Sunday, 25 June 2017

Forgotten Heroes 2017 - The Bug Hunters

My work for the 2017 Forgotten Heroes challenge is now completed. My entries are based on a little known sci-fi comic strip that appeared in Computer and Video Games magazine between October 1985 and February 1987 called The Bug Hunters. I loved this story back then and I still love it today. It has long stuck in my memory. My initial plan for this challenge was to sculpt the two human characters from the story - Melissa Ravenflame and Jackson T. Kalliber. But I soon realised I could convert various robot figures into B-Con, OTISS and X. The big stumbling block was the robot, Big Red. He is huge and I didn't fancy sculpting him from scratch. But, a big part of me wanted to make all six of The Bug Hunters heroes, so I searched on Amazon for a suitable robot toy to convert into Big Red. I struck lucky when I discovered a 5" tall action figure of Baymax from the animated film Big Hero 6. Now the challenge was on to get the conversions done before the end of this month. At that time, Melissa and Jackson had been sculpted. B-Con was a very simple conversion. OTISS, X and Big Red were much harder conversions but I finished them all last week and got them painted in just three days. Now at last I can present to you, The Bug Hunters.
From left to right are Melissa Ravenflame (an executive working for the Institute for the Development and Expansion of Advanced Systems (IDEAS) Corporation, Jackson T. Kalliber (head of IDEAS Security), B-Con (a former prison security droid), OTISS (Overt Technical Information Suburban System droid), X (a former bouncer and black marketeer) and Big Red (Relocation of Explosives for Demolition droid and not the sharpest tool in the box). Their mission was to find and fix bugs and glitches in artificial intelligence systems, computer systems and other robots. It is fair to say, they met with varying degrees of success. Big Red accidentally managed to totally destroy more than one children's home and orphanage!
I am immensely proud of my two sculpts and four conversions. Just compare these two photos above with the picture at the top of the page, taken from issue #1 of the comic series to see just how close they resemble the artwork. So, what are my plans for them? I will use them in some one-off adventures using the N.E.W. sci-fi RPG by What's Old Is New. I've already worked out the stats for Melissa and Jackson and I'm currently working on the stats for the four droids.
Here's a reminder of what OTISS, X and Big Red started out as - RoJaws, Hammerstein and Baymax. That's quite a change, huh? Note how much taller Big Red is to Baymax. His lower legs were lengthened considerably. The word RED on his chest was made out of cartridge paper, cut out and glued in place. Incidentally, Big Red is a lot less posable than he was as Baymax. His arms can still move up and down, but that's it.
I'd just like to end by saying how much I enjoyed this challenge. This was a project that grew bigger for me as the days passed by. At the start of June 2017, I never imagined I'd have the full set of The Bug Hunters in 28mm scale. But I have and I feel I have surpassed myself with this challenge and right now I'm feeling incredibly proud.
Finally, just for Roger, is this photo of my six entries taken against a plain white background. I'm sure you'll appreciate it, mate!
I have been asked about what figure was B-Con based on? Well, I can tell you he came from a range of very old (mid 1980's) Citadel 28mm scale Paranoia robots. This range of robots came in two halves - upper and lower bodies. The idea was that you could swap them around to come up with an infinite variety of robots. I bought loads of them and never got round to painting any of them, let alone making them. So, as a consequence, I had a large amount of robot body parts just lying unwanted in one of my spare parts boxes.

Fortunately, I remembered I still had them and as I rummaged through them I saw the perfect upper and lower body parts to make B-Con. His upper body came from the robot shown in the picture at the top right of here and his lower tracked body part came from the robot shown to the bottom right of here. All I did to convert him was add the searchlight on his chest, his hat and his sunglasses. Oh, and I cut the weapons off his lower body. As I said, a very simple conversion.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Assorted Wild West Children 01

As I mentioned in a reply to one of the comments made last time, finding figures of Wild West female townsfolk is hard but finding figures of children for this genre is even harder. Fortunately, I do have some. Here's a sample of some of them.
All of these are plastic figures, with the four to the left coming from an old boxed set of Airfix 1/72nd scale (20mm scale) Cowboys. I got these as a child during the 1960's, and I still have the figures from that boxed set. Seeing as I was after figures of children, their lack of height compared to 28mm scale figures actually worked to my advantage. The small girl and boy at the far left were designed as children for that set. Now they fit in as young children, in the 4 to 7 age bracket.
The next two figures in line were adults from that set but work well as older children in 28mm scale. I have to admit that the detail on them is muted, especially on their faces, which are very featureless. But, no matter. They suffice for my needs as crowd fillers. The figure at the far right was given to me by my dad. He used to collect Lledo vintage cars and vehicles and this figure came with an old newspaper delivery van. He is true 28mm scale and although he is meant to be from the 1930's I thought he'd fit in with my Wild West figures. He is also the only one of these children whom I have named. I called him Joey Black, after an NPC of the same name who appeared in an old TSR Boot Hill scenario called Mad Mesa. Joey was a paperboy working for the Mad Mesa Gazette, so it seemed appropriate to use this figure for him.
I'm currently painting a couple of child heroes for the Shadows of Brimstone game - male and female orphans, and they are superb sculpts. Not all children need be innocent bystanders. I strongly approve of Flying Frog's decision to include children as hero characters in their Weird West game. I'm planning on buying the two Wild West children figures from Reaper's excellent Chronoscope range next month, so expect to see some armed children here soon.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Assorted Wild West Female Civilians 01

In this post I'm reviewing some of the assorted Wild West female civilians that I've amassed over the years. It is rather sad that figure manufacturers make far more male characters for Wild West gaming than females. Actually, this is true of most genres. Certainly amongst the civilian population you'd expect a roughly 50/50 split, but that is most definitely not the case when it comes to the Wild West. For sure, civilians are mainly used for background fodder or for obstacles to be helped or avoided. But even if they are just used to populate a town without taking any part, they are worth having to add a sense of realism to a gaming board.
At the far left is a 25mm scale Ral Partha female homesteader with baby. She is beautifully sculpted and whilst she is on the small side, I don't mind. Females are, generally speaking, smaller than males. My one criticism of this figure is that I'm not happy with the way I painted the baby's face. It looks more like a doll than a real baby!
Moving on, next to her is a very old Hinchliffe Models townswoman. I recently repainted her, as I wasn't happy with my original paint scheme. She has the look of a plucky woman who is up for a challenge. For such an old figure, she looks remarkably good.
 The next two ladies were both produced by Citadel Miniatures. Yes, I know, Citadel never made any Wild West figures. The woman in the light brown dress was part of a long out of production Mythos Investigators range. She is supposed to be used in a 1920's setting, but I thought she'd work just as well as a Wild West townswoman.
 The old lady at the far right is a conversion of a Judge Dredd perp known as Mad Ma Mahaffy. I cut her arms off and remodelled them out of Milliput. She has such a timeless look about her that she could fit in anywhere from the 1800's to the present day. I'm using her in my Wild West setting as a shop owner.
At the far left of this trio is another Hinchliffe Models 28mm scale figure - a Victorian lady, who certainly doesn't look out of place in a Wild West setting. She has also benefited from a recent repaint. With her bright yellow dress she'll certainly stand out in a crowd.
I close with a pair of female civilians who are amongst the oldest figures in my 28mm scale Wild West collection. They are from a small range of Wild West figures made by Minifigs in the late 1970's and have been out of production for many years now. They were designed as 25mm scale figures but being old women, I think their lack of height, when placed next to 28mm scale figures, works to their advantage. The old lady in the black dress is the original sculpt. On the other one, I removed her bible and repositioned her right arm. I also added a collar to her dress.
They certainly aren't the most exciting figures I've shown on my blog but they serve their purpose as innocent bystanders that I'll use in Six Gun Sound. Plus, you can never have too many civilian figures.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Assorted Wild West Gamblers 01

I like to mix things up on my blog so I'm returning to my Wild West figures for a few posts. The theme this time is gamblers. Here are four 28mm scale gamblers from assorted manufacturers.
At the far left is Jacques Villard, who is a Dixon Miniatures 25mm scale Old West civilian. He is listed as WG12 Gambler Standing with Cigar and he costs £1.40. I'm not that bothered that he's smaller than the other figures on display here. People come in all shapes and sizes in real life, so why not in miniatures?
Next up, is Commodore James Duvall, who was made by Grenadier Miniatures as one of 10 figures in a boxed set called "Western Gunfighters". He is loosely based on the character, Commodore Duvall played by James Coburn in the 1994 film of Maverick. He is, in my opinion, the best sculpted figure of this quartet. Note the card sticking out of his sleeve on his left arm in the photo below. Probably his ace up his sleeve! That is such a cool touch.
The figure second from the right is as yet unnamed. I can tell you that he is a very old figure made by Hinchliffe Models, who have been out of business for many years now. I bought him in the very early 1980's. His right arm was originally hanging by his side but I bent it to give him a less static pose. Hinchliffe figures were usually tall and slim, but I think he stands the test of time very well.
Finally, is "Hoodoo" Brown, a figure sculpted by me. He is an exact copy of a 54mm scale figure I made for my long running Wild West campaign that I ran in the 1980's. Back then, all of my Wild West games were played with 1/32nd scale figures, buildings and scenery. It might not be immediately clear from the front view, but he is smoking a cigar. Also, note that he is left-handed.
These figures are mainly intended for use with Six Gun Sound, my go to Wild West rules, but could also appear in Shadows of Brimstone.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Forgotten Heroes 2017 Update 01

Following on from my intro to the 2017 Forgotten Heroes challenge (see here - Forgotten Heroes Challenge 2017 - Intro), here is an update of my work so far. As I said before, I was originally just going to make the two human heroes, Melissa Ravenflame and Jackson T. Kalliber from The Bug Hunters series. The good news is that I have sculpted both figures and they are undergoing paintwork right now. Both have come out really well, but I'm particularly impressed with my figure of Melissa.
I was lucky enough to find the parts needed to convert an old Citadel Paranoia robot into B-Con. He was an easy conversion to do, and he's also being painted right now. I am not going to show these three just yet. I want to wait until all six figures are completed.
I had no intention of making the other three robots, OTISS, X and Big Red for this challenge. I thought it would be too much work, especially making Big Red, who is huge. However, things soon changed and when I realised that OTISS and X looked a lot like RoJaws and Hammerstein from 2000 AD comic's ABC Warriors and Robusters series I knew I could make them as well. Wargames Foundry make excellent figures of RoJaws and Hammerstein. How hard could it be to convert them? So I ordered them last week and they arrived two days later.
I had to add a bit of Milliput to the base of Hammerstein as he kept falling over, due to his centre of balance being off kilter. So, now all I had to do was find a suitable figure for Big Red. I did not have high hopes, but anyway, I decided to check out toy robots on Amazon UK... and found the perfect robot for Big Red. This big fellow is Baymax from the Disney animated film of 2012 - Big Hero 6. He is a posable action figure, but he'll be a lot less posable after I've finished with him. As always, Amazon were very quick to post him to me.
Size-wise he's just about perfect, although I will be lengthening his legs. As soon as I saw the figure, I knew I could work with him and make, what I thought would be a very difficult challenge, a much easier task. Yes, there is a lot of work to do on him, but I have the basis of his figure all ready to go. Most of the hard work has already been done for me. I just have to add some detail to him. Hah! That's all!
The first thing I had to do was remove certain body parts from the three figures. RoJaws had his arms and head cut off. Hammerstein lost his head and right arm. I had to saw them off. I've drilled and pinned a paper clip into his shoulder so that I can sculpt his new arm around it.
Baymax has had his head and shoulder pads removed - they just clipped off quite easily. I sawed off the mounts on his back for his wings. His wings came separately but were never going to be used by me.
Now I can get to work on them with my Milliput and hopefully get them finished by the end of June. I'm pretty confident I'll meet the deadline. I don't usually do work in progress posts but I especially wanted to do this one, just to show you how Big Red was going to evolve. Next time you see him he'll be looking a lot different.