Thursday 29 March 2012

Lead Beasties!

As this was only supposed to be a minor distraction, I had decided relatively early on that I wasn't going to invest a huge amount of the 'hard earned' into lead dinosaurs, choosing instead to build up what was needed with, ready painted toy beasties.  Retrospectively, I think we can all safely agree that went horribly wrong, especially given the amount of prehistoric inspired plastic, roaming across the dining room table of 'Awdry Towers'; the Saintly Mrs. Awdry is not amused!  

Plastic is all well and good, but I'm an inquisitive soul by nature and just couldn't help wondering what it would be like to have a go at painting my own dinosaurs and before I knew it, I had found myself perusing the pages of 'The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company'.  At just £4 for two Ornithomimus miniatures it seemed churlish not to give this a try and the results of this experiment can be seen before you.  There was a moment of mild panic when I realised that there wasn't going to be a handy 'Osprey' title with clear illustrations to guide me, but then it dawned on me that I could jolly well paint them whatever colours I wanted; after all who could argue?

Having finished the pair, I just can't help thinking that I need a few more to make up a herd and then of course there was the Velociraptors, the Pachycephalosaurus and the ... oh no it's happening again!

Monday 26 March 2012

Them bones, them bones...

 them dry bones!

Continuing  with the dinosaur theme for just a little longer, not to mention the current obsession with 'Copplestone Castings', we have a Palaeontologist and faithful servant.  Once again, as I have become accustomed, they are good clean sculpts packed with character and personality; I particularly like the trowel tucked into the belt of the Palaeontologist.   

I've gone for a fairly obvious 'explorer garb' for the Palaeontologist, but the  faithful servant has a Far Eastern feel to him; that said I couldn't resist giving his a tweed cap,  matching one that I had to hand!  The set  comes with a selection of rather nicely cast fossils, which I am saving for a little terrain piece I toying with.   

"We're going to need a bigger crate!"

On the subject of fossils and bones I thought that I would share a couple of 'toobs' that I've picked up during my recent dinosaur hunting expeditions.  They are made by 'Safari Limited' and rather fun.  The fossils are really far too big for 28mm miniatures, but the dinosaur skulls are much more versatile.  In both cases I'm thinking of using them as possible objective markers.

The things you discover whilst dreaming up corny post titles!  Did you know that the inspiration for the 'Dry Bones' song actually comes from the Old Testament? 


The Valley of Dry Bones

 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
 and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry.
 And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.
 Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.

and perhaps a little more familiar a version;

Thursday 22 March 2012

The Female of the Species...

is more deadlier than the male.

More fabulous fun from 'Copplestone Castings' and only fitting given these enlightened times in which we are all fortunate to live; after all to a bipedal, cretaceous carnosaur we all taste the same!  I'm afraid to admit that I just couldn't resist matching the flower tufts to the ladies' outfits.

Fabulous darling, fabulous! 

Having made reference to Mr. Kipling's work it only seems right and proper to reproduce it here.  First published in 1911, the poem courts with controversy, particularly with regard to the author's observation of woman's greater courage and single-mindedness.  

 The Female of the Species

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride, 
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail. 
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man, 
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can. 
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail. 
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws, 
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws. 
'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale. 
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say, 
For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away; 
But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other's tale— 
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations—worm and savage otherwise,— 
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise. 
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact 
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low, 
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe. 
Mirth obscene diverts his anger—Doubt and Pity oft perplex 
Him in dealing with an issue—to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame 
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same; 
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail, 
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast 
May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells— 
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great 
As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate. 
And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim 
Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties; 
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!— 
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild, 
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights, 
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites, 
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw 
And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!
So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer 
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her 
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands 
To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.
And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him 
Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him. 
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail, 
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

Rudyard Kipling

Monday 19 March 2012

Who's Hunting Whom?

As I was soaking in a hot bath at 'Awdry Towers' contemplating whether I could justify the purchase of  a Plesiosaur and perhaps some deep sea divers (obsessive, Moi?), my thoughts drifted back to the Amazonian rain forest and what would be the more dangerous creature there; the hunter or the hunted?  For some inexplicable reason my mind was transported back to the late 1980s and that piece of celluloid mastery that was 'Predator'.

One of Mr. Schwarzenegger's better outings the movie was filled with such memorable quotes as:

"If it bleeds, we can kill it.",
"You lose it here; you're in a world of hurt."

and the immortal,

"Get to da Chopper!"

Of course the star of the show was the Predator itself with its cloaking device and penchant for collecting human trophies and my thoughts momentarily drifted from dinosaurs to aliens.  'What if there was a Predator lurking in the same jungle as my prehistoric beasties?  

A quick towel and talcum and it was straight onto the infoweb to see if there was anything out there that could pass as the 'Predator'.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that the current company of choice, 'Copplestone Castings' actually had 'Hunter Aliens' lurking in their 'Future Wars' section!

Before I knew what was happening there was a dull thud of a parcel hitting the mat!  I was now officially  distracted from my distraction!  That said they truly wonderful sculpts, as I've come to expect from Mr. Copplestone and a delight to paint.  I've only done the two without helmets for the time being and been heavily influenced by the original movie with regard to colour palette.   So pleased with the results that I couldn't resist having a little fun with them at the expense of one of my Allosauruses!

Now back to the small matter of a Plesiosaur and deep sea divers!

Friday 16 March 2012

Wilderness Camp

The 'Wilderness Camp' marks the completion of this latest little project that was heavy inspired by the wonderful 'Colonial Camp Set' created by 'Silver Whistle' over at 'Wargaming with Silver Whistle'.

The concept was to create a base camp that could compliment the wonderful 'Perry Miniatures' American Civil War, Union camp set that I painted up to represent the cantankerous Professor Challenger and chums; characters from Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World'.

Although billed as a 'Wilderness Camp', a possible jumping off spot if you will for intrepid explorers, I was also mindful that I wanted it to be fairly generic so as to encompass other periods from late 19th to early 20th Century.  To that end the 'camp clutter' consists of various versatile items including 'Ainsty Castings', crates, 'Renedra' barrels and 'Empress Miniatures' Anglo-Zulu War accessories.  I also pressed four 25mm MDF bases in to the pumice gel to form character stands, allowing for a choice of miniatures rather than four permanently fixed ones.   

There is, however a little more to this camp site!  I have already credited 'Silver Whistle' with the initial conversion idea but there is another gentlemen who must be mentioned at this juncture, 'General Wilde' . 'General Wilde's Civil War in Miniature' (formally Captain Richard's) showcases some of the most imaginative and creative terrain I have ever seen, but in addition to this he often illuminates his pieces, bringing them to life, as it were.  So if you look closely under the bell tent you will see that the 'Wilderness Camp' is concealing a little secret.

I've been desperate to have a go at this, simply because it looks so atmospheric and just damn cool!  I was determined that  this was the project to attempt my first illuminated work, but I was suddenly struck with the grim realisation that I had absolutely no idea as to how to achieve this!  I had gleaned some tips from the good 'Captain Richard' but was still mulling over the problem when a work colleague, Jemma, suggested actually casting the camp fire itself!

This, then, is exactly what I did.  A silicone mold was created of the campfire, then a small, red LED was set into clear resin.  Once everything was hardened a simple circuit was created, including the addition of a switch and a home made battery case (Jemma's idea again!).  I say simple, but this was actually my first attempt at soldering!

LED set into clear resin cast
Once the circuit was complete and tested it was then buried under off-cuts of foam board, a liberal coating of pumice gel and 'camp clutter'.  The switch and battery were to be accessible by lifting off the tent and so this was not permanently stuck down, but instead a housing groove was created by simply pushing the tent into the foam board, creating an imprint.

That was that; ridiculously fiddly, but great fun to do.  It was the following passage form Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's,  'The Lost World' that ultimately made me want to try this for myself:

"Well, suddenly out of the darkness, out of the night, there swooped something with a swish like an aeroplane. The whole group of us were covered for an instant by a canopy of leathery wings, and I had a momentary vision of a long, snake-like neck, a fierce, red, greedy eye, and a great snapping beak, filled, to my amazement, with little, gleaming teeth. The next instant it was gone—and so was our dinner. A huge black shadow, twenty feet across, skimmed up into the air; for an instant the monster wings blotted out the stars, and then it vanished over the brow of the cliff above us."

The Lost World - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A hugh thank you should go to 'General Wilde' for his inspirational work and in you haven't seen it before  then head over to 'General Wilde's Civil War in Miniature' to see for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Pterodactyl by Papo
The same scene in daylight. 


What a wonderful day this has turned out to be; not only is the inspirational 'Captain Richard's Miniature Civil War' reinstated to the blogosphere but '28mm Victorian Warfare' made it onto an honours board!  Thank you to everyone that posted comments or have subsequently linked the post elsewhere.  I am absolutely delighted that you all liked it.

Still giddy that I made it on to 'Honor Roll 55' thanks chaps at 'Santa Cruz Warhammer'.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Happy Birthday Blog!

Today marks the first anniversary of '28mm Victorian Warfare' and I felt that it was appropriate to just take a moment or two to thank you, the reader. 

There is surely very little that is more self indulgent that having your own 'blog', particularly one devoted to the collecting, painting and gaming of miniature warriors just shy of  three centimetres tall, but what an unexpected delight it has been developing and maintaining it over the year.

Conceived as a way or recording my tentative progress and observations through this most wholesome of hobbies, the 'blog' also became an important distraction from the day job; something that would allow me to unwind and just be myself.  I like to think of it, the 'blog' that is, along the lines of a gentleman's club around the turn of the 20th century.  Obviously a forward thinking club as ladies are of course more than welcome; the term gentleman referring to the level of cordial civility and courteous behaviour that I would like to extend to all guests.

As important as all these considerations are it has been the sense of community that has evolved over the year that I most cherish.  I can't thank enough, those of you who have opted to follow this most humble of journals, or those who have taken the time to leave comments; it really does help to drive one on to produce the best quality a chap can. 

As I became aware that the anniversary was looming I also noticed that a couple of other milestones were in the offing, noticeably one hundred followers and thirty thousand page views!  It seems appropriate to make mention of them here, but in a short space of time both tallies have gone up again!  So without any further ado here is to over 100 followers,

over 30,000 page views and

1 year spending far too long lurking around the 'blogospere'! 

A huge thank you again to one and all! 

1st Anniversary 'Wordle' of 28mm Victorian Warfare

Friday 9 March 2012

Professor Challenger & Chums

One of the greatest aspects that I have come to enjoy about blogging is the sharing of ideas.  This little group  came about as a direct result of a wonderful post over at 'Wargaming with  Silver Whistle'.  The post entitled, 'Colonial Camp Set' was such an inspiration that I was determined to have a go myself!  I ordered up the 'Perry Miniatures' American Civil War, Union camp set and had in mind to replicate what 'Silver Whistle' had done with his.  It was about the same time that I had picked up a copy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World' and was first introduced to the memorable character that is George Edward Challenger; I knew straight away that I had to try a create the man himself with his intrepid team of explorers.

Original 'Perry Miniatures' ACW camp set

Deciding which of the 'Perry Miniatures' was to represent each of the four adventures from the story became rather straightforward; Edward Malone the enthusiastic young reporter for the Daily Gazette is now returning with logs for the fire, Lord John Roxton, adventurer and big game hunter stretches out languidly beside a camp fire while Professor Summerlee can be see preparing the vittles.  For all three, I simpled followed 'Silver Whistle's' example and snipped off the kepis, replacing them with 'Empress Miniatures' pith helmets.  I knew I wanted something a little different for Professor Challenger and drew inspiration from the words of Conan Doyle himself.  The character of Ed Malone on his first meeting with Challenger describes the Professor as follows;

His appearance made me gasp. I was prepared for something strange, but not for so overpowering a personality as this. It was his size, which took one's breath away - his size and his imposing presence. His head was enormous, the largest I have ever seen upon a human being. I am sure that his top hat, had I ventured to don it, would have slipped over me entirely and rested on my shoulders. He had the face and beard, which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead. The eyes were blue-grey under great black tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger.
 Rooting around the loft space of 'Awdry Towers' I happened across a box of 'Games Workshop' Empire Knightly Orders; another long forgotten project that never got off the ground!  Curiosity getting the better of me I soon discovered, languishing on a dusty, plastic sprue the perfect 'bonce' for this great man!  Much drilling, sanding and swearing later and it was attached, but it needed something more.  Putting aside my irrational fear of 'putty pushing'  I reached for the ubiquitous 'Green Stuff' and before I knew it the great G. E. Challenger was reborn!

All that remained was to give them all a paint job that gave the impression of eccentric British explorers up to their necks in danger, but resolute enough to stop for tea and tiffin. The wonderful Perry sculpts gave me every opportunity to instill little 'Britishness' into each of the characters; finally, with the addition of a little more 'Green Stuff' around  the helmets I hoped to sell the illusion of a puggaree.  Once again a big thank you to 'Silver Whistle' for the initial inspiration and I would encourage anyone to venture across to 'Wargaming with  Silver Whistle' and have a look for themselves at his wonderful blog.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as Professor Challenger 

Below is a photograph used as the frontispiece to the 'Lost World' in 1912.  From left to right we have, Ed Malone, Professor Summerlee, Professor Challenger (Conan Doyle dressing up again!) and Lord John Roxton.  Not an entirely unfavourable comparison in the end and great fun to do; just need to finish off their base camp now!

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Book Review#10. - The Lost World

I am almost ashamed to admit that this is the first time that I have read anything by Conan Doyle, including, of course, his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes!  It seems almost puerile then to even consider writing a literary review on the work of a man so intrinsically linked to the world of literature.  Instead I will simply limit myself to making a few observations on the text.  The Lost World was originally serialised between April and November 1912 in the Strand Magazine.  It details the expedition of a group of scientists and adventures going in search of a strange plateau in the Amazon basin, upon which prehistoric animals are said still to roam!  The eclectic bunch of travellers includes the young reporter, Ed Malone who is trying to win over the heart of the fair lady, Gladys Hungerton by seeking out a dangerous assignment.  The tempestuous Professor Challenger, seeking to prove his assertion  that dinosaurs still roam the earth, along with Professor Summerlee, another scientist, tasked to examine any evidence in order to verify Challenger’s claims.  With the addition of Lord John Roxton, an adventurer who has extensive knowledge of the Amazon, the team are soon fighting for survival in a strange land not only inhabited by prehistoric creatures, but also a land seemingly embroiled in a civil war between the native Indians and a race of ape-men.

As for the exact location of the fabled Lost World it is said to have been inspired by writings of Conan Doyle's good friend, Percy Harrison Fawcett.  It was during Fawcett’s expedition to the Huanchaca Plateau in, Bolivia that he is said to have seen, "monstrous tracks of unknown origin".  Posthumously published, Fawcett’s memoirs hold more startling revelations, “monsters from the dawn of man's existence might still roam these heights unchallenged, imprisoned and protected by unscalable cliffs.”
Although hundreds of subsequent stories exist foretelling of when dinosaur meets man, curiously, Conan Doyle’s was not the first.  The idea of prehistoric beasts surviving to the present day had already been penned by Jules Verne in ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. This story, published in 1864, had the creatures living under the earth in and around a subterranean sea.

This then is a great story, made even more so by when it was actually written.  Dinosaur discoveries where still a relatively new phenomena in 1912 with much speculation still in existence as to the fossil record and the fall of the dinosaurs themselves.  Perhaps by today’s standards the action seems tame, but this is a genuinely exciting tale that ultimately left me wanting more!  A classic of its type, four crowns!

Monday 5 March 2012

Dinosaur Paddock

It will not have escaped the attention of those who pass by these inane ramblings, masquerading as a wargaming blog, that there has been somewhat of a major twist in direction!  The year had started well with both the Crimea and Anglo-Zulu Wars revisited with some success, but an apparent fixation with 'Pulp' style adventures and prehistoric beasties has seen the author go beyond the pale!  Well this post is devised with the sole purpose of putting these concerns into perspective.  One of my targets for the year was to actually 'play a game' and to that end various rule sets have been purchased including the sumptuous 'Black Powder' and the skirmish driven, 'Triumph & Tragedy'.  The problem is that been such a novice, even these most playable of rule sets sees me scratching my head and wondering, 'what on earth is going on?'  I am not a member of a club and so the initial 'jumpmg off' point needs to be some form of solo or role playing game.  Scrabbling around for an idea I chanced upon 'Tooth and Claw',  but again found that I needed something even simpler and as luck would have it came across '2HourWARGAMES'; this has my name written all over it; simple, quick and very light hearted. 

'Schleich' Saichania
'CollectA' Styracosaurus

With the distraction that has become known as '28mm Tales of Adventure'    (it even got its own 'ident' link on the sidebar!  The image gleaned from the wonderfully 'pulp' artwork of the 'Spicy-Advnture Stories from the 1930s.) the idea of playing a game entitled 'Adventures in the Lost Lands' seemed like too good an opportunity to miss!  The discovery of 'Copplestone Castings' has been a Godsend with regards to miniatures that I would need, but I was somewhat apprehensive about the dinosaurs.  This is really only meant to be the briefest of distractions, to build self confidence and gain a basic understanding of gaming dynamics.  Investing huge amounts of time and money into prehistoric beastliness is not part of the master plan - yes there is a plan... somewhere!  A couple of well spent hours trawling around the infoweb brought the answer; and it was plastic!   

'Oh my Goodness!' Things have certainly moved on in the toy dinosaur market from when I was a lad, just look at what you can now get with your pocket money!  There is no end of well sculpted, often well painted plastic 'Dino fun' to be had and I've taken this opportunity to share a few with you here.  Perhaps a little out of scale, but given that this is only meant to be a minor distraction and all about having fun, who cares?  (With regards to scale, some of the 'Schleich' models have a plastic figure around their neck to indicate the scale between humans and dinosaur; not too far away from a 28mm miniature!)

‘Safari Toys’ Iguanodon 

I'm afraid that this most recent of distractions is presenting itself as an itch that needs to be scratched!  Nonetheless it should allow me to return to my beloved Victorian era with the confidence required to move all my projects forward with a clearer understanding of what is required.  Well that is the plan anyway!

'Schleich' & 'CollectA' Allosaurus
The same, but now rebased
Just as a very brief aside, the 'Provost Marshal' on a recent inspection of the troops here at 'Awdry Towers' , dropped into the conversation, "and you know what the spikes at the end of a Stegosaurus' tail are called don't you?"  He said it in such a way that I was instantly convinced that I should know the answer to this, after all the loft space of my parents' house still groans under the weight of long forgotten tomes on dinosaur lore!  For the life of me I couldn't recall the name... "Thagomizer".  Yes 'Thagomizer', a great name and if you believe the story it was coined by the great Gary Larson in a 'Far Side' comic from 1982.  The name was appropriated by the scientific community and is now a recognised 'informal' anatomical term!  You just can't make this stuff up!

'Schleich' Stegosaurus
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