Let There Be Light…

If you’re building a small slice of Victorian London, there are two things that you really need to have to make it have that ‘Victorian’ feel – cobblestones and gaslights. So, as my last post dealt with the cobbles, this post will deal with gas lamps.

Now, those who regularly trawl the Internet will know that a search engine is only as good as the parameters entered.  So, should you enter “28mm Victorian lamppost” or “model railway Victorian lamppost” you will discover that those gas lamps made specifically for wargaming can be a little on the pricey side and the majority of model train lighting is similarly expensive, as they are designed to actually light up. Based on this, you would conclude that it would probably be within your hobby skills to make your own for the fraction of the price.

However, if you’d remembered that 28mm is approximately O Scale/Gauge and put in “O Gauge Victorian Lampposts”, you would have found you could actually get a pack of 10 Victorian gas lamps (with integral lighting) 73mm tall, for just under £7.00 including shipping. The key word in that previous sentence is the word “if”…

Annoyingly, I only found the cheap model gas lamps AFTER I’d built my own. I could claim that showing you how will save you money in the long run (these actually cost me nothing but time, as I already had all the components) or that the same principles could be used to make street signs or lamp posts for other eras (which it obviously can), but the real reason I’m showing you this is because I spent several hours slaving over the ruddy things, so the least you can do is read the bloody post.

*ahem*

Right, first you need a few components, as shown below:


What we have are some cup washers, some dressmakers pins, some cotton buds (or Q-tips), some small nails(which didn’t get used) and the most important component, some ink cartridges for pens. You can get a pack of thirty of these for £1.99 here in the UK, and these can be used as shell casings for howitzers, jet engines for space craft, missiles, gas canisters, etc. so quite a useful little item.

So, the first thing we do is prepare some bases to attach our components to, which consists of some 2 pence pieces (or 25mm washers) to which I glued some textured wallpaper, the same that I used for the pavements on my cobbles boards:

These would also make pretty good bases for dungeon-crawl figures, be they monsters or adventurers.

Next, we need to prepare the ink cartridges, as we’re only going to be using part of them, so we need to cut them up without getting ink everywhere. The easiest way to do this is to actually just cut them on a wad of kitchen towel and let that soak up the ink. For our lamp posts we need the top 20mm of the cartridge, with the tapered end. Once you’ve cut you cartridge down to size, rinse both parts out with clean water and use one of your cotton buds to dry out the inside.

The cotton buds need to be stripped of their cotton before they can be used, but once they are, using a bradawl or similar pointy object, break the seal at the top of the ink cartridge and push one end of your stripped cotton bud into it. Then glue it onto the cup washer.

You will now have a post 90mm tall. Using your judgement and/or eye, push a pin through the post at the correct height to make the cross-bar typical for Victorian gas lamps. As the whole length of the pin will be far to long, snip of the pointy end at a length that is pleasing to the eye (mine are about 20mm long). You will then end up with something that looks like this:

And yes, one of them is a bit wonky. Next I decided to paint each one of my six lamp posts with GW chainmail, as I know metallic paints do tend to give a much better coverage than non-metallics, so they looked like this:

Now, I apologise that there aren’t that many WIP shots during the next part, as how I had intended on making the gas mantles for the tops of my lamp posts didn’t quite go according to plan, so I had to come up with an alternative, which I actually think worked out better, but I’ll leave that for you to judge for yourselves.

I had intended on carving rhomboid gas mantles, the standard shape for Victorian lamps, from a partially transparent pencil eraser, then pushing these onto the tops of my posts. However, cutting six rhomboid gas mantles that have exactly the same dimensions AND straight sides is not as easy as I thought it would be – in fact, it was an absolute nightmare, so back to the drawing board I went.

After giving it some thought and rummaging through various different boxes of bits, I came up with what I hope would be an elegant solution.

First, I shortened the off-cuts from the ink cartridges to approximately 15mm in length and made a small hole in the base (now top) of each one. Taking another dressmaking pin and half a small popper/snap fastener, I fed the pin through the popper with the ‘knob’ upwards, then through the hole in the top of my off-cut. I now had a transparent mantle with knobbly decorative top and a pin shaft that could be fed into the hollow stem of the cotton bud, meaning that it could be glue in place without the superglue further frosting the ‘glass’.

My lamp posts were then painted matt black, followed by black ink to give them that shiny black paint look common to Victorian ironwork, except for the top 15mm, which was painted with a bright gold, to represent the lit gas lamp. The mantles were then glued on top, and the top of each mantle received its Chainmail base coat, matt black mid coat and black ink final coat. The end result was this:

So, they may not be exactly 100% accurate, but I think they look pretty damned good and they cost me nothing! 

And as you’re probably wondering exactly how big they are compared to a standard 28mm figure, here’s everyone’s favourite grumpy Victorian monster hunter, Lancelot Grimm himself, taking an evening stroll:

Of course, we can’t really finish off the post without showing what the lamp posts look like on my cobblestone boards, now can we?

Look pretty good from GEV (Gamer’s Eye View), but here’s a closer shot;

And there’s the wonky lamp-post again…apparently this was damaged when an orangutan dressed for the opera used it to escape the peelers, after he’d brutally cut up a dolly mop with a straight razor. Can’t trust those damned dirty apes…

So, yes, you can buy inexpensive scale Victorian gas lamps which work out at roughly 70p each, but you will have to gut the electrics and they are about 25mm shorter than the ones I’ve built. Or, if you’ve got the mind to do it, you could have a go at making your own, as I did. They may not be exactly right, but as you can see from the pictures above, once in place, they do add to the overall Victorian ambience, which is what I’m trying to achieve.

Next time, more ‘Gothic Victoriana’, as I complete my quartet of tiles with the Chapel of St. Gilbert and it’s attendant graveyard. It’s “Gothic” Victoriana…gotta have a graveyard…

 

 

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Let Me Take You by the Hand…

…and lead you through the streets of London…

As announced in my last post – Eliminating the Impossible – the Buffet will be travelling back in time to the Victorian era.

Now, whilst I have both a selection of suitable figures and some suitable buildings, what I didn’t have was anything to put them on.  I could go out and buy a suitable ‘cobbled streets’ gaming mat, but having had a look at these before, the smallest I’ve found is 3′ square and about £40. As my usual gaming surface (my dining table) can just about cope with a 2′ gaming mat, the smallest available mat was a bit too big, not to mention a bit too expensive…

However, I have actually been planning this particularly project for a while, working out exactly not only how I was going to do it, but how I was going to do it cheaply.

Way back in November, in the post Welcome to Easy Street, I showed how I made a remarkably cheap and easy 1′ square modern road tile, using self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles, sandpaper and hobby foam. This post will show you how to do the same thing for Victorian streets, but with a few variations.

So, at the end of this project, I intend to have my own small slice of London, represented by four 1′ square gaming tiles, a selection of street furniture and buildings and a handful of suitable dressed civilians and personalities…and a bunch of monsters.

First things first, we need some Victorian streets and nothing says Victorian like cobbles. Now you can buy both resin and plastic sheets of cobbles, which can then be attached to whatever basing material you choose, but here at the Buffet, we like to show you how to do things more cost effectively. So rather than spending money on these, take a stroll down to your local DIY shop and walk into the wallpaper section.

Wallpapers come in a wide selections of styles, colours and prices, but we don’t care about this, because we’re looking for texture. Probably about 30% of the wallpapers on offer in any DIY shop will have some kind of texture on them, but the kind you’re looking for will have lots of little bumps on it that, when suitably painted, will give the impression of cobbles. And the best thing about this wallpaper is that the shops actually encourage you to rip off a sample and take it home. That’s right, boys and girls, it’s free! (I do have to admit to always feeling a little bit guilty when walking out of the shop with my tightly rolled sample, which is probably a good 18-20″ in length, knowing that I have no intention of every buying a roll of the stuff, but that won’t prevent me from going back if I haven’t got quite enough…)

So, we have our ‘cobbled’ paper, a pack of Poundland special self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles and some Poundland grey primer spray paint. After some measuring, cutting, sticking and spraying, you end up with something that looks like this;

The figure in the picture above is a West Wind Productions Victorian policeman, from their Vampire Wars: jack the Ripper 28mm range, which gives an idea of scale.

The next picture gives you a better idea of what the ‘cobbles’ look like in close-up.

Whilst one of my friends felt that a proper representation of cobbles should have the cobbles closer together, this isn’t a diorama, but a gaming tiles to give the impression of cobbles. As the three tiles I made took a couple of hours and cost me a grand total of £2.00, I think they look pretty good.

However, whilst they looked pretty good as a base, they needed a bit more detailing to match my idea of what I wanted to achieve. And this is where things didn’t go according to plan…

So, having got my base tiles, I decided that I was going to scribe pavements onto the inch wide strips, scoring these into the vinyl floor tiles with a bradawl. Once this was done, I would wash the whole tile in a brown ochre wash, which should not only ‘fill’ the scribed lines between the paving slabs, but also dirty up my road a bit, making them look more realistic.

However, whilst the scribing looked good, all it actually did was remove the top layer of spray paint, so when I applied the wash, all it did was show up the underlying colour of the tiles. And it made the tiles look a bit crap. After a bit of rethinking and a further visit to both Poundland and a different DIY shop, I had another can of grey primer and some different textured wallpaper, this time what was described as ‘mosaic’, which was basically lots of little squares.

As approximately two and a bit of these squares covered about an inch, I cut several strips an inch wide of my sample, then glued these down over the sections I had previously scribed as pavements, then re-sprayed the tiles. The end result was this;

Whilst they may not be offset paving slabs like I had originally intended, I think they look a lot more effective than if I’d tried to either paint the paving slabs on individually or tried to paint the lines on freehand.

As I’ve only completed three of the intended four tiles, I dug out my pumpkin patch tile I made last October, to show what the completed playing area will look like;

I decided to cut out the pavement on the bottom left tile to make them more modular and give me more options in layout. The final fourth tile, which will replace the pumpkin patch, will be a churchyard, utilising the iron railings I got at Salute from Renedhra and a Plasticville ‘cathedral’, which is a little too small to be a cathedral, but does make an acceptable small church.

I still need a few rows of Victorian housing and probably a pub, which will be scratch-built, along with some gas lamps. Having looked online at the various gas lamps available, I will probably be scratch-building these too – I know roughly how I’m going to do these, just need to work out the best way to do the actual lamps, as the bases and posts will be a cinch.

So, that’s how far I’ve got with my Gothic Victoriana tiles, and so far it’s cost me just under a fiver, which is pretty good going.

Join me next time and we’ll hopefully see my small slice of London look a bit more built-up.

Eliminating the Impossible

My recent holiday, which wasn’t the most intellectually stimulating, did give me a lot of time to think. As it was kind of an enforced exile from both my blog and the hobby in general, unsurprisingly most of my thoughts were of the future direction of the Buffet.

Regular visitors to the Buffet will know that I tend to do things my own way here, so whilst a large percentage of the blogging community may be enthusing about the latest “big thing”, I’ll be off doing something completely different, probably involving re-purposed or cheap figures and scratch-built scenery.

The last few posts here at the Buffet have been focused on gaming Doctor Who in 28mm, but as the populist movement seems to be leaning towards the slightly larger scale “official” DW miniatures from Warlord Games AND there seems to be a glut of these on the Internet at present, I have become somewhat jaded with this subject. Rather than continue and fall completely out of love with it, I’ve decided to take a break from Doctor Who and do something…else.

So, the new project that the Buffet will be focusing on for the next few months arose out of a conversation with Tarot and taps into one of my favourite eras of history, namely the Victorian era. However, being who I am, I will be eschewing the goggles and brass doohickery of ‘Steampunk’, leaving the Martini-Henry and Pith helmet hanging behind the door and steering clear of the Red Planet. However, I will be shrugging myself into an Inverness cape and venturing onto the fog-shrouded cobbles of Victorian London, as I’ve heard that there’s monsters abroad…

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“The British public, safely ensconced within their cosy parlours, have thrilled to the exploits of staunch defenders of the Realm, such as Sherlock Holmes, Abraham van Helsing and Thomas Carnacki, never for one moment suspecting that these accounts concealed truths far stranger than the published fiction.

But that was the entire point. Should they ever comprehend the nature of the threats that stalk the streets of the Capital, Bedlam would have more inhabitants than the rookeries of St Giles.

Whilst those members of the Metropolitan Police Force attached to the Black Museum have some experience in battling the unnatural, sometimes more specialised expertise is needed and they call…him. 

Lancelot Grimm – Eliminator of the Impossible.”

So, over the next few months you can expect stalwart member of the Black Museum force, unnatural creatures of myth and legend, cobbled streets and iron railings, Victorian tenements and alleyways, the Chapel of St Gilbert on the Hill, and Lancelot Grimm himself.

The game is afoot!

The Best Laid Plans

I don’t know which evil entity decided July would be the month in which it would attempt to unravel all aspects my life, but someone obviously failed to inform it of exactly who it was dealing with…

So, having been lashed to the mast, screaming obscenities into the teeth of the gale, I have weathered all that July has thrown at me and returned, if not unscathed, at least unsunk.

However, it does mean that my ‘best laid plans’ have gone awry. No rules have been written, no games played, no figures painted…nothing even remotely hobby-related has been done.

But when have I ever let that stop me from posting, eh?

Regular visitors will know that I constantly keep my eyes open for inexpensive items that can be re-purposed for gaming. They will also know that, given the choice, my personal material preference for wargaming structures is hard plastic, rather than MDF.

So, if I happen to come across an injection-moulded plastic building that is not only approximately scaled to 28mm, but also only £4.00, I’m hardly likely to leave it on the shelf now, am I?

Zomlings in the Town” is a range of collectible plastic figurines made by Magic Box Toys, representing cartoon-like monsters that are just under an inch tall, which are sold blind-packaged to encourage multiple purchases. However, we’re not interested in the main range, but an ‘expansion’ from Series 5, known as Parking.

This expansion consists of three buildings, approximately 3.5″ by 2.5″ in area and 2.5″ tall, moulded in single colour hard plastic and sold separately accompanied by two ‘themed’ zomlings. The buildings are hollow and have a hinged door at one end, as each building is supposed to be a garage for the appropriately themed ‘zom-mobile’.

There is a red fire station, a blue police station and a green ice cream shop, as shown below:

Image result for zomlings series 5 parking

Stylistically,  the buildings are somewhat cartoony, with the kind of slightly wonky architecture you’d expect to see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, so these are probably best utilised with either Chibi figures, such as those from Super Dungeon Explore or Ninja All Stars, or with Heroclix TMNT.

“But Jez”, I hear you cry, “You don’t own any Chibi figures or any Turtles, so what use are these to you?” Patience, dear reader, I will explain…

Whilst both the fire and police station certainly wouldn’t fit in with any of the figures I currently own, the ice cream shop is another matter, as the ‘style’ of this building can be rationalised away. Most ice cream parlours are somewhat stylised anyway, so having examined the item in question in detail, I bought one.

And here it is:

So, an injection-moulded plastic building with plenty of surface detail and texturing for £4.00. As you can see, the detailing covers the entire exterior, including the roof. I’ve shown it with its ‘door’ open, to give an idea of how this works.

Of course, I did claim that this was approximately 28mm scale, let’s stick a couple of figures in front of it, to show what this looks like:

“I am the Master…and I do want a flake with that.”

To the left we have one of my repainted Heroclix figures and to the right, my Black Tree Design Master, which gives a good indication that, whilst the door might look a touch small, generally speaking it doesn’t look too out of scale.

As the roof is flat, what with it being a box, there is enough room to place at least one figure on the roof, depending on base size.

“I am the Master…of all I survey. Oooh! I can see you house from up here.”

And, as the building is hollow, this mean that it can be opened and figures placed inside.

And what would you expect to find inside an ice cream parlour? I don’t know about you, but mine appears to be full of Daleks…

“Refrigerate! Refrigerate! Refrigerate!”

Bloody things get everywhere

A very useful addition to my urban scenery and I can see this being used in a variety of genres, from Scooby Doo to Ghostbusters, superheroes to Doctor Who. I am actually quite looking forward to giving this a lick of paint, but feel it probably needs an undercoat of spray primer first, as all buildings, even small ones such as this, do seem to take a looooooong time to paint.

That’s all for this time and whilst this may not have been useful to all of you, I hope its been of use to some of you.

Next time…at present, your guess is as good as mine. Could be Doctor Who, could be Victorian adventurers, could be superheroes, could be something really weird

But there WILL be something here. And July can go fuck itself.

Jez

 

Showing Your Metal

Whilst I did state in my last post that there would be no new content on here during the month of July, it appears that I can’t resist talking about our wonderful hobby, especially when I have something I feel I need to share.

So, just over a week ago, I received the very generous and very much appreciated gift of the Doctor Who – Exterminate! miniatures game from Stevie and Hils from The Games Cupboard.  As those of you who have tried to give me gifts in the past will know, I’m quite stubborn when it comes to accepting presents –  so Stevie and Hils basically didn’t tell me they were doing it until almost the last moment and ignored me when I tried to convince them NOT to do it. Still not entirely sure I deserved such a nice present, but I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ve now got the game I was probably going to buy myself anyway…

Whilst I’ve opened the box, enjoyed the smell (it does smell rather wonderful) and read the rules in their entirety, I’ve yet to have the time to play the game. However, I did decide to put together a couple of the figures, just to see how east they were to assemble and to get an idea of how well they scale in with my other figures.

And this is the reason for this post, as I am in the unique position of owning at least one of every Cyberman and Dalek released by different manufacturers since Games Workshop first had the licence way back in 1987. And as there have been various questions asked regarding how well these figures scale in with other miniatures, I thought I’d provide a few pictures to assist in answering this question, followed by my own personal opinion.

First, the Cybermen…

Okay, from left to right we have; a Games Workshop plastic Cyberman (25mm), a Black Tree Design metal Cyber-Controller (28mm), a Doctor Who: Micro Universe new-style Cyberman (God knows) and the Warlord Games plastic Cyberwar Cyberman (32mm?).

Next the Daleks…

So, a GW plastic Dalek, a BTD metal Dalek, a Warlord Games Time War Dalek and a Doctor Who Adventures New Paradigm Dalek. As the Warlord Games Daleks don’t come with bases and their ‘skirt-print’ is too big for a standard 25mm circular base, I’ve not yet decided if I am going to base them or not.

And finally, as the WG figures are both the most recent version of each race, who better to give an idea of scale for those already owning a large collections of 28mm Doctor Who miniatures, than the Twelfth Doctor himself, as depicted by Crooked Dice?

Now you’ve seen the pictures, this should give you an idea of how compatible these Warlord plastics are with your existing figure collection.

Now, for my own personal opinion, which can be summed up in one sentence;

The Cybermen are too big.

Whilst you could rationale away that these represent the most advanced iteration of this species and that essentially a Cyberman is a normal human encased in a metal shell, so it’s bound to be bigger, it still doesn’t alter the fact that the Warlord Games Cyberman stands a good head above a normal 28mm miniature and that’s on a base that’s at least half as thick.

The Daleks, however, are another matter. Even if based on a base the same thickness base as my existing figures, the Time War Dalek would be a little larger than the Black Tree Design ones, but still smaller than the New Paradigm Daleks, which is as it should be. Plus the detail on these figures is excellent.

If you’re new to Doctor Who gaming, with no existing figures in your collection, then there is nothing stopping your from buying those figures produced by Warlord Games, However, if you already have a reasonable collection of 28mm Doctor Who figures, and just want to expand into the newer era of the Whoniverse, I would suggest avoiding the Cybermen, as they really do look too big in my opinion, although they are easier to paint…

I will give my opinion of the actual rules and the game itself once I’ve had a chance to play a couple of games, so there will be plenty more Doctor Who content to come here on the Buffet – and more Daleks! And you can never have enough Daleks!

Gone…But, Not Forgotten

Whilst I only had a very small amount to do to complete my Forgotten Heroes for this year’s event, due to issues at work over the last week and half, the first time I actually picked up a paint brush was last night!

That’s right – they almost didn’t get finished within my own self-imposed deadline, which obviously would have meant that I’d have to tell myself off…again.

As everyone else has been busy beavering away and producing far more accomplished and imaginative conversions than myself, it would have been a pretty poor showing for the crazed individual who came up with this idea to not actually finish his own bloody entries…

Luckily, some feverish daubing into almost the wee hours last night meant that my ‘quantum quartet’ are now complete. So, the task I’d set myself for this year’s Forgotten Heroes event was to create 28mm versions of the Image Comics Fantastic Four pastiche, Mystery Incorporated.

This ‘fantastic foursome’ are made up of the the malleable crystalline Crystal Man, the electrifying Kid Dynamo, the gaseous Neon Queen and the super-strong Planet. All were conversions from existing (and cheap) HeroClix figures, which initially looked like this:

However, with a bit of minor modification and repainting, we end up with this:

I decided to use the Star Wars interlocking tiles that I ‘improved’ as a backdrop for them, to represent their high-tech subterranean base beneath Manhattan, known as the Mystery Mile.

I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve come out, although in hindsight, I probably should have made the Planet’s head more spherical, as he looks like he’s got a jelly bean for a head. However, I did manage to paint the question mark logo on both Neon Queen’s and the Planet’s uniforms in one go without mucking it up, so that’s a plus.

I really need to make their arch-enemy, Doctor Apocalypse, in order to pit them against a worthy adversary, but that may have to wait. However, a certain resident of the Baxter Building, upon hearing that the Planet was a direct pastiche of him, decided to pay a visit to the Mystery Mile. I think you ALL know what time he chose to visit…

“Eat hot-dog cart, Ya big, green galoot!”

And that’s Forgotten Heroes done for another year. Be sure to pay a visit to the official site, where the dynamic half of this duo – Mr Roger Webb – has been posting and re-posting the efforts of all taking part this year and marvel at the sheer inventiveness of those who took part.

And now, an announcement. As I am taking a much-needed and long-delayed holiday during July, the Buffet will be closing its doors for the entirety of next month. I will still be dropping in on my favourite blogs and posting comments, but there won’t be any new content on here until at least the beginning of August. This should give me an opportunity to finish off some outstanding hobby projects and actually play a few more games, so hopefully they’ll be a few more AAR’s ready to be posted come August, including the next part of my Doctor Who adventure.

Until then, here’s a picture of a creepy girl and her equally creepy soft toy, which used to signify that transmission had been interrupted on the BBC here in the UK…

“I know where the bodies are buried…”

Thanks to all my followers and visitors and see you in August!

Challenging the Unknown

The mid-point of June has passed and those of us taking part in the communal craziness known as Forgotten Heroes can now see the finishing post fast approaching, so are gearing up for that final sprint.

Or that’s what you’d expect. However, some of us decided that the figures they were doing were really easy and would be finished with plenty of time to spare, so they became…distracted – by something else.

I can’t take the entire blame for this, as certain people who will remain nameless (but you know who you are) have commented that I talk a lot about doing hobby-related stuff, but the don’t follow this up with actually doing it. Looking at the various half-finished projects I have lying around, they do have a valid point…curse them and their feminine intuition!

So, I decided this week that not only would I work on my fantastic-ish four, but also work on a few outstanding projects as well.

First up, let’s look at where we’ve got to with Kid Dynamo and Crystal Man:

Actually, all I’ve done with these two is block paint both their bases with Docrafts Chocolate Brown. However, as I managed to take a photograph in natural rather than artificial light, you can see how effective my wash was on Crystal Man, so that he’s still semi-transparent.

Next up, the Planet and Neon Queen:

Having dug out my copy of Mystery Incorporated #1, I sat and read the entire issue – I was only supposed to be checking it for reference purposes, but sometimes you just have to read a comic book.

Whilst the cover does show that the non-white part of the uniforms is more pink than purple, all the interior art shows it more purple than pink, so I decided to repaint the two figures who do have part of the uniform on display. At the same time, I added the other purple detailing on their outfits – which was a bit more fiddly than I’d anticipated, especially on Neon Queen. She was also given an initial coat of GW Spearstaff Brown for her hair, before I used some GW Purple Ink to colour her gaseous lower form.

Just a few more details and their bases to finish off, and they will be done.

So, what other projects have occupied my time this week? The first will remain ‘under wraps’ at present, as this is intended to be a surprise for the person concerned, but it DID involve my first attempt to paint a 28mm Tweed jacket – which was a lot trickier than I thought it was going to be. And I still have Tartan to paint as well… *sigh*

The second was due to my realisation that whilst I have a whole stack of HeroScape tiles that I can use to construct ‘rural’ battlefields and a mat and scratch-built tiles for ‘urban’ gaming, if I wanted to play a game set in a space-station, starship or other sci-fi environment, I was a bit stuffed. I looked at the various options around, from the pre-printed slot together card terrain to the print-on-demand sci-fi tiles, but nothing really grabbed my fancy at a price I was prepared to pay (NB: I know that POD stuff is actually pretty cheap, but my printer isn’t that great for this kind of thing).

Ideally, I wanted something similar to HeroScape tiles, i.e interlocking plastic tiles, but NOT hexagonal and more science-fictiony looking. Of course, no bugger makes this kind of thing, which is a shame, because I reckon that it would be quite popular. However, it did remind me that lurking in my loft somewhere was this:

Image result for star wars display arena

This particular item is known as the Star Wars Display Arena, and was a mail-away special that you could get for a number of ‘proof or purchases’ and a postal order to cover the postage and packing. Designed for the 3 3/4″ Star Wars figures, the set contained four injection-molded L-shaped bases and four double-sided card inserts. Around the edge of each base are two projections, which the cards slot into, effectively making ‘walls’. The bases themselves were covered in little pegs that the figures could be attached to and each base had little hooks on every edge, so you could interlock the bases any which way you wanted.

So, having dug them out, I spent an evening removing every single bloody little peg on all four bases, then attempting to get the remaining nubs as flat as I could. Then, when I had a  fairly windless sunny evening, all four bases were taken outside and sprayed with Plastikote Fast Dry Project Enamel paint, specifically Chrome Effect. And this is the end result:

Ooooh, shiny! After the initial coat has dried, I did need to re-spray a couple of the tile sides again, as the underlying beige colour was still showing through, but as it was nice and warm, it didn’t take the paint long to dry.

So, these tiles can be put together any which way you fancy, as can be seen from the picture below:

All well and good, you say, but how big are they, Jez? Well, each tile is just under 8″ square, so if they were put together into a rectangle, the playing area would be 12″ x 16″ approximately. But that defeats the purpose of their interlockiness (new word – tell your friends). What you want to do is utilise them to build corridors and rooms, then maybe…I don’t know, stick some Daleks and the Third Doctor on them?

Like this:

And a slightly closer shot, that shows the detail and the tabs. As you can imagine, some greyboard painted suitable colours, could be slotted into these tabs to make actual ‘walls’, should you so wish.

Unfortunately, I only have four of these bases, and could really do with another set to expand the playing area, so might have to keep my eyes peeled on eBay of elsewhere for another set.

Right, that’s all for this week. Next week – the final Forgotten Heroes post, where Mystery Incorporated will be finished (I hope). As for what other things may also appear…well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

The Quantum Quartet

Welcome back to Forgotten Heroes month here on the Buffet!

It would appear that my little bit of fun from last year, in which a like-minded group of bloggers attempt to create their own version of a ‘Forgotten Hero’, i.e. a comic book style hero from print or screen who has yet to have a figure (or at least a decent version) made of them yet, in 28mm during the month of June, has gotten a little more popular this year. Last year we had about eight participants – this year it has grown to twelve and the variety of characters chosen has expanded as well. This year we have Eternians, shape-changing robots and carnivorous plants, along with the usual obscure costumed characters that you may or may not have heard of. So, please visit the official Forgotten Heroes site, run by my loyal sidekick (tights optional) Mr Roger Webb, where everyone’s work so far can be seen in all their glory.

As noted in my previous post, my stated goal was to turn these four figures:

Into the ‘Quantum Quartet’ from the 1963 Universe, also known as Mystery Incorporated – “four resolute adventurers living thrilling adventures in the strange lands at the edge of today’s science ! Craig Crandall – the Crystal Man! Biff Baker – the Planet! Tommy Baker – Kid Dynamo! And gorgeous Jeannie Morrow – the Neon Queen! From their uncanny mile-long high-tech base under Manhattan, these fantastic four challenge the unknown!”

So, how have I got on? Well, as I’d picked figures that were pretty close to the end result, I’m actually further on that I thought I’d be by this point.

For the first of my four, I removed Veil and the Living Lightning from their Heroclix bases and trimmed down Veil’s base, in order to reposition her in a more upright pose. Both of these figures were then glued to two pence pieces using some kind of super-stick white glue that my friend Chris had given me. Similar in consistency to toothpaste and of a similar colour, whilst not a contact adhesive, within about 5-10 seconds the glue has ‘stuck’ solid and will eventually set rock hard. I’m not sure what the brand was, but it’s really useful stuff. The other advantage it has over super-glue is that it doesn’t ‘fog’ transparent plastic and as it’s white, it means I don’t have to pre-paint the bases in order for the copper of the 2p not to show through the base of the figure.

Once the glue was dry, I built up the bases using Milliput, then gave the bases an undercoat of Docrafts White. As ‘Kid Dynamo’ required no actual painting to represent the character, I moved on to ‘Neon Queen’, whose upper torso was first undercoated in Docrafts White. Her head was then painted Docrafts Flesh, with her uniformed upper torso painted with Rustoleum Gloss White, with an initial cost of GW Imperial Purple on her gloves;

 

Compared to the picture of the cover above, the gloves do look a little too pink, but I’m not sure if this is due to the lighting in the pictures or the cover being a bit darker than I remember. Either way, I think that these need repainting a little more purple-y.

For ‘The Planet’ and ‘Crystal Man’, a similar procedure was followed regarding basing. I also added Milliput to the Planet’s head, as the base figure’s head was close, but not quite the right shape and had no craters in it. Having built up the head into a more rounded shape, a tablet stylus (which will never be used for it’s intended purpose) was pushed into the Milliput, creating the necessary craters on the Planet’s head.

Once everything had set, the Planet’s body was undercoated in white, then his uniform given a coat of gloss white, his boots and gloves Imperial Purple and his head GW Bogey Green.

With Crystal Man, I trimmed off the head fins on the original figure and made his head more angular in shape. As the original figure was transparent, I wanted to retain as much of this as possible, but also change the colour from blue/white to the pink/red, so I created a wash of Imperial Purple and liberally coated the figure in this:

So, I’m pretty happy with how the Planet has come out, although as noted above, I think the gloves and boots need to be more purple than pink. However, Crystal Man has come out exactly as I’d hoped. He’s now the right colour and retained a certain amount of transparency, so does actually look like he’s made of malleable crystal.

So, ten days in or one-third of the way through, and I think I’ll only need one more painting session to complete this fantastic foursome.

AND I had time to block paint a couple more of my Doctors for the ongoing Doctor Who project and an insidious villain for my own superhero universe! So whilst Forgotten Heroes is the ‘public face’ of what’s going on at the Buffet this month, there is much more going on behind the scenes…

Forgotten Heroes 2017 – The Return

It’s the 1st of June, which means that most people’s thoughts are turning to a hopeful change in the weather and the possibility of enjoying the sunshine, either here or Abroad.

However, here at the Buffet, June means it’s time for the creative madness that we like to call Forgotten Heroes! Yes, that’s right, it proved so popular last year, that we’re doing it again!

So, for the next 30 days, we will be taking a break here at the Buffet from the ongoing Doctor Who project to concentrate on creating at least one 28mm figure of a comic book character who has not yet had a figure created for them or, if it has, it was a bit pants. Full details of the ‘rules’ (such as they are), can be found on the official Forgotten Heroes website.

So, last year I created models of Super-Soldier, Bananaman and Stegron, the Dinosuar Man, as can be seen both on the Forgotten Heroes site and on this post. This year, I’m going one better, with FOUR figures! And the reason I’m doing this, is because this year, I’m doing a team…

Back in 1993, Alan Moore had developed a working relationship with Image Comics and had effectively been given free rein to create whatever he wanted. So, he drafted some of his comic book pals and came up with the 6 issue miniseries called 1963. This was an affectionate parody of the early Marvel comics of that era, with each issue featuring a different take on a famous title or character. We had Horus, Lord of Light an Egyptian-themed Thor analogue, Tales From Beyond featuring the Unbelievable N-Man (Hulk) and Johnny Beyond (Dr. Strange), Tales of the Uncanny featuring the Ultimate Secret Agent (Captain America) and the Hypernaut (Iron Man), No-one Escapes the Fury! which was the 1963 version of Spider-Man and The Tomorrow Syndicate which teamed up Horus, U.S.A., Hypernaut and N-Man with additional characters Infra-Man and Infra-Girl to form the 1963 version of the Avengers.

However, the team I’m going to do is the 1963 version of the Fantastic Four, who are known as Mystery Incorporated!

The ‘Quantum Quartet’ are made up of Crystal Man, Kid Dynamo, Neon Queen and the Planet, with a similar origin and power sets to Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Girl and the Thing, although with a few cosmetic differences – although Neon Queen transforms into gas, rather than becoming invisible.

So, four characters may seem like a tall order, but the thing I’ve learned about doing conversions over the years is – keep things simple. In other words, pick a base figure that is as near as damn it to the finished result you want. Why give yourself extra work? So, with this in mind, it was off to Blue Rat Games to see which singles would be suitable for my nefarious plans.

And the results were these four:

So, from left to right we have Veil, the Living Lightning, Prism and Blood Brother, all of which are Marvel characters. So, as you can see, there won’t be a great deal of conversion work before these are ready to be painted. Veil will need adjusting to bring her more upright and possibly a re-sculpt of her hair to make it more 60’s, the Living Lightning just needs basing, Prism needs his head ‘fins’ trimmed and Blood Brother may need a slight re-sculpt of his head. Other than that, it will just be a case of painting them the appropriate colours.

And the best thing about my ‘Quantum Quartet’ is that the total cost of all four figures was just £1.36! Bargain!

So, now I’ve given you a taster, join me next time to see how far I’ve progressed and make sure you check out the other participants progress either on the Forgotten Heroes site or their own blogs.

Revenge of the Daleks

Regular visitors to the Buffet will have no doubt noted that it has been rather quiet of late.

I have been suffering a crisis of confidence in my abilities and the value of my blog, so much so that I had considered giving it up.

However, two things changed my mind.

The first was fellow bloggers Hilary Gilbert and Tarot Hunt of The Game Cupboard, who when they became aware of my problem, offered unstinting and unselfish encouragement and support, and were unflagging in their enthusiasm.

The second was more recent. Your blog is your own personal expression of your hobby. By publishing this online, you are exposing your efforts, opinions and views to a Worldwide audience. Not everyone who reads you blog will agree with you, but unlike forums, those who disagree will usually just not comment or follow your blog.

Not long ago, I had a disagreement with the owner of a particular blog, the result of which was that I decided to no longer follow that blog, as the owner’s beliefs were not compatible with my own. Since this event, it appears the owner of this particular blog has created an avatar of me, which was then killed horribly in a batrep and publicly criticised the free rules I had published here. I found out about this purely by chance, and to be honest, this kind of petty vindictiveness is the reason I no longer follow this blog.

However, this particular person has now decided to target friends of mine, by undermining and belittling them and their ideas not only on their own blog, but also on other blogs I frequent. For a community that prides itself on acceptance and generosity, this kind of behaviour represents the ‘ugly’ side of our wonderful hobby. Currently, I am observing from the sidelines, but should this continue, I am quite prepared to speak up and ‘name and shame’ this person.

This is the line – the shit stops here.

By me giving up, I’m letting people like this win. So, Carrion Crow’s Buffet will continue, providing whatever content I bloody well decide I want to. It will be varied, on occasion it will be weird, but hopefully it will be entertaining, amusing and worth reading.

Right, now I’ve got that off my chest, let’s see what I’ve managed to get done during my ‘fallow’ period. First up, my ‘father of the Daleks’ has received a few more licks of paint and now looks a bit more Davros-like;

 

Strictly speaking, Davros’ skirt colour should be dark grey, but the contrast between the dark grey and silver ‘globes’ wasn’t working, so I repainted it black instead. Still a way to go, as he’s looking a little bit Mekon colour-wise, but he’s still pretty cool.

And a brief shout out to Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table, who defended my Davros from those who criticised it on The Miniatures Page, for which I thank him.

Next up,  a bit of colour on Aggedor, the Monster of Peladon;

Having just decided to paint the figure without referring to pictures online, I initially gave him an undercoat of GW Orc Brown (which is the yellow on the base). I then realised that this was the wrong colour, so had to repaint him with Revell Tan. A few patches of yellow are still showing through, but at least he’s the right colour now.

Next up, we have progressed a bit further with the protagonists of the next Doctor Who AAR – Tara Hunt, the Third Doctor and Abslom Daak;

One more painting session should see these finished and ready to be used, which is quite convenient, because their opponents are finished;

Yes, that’s right, five battleship-grey old-school Daleks, and one Engineer Dalek in the livery of the new series Skaro Daleks!

As the nodules/globes are the part that usually put people off, I used a technique that I read online somewhere (thought it was Germy’s site, but couldn’t find it on there), which is to have a big blob of paint and then use a plastic tube of the correct diameter to ‘paint’ the globes. An empty biro tube or cotton-bud stem is ideal and this not only works really well, it’s really quick.

I’m really pleased with how these came out, as to me, they look exactly how I think they should.

Of course, this means that all I need to do is finish off my Doctor and his companions and the next AAR can be played! Hooray!

However, as June is Forgotten Heroes month, this may delay it. But my characters (yes, I’m doing more than one) are relatively simple, so there is a possibility that the next instalment of my Doctor Who adventure will be here before you know it!

Join me next week, when I reveal who I’ve chosen as the subject of Forgotten Heroes month and remember, it’s still not too late to join in – go here for full details.