friday night is most welcome.

As for what else is in store over the next year, you’ll just have to pay the Buffet a visit and find out.

But there definitely WILL be pigeons…

Here’s to the next twelve months – let them be filled with the clatter of dice, the scent of paint and the creative madness you’ve come to expect here at the Buffet.

I ain’t going nowhere…


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…

Shouting Into the Storm

2018 has arrived and the usual thing to do for the first post of the New Year is to offer sober reflections on what has gone before and look forward to what is to come.

So, I could give a precis of what I feel I’ve achieved over the past twelve months and what I think I may achieve over the next twelve, but for those who follow and visit this blog know, I never quite do what is expected, so there won’t be any of that here.

If you want to know what I’ve done over the last twelve months, it’s all recorded here – literally in black and white, in some cases – so feel free to browse the back catalogue and as for the future…well, you’ll just have to wait and see.

So, what exactly is the purpose of this post and what does the title mean?

If you think about it, blogging about wargaming is a rather odd development of the wargaming hobby. Wargaming is, essentially, a hobby in which two (or more) people sit down and pit their assembled forces against one another, indulging in miniature conflicts that range across various genres and historical periods. In other words, for the most part, it is not a solitary pursuit. Now, before certain people start jumping up and done and telling me that solo wargaming does exist, I am speaking generally here.

Blogging is generally a solitary pursuit – one person, sitting in front if their computer screen, manipulating images and carefully crafting a post to release into the wilds of the Internet, never knowing whether anyone will actually read their post or appreciate the time and effort that has gone into preparing it. And as there is so much available content out there, it is like shouting into the storm.

A person’s blog is their personal expression of their way of pursuing their hobby. You may not like the particular genre they focus on or their painting style or the way they express themselves, but, for the most part, that person is not blogging solely for YOUR benefit. They are merely sharing what they are doing in the hopes that someone else will find it interesting or inspiring or entertaining. At least, that’s why I do it.

So, when visiting others blogs, if you see something you like, spare a few moments of your valuable time to tell that person that you like what they’ve done – not because you feel you should or because you want them to do the same on your blog, but because you genuinely want to acknowledge the time and effort that has gone in to doing it. 

And whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinion, think twice before deliberately being negative about someone’s efforts. Think how you would feel if you received a similar comment on all your hard work. I’ve known people who have given up blogging due to petty and vindictive comments made by small-minded people who derive pleasure from publically slagging off their efforts or them personally and I personally believe that the hobby is a poorer place for it.

Our hobby is a rich and wonderful thing, filled with talented people, wonder and imagination – the only trolls should be those fielded on tabletop.

The Crow has spoken. 😉

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**