Sunday, 9 August 2015

Croooked Dice Games Spectrum Agents

If this month's posts have a theme then that theme must be diversity. I bring you the first of three posts showcasing the men, women and some of the vehicles from the futuristic organisation known as Spectrum. Those of you of a certain age will recognise the name Spectrum as being the organisation featured in the 1968 TV series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Captain Scarlet was the eighth of ten puppet series produced during the 1950's and 1960's by Gerry Anderson. It came after Thunderbirds and before Joe 90. Set in 2068, Captain Scarlet presents the hostilities between Earth and a race of Martians known as the Mysterons. After human astronauts attack their city on Mars, the vengeful Mysterons declare war on Earth, initiating a series of reprisals that are countered by Spectrum, a worldwide security organisation. Spectrum boasts the extraordinary abilities of its primary agent, Captain Scarlet. During the events of the pilot episode, Scarlet acquires the Mysteron healing power of "retro-metabolism" and is thereafter considered to be virtually "indestructible", being able to recover fully from injuries that would normally be fatal.
Crooked Dice Games make a range of 28mm scale figures they have named Time Lift Security (TLS), presumably to avoid copyright problems, that are dead ringers for the characters who appeared in Captain Scarlet. In this post I'm going to review some of the Spectrum agents, starting with the Command Section.
At the far left is Colonel White, the commander-in-chief of Spectrum. His real name is Charles Grey and he was born in England. Spectrum is a global organisation and thus has agents from all over the world. Prior to joining Spectrum, Colonel White had a glittering military career in the World Army. He runs Spectrum from its HQ known as Cloudbase, a flying aircraft carrier. His figure is straight from the packet.
Next in line is Doctor Fawn, an Australian whose real name is Edward Wilkie. He is head of Spectrum's Analysis and Research Centre on Cloudbase whose primary role is to study everything about the Mysterons with a view to destroying them. He also oversees the Cloudbase medical facilities. This figure is based on the walking agent holding a pistol (see Captain Black below) but has had his pistol replaced with a high-tech Mysteron Scanner, which can detect if a person has been  retro-metabilised or not.
Third in line is Major Viridian, head of Spectrum's Research and Development department. Major Viridian never appeared in the TV series, but his name is mentioned in the Captain Scarlet Annual of 1968, which I still own, so I consider him canon. Born in Switzerland, Viridian is a top class engineer. He is a conversion of the figure of Captain Grey (see below) with his head replaced by a helmeted head. His rifle was replaced by an experimental Mysteron Gun, which fires beams of electricity. Mysterons are highly vulnerable to electricity (incidentally, bullets and explosives will also kill them). Finally, I gave him a jet pack with the straps made of Milliput.
At the far right is Lieutenant Green, aka Seymour Griffiths from Trinidad. Lieutenant Green is Colonel White's assistant, Cloudbase Computer Operator and public announcer. His figure is a conversion of Captain Blue (see below) I repositioned his right arm and converted the pistol into a communications device. These four agents rarely see action in the field but they all play a vital part in the war against the Mysterons.
Next up are four Spectrum agents armed with pistols. First up is the eponymous Captain Scarlet. His real name is Paul Metcalfe and he hails from England. Captain Scarlet becomes Spectrum's foremost weapon in its fight against the Mysterons after the events of the pilot episode, in which the Mysterons threaten to assassinate the World President as their first act of retaliation. The original Scarlet is killed in a car accident engineered by the Mysterons and replaced with a Mysteron reconstruction.  However, when the Scarlet duplicate is shot by Captain Blue and falls to his death from a tall structure, it returns to life with the consciousness of its human template restored, and is thereafter free from Mysteron control. Scarlet's ex-Mysteron body possesses two remarkable abilities: he is able to sense the presence of other Mysteron duplicates in his vicinity, and if he is injured or killed, retro-metabolism restores him to a state of top health. Now able to deploy suicidally reckless tactics to thwart Mysteron threats, Scarlet repeatedly braves the pain of death in the knowledge that he will recover to face the Mysterons once more. The figure of Captain Scarlet is the same as that of Captain Ochre (see below) but has had the pointing right hand replaced with a hand holding a pistol.
Captain Blue accompanies Captain Scarlet on most missions and the pair are close friends. Blue is an American called Adam Svenson. As mentioned above, Captain Blue played a pivotal part in Captain Scarlet becoming indestructible. The figure is not a conversion.
Captain Ochre, along with Captains Grey and Magenta, were the three agents, after Captain Blue, most often seen accompanying Captain Scarlet in the field. Captain Ochre's real name is Richard Fraser and he is also an American. His figure is straight from the pack.
Captain Black (real name, Conrad Turner from England) is the primary agent of the Mysterons. He was leader of a team of astronauts sent to Mars in 2068 on a mission to investigate unidentified radio signals emanating from the red planet. The source was discovered to be an extraterrestrial base, which was attacked and destroyed when the explorers mistook a harmless sensor device for a weapon. The inhabitants of the settlement, the Mysterons are sentient computers that form a collective consciousness. They are the remnants of the original Mysteron race, extraterrestrial life forms that originated in a galaxy other than the Milky Way and maintained their colony on Mars for 3,500 years before abandoning the planet at the turn of the 20th century. Possessing partial control over matter, the Mysteron computers draw on their power of "reversing matter" to rebuild the complex before vowing revenge for the unwarranted aggression.
Reversing matter, also described as "retro-metabolism", allows the Mysterons to re-create the likeness of a person or object in the form of a facsimile that is under their control. This ability is used to conduct a "war of nerves" against Earth, in which the Mysterons issue threats against specific targets (from world leaders and military installations to whole cities and continents) and then destroy and reconstruct whatever instruments are required (whether human or machine) to execute their plans. The presence of the Mysterons is indicated by two circles of green light (the "Mysteron rings") that trail across scenes of destruction and reconstruction. Although the Mysterons are able to manipulate events from Mars, their actions on Earth are usually performed by their replicated intermediaries.
Captain Black was the first human killed and reconstructed during the ill-fated encounter on Mars. The figure of Black is similar to that of Doctor Fawn, but I gave him a peaked cap instead of leaving him bare-headed.
The last four figures are all Spectrum agents armed with pistols and assault rifles. At the far left is Captain Grey, an American whose real name is Bradley Holden. The figure comes in two parts - the full body minus hands and a pair of hands holding an assault rifle. Alternatively, you can have him holding the Mysteron Gun wielded by Major Viridian, which is an optional extra.
Standing next to him is Captain Magenta. His real name is Patrick Donaghue and he was born in Ireland. He is aiming his assault rifle and he is another non-converted figure.
The final two agents are something of an anomaly. The only female Spectrum agents shown in the TV series were the five Angel pilots, whom I shall review next time. Still, I see no reason why Spectrum wouldn't employ females in other roles. So, I have named these two field agents as Lieutenant Tangerine and Lieutenant Pink. Reflecting the ethnic diversity of Spectrum agents, I see Lieutenant Tangerine as coming from Tangiers in Morocco and Lieutenant Pink as being born in Stockholm, Sweden.
I am a huge fan of Gerry Anderson's work. As a boy, I grew up loving Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and later when he moved away from making puppet shows, to the sci-fi series of UFO and Space 1999. So, when I saw Crooked Dice Games producing a range of not-Spectrum agents I knew I had to have them. Although I have had these figures for quite a while it is only very recently that I got round to painting them. You may well ask what are they doing on a blog that is apparently devoted to the undead? My reply is that the Mysterons can bring the dead back to life to do their bidding. Surely that's some kind of zombie-ism? Right?
Currently, you can get all of these figures from the Crooked Dice Games webstore. The TLS Commander (Colonel White) costs £3.50. All of the other TLS agents cost £3.00 each. In addition you can buy a number of accessory packs. The helmeted head and rifle used by me on Major Viridian cost £1.60 for the pair. The jet pack and scanner also cost £1.60 for the pair. Three alternate capped heads are on sale for 60p, as are four hands holding pistols.

18 comments:

  1. THESE are FAB. Totally love the figures and the TV series (es). I may have to move my own TV7 UFO project on soon. But until I do I will just admire these.

    Spectrum is Green!

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    1. Many thanks, Clint. I do know you are a fan of Gerry Anderson's work so it did not surprise me that you like these. I'm looking forward to seeing your UFO project.

      Spectrum is Green!

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  2. They look fantastic, great work! Needles to say, if it weren't for hobby I'd never knew these series existed! :P

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    1. Thanks, Mathyoo. We can all learn a lot from blogging. When "Captain Scarlet" was first aired you wouldn't even have been born.

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  3. What an astonishingly terrific posting Bryan. Absolutely awesome, full of lovely eye-candy and plenty of interesting facts about a series I sadly know little about. I actually do own these minis, but bought them as a "Crooked Dice" completionist (something I've had to long-since stop) rather than with any intention to paint them. This posting however has certainly changed all that and I've already ordered the DVD set to see what this is all about. Of course it could also mean me parking my current "Guild Ball", "Frostgrave" and 'Gotham City High-Rise" projects in order for me to start a "Captain Scarlet" one... But you;re used to that right? ;-)

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    1. I very much appreciate your kind words, Simon. As a child, Gerry Anderson's TV series held me in awe. Now, over fifty years later, I still admire them. I have plans for running a "Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons" batrep, hopefully sooner rather than later.

      Whilst it is heartening to hear that you've ordered the DVD set to see what all the fuss is about I apologise for making you spend more money. I seem to have a bad habit of doing that! I also wonder what you will make of the series? Bear in mind it was made at a time when the technological advances made in film making were many years away. Whilst the puppetry may look amateurish (puppets just can not move realistically) you have to admire the vehicles and the production values.

      Please don't delay finishing your "Gotham City High Rise" project. I definitely want to see that completed asap!

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  4. A very cool retro post Bryan! Your posts certainly are diverse lately, not a bad thing. I was wondering what you envisage using these for? Are they going to be used fighting the zombie menace? Or do you see a sci-fi project on the horizon?
    As usual your painting and converting is top notch Dude. I do miss the gore though.

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    1. Thanks, Bob. I'm aiming for diversity this month. I was thinking of using the THW All Things Zombie rules for my Captain Scarlet scenario. There will be no zombies in it per se, unless you class Mysteron agents as zombies.

      Yep, I like gore and miss it when it's not there!

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  5. AAARRGGH! It's "Space 1999", not "Moonbase 1999"!
    But yeah, the Anderson programmes were wonderful. I can't watch the Thunderbirds reboot; I would have forgiven a LOT if they'd kept the music.

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    1. You are so right! That's what comes from relying on memory and not checking the facts! I have edited the post to correct my mistake. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

      I haven't seen any of the Thunderbirds reboots, so can't comment on them.

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  6. Did you know that the interior set for Space 1999 was originally going to be used for UFO but the series was cancelled but the US syndication producers because they wanted a series based entirely in space like Star Trek, so Gerry wrote a new idea for a series based on the moon blown out of orbit rather than on a spaceship like Star Trek and used the new sets build for UFO instead.

    Cheers Roger.

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    1. Interesting background info, Roger. I never knew that.

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    1. Fab is such a Gerry Anderson word. Thanks, Gordon.

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  8. S.I.G! Excellent miniatures - do you plan to use them in a game?

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    1. Thanks, Hugh. Yes, I do plan on using them in a scenario, although I haven't finalised what rules to use yet.

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  9. Nice execution, Bryan. Takes me back to my youth. However, I'm getting a definite Rowan Atkinson vibe from Captain Magenta. A possible incarnation of Blackadder we have yet to see? Captain Yellow, perhaps? :)

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    1. Edmund Blackadder as Captain Yellow? Hell, yes! Weird but I'd watch it.

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