Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Recreational Conflict SPRU Biohazard Containment Team

And so I come to the final review in my five-part look at Biohazard Troopers from various figure companies. This time I turn the spotlight on Recreational Conflict's range of 28mm scale Special Paranormal Reaction Unit (aka SPRU) Biohazard Containment Team, sculpted by Brian Cooke. There are eight figures in this range but looking at my two photos you can be forgiven for thinking there are only seven. Read on for the explanation.
The figure at the far left is actually two figures on one base. The group of three canisters sited on the base is a separate figure. You could keep the SPRU Device, as it is called on the RC website, as a separate figure, possibly using it as an objective marker, but I decided to include it on the base of the figure I chose as the Team Leader. I had to cut a small V-shape out of his base to get both figures to fit on a 25mm diameter slottabase. RC have named this guy Ike, and he is a two-piece casting. The geiger counter or scanning device is a separate component that slots into his left hand. Ike is armed with a pistol. To me, he seems the most obvious choice for the team leader.
Next to him, is Kyle, one of two troopers armed with a Machine Pistol or Sub-Machine Gun. The weapon looks a lot like an Ingram MAC-10 SMG but it isn't. What is very distinctive about the weapon is its huge ammo clip. I reckon that could easily hold 40 rounds. Kyle is in a static pose as he moves forward cautiously.
His buddy, Stan, carries an identical firearm but he holds his in a two-handed grip, no doubt to better control the recoil of the gun. He is slightly hunched forward but again, his pose is static. There is nothing wrong with static poses, I'm merely making an observation not a criticism.
In the centre of the group is Ken, the first of two troopers armed with a flamethrower. He points his weapon downwards as he stands at the ready, observing the area around him. I should point out that I copied the colour scheme for these figures from the RC website. I painted them with Citadel Macharius Solar Orange from the Foundation Paints set. Then I gave them a Citadel Baal Red inkwash and finished them off by drybrushing them with Citadel Blazing Orange to which I added a small amount of Citadel Golden Yellow.
The second flamethrower trooper is called Eric and he holding his weapon in a firing position. I painted the visors of these figures with Citadel Enchanted Blue with a reflected stripe of Citadel Ice Blue down the middle. I finished them off by gloss varnishing the visors.
Next in line is Butters, the group's pack-mule. He is an unusual figure but I like him a lot because of that. He is carrying two large holdalls, which are separate castings. You can have a lot of fun dreaming up just what is inside the bags - it could be anything. He appears to be unarmed but he could have all sorts of weapons in the holdalls.
Last in line is Craig, who is kneeling down to retrieve something from inside a smaller-looking holdall being carried by Butters. Craig is armed with a pistol, which is in a holster strapped to his right hip.
Numerically, these are the largest range of Biohazard Troopers currently available, which has to be a plus point in their favour. They are a good combination of figures with their choice of weaponry and poses, even if their poses are not as dynamic as some would like. Personally, I don't mind how they are posed.
One thing that bothered me about this range was that their heads seemed too small. I have rectified this by adding modelling putty to them to bulk up their headware. There is one more negative aspect to them and that crops up if you go for the multi-figure option of buying them. A pack of seven figures costs $18.00, which is better value than buying them individually. But, I have to ask why aren't they sold as a pack of eight, with one of each type in the set? I was missing Ike from my set and I had to order him separately after I'd received the other seven. I have no idea if the figures are supplied randomly or not. If they are and the SPRU Device is missing, then I doubt if you'd complain much. If you decide to buy them individually then each figure costs $2.50 apart from Butters, who costs $3.50, (which is fair enough as he uses a lot more metal than the others) and the SPRU Device, which only costs $1.50.
In my next post I'll show a size comparison photo of figures from all five ranges so that you can see how they measure up against one another.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Horrorclix Scrubbers

Part four of my review of Biohazard Troopers looks at a blast from the past - Horrorclix 35mm scale Scrubbers. These three figures came from The Lab expansion set, sadly, no longer available. I can understand why they were called Scrubbers if you take the word literally but for us Brits the word conjures up a very different meaning as we use it as a derogatory term to describe females we don't like. Similar terms are Slappers, Slags and Tarts. It must a Brit thing as there are quite a few of our swear words and derogatory terms that Americans don't know the meaning of or aren't aware that they are swear words.
Most Horrorclix figures used to come in three flavours - Rookie, Experienced and Veteran. Unique figures and Limited Edition figures were of course, unique. As often as not, the three figures would look identical - only their stats changed. Sometimes, however, one or two of the three types would appear different. Such is the case here, as I start with the Veteran version at the far left of my two photos. At first glance he looks identical to the other two but look closer at his flamethrower. It is different to the others. He also differed to the others in that he wore a yellow suit. I repainted it turquoise to match the others.
In the centre of the group is the Experienced version. Of the two cylinders carried on their backs, one is a fuel container for their flamethrowers, whilst the other is an oxygen tank. On the oxygen tanks I have drawn on a biohazard symbol with a fine-nibbed Rotring technical drawing pen.
The third figure in line is the Rookie Scrubber. I slightly repostioned his arms so that he was pointing his flamethrower straight ahead instead of downwards. I also made him lean further back, just so that he looked different to the Experienced version. These were very minor conversions but I felt they were enough to make two identical figures look different.
With Horrorclix figures, the standard of sculpting can vary a great deal. These aren't bad sculpts but they certainly do not stand up to the quality of the Hasslefree Hazmat Team. Another factor that may put some of you off them is their size. I mentioned in my intro that these were 35mm scale and so they will tower over the other ranges I've reviewed in this series. You can see just how tall they are in a week's time, when I end this review with a size comparison photo, which I'm sure you'll find useful.
As many of you will know, Horrorclix figures are now out of production and I have no idea if they will ever be resurrected. You can still buy them on auction sites like eBay but they are getting scarcer, which inevitably pushes the price up. Good luck in finding them if you're really after them!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Hasslefree Hazmat Troopers

Part three of my review of Biohazard Troopers looks at what are in my opinion, the best sculpted figures of this sub-genre, Hasslefree Miniatures' 28mm scale Hazmat Squad. These four figures can be found in the Hasslefree Adventurers range and are set HFA062. Oddly enough, these were not sculpted by Kevin White but by someone known only as Ebob.
I decided to give these a more subdued colour scheme than my Copplestone Castings and EM4 Biohazard Troopers and so I painted them Citadel Knarloc Green from the Foundation Paints set. I gave them a Citadel Thraka Green wash, then drybrushed them with Knarloc Green, to which I added a small amount of Citadel Bleached Bone for a final highlight. The visors were painted with a 1/1 mix of Citadel Blazing Orange and Citadel Blood Red, then given a coat of gloss varnish. The oxygen tanks were painted with Citadel Golden Yellow and highlighted with Citadel Sunburst Yellow. Gloves, boots and kneepads were painted Citadel Chaos Black and highlighted with Citadel Adeptus Battlegrey. The rifles were painted with Anita's Acrylics Metallic Black (which you might struggle to find so just substitute Citadel Chaos Black mixed with a small amount of Citadel Bolt Gun Metal) and given a light drybrushing of Citadel Bolt Gun Metal.
Looking at the figures in my two photos, at the far left is the leader, holding his rifle pointing up, whilst beckoning his men to follow. It's a nice pose that clearly identifies him as the leader. I must admit that I have no idea what make his rifle is, assuming it is based on something from real life. Whatever it is, it looks perfect for a contemporary setting.
Next up is a trooper getting ready to fire as he brings his rifle up to his shoulder. I don't have much to say about him, other than he is a fine addition to the squad.
Third in line is my favourite figure out of this group. I just love his pose, as he walks forward with his rifle held at the shoulder ready to fire as soon as he sees a threat. A lot of sculptors would have had him standing still as he fired his rifle, but Ebob has done something different here that I really like.
The fourth trooper in line is advancing with his rifle held down, pointing to the ground. Once again, the level of sculpting on him is just first rate. Another top notch sculpt in a range that oozes quality.
If you still haven't bought any Biohazard Troopers then you should give these figures very careful consideration. I am a huge fan of them and I just wish there were more in this range. Four figures just doesn't feel enough. However, I now come to potentially the downside to these figures - their price. This set costs £14.00 for all four figures, so they certainly aren't cheap. Compared to the prices of the Copplestone Castings figures (over £5.00 cheaper) and EM4 figures (less than half their price) these are quite expensive. I guess if you want high quality you have to pay for it. Hasslefree have an offer whereby if you buy two sets they cost £24.00, saving you £4.00.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

EM4 NBC Troopers

Here is part two of my review of Biohazard Troopers by assorted figure companies. This time it is the turn of EM4 to take the spotlight as I look at their range of 28mm scale Future Skirmish Troopers who are described on their website as NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) Troopers. If you are thinking that these guys look very similar to the Copplestone Castings Biochem Squad that I reviewed last time, you'd be right. That is because these were also sculpted by Mark Copplestone when he was working for Grenadier. When Grenadier bought the farm and went belly up, Mark set up his own company and remodelled them. The original moulds were acquired by EM4, hence the similarity.
At the far left of my two photos is 0019 NBC Leader with MAR (Military Assault Rifle). What distinguishes these troopers from the Copplestone Castings Biochem Squad is the fact that these guys are all wearing helmets. Although I have painted their suits yellow, to distinguish them from the Copplestone figures, I thought that white was a good colour to use for their helmets. You can see that both leaders are in identical poses, pointing at something, whilst holding their rifles at the ready.
Next up is 0020 NBC Trooper with Light Laser. This guy replaces the Copplestone Castings trooper with flame thrower. To be honest, I'd have prefered another flame thrower trooper. Laser weapons are just too high tech for my tastes. If I used him in an ATZ scenario, I'd probably say that his laser was a flame thrower.
The next three figures are 0021, 0022 and 0023 NBC Trooper with MAR. They are very similarly posed with all three holding their rifles at at mid height. Once again, I have painted the underslung barrel of their rifles as a torch, rather than a grenade launcher. This time, there is no trooper with a shotgun, as there was with the Copplestone Castings figures. There is one other difference between this range and the CC figures - these troopers are all armed with a pistol in a holster at their right side.
In terms of sculpting there is very little difference between the two ranges, although of the two, I prefer the more recent sculpts in the Copplestone Castings range. However, where this range scores over their rivals is in the price. These figures cost £1.28 each, giving a total of £6.40 for all five. That is more than £2.00 cheaper than the Copplestone Castings range, which cost £8.50 for all five. If you are unsure in which range to choose, the price could be a deciding factor. Of course, you could buy both sets, as I have, and use them alongside each other as they are so similar.
Next time, I'll be reviewing the Hasslefree Hazmat Squad, and they are well worth looking at.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Copplestone Castings Bio Chem Squad

This is going to be the first of a series of reviews looking at Bio Chem, Hazmat, NBC troopers or whatever you want to call them from a variety of figure companies. I'm labelling them collectively as Biohazard Troopers but I will use the name given to them by their figure companies for individual reviews. These reviews will cover figures from Copplestone Castings, eM4, Hasslefree, Horrorclix and Recreational Conflict. I've listed them alphabetically and that is the order in which I shall review them.
These five figures come from Copplestone's 28mm scale Future Wars range and are set FW16 Bio Chem Squad. My colour scheme, white suits, is based on that found on the Copplestone website, although I have given my squad white boots instead of black. White suits are not the easiest things to paint. I started off by painting these Citadel Space Wolves Grey. I drybrushed this with a mixture of Space Wolves Grey and Skull White, adding more Skull White to the mix until the final highlight was pure Skull White. The deep creases are painted with Citadel Adeptus Battlegrey. I used a 1/1 mix of Chaos Black and Adeptus Battlegrey for my "blacklining" of the figures.
At the far left of my two photos is the squad leader, pointing at something, whilst holding his assault rifle at rest. I've painted the underslung barrel of his rifle as a torch but I suppose it could just as easily be a grenade launcher. The rifles bear a close resemblance to the assault rifles used by the Colonial Marines in the film Aliens. Even so, they still work well in a contemporary setting. All of the troopers wear gasmasks underneath their hoods.
Next up is a trooper armed with a flame thrower with a fitted fuel bottle. Again, the design is based on that used in the film Aliens by both Ripley and the Marines. A trooper with a flame thrower is a great choice for clearing out nests of zombies, vampires or almost anything else.
In the centre of the group is a trooper armed with an automatic shotgun. It's another useful weapon to have for close-in work, even if it is prone to attracting lots of zombies. Note how the trooper has his legs braced to absorb the recoil of firing the shotgun.
Fourth in line is a trooper with the same assault rifle as used by the squad leader. This guy is firing his weapon from the hip. Once again, I painted the underslung barrel as a torch to aid his sight in darkened rooms or corridors.
The fifth trooper is identically armed to the fourth and is in a very similar pose, although he is leaning further forward.
These are rather chunky figures but are well sculpted by Mark Copplestone. If you are only going to buy one set of Biohazard Troopers then these are well worth considering. They fit in well with other 28mm scale figures and are fairly reasonably priced at £8.50 for the set of five figures.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Zombies! by Jovanka Vuckovic

I was recently in Forbidden Planet browsing through their book section when I spotted this new book - ZOMBIES! An Illustrated History of the Undead by Jovanka Vuckovic. I had a quick flick through it and immediately knew this was right up my street and I had to have it. So I bought it, took it back home and read it in a few days.
To quote the blurb on the back of the book "ZOMBIES! An Illustrated History of the Undead is the first book to take a long, putrefying look at the entire zombie phenomenon. From origins in Haitian voodoo zombie folklore and the literature of Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, the undead begin to seep through the pulp magazines and silent cinema of the early twentieth century and on to classic 1970s and eighties undead flicks like Lucio Fulci's Zombie and George A. Romero's legendary Dawn of the Dead."
"Written by famed horror expert Jovanka Vuckovic, and featuring an exclusive foreword by Romero himself, ZOMBIES! brings you all this and more, coming right up to date with movies like Zombieland and [Rec], the new wave of zombie novels, The Walking Dead comic book and TV show, and even zombie walks. Despite numerous attempts to assign the rotting corpses permanently to their graves, there is no end in sight to our thirst for the horror and drama the undead provide. ZOMBIES! is a fascinating and visually arresting roam through a still-vital sub-genre"
What attracted me to this hardbacked tome (apart from the fact that it was about zombies!) was the depth of its coverage. The majority of the book's 176 pages is taken up with a comprehensive look at zombies on film. Then follows chapters on zombie novels, computer games, comics, TV shows and even zombie walks, which are growing in popularity. I had a lot of fun mentally ticking off which flims I'd seen and which books and comics I'd read. Jovanka has an easy to read writing style and she clearly knows her subject. Also, she's not afraid to call a bad film a turkey. She appeared as a zombie extra in Zach Snyder's remake of Dawn of the Dead but does not have a high opinion of the film, much prefering the original. I totally agreed with her. It was also nice to see how up to date her film reviews were. Not only that, but she also mentions numerous zombie films to look out for later this year and in 2012. It is well illustrated, mainly in colour, although obviously not for those films shot in black and white.
So, is this an essential purchase? I guess that all depends on your budget and how big a fan of the whole zombie genre you are. To be honest, I guess most zombie fans who follow my blog will decide this is not worth buying and I can understand why they'd think that. Just think of how many figures you could buy for the price of this book. For me, this was a must-have buy. I learnt an awful lot from this book, even though I already know a great deal about the subject. If the study of zombies ever crops up on a school curriculum this would be an essential text book for Zombies 101. It is a hard-backed book published by Ilex and costs £17.99. I can highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Miniature Factory Psycho Killers

It is not very often that I buy resin cast figures and it is even rarer that I buy figures from France. But when I saw these three figures from French company Miniature Factory I had to have them. These are just sublime sculpts!
 Miniature Factory is a small company run by Jacques-Alexandre Gillois. The figures vary in height, as you can see from the two photos above. I'll start with the female of the group, Daisy. Daisy is described on their website thus "among the rare visitors still sane enough to describe their visit to the locals, most mention meeting an attractive, promiscuous young woman. Shortly after this part the tone of the narrative slips without transition from bucolic to plain gross. The rest of the tale, vague and filled with gruesome violence, is of little documentary interest." Hmm, maybe to you, but not me! I want all the gory details! Daisy is clearly a deranged psychopathic murderer. Viewed from the front she is a picture of ravishing beauty with more than just a hint of naughtiness. Note how her cut off denim hot pants are partially unbuttoned. Note the sweet smile and seductive eyes. Note the big flower in her hair. How sweet! Then look behind her and note the short sword (it's far too big to call a knife) in her hand! This incredibly beautiful sculpt stands 33mm tall and comes in three parts - main body, ponytail and sword and right hand. I recommend gluing the ponytail in place first before the hand and sword.
 In the centre of the group is Ned. The MF website hilariously describes him thus "when he was little, Ned was already tall. His gifts for outdoor activities compensated for his feeble-mindedness, and under the attentive ferule of his elder siblings, Ned became a man, strong and sure of himself, proud of his values and quick to anger. In other words, a dickhead!" Ned is a lot taller than Daisy at 37mm from sole of feet to top of hat. He is a two-piece casting, with the hands and pitchfork a separate piece. They were glued in place very easily thanks to small pegs on the hands slotting into holes at the wrists. He is very muscular and I painted him with bronzed flesh to show he is an outdoors type. Note that he has a few sticks of dynamite tucked into his right hip pocket. That's all you need - a dickhead with dynamite!
Finally, we come to the main reason I bought these figures - an impressive looking brute with the most awesome chainsaw I have ever seen. Eat your heart out Games Workshop and your puny chainswords! This mechanical wonder is surely the king of chainsaws! He is called Uncle Meat and the website has this to say about him, "in the beginning Meat had another name. A real name, one his mom had given him. Then he lost his job at the slaughterhouse. Back home, he put to use his butcher craft to feed the family. The game in the Marsh, being not so co-operative, you had to be inventive to teach predators which species was the endangered one. The kids named him that way, because every time he came back home, there was always meat for dinner." His background sounds remarkably similar to that of Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Meat stands an impressive 45mm tall, which some may well criticise for being far too tall. Not me. I think his size works in his favour. He is clearly meant to be larger than life, so why not take that phrase literally? He comes in four parts - body, legs and arms along with his head, the bottle sticking out of his apron pocket and of course, the chainsaw with hands attached. Oddly, he came with no base . The other two had slottatabs under their feet and I fitted them to 25mm diameter slottabases rather than the 30mm diameter slottabases with the horrible curved sides that came with them and which I dislike intensely. Meat comes with no slottatab and stands very well without one. I glued him to a straight sided 30mm diameter slottabase. The severed head on his base is a spare one from the Wargames Factory plastic zombies set. However, I didn't just want a head neatly severed at the neck. That was too boring and too neat. So I added part of the victim's shoulder out of modelling putty to show he had been decapitated at an angle. The last thing I did to Meat was to paint on the gore. Naturally I used Tamiya Clear Red, but I used a really old brush, whose bristles had hardened and stipled the TCR on. It has worked a treat! Meat is among my all time favourite miniatures!
I absolutely love these figures. I can now see why some collectors prefer resin to metal. Resin holds detail a lot better than metal and these three are incredibly detailed and just so beautifully sculpted. Sadly, such perfection comes at a price and these beauties are not cheap. Daisy costs 9 Euros, Ned costs 12 Euros and Meat costs 15 Euros. I've included the web address of Miniature Factory in the sidebar to the left under My Favourite Websites. The size of these figures and their high prices may put a lot of you off from buying them, which is fair enough. I have no regrets at all in buying them and adding them to my collection of psychopathic killers. Just imagine a battle between these and Wargames Foundry's the Viscera Family! Now imagine being caught in the middle of such a battle!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Paul Hicks' Midnight Riders aka the Devil's Rejects

Paul Hicks is a freelance sculptor, who last year sculpted five 28mm scale figures of the main characters of the film The Devil's Rejects. For those of you who know the film, you'll know it is a gory and sadistic sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses, both of which were directed by Rob Zombie. I'm a big fan of both films, but especially of The Devil's Rejects, which plumbs the depths of depravity with some shocking scenes of torture and violence. Both films feature the psychotic Firefly family, three of whom are pictured to the left. From left to right they are "Baby" Firefly (played by Sheri Moon Zombie), Captain Spaulding (played by Sid Haig) and Otis B. Driftwood (played by Bill Moseley). I show this picture for those of you who have never heard of the film and also for those who have, to show what a great likeness Paul has created with his fine sculpts.
At the far left of the two photos above is Otis B. Driftwood, named after the Groucho Marx character from the film A Night at the Opera. Otis is not a natural member of the Firefly family. He was adopted by Gloria "Mama" Firefly. He is by far, the most sadistic member and he often battles Captain Spaulding for control of the family. In The Devil's Rejects, he skins the flesh from the face of one his victims and wears it as a mask, emulating a nasty habit of "Leatherface" from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Paul has sculpted him striding purposefully with a revolver in his right hand and a knife in his left hand. Note the sheath for his knife strapped to his lower left leg.
Next in line is Vera-Ellen "Baby" Firefly, the youngest member of the family. She is a foul-mouthed, sadistic bitch. In House of 1,000 Corpses, she scalped a male victim for failing to correctly answer who her favourite actor was! Note the remarkable similarity between the movie still and the figure.  She is armed with a revolver. Note that both films were set in the 1970's, which explains why revolvers are more common than pistols.
In the centre of the group is Tiny Firefly, who is far taller than his name would suggest. He was horribly disfigured after being badly burnt as a child. He rarely speaks and he is not very bright but he is immensely strong and fiercely loyal to his family. Paul has depicted him carrying a length of metal piping. He is not as psychotic as the others and has a soft spot for women. However, if ordered to take part in a ritual killing he shows no mercy to any victim.
Figures four and five in line are two versions of the same character, Captain Spaulding. He, too, is named after a Groucho Marx character, this time from the film Animal Crackers. His real name is actually Johnny Lee Jones and he is the father of "Baby" Firefly. Captain Spaulding is a homicidal maniac who owns a gas station/tourist attraction with a freakshow horror theme. He becomes extremely violent if a person disrespects clowns. The figure of Spaulding holding the pump-action shotgun is based on his character in The Devil's Rejects. Check out that photo at the top of this post to see how close Paul has captured his likeness. The second figure of Captain Spaulding, dressed in the clown's garb and armed with a revolver, is based on his appearance in the film House of 1,000 Corpses. If you're wondering what I've painted on his T-shirt, it's a hot dog, based on what he actually wore in the film.
I'm not sure why Paul has sculpted two versions of this character. Gloria "Mama" Firefly, the matriarch of the family and Tiny's older brother, Rufus T. Firefly were more worthy candidates in my opinion. Even so, this is just a minor quibble. All of the figures are superbly sculpted and I was only too glad to add them to my collection of psycho killers. You don't have to use these as the Devil's Rejects - you could just use them as ordinary Gangers in an ATZ setting. Actually, it would be kind of difficult to use them as the Devil's Rejects in anything but a 1970's setting unless your game involves time travel!
It has to be said that these figures are not easy to get hold of. I ordered my set of five figures from Raven Painting run by Carl Robson, who lives in Shotley Bridge, County Durham, not far from where I live. He sold them on e-Bay for £10.00 , where they were called the Midnight Riders, presumably to avoid copyright problems. You can visit Raven Painting at and drop him an e-mail if you're interested in purchasing them. I ordered mine late last year, but I have no idea if they are still available for sale. It would be a shame if they weren't. By the way, if you'd like a second opinion on these fine figures check out The Angry Lurker's review at (Fran, you have no idea how long it took me to find that post!)