Monday, 3 June 2019

RIP Avon - Paul Darrow 1941~2019

Sad to hear that the incomparable, inimitable Paul Darrow has joined Gareth Thomas, Jacqueline Pearce, David Jackson and Peter Tuddenham in the pantheon of lost stars......

I think it is true to say that no other actor could have brought the character of Blakes 7's Kerr Avon to life with such aplomb - a cynical, sardonic anti-hero - the foil to the earnest freedom fighter Blake, his dry wit and mellifluous delivery giving a richness to the part that quite frankly, stole the show!

A real loss :

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Future of Pre-Dreadnought Miniatures

The future of Pre-Dreadnought Naval Miniatures has well and truly arrived in the form of the new ship line just released by War Times Journal.

Jim at WTJ has been working for some time on presenting a range of CAD designed, Rapid Prototype Plastic miniatures, and not to overstate it, has in one fell swoop moved the world of naval miniatures one giant leap into the future.

I was lucky enough to be given access to a preview in the form of a 1/1800th scale Sissoi Veliki, as can be seen in the photos here, and boy, was I impressed - these new miniatures have an unparalleled level of clean and clear incised detail, and are designed with beautiful proportions and shape - these have gone from gaming pieces to scale-models overnight.

The miniatures come in a hard plastic that has none of the unsightly lines of Shapeways-style printing processes, nor the odd granular surfaces of the likes of 'White Strong and Flexible' and similar mediums; WTJ has an explanation of what was involved in their creation here:

Now as ever, my basic photography skills do these new ships little justice, although given that they are transparent, I suppose I can plead some mitigation in my defence - you definitely need to see them in the flesh to appreciate their overall quality.

What is even more exciting about this newly innovated line is that it is not limited to a single scale, WTJ will be producing the same miniatures in four different scales! - Yes, that's the classic 1/3000th, alongside 1/2400th, 1/1800th and even 1/1500th ships - enough to cover the needs of most of us Naval enthusiasts out there, and a few others besides.......

The ships are available for order now, although it has to be stressed that their is some lead-in time as they have to be sent away to be processed, so are definitely a 'bespoke' product, although I am very happy to report that the prices of the line are in no way excessive, given their quality, and are in my opinion, definitely cheap at the price, even in the larger scales.

I really can't praise these models highly enough, and as you can probably tell, am pretty excited as to how the range will be developed - I know that things like all four international variants of the Garibaldi Class being available is cool enough, but then knowing WTJ are about to produce an expanding range of South American ships of the era just about blows my mind........  ;-)

What more can I say, but get yourself over to WTJ as fast as possible and feast your eyes - and moreover give Jim all the support he so richly deserves in pushing the boundaries of what is available to the Pre-Dreadnoughter, and spoiling us all with such an excellent product!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

6mm Dr Who: Creepy Crawly progress.....

Thought I'd share the progress so far on the 'Green Death' and 'Them!' front, with some shots of how they are all shaping up; still some finishing off to do, but a lot of fun so far!

The plastic, or more accurately, rubbery ants can be seen in varying colours below:

After a quick wash with soapy water, the acrylic colours went on easily enough, but I soon learnt that any handling just as easily sloughed off the dried paint from the rubber surface - so some spray varnish definitely a must here - the larger ant, being a harder, more traditional plastic, was no problem.

I had originally intended a black paint scheme, but found that the large ant came out looking ironically a bit spider-like, so jazzed up the existing red colours with some more banded details on the legs and abdomen. The 'spideriness', however, of the smaller ones when left black with just the eye detailing, led me to try a couple of other colours - a sandy brown and a 'fire ant' red to match the larger one - not entirely sure which scheme I will go with for the balance of the rest - I quite like the exaggerated contrast of the eyes on the black ones, and the reds stand out well -perhaps different colours could denote differing types - soldiers, workers, female drones etc?

These are based on some rectangles of textured plasticard measuring 40x30mm, with the large 'Queen' on a 40x40mm - had to trim the ends of the large ant's legs to fit, but I didn't really want to make the base any bigger - don't think it loses anything in appearance, anyway....... and talking of basing, let's move on to those pesky maggots and the giant fly:

The fly in the original Dr Who episode had bright red eyes and some yellow markings on its back, but I just somehow wanted my irradiated mutant to live up to its name, so went with a wash of green on the wings and the body, with the corresponding eyes - for some reason, the plastic of the eyes wasn't too happy about being painted on, leaving a rather patchy finish, so will have to finesse this somewhat in the near future, and again protect it with some varnish.
The fly had a hole drilled into the bottom to accommodate the standard peg-topped flying stand, but this is looking a little dull, as well as flying a tad too high, I think, so this will also need some more attention.

The maggots themselves were of course in metal, so easy to paint, also with some exaggerated 'greening' to look the part - initially the heads matched the bodies, however at this scale they seemed a little bland that way, so I painted the heads black as a contrast, but again, I think they need something extra just to make them stand out......not quite sure yet what will do the trick.....

The maggots are placed on what is to become my new 6mm Sci-Fi basing standard (more on this in an upcoming post), namely a ubiquitous GW-style round plastic slotta base, mounted on a steel washer to enable magnetic storage.

This can be seen with the recently re-based Time Lord, Companion and Tardis as below:

The ant bases had to be a compromise, as they were too large to really fit more than one insect per slotta base, and I wanted a sort of 'horde' look to them, rather than just being singletons......

A similar treatment to the Doctor's base can be seen here, with the Alien Infestation Squad deployed to deal with some squirming, irradiated chemically enhanced nuisances of the maggot kind:

Finally of course, we have the villains of the piece, namely two intergalactic masterminds in the persons of Kang and Kodos:

These Monopoly pieces are beautifully modelled, even down to some drops of 'slather' falling from their mouths, and have turned out rather well, if I do say so myself....... although the bases still need some attention and tidying up - just was in a rush to show them off and couldn't wait to photograph them!

So, hopefully a suitably creepy, crawly and evil bunch on their way to completion, and if not all strictly 'canon' at least some interesting adversaries to pit against the Doctor and his chums.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

6mm Dr Who: The Green Death.........and Them!

Indulging myself in some more 6mm-related plastic madness at the moment, inspired by the 'Pound Shop' find of the instant army of 'creepy' ants seen above. Having done some Dinosaurs for the Dr Who project some time ago, I was casting around for some other monsters that I could add in to the mix when I came up with these - now of course they are not 'canon', although I think an early Doctor did meet some giant ants once (The Zarbi?), but are inspired by one of my favourite 'B' movies, namely the stupendous  "Them!"

You've just got to love giant ants taking over the world - I need of course,  to Anglicise it and have U.N.I.T. fighting them instead of the U.S. Army - I added in another plastic insect that came with a job lot of stuff from Ebay, and hey presto - the evil Queen and her minions:

The larger ant is a relatively hard plastic, however the small ones are made from a sort of rubber compound, and a bit squidgey, so not quite sure how well they will hold paint, but to be honest at this scale just a pair of menacing googly eyes should do the trick, rather than any special detailing.

Here's how they line up against some commonly available 6mm Sci-Fi troops, left to right, a Brigade Models Germy 6mm trooper, a GZG New Israeli, a Brigade 6mm Power Armoured chap, and finally a DRM Pax Arcadia Light Infantryman - the ants look suitably menacing, I think:

Getting back to things more directly Dr Who related, I've also dug out a plastic fly from the same old Ebay job lot - this should make a nice candidate for the one from probably the first adventure I ever remember watching as a child from behind the sofa, namely 'The Green Death' at the close of the John Pertwee era:

"But Doctor, it's exactly your cup of tea - this fellow's bright green apparently, and.....dead!"


Of course, I needed some of the armour plated giant maggots to go along with the fly, and for this I could have done scratch-built ones I suppose, but then remembered that I had some 10mm Dungeon crawlers that used to be available from Pendraken in their Fantasy ranges - I think these have been superceded now by a variety of new sculpts - but these should definitely fit the bill, and scale well alongside the 6mm miniatures:

*Edit: The crawly types have popped up again in the newly re-vamped Pendraken Sci-Fi ranges, see them here:

So, just what calculating and perhaps Alien intelligence could be behind this sudden upsurge in monstrous threats to the peace of the Earth............ I wonder...............?

Just for fun, courtesy of one of the ubiquitous boardgaming spares vendors on Ebay, I am going to add in some Simpson's Monopoly pieces, namely Kang and Kodos - you've got to have some Evil Masterminds behind it all!

So, some slightly left-field but hopefully fun bits and bobs to paint up in the near future - so stay tuned for some Sci-Fi related shenanigans to come!