Thursday, 23 October 2014

Mid-week oddments

Introduction

Once again, it's mid-week and I'm in danger of missing my deadline for a blog update.  That's becoming a regular failing these days, though I'm really not sure why it's more of a problem now than it used to be.

I had been planning to write something about the making of my decals for tee shirts (as displayed on some of my recent models), but today has been a bit of a mess.  I had to fetch my wife from the eye clinic at the local hospital after an emergency appointment for another painful bout of iritis.  This involved leaving my job early, so I'll have to make up a couple of hours by working late sometime soon.  At least we didn't need to worry about collecting my daughter from school - she's off with chickenpox this week!  It's just as well that her granny was able to assist us - thanks, mum!

Right, enough of that.  I haven't got much time and so this posting will just be a display of some recently-completed models.  Not zombies or survivors though, since I'm saving them for my Sunday Zomtober post.

Knights

Here are a couple of 28mm knights from Black Tree Design.  They're probably destined to become part of the Sheriff of Nottingham's forces in my occasional Robin Hood games, though I might just about be able to use them as Crusaders if I were to start such a force for Cross and Crescent (the latest set in the SAGA stable of rules).  Very tempting, though technically their armour is slightly too late, I think.

Old West Bystander

This gentleman is the last (I think!) of a set of bystanders that I've painted up for my Old West setting.  He'll be used as a well-off civilian in games of The Rules with No Name or similar.  Of course, he could equally be used in pretty much any later-19th century urban game.

Nazi Agent

Finally, Herr Stengel is a sinister Nazi agent from Artizan Design's "Thrilling Tales" range.  I've got only a few such "pulp" figures, but a recent purchase of the Pulp Alley rules has made me want to paint up and use this small collection.  Here's a start, at least...

Finally

Got to go.  The daughter is in bed, my wife has returned downstairs from having a shower and there's a cup of tea waiting for me.  Oh, am I tired...

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Zomtober 2014 - Week 3

<-- Week 2 is this way

Introduction

It's another Sunday in October, so here's another entry in the Zomtober challenge.  Once more, I'm presenting a duel between a survivor and a zombie - or is he?

The Duel

Today's confrontation is between Rebecca and "I'm not a zombie" zombie (INAZZ).  She's a straight build from Wargames Factory's "Survivors: The Women" kit, while he is one of Studio Miniatures' plastic zombies.


It looks to me as if Rebecca has been taken by surprise: she was just about to step forwards over the kerb when the guy appeared on the road to her side.  Rebecca has dropped her mobile phone (it's on the man's base), has whipped out a couple of weapons from somewhere and is in the process of spinning round to confront her assailant.

But is INAZZ a zombie at all?  He doesn't look very healthy, but maybe he's just cold, hungry, disoriented, drunk or has a bad cold?  His tee shirt says that he isn't a zombie - but since when did you believe anything that was printed on a tee shirt?

Both of these models are decorated with home-made tee shirt decals and have been fixed to resin urban bases from Escenorama.  You can read my mini-review of these bases here.  I haven't yet written an article about the tee shirt decals, but I will do so really soon - I promise!  Just be patient for a little longer, please...

Conclusion

So, who will win this duel?  It looks to me as if Rebecca is about to land a flurry of blows from her meat cleaver and katana on the unresisting INAZZ.  If he's a zombie then that's well and good; he'll go down.  However if he's really another survivor then will she have the presence of mind to realise this and halt her attack?  Or is she just reacting instinctively, too startled to do anything other than lash out?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Burn the witch!

Introduction

Recently, I've been concentrating on painting zombies and survivors for Zomtober.  However, that doesn't mean I'm ignoring all my other gaming & model-making interests completely.  At the end of this month, we have Halloween and for the past 2 years (I think?), I've run a game with a "witch hunter" theme on or near to that date.

Whilst I don't know if I'll find anyone with whom I can play such a Halloween game this year, I'd like to be prepared.  I have in mind a scenario where a witch has been captured and is due to be burned at the stake.  However, other members of her coven have gathered forces of darkness with which to oppose the righteous zealots and free their sister.  So, a rescue - but I don't yet have many more details than that.

In order to make such a scenario work, I need a pyre, topped with a woman who is tied to a stake.  I have all the other models that I might use, but not this centrepiece.  Hmm...

Burn the Witch!

Fortunately for me, Baueda Wargames make a model of Joan of Arc about to be burned at the stake, suitable for use with 28mm figures.  Without that, this idea would probably have shrivelled and died quite quickly!

So, here is my captive witch, chained to a stake on top of a pyre.  You can tell that she's a witch because of the black clothing and the proclamation nailed to the stake that says "WITCH".  I did consider trying to sculpt a long nose and a pointed hat onto the model, but finally decided to leave it as it is.  I rationalise this by claiming that any worthwhile hag would use her devilish powers to appear as a young maiden when confronted with the forces of good, if only to try to distract the judge and seduce the jailers!

As sold, the model comes with the pyre itself (in 2 parts) and the maiden tied to a stake (in metal).  The latter is cast with a slotta tab on it, intended to be glued directly on to the top of the pile of wood.

Rather than fix the stake permanently, I've replaced the tab with a length of bamboo skewer.  Additionally, I created my own empty stake with just a few broken chains on it so that if/when the witch escapes, the model can be adjusted to show the change in status.  It should also be easier to store the piece by making the stake removable.

Now you see her...Now you don't...
Sometimes a larger model isn't as difficult to paint as a small one.  That's the way it was with this piece, as there are relatively few different colours or small details needed.  I thoroughly recommend this model for anyone who needs a 28mm young woman tied to a pyre!

So now all that remains for me is to create the scenario in detail, find an opponent and wait for Halloween!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Zomtober 2014 - Week 2

<-- Week 1 is this way

Zomtober Week 2

It's week 2 of Zomtober 2014 and therefore time for another of my 28mm duels between a zombie and a survivor.  This time it's the turn of Kurt and Basketball Fan Zombie (hereafter known as BFZ, for short).

BFZ is a straightforward plastic zombie from Studio Miniatures.  Obviously he was a sports fan when alive and no, I didn't suddenly develop an extremely steady hand with a paintbrush in order to add those markings!  Instead, I've been experimenting with using home-made decals for tee shirts; he is the first result of such labours.  More on that another time.

Kurt, on the other hand, is a minor conversion of a Wargames Factory male survivor.  His body and head are straight out of that kit, as is the left arm - but the right arm has been altered somewhat.  His weapon of choice (or perhaps necessity rather than choice?) is a fire extinguisher.  It's a metal component that came, I think, from a VOID vehicle accessory sprue - though I could be mistaken about that.

Both of these figures are mounted on some of the Escenorama urban bases that I mentioned in my last post.  I think they paint up quite nicely, myself...

So, who will win this duel?  I don't think I fancy Kurt's chances much, though I suppose it depends how the zombie reacts to the fire extinguisher.  Perhaps the man is hoping to distract or blind BFZ for a few moments so that he can turn and flee?  Alternatively, it's quite a big extinguisher and therefore should have some clout if it could be swung effectively.  But my money's still on the zombie...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Escenorama Urban Bases

Introduction

Normally when I'm basing miniature figures, I use either the plain base that came with the model or I use a 25mm washer and some filler.  Either way, I then decorate the base a little with (usually) sand, gravel and a little static grass.  That's fine for most rural or wilderness scenes, but doesn't really portray town or city streets very well.

Many months ago, I purchased a mixed bag of bases from one of North Star's occasional sales.  At the time I had no particular need for them, but they were cheap enough for me to buy "just in case".  In other words, they were a bargain!


The Facts

Now that I'm building some zombies and survivors as part of the Zomtober 2014 challenge, I've retrieved this bag of bases from storage and examined them a bit more closely.  So, what can I tell you about them?

Firstly, these are resin bases, made by Escenorama of Spain.

There are 3 different sizes of round base in the mixed set that I bought: 25mm, 40mm and 63mm (?).  I'm not sure if the latter are nominally 60mm or 65mm, but careful measurement suggests that they're somewhere in between.  As might be expected in such a variety pack, the smallest bases are more numerous than the bigger ones.

There is a very good variety amongst the bases.  Both of the largest ones are of different designs, the 40mm bases have several forms and I've discovered 10 distinct patterns amongst the 25mm bases.

What I Like

  • The number of different patterns is very impressive and should allow me to produce some quite unique models.  Lots of variety!
  • They're cheap - though since I bought mine in a sale that's perhaps not a completely fair comment.  Your mileage may vary, as they say...
  • Resin is easy to drill, glue and paint, so they present no great technical difficulties.

Nit-Picking


  • This may be a bit fussy, but there are a few tiny air bubbles on some of the bases.  More significantly, one or two bases still have some of the rubber mould attached to them; they've torn the moulds when they've been released.  That's not so much of a problem for me, but it will degrade the quality of the next casts from those same moulds.  Of course, it might be that the manufacturer binned those damaged moulds and made fresh ones anyway, in which case there would be no problem at all.
  • Some of the bases are very slightly distorted, as if the moulds have flexed a little as the item was being cast.  I don't think that anything will be noticeable once the bases are sanded, painted and finished, but it might annoy a purist.
  • Another really petty point: the discarded items on the bases (crushed cans, sports bottles) are a bit over-scale.  They're larger than they should be for 28mm figures.  Looking on the bright side, it'll certainly make these features stand out when the bases are painted!
  • Although they're all different, there are a lot of manhole covers on these urban bases.  OK, I suppose that they add interest to what might otherwise just be featureless paving or tarmac, but other things could do that as well.  Perhaps the odd damaged piece, a pothole in the road or something like that would be nice?


Things that are less good

I haven't really got much to say here, but I feel that I need to put something otherwise this review will look a bit unbalanced.

  • The depth of the bases is a bit uneven - some are much deeper than others.  Also, they have a distinct "wasp waist" around the middle of the rim.  I've had to use filler on the ones I've used so far, just to give the bases smooth, sheer sides and while that's not a difficult task, it's an extra piece of work that maybe shouldn't have been necessary.

The Bottom Line

These are perfectly acceptable accessories that will paint up well and add a lot of interest to suitable figures.  The full price may put some people off and the quality of manufacture is good rather than excellent.

What happens next?

This should be obvious, really!  Some of the 25mm bases will make an appearance as part of the models I build for Zomtober 2014.  You should be able to see the first of these in next Sunday's post, so stay tuned.

I'm less sure about the 40mm and 63mm bases.  I suppose that if I was using these for proper military forces then they'd be good for crewed weapons such as heavy machine guns, mortars or small anti-tank guns.  However I'm pretty much only using this style of base for individual skirmish games.  I suppose that I could use them for multi-based hordes of zombies or rioters?  The larger bases should be able to hold 10 or 20 shamblers easily enough...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Zomtober 2014 - Week 1

Introduction

It's Zomtober again and I've signed up for the challenge.  Since today is a Sunday, I have to show at least one survivor or zombie model, preferably one that was recently painted.  Last year, I presented a little duel each week between a single survivor and one zombie.  I'm going to continue that format, at least for now.

My last post was about the construction of my ballerina zombie - possibly the least threatening such monster I've ever made!  In that article, I promised to show the painted version, so here it is...

The Duel

Ballerina zombie is matched up against Ben, who is an out-of-the-box model from Wargames Factory's "Survivors - The Men" set.  He's not been converted in any way.

Last year, each pair of models in my duels just happened to be figure that I completed at about the same time.  This year, I've tied the bases together by painting them in a matching pattern.

It's an awkward part of zombie folklore: do they remember anything about their former lives?  Some books and films have zombies retaining vestigial memories, or at least atrophied physical skills.  I've chosen to take this approach when hinting that the undead ballerina is still trying to dance.  Indeed, that activity seems to be overwhelming her desire to feed on living flesh, at least for the moment.

So, who will win this duel?  There's not really any doubt in my mind: the zombie doesn't have a chance!  She's too distracted and Ben looks young, fit and prepared to do the deed with a chainsaw.  Let's just hope that he keeps his mouth shut as he carves her up, else he could end up losing by default if he is infected by splattered zombie body parts!

Week 2 is this way -->

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The zombie ballerina (part 1)

Introduction

Anyone who has followed my work for some time will know that I like to do a little bit of converting on some of my models.  This is especially so for plastic models such as Wargames Factory's Zombie Vixens, where the kit comes with 3 identical sprues. To some extent, the 3 copies of each body can be made unique by using different heads and arms on each, but even with this some of the poses are more "recognisable" than others.

The Lifeguard

To my mind, one of the models from the Zombie Vixens that is most in need of some "unique" treatment is the "lifeguard".  The body for this figure is stretching out with one arm whilst the other arm trails behind.  One leg is straight and extended, but the other is bent upwards.

Last year, I used the "lifeguard" body from my first sprue of Vixens to make - well, a lifeguard.  This was all done some time ago (see here) and I've been pondering what to do with the other copies of this model ever since.  Then it struck me...

The Ballerina

It occurred to me that it wouldn't take much effort to turn this model into a zombie ballerina, doing a pirouette.  Why would I want to do that, I can hear you asking?  Well, because I can?  As a test of my model-making skills?  Because my zombie collection is an equal opportunity horde which represents many different facets of society?  I did it for all of the above reasons, and probably more.

So, how did I go about making this conversion.  Firstly, I decided that the bent leg would need some repositioning.  I cut it at the hip, knee and ankle joints, though only the hip was cut all the way through.  The other joints only needed a little repositioning.

The leg was then glued back in the new location and the cuts were willed with Milliput.  That was the biggest part of the conversion and although I spent quite a lot of effort on filling and smoothing off the joints, I could have done a lot less.  After all, the skirt will hide much of the hip and knee anyway.

I found a zombie head with a ponytail, though that wasn't quite the look I wanted.  Instead, I cut off the ponytail and made a bun from a small blob of green stuff instead.  I suppose that I could have left the ponytail on the model; as long as the hair is pulled back then it's good either way (ballerinas tend to have their hair well under control, I believe).

Once arms and head were fitted, I based the model.  Note that I added a short length of wire to help strengthen the joint between figure and base; it seemed like an obvious weak point to me.

I've added a skirt made from tissue paper.  This was cut into a circle about the size of a 1 pence coin (OK, 20mm for those of you outside the UK), with a 5mm circular hole in the middle.  The skirt was slit, coated in tacky glue and then wrapped around the ballerina's waist.  It does have about 4 thin layers, though I'm not sure how much of this will be visible when the model is completed.

So far, so good.  If you're interested enough to see how she is painted then you'll need to wait for my next post.  That's because I haven't actually painted this model yet!  Still, it's Zomtober again and she will appear in my first week's offerings on Sunday next!