Monday 30 July 2012

The Conundrum Carriage

In 1906 Rolls Royce produced four chassis to be shown at the Olympia Car Show; one of which 40/50h.p. would go on to become the 'Silver Ghost' - "the best car in the world" according to AutoCar in 1907.  Unknown to all Charles Stewart Rolls, a good friend of Holmes, had been working on several secret prototypes one of which was to travel with the esteemed Consulting Detective to the United States America.   

The madness that is the 'secret project' continues apace with the introduction of the 'Conundrum Carriage'.  More often than not it was the breaking down of the Mystery Machine, whilst the gang was returning from some worthy youth festival or the like, that led to 'those meddling kids' solving yet another supernatural mystery.  It seemed logical then, that Holmes, 'Shaggy' Watson and Baskerville would also need some form of transport to get them to and from their own adventures, thus the 'Conundrum Carriage' was conceived.

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I wanted to convey the idea that the 'gang' had been on the road for a while, constantly having to adapt their carriage as they went along.  Given that this was at the earliest onset of automotive development it was also clear that running repairs would have to be undertaken by nonspecialists, often relying on the skills of the local blacksmith.

A quick scout around 'fleabay' turned up an old Matchbox model of an early Rolls Royce 'Silver Ghost' for a couple of pounds, but try as I might I couldn't dislodge images of the Clampetts' Oldsmobile truck from the Bevely Hillbillies or the Arkansas Chuggabug from the Wacky Races and soon the project descended into utter folly.

A tow chain was attached to the front along with evidence of bumped and damaged bodywork roughly repaired with plates and rivets.  The 'gang's' worldly possessions and souvenirs were now been carried snail like on the back including a hurriedly constructed kennel for Baskerville, who had started the tour as a puppy but was growing so fast that his new accommodation had to fashioned across the back seats. 
A good rummage around the bits box led to all manner detritus been offered up and if it fitted it went in!  Balsa wood was used for Baskerville's kennel with a 'Renedra Plastics' picket fence, 'Empress Miniatures' Zulu shield, weapons, packs and ammo box, some 'Ainsty Castings' barrels and boxes and a rack of ribs to give Baskerville a tasty snack for the journey!

Once all was literally roped together and glued to a base it was given a generous spray with black undercoat and the fun really started!  As a homage to the original series I wanted the colours to match those of the original Mystery Machine and so the ludicrously bright paint job is now attributed to  'Shaggy' Watson's late night experiments with moonshine as a possible alternative to petrol!  The whole thing was such a wonderful diversion from everything else that was on the table that I would constantly find myself returning to it to add a few bits here and there, examples being the oil lamp, doctor's bag and top hat, all from 'Black Cat Bases', that I came across whilst looking for something completely different!  

Now all I need to do is find something for the gang to investigate!

Sunday 29 July 2012

Completed Boer Commando

With these seated charters from the 'Empress Miniatures' Anglo-Zulu war collection the Boer Commando is finally complete.  An interesting pose this one where you can just imagine them hidden amongst the rocky outcrops ready to pour a lethal fire onto a unsuspecting foe.

At the outset of the project the aim was to use a unifying colour palette that allowed individuality of the miniatures' character to come through, but when seen as a unit tied them together.  With the exception of the artillery and the police, no official uniforms were worn, the Boer fighters preferring drab everyday clothes.  To this end I used a muted palette consisting of blue, brown and khaki with tones thereof.  A similar idea was employed with the beard and hair colour, taking into account their Dutch extract.

The versatility of the separate heads means that the whole unit could be repeated again and again without the need of exact duplication of poses, but I think that will be enough for the moment.  Their versatility also extends to their deployment on the table with the Anglo-Zulu war and Boer Wars been the obvious use they could also lend themselves as settlers a little further West perhaps.

Defenders of the Kop

Friday 27 July 2012

Are we Boer'd yet?

Not me; far too busy!

Not content in dreaming up my own 'secret project' to distract me from my usual fodder, I've gone and got myself involved in another little sideline!  I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to have been invited to take part in a painting challenge for charity; the whole thing has been dreamt up and organised by Mike 'The Dark Templar' Reynolds and also involves the hugely talented Andy Walker of 'Lair of the Breviks' fame.  I encourage you all to take the time to read all about 'A Tale of 3 Painters'.  It has to be said that I'm a little apprehensive about the whole project, but who doesn't like a challenge and particularly one that is all in aid of a good cause? 

In a bid to frantically clear the decks before the charity event commences I've managed to complete another three of the 'Empress Miniatures' Anglo-Zulu wars Boers.  Another pretty useful pose and I see very little reason why they couldn't be employed in other theatres.  

I have to confess that whilst doing these I kept catching myself looking longingly at all the lovely 'shiny' things in the paint queue, but as is often the case the longing soon passed as I was to give them my undivided attention - in-between wondering what exactly was Malifaux and which miniature was I going to get to paint - all very exciting!

Thursday 26 July 2012

Get Off One's Land!

Regular visitors to '28mm Victorian Warfare' will no doubt be familiar with my curious habit of painting up miniatures that have some connection, albeit tenuous, to the most recently reviewed piece of literature to grace the bedside table.    David Moody's book, 'Autumn' looks to represent his survivors as ordinary people trapped in the waking nightmare that is the zombie apocalypse;  what better miniatures to seek out then, than just that, ordinary people?  If the truth be told, I have been desperate to find an excuse to paint these two wonderful, 'Hasslefree Miniatures' characters for quite a while now.  'Madge' and 'Frank' seem the most unlikely of post apocalyptic survivors, but that is of course part of their charm.  Given that these two have no real bearing on any current projects I seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time on them; a testament, undoubtedly, to the quality of the sculpting and the individuality of the characters.  I simply wanted to do the best job that I could on them.

 The Frank Gallagher character from the television program, 'Shameless' clearly proved to be of inspiration when deciding how to paint up 'Frank'; even to the point of matching the colour of his favourite 'Stelberg' beer!  He was given an urban style base from 'Black Cat Bases' which seemed to fit the character and wasn't really a hardship given that the pin vice was already out to affix his gesturing arm to the his body. 

 As for the inspiration for Madge, well let us say that a couple of corgis wouldn't look out of place!  Try as I might,  I just couldn't shake off the idea of adding some fencing to the base to give the impression that she was protecting her land from the undead hordes and before long I was shaving a little off my, still to be constructed,  'Perry Miniatures' Farm House to achieve the look.  As she is wearing wellies it seemed only appropriate that she was standing in mud and from there is wasn't a huge step to add a little Vallejo still water effect!

By this time I was having far too much fun with 'Madge' and before I knew what was happening I was fashioning spent shotgun cartridges from piano wire and adding a little reminder of the imminent danger our heroine was in; at least I can say that I've finally started my 'Mantic' plastic zombies, albeit with only one limb!

There really were a delight to work on and a welcome diversion from the Boers, which I pleased to report that I'm finally getting to grips with.  

'Madge' and 'Frank' stand defiant amidst the zombie onslaught!  More on which can be found here.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

The Prize!

Towards the end of June, Ray Rousell's superb, 'Don't throw a 1' blog clocked up an impressive 250,000 page views - a quarter of a million hits, I kid you not!  To mark this auspicious milestone Ray decided to run a painting giveaway and low and behold yours truly was the winner!

I was suddenly faced with a predicament as to what to send to be painted up by Ray's fair hand.  What followed next was a little hard to explain, but as I glanced at the ever burgeoning lead pile I became suddenly very possessive about it.  I simply didn't want to share, they were all mine, I wanted to paint them all!  

Eventually I snapped out of this somewhat churlish state of affairs and decided that the best thing to do was to send Ray something that would be out of his normal comfort zone and what could be further from that than a group of Amazonian warriors with no clothes on!  I had painted up the first group of 'Copplestone Castings' Botocudo Indian Archers when going through an 'adventure' phase earlier in the year, but had failed to finish the second pack; perfect thought I, Ray will love these.

Well the 'little chaps' arrived safely back here at 'Awdry Towers' on Saturday and I've managed to get them based and photographed.  The first thing to say is what a great job Ray has done on them and once again a BIG thank you to the man.  He has managed to match the skin tone spot on with the ones that I had already done along with the body paint and hair dye.  

I was perhaps a little disappointed that he didn't go with my suggestion of painting them to represent the  Franonian National Hurling Team, but in retrospect, matching them to the original miniatures was the best course of action!  Poor old Ray seems to get himself into all sorts of scrapes, the most recent been a painting duel with the delightful Anne O'Leary of 'Anne's Attic', so it is rather nice to have this opportunity just to say,

thank you and a job well done Ray!

Movement tray with a combination of Ray's painting and my own efforts.

Monday 23 July 2012

28mm Perry Camel Corps

In a bid to clear up the confused mess that is my painting queue, these 'Perry Miniatures' Camel Corps are finally completed!  The camels, lovingly named Dune, Sandy and Gobi by the Saintly Mrs. Awdry back in May 2011 were one of last year's Salute purchases and are now finally reunited with their riders.  

As you can see when I started these last year I was favouring the lipped bases, but now a little older, if not necessarily wiser, I've decided to rebase them using a more standard 50mm x 25mm MDF base (once of course I'd finished dusting them!).  Very rewarding to work with, the 'Perry' sculpts have plenty of detail to keep your brush happy and, as always, I find myself rueing the decision not to have completed them sooner.

As a brief aside the 'recipe' for the camels can be found here in an earlier post.

I had hoped to have had a more prolonged run at all things Sudan, inspired as I am by the wonderful work on show at these two great blogs;  'One Man and his brushes' and 'The Wargame Shed', but   what with the now customary distractions and all matter of day to day issues contriving to slow progress, the Sudan will just have to wait a little longer.


Friday 20 July 2012

More Boers

I seem to have fallen into a malaise with regards to progress on any of the ongoing projects.  Having had a wonderful week away with the good lady wife I now seem incapable of focussing on any one thing, including keeping up to date with the blog targets!  Two thirds of the way through the month and I'm struggling to finish these Boers let alone any of the other six (I told you focus was any issue!) potential posts sitting on the dining room table.

That said here is the next instalment of Boers from 'Empress Miniatures' 28mm Anglo-Zulu War range.  As previously mentioned this is one of the four body poses each with a different head sculpt giving a huge potential variety for the group and as always good, solid sculpts and crisp casting.

I haven't been entirely idle, the 'secret project' now has its own button to match that of '28mm Tales of Adventure' on the right hand sidebar.  The artwork, originally from the 1930s 'Dime Mystery Magazine' publication, conveying a sense of high drama, albeit it suitably 'tongue in cheek'.  

Part of the problem with regards to lack of focus might have something to do with this little lot that was ordered before we went on holiday.  What I should have done was to put the little parcels away until I was ready to start them, but oh no all were unwrapped and a myriad of possibilities started to flood my addled brain.  So many ideas - so little time!  

Other 'Boer' related posts: 

Sunday 15 July 2012

Book Review#13. - Autumn

"In less than twenty-four hours a vicious and virulent disease destroys virtually all of the population. "

Perhaps not the most imaginative start to a Zombie yarn, but I was determined to give ‘Autumn’ by David Moody a go recommended, as it was, by Brummie over at ‘Brummie’s Wargaming Blog’.  What better opportunity to get to grips with a bit of undead nonsense than on a mini break to wet, Welsh, Wales.  My previous experience of  Zombie related literature tended to be limited to all American ‘daring do’ and It wasn’t until I read Max Brooks’ ‘World War Z’ that I started to understand that there was a lot more to the genre than copious amounts gore with the heroes often left surrounded by a pile of spent sub machine gun ammunition cases!  I like a little more imagination to my undead literature but I’m also a sucker for a tall tale told in, or about, the United Kingdom; '28 Days Later' for example.  To me it all helps to crank up the excitement and helps to get the adrenalin pumping, especially when you have to fight the crafty cadavers on home soil!  

'Autumn' certainly delivers on one of these levels, based as it is in a British city.  A group of survivors come together following the outbreak of the strange epidemic that leaves the majority of the population dead.   More concerning for them is that some of the bodies begin to reanimate and ultimately start to attack what is left of civilisation.  A smaller faction breakaway from the main group, unhappy with the defeatist mentality they are faced with and it is around their experiences that the book is based -  unfortunately I struggled to warm to these characters!

Moody builds the tension nicely through the book, although it is slow to begin with.   There are some genuinely scary moments punctuating the pages and it seemed to fit so many of the requirements that I want in a ghoulish guide, but I still wanted more!  ‘Autumn’ is part of a series of books and this might be the problem in so much as Moody  is making sure he doesn’t peak too soon, perhaps saving more twists and turns for the other stories.  It could be as I read more of the stories that the characters become more established and richer in texture, ultimately making for a much more enjoyable read.
That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, I did, it is just that I was hoping for a little more.  At some point I will need to get hold of the rest of the series and see how the story develops, but for now it's a fair three crowns for the opening gambit.  

Thursday 12 July 2012

A Consulting Defective [sic.]

The 'secret project' has Characters!

In 1903 S. Holmes Esq.  retires to a small farm on the Sussex Downs just outside Eastbourne.  Here he takes up a new hobby, that of Beekeeping!  Perhaps what is less well known is that prior to the publication of a "Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen", Holmes embarked on a lecture tour of the United States of America.  Is it a coincidence that the once great detective, a naturally inquisitive soul and a man with family connections at the highest level of the British government finds himself travelling across the 'Land of the Free' just at the time that it starts to flex its economic muscle as a leading global industrial power?  

The Holmes character was part of the wonderful set from 'Mutton Chop Miniatures' creatively named 'Sheer Luck Basil and Bruce, London Super Sleuths!'  Holmes was given a simple, but 'sharp' suit in a relatively conservative colour.  That said I couldn't resist a touch of tweed for the deerstalker.  

A veteran of Victoria's Wars in Afghanistan as part of the Army Medical Department and long suffering companion of Holmes, Dr. Watson  has become something of an emotional wreck.  After the sad passing of his first wife, Mary, he was hardly expecting his second wife to run off to become a suffragette!  'Shaggy' Watson, so called because of his propensity for growing his hair longer than was normally considered acceptable for a gentlemen has been seeking solace in his latest research, that of the hallucinogens most commonly used in shamanic rituals!

Once again this miniature started life as the companion piece of the 'Sheer Luck Basil', sculpted by the masterful Paul Hicks.  In order to give him his 'Shaggy' look a quick head swop had to be performed using a spare from a long neglected sprue of Games Workshop's 'Empire Knightly Orders'.   Colour wise I've used a palette that I hope reflects the character's more traditional garb whist hinting at the legacy of the 'Wild West'.

Baskerville, Holmes's Great Dane is fiercely protective of his master but paradoxically a coward at heart.  Perpetually hungry his insatiable search for snacks often inadvertently leads the team into danger.  Rescued from Battersea Dogs' Home little is known of Baskerville's early life, but it is assumed that he originally hailed from the East End of London.

Baskerville is from 'Hasslefree Miniatures' where he is better known as Hamlet.  A thinly disguised Scoobert "Scooby" Doo, his paint job was deliberately done to reflect the much loved character from the original Hanna-Barbera series, 'Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!'  The bright blue collar, again a nod to the original series is repeated in 'Shaggy' Watson's headband and Holme's tie.  The colour becoming a sort of motif for the team.

Clearly the 'secret project' is self-indulgent nonsense but the idea is that our intrepid team of friends find themselves in a bizarre series of scenarios that revolve around a fictional part of North America at the turn of the 20th Century.  The scenarios themselves will be influenced by mythology, folklore, popular culture and of course earlier episodes of 'Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!'

Plans have started to be drawn up regarding the 'local area' and I was wondering what, if any, map making programs people use?  Any advice would be great fully received.  The 'secret project', remains an innocent distraction where I can indulge my desire to create models and terrain, but I still intend to continue with the historical wing of the hobby; it is just that some itches have to be scratched! 

Monday 9 July 2012

Boer'd with Man-Flu!

Whilst work had contrived to slow progress on all fronts I was looking forward to the start of the holidays when disaster struck!  Man-Flu, that most dangerous of contagion, had infected 'Awdry Towers'.  I have to admit it was touch and go for a while but its systemic progress was eventually halted by a tried and tested method; a glass or two of the local hostelry's finest followed by a 'Burning Hot' curry!  Now fully restored to good health (I still have a tickle of a cough, but sympathy has somewhat evaporated!) it is time to get back to hobby related fluff.  

a brief intermission

These fine fellows represent the first in a series of posts documenting my progress with 'Empress Miniatures' Boers.  As part of their Anglo-Zulu War range Empress have released, to date, three packs of unmounted Boers, each with one of four different poses.  The clever bit is that there are twelve different head sculpts so a considerable amount of variation is possible.  

I've managed to get them all based and it is my intention to paint them by pose, trying to find a balance between individuality and cohesion.  A similar exercise, in many ways, as the previous posts on the rioters the only difference here being that I want a little more of a muted palette.  

All of this done by the end of the month!  Surely not a problem, I hear you say, but then again you can't see what else is on the painting queue!  July certainly promises to be another varied month. 

In other news...  I'm a winner!!!

Yes it's true!  I was fortunate enough to have won Ray's 250,000 page view draw!  This Herculaneum achievement just goes to show how popular and respected his 'Don't throw a 1' blog is.  Should I have been a little more sympathetic in my choice of miniatures that I sent to Ray to paint up as my prize?  I think we'll let Ray tell us when they arrive in the post!  A huge 'Thank You' nonetheless Ray. 

and finally!

Many of you will undoubtedly already be aware that young Master Rousell is also the subject of a painting challenge!  As part of the anniversary celebrations of 'Anne's Attic' blog, Anne herself has set in motion a fiendish plan to force Ray to paint something cute and fluffy!  The whole scenario is just bonkers, but hugely entertaining, for everyone except Ray that is, so go and read all about it here.

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