Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Vampifan's Views 20 My Monthly Musings part 7

A sultry Vampirella by Joe Jusko
No question about the big news this month - I have finished making my World Works Games 28mm scale Mayhem City Police Station. It has taken me well over a year to make it  and whilst making it I lost my card-modelling mojo as I found that making so much furniture for it became such a chore that I couldn't face making any more. Fortunately, I got my mojo back and was more determined than ever to get this sucker finished. Just over a week ago I completed it.
I am sure there are two questions you'd like answering and the first and most important one will no doubt be, when can we see it? The answer to that is very soon. I'll be photographing it later on today. So, I'll probably post part one of my review this Sunday. Given that it is such a large building I will have to split my review into two parts. The review will be very heavy on photos and it just makes sense to split the review into two posts.I imagine that part one will cover the exterior plus the interiors of the upper two floors. Part two will cover the interior of the ground floor.
The second question I'm envisaging is, what are you going to make next? That's fairly easy. I've started work on making four WWG police patrol cars. I don't have any and now that I have the police station I want some patrol cars to go with it. After I've made them I shall make another building, but at this moment I don't know what exactly. I have so many to choose from. I want to make them all but I can only make one at a time. I do have a shortlist of what I'd like to make and I'll probably make a decision in the next few days.
Alas, my figure painting has very much taken a back seat this month, as I so much wanted to finish making my police station. You can't blame me for making that my number one priority. So I spent more time modelling than painting and only managed to finish painting one figure out of twenty - a Eureka 28mm scale Victorian schoolboy. He has been tucked away with my WW2 civilians, as he fits in well with them. So, still sitting on my desk are 4 West Wind bikers, 4 West Wind vampire rock stars, 4 West Wind zombie rock fans, 2 Battle Bunker zombies, 4 Studio Minis mutant zombies and a Studio Minis Santa survivor. They are almost finished, so I should get them done within a week.
This figure that you  see to the right of here and further down is my Horrorclix SWAT Trooper that I recently converted. He first appeared in my review of the RAFM SWAT Troopers that I posted a week ago. I cut off his rocket launcher and replaced it with a Foundry 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun. It was a simple conversion, because being made of plastic made the removal of his original weapon very easy. I wish all conversions were this easy.
Moving on to other news now, I am currently reading Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris. This is the 12th volume of the Sookie Stackhouse series - the books that the TV series, True Blood, is based on. I finished reading two zombie books earlier this month - Zombies - a Record of the Year of Infection by Dr. Robert Twombly and Can You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier. Both were good reads and I may do a full review of them soon.
Whilst I am on the subject of books, I'd like to tell you that when I reviewed Domain of the Dead and Remains of the Dead by Iain McKinnon a couple of weeks ago, I received a number of comments from the author, which I must admit did surprise me, as my review was far from complimentary. Still, fair play to Iain, he was very kind and courteous and we struck up a converstion that went on longer than I could have imagined. I mention this because his comments appeared a good while after I had posted my review, meaning hardly anyone will have read them. So, if you want to see our chat just go back to my review of his books and click on "comments." Anyone who collects e-books will be particularly interested in his fourth comment. I must admit that I have a much greater respect for Iain after our chat.
Film news now, and I saw two films at the cinema this month - The Muppets and One For The Money. Okay, I confess, I am a huge fan of the Muppets. I have been ever since they first appeared on TV. This new movie made me laugh, made me cry and kept me entertained from start to finish. What more can you ask of a movie? One For The Money got slagged by the film critics but I didn't care. The film is based on the first Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich. I happen to be a big fan of the Stephanie Plum series and so I wanted to see if the film did the book justice. Well, in my opinion it did, and once again, I was thoroughly entertained. Which just goes to prove what I always say about films - the only critic that counts is yourself!
Well, that's a wrap for this month. I'm hoping to get a game of ATZ played towards the end of March. That's something I'm very much looking forward to. I can tell you now that the police station will NOT be appearing in that scenario but will feature prominently in the one after it. Take care, folks!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Heroclix SWAT Troopers

I was going to review some West Wind SWAT troopers today but I've decided to keep them for a later date (although not too late) and instead have a look at my Heroclix 35mm scale SWAT troopers. Way back in the past when Heroclix was in its infancy their sets contained superheroes, supervillains and non-super types, like cops, criminals, ninjas, etc. The figures I'm reviewing today come from the first couple of Heroclix sets that were released.

Only one of these figures is not a conversion, and he's the trooper at the far left of my two photos above. He is dramatically posed, leaning back as he fires his 5.56mm Colt M16A2 Assault Rifle from the shoulder. This rifle is standard issue with the Washington DC Emergency Response Team (ERT). In addition to normal SWAT operations, the ERT assists U.S. Secret Service with presidential and VIP functions and transportation, including crowd control. Assuming he is an ERT operative, his pistol would be a 9mm SIG-Sauer P226.
Trooper 2 has had a leg and body swap with trooper 5. In every other respect he is identical to Trooper 1, although I have painted him as an African-American.
Trooper 3 was originally armed with a Big Ass Pistol in his left hand. I decided to cut it off and give him a large entry shield, which are much bigger and more robust than riot shields. I remodelled his left arm with Milliput modelling putty. His entry shield is a spare one that I got from Foundry Figures. Foundry always include spare small items with their Street Violence blister packs, like guns, shields, traffic cones, chainsaws, etc. With the amount of Street Violence packs that I bought, I soon amassed a nice collection of parts for my bits box. Every modeller needs at least one bits box! The grenade that this trooper is about to throw could be a Flash-Bang Grenade, Smoke Grenade or a Tear Gas Grenade. It most definitely won't be a High Explosive Grenade!
Trooper 4 utilises the legs from Trooper 1 and the body from Trooper 5. The sculptor had given him a riot shield, which I did not like, so I replaced it with one of my Foundry entry shields. This means that all of my shield carrying SWAT Troopers are identically equipped.  He is wielding his baton aggressively over his head. I also painted him as an African-American to further distinguish him from Trooper 5. Note that because of the leg swap, I was unable to save his sniper's rifle, slung across his back, so that got cut off.
The only conversion that I made to Trooper 5 was to replace his riot shield with a Foundry entry shield. His sniper's rifle is the 7.62mm Remington 700 and you can see it slung across his back, out of the way, as he wades in with baton and shield.
These are quite dramatically posed. They certainly are heroically scaled, (they stand about 33mm tall measuring from the soles of their feet to the tops of their heads) which will put some of you off them. However, scale-wise, they do fit in well with the RAFM SWAT Team and with the Foundry SWAT Teams. I like tham a lot and I do like the idea of having enough troopers to form a four man team of shield carrying troopers. The fourth person in this team appears in the Foundry SWAT Team Suppression set (Trooper Harris). 
Sadly, these figures are now long out of production but they may crop on the likes of e-Bay or other online auction sites. Good luck on hunting them down if you really want them.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

RAFM SWAT Troopers

I'm still sticking with the theme of SWAT Troopers for my figures reviews and this time I turn the spotlight on RAFM's output from their 28mm scale USX range. Also in this review is an old Horrorclix figure, who seemed to fit in so well with these figures that I've included him here.

At the far left of the two photos above is RAF02806 "The Man" - SWAT Team Leader. He is talking into his headset radio and is armed with a 5.56mm Colt M4A1 Assault Carbine. Holstered on his right hip is a 9mm Glock 19 Pistol. "The Man" is quite an imposing figure and stands 35mm tall, measured from the sole of his feet to the top of his head.
Standing next to him is RAF02807 Flanagan - SWAT Team Sergeant. Flanagan is armed and equipped in an identical manner to "The Man" but his carbine has a scopesight fitted to it. I can only assume that Flanagan and "The Man" are bare-headed to make them stand out as team leaders. It makes little sense for them not to wear some form of head protection.
Next in line is RAF02837 SWAT Sniper. His arms and rifle were separate castings and had to be glued in place. His sniper rifle is the 7.62mm Robar SR-60, which is built on the Remington 700 Sniper Rifle. He wears his baseball cap back to front so that the peak doesn't interfere with the scopesight.
The last figure in line is a Horrorclix Field Agent from the original set. This is the Experienced version armed with a disposable rocket launcher. I really ought to replace it with an MP5A SMG or a CAR15 Assault Carbine. He is a very tall and slim figure and scalewise he fit in so well with this range that I keep him as part of my RAFM SWAT crew. Note the five grenades strung across his back. They're probably smoke or tear gas grenades.

These next four figures come from set RAF02808 SWAT Grunts. At the far left is a trooper with a 12 gauge Benelli M1 Pump-Action Shotgun. Note the pistol grip under the slide. His 9mm Glock 19 Pistol is holstered high on his right hip.
Next to him, in a very similar pose is a trooper armed with a 9mm Heckler and Kock MP5A Sub-Machine Gun. Unlike his partner to his right, he does not wear a gasmask. I painted his flesh areas slightly darker than normal to represent a hispanic male... or maybe he's just well tanned.
Third in line is the second trooper to be armed with the 9mm MP5A SMG. He is in a more dramatic pose and is firing his weapon from the shoulder.
Last of all is a trooper firing his 9mm Glock 19 Pistol in a two-handed grip for extra stability. He has his MP5A SMG slung over his back. He wears a Nomex hood but no gasmask.
These are nicely sculpted figures but there are two things that might put some of you off purchasing them. First up is their height. Although RAFM describe this range as being 28mm scale, the reality is that they are closer to 35mm scale. This means that they stand head and shoulders above true 28mm scale figures. I couldn't care less about a few millimetres difference in heights but I know that it is an issue that concerns some of you, so be warned.
The second point that may be a stickler for some of you is their price. These figures are not the cheapest on the market. The SWAT Leader, Sergeant and Sniper cost $4.95 each. The SWAT Grunts are better value at $11.95 for all four figures. The Horrorclix Field Agent is, sadly, long out of production but can still be found on various on-line auction sites like e-Bay.
EDIT: Shortly after posting this I removed the Horrorclix figures rocket launcher and replaced it with an MP5A SMG. He looks much more like a SWAT Trooper now.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Copplestone Castings HRT Troopers

My last figure review featured a group of Foundry SWAT Troopers painted up as a Hostage Rescue Team (HRT), the SWAT branch of the FBI. Sticking with the HRT theme I'm going to review the Copplestone Castings' set FW1 Hostage Rescue Squad from their range of 28mm scale Future Wars figures.
Unlike the Foundry figures, these guys are not given names and I haven't got round to naming them yet, so I'll just have to identify them as Troopers 1-5 going from left to right.
At the far left of my two photos, Trooper 1 is standing partially crouched down and carrying a 12 Gauge SGT Tactical Response model 90102 Pump-Action Shotgun. SGT (Scattergun Technologies) produces a range of customised shotguns by modifying off-the-shelf Remington weapons. This model, adopted by the FBI, is based on the Model 870 Pump-Action Shotgun. His back-up pistol will be the .45 Springfield SRP Bureau Pistol. Note that all of these troopers are also armed with daggers.
Trooper 2 is in an advancing pose and is armed identically to Trooper 1.
Trooper 3 is standing on guard and he is armed with the 10mm Heckler and Koch MP5/10A3 Sub-Machine Gun, the default weapon of the HRT. The fact that it is a heavier calibre weapon than the standard 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A used by most SWAT Teams makes no difference in a game like All Things Zombie but if I was playing GURPS, for example, it certainly would make a difference.
Trooper 4 is similarly armed and he has been sculpted in a more animated pose than Trooper 3. Troopers 3,4 and 5 are also armed with .45 Springfield SRP Bureau Pistols and daggers.
Trooper 5 also carries the MP5/10A3 SMG and he has been depicted firing it from the shoulder.
In many ways these figures are better than the Foundry SWAT teams I've shown recently. For starters, they are all armed with standard issue firearms. Secondly, they are all male, which reflects real life more accurately. Thirdly, they are a lot cheaper than Foundry. This set costs just £8.50 for all five figures. Compare that with the £10.00 for five figures that Foundry is asking for.
Just out of interest, anyone setting a game in the U.K. could very easily use these figures as SAS troopers. Now there's a thought!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Domain of the Dead/Remains of the Dead by Iain McKinnon

I've never reviewed two books at once before but in this instance the decision to is fully justified. Once again, we're in zombie apocalypse territory. This time the story is set three years after the outbreak began. Domain of the Dead, which is the first in this mini-series, opens with a small group of survivors holed up in a large food warehouse, where they have remained throughout the apocalypse. They are surrounded by a vast horde of flesh-eating zombies and they have almost run out of food. The heroine of the novel, Sarah, is contemplating suicide, when she hears an unfamiliar sound. A helicopter has appeared and landed in their city, not far away from their location. She persuades the others in her party that their best hope of salvation is to make contact with the occupants of the helicopter. As they fight their way through the zombie horde some of them don't make it. Those that do find a small team of five military personnel. The soldiers are friendly and offer to help transport the survivors away from the zombie-infested city. But there is one big problem - the helicopter has a very limited passenger capacity and will only hold four passengers - five if a child sits on the lap of an adult. One of the soldiers, Bates, refuses to give up his seat. Another soldier, Angel, a female sniper was wounded and she had to return for medical attention. That left two seats. Sarah, her friend Nathan and young child, Jennifer are chosen to ride in the chopper.
It takes them to a research ship miles out at sea. The ship's doctor gives them a thorough examination and explains what has been going on in the world during the past three years. Humanity is surviving but the zombies vastly outnumber the living. They are introduced to the ship's captain and to the chief scientist, Cutler, who don't see eye to eye. Here we have a situation inspired by Romero's film Day of the Dead with the captain and scientist at loggerheads. Heck, the captain even calls the scientist "Dr. Frankenstein" just as Captain Rhodes did with Professor Logan in Day of the Dead.
On that very day when the newcomers arrive, Cutler makes a scientific breakthrough in finding a cure for the zombie disease. However, it proves to be anything but and when he injects himself with it, he soon turns into a zombie. In no time at all the ship is overrun with zombies, leaving just Sarah, Nathan, Jennifer and the two soldiers from the helicopter, Bates and Angel to fend for themselves in a desperate situation.
The sequel, Remains of the Dead, tells the story of the two soldiers, Lieutenant Cahz and Cannon the machine gunner, who were left behind with survivors Ryan, Elspeth and a baby girl. Another survivor, Ali, is separated from them but he manages to survive on his own. The two groups find refuge in abandoned buildings not far from each other. Cahz knows that the helicopter will return for them but that it will take many hours for it to reach the ship, get refuelled and return. Elspeth gave up her place on the helicopter because she was bitten whilst fleeing from the warehouse. She knows she'll die soon, so that is why she chose to stay behind.
Just as Ali and the others make contact, Cahz's group is forced to flee when their hideout is threatened by a neighbouring fire. Cahz leads Cannon, Ryan and the baby out of the city towards the coast in the hope of contacting the helicopter as it flies in, or if they miss it, when it flies back out. Things do not go well for either group but to say anymore will be to give away too much of the plot.
I really wanted to like these novels, as they had both garnered many positive reviews on Amazon, which is where I bought them. But sadly, I have to say, I was very disappointed with them. Once again, both books are blighted with numerous spelling mistakes, bad grammar and poor layout with sentences breaking up in the middle of a line before continuing on the next line. Whoever edited and proofread these books did a very poor job of it!
Secondly, I found the characters to be unsympathetic and I couldn't really care whether they lived or died. All of the lead characters in both books suffer.. a lot! Fair enough, in a zombie apocalypse people do suffer, but McKinnon really puts everyone through the wringer, both physically and emotionally. It just got too much for me.
Thirdly, there is a science lesson given by Doctor Robertson, Cutler's assistant, girlfiend and the person who examines Sarah, Nathan and Jennifer in the middle of the book as she tries to explain the zombie outbreak. It is long-winded and totally unnecessary. it just so happens that Sarah was a science student, so she understands most of the gobbledigook that Robertson spouts.
Fourthly, I was amazed at how quickly the infection spread on the research ship in Domain of the Dead. In no time at all a crew of about 100 are wiped out and transformed into zombies. I'm sorry, but I just couldn't buy that at all. Especially not when just under half the crew were military personnel.
Finally, is the ending of both books. I won't say much because I don't want to spoil them for you but be warned, the endings are bleak. Plus, when you read about what happens at the end of Domain of the Dead you know that there is no way that Remains of the Dead can have a happy ending. I must admit that my judgement of Remains was very much influenced by me not enjoying Domain. I suspected it would be more more of the same and it was, although if anything it is even bleaker.
As I said earlier, a lot of readers rate this series very highly, so maybe I'm in the minority for disliking them. I don't know if you've noticed, but I've added a number of page tabs to the top of my blog. One of them is for book reviews. I mark my film reviews with scores out of ten but I never rated my book reviews. Until now. If you click on the Book Reviews tab you'll see my ratings for every book I've reviewed so far. Up till now, all of my book reviews have been very favourable. Not so for this pair, however. I'll give them both a score of 4 out of 10.
They are printed by Permuted Press and cost me £10.95 each from Amazon's website. Not good value for money, I felt!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Foundry SWAT Troopers 03

For my third and final look at the Foundry 28mm scale SWAT Teams I'll be reviewing set SV056 SWAT Team Shadow and the bonus figure, Sergeant Hall, whom I received for ordering the "Into the Streets Collection" when they were first launched in the 1990's.
You'll immediately see that I've done something different with this set - they are all wearing black uniforms and black armour. These are not police SWAT troopers but FBI Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) officers. Their function is broadly similar to that of SWAT but they often get involved in higher-profile operations across a much wider geographic area. HRT are headquartered in Quantico, Virginia, and maintains nine tactical teams spread across the United States.
 At the far left of my two photos above is Bomber (names supplied by the Foundry team) who is firing a .45 Springfield M1911-A1 Bureau Pistol (standard issue for HRT and LAPD SWAT). He has a 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Carbine slung over his right shoulder (this is not standard issue).
To the left of him is Tweedy, a female operative, who is armed with the 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5KA5 Machine Pistol. She also has a .45 Springfield Bureau Pistol in a holster on her right hip.
The big guy in the centre of the group is Bone (stupid name!), who is armed with the 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, which, as I have commented on before, would never be issued to any SWAT Team or police force. This is a weapon for military operations and would only be issued to military personnel.
Next in line is Del'Orto, who is supposed to be female but who could be mistaken for a short male. She is armed with a 10mm Heckler and Koch MP5/10A3 Sub-Machine Gun, which is standard issue amongst FBI SWAT teams and is a slightly larger calibre than normal SWAT Teams' 9mm MP5A SMGs. His back-up weapon is the .45 Springfield Bureau Pistol.
The final figure in this group is Roddy, and he too, is armed with the MP5/10A3 SMG and .45 Springfield Bureau Pistol. He is posed in a firing position.
The final figure that I want to show you from the Foundry Street Violence SWAT Teams range is Sergeant Kevin Hall. This figure came as a freebie if you ordered the first eight sets from this range, but sadly he is no longer available. Still, I show him just for completeness, plus, some of you may be lucky enough to own him. His primary weapon is the 12 Gauge Ithaca Model 37 Pump-Action Shotgun, to which he has fitted an underslung tactical torch. If he is from NYPD SWAT, his back-up pistol will be a 9mm Glock 19, but if he is from LAPD, it will be a .45 Kimber Custom II Pistol (similar to the .45 Colt Government Pistol). I can't remember why I painted the word "POLICE" on his back, as I didn't on any of my other Foundry SWAT Teams.
If you like the previous Foundry SWAT Teams that I've reviewed recently, you'll surely like these. Of course, there's no reason why you couldn't paint them all in the same uniform colours to make a very large force of 25 figures (26 if you include Sergeant Hall). I just wanted to do something different with set SV056 SWAT Team Shadow, which is why I decided to paint them up as FBI HRT operatives. This set retails for £10.00 for all five figures. 
I was asked recently how many police figures I own and I wasn't too sure but I knew it was more than 100. So I counted them all and the total came to 160. Here is the breakdown -
U.K. and U.S. Detectives = 48
U.K. Street Cops = 15
U.S. Street Cops = 32
SWAT Troopers = 48
HRT Troopers = 17
That's more than enough for my needs but I wouldn't bet against me adding to those numbers!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Foundry SWAT Troopers 02.

Here we have the next two sets of SWAT Troopers from Foundry's 28mm scale Street Violence range - SV021 SWAT Team Suppression and SV028 SWAT Team Hammer.
The photos directly above and below this caption show the figures from set SV021 SWAT Team Suppression. Note that these are not new sculpts but conversions of the figures in the two sets that I reviewed last time. All five have had head swaps and are now wearing helmets and gasmasks. Note that I have painted this team and four out of the five in the next team with gloves on.
At the far left of these two photos is Connors. As before, I'll use the names given to them by the chaps at Foundry to identify them. He is firing a .44 Desert Eagle Pistol and has a 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Rifle slung over one shoulder. As I mentioned last time, neither of these weapons are standard issue SWAT firearms.
Next up is Dell, a female officer. In addition to the head swap, Foundry have made one other change to this conversion and it's an important one. Dell is firing her 9mm MP5KA5 Machine Pistol correctly, unlike Officer Lords, the figure she's based upon, who was firing it "gangsta-style" to one side. It's just a simple alteration but it's one that I approve of.
Standing a good bit taller than his colleagues is Bleach, who appears to have raided a military armoury and got himself a 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. SWAT Teams do not possess SAWs and have nothing heavier than Assault Rifles in their arsenal. Please take note, Foundry!
I have no complaints about the fourth figure in line. This is Dean, who is holding his 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun at the shoulder. Most SWAT forces use the MP5A SMG as their primary weapon, although some forces replace it with the 5.56mm Colt Commando CAR15 Assault Rifle.
Last in line is Harris, another female officer, although it is hard to tell. This is my favourite figure out of this set, as she has been very cleverly converted by giving her an entry shield (entry shields are much larger than riot shields). I just love how she is resting the barrel of her 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A SMG on the top lip of her shield for extra stability.
These next two photos, shown above and below, feature the five figures from set SV028 SWAT Team Hammer. Apart from one figure, these are also conversions from SWAT Team Alpha nad SWAT Team Takedown.
Leading this group at the far left of my two photos is the only unique figure in these two sets, i.e. he isn't a conversion of a figure from the first two sets. This is Sergeant Baker and he is a two-piece casting. His bullhorn is a separate component that had to be glued in place. He is not wearing his gasmask, presumably to make using the bullhorn that much easier. He holds a 12 gauge Ithaca Model 37 Pump-Action Shotgun in his right hand with the butt resting on his right hip. The shotgun has a small tactical torch fitted just beneath the barrel.
To his immediate left is Rosina, another female officer. She is equipped as standard and is a rather average figure. She's not badly sculpted but nothing about her is outstanding.
Next up is Scott. I dunno if that's his Christian name or surname. He carries a one-man ram (heavier ones require two men to use) used for breaking down doors. Rams are colloquially called "keys" by many teams. Replacing the SAW with a Ram is a good choice and more in keeping with a SWAT Team. So, another good conversion by Foundry and I'd nominate Scott as my favourite figure out of this set.
Taff is the fourth figure in line and she is yet another female officer but I wouldn't blame you if you made her male. I mentioned last time that female operatives are exceedingly rare in SWAT Teams and yet Foundry have made four in these two sets of ten. That's far too many! Taff is firing her 9mm MP5A SMG from the shoulder.
The final figure in this group is Beale and he is armed with a single round 37mm Grenade Launcher. Its most likely munitions are a plastic baton round, or a tear gas or smoke canister. It's an interesting choice of weapon but not out of place in a SWAT team.
You'll notice that I've painted these in the same colour schemes that I gave to SWAT Team Alpha and SWAT Team Takedown, featured last time. This means that I can combine all four sets to make a very large contigent of SWAT troopers.
If you order these sets from Foundry they retail at £10.00 per set for five figures. I must admit that I'm a big fan of Foundry's Street Violence range. Their figures are just perfect for using in a zombie apocalypse campaign.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Foundry SWAT Troopers 01

One set of figures that Foundry make a lot of for their Street Violence range are SWAT Teams. I'll be reviewing all five sets over the next week or so, starting with set SV011 SWAT Team Alpha and set SV012 SWAT Team Takedown.
These five figures are from set SV011 SWAT Team Alpha. All of my SWAT Troopers have navy blue uniforms and helmets with black body armour, elbow pads, knee pads and boots. Firearms are painted in metallic black.
 I'll use the names given to these figures by the Foundry team to identify them. Starting at the far left of the two photos above is Riggs, who is aiming a .44 Desert Eagle pistol in a two-handed grip. This is not a normal police-issued weapon. Slung over his right shoulder is a 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Rifle. Again, this is not standard issue amongst SWAT Teams.
Next in line is Lords. It is true that females are allowed to join SWAT but their numbers are very limited. In 2000, they made up a mere 0.5% of the total workforce. Frequently they are used as hostage negotiators or in crisis management. A disproportionate number of the Foundry SWAT figures are female. Lords is firing a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5KA5 Machine Pistol "gangsta-style," i.e. held to one side.
In the centre of this group is the extremely large Cook, armed with a 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, also known as the FN MINIMI. This is most definitely heavier than anything that SWAT Teams currently have in their armouries. It would seem that Foundry are taking some dramatic licence here!
Next up is Beck, wearing her baseball cap back to front. She is armed with the standard SWAT firearm - the ubiquitous 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun. This is standard issue to all SWAT Teams.
Finally, we have Ed the SWAT Team sniper. He is armed with a 7.62mm Remington M24 Sniper Rifle. He wears a Nomex hood with a set of night-vision goggles perched atop of his head.
These five figures are from set SV012 SWAT Team Takedown and all are identically armed and armoured.
At the far left of my next two photos is Frank. All of his team are wearing helmets over their Nomex hoods. Nomex is a fire-retardant material. His primary weapon is the 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun and he carries a 9mm Glock 19 Pistol in a holster as back-up.
From left to right the other four are Johnny V, Tesh, Kelly and Kathy. Note that Kelly and Kathy are female. I normally like to see females as part of a group but in this case I do think that Foundry have over-compensated.
I learnt a lot of useful information about SWAT Teams from the GURPS SWAT supplement, which ties in with GURPS Cops to form a pair of excellent supplements on all things police. Whether you like GURPS or not, there is no denying that their books are jam-packed with useful information usable in any game. This following quote from GURPS SWAT should give you a clear indication of what SWAT is and isn't - 
"Cops, not Soldiers"
"SWAT officers are ultimately law enforcement personnel, not soldiers. They follow strict guidelines that dictate when and how to apply force of any kind, but especially deadly force. They are under the same restrictions as "regular" cops, and the GM should not hesitate to dole out appropriate in-game discipline for officers who insist on pushing the limits."
"The goal of any SWAT operation is peaceful resolution whenever possible. Crisis situations should end in the arrest - not the death - of any suspects, making SWAT operations especially difficult for the individual officer. He must identify threats, order compliance and attempt to resolve the situation without resorting to deadly force unless absolutely necessary."
I think a lot of gamers are guilty of treating SWAT Teams as the paramilitary wing of the police and shoot first and ask questions later. However, having said that, if you're using SWAT officers against a zombie horde then survival becomes the number one priority and in this case I'd say that deadly force is "absolutely necessary!"
These two sets, containing five figures each are a worthy addition to any contemporary gamer's collection. They retail at £10.00 per set. Even though they come with too many females and the fact that SWAT Team Alpha has too many non-standard weaponry, I can still recommend them.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Vampifan's Views 19 My Monthly Musings part 6

Vampirella by Joe Jusko. Note his name on the gravestone.
Seeing as I normally post my monthly musings at the end of the month I should have posted this yesterday but, hey, I'm a day late. So what? January was a very busy month for me. On the figure painting front, I have finished 12 Black Cat Bases 28mm scale African-American gangstas (5 males, 5 females and 2 mascot dogs), 4 Recreational Conflict 28mm scale survivors and 2 Battle Bunker 28mm scale zombies. On my desk at the moment are the following 20 figures - 4 West Wind bikers, 4 West Wind vampire rock stars, 4 West Wind zombie rockers, 4 Studio Minis Left 4 Dead zombies, 1 Studio Minis Hogan the Santa survivor, 2 more Battle Bunker zombies and 1 Eureka Victorian schoolboy.
Good news for those of you wanting to see my WWG Mayhem City Police Station - the end is in sight. All being well I hope to finish it this month. Yeehaa! I've been making a lot of office furniture for it and I have just five rooms to decorate - four detectives' offices and the large squad room. I only have a bunch of book shelves to make and then I'll be able to complete all four detectives' offices. The squad room will be the last to get made but fortunately, I already have a lot of the furniture for it already constructed. This has been a mammoth project, by far the largest card building I've ever made. I can't wait to finish it and then move on to something else. Don't ask what just yet. I have loads of options available.
I finished reading one vampire novel and two zombie novels in January. The vampire novel was Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - the final part of her Twilight series. It was easily the best book in the series. The one character who has annoyed me the most in this series has been the petulant Bella Swann, the heroine of the novels. However, my opinion of her changed once her new husband, the vampire Edward Cullen, transformed her into a vampire. Vampire Bella is awesome!
The first of the zombie novels I read was As The World Dies: The Untold Stories by Rhiannon Frater. This was a short anthology featuring three of the peripheral characters from her As The World Dies series. If you're a fan of the series you'll probably like this one but it's not an essential purchase. Once again, we have a book that is badly let down by poor proofreading. Five times the word "soldier" is spelt "solider" including twice in one sentence. Unforgivable!
The second zombie novel was one that I bought after reading Zombie Ad's interview with the author, Iain McKinnon, on his Zombie Shop blog site. The novel in question was Domain of the Dead. It's not a very long novel at 184 pages and I'm afraid I wasn't very impressed with it. Most of the action takes place on a research ship, which gets overrun with zombies, far too quickly and far too easily in my view. I really couldn't empathise with any of the characters, which is a major failing for any novel. Yet again, the book was let down by too many proofreading mistakes. My friend, Joe/Zabadak, states that this a curse of zombie books and I must agree with him.
I'm currently reading Remains of the Dead by Iain McKinnon, which ties in with Domain. At the start of Domain, a small group of survivors are found by a helicopter crew from the research ship. However, the helicopter only has a limited passenger capacity, so some of the group are whisked away and Domain tells their story. Remains concentrates on the group left behind.
As I mentioned in previous monthly musings, the last three months of 2011 saw me making no trips to the cinema. Here in January 2012, I've been three times. First up was to see Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 1. This follows the first part of the novel I mentioned earlier and ends with Bella's transformation to a vampire. Not very exciting but it serves its purpose in setting up part 2, due out later this year. The novel runs to 700 pages, so I wasn't at all surprised that the producers split the film into two parts.
Secondly, was the excellent Underworld Awakening in 3D, which I have already reviewed on my blog. The third film I saw was Haywire, which has nothing to do with the undead. It tells the tale of a female black ops agent who is double crossed on a mission in Dublin. She survives the assassination attempt and goes after those who set her up. Gina Carano plays the betrayed agent and she is very good in this film. As a champion mixed martial artist, she is excellent in her fight scenes. The film drags in places but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. There's just something about hard-ass females kicking butt that I like.
That's almost all for now, but I would like to make a special mention to Johnny/Lord Siwoc for his wonderful survivor's house he made, dedicated to Vampifan. See it on his blogsite, Brains and Guts! here - if you haven't done so already. Johnny, you really made my day with that. Thanks once again, mate!