Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas one and all!

 It will not have escaped the attention of many that a certain science fiction franchise saw the launch of its most recent instalment this month, and although I've yet to persuade the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' that she really needs to see this, I can't help but be swept along by the excitement.  This excitement saw me root around in the loft until I found my collection of Star Wars toys, some of which have gathered here to wish you all a very Happy Christmas! 

In hobby news the  'VI Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge' is well and truly underway and I am, once again, impressed at the diversity and quality of my fellow challengers.  For my own part, I seem to be acting a little like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a hobbying juggernaut, unable to decide which direction to leap.  Lots of things started, very little finished! 

Thursday 17 December 2015

General Tor

Every homicidal Martian invasion force needs a commander so allow me to present the evil General Tor! Moving away from the more conventional colour palate associated with this character, and heavily influenced by examples seen on the wonderful 'Nothing but Sixes' blog, I've used much of the same colour scheme employed with the Martian grunts.
This is a wonderfully dynamic pose, with the flowing cloak presenting an opportunity to let loose with the blending techniques, but I'm afraid that photographs don't really do the final effect justice.
It is still a matter of some embarrassment that I have not really done this game justice, but who knows, one day I'll dust of the core box and give it anther go, but in the interim, and by way of target practice, I couldn’t resist painting up the flaming cows to accompany the chaps.
Char-grilled steak on the hoof, this is actually a single piece of plastic, but fabulous fun and certainly better than the cardboard template that comes with the original game, now where did I put those big stompy robots?

Monday 14 December 2015

Ack, Ack, Ack!

With now just seven days until the start of this years challenge, I am keen to post the last of my entries for the previous year and so I’m thrilled to finally present them here for your approval. 'Mars Attacks, the miniatures game' was to be my first dalliance into the wonderful world of crowd funding and proved to be a rather expensive introduction. I was swept away with the excitement of it all and before I knew what I had done a large amount of plastic was winging its way towards ‘Awdry Towers’ where it has sat idly – until now!
These then are the Martian grunts and boast a wonderful array of weaponry, perfect for reducing the resistance of the human race to a smouldering pile of ashes. With regards to the miniatures themselves, they are a good match for most 28mm miniatures and certainly had enough detail to keep my brush interested whilst painting. What I didn’t enjoy, however. were the mould lines and although I did remove some they proved too numerous to remove altogether. Of course what they do have, to counter this mild irritation, are their own clear plastic helmets – what an inspired addition!
There are quite a few painting tutorials online and I managed to match many of the colours used to those in my own collection with only a couple of additions like monster brown and Hydra turquoise. One site that proved to be an invaluable source of inspiration was 'Keith's Wargaming/Painting Blog'. Keith also shared a way of dealing with the embarrassing bendy weapon syndrome that these models, made from soft plastic, occasionally suffer from; wonderful for shooting around corners, but they do rather take the sheen off your nicely painted miniature! A relatively simple procedure, but I mention it hear to alert you to a potential pitfall. The idea is that you drop wobbly, weapon, wielding, warrior into a glass of nearly boiling water, remove, reshape and plunge in a cold bath before the plastic memory has time to right itself. It really is that simple, but so transfixed was I by the shapes and colours that I left mine in for far too long and then initially forgot the cold bath - they were little Martian blancmanges!
Finally they were complete and I have to say that I'm rather pleased with them.  It was rather fun working on something so different and using colours that don't normally get a run out.  Still plenty more to do, but first I must pluck up the courage to stick the helmets down!

Ack, Ack, Ack!

Tuesday 8 December 2015

VI Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge ...

...The Preparation.
Yes, yet another post about plans for the forthcoming 'VI Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge', now less than two weeks away! Having had a difficult year, I was determined to make more of a showing with this year's challenge by getting involved with the light hearted commentary and generous encouragement that is issued by so many of my fellow challengers. To that end, I thought that I would rely less heavily on the bonus rounds for my points and get stuck into painting some of the ever growing lead divot that is amassing here at 'Awdry Towers'.
As a result, I spent a good period of time during the summer holidays prepping and undercoating the best part of three 'Really Useful Boxes' full of splendid miniatures from the variety of Victorian conflicts that I have dabbled in. There were representatives from the Crimea, Indian Mutiny, New Zealand Wars, Anglo-Zulu wars and even the North West Frontier, but when I went and inspected this fine assortment of  the other day, I suddenly felt less than inspired!
With the exception of the thirty two unmarried Zulu Warriors*, I'm not sure that any of the others will see the light of day this year, but why you might ask? Rather than look to my own inability to focus on one topic for any length of time, I'm laying the blame squarely at the feet of the wonderfully ambiguously titled bonus rounds themes that have now been announced.
*Required for the 'Cetshwayo Challenge' my side duel with Martin Cooke.
Reinforcements have arrived!
It is no secret that I really enjoy creating little vignettes or scenic bases and Curt's challenge has given me a wonderful opportunity over the years to indulge in some frivolous flights of fancy. To that end the last couple of weeks have been spent scratching around looking for possible miniatures that, collectively, might fit the requirements. So far thoughts include the following:

January 3rd: Nostalgia - I'm thinking old war movies here, something that reminds me of sitting at home and watching television with my father, a copy of the Christmas Radio Times may be required for inspiration. 

January 17th: Epic Fail - This is causing me the most sleepless nights, where on earth did Curt dig this title up from?  The current idea involves the expenditure of a lot of ammunition, but I'm keeping things suitably vague in case I change my mind. 

January 31st : Defensive Terrain - This has to be the trenches of the Great War doesn't it? I've found some rather characterful sculpts, long forgotten, that will hopefully now see the light of day.

February 14th: L'amour - Bizarrely, when I first read this I thought of zombies, odd I grant you, but nevertheless expect some shuffling undead ladies for this one!

February 28th: Nautical - Ah-ha an opportunity to unleash the Cloctopus, probably best not to ask!

March 13th: Gambler/Risk-Taker - I haven't got a clue, but I do have so rather splendid Post-Apocalyptic survivors that might be shoehorned in here. 

So as we wait patiently for the starting pistol to signal the start of the madness that is the 'VI Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge', I have found a new distraction to pass the time, another rather splendid 'Sarissa Precision' building, their Gate House from the newly released English Timber Frame series.

This very generous birthday gift from the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry' has been slowly taking shape over the last couple of weeks and I'm looking forward to giving it a lick of paint when the academic term finally comes to an end. So all that remains for now is to dust off the Christmas decorations and wish all my fellow travelling companions on the good ship challenge, the very best of luck.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Birthday Weekend.

Now I wasn't planning on doing a birthday post this year, what with the big day having fallen on the Friday of what felt like a very long week.  The most that I was expecting was a fearsomely hot take away Indian curry and an evening in front on the television, sherry in hand.*

*Oh how I live!
This is pretty much much how the day went, but certain things conspired to make me take stock and realise just how lucky I am.  I can't tell you exactly what it was, it might have been the Birthday wishes email that greeted me from Millsy of 'Canister and Grape' or the particularly splendid rendition of 'Happy Birthday' sung my beloved Sixth Form as they loitered around the, yet to decorated, Christmas tree.  
Then there were rather lovely gifts from the 'Saintly Mrs. Awdry', family and friends.  The arrival of my Kickstarter pledge from Integrated Wargame Buildings.  This, by the way, looks complicated not to mention exciting, but after a brief inspection has been put away until after Christmas with thoughts of Post Apocalyptic worlds or a possible return to the Batman Miniatures game.
Perhaps it was the surprise package left by our postman, that had travelled all the way from Germany, my good friend Stefan making sure that there was some new lead in the house to commemorate my Birthday.  Conrad Kinch** of 'Joy and Forgetfulness' fame has just written a rather splendid post about the 'Freemasonry of the hobby', something that I wholeheartedly subscribe to, the camaraderie and selfless sharing of ideas or even items considerably more tangible has been such an unexpected side product of this most wholesome of hobbies.  
**Welcome aboard Sir
Dinovember 2015
Whatever the reason for my buoyed mindset, I would just like to thank you all!

Thursday 26 November 2015

One of our Dinosaurs is missing!

Another ‘Dinovember’ comes to a close, but not before I unveil my final entry – a homage to the Disney Classic, ‘One of our dinosaurs is missing’.  This 1975 relic of my childhood sees a group of nannies outwit a Chinese spy ring in order to come to the aid of their former charge, Lord Southmere.  Of its time, the film is perhaps best remembered for the theft of a Dinosaur skeleton from the National History Museum and the subsequent chase around the English Countryside as the nannies try to evade capture. 
Although not the same make as portrayed in the film, I managed to track down an Atkinson 'D' Type Steam Lorry from the Matchbox 'Models of Yesteryear' range* - all I needed now was a dinosaur skeleton!  My web based research wasn’t proving particularly fruitful, but I did stumble across a pack of plastic dinosaur skeletons, one of which looked as though it might be able to represent the Brontosaurus, unfortunately I hadn’t checked the dimensions!
*The Atkinson was able to travel up to 30 miles at 12m.p.h. on one tankful (170 gallons) of water.
Clearly not up for the job my new purchase, and the twelve others that came in the pack, were consigned to the terrain box** as I scratched my head, pondering a solution.  I knew that I had a couple of ‘Dinosaurs in a tube’, another terrain project that has yet to see the light of day, but neither skeleton quite fitted the bill. As I stared at the cretaceous carcasses littering my paint table, inspiration finally struck!  By using the tail sections of both prehistoric beasties, I was able to fashion the, almost swan like, creation I was after, after all what was in the middle didn’t matter as it was going to be covered by a tarpaulin! 
**A mass of interesting odds and ends collected or purchased off the back of a convoluted plan, now long forgotten.
Now for the skull; again a rummage through the terrain box unearthed a couple of possibilities and although perhaps not an exact match for an Apatosaurus, I felt that the one chosen had a certain charm that I was looking for.
 Having already let my trusty Dremel loose on the existing decals out came the airbrush and the larger areas were blasted with an appropriate colour.  Once dried it was just a case of tidying everything up, building up the layers and adding some rust spots and smears.  The skeleton was simply give a base and then highlights added with a dry brush.
 All that remained was to base my creation.   At this point I need to draw your attention to the ‘The Lazy Forger’, a terrain builder and sculptor of superior skill who, fortunately for me, had an astonishing ‘Paved Road Tutorial’ on his blog.  I shan’t go into much detail here as the link will take to the tutorial proper, but it really was wonderfully simple.  An etched ‘Warbases’ MDF base is given a basecoat, before more sponged colours are applied.  Finally some road makings are added and the job is complete.***

***I have great plans to do some larger versions of these, none of which will see the light of day!

There are seemingly no ends to my self indulgent frippery, but as with all flights of fancy they are hugely enjoyable to put together and this, after all, is what matters.  With December almost upon us, my thoughts will be turning to the ‘VI Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge’, with preparation and basing aplenty to see me through the winter months, but I’m hopeful to post a final few pieces from last year’s challenge before the end of the year.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Wild Beast Shipping Crates

After a very busy, but productive week with the day job, I seem to be falling behind with my planned schedule for 'Dinovember', so just the briefest of posts this morning. Perhaps more akin to a product review than an actual progress post, I thought I would shoehorn my thoughts about this latest purchase into this month's theme, '4Ground's' Wild Beast Shipping Crates.
Having made a number of '4Ground' buildings, I was fairly confident that these would be of a standard, but my word they are clever. Given the scale of these things their design really is sensational, yes they are fiddly* but the results are worth it.
*plenty of blue words and pieces stuck to fingers!

In order to hide the joins and to give a feeling of depth, the construction is, in effect, a box on a box. The material, appears to be a heavy card stock, rather than MDF that has been painted so once completed they are ready to go, perfect for inherently lazy modellers like myself. They are not cheap though, retailing at £12 you get a total of 12 boxes, but as I have said in the past I'm rather fond of putting them together and combined with the fact that they are pre-painted I can just about square away the expenditure.
Of course for me, the fact that you can actually see through the grilled openings was a clincher - seriously cool and yes, I know that I need to get out more! I have been remiss in my previous postings as I should have mentioned that Bill of 'Dice, Doubloons and Random Musings' fame, is also joining in the fun this month, so if you get a chance do pop over to see what he is up to.
We're going to need a bigger crate! 


Finally then, it will not escape the attention of many that Curt Campbell Esq. has launched the 'VI Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge'.  A highlight of my hobby year, I have once again thrown my hat into the ring.  Plenty of thought now needed with regards to bonus rounds and the like, but that will have to wait until next month.  Register now if you are interested as this is a hugely popular event, made so by the tireless work of its host, and places are limited.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Run for cover.

Finally some dinosaurs for 'Dinovember'!  Fast and wily, Compsognathus was a small, bipedal, carnivorous dinosaur likely to have grown to the size of a large chicken during the Jurassic period.  Devouring insects and small lizards on a daily basis, Compsognathus would sometimes scavenge, given the opportunity, hoovering up the meagre leftover pickings of larger predators.
In fact, I first used a pack of these on my 'Scavengers!' project last year.  Now there were, as usual, convoluted and unrealistic plans to do a number of these terrain pieces and so I had ordered up a couple of packs of our pint sized predators from the 'The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company', but never got around to using them.  As I was scrabbling around for ideas for this year’s 'Dinovember' I suddenly came across the remaining miniatures and remembering a post by Mike C of 'Mike’s Random Wargame Meanderings' fame, I decided to make a series of simple stands basing the Compsognathus up in multiples of two or four.  
Having given the beasties the simplest of paint jobs it was time for basing and before I knew what was happening small patches of jungle were appearing before my eyes!  Added to the now customary static grass and multi-coloured tufts were fish tank planks and some 'Pegasus Hobbies' banana trees* all giving some much needed ground cover for my new additions.

*another impulse buy that was not quite as I had hoped, being a tad small for my liking.
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