Saturday, 31 December 2011

Vampifan's Views 18 My Monthly Musings part 5

A Vampirella sketch by Joe Jusko, my favourite Vampi artist
It's New Year's Eve and that means it's time for my Monthly Musings, which this time, will also take in a look back at 2011 and look forward to 2012. For me, 2011 will be indelibly etched into my brain as the year my father died. R.I.P. dad. He was one my most ardent supporters of my blog and his praise and encouragement for what I do meant a lot to me.
On the hobby front, this has been a very good year for me. Robert/Cherno's incredibly generous gift to me (reviewed in my previous post) was the outstanding moment of 2011 for me.
A special mention must also go to one of my other followers, Joe, aka Zabadak, who contacted me in July to praise me for my blog. Since then we have become very close fiends and I really treasure Joe's friendship and enthusiasm for all things zombie. We're in contact with one another via e-mail almost every day. It's great to have someone like that to bounce ideas off. Hopefully, 2012 will see Joe starting his own gaming blog. I wish him all the best.
My figure buying has slowed down as I came to the realisation that I must paint more figures per month than what I buy in a month. Otherwise, my pile (mountain?) of unpainted figures is just going to grow and grow and grow. Fortunately, I have been able to maintain that balance and hope to keep it up in 2012. I won't stop buying figures - that would just be impossible to do, but I'll try to be more selective about what I buy. Incidentally, my horde of 28mm scale zombies currently stands at 611 painted figures and 111 unpainted figures. That gives me a horde of 722 zombies! 100 of the unpainted ones are from the Victory Force Mega Horde that I bought last year. I really must get them painted as soon as possible. That'll make a huge dent in my pile of unpainted figures. Two questions I'm often asked are "do you aim to collect 1,000 zombies?" and "if so, will you stop at 1,000?" The answers are, yes, I would love to collect 1,000 zombies. I plan on collecting them just as long as the figure companies make them. So, no, I wouldn't stop collecting when I reach 1,000. Be afraid, my friends, be very afraid!
I have recently painted 12 Recreational Conlict 28mm scale civilians and 8 Recreational Conflict survivors. Photos to follow soon. Currently on my desk are 12 Black Cat Bases 28mm scale African American Gangers (5 males, 5 females and 2 dogs); 4 more Recreational Conflict 28mm scale survivors and 2 Battle Bunker 28mm scale zombies.
Work on my WWG Mayhem City Police Station is progressing well. I recently finished furnishing another two rooms (the evidence locker room and a set of public toilets). I also added a ladder to the exterior to allow access to the rooftop helipad. I only have six rooms to furnish and four of them (the detectives' offices) are identical. I plan on furnishing those four offices next. The end is getting closer, I'm happy to say. I can't wait to get it finished now. It has been such a long drawn out project.
2011 will be noted for me purchasing lots of 28mm scale card buildings from companies other than WWG or Mel Ebbles (who has now shut up his shop to work for WWG). Dave's Models, Fat Dragon Games, Finger and Toe Models and Microtactix all produce some very nice contemporary models and hopefully, I'll be able to show you some of my new stuff next year as and when I make it. I haven't gone off WWG. Indeed, just before Christmas I bought all of their new Swift Scenics models. It's nice to have such a large library of models to chose from and to mix and match elements from the assorted companies. My enthusiasm for card modelling remains high. My number one priority for 2012 is to finish making my police station.
I'm still going to be limited to the number of ATZ scenarios I can play next year but when I do get the dining room to myself, I will be able to play on a larger board than in previous years. A full sized 6' by 4' gaming board is now a possibilty but I'll need to have a very special scenario planned before I go that big. I have two 4' by 3' wooden boards that I can lay on top of the table but I think that most times, I'll just use the one board. I have plans in my head for a new base for Team Vampifan. Making it is going to be the big sticking point for when they can move.
December has been a good month for reading zombie related books. I read two novels - Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry and Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux. I'm a big fan of Jonathan and I've enjoyed all of his books that I've read so far, but Dead of Night did not impress me at all. The back story to how the zombie virus came about and its effect on its victims left me underwhelmed. It was no more than average, in my opinion. However, Allison Hewitt is Trapped was so good that it warrants a post of its own. Look out for a full review early in 2012. Two non-fiction zombie books that I read this month were The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis and Zombie Science 1Z by Dr. Austin. The Walking Dead Chronicles takes a very detailed look at series one of the TV series and I found it a fascinating book. It's another book that warrants a full review and it'll probably be my first post of 2012. Zombie Science 1Z is a semi-humourous and semi-serious look at the science of zombies; how they are created, what they can do and how to deal with them. I'd have enjoyed it a lot more if it hadn't been so poorly proofread. The author should really know that "rogue" is not spelt "rouge." On one page that word is mis-spelt three times! I've mentioned before that I once studied proofreading and bad spelling and grammar stands out like a sore thumb to me whenever  I see it in a book. It's bad enough in a novel but in a book that purports to be a serious study of zombieism it's unforgivable.
I have just started reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, the final part of the Twilight series. At 700 pages long, it is a real door-stopper of a book. I'll let you know what I think of it at the end of January in my next Monthly Musings post. I haven't seen the new Breaking Dawn film and I'm not too bothered that I haven't, even though I've seen the other three films in the series. How I view the novel will determine whether I buy it on DVD or not.
On the blogging front, expect things to remain pretty much the same, i.e. more figure reviews, more book reviews and possibly film reviews, and of course, the one thing you seem to enjoy the most, more ATZ batreps. The next one should appear in March.
Well that's a wrap. I'd just like to wish everyone a very happy and healthy New Year. Take care, folks!
PS. If you're interested in zombies and you haven't done so already, join the Board of the Living Dead forum, where you're guaranteed a warm welcome and some interesting discussions about everything to do with zombies. You can find it here 
Tell them Vampifan sent you!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Vampifan's Views 17 Best Gift Ever?

Although the story I'm about to tell you happened in mid-November of this year, I feel that now is the best time to tell it., as it such a heart-warming story and perfectly captures the spirit of Christmas.
On Monday 14th of November I received an unexpected e-mail message from one of my followers. It was Robert from Germany, aka Cherno (or Chernoskill as he's known on the WWG forum) and he had an offer for me that, quite frankly, just blew me away! He wanted me to have his complete collection of WWG Mayhem City models, free of charge, with the stipulation that I paid the postage and packing costs, which turned out to be roughly £25.00. The reason why he wanted to get rid of them is one that I'm sure many of us are familiar with - a lack of storage space at home. The reason he contacted me was that he knew I'd give them a good home. Remember, he is a follower of my  blog, so he knew that I was a huge fan of WWG and their range of card models. Plus, I'd also commented on how much I liked his work when he showed off his builds on the WWG forum. What could I say, but yes, I accept your offer?
A few days later, these two boxes arrived via parcel post. The larger box measures 18" by 18" and is 14" deep. The smaller box measures 10" by 8" and is 6" deep. The smaller box contained various props, whilst the big box contained everything else. And, my God, what a lot Robert had packed into it! Alas, a few days after the parcels arrived my father died and I was unable to give the parcels anything more than a cursory glance at their contents. My father's funeral arrangements and the aftermath left me with little spare time for the next three weeks. So it was with great anticipation that I finally revealed just exactly what was in the two boxes a couple of weeks ago.
Robert suggested that when I did open the big box and remove its contents that I photograph them. So, I cleared my dining room table, figuring that would give me enough room to lay eveything out. It worked, but you'll notice I still had to keep some stuff in their plastic bags or smaller boxes.
Robert also included some extra items, which you can see to the left of the above photo. There is a pack of plastic piping, three packs of magnets (more of which later) and, rather hard to see given that they are white against a pale pink table cloth, a sprue of 1/48 scale plastic civilians. The items in the blue and white box and in the plastic bags are walls for a TLX apartment block. The floors for the same TLX apartment block are in the plastic bag to the immediate left of the blue and white box.
Moving on, we have a collection of ground tiles, road tiles, and floor tiles, all mounted on foamboard.
This photo shows lots of wall pieces, some roof tiles and a few of the larger props for the Mayhem Petrol Station (propane tank, kiosk and petrol pumps). There's also a set of stairs from the Mayhem Armoury.
This final photo of the box contents shows the smaller of the two boxes I received, which you can see at the top of the photo. This contains lots of props like a foot bridge, street lamps, walls, a billboard and sundry pieces of street furniture. The second box, shown at the bottom of the photo, contains Robert's collection of card vehicles. I noticed that he'd made a couple of tractors and trailers, and some police cars, all stuff that I've yet to get round to making.
You have to admit, that's an impressive amount of gear. But, I'm sure you're wondering what it looks like when it's made up. Sadly, I haven't had the time to make any of these models but have no fear, because I've copied some of Robert's photos of his models from the WWG forum. Here we see the TLX (Terrainlinx) Mayhem Apartments, five storeys high.
This is the only TLX model that Robert made. Its footprint measures 12" by 15" and as you can see from this back view it isn't strictly rectangular in shape. It's more of a square with an extra bit added to it.
The floors come apart to reveal their interior detail. There is no furniture in any of the rooms but I'm not complaining about that. I must tell you about Robert's method of constructing his buildings and ground tiles. He does not use any glue at all. Everything is joined together by magnets. It's a clever method of construction and not something that I would have thought of. It also explains why he was able to take his models apart so easily and flat pack them in the way he has. If you'd like to see more pictures of the apartment block and Robert's notes on its construction then click on the following link 
Now we come to the meat of the package - Robert's Mayhem City project. Once again, I have copied these pictures of Robert's from the WWG forum. Everything you see in the picture above and the following two photos were made up from the stuff you saw on my table top. Absolutely remarkable!
Once again, Robert has made all of his buildings with magnets holding them together. The street props, like the streetlamps are fixed in place with magnets. Only his vehicles and the railings surrounded two of the upper floor patios have been glued.
Awesome! Robert posted lots of photos of this project on the WWG forum, from its inception up until the finished product you see in the three photos I've shown above. Be warned this link is very picture heavy but is well worth a look. Go here to read about Robert's creative process and view lots of his models as his version of Mayhem City grows.
I have often commented on my blog about the kindness of others in regards to gifts I have received since I started blogging. When I clicked on to the two links that Robert provided to see just exactly what it was that he was offering me I had to double check that this was not an April Fool's Day prank. But, of course, the offer was genuine. I am extremely grateful to Robert for contacting me and even now, I am staggered by his generosity. I did pay him more than the £25.00 he wanted for postage, but I still feel I ended up with the best part of the deal. I really am a very happy bunny and I look forward to constructing Robert's models for my own use.
Stories like this are few and far between, which is why I wanted to post this tale. As I said at the beginning, this seems like such an appropriate time to share this with you. Peace and goodwill to you all and I hope you have a very happy Christmas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Studio Miniatures Zombies 12 - Halloween Horrors

Here we have yet more zombie goodness from those fine chaps at Studio Miniatures as I take a look at their most recent offering of 28mm scale figures - Halloween Horrors.

This set consists of four figures wearing fancy dress costumes prior to being zombified. When I first saw the guy dressed up as Superman, my first thought was, do I really want to paint him as Superman? The answer was, no. He's not Superman - he's Superzombie! Painting the "Z" on his costume was far easier than painting the "S" I can tell you! Superzombie has had his right hand bitten off and has a light wound to his stomach. He was a lot of fun to paint!
Next to him is Bumble-Beeboy or Waspboy. His costume is rather bulky, suggesting he is based on the bee, but it does have a very pronounced stinger on his tail, so he could be based on a wasp. He has been savagely attacked in the stomach, where his internal organs are threatening to spill out.
Moving on, we come to the Harry Potter lookalike, probably the only one in the group most appropriately dressed for Halloween. I think he's a fantastically well sculpted figure. Yes, he is a very young looking Harry but a lot of Harry Potter fans are of that age so it does make sense. His coat has been holed in a few places but overall, he appears not to have suffered any obvious wound.
Last of all, is my favourite figure out of the group - the Playboy Bunnygirl. She might be a zombie, but she's a damned sexy-looking zombie! Playboy bunnies, mmmm! She has suffered a bite to her upper right thigh. I have coated her mouth, chin and neck in fresh blood to show that she has recently fed.
Speaking of painting, these figures and the wedding party zombie that I posted last time were the first figures that I have painted using the Wargame Foundry acrylic paints. I have switched over to them after becoming increasingly pissed off with Games Workshop's paints. I'll talk at length about this in another post, possibly my end of the month musings but for now I'd just like to say that I've become a huge fan of the Foundry paints.
These are another excellent set of zombies and all of them are perfectly sculpted. My only criticism of them is this - why are they called Halloween Horrors? I don't associate any of their costumes with Halloween, although the Harry Potter lookalike might get away with it. But the others? No way! They're just dressed in fancy dress, so why not call them Fancy Dress Freaks or something similar? For a Halloween set, I'd have expected to see them dressed as vampires, skeletons, werewolves, mummies, ghosts, witches and even zombies. That one would be quite a challenge to pull off - a zombie in a zombie costume!
This set costs £12.95, which is the same price as the Till Death Us Do Part set I reviewed last time, making it not so good value for money. Despite that, I had no hesitation in buying this set, simply because of the quality of the sculpting.
My next post would fall on Sunday, which is Christmas Day, so I'll probably post it on Christmas Eve instead. See you then.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Studio Miniatures Zombies 11 - Wedding Zeds

As a special Christmas treat to you my next two posts are going to concentrate on reviews of the latest Studio Miniatures 28mm scale zombie sets. I know that many of you agree with me that Studio Minis make the best sculpted zombies on the market. These five figures that I'm reviewing here come from their Till Death Us Do Part set.

As the name of the set indicates, what we have here is a zombified wedding party. How tragic! At the far left is the priest or minister who was supposed to marry the happy couple. I painted him as an elderly chap with grey hair. He looks to be fairly intact although I did paint on a small bite wound to his right cheek. The blood splatters on his frock are probably from other victims.
Next in line is the bride. She has a row of scratch marks on her left lower arm, a cut to her right upper arm and a deep cut to her left lower leg. She wears a silver tiara, which keeps her veil in place. There is something very sad looking about her face, but is that really surprising? What should have been the happiest day of her life has turned into her worst nightmare.
The groom has fared far worse. His left eye has been gouged out, leaving him with a bloody eye socket. That's going to spoil his looks for the wedding photographs! Whenever I paint my Studio Miniatures figures I generally copy the colour schemes that they provide on the packaging and their website. For this figure, however, I painted his clothing much darker.
For the pageboy, I totally changed his colour scheme. I painted his trousers in the same light brown as the groom's waistcoat and his shirt in the same lemon as the bridesmaid's dress, just to unify them better. The pageboy doesn't look to be wounded at all, although his head is leaning slightly to one side. I have smeared his mouth, chin and neck with blood to indicate that he has recently fed.
Finally, we come to the young bridesmaid, and again, she doesn't appear to be wounded either. I used the same technique on her as the pageboy by smearing the area around her mouth and neck with blood from one of her victims. She also has blood covering the fingers of her left hand.
This is an unusual subject to chose for a set of zombies but as you'd expect, Studio Minis have pulled it off with aplomb. My favourite figure out of the group is the bride, but to be fair, they have all been beautifully and expertly sculpted. It is always a joy to receive a new set of Studio Minis zombies because I know they are going to be a real treat to paint. So it was with this set.
My only criticism of this set is that I'd have liked to have seen even more figures included in the set; specifically, the best man, the father of the bride, the wedding photographer and maybe more family and guests. bridesmaids and pageboys.There's enough choice there to make at least two more sets.
The Till Death Us Do Part set costs £12.99 and is now only available in white metal. It looks like Studio Minis have stopped making resin versions of their zombies. What can I say about this set other than highly recommended? Next time, I'll review the Halloween Horrors by Studio Minis.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Foundry Backstreet Militia

I was quite surprised to see that I had not done a review of these five figures when I featured them in one of my first batreps for my blog. Now that one of them has joined Team Vampifan it is time to rectify that oversight and do a full review of Foundry's Street Violence set SV054 Backstreet Militia.
I'll stick with the names that I gave these characters in my ATZ scenarios, some of which are based on the names provided by Foundry. At the far left of my two photos above is Corporal Perry Kroeger. He is armed with a 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Carbine, a pistol in a holster on his left hip and a Flash Bang Grenade. He is one of four figures out of this group to wear a pair of sunglasses. As he advances, he is keeping a lookout for any signs of danger.
To his left is Corporal Steven "Shuggy" McGraw, armed with a 5.56mm Heckler and Koch 33E Assault Rifle with scopesight. He doesn't have a back-up pistol but he does have  a Flash Bang Grenade. He is standing in an "on guard" position.
In the centre of the group is Team Vampifan's latest recruit, Lieutenant Ulysses Catweazle. His primary weapon is an ATK-Heckler and Koch XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon, (OICW) with an underslung grenade launcher. He is also armed with a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5KA5 Machine Pistol and Flash Bang Grenades. Catweazle is the only one of the squad not to wear sunglasses. He is much taller than the other figures in this group and has a commanding presence about him, which is why I chose him as the team leader.
Sergeant Angela Ziskin is the first of the two females in the group. She is the team's sniper and is armed with a 7.62mm Sniper's Rifle, whose make I cannot identify. Sorry! She has no other weapons. Note that apart from Lieutenant Catweazle, they are all wearing gloves.
Finally, is Private Carrie Bryce, the rookie of the group. She has a Sniper Rifle, identical to that used by Ziskin slung over her right shoulder. Having two snipers in such a small group is very unusual. In her left hand she is wielding a 9mm Heckler and Kock MP5KA5 Machine Pistol. Note how she has reversed her cap to wear it back to front.
When I used this group in my two ATZ scenarios a few years ago I used them as a U.S. National Guard team. How you use them is entirely up to you but they make for a nice squad of military figures. If I have one minor criticism to make of them it is that I think it would be more logical for them to be armed identically with perhaps one deviation from the norm. Perhaps being a militia group they can get away with the diversity of weapons, but as I said, it's only a minor quibble. I certainly have no complaints against the quality of the sculpting or with their poses.
This set of five figures costs £10.00 on the Foundry website but if you act quickly you can get them for just £8.00 whilst the current Foundry sale lasts.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cold War Minis Corpses

A couple of months ago I mentioned in one of my Monthly Musing editorials that I'd painted two extremely rare Cold War Miniatures' 28mm scale corpses that were sculpted for their The Dead Will Walk range but never got put into production. The two I have are of the redneck in baseball cap, holding a metal club and the priest brandishing a cross.
The photo above shows the two figures that the corpses were based on. Both of the standing figures are available from set 14 - Survivors.
This photo gives you a much clearer view of what the corpses look like. You can see that these are human corpses not zombie corpses, as the brain is intact on both figures. The red-neck has been bitten in the stomach, whilst the reverend has been chewed on in his legs. I like how even in death, he retains his hold upon his cross.
Now, I should stress that these two figures are not available for sale, so don't go looking on the CWM website for them. I mentioned the story of how I got hold of them previously, but it's worth repeating again. One of my oldest followers and close friend, Roger, aka Rogzombie, wrote to CWM on my behalf. How he knew about these ultra rare figures I do not know but knowing how much I'd like them he put in a request to Richard of CWM to ask if he could let me have a set if there were any still available. Obviously, Richard did still have a set going spare and he promptly sent them off to me. He mentioned in his covering letter that he was going to make corpse figures of his five survivors but the plan fell through as he was unhappy with the quality of his sculpts. It is a shame as I think it's a great idea, given that there are far too few corpse figures available. Despite that, these two figures did have a very limited production run and that's how I ended up with them. Once again, I'd like to offer my sincere thanks to Roger and Richard for ensuring I could add these amazing figures to my collection.
Here's a photo from my last batrep that shows both corpses in situ. Oddly enough, it was the corpse that I placed in the red hatchback that attracted the most comments. I'm managing to build up a fair-sized collection of corpse figures and it is something I will continue to add to. Even if the corpses have no effect in a game, you have to admit that they make for great "set dressing" on the gaming board.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater

Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater is the second book in her As the World Dies trilogy and it's just as good as book one, The First Days. In this action-packed sequel, the survivors of the small fortified town of Ashley Oaks decide to expand their walled compound by clearing out the town's large hotel. This is a mission fraught with danger, as they all know that the hotel is populated by numerous zombies. The four main heroes of the story, Jenni, Katie, Juan and Travis, are part of the teams assigned to clear out the hotel. What follows is an unbearably tense piece of story-telling as the clearance teams search the hotel room by room and floor by floor. Not everyone makes it through alive.
Afterwards, Katie declares her love for Travis. She had been in a lesbian relationship, but when her former wife was killed by zombies on day one of the outbreak she thought she'd never love again, especially with a man. But it turns out she was actually bisexual and in a world with so much death and horror all around her, she came to the realisation that she needed Travis as much as he needed her. Ah, sweet!
Jenni and Juan had already hooked up in book one and their relationship continues to blossom in book two. What I particularly like about this series is just how well rounded the characters are. You can see character development in all of the cast, not just the four leads. When one of the supporting cast is killed it does have an emotional impact on you because these are people you care about.
The latter half of the book is taken up with dealing with the threat from bandit raiders, who strike at some of the smaller enclaves of survivors nearby to kill the menfolk and capture the females for sexual gratification and to loot the places for essential supplies. When the bandits turn their attention to Ashley Oaks, the defenders decide to fight fire with fire.
There are a couple of sub-plots worthy of mention. The town's mayor is forced to resign on the grounds of ill health and Travis is one of the two nominations put forward for the vacant post. He doesn't want the job but many feel he is the right man to become the new mayor. A second sub-plot, which remains unresolved, involves an unknown vigilante in the town who kills anyone deemed undesirable to the town's population - drug dealers and rapists, for example, get their comeuppance at his (or is it her?) hands. No doubt we'll learn his or her identity in book three. I have my own suspicion of who the vigilante is but I'll keep it to myself for now.
I mentioned in my review of The First Days the old lady called Nerit, who used to be a sniper with the Israeli Army. She really makes her presence felt in this novel as she is promoted to the town's defence chief. Her tactics for dealing with the bandit raiders are brutal but devastatingly effective. Don't mess with this old lady!
Those of you who have read book one will surely need no urging to buy this book. If you haven't read either, I can highly recommend this series to you. The story moves along at a rapid pace. It is tense, exciting, funny, harrowing and an absolute joy to read. The book retails for $14.99 or for £9.59. I bought my copy from Amazon for £8.74. it's where I buy nearly all of my books nowadays. Book three, Siege, is due for release in April 2012. I can't wait!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Foundry Thugs and Misfits

To make up for my lack of posts this past week or so I've decided to do a review of Wargame Foundry's largest set of 28mm scale Street Violence figures - BSSV001 Thugs and Misfits. This boxed set contains no fewer than 18 figures. Let's get the show on the road and have a look at them.
The soldier at the far left of the two photos above is called Ander, according to the Foundry website. Foundry have very helpfully named all of these figures, and whilst I don't like some of the names they've chosen I will use them for now for the purposes of this review. Ander is armed with a 5.56mm Colt Commando Assault Rifle. He is very well equipped with plenty of pouches, a backpack, gasmask and grenades. He is clearly a military type but the question is, is he a regular soldier or National Guard or a mercenary? Also, given the title of this set of figures, could he be a deserter?
His colleague in the centre is called Rissien. He is virtually identical to Ander apart from his choice of primary weapon. Rissien has chosen a 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Carbine, distinguishable from the Rifle by its much shorter barrel.
The last two figures in line, form part of a vignette - a sniper and her gimp slave. The sniper is called Bellatrix, whilst the gimp at her feet is called Gat. They come as a one-piece casting. They look like they ought to belong to one of the Foundry Street Girl gangs. Bellatrix is armed with the powerful .50 calibre Barrett Model 500 Sniper's Rifle. Gat is making himself useful by holding her bipod to steady the rifle. I painted Ballatrix's panties in a camo pattern, which is barely noticable as there wasn't much material to work with! Continuing the military theme, she's managed to acquire a helmet for some head protection. Gat was painted with normal acrylics but given a gloss varnish coating to achieve that shiny leather or rubber look.
This next batch of figures are the smartly dressed guys. Starting at the far left is Catigern (unusual name!), a low level thug in a black suit and red tie. He carries a 9mm pistol in his right hand and I find him a rather non-descript character.
Touko, who is standing next to him, is much more interesting. To me, he appears to have been modelled on the guy who did the water torturing to Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) in the first Lethal Weapon film. He was also one of Hans Gruber's gang in the first Die Hard film, not to mention countless other films, and almost always as a bad guy. I like the fact that he has shunned a tie to wear with his suit. A man after my own heart as I hate wearing ties! He is armed with a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5 Sub-Machine Gun.
In the centre of this group of five is Miikka, a thug with a silenced 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5SD3 Sub-Machine Gun. He is dressed casually in a polo-neck sweater and a long coat. He is leaning forward in a pose that suggests he is trying to control the recoil of his SMG as he fires it on full automatic setting.
The oriental guy to his left is called Qu and he could be a member of the Yakuza or a Triad gang. He too,  has chosen the ever-popular 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5 SMG as his weapon of choice. I'm sure the red rose in his buttonhole has some significance; I'm just not sure what!
Pattin is the name of the last figure in this group. He is firing a 5.56mm Colt Commando Assault Rifle from the shoulder. Like Qu, he is dressed in a long black coat. His red shirt (or is it a waistcoat?) makes for a nice contrast.
This next batch of figures look to be lower ranking thugs, although the guy at the far left, Ludwik, would make a very good survivor type. Yet again, we see the 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5 SMG in evidence. It sure is a popular weapon. The interesting thing about Ludwik is the flight bag he carries over his shoulder. It could contain alls sorts of useful items and not just weapons.
To his left is Hadad, a dude in a sheepskin coat and a cowboy hat. He is the first figure out of this group to be armed with a pump-action shotgun. He is leaning forward as if advancing. Actually, my figure was leaning too far forward but I was able to correct that when I stuck him on a slottabase.
The thug armed with the knife and meat cleaver goes by the name of Gamba. He's using an unusual combination of weapons, and he might be quite useful in melee combat. His greying hair shows that he's been around for a while.
Next to him is Drake, who could be Gamba's son or younger brother. He also carries a meat cleaver but also has a small pistol to give him some ranged firepower. The white vests and faded denim jeans helps to tie them together.
The last group of figures on show are all female. At the far left of the two photos above is Cammi, who looks a typical "trailer trash" girl. Rather unusual for a figure, the sculptor has made her left-handed. You don't see that very often. The pump-action shotgun she is wielding does look massive in her tiny hands and the recoil could send her flying on her ass when she fires it. But then again, maybe she's stronger than she looks.
The punk girl with the 7.62mm AK47 Assault Rifle is called Keela. After painting the flesh of her legs I gave them a Citadel Ogryn Flesh ink wash. When that was dry I drew on the fishnet pattern of her tights with a very fine nibbed Rotring technical drawing pen. Then I painted on the big holes in her tights.
I used the same technique on Isis, the lady in the centre of this group. She also has a punk vibe to her. Note her Mohican haircut. I decided to make her pump action shotgun silver-plated as a change to my usual metallic black. The metal suitcase she is carrying is worthy of note. Just what is inside it?
Taryn, who wears the blue beret, is either making a call on her mobile phone or having a draw on a cigarette. I opted for the mobile phone choice. Her 9mm Benelli M2 Sub-Machine Gun is fitted with an underslung torch. Note that she has a long knife in a sheath on her left thigh.
Finally, the last figure from this set is Louise, and she's dressed for winter in a thick padded and hooded coat. I'm not too sure what her rifle is but I'm going with a 5.56mm SIG Sauer SG540 Assault Rifle. She has a bandolier of ammo pouches slung over her left shoulder.
I am a huge fan of the Foundry Street Violence range and I was delighted to see this set released. I know that some will criticise Foundry for including so few original sculpts in this set. The majority of the figures are conversions of figures from previous sets. This does not bother me in the least but I mention it as it may influence some of you in whether they are worth buying or not.
Obviously such a large group of figures comes with a large price tag. These 18 figures would normally cost you £30. However, they are currently on sale for just £24 as part of Foundry's Christmas sale. I bought my set earlier in the year during one of Foundry's many sales. At less than £2 per week (whether bought in the sale or not) I still think they are good value for money. Although the majority of these figures will work best as Gangers, some will still work well as Survivors and Military types. With Christmas rapidly approaching I think they'd make a nice Christmas present.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Vampifan's Views 16 My Monthly Musings part 4

Vampirella by Joe Jusko. How perfect is that lion's head?
Monday the 28th of November was the day of my dad's funeral and he couldn't have asked for a better send off. Everything went so smoothly on the day and everyone was so kind. His funeral service was attended by over 200 people, a sure indication of just how well-liked and respected he was. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who left me messages of sympathy and support.
There is never a good time for anyone to die, but what made the timing of my dad's death particularly poignant is that he died on the day of his brother's birthday (sadly long dead) and it was also my birthday less than a week after he died. So this was a memorable birthday for me, but alas, for all the wrong reasons. Still, I have no complaints about the presents I received. My mum just gave me money for my birthday, so that I could buy what I wanted. I've already spent it on a big order to Miniature Heroes for a bunch of Reaper 28mm scale Chronoscape figures (9 civilians, 9 zombies and 2 killer clowns). My brother bought me the Bones series 6 DVD set. I'm a big fan of the show and of the novels by Kathy Reichs. I'd ordered a few zombie-related items for myself and they arrived shortly before my birthday. They consisted of two books and a DVD. The books were The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis and The Official Zombie Handbook (UK) by Sean T. Page. The DVD was of my all-time favourite zombie film - Dawn of the Dead by George A. Romero. Yes, I did already own a copy of this film, but when I was browsing on Amazon, I saw what has to be the ultimate version of this film - a four disc boxed set, containing the theatrical version of the film, the director's cut and the Dario Argento cut (all varying in length, with the director's cut being the most complete version). In addition, there are over 11 hours of extras on the discs (awesome!), including some very long documentaries about the film. There is also a poster and booklet included. In short, it is a fanboy's must have item and I certainly had to have it.
Obviously, a lot of my hobby work ground to a halt during the latter part of this month, but I still got a fair bit done prior to my dad's death. On the figure painting front, I finished painting 9 Studio Miniatures 28mm scale zombies from their Wedding Party and Halloween boxed sets, and 11 Foundry 28mm scale zombies, 5 of which I converted to corpses. Expect reviews of them soon. At the moment I am painting 20 Recreational Conflict 28mm scale contemporary figures - 12 civilians and 8 survivors.
I am busy working on furnishing the evidence room room for my WWG 28mm scale Mayhem City Police Station. I hope to get that room finished very soon. Next in line will be the toilets for the police station.
For the second month running I failed to get to the cinema. Ho-hum! Still, I have plenty of DVDs to watch.
I finished reading a couple of zombie novels this month. First up was Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. This was a tie-in to The Walking Dead comic series. If you've only seen the TV show, this will make little sense to you as the Governor has yet to appear. I'm thinking he'll probably appear in series 3. It was a fairly good novel right up until the last page, when the rug is pulled from under your feet. I won't spoil how it ended but it left me feeling somewhat bewildered, knowing what I do about the Governor. He is an evil and sadistic son of a bitch, with a quick temper and an unhealthy relationship with his daughter. This is primarily a book for fans of the comic.
The second book that I read was Fighting to Survive by Rhiannon Frater and it was excellent. This was part two of her As the World Dies trilogy and I'll do a full review of it very soon.
I am currently reading Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry, one of my favourite authors. It's a zombie novel but it is not part of the Joe Ledger series.
Earlier this month I bought and downloaded about 20 Microtactix 28mm scale card buildings from their Twilight Streets sets. Yet more buildings to add to my Mayhem City project. When will I find the time to make them all? I also received a fantastic offer from Robert, one of my followers from Germany, which I'd like to talk about at some length in a future post. I've mentioned the kindness of others before but this offer may just be the most amazing yet. Robert, if you're reading this, thanks very much. I still can't get over what you sent me!
On that happy but somewhat cryptic note, I'll wrap up. It is great to get back to blogging again but I know you'll understand why I had to take an enforced break.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Vampifan's Views 15 End of an Era

No, I'm not early for my end of the month musings. This is a special and rather poignant posting to let you know that my father died yesterday. He was 81 and had not been in good health this last year. I was with him in hospital when he died and I have honestly, never seen a more peaceful death. He was sleeping when my mum and I visited him for the last time. The hospital minister joined us soon after and shortly after the minister led us in prayer dad just stopped breathing. it was as if he knew it was his time. I have heard that your hearing is the last sense to go, so maybe he hung on until our prayers were over.
Obviously, I'm sorry he has gone, but because of his condition his death was not unexpected. I am feeling quite calm and serene but I have a load of things to do and people to call so forgive me if my blog takes a back seat until after the funeral is over.
I am blessed with the best friends and neighbours any one could wish for, so I will pull through this but my mum is going to take a lot longer to recover. Fortunately, she has me to look after her and I will be strong. I just need some time away from the computer to do what has to be done. I'll try to resume normal service as soon as possible. In the meantime, thanks for listening.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

My ATZ Campaign - Day 59 - Meeting the Media Part 2

I left Part 1 of this batrep just as a group of zombies entered the general store that Team Vampifan were about to leave. Show time!

TURN 11.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 1
The appearance of the zombies forced Team Vampifan to take an In Sight Test. Vampifan and Lieutenant Catweazle passed 2d6 and could open fire as normal. Gap and Simon McQuarrie, the cameraman, only passed 1d6, so if they fired it would be classed as a snapfire. They decided not to. The other three team members were hidden behind one of the shelves and couldn't see the zombies. So Vampifan and the lieutenant fired three round bursts at the horde with their Assault Rifles. They hit and killed two apiece.
I rolled 6d6 for zombie reinforcements because of the gunfire from Vampifan and Catweazle. Only one zombie turned up, at the back of the house closest to the general store.
 TURN 12.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 4
The last two zombies out of the group of six charged at Vampifan and Catweazle. Both men passed 2d6 on the Being Charged Test and were able to fire before the zombies reached them. A single shot from each of them was enough to hit and kill the zombie pair.

The remaining zombie moved round the back corner of the house, attracted by the sound of gunfire.
I rolled 2d6 for zombie reinforcements but none appeared.
TURN 13.   Activation - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 4
Vampifan stepped outside and immediately spotted the zombie lurking in the alley between the house and the store. He fired once and blew a huge hole in the back of the zombie's head. Instant kill!
 The rest of Team Vampifan moved along to the front door of the nearest house.
 I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements and one appeared across the road by the lamp post.
 TURN 14.   Activation - Vampifan = 3, Zombies = 4
The zombie shuffled halfway across the road, emitting a loud moan.

"I'll get him!" Jamie exclaimed, before anyone else could react. She raised her.44 Magnum and fired twice. One bullet went too wide but her second shot was bang on target and burst through the zombie's wide open mouth out the back of his skull in a spray of blood and pieces of bone and brain matter.
"Good shooting!" Vampifan complimented her.
Lieutenant Catweazle led the way into the first house, whose front door was unlocked. The Risks and Rewards card revealed that it was occupied by two zombies but that no Resources were available.
The zombies moved to attack Catweazle and Big Sil. Sadly for the zombies, they lost the Surprise Test, which allowed Catweazle and Big Sil to open fire before the zombies reached them. Catweazle killed his opponent with a single shot. However, Big Sil could only manage a Knock Down result with his shot. Still, it was enough to prevent the zombie from attacking this turn.
I rolled 4d6 for zombie reinforcements and one arrived on board just next to the red Peugeot 206 parked further up the street. For some inexplicable reason I forgot to take a photo of its arrival. Sorry, my bad!
 TURN 15. Activation = Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 1
Team Vampifan finished exploring downstairs and began to climb the staircase to the next floor. Big Sil used his rifle butt to stave in the skull of the zombie he'd knocked down.

Here is the zombie reinforcement from last turn. He moved away from the Peugeot towards the house currently occupied by Team Vampifan, drawn by the sound of gunfire from within.
 TURN 16.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 6
The zombie could not activate this turn. The upstairs of the house was devoid of humans or zombies, but, as can be seen by the Risks and Rewards card, a Shotgun Recource was there to be found and this time it was Vampifan who found the Resource.

TURN 17.   Activation - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 4
The lone zombie shuffled closer to the house with the wide open front door.
 Team Vampifan moved back downstairs with Gap leading the way.
 TURN 18.   Activation - Vampifan = 2, Zombies = 3
The zombie took one step inside the house, prompting an In Sight Test from Gap. He passed 2d6 and fired once at the intruder, hitting him and scoring an Obviously Dead result.

Gap led the way outside the house and began to move to the house next door.
I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements but none appeared this turn.
TURN 19.   Activation - Vampifan = 5, Zombies = 5
Normally when rolling doubles for Activation you have to reroll the dice. However, this time I kept the scores because there were no zombies on the board so for the most part the dice rolls were irrelevant. A double six or double one would have been a different matter. Big Sil overtook Gap to check the front door of the second house and found it unlocked.
TURN 20.   Activation - Vampifan = 4, Zombies = 2
Big Sil took point duty in the house and found it occupied by a solitary male zombie lurking in the kitchen. The Risks and Rewards card revealed that there was a Fuel Resource waiting to be found. Gap found it hidden underneath the dinner table.
Big Sil beat the obese zombie for Surprise and fired a single round into his chest, which only succeeded in the zombie being Knocked Down.
The zombie used his turn to stand back up.
I rolled 1d6 for zombie reinforcements but none turned up.
TURN 21.   Activation - Vampifan = 6, Zombies = 4
Big Sil drew his combat knife and charged at the zombie, easily passing 2d6 on the Wanting to Charge Test. The combat was short and brutal and very one-sided as the hairy biker decapitated the zombie with a swift cut to the neck.
"Now stay dead!" he grumbled, as he wiped the blood from his blade on a kitchen towel.
Catweazle led Jamie and the news crew upstairs. Vampifan and Gap remained downstairs with Big Sil.
TURN 22. Activation - Vampifan = 1, Zombies = 3
The Risks and Rewards card showed that there was nothing to be found on the upper level of the house.
"It's all clear here," Catweazle said in his deep voice for the benefit of the three survivors downstairs.
This seemed like a good point to draw a close to the scenario. There were no more zombies left on the board and Vampifan did not want to push his luck by exploring the last two houses. The team moved outside of the house via the kitchen door. At this point, Simon and Jenny, the news team, headed off in the opposite direction to Team Vampifan. Both groups wished each other good luck and hoped they'd meet up again sometime soon.
Incidentally, you can find full rules for using a media team in your games on pages 28 and 29 of the ATZ supplement "Haven." If the couple had remained with Team Vampifan I would have used the rules to assess if they were eligible for a Rep increase.
Speaking of Rep increases, Vampifan, Big Sil, Gap and Jamie were all eligible for a Rep increase. They'd all killed at least one zombie apiece, none of them had Hunkered Down or gone Out Of the Fight and they'd all found one Resource - a Shotgun for Vampifan, Medical Supplies for Big Sil, Fuel for Gap and Food for Jamie. Sadly, I did not roll high enough for any of them to gain a new Rep level. Ho-hum!
Acquiring Lieutenant Catweazle as a new team member was ample enough reward for them. Originally, he was a Rep:5 Star, who after his second scenario, adavanced to Rep:6. I have considered keeping his Star status but definitely not his higher Rep. A lot could have happened to him in the month since I first introduced him. Perhaps the loss of his colleagues accounted for his Rep decrease. Having two Stars in Team Vampifan may seem like overkill but they are a growing group and this ensures that I will always have a Star to lead the group if one of them stays behind to guard their base.
In all likelihood, this will be my last campaign batrep of 2011, so all I can say is, roll on 2012!