Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Beginning.

Zomtober 2015 - post#1

And so it begins - 'Zomtober 2015' and what better place to begin than the opening scene of the hugely successful, 'Walking Dead' television series that first aired in the UK back in 2010.  Although late to this zombie phenomena, the opening scene involving our reluctant hero, police officer Rick Grimes and a shuffling zombie child is emblazoned on my mind.  That poor unfortunate child has now been recreated as a Kickstarter Exclusive 'not' character thanks to 'Studio Miniatures' recently successful crowd funding venture.  

With the series about to start its sixth season later this month, the band of survivors is still looking for answers, not to mention a safe place to call home!  Some may argue that it is not a patch on the original comic series created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore, some may also suggest that it is running out of ideas and lacks the punch of those early groundbreaking episodes, but I shall be there glued to the television for my weekly dose of undead mayhem. 

As unnerving as this miniature was to work on, the sculpt was amazing with fabulous details to tantalise the brush.  So week one of 'Zomtober' complete and the first deadline met, now to see what the rest of the contributors have managed.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Paint Table Saturday#100!

Not very much to show this morning as I'm putting the finishing touches to my first entry for 'Zomtober 2015', which I hope to share tomorrow.  That said, I didn't want to let today go by unmarked as it is the 100 edition of 'Paint Table Saturday'.  This was such a lovely idea that saw a community of likeminded hobbyists share what was currently on their painting tables.  Sofie, it's founder, should be immensely proud of her achievement as the community has gone from strength to strength.

For those of us with a natural curiosity it is such a treat to see what others are up to and I know that when I was particularly distracted by 'real life' issues, just sharing what I was doing on a weekly basis was such a boon and helped keep my interests alive.  So what of my paint table today?  Perhaps not unsurprisingly, masses of undead, with a liberal sprinkling of survivor!  The recent 'Studio Miniatures' Kickstarter has given me plenty of scope, so I will need to spend some time this morning sifting through my options.

With regards to 'Zomtober' there is still time to get involved and I would politely direct you the following blog posts to glean the full details, including a list of those taking part this year.  It is great to see the list slowly growing and I'm looking forward to seeing the results of everyone's labours slowly shuffling off the painting tables.

So here's to many more 'Paint Table Saturdays', don't forget to visit the rest of the community here and once again a big thank you to Sophie for her inspiration in setting it all up!

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Moon of Skulls...


As is the tradition of this humble web log the next post following a book review should, in some small way, be representative of the story highlighted.  With the collective tales of Solomon Kane safely shelved in the library at Awdry Towers, I can finally share this motley crew with you.  As the 'Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge' was drawing to an end, I had a convoluted idea of producing a vignette for the 'Anti-Hero' bonus round based on the Solomon Kane story, 'The Moon of Skulls'.  One of Robert E. Howard's longest stories*, 'The Moon of Skulls' sees our hero infiltrate a lost city in Africa ruled over by by the she fiend, Nekari of the Negari in a bid to rescue a kidnapped girl. 

 *almost a short novel!

 I had hoped to depict the final, climatic scene as Kane races against time to save the girl before she is offered to the Gods of the Negari in sacrifice.  In the end it wasn't Kane that ran out of time, but myself and the idea got shelved in favour of a single miniature. That said, I was desperate to get the miniatures earmarked for the vignette painted.

I had spent quite a bit of time tracking down a suitable candidate for Solomon Kane and was delighted when I happened upon this chap from 'Black Army Productions'.  The only thing is that he is rather shy  young man and the angle of the head, sculpted as it is, hides lots of the lovely details.  Still a minor detail and there is a sense of intense brooding that befits the character from the stories.  

The other two characters are from 'North Star Military Figures', the chap with the feathered headdress being part of the cannibal war chiefs pack.  A couple of skulls added to Nekari's base, seem wholly appropriate and I deliberately tried to link the two together with the use of orange, a singly bright colour in comparison to Kane's dour, Puritanical look.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Book Review#21. - Complete Soloman Kane

Once again reading seems to have fallen away from my daily routine, something I always find odd as it genuinely gives such pleasure and yet it is seemingly so easily discarded in favour of less stimulating forms of entertainment.  Fortunately for me this collected series of stories, featuring Solomon Kane, have just the right amount of clamouring excitement and are just the right length to keep even this butterfly brained reader happy!

So what can I tell you of Solomon Kane that you don’t already know?  Probably very little as I imagine that a great many of the goodly souls that frequent these pages have already dipped a toe in the pulp world of Robert E. Howard, but for me this was a revelation.  Having only recently come across the central protagonist in the movie of the same name, I was curious to read some of the original stories and even more curious as to how the writer of Conan would bring this avenging Puritan to life.  I have to say that I was transfixed from the outset, I hadn’t really understood what pulp literature was all about until this moment.  The unashamedly violent descriptions of heart pumping action see our tall, dark and grimly set Puritanical hero battle foes from this world and beyond.
In a bizarre blend of historical fiction and horror story Solomon Kane, a Puritan swordsman, travels the world of the 16th century righting wrongs and destroying evil wherever he comes across it.  Solomon is constantly tormented by the temptations of evil men or womankind and forced to make uncomfortable alliances with Godless purveyors of dark magic in order to complete his, almost, pathologically driven, quests all the time justifying the traumatic violence he administers in God’s name.

What I wasn’t expecting was that a good many of the stories would be set in Africa and given that I was reading unabridged and unedited versions of the stories some of the language is problematic using, as it does, many of the racial stereotypes and attitudes prevalent in 1920s and 1930s.  The grotesque characterisation of the villainous slavers or beleaguered tribes is clearly of its time and yet interestingly it is refreshing to see Solomon Kane’s attitude change as he becomes more tolerant and accepting of a culture that is clearly alien to him at the start of the journey, perhaps more so than the author himself. 
With adventures taking our hero from the windswept moors of England, through the Black Forest of Germany to the deepest regions of unmolested Africa there is great scope for derring-do, adventure and spine tingling horror.  Tremendous fun and from a gamers perspective so much material that could be adapted to any number of scenarios. 

If you like your adventure set at a frenetic pace, with a touch of the supernatural thrown in, then look no further than the adventures of Solomon Kane - a hugely enjoyable four crowns from me!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Redoubt Enterprises English Civil War Falconet

As last year's 'Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge' drew to a close, I was keen to go out with a ‘bang’ and one of my last submissions came in the shape of this 'Redoubt Enterprises' English Civil War Falconet 2 1/4 gun and crew.

Those familiar with Redoubt’s miniatures will hopefully understand what I mean about them being reassuringly chunky.  Certainly not the most anatomically correct sculpts by today’s standard, but for some reason I thoroughly enjoy painting them.  I have often wondered if it has something to do with the lack of extraneous detail that allows the painter to put their own stamp of the miniature that appeals to me, but whatever the reason I can honestly say that I am a great fan of them.

The addition of the officer with his sighting quadrant saw me through my one thousand point target score – albeit by the skin of my teeth.  If truth be told this accomplishment had more to do with the very generous votes my entries to the bonus rounds secured rather than the number of miniatures That I actually painted.  The Challenge proved to be a much needed escape to what was a particularly  difficult year and I was once again thrilled to be involved - roll on December when it all starts again!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Plague Doctors!

Life was tough in 17th Century England, if you did manage to survive childhood you could look forward to another thirty to forty years of drudgery and toil provided of course that you managed to avoid the plague!  It is no surprise then that the arrival of a Plague Doctor to your hamlet was seldom seen as a good omen.  A portent of imminent death the plague doctors were physicians who tried to bring some comfort to those inflicted with very little hope of success.

Engraving by Paul F├╝rst, 1656.
It is of course their costume that still to this day manages to combine fascination with fear. The eerie beaked, birdlike mask, with small glass eyes was developed, perhaps not unreasonably, in the belief that strong, pleasant smelling concoctions that included camphor, myrrh and lavender stuffed into the ‘beak’ would act as a filter against the plague ridden, filthy air.

A full length waxed cotton or leather coat was again hoped to afford some protection from the disease with many carrying a staff, not as a symbol of office, but to lift the clothing and bed sheets of infected patients to get a better look without actually resorting to touching them!  

Such is the delight of the ‘Witchfinder General’ world that the truly iconic Plague Doctor can be included as an apothecary with the ability to revive those that are in base contact with him.  I was only planning on painting one of these physicians of fear from the 'Wargames Foundry' range, but it seemed such a waste not to polish off the remaining group including the ‘patient’ that is being ‘oh-so’ sympathetically transported in a wheelbarrow.  

Requiring very little in the way of preparing, I opted to simply ape the colour palette used by Foundry, perhaps not my most creative decision, but it seemed to work for me.  Wanting to put my own stamp on them I invested a little more time in the rose tinted lenses of their masks and finally a piece of self indulgent frippery saw me use bostik glue to create the illusion of the red paint, used for marking the doors of the afflicted, flowing from a brush to the ground. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

The only nuts these chaps are interested in are the ones holding their rather splendid Fez hats on!  On the face of it the idea of a set of 28mm clockwork chimps sounds, and is, ridiculous and yet from the moment that I saw them I knew that I had to have them!  Falling for another Kickstarter campaign, I was happy to pledge for a couple of packs of steampunk monkeys*, not least because the company behind them, 'Westfalia Miniatures', is synonymous with quality.**
*One pack with guns, one with blades.

During the  course of the challenge, I had cause to contact Kawe of Westfalia to redeem a very generous gift voucher for coming out on top in the ‘Myth’ bonus round.  I was hoping to add this to my current pledge, putting it towards a Clocktopus.***  Being a splendid fellow Kawe suggested that this was no problem at all and added that he was happy to dispatch my pledge of chimps early as they had just safely passed quality control.  A couple of days later, ten mischievous monkeys and a zoologist landed on the mat here at ‘Awdry Towers’.   
***Best not to ask!

How they managed to achieve such clean casting on these amazingly detailed sculpts is beyond me, but they really were a joy to assemble and paint.  On the subject of painting, I found it difficult to dislodge Kawe's original choice of colours from an earlier post and went for a sympathetic brass colour.  I was delighted to discover that Vallejo do a metallic range suitable for the airbrush and so was able to achieve a lovely smooth finish with the first couple of coats.  All that remained was to pick out details with washes and a copper colour, not forgetting the splendid red Fezes. 

Their use or purpose may still elude me, but I can safely say that I am absolutely thrilled to have them in the collection, bringing, as they do, some much need levity, that and they are so wonderfully shiny!

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