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.