Monday 31 October 2011

Howl at the moon!

Well tonight is all hallow's eve and many will have you believe that it is tonight when all manner of ghoulish creatures will roam the earth intent on causing mischief and striking fear into the unweary.  There is of course the alternative opinion that the whole thing has been dreamt up by those looking to exploit all in their pursuit  of making a fast profit, but for fear of becoming a bit 'grumpy old man' about the whole thing I have used it as an excuse to order up another very splendid miniature from the wonderful 'Hasslefree Miniatures'.

This suitably fiendish (and suitably Victorian!)  miniature is another of their wonderful sculpts and a real delight to work with even if it did require a modicum of construction.  'Wolfie'  came with a slotted base but I wanted to make a bit more of a feature of the whole thing so snipped  off the excess and pinned the figure to a lipped one complete with homemade floorboards.

It is of course another excuse to get out the recently constructed cemetery terrain pieces an capture the moment on film when the beast bursts from from the restraints of his straightjacket.  Such a great and dynamic pose and all in all I was really pleased with the outcome.

There was a companion piece to this that I have started but what with one thing and another I didn't get around to finishing it time.  With a bit of luck and a following breeze I hope to get it finished this week.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Pumpkin Carving

Sadly not much in the way of figure painting has been achieved in the last couple of days due, in no small way, to the village's annual 'pub pumpkin carving' competition.  This competition set up by our local hostelry has only been running for a couple of years and having scooped first prize last year felt it was only right and proper to try and defend my crown!  

You only have to punch in 'Pumpkin Carving' into a google image search to be simply amazed at the imagination and skill of some pepole but let me tell you it is a lot harder than it looks. ( Not to mention considerably more time comsuming than painting a 28mm figure!)  Well here are my efforts for this year; and the result ...

second place!  A couple of pounds richer and a bag of jelly sweet fangs; not a bad result and if it helps to keep the local in business then I'm glad to do my bit.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Book Review#6. - The Zombie Survival Guide

Complete Protection form the Living Dead

I was determined to enjoy this book by Max Brooks, probably because of the fantastic 'World War Z', but ultimately felt a little let down.  It didn't help reading this after its superior sequel, nor did it help having work throw everything at me at once and so it took an absolute age to finish; but still I was hopeful that it was going to be better than it was.

It is pure escapism and does pretty much list everything you need to know about surviving in a world populated by the undead, but that is part of the problem; the first half of the book is simply that - lists!  It is the second half of the book where Brooks' story telling skill comes to the fore.  Here we a treated, albeit in list form, to a chronological sequence of recorded attacks.  Each one could be a great premise for a separate tale and on more than one occasion found myself itching to go and check if what he was detailing was actually true!  So yes, when I finally put it down I was happy to have read it but my word did I make hard work of it.  That said it was a wonderful excuse to go and buy more figures, this time survivors, from 'Hasslefree Miniatures' and I feel safer in the knowledge that it will take approximately five years for an undead corpse to fully rot away!  I wanted to give this more but ultimately a slightly disappointing - three crowns.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

The Man, the Legend, the Title Banner!

I think it only right and proper to spend just a little time to acknowledge the inspiration for the new ‘28mm Victorian Warfare’ title banner.  I had been planning to spruce up the title for some time and then when I saw Pete Barfield’s wonderful illustration over at ‘Pazerkaput’s Painted Review’ I was finally stirred into action.  I had an inkling as to what I wanted but no fixed image and so the process of racking my brains and trawling around the infoweb began in earnest.  

James Tissot, 1870 Oil on panel

It wasn’t too long before I came across James Tissot’s painting of the then Captain Frederick Burnaby.  An officer of the Royal Horse Guards, Burnaby is said to have been a huge man, nearly six feet four inches tall, and reputed to be the strongest man in the British army; legend has it that he once carried a pony under one arm!  Burnaby was educated amongst other places at Oswestry School in Shropshire, probably about the only thing we have in common.  The School, founded in 1407, has one of its academic houses named after this archetypal Victorian hero and the organ in the school chapel was provided by donations in his memory by fellow pupils and members of the Oswestry School community.  

Burnaby had a penchant for travel and exploration and during 1875 travelled with General Gordon in the Sudan.  That same winter saw him he crossing the Russian Steppes on horseback. An extremely hazardous and dangerous venture which ultimately saw the publication of his first book, 'A Ride to Khiva' bringing him immediate fame. This was closely followed by 'On Horseback Through Asia Minor', detailing his exploits there, which included fighting on behalf of the Turks against the Russians.   In 1882 he became the first balloonist to cross the English Channel solo, resulting in another book 'A Ride Across The Channel And Other Adventures In The Air'.

Burnaby was desperate to see active service and as a result participated in the Suakin campaign of 1884 without official leave, and was wounded at El Teb when acting as an intelligence officer under General Valentine Baker. It is perhaps not surprising to hear that he followed a similar course of action when he heard of the relief expedition up the Nile to rescue General Gordon at Khartoum.  A spear wound to the neck during the vicious hand-to-hand fighting of the Battle of Abu Klea on 17th January 1885 finally put paid to Burnaby’s thrill seeking.  Henry Newbolt's poem "Vita├» Lampada" is often quoted as referring to Burnaby's death during this battle; although it was a Gardner machine gun that jammed not a Gatling.

Here is to Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, March 1842 to January 1885, English soldier, adventurer, novelist, politician and pony wrangler, a true Victorian hero.

Vitaï Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night —
Ten to make and the match to win —
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote —
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red —
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the Regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks —
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind —
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

Monday 24 October 2011

'It's the Fuzz!'

More from 'Hasslefree Miniatures', and another survivor to accompany 'The Zombie Survival Guide'.  A rather portly British Bobby armed to the teeth with a semi-automatic shotgun.  I love the idea that the survivors of a zombie-inducing plague are just ordinary people and not Hollywood 'A' list movie stars.  'Hasslefree' certainly have come up with some great sculpts and this one called, 'PC Sam Ford' is a wonderful likeness for Nick Frost's character in 'Hot Fuzz'.

Although not planned I have inadvertently managed to purchase the Frost/Pegg 28mm alter egos from two separate films;  I suppose there is nothing else for it, I'm simply going to have to buy the accompanying minis! 

Nicholas Angel: Sergeant Butterman, the little hand says it's time to rock and roll!

Meanwhile in a deserted cemetery at the far edge of the mighty metropolis, could it be that time is running out for our plucky heroes?

Sunday 23 October 2011

Zombies beware!

Finally made it through to a mini break and so time to recharge the old batteries and do a bit of catching up in regard to painting and posting.  This offering comes as a direct result of my obsession to seek out 28mm miniatures that tie in to the latest bedside read, which at present happens to be 'The Zombie Survival Guide' by Max Brooks so it only seemed right and proper to have some form of fearsome survivor.  

This is my first figure from 'Hasslefree Miniatures', although I've used them in the past for all manner of accessories and can't rate them highly enough for quality of service.  Found lurking in their adventurer range and given the handle of 'Ray' this superbly sculpted miniature clearly owes something to wonderful 'Shaun of the Dead'.  Great fun to do and  I have to admit to that I'm finding the genre increasingly difficult to resist.

Shaun: If you get cornered... bash 'em in the head, that seems to work. Ow! 

Monday 17 October 2011

As Quiet as the Grave

A suitably apt title I felt given the subject matter but it also  reflects the complete like of activity on my behalf of late!  It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks at work with early starts and late finishes and I'm afraid I've been feeling a little bereft of sleep and without energy enough to even pick up a brush.  I must also apologise as I haven't even had the time to trawl around many of the blogs that I enjoy following but will certainly be looking to make amends in the forthcoming days.  

Following on from the Doctor Who Adventures Weeping Angels giveaway, I felt inspired, by many of the comments made on this blog, to use them in a 28mm graveyard terrain piece.  As I was mulling over how this might come about I found myself in the 'Orc's Nest' in London where I came across the Renedra plastic grave stone set.  Two sprues of plastic headstones and crosses numbering over forty pieces including two crows, perfect.  Rather than make an unwieldy grave yard at this point in time I opted for two smaller stands that could be placed wherever I wanted them on the table and that star of the show was to be my weeping angel.

The actual build is really simple, two pieces of plasticard, roughened to allow the glue to key, headstones fixed with glue or green stuff.  I cut down a couple at the base to produce a jaunty angle and included a piece of abandoned Christmas tree for a tree stump. Using a little household filler to give a little texture to the terrain it was simply covered with a sand and P.V.A. mix followed with a few additional stones and then all primed black.
I used the same colours for the headstones and angel as listed in the previous post, namely  Games Workshop 'Shadow Grey', Vallejo's 'German Cammo Beige', 'Iraqi Sand' and 'Silver Grey'.  These were all simply dry brushed.  It was then just a case of adding static grass and tufts where appropriate.

 The final build showing the two separate stands complete with another purchase from the 'Orc's Nest', Army Painter's poison ivy.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Tommy's War

I seem to be passing through a period of time where absolutely nothing seems to get done.  My corner of the dining room table at 'Awdry Towers' looks as though someone has dropped a significantly large bomb on it!  All manner of half finished miniatures and projects litter the space including this fine gentleman from  'Tommy's War'.  This was my impulse buy when I visited Euro Militaire 2011 with the Provost Marshal the other day.  This is my first 54mm multi part figure and having seen the quality of work on show at the exhibition I've been somewhat reticent about stating him.  Well it all started well enough, a beautifully sculpted resin model by Nino Pizzichemi, representing a Captain from the 4th Bn Royal Fusiliers during the Great War.
However it wasn't long before disaster struck and in a fairly significant way!  Having picked out a large lipped base I was cutting a section out of the plastic to allow the positioning of the foot but forced it too hard and snap went the ankle!  When the air returned to a more normal hue as opposed to the vivid blue it became clear that a spot of surgery was required.  Fortunately the resin was receptive to drilling and a paperclip pin was inserted and sealed with a bit of green stuff.
If  you look hard enough at the above photograph you can see the break but I'm hopeful that once the painting is underway it should become almost indiscernible.  I envisage this to be a distraction that I work on from time to time while between projects of the usual 28mm fodder so will keep posting 'Work in Progress' reports as it progresses. 

Tuesday 4 October 2011


I've being putting off painting this splendid miniature from Empress for far too long.  I've seen so many stunning examples of these painted including this version by Keith  on the Gentlemens Wargames Parlour that I was desperate to do it justice, so struggling  as I am with 'man flu' I been quietly working on Private Henry Hook here for a couple of nights.
This 'Hollywood' version really is a great sculpt and was a joy to paint, a real treat from the skilled Mr. Hicks.  Now in the movie Private Hook, portrayed by James Booth,  is played as an insubordinate malingerer and only shows any degree of heroism during the heat of the battle. Nothing it would seem could be further from the truth; Private Hook had been awarded 'good conduct' pay shortly before the battle, and reports also suggest he was a teetotaler and model soldier. During the battle Hook was posted inside the hospital as part of a  guard detail assigned to protect the patients still there.
Work in progress shot but actually gives a better indication of the colours.  I will try and take some better photographs with natural light later in the week.

Sunday 2 October 2011

Weeping Angels

Well the good lady wife's knee is showing very positive signs of recovery and many thanks to those of you who posted messages of best wishes, which I have passed on.  Of course being as easily distracted as I am it wasn't long before I found myself experimenting with the freebies from my 'Doctor Who Adventures' magazine and I've got to say that I'm really pleased with the results!  They took much longer than I thought to clean up as the plastic was so soft that it was difficult to pare down without taking great chunks out of the model.  
I decided to base onto some simple 25mm MDF bases that I had and added a little sand for texture.  I then gave them a coat of matt varnish in a bid to give the black undercoat a key.  From there it was just a case of dry brushing several layers of the desired colour palette.  In this case the colours used in order were; Games Workshop 'Shadow Grey', Vallejo's 'German Cammo Beige', 'Iraqi Sand' and 'Silver Grey'.
For simple, cheap, soft plastic giveaways they painted up much better than I could have hoped for.  Of the two sculpts the weeping angel is by far the most viable; the attacking angle with its outstretched arm does look a little disproportioned.  Even after a purity seal the figures still feel 'soft' and it has been a little unusual painting a figure and having it fight back!

Having painted these as the good time lords adversaries I know need to find a suitable Doctor Who figure to battle to the death with; any thoughts?
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