Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Vampifan's Views 59 - Monthly Musings 37

Vampirella by Dan Brereton
It's the last day of 2014 and time for my annual look back at the past year as well as looking forward to 2015. I did very well for gaming related Christmas presents this year thanks to my mum giving me a big cheque to spend as I wish. I bought the new Judge Dredd Miniatures Game supplement "Blood on the Street" along with two boxes of 28mm scale figures - Heroes of Mega City One and Mega City One Judges. For Super Dungeon Explore I managed to buy two very rare figures from e-Bay - Nyan Nyan the Freyjan Hero and Vandella the Succubus. They are so cute! I also bought two books - The Art of Vampirella: the Dynamite Years (just full of gorgeous illustrations) and a new Durham Red graphic novel called Bitch. Durham Red is my second favourite comic book vampire after Vampirella.
In addition, I received a lovely surprise from Steve, a good friend of mine. He got me the Arkham Horror: Call of Cthulhu  board-game by Fantasy Flight Games. It can be played by 1-8 players and that 1 is very important to me, seeing as I'm usually a solo gamer. Steve described the game as "the best solo game he has ever played." Seeing as he introduced me to Super Dungeon Explore and we both love solo games I respect his opinion and I look forward to playing the game in the new year. On the plus side, this is a game that can easily be played without miniature figures (thank God!), although I do possess a lot of Cthulhu monster figures and 1920's human figures. On the downside, if I do enjoy this game as much as I suspect I will (I've already read the rulebook and it looks awesome!) then I'll probably end up buying numerous supplements for it. There are a lot available.
Looking back on 2014, on the whole I have to say it was a good year for me. Far and away the best thing that happened to me was having my cataracts removed, which fully restored my eyesight. This made a huge difference to my life. Other highlights of the year were meeting up with fellow bloggers Joe and Mathyoo in the summer and playing a few games of ATZ with Joe at his home. Great fun! I also became very close friends with author and games designer, Steve Gilbert (as mentioned above), and I think we'll be friends for life. I introduced Steve to Zombicide and in return, he introduced me to Super Dungeon Explore. We are so full of enthusiasm for both games and chat about them almost everyday. It is always nice to meet someone who is as passionate about the gaming with miniatures hobby as I am.
Earlier this year I ran a competition to celebrate 500 posts of my blog. That proved to be very successful and already I have plans for more competitions. And, yes, there will be prize give-aways.
Kickstarter proved to be very popular (and hurtful to my bank account!) in 2014 and will continue to do so in 2015. For me, the big Kickstarter events of 2014 were backing Zombicide season 3 and receiving a pile of goodies for Zombicide season 2. I backed the Mars Attacks Kickstarter project in 2013 and I finally received a huge parcel for this game late in 2014. In December 2014 I backed the Rum and Bones Kickstarter project and I'm very excited about this game. The fact that it features undead pirates was a big clincher for me. Plus, it just looks like a whole load of fun, and to be honest, that is what gaming should be about.
So, what are my plans for 2015? It is traditional at this time to make New Year's resolutions. Normally, I just can't be arsed! This year, however, I will make one. And that is to play more games. I don't just mean my ATZ-FFO campaign, although I do want to continue that. I want to play more of the things that interest me and not just zombie gaming. Mind you, zombies will feature heavily in Zombicide (naturally) and will turn up in the likes of Rum and Bones and Super Dungeon Explore. I have developed a keen interest in boardgames played with miniatures, so hopefully, I'll get to play at least some games of Zombicide, Rum and Bones and Super Dungeon Explore next year. I'm also looking forward to playing Arkham Horror as I've always liked Call of Cthulhu. If I could fit in a bit of Judge Dredd and a bit of Wild West skirmish gaming that would be great but quite frankly, I doubt if I'll have time to fit either in.
Blogging, figure painting and card modelling will continue as normal although my figure painting will diversify to cover various genres besides zombies. I'll continue posting reviews of my werewolf figures for the next two weeks and then I'll start posting reviews of Super Dungeon Explore. All of the figures from the basic boxed set have been painted and photographed. I am now painting the figures from the two big expansion sets - Caverns of Roxor and Van Drakk Manor.
In closing, I'd like to wish everyone a very happy New Year. Peace, good will, good health and prosperity to you all.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

SLAP Miniatures Werewolves 02

Last time I reviewed the SLAP Miniature's male werewolves from their Moon Howlers range. This time, I'm reviewing the female werewolves from the same range. Whereas there were six males, there are only four females. The other big difference is that these are all one-piece castings. Once again, the character names come from the SLAP Minis website.
At the far left is Cadela. I have based my colour schemes on those used by SLAP Minis on their website. I was pleased to see more variety in the paint jobs than with the male werewolves. Their fur is much lighter on the front than on the back.
Standing next to her is Zuka. These figures stand about 37mm tall from the soles of their feet to the tops of their Mohican haircuts.
Third in line is Kuja. She arrived without a tail. It must have snapped off her before she was sent. It was not in the package I received but no matter. I was able to add one by drilling and sticking a piece of wire to the base of her spine then covering the wire with Milliput and shaping then scribing it. You can tell it's not the original tail as my tail is pointing upwards whereas it should be pointing downwards as the others are. I actually prefer mine as it makes her stand out.
And finally, is the leader of the females, Cho Chai. Just like the males these are very slim with tiny waists. They all stand tall and have big hands, Mohican haircuts and very prominent breasts. I'm really not sure if female werewolves should have such large breasts. I suspect not but it does make them unmistakably female.
These certainly complement the males of this range perfectly. They are lean, mean fighting machines and quite unique in the way they have been sculpted. I like these figures a lot.
Once again, they are very reasonably priced. Just like the males in this range they cost £1.50 each. You can buy all four females for just £5.50. By far the best way to buy these and the males is to opt for the Pack of Werewolves set, which gets you all 6 males and all 4 females for the ridiculously low price of £13.00. This is the option I chose when I bought mine.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

SLAP Miniatures Werewolves 01

SLAP Miniatures are a new figure company that make various ranges of figures for different genres. I was particularly interested in their werewolf range, which consists of 6 male werewolves and 4 female werewolves. For now I want to review the males. I'll review the females next time. The figures were all named by SLAP Minis. Note that these are all five piece castings - body and legs, head, tail and two arms. They stand just under 40mm tall, which is perfectly in keeping with a lupine's Crinos form. These figures are taller than the Grekwood Werewolves I showed recently but a lot less bulky. These guys are tall and slim! I thought I might have to glue them to 30mm diameter slottabases but because they are so light and so slim I was able to stick them on my normal 25mm diameter slottabases.
At the far left is Canavar. I positioned his head to show him howling. I copied the colour schemes for these figures from the SLAP Minis website. They are various shades of grey with a final highlight of white, which provides a nice stark contrast.
Next up is Farkas. I should point out that I drilled and pinned the heads, tails and arms to the bodies. This was a time consuming process but the effort was well worth it as they hold together really well. For my pins I used a paperclip cut into small pieces. They were glued using superglue.
Third in line is MacTire. He is in an advancing pose and hence looks smaller than the others.
Fourth in line is Vilkas. Note that the body parts are interchangeable allowing for loads of customisation if you so wanted.
The penultimate figure is Kurt who is crouched down more than the others.
Finally, is the group leader, Serigala. I deliberately painted him black to make him stand out from the rest of the group. He still has white highlights on his front but from the back he instantly stands apart from the others. His head has been positioned higher than anyone-else's showing him in mid-howl.
There are a couple of things that make these figures stand out from other similarly sized Werewolves. One is just how slim they are. I don't see this a bad thing or a good thing. It's just how this particular tribe or strain has evolved. Secondly, they all have prominent male genitalia, which most sculptors ignore. Some of you may be put off by this and if you are you really won't like the females of this range! To be fair to SLAP Minis they do give a nudity warning on their website, so steer clear if offended. I liked this range as soon as I saw them. They are very different to any other werewolf figures in my collection and for me, they were a must have purchase.
You can find these under the Moon Howlers section of SLAP Miniatures' webstore. They can be purchased at £1.50 each or all six for just £8.00, saving you a quid. Given the size of them and the customisation potential I'd say they are excellent value for money.

Seeing as this will be my last post before Christmas I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the festive period, whatever your religion. Peace and goodwill, folks.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Horrorclix Werewolves 01

This will be my first post reviewing my Horrorclix 28mm scale Werewolf figures. There will be more to come later. These three figures were all part of the original game. Note that all three have been mounted on 30mm diameter slottabases.
At the far left is a Bane Wolf. This was one of six figures that came in a boxed starter set with the rulebook and original game maps. A lot of the Horrorclix figures were over-scaled but in the case of these figures, I don't think that matters. These should be big, imposing and full of menace. Bane Wolf is certainly all three. He stands roughly 37mm tall. He has just beheaded a deer and he carries its severed head as some sort of grisly trophy. It is unusual to see someone wearing a puffa-jacket (or should that be puffa-waistcoat?) but his has survived his transformation intact. His trousers, however, are ruined and badly torn. He is a very animated figure. The torrent of blood gushing from the deer is just so over the top but I like it.
In the centre is a Dog Soldier in full werewolf form aka Crinos form for those fans of Werewolf: the Apocalypse role-playing game. In Horrorclix, characters were either Rookie, Experienced, Veteran or Unique, going from the weakest class to the strongest. I liked that sometimes they'd make different figures for the various classes. This figures represents a Veteran Dog Soldier. I am not surprised that Wizards of the Coast decided to call him a Dog Soldier as he is very reminiscent of the lupines that appeared in the excellent werewolf film, Dog Soldiers. 
At the far right is the Rookie and/or Experienced version of the Dog Soldier. This Dog Soldier is in mid transformation - his Glabro form - half human and half-werewolf. In this form he could still use his pistol, which is in his holster, but more than likely he'll just ignore it and attack with teeth and claws. Both Dog Soldiers are about 37mm tall from the soles of their feet to the tops of their heads.
I don't have prices for these figures as, unfortunately, the Horrorclix line was discontinued years ago. However, you can still buy them singly from assorted retailers and on auction sites like e-Bay.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Assorted Werewolves 01

And so back to my reviews of my collection of 28mm scale werewolf figures. These five figures, made by Recreational Conflict, Zombiesmith and Hasslefree Miniatures, have all been sculpted as they are about to transform into their wolf forms, making them part human and part werewolf.
At the far left are two figures made by Recreational Conflict and sculpted by Brian Cooke. Jack, wearing the white shirt and jeans, could almost pass for human. His transformation is only just starting. His head is not quite human at this point. Sensibly he has got rid of his shoes and socks but unless he loses his shirt and jeans very soon they will be ruined if he transforms further.
The second figure in line shows the transformation much further down the line and now he is at the halfway point between being human and being lupine. His head is visibly changing and becoming longer and hairier. His hair has lengthened and he is growing fur on the backs of his arms. He has also grown a bushy tail. I'm not sure why but he has quite a prominent erection. Perhaps he's just excited!
Crouching down in the centre is Zombiesmith's Wolfboy. He is more wolf than human but he hasn't fully transformed. There is something very primitive about this figure. He is very muscular which makes me think he must be a teenager rather than a pre-teen. He was so small that I was able to glue him onto a 20mm diameter slottabase.
The final two figures are unquestionably the best of the bunch. Sculpted by Kevin White for Hasslefree Miniatures they are HFH052 Insane man in Straightjacket and HFH053 Transitional Werewolf. The insane man is fully human but from his pose he is clearly getting ready to transform.
The transitional werewolf is a very dramatic figure, beautifully sculpted and animated. You can almost feel his power as he rips apart his straightjacket to unleash his inner beast. His head is thrown back as he lets out a triumphant howl that says, "I'm free now! You can't hold me captive!" Once again, his transformation has made him sexually aroused as he sports a big hard on. Curious!
The Recreational Conflict figures can be found under the Lead Bones section of their webstore. Wolf 1 and Wolf 2 (Jack) cost $2.50 each or you can buy them both together as set Were 1, which costs $5.00. The Zombiesmith Wolfboy can be found in the Horror section of their webstore under the heading, Breathers. He costs $3.00.The Hasslefree figures are located in their Fantasy Humans range and cost £4.00 for the Insane Human and £4.50 for the Transitional Werewolf.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Rum and Bones Kickstarter game

I interrupt my reviews of werewolf figures to bring to your attention a new miniatures-based board-game produced by Cool Mini Or Not called Rum and Bones. This is being launched as a Kickstarter project this month and is proving to be VERY popular. It was fully funded on day one of its launch. You may well bemoan the fact that it is yet another Kickstarter project and that its launch is far too close to Christmas for you to be able to afford to back it. Plus, unlike most Kickstarter projects this only has one pledge level. $100 is the price to pay if you want it. Too dear, do I hear you say? Your arguments are valid and not unreasonable. But I have fallen hook, line and sinker for this game and so I'd like to show you why this is such a perfect game for me.
The above photo shows you everything you get in the basic boxed set... and its a lot! First up, are map boards for two pirate galleons - one crewed by humans and the other by assorted undead. Ah, undead - that had me hooked from the start! The figures consist of 70 plastic 32mm scale figures made up of 48 deck hands, 12 bosuns and 10 heroes. In addition, you get 8 six-sided dice, 10 hero stat cards, 2 sea creature cards (a Sea Dragon and a Kraken), 60 Tide cards, 113 tokens, 15 tiles and the rulebook.
To the right are the game boards featuring the two galleons. At the top of the picture is the ship crewed by the human Wellsport Brotherhood. Below them is the ship crewed by the undead Bone Devils. The objective of the game is to destroy three of the five targets that line the centre of each ship (deck gun, ship's wheel, main mast, rigging and armoury). Next to the central three targets are spawning points where you bring on new crew each turn. Crews board the opposing ship via any of the three gangplanks. Heroes can also swing from ropes but risk missing and falling in the sea. Embarrassing!
The five heroes of the Wellsport Brotherhood are from left to right, Captain Daniel Pale, Quartermaster Margaret "Miss Mags" Hale, Swashbuckler Mad Ivan, Gunner "Blackout" Bart and Brute "Stumper" Pete. All have three unique abilities they can use. Some cost nothing to use, whilst others (usually more powerful) cost a certain amount of gold coins to use. Gold coins are distributed at the start of each turn and can be collected by defeating enemy crew members.
The five heroes of the Bone Devils are from left to right, Captain Albrecht the Thrice Damned, Gunner Ghosteye Gunther, Brute Little Tom (Tom resides in the chest cavity of the pirate he has possessed), Quartermaster Patchwork Porter and Swashbuckler The Spectre. These also have three unique abilities each. Both sides have access to their own Tide deck of 30 cards which can either help them or hinder their opponent.
The Helrokker gang are a group of mercenaries and may be used by either side. From left to right are Gunner Alex of Pain, Quartermaster The Killmaster, Brute Thunder Lars, Captain Napoleon and Swashbuckler The Slasher. I'm not overly impressed with this group but they come free with the game, so who am I to complain?
At the time of writing there are four optional extras you can buy for the game. I want all of them! This set provides you with three more Wellsport Brotherhood Heroes. They are from left to right, Quartermaster Theo the Terror of Nova, Captain "Bloody" Anne Bonny and Gunner Grace O'Malley. The idea of having a pirate ship with an all-female crew certainly appeals to me. A lot of fans have asked for this and it may yet happen. Note that each side have five heroes consisting of a Brute, a Captain, a Gunner, a Quartermaster and a Swashbuckler. They all have their own special abilities, strengths and weaknesses and all are unique.

If there was ever any doubt that I'd be interested in this game then this optional set would have sealed my fate and sucked me in. This set offers up three more heroes to use with the Bone Devils. From left to right they are, Quartermaster Daedalus the Soul Herald, Captain Dracula and Swashbuckler Renfield the Blood Crazed. Oh, joy! Captain Dracula! Who better to lead a gang of undead pirates than the infamous Dracula? He is such a cool figure and a must have for me.

The third optional buy is a full expansion set and it costs $40. Two ships were never going to be enough. Mazu's Dreadful Curse offers 3 Chinese junks (much smaller than the two galleons but collectively, just as strong), 24 deckhand figures, 6 bosun figures, 5 hero figures, 30 Tide cards, 3 Objective tiles, 3 Deployment Point tiles, and 3 Windgate tokens (this blessing of Mazu allows the pirates to quickly move between the different ships! They're like a teleport spell.)
From left to right the Mazu's Dreadful Curse heroes are Captain Shen Wei and Shen Yong, Gunner Mister Koga the Many-Fingered, Quartermaster Lo Fang the Demon Serpent, Swashbuckler Xia the Red Mist and Brute Lang, Lord of Lang (er, Kung Fu Panda, anyone?). This is another must have expansion set. I'd buy it just to get the not-Kung Fu Panda figure. He is so cool!
It did not take long for the makers to bring out an optional set of Heroes to use with Mazu's Dreadful Curse. Once again, this set consists of three heroes and they are from left to right, Swashbuckler Lien Hua the Flower of Death, Brute Ai Fei the Favoured of Mazu and Captain Shu Ming the Merciless. These are very nice sculpts and I was very pleased to see that they are all female, although I wish they had not made a second female Swashbuckler because Xia the Red Mist from above is just as good. I'd have much preferred to see a female Gunner or Quartermaster instead.

For many years now I have wanted to play a pirate skirmish game. What held me back was I was just waiting for the right set of figures and rules to come along. For me, the timing of the release of Rum and Bones couldn't be better. Now that I am quite happy to embrace change in my gaming hobby I had no hesitation in backing this project. I have seen online demos of the game being played and it certainly does appeal to me. It is not a game that should be taken too seriously. Just look at the figures. Some have a very cartoon-like feel to them. In my opinion, this is a good thing. It makes the figures unique and gives them their own identity. This game is going to be a LOT OF FUN to play. It's due for release in July 2015 and I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on it.
You can read a lot more about this game  at the official website here -

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Grekwood Miniatures Werewolves

I'm going to be reviewing a lot of my werewolf miniatures over the next few weeks. I am well aware that werewolves are not part of the undead but I do see them very closely related to the horror genre and I just couldn't ignore them. I have already showcased my West Wind werewolves on my blog (see here - ) but I own a lot more than just them. I thought it was long overdue that my Lupines share the limelight. So today, I'm going to review four of my newest werewolf figure purchases and these beasts came from Grekwood Miniatures. They were co-sculpted by Keith and Carl Sutherwood.
What is not apparent from my photos is just how tall these creatures are. They stand roughly 43mm tall from the soles of their feet to the tops of their heads. This is not a case of scale creep. These are meant to be larger than life. They are meant to be tall (roughly 8-9 feet in real life), powerful and menacing. Each figure comes in four parts - upper body, lower body and two arms. I drilled and pinned the arms to the bodies and used superglue to attach the arms. However, I used two-part epoxy glue to stick the two halves of the body together. Their bases are 30mm diameter plastic slottabases. The gaps between the body parts were filled in with Green Stuff modelling putty. Carl very kindly and very helpfully supplied a small amount of Green Stuff with the figures along with instructions on how to fill the gaps and create the fur effect. Now that is good customer service!
The poses are from left to right, walking, standing with arms outstretched, jogging and running. For more variety you could mix and match body halves and/or arms. As soon as I saw these figures I knew I wanted to paint them with black fur. It's an easy option, I know, but it works so well. I normally paint my werewolves with gloss black eyes but I felt that would not be a good idea with these having black fur. So, I gave them demonic red eyes, which provides a nice contrast. They were relatively easy to make (for an experienced modeller like me) and very simple to paint.
I see these as part of my shock troopers in my tribe of werewolves. When I did my review of my West Wind Werewolves I wrote this - "anyone who has played White Wolf's Werewolf: the Apocalypse role-playing game will know that this figure represents a lupine in Crinos form, the most powerful of their five forms, ranging from human (Homid) to wolf (Lupus). The other two forms are Hispo (a dire-wolf) and Glabro (a human with wolf features)." This statement applied to an even larger werewolf figure but it still apples to these four Grekwood werewolves. Carl's four werewolves are clearly shown in their most powerful Crinos form. Try to keep these terms in mind as I will be referring to them as I continue my reviews of my collection of werewolf figures.
The figures cost £7.00 each but you can buy all four for just £24.00, saving you £4.00. This is what I did. Also note that Carl will supply some Green Stuff to smooth over the arm and body joins. They are also supplied with 30mm diameter slottabases. I can highly recommend them.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Ken the Zombie vs Kandy Pane

Another post with only two figures to review. You'd think I was slacking! Not so, I have loads to show you. Here, I present a duel between Ken the dapper zombie and Kandy Pane, a cheerleader and zombie slayer. Who will win? My money's on Kandy.
Ken the Zombie is made by the Network Model Soldier Company and I recently won him in an e-Bay auction. Apparently he was a limited edition figure for their Partizan range. He is quite a character and is clearly of aristocratic stock. His top hat and tails have seen better days, as has Ken! I like how he is doffing his hat. He must be a Smart Zombie to retain that much intelligence and good manners. He holds a cane in his left hand, which I gloss varnished to give it a shiny polished look. The blood around his mouth and neck may have come from a victim or may be his own. With his intestines hanging out of a big hole in his stomach he was clearly a victim of a zombie attack when he was human. Note that Ken comes with an integral metal base, which is something of a rarity these days.
Kandy Pane is made by a new figure company called SLAP Miniatures. I was looking at their range of werewolves, (which I bought) when I spotted Kandy in their webstore. They offer a very small range of survivors but in my opinion, Kandy really stood out as being the most useful for me. This teenager was once a member of her cheer-leading team before the zombie apocalypse began. Now she is a kick-ass zombie slayer. I like her a lot and I suppose she could just as easily be a vampire slayer similar to Buffy Summers. In real life a chainsaw is not the best of weapons to wield but in nearly every zombie apocalypse game it is invariably the number one melee weapon for taking out zeds.
Both figures are very nicely sculpted and both will fit in well with true 28mm scale figures, meaning they are not over-sized like some alleged 28mm scale figures. Ken is hard to come by but often pops up on e-Bay. Kandy Pane is much easier to buy. You'll find her in SLAP Miniatures' Human range, where she costs £2.69.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Black Scorpion and Shadowforge US Army Medics

I only have two figures to show you this time round, and one of these, you've probably already seen (unless this is your first visit to my blog). The new figure is a female US Army medic made by Black Scorpion. The second figure is my Shadowforge US Army medic, but she has had a slight makeover.
At the left of my two photos is a very sexy female medic whom I have called Kelly Marie Delaney. I know that some of you won't like her because she is showing too much bare flesh, but I disagree. I think she's a really nice figure. The detail on her is very well done. Black Scorpion have recently stopped making their figures in white metal and instead use resin. She is one of the very few resin-cast figures that I own and I must admit, I was very impressed with her. She stands 32mm tall from the sole of her boots to the top of her helmet, which may make her too tall for some of you but not for me. Certainly, she fits in very well with the rest of Black Scorpion's US Army soldiers. She is armed with a 5.56mm Colt Commando Assault Carbine. She carries a first aid box in her other hand. Little details like her dog tags, wristwatch, head band and left upper arm bandage impressed me a lot. She is an incredibly beautiful woman with a spectacular cleavage. Check out her arm muscles. I wouldn't want to get on her wrong side!
When I last showed my figure of Shadowforge's female US Army medic, Diana Webster, I told you that I had sculpted a pair of trousers and knee-pads for her. My good friend, Joe/Zabadak, suggested I also give her a T-shirt. I thought this was a great idea and this is what I have done. I'm sure you'll agree this was a change for the better. She now looks more professional and less like some sort of stripper (analogy courtesy of Mathyoo). There were some very interesting suggestions as to what her "pistol" could be. I still favour my suggestion of it being a dart gun but I did like Blaxcleric's suggestion that it be a flare gun. I'm afraid Hugh's suggestion of a price labelling device and Joe's hair-dryer idea were non-starters, even though they did give me a laugh!
You can find the Black Scorpion female Army Medic under their Collectors Series range and not as you'd imagine under their Moderns (US Marines) range. She is listed as Medic Girl and she costs £3.50. I have recently discovered that the Shadowforge range of figures can be bought from Australian company Eureka Miniatures. Diana - Combat Nurse, as she is listed under their Shadowforge Characters range, costs Aus$4.00. They also stock Tatiana the vampire and Nina Chi the sci-fi cop that I recently reviewed. I've dealt with Eureka Minis before and despite being based in Australia they are a very reliable company. Shown below is a picture of Diana taken from Eureka's website so that you can see what she looks like if you purchase her. I don't know where her sunglasses came from because my figure was certainly not wearing them. As you can see, she's not exactly dressed for front-line combat, is she?

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Vampifan's Views 58 - Monthly Musings 36

Vampirella and Dracula by Dan Brereton
November has been a very exciting month for me. In October 2013, I backed a Kickstarter project for the Mars Attacks game, along with a shed-load of extras. This took place a mere month after I had been discharged from a four month stay in hospital and I felt a bit of retail therapy would cheer me up. I made a very big pledge (about £200), despite the fact that I'm not really interested in Mars Attacks. I was not a fan of the film or of the Martian invaders. So why make a pledge for it at all? Simple. The human forces (civilian survivors and military forces) coupled with some great scenery items made this an excellent source of material to use in a zombie apocalypse game. I mention all of this because earlier this month I finally received everything I had ordered from Mantic Games, the producers of Mars Attacks. I knew I was in for a long wait for all of the stuff to be made and then shipped, but I'm a patient person and I didn't mind the wait. My order arrived in a very big box and it was like Christmas Day opening the box and admiring all of the goodies within. The miniatures are made of hard plastic and are very compatible with the figures found in Zombicide, which was a big bonus. The human survivors and US Army soldiers are excellent. I even like the Martians, despite my initial apathy.

Mars Attacks scenery items - so cool!
I ordered a load of scenery items to go with the game, including seven resin cast vehicles, five of which are wrecks and two that are intact and drivable. I also ordered a lot of scenery items, like ruined walls and an assortment of street furniture. All of these minis are crying out to be used in a zombie apocalypse game. The actual rulebooks for the game are nicely produced and easy to learn. This is, at heart, a simple skirmish game. Unusually, it uses eight sided dice for all dice rolls. Whether I ever play it or not remains to be seen but there is no doubt at all that I will use many of the minis in future games. Overall, I was very happy with what I got.
Components from the Mars Attacks boxed set. Note that everything comes unpainted.
In most other months, this would be my big news story, but not this month. For the past six years my over-riding passion has been for zombie gaming. The vast majority of my hobby time has been spent collecting, making and painting figures and scenery to use in zombie apocalypse games. Some of you have asked me, do I not fancy a change? My stock answer has always been, no, I'm very happy concentrating on zombie gaming. I do have other interests that have tempted me away from zombie gaming. Judge Dredd and Wild West skirmish gaming immediately spring to mind. Something happened at the start of this month that has changed my life in a most unexpected fashion. I have indeed, diversified away from zombie gaming, but not in the way I could ever have envisaged. My new passion is for Super Dungeon Explore (hereafter to be referred as SDE) by Soda Pop Miniatures.
Vampifan with Super Dungeon Explore and the Von Drakk Manor expansion set.
I have been a fan of fantasy gaming all of my adult life but in the 1990's I became disillusioned with the genre (Games Workshop had a LOT to do with my disillusionment) and so my interest in fantasy gaming has lain dormant. Gone but not forgotten. What brought about this seismic change in me was a conversation with my good friend, Steve Gilbert. I had introduced him to Zombicide, for which he was eternally grateful. He, in turn, introduced me to SDE. He suspected I might like it and he was right. I might have passed on the game if I hadn't seen the expansion sets for it. One in particular caught my attention - Von Drakk Manor. Vampires and undead - oh joy! - how could I resist? 
This month I have fully immersed myself in painting the figures from the basic boxed set. It comes with fifty 28mm scale figures consisting of 9 Heroes, 1 Dragon (very impressive!), 2 Kobold Ogres (huge), 2 Dragon Wyrmlings, 2 Dragon Whelps, 4 Dragon Hatchlings (2 per base), 22 Kobolds, 2 Boo Booty Treasure Monsters, 5 Treasure Chests and 5 Spawning Point Models. The figures will appeal to some of you, whilst others will hate them. They are based on Japanese Chibi characters. Chibi is Japanese for a short or diminutive person but amongst anime fans it means a person with a small body and a large head. They also have big eyes and small mouths. If you prefer characters who look realistic then you will not like these figures. I don't mind the anime style and I actually have a few Manga films in my DVD collection, along with some Manga graphic novels. What I have discovered with these Chibi miniatures is that because the heads take up roughly half the size of the figure, I can put a lot more detail into painting them than on a normal realistically scaled 28mm scale figure.
For far too long I have resisted the urge to diversify but I now realise that was a mistake. I needed this change. Because I am doing something SO different to anything I have ever done in my life before, my enthusiasm for this project is sky high. I also think the paint jobs I'm doing are the best I have ever done. This has been like a breath of fresh air for me and I'm fully embracing it. But best of all, I am fully enjoying painting these new figures. Not that I wasn't enjoying painting zombies and survivors - far from it. What better reason can there be for collecting and painting figures because we like them?
SDE is different to anything I've done before. It harks back to the old days of Dungeons and Dragons but has been given a modern twist. It is a simple fight between good and evil but most of all, it is fun. The game is meant to be played with 2 to 6 players but I know it can be played solo just as well. I haven't played it yet because I hate playing any game with unpainted minis. I'm roughly two thirds of the way through painting the 50 figures from the basic set. Expect lots of SDE related reviews and posts in 2015.
If you think my zombie gaming has come to an end, think again. I'm going to concentrate on SDE for the next couple of months but in the new year I will return to zombie gaming with a vengeance and with renewed enthusiasm. This is just a short break for me, albeit a most welcome and well earned break. After six years of painting hordes of zombies and survivors, I needed this break, so don't judge me too harshly.
Despite me saying I needed this break I haven't completely abandoned my zombie gaming. Remember I showed you some Stoelzel's SUVs I had recently made? I made one as a yellow SUV in honour of the heroes' vehicle from the film, Zombieland. Quite frankly, I was embarrassed by it. It was badly painted and fell far below my usual high standards. Well, I'm pleased to say it has had a major overhaul. I have converted it so it is now an almost exact copy of the Zombieland SUV. It has had a new paint job, which is much neater and it looks great! I'll post pics of it soon.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Assorted Shadowforge Female Figures

I have a mixed bag for you today. These are three 28mm scale Shadowforge figures that I bought from the Grekwood Minis webstore. Sadly, they are no longer for sale on this site but I thought I'd show them anyway.
I'll start with the US Army medic, Diane Webster. I am sure some of you will object to the fact that she has left her tunic unbuttoned to reveal a very nice cleavage. And the brazen hussy is not wearing a bra. How dare she! If you'd seen this figure when I first bought her the prudes amongst you would have had a fit because she was wearing no trousers either! I have no problems with women showing off their bodies. My attitude is if you've got it, flaunt it, but just for once, I decided this was uncalled for. So I added a pair of trousers and knee-pads from Milliput. I could have covered up her cleavage as well, but decided not to. I must admit that I have no idea what she is holding in her right hand. Is it a pistol, and if so, what kind? Is that a scope-sight on top of the pistol or perhaps a laser sight? Or is it a dart gun? Or some kind of medical device that just looks like a weapon? My preference is for a dart gun firing tranquiliser darts. Note that I have painted her in the same camouflage scheme as my Black Scorpion US Army troops that I reviewed recently. She will be attached to that group.
In the centre of the group is Tatiana the vampire. I was delighted to get hold of her because of my love of vampires. I don't show nearly enough vampires on my blog. I must admit that when I first saw her my initial reaction was to paint her up as Vampirella. But I have a lot of Vampirella figures and whilst she is a close match she is not an exact match. So, she is Tatiana, an Eastern European vampire. Perhaps she hails from Transylvania. That would be so fitting. I am extremely pleased at how well I have painted her mouth. Her fangs are quite noticeable, which is exactly the effect I was after.
Finally, we come to Nina Chi, a sci-fi cop, who I think has a Manga vibe about her. I used to do a lot of sci-fi role-playing way back in the 1990's, and I ran a long-running GURPS Space campaign, and before that a Fantasy Games Unlimited Space Opera campaign. More recently, my sci-fi gaming has switched to Judge Dredd and it seems most likely that this is where I'll use Nina. She is armed with a big carbine/SMG, which could be some kind of energy weapon (blaster, perhaps) or a large calibre projectile weapon. She is just a really nice figure and although I have no immediate need or use for her, that didn't stop me buying her. Yes, I'm just as susceptible to "shinyitis" as any other figure collector.
I know that when Carl got these figures from Shadowforge to sell on his webstore that he didn't get  many of them. It is good for him that he sold all his stock and good for me that I was able to get them before they sold out, but it's not so good for you if you really want any of these lovely minis.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Crooked Dice Doctor Who Figures 02

I recently finished painting three Crooked Dice Games 28mm scale Doctor Who companions, although for copyright reasons, CDG has renamed them. These were a lot of fun to paint.
First up is Daisy Taylor, whom Doctor Who fans will instantly recognise as Rose Tyler (played by Billie Piper). She has been sculpted in a very casual pose, standing with her hands on her hips.
In the centre of the group is Miss Freeman, who appeared as Martha Jones (as played by Freema Agyeman) in the Doctor Who series. She is also standing in a casual pose with her arms crossed.
Finally, is May Killan, who is better known to Doctor Who fans as Amy Pond (played by Karen Gillan). This is CDG's second sculpt of May/Amy. The first one had her dressed up a Woman Police Constable with a night stick. This figure is much more casually attired and she has been sculpted in a walking pose with her hands in her coat pockets.
I imagine that most people would buy these figures to use as Doctor Who companions. But they work equally well as normal civilians and civilians are a lot like zombies - you can never have too many of them. Each one costs £4.00 from the CDG webstore.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Stoelzel's Structures SUVs

I recently made my first vehicles produced by Stoelzel's Structures - five SUVs. SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle and these have been on my "to do" list for a long time. I was delighted to see that Carl had included the SUV in his Auto Park set, as I had a very specific use for a number of these vehicles. I wanted a fleet of them to transport my Men in Black (see my previous three posts). I was just going to make four of them, but after a chat with my friend Mathyoo, he asked if I'd be making a yellow SUV as well? I knew I wanted my MiB vehicles to be black and was curious to know why he asked about a yellow SUV. He replied that the heroes used a yellow SUV in the film Zombieland. How could I have forgotten? He was right! Technically speaking, they drove a civilian Humvee but it does look very like Carl's SUV. So I ended up making five SUVs and here they are.
Vampifan has just got out of the yellow SUV to face down my full complement of Men in Black (still in their vehicles). Does he have a death wish? In truth, he's only here to give a sense of scale to the models. When I printed out my yellow SUV, I did not like how the yellow came out. It was far too dull and very dark. So I repainted all the yellow bits with Foundry acrylic paints in a mix of lemon, yellow and light orange. I'm much happier with this colour scheme, although I need to touch it up in a few places, which I'll point out below.
The four SUVs have had their roofs painted a nice solid black. They looked too grey to me but now you can tell straightaway that these are black SUVs.
The trickiest part of making these SUVs was with the front windscreen. For all the card vehicles I have previously made the windscreen has been flat. Carl, however, decided his models should have curved windscreens. No question about it, this is more realistic, however, it does present a challenge if you like to reinforce your models as I do. I like to reinforce my card vehicles with 2mm thick mounting card. This does not bend well, so for the windscreens I reinforced them with thin card. It still strengthened them and also allowed me to bend them into shape. The windscreens were undoubtedly the trickiest and fiddliest part of the vehicle to make. I have to admit that some of my windscreens came out better than others but overall, I managed okay with them all.
The black lines that I painted on the side of my yellow SUV are far too thick and messy. I shall rectify my mistake soon. I still remain undecided about whether to paint a number three on the two front doors of my yellow SUV as per the Zombieland SUV (see photo below).
Until I saw this photo I hadn't realised I had smudged some yellow paint on the rear window of the SUV to the left. That's another mistake that needs cleaning up. You could argue that they should all have different number plates but be honest, when you see these on a gaming table who on earth is going to notice their number plates? It doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother you.
The comments I made about my paintwork on the opposite side of the yellow SUV apply equally to this side. I am normally a much neater painter than this and I'm not happy with my sloppy paint work. It bugs me so much that I will clean up my mess.
As I mentioned in the intro, I had never made a Stoelzel's Structures vehicle before. The Auto Park set contains a car sales room, car wash and garage repair shop as well as 10 different types of vehicle, each with a minimum of 10 different colour schemes. Great value for money for just £5.74. The curved windscreen will cause a problem to newbie modellers but other than that, construction is pretty straight forward. For a long time now I have wanted a fleet of black SUVs and there was never any doubt that they'd be the first vehicles I made from Carl's excellent set. I plan on making a lot more vehicles from this set in the future.
Here is the Humvee as used in Zombieland, with Wichita (Emma Stone) by the front door. It is not the same as Carl's SUV but it is a close match. I might modify mine to make it an even closer match. After all, I have three of the four heroes from the film already (Columbus, Tallahassee and Wichita). Do you think I should go the whole hog and convert it into the Zombieland SUV? My feelings are that I should. Then I can at least, rephotograph it with a cleaned up paint job!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

EM4 Men in Black

And so I come to the last of my three reviews of my collection of Men in Black figures. These five figures are all produced by EM4 Miniatures and if you think they look very similar to my five Copplestone Castings Men in Black that I reviewed last time you'd be right because Mark Copplestone also sculpted these. He made these way back in time when he worked for Grenadier Miniatures. However, when Grenadier went belly up, EM4 acquired their moulds and production rights. When Mark set up Copplestone Castings he  remade a lot of his old Grenadier figures but in slightly modified form so whilst they looked similar, they weren't exact copies. A clever move, in my opinion, as it allows us collectors to own two sets of lovely Copplestone goodness.
First in line is an agent firing his 9mm pistol. I like this pose as he looks very aggressive. Note the headphones and microphone he's wearing.
Next to him is another agent armed with a 9mm pistol. He is taking a cautious approach. Note that neither of the pistol armed agents are wearing sunglasses.
The next three figures are all armed with 9mm sub-machine guns. The figure in the centre of the group appears to be the leader from his pose. He is also equipped with a radio headset.
To his left is a very muscular looking African/American agent. With his bald head and surly expression, he looks to be one tough dude.
The last agent in line holds his sub-machine gun in a two-handed grip as he makes a threat assessment. He's on the alert for any danger.
As with the five Copplestone Castings Men in Black that I reviewed last time, these are a very nice group of figures, not excessively armed, and all nicely posed and sculpted. You can find these figures on the EM4 website under the Unpainted Metal Future Skirmish Suits range.They are listed as Ref 054 to 058 and they cost £1.50 each.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Copplestone Castings Men in Black

Continuing on from my last post here are some more Men in Black figures. These five 28mmm scale figures are from Copplestone Castings Future Wars range and are set FW24 Men in Black.
At the far left  is an agent preparing to fire his pistol, which looks to be some sort of 9mm type. He is the most animated of all the figures in this set.
The agent standing next to him is also holding a pistol, but his is of a design I do not recognise. Perhaps it is some form of advanced ray gun with the ability to disintegrate, freeze or shrink. Who knows with these guys? And what's this? Uh-oh - fashion alert! He has his hair tied back in a ponytail! The shame of it!!!!
Next in line are two agents holding pump action shotguns. The agent with the black hair and glasses is walking, whilst his colleague (who unusually, is not wearing dark glasses) is just standing still.
Finally, is an agent armed with a 9mm sub-machine gun, that looks like an Uzi but isn't.
These five figures retail for £8.50 from Copplestone's webstore. Mark Copplestone is a really great sculptor and I like this set a lot. Whilst none of the figures are particularly outstanding, collectively, they make a nice addition to my pool of Men in Black.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Assorted Men in Black

Today I present the first of three posts looking at the mysterious Men in Black. To some they are a force of good, defending earth from alien threats (see the popular Men in Black films), whilst to others they are a sinister and evil organisation (see White Wolf's Mage: the Ascension role-playing game). One thing that is not in doubt is that they belong to a highly secretive organisation and that they wield considerable power. They can arrest people with impunity and most worryingly of all, make people just disappear, never to be seen again.
At the far left of my two photos is the commander of my force of Men in Black and he was produced by Wizkids as part of their OOP Horrorclix range, where he was known simply as Man in Black. Like a lot of Horrorclix figures, he is over-scale when compared with most ranges of 28mm scale figures. However, in his case, I don't think that matters too much. He appears to be unarmed but who can tell? I think he is quite a sinister-looking figure, which has a lot to do with his skull-like face. One other feature makes him stand out from the rest of my Men in Black figures and that is he is the only one wearing a hat. I would not want to cross his path!
Next in line is a standard field agent. He is another OOP figure and he was originally made by RAFM. He is slim but well proportioned and he holds a 9mm pistol in a two-handed grip. In addition to his trademark black suit, white shirt and black tie he also wears a pair of regulation black-lensed sunglasses. 
The next two figures are also OOP and they were made by Target Games as part of their Mutant Chronicles range. Although they are 28mm scale they are very chunky and bulky. Their weapons do have a sci-fi feel to them, although in ATZ terms I'd class them as a Big Ass Pistol and a Big Ass Machine Pistol. The figure third in line has blotted his copybook, in my opinion, by wearing his hair in a ponytail. I have nothing against woman who wear their hair like this but on men it just looks silly!
The figure at the far right of the group is a Vampifan sculpt. I made him over twenty years ago for my White Wolf Vampire: the Masquerade role-playing game campaign. He was part of a covert vampire hunting organisation. He is armed with a 5.56mm Colt M16A1 Assault Rifle which came from my spare parts box.
These figures can be used in a variety of ways. Yes, as Men in Black, that is the obvious choice. But they will work just as well as US Secret Service agents or as corporate security agents. They can be good guys or bad guys. Indeed you could ask the question - are they even human? They could be aliens or robots. Anything is possible.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Recreational Conflict Biohazard Troopers 02

These six figures belong to the Recreational Conflict Biohazard set III and are very different to their first set. The most noticeable difference is that they are much more chunkier. I like their bulky protective clothing. With the current Ebola crisis in Africa featuring prominently in the news I thought this was a good time to get these figures painted. They have been waiting to get painted for more than a year now - shame on me!
The first decision I had to make was to decide on their colour scheme. Watching recent news footage, white seemed to be the most obvious choice and so I went with that. At the far left of my photos is the leader of the group, waving his men on to follow him. He holds a 9mm pistol in his right hand. The first thing you'll notice about this group is that they are well armed. Only one out of the six is not carrying a weapon and he is second in line from the left. He holds a box and a probe, most likely a Geiger counter as he tests for radiation levels.
Next in line is the flame thrower operator. Or he could possibly be a chemical sprayer. Readers of Mira Grant's excellent Feed trilogy will be well aware of how often the heroes had to endure chemical showers to ensure they didn't spread the zombie plague. Note he has three tank cylinders on his back - one oxygen tank and two for his flame thrower or chemical sprayer.
The next two troopers in line are armed with 5.56mm M4 Assault Carbines. Note that all troopers are fitted with yellow oxygen tanks.
Last in line is a kneeling trooper, firing his 9mm pistol in a two-handed grip.
It is obvious these are not humanitarian aid workers but some sort of military or paramilitary group. The obvious use for them is for clearing out pockets of zombies in a zombie apocalypse game. They are radically different to Recreational Conflict's first set of Biohazard troopers, which would suggest that these guys work for a different organisation.
These figures were sculpted by Alan Maguire and can be found in the Lead Bones 28mm Modern Horror section of Recreational Conflict's webstore. All six figures can be bought for $15.00, which is very reasonable for a metal figure these days.