Saturday, 28 June 2014

Vampifan's Views 51 - Monthly Musings 31

Vampirella by Mike Mayhew
As we approach the half year point I have had a very busy and productive month. My painting mojo has kicked in with a vengeance and I have been painting loads of Zombicide survivors and zombivores (player character zombies) this month. Expect to see reviews of my newly painted Zombicide figures over the coming weeks. I have neglected them for far too long and with the imminent release of Zombicide Season 3 (I can't wait!) I knew I had to make inroads into my mountain of unpainted plastic figures. My unpainted plastics far outnumber my unpainted metal figures. Anyway, I am making excellent progress on them.
In addition to rediscovering my figure painting mojo, my card modelling enthusiasm is back and I have been making good progress on my Stoelzel's Structures Brummie's Burgers fast food restaurant model. The car park is completed, The inner and outer walls are all made. A lot of furniture and props have been made. So what's left to do? More furniture and props (litter bins, lots of chairs and toilet furniture) and of course, the roof, which I'm not looking forward to making due to its unusual shape. But I will complete it and hopefully soon. It is a very impressive looking model and I can't wait to feature it in a batrep.

My Google Nexus 10 Tablet
I have finally entered the 21st century and have just bought a Google Nexus 10 tablet. This is both a back up for my computer and my camera and best of all, will allow me access to the Internet if ever I am away from home for anything longer than a day. At the start of this month I had a short stay in hospital (nothing major I'm glad to say) but being away from home for just a few days made me realise how much I missed my computer. I am still figuring out how to use the tablet as I have never owned one before but fortunately my brother is a computer expert and he has helped me immensely and will continue to advise me. It is mainly thanks to him that I was able to get a connection to the Internet for my tablet. I know it will be a great boon to me once I figure out everything I can do with it. Fortunately, I'm a fast learner and I have a great teacher. My brother has a Google Nexus 7 but I preferred the larger screen of the Nexus 10, which is why I chose that device.

I'd like to mention a couple of projects run by two of my followers. First up is a charity event being  held next weekend. Full details can be found here at 
Safe House is an Edinburgh based 24 hour tabletop zombie wargames marathon, hosted by Simon Hunter from Project Zeke Miniatures and James Brown from Hive City Terrain, to raise money for The Sick Kids Friends Foundation. The event will run from the 5th to the 6th of July 2014, from midday to midday. I've already made my donation to what I consider a very worthy cause. I urge you to help Simon and James out as much as you can and leave a donation.
Secondly, my good friend Toni Morey has finally launched his figure company, Not Yet Dead Miniatures and you can find them here at
Toni makes very detailed 1/35th scale zombie and survivor figures, as well as weapon packs. I wish his company every success in the future but I do feel he will sell a lot more figures if he also produces his figure range in 28mm scale. Still, I applaud him for trying something different.

This past month, I have been doing a lot of reading. I already mentioned and reviewed Juggernaut by Adam Baker in my last post. Other books I have read this month include GURPS:Zombies (review of that next time), Vampires: A Hunter's Guide (review coming soon), The Walking Dead graphic novel volume 20 and Zombie Tramp graphic novel volume 1. I really ought to do a review of my zombie and vampire graphic novels, as I own a great many of them. I am currently reading The Dummies Guide to Nexus Tablets. Well, you have to start somewhere, so don't judge me too harshly! I am also reading the novel V Wars by Jonathan Maberry and I have just started collecting the V Wars comics. Full marks to anyone who guessed that the "V" stands for "Vampire."

Watch out for a special announcement on my blog in just over a week's time, when I'll be announcing a prize draw competition for you to enter. This will tie in with this blog's 500th posting. See you soon and take care!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Juggernaut by Adam Baker

Juggernaut by Adam Baker is a prequel to his earlier zombie apocalypse novel. Outpost. In Outpost, the world had been overrun by flesh eating zombies caused by a virus that came from outer space. Whereas Outpost was set on an oil rig in the Arctic Circle, Juggernaut is set in the blistering heat of the Iraqi Western Desert. So, from one temperature extreme to the other. The story takes place in the year 2005 during the time of the Allied invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
A group of seven mercenaries and one Iraqi guide set out on a covert mission to locate a large stash of gold hidden away by men loyal to Saddam. They fly to their destination in two helicopters but upon arrival find nothing but death and destruction on a large scale. The valley they land in was the scene of a fierce battle that left no one alive, apart from an Iraqi diplomat/scientist who was hired to lead the survivors here. He knows far more than he is telling and through a series of flashbacks we learn the truth of what really happened in that valley of death.
The mercenaries are lead by a tough ass female called Lucy Whyte, which is rather unusual but then again, these are mercenaries. Her closet friend is Amanda Greenwald, the team's sniper. The rest of the team are made up of Huang the medic, Toon the SAW gunner and Voss the South African shotgunner. These five have worked together for many years. The two helicopter pilots, whom no one trusted, were hired at the last minute. They were called Gaunt and Raphael. Finally, was their Iraqi guide, Jabril, a man with many secrets. It must be obvious from the outset that few, if any of them, would survive this encounter. Sure enough, once the team learn the horrible truth that the dead can come back to life as zombies the body count rises. Lucy and Amanda are not without their faults, indeed none of them are exactly saints, but these two stand out from the rest as the two you hope will live. Whether they do or not I'll leave for you to find out but they were the only two I was rooting for. I'm just a sucker for strong female leads.
The story is fast paced, well written and exciting. My only quibble with it is the same one I had with Outpost and that is that I am not a fan of the way the zombies are created. They are just too alien for my somewhat traditional preferences. The story goes into more detail about how the zombies originated. Don't let my opinion put you off as your views may well differ to mine. I'm just not a big fan of techno-zombies.
The outbreak in the desert is ultimately contained but the final chapter sets the wheels in motion for a follow up novel in which the virus must surely go global to set up the events of the Outpost novel. Despite my reservations about the techno-zombies, I enjoyed Juggernaut enough to give it an 8 out of 10 rating. It is worth checking out, especially if you have already read Outpost.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Atomico Press Zombies 01

A few months ago, in March, I backed a Kickstarter project run by Atomico Press for a small range of 28mm scale zombie figures. I have been trying to avoid spending too much on figures this year as I just know I will splash out big time when Zombicide Season 3 kicks off soon. Anyway, as I said, this was a very small project that comprised of five zombies, one psycho zombie and one US Army infantryman. For about $30 you got all 7 figures, so I made a pledge for them. The project got funded and as a special thank you for being a backer I received an extra zombie figure, which was both unexpected and very cool!
At the far left is the only human figure in the range. He is a US Army soldier, although I suppose you could just as easily paint him up as a police SWAT Trooper. He is armed with a 5.56mm SG540 SIG Assault Rifle and some kind of 9mm Pistol in a holster on his right hip. I have painted him in the new US Army digital camouflage scheme, which is not the easiest camo scheme to get right. He is the first regular US Army infantryman I have shown on my blog, although I have a whole platoon of them painted up but never reviewed. Memo to self, I must rectify this soon!
Next in line is an ordinary MCPD police patrolman. He has been savagely attacked, no doubt caused by being in the front line once the apocalypse kicked off. His shirt has been ripped open and he suffers a big wound to his stomach. The right knee is bloodied but not bitten and he has a lot of blood around his mouth that has dribbled onto his neck and upper chest. He appears to have lost his pistol but his truncheon is still in place at the left side of his belt. Atomico Press described him as a zombie security guard but I preferred to paint him up as a cop.
Moving on, are a couple of police SWAT Troopers. Both have pistols in holsters on their right hips but no other weapons. They wear combat armour and helmets. The trooper second from the right has had a large bite taken out of his lower right arm, whilst his colleague at the far right has had half of his face bitten off. I was pleased at how well I was able to paint the word "SWAT" on their backs. The two figures do look very similar but the one at the far right was actually meant to be a zombie US Army soldier. When it came to painting them I completely forgot this but in the end, I doubt if it really matters..
This next group of figures consists of three zombie bikers and a zombie psycho killer. At the far left is the free figure I received for backing this project. He is almost identical to the figure standing next to him but I made a couple of simple conversions to him. First of all, I lengthened his hair. Secondly, I added a leather bracelet to his left wrist. But the main difference between the two figures came with their colour schemes. My freebie figure is dressed in black leather pants and waistcoat and his gang logo on his back identifies him as a member of the Flaming Skulls biker gang. He has a cut to his forehead, which has bled profusely.
The original biker figure was painted in faded denims and given a black T-shirt and white hair, indicating he is a veteran gang member. He is a member of the Wild Hogs bike gang. He also has suffered a cut to his forehead but he has also been bitten in the left shoulder and left lower arm.
Third in line is another zombie biker, who is also a member of the Wild Hogs. This is a very different sculpt to the previous two. He wears a faded denim waistcoat and ordinary blue denim jeans. His mouth is smeared with blood as a result of him feasting quite recently. He has suffered a cut to his upper left arm and has had a bite taken out of his lower right arm.
Finally, is the zombie psycho killer, who is armed with a huge sword. Covering his head is a mask made of skinned flesh in the style made famous (or should that be infamous?) by Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Indeed he could almost be a zombified version of Leatherface. He is a big brute of a figure and is deliberately over-sized to make him look more menacing. In addition to his mask, he wears a ragged pair of trousers held up by a rope belt and nothing else, not even shoes! He has suffered cuts and bites to both legs, but his most serious wound is a massive chunk of flesh ripped from his left shoulder blade. In the ATZ game I would class him as a Smart Zombie as he clearly knows how to wield a weapon.
Let's be honest, these are not the best sculpted figures on the market. The sculpting is quite crude and they are all "heroically scaled" or larger than 28mm tall. But despite that, I still liked them enough to purchase them and they have helped to boost the size of my zombie horde as it creeps towards the 1,000 mark. As I said in the intro, these were part of a Kickstarter project launched in March of this year. They are not available for sale at this moment but they may go on general release later in the year, depending on how well Atomico Press's sales are.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Wargames Factory St. Trinian's Schoolgirls 01

A couple of months ago I converted three figures from the excellent Wargames Factory Women Survivors set of plastic 28mm scale figures into St. Trinian's schoolgirls. This was the first time I had made any of the WF plastic survivors and I was very impressed with how versatile they are.
At the far left is Chloe Bernath, a member of the Posh Tottty tribe. She appeared in the film, St. Trinian's and was one of the trio of girls (along with Chelsea and Peaches) who took part in the  School Challenge quiz. This was a very simple conversion. I think I only lengthened her hair with modelling putty. When I saw the arm holding a stick of dynamite along with the bag of dynamite, I decided that Chloe should have them. Although she was strictly a non-combatant in the film, I have no qualms in arming her so. Explosive devices were usually the speciality of the Mackie twins or head girl, Kelly Jones, but all Chloe has to do is light a fuse and throw the dynamite. What could possibly go wrong?
Next up is another named character from the St. Trinian's film, Andrea the Emo. Note, she is an Emo, not a Goth, despite the similarity in looks. Andrea was a successful member of the school hockey team, so it was a no-brainer to arm her with a hockey stick. This was a major conversion that involved a lot of work. The hardest part was replacing her golf club with a metal hockey stick. Thank God for superglue! I remodelled her shirt, tie, cardigan and belt and greatly lengthened her hair. In the end, I was very pleased with the result. Note how badly laddered her tights are.
Finally, is young Patsy Walsh, a first former. She is obviously based on the little girl body that comes with this set. I gave her a suitable head and decided to add the arms holding a tennis racket. However, the arms were designed for an adult so I snipped a bit off them at the shoulder so that they were a better fit. Other than that, this was a simple conversion. Patsy is one of my designs and she does not appear in any of the films. I think a tennis racket is a suitable weapon for a first former to wield, although it isn't as good as a baseball bat, cricket bat or hockey stick.
This brings my total number of St. Trinian's schoolgirls to 27. I also have 7 staff members.
To the left of here is a photo of Chloe taken from the St. Trinian's film. Chloe was played by actress Antonia Bernath. Seeing as she was not given a surname in the film I have adopted the name of the actress for Chloe's surname. I was very pleased to be able to recapture her smile from this photo when I painted my figure of her.

To the right of here is the photo that was my main inspiration for making my version of Andrea the Emo. Look carefully and you can see her red and black striped tights. In other scenes the tights are laddered as per how I have painted them. Also, although she is wearing a waistcoat in this photo, in other scenes she wore a black cardigan and that is how I modelled her. Andrea the Emo was played by actress and singer Paloma Faith.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Gripping Beast Civilians 02

Following on from my last post, here are the rest of the Gripping Beast 28mm scale civilians that I bought recently. These are not quite contemporary figures, although they could be used as such in a pinch. They are more suited for the early to mid 20th Century. They consist of two sets of four figures and here they are.
First up we have the Squire and his family. An obvious influence for this set is of course the popular (although why it is popular escapes me!) TV series, Downton Abbey. So in an unashamed rip-off, I present the cast of Upton Manor. At the far left is Lord Geoffrey Upton, a glutton, a snob and a life-long Conservative Party member. This portly gent is standing haughtily with his thumbs in his waistcoat pockets. looking every inch the lord of the manor.
His wife is Lady Prunella Upton, a stern and formidable woman who doesn't suffer fools gladly. She is shown preparing to go out to have afternoon tea with her high society friends at the poshest hotel in town. Prunella and Geoffrey are a well matched pair, sharing similar interests and ideals.
Next in line is their daughter, Millicent, who speaks with a lisp and who thus pronounces her name as Millithent. As a special treat she was allowed to buy a red balloon with her pocket money. She is a precocious child and wishes she could ride her pet pony every day instead of just once a week as per her mother's instructions.
Finally, from this set, is the head maid, Gloria Rosewell, who has served the Upton family since she was a mere teenager many years ago. She is loyal to a fault and both a hard worker and a hard taskmaster. She remains unmarried.
This second set is called the School Masters Set and at the far left is one of the school masters, Howard Worthington. He works at an elite boys' school, the very antithesis of the notorious St. Trinian's School, situated only a couple of miles away. Mr. Worthington teaches Latin and History and is well-liked by his pupils and fellow teachers.
Algernon Upton, son of Lord and Lady Upton (see above) is the school's head prefect and is destined for high places. He is an academically gifted student and a keen sportsman, excelling at rugby and cricket. Sadly, he is as arrogant as he is pompous. Someone ought to take him down a peg or two. Someone, say, from a nearby girl's school, perhaps?
Moving on, we come to Rupert Bryce-Smythe from the fourth form. He revels in bullying anyone he thinks is weaker then him. He is a fair brawler but he lacks discipline and a skilled fighter would make mincemeat out of him. The trouble is, given his reputation, few at his school are prepared to stand up to him. I'm not at all sure what the figure is holding in his hands. I just painted it black and assumed it was a little box.
Lastly up is the school nurse, Amelia Flanagan. She is of Irish descent and is a devout Catholic. She is good at her job and has a very caring nature and a comforting bedside manner. However, she lacks ambition and feels she has reached the pinnacle of her career. She does not realise she could do so much more if only she had the drive to push herself forward.
My friend, Hugh/Colgar6, mentioned the School Masters Set to me in a comment he made about my St. Trinian's Schoolgirls. Up till then, I had never heard of Gripping Beast. As soon as I saw this set, I knew that I had to have it. I may end up using the nurse as the matron of St. Trinian's School. She is a good figure but not quite what I'm after. What is in no doubt is that these poor saps will end up as rivals/victims of St. Trinian's. They won't know what's hit them!
These two sets can be found on the Gripping Beast web store under the Products heading of Woodbine Designs TWDC Specials range and they are listed as TWDCSP07 Squire and Family and TWDCSP08 School Masters Set. Both sets cost just £5.50 each

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Gripping Beast Civilians 01

A couple of months ago I placed an order with Gripping Beast for three packs of civilian figures. Two packs contained early to mid 20th Century civilians (review coming up next time) and the other contained four sci-fi civilians, as shown below.
This pack contains a family of four - father, mother, daughter and son.  At the far left is the father figure. He is holding a pair of binoculars in his right hand. On his right hip is a holstered pistol. I guess he is expecting trouble. Perhaps he lives in a hostile environment, like the Cursed Earth or even one of the Mega Cities from Judge Dredd, or even somewhere like the human colony on LV426 (the setting of the film Aliens).
His wife is similarly dressed and she too, is armed with a pistol in a holster on her right hip. I like the way her ponytail comes out of the hole in the back of her baseball cap.
The daughter is the most animated figure of the group. Is she playfully running along or is she running from some insidious menace? One of the straps of her dungarees has come undone, which is a nice touch.
The son is pointing at something. What has he seen? He is very nicely sculpted and posed.
The two children have less of a sci-fi vibe about them making them very usable in any genre from contemporary times onward. The two adults could work in a contemporary setting, especially if you removed their pistols. Even so, they could be security guards working for some big corporation research department. Or maybe they live and work in a war zone, of which there are plenty to chose from today. But for a contemporary setting, they scream out as survivors of a zombie apocalypse, which is why I have reviewed them here.
I like this set a lot. I was mainly interested in the other two sets of civilians that I bought, but when I browsed through the Gripping Beast webstore and saw these, I knew I had to have them. If I ever get back to playing Judge Dredd again, these figures will certainly feature. Will they appear in my ATZ-FFO campaign? Possibly.
As mentioned, these are sold by Gripping Beast and you can find them in their Products listing under Woodbine Designs Sci-Fi range. They are listed as SciFi06 Civilians (4) and they cost £5.50 for all four figures.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Assorted African/American Civilians 01

I was going to post this review last month to go with my reviews of African/American Gangstas, Pimps and Prostitutes, but I got sidetracked by Laurel and Hardy. Here are four civilian figures of African/American origin. The one at the far left is an old out of production figure by RAFM. The other three figures were all made by Killer B Games from their 1970's "Geezers! Shut It!" range of 28mm scale figures.
The dude at the far left carries a ghetto-blaster and has the look of a stoned junkie. I named him Pookie Appleton.. His T-shirt bears the slogan, "Rave on." It might just as well have said, "Victim!" as that is exactly what he looks like to me.
Next up is Montell Cole, who looks like he can take care of himself. He stands in an aggressive pose with his fists clenched and he looks like he is threatening someone. His denim waistcoat is festooned with badges. He is one of the three figures shown here from Killer B Games. He is known as Curly Haired Thug on their website and costs £1.80.
Third in line is the martial artist, Bobby Rowland. He studies kung fu at his local gym. His hero is Jim Kelly, who appeared as Williams alongside Bruce Lee in the film Enter the Dragon. He is an above average fighter, fit and healthy and doing his best to earn an honest living. He is known as Kung Fu Brother on the Killer B Games website, and he too, costs £1.80.
Finally, is Foxy Statton, a prostitute who works for the pimp, Dwayne Dubois. Foxy is a high class hooker and she earns good money, which she spends on luxury items like clothes and jewelery. She does not do drugs, other than tobacco. Note her gold-plated cigarette holder. She is described as a Street Walker on the Killer B Games webstore and she also costs £1.80.
The three Killer B Games figures definitely have a 1970's vibe about them, with their huge Afro hairstyles and clothes. They also look like they could possibly survive in a zombie apocalypse. Pookie, however, is fated to die on Day One or soon after.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Zombicide Laurel and Hardy Zombies

I told you last time that I had finished painting my converted zombie figures of Laurel and Hardy for the Zombicide board-game, and here they are in all their glory.
As I told you before, Stan Laurel is a conversion of a Walker Zombie from the Prison Outbreak expansion set, whilst Oliver Hardy is a converted Fatty Zombie from the basic Zombicide boxed set. When I showed you the work in progress photos last time, Hugh/Colgar6 commented that Stan's hat looked wrong. He was right, but so too, is Ollie's hat. Check out the photo below of the real life Laurel and Hardy and you can see that they are wearing each others hats. This often happened to them in their movies. So, yes, Stan's hat is too big and Ollie's hat is too small. This was intentional and not a mistake on my part.
They have both suffered upper thigh wounds - a bite for Stan and a cut for Ollie. Ollie also has a much larger bite taken out of his lower right leg. I have also smeared blood over Ollie's hands. If you were wondering if these two have any special abilities in Zombicide, they don't. Stan is just an ordinary Walker and Ollie an ordinary Fatty. That said, they were a hell of a lot of fun to make and paint. The beauty of the Zombicide figures is that because they are moulded in hard plastic, they are very easy to convert. I hope this post inspires you and shows what can be done with a bit of imagination and patience.
"Hey, Ollie! Why are you wearing my hat?"  "Huh?"
You don't often see a colour photo of Laurel and Hardy, since most of their films were shot in black and white. This photo inspired me to make them and also provided a handy reference on how to paint them. I was introduced to these kings of slapstick comedy at a very early age and have been a fan of them ever since. They richly deserve their place in the pantheon of comedy greats.