Friday, 29 April 2016

Vampifan's Views 78 - Monthly Musings 53

What a busy month April has been for me. I'll start, as usual, with my latest picture of the gorgeous Vampirella as painted by the supremely talented Joe Jusko. Vampire and Zombie in one picture - the perfect combination for my blog.

So what has Vampifan been up to this month? First and foremost was the launch of my new blog - All Things Dungeon Crawl, which is being run on a weekly basis collectively by myself and three very good friends, games designer Stephen Gilbert, his partner Hilary and our latest recruit, Tarot Hunt. Please do check it out. Here's a link to it -
It has one of the liveliest comments sections of any blog I've read. Feel free to join in. This week's post features our first batrep for the Chibi World game and a link to download the complete Chibi World rules for free.

On the painting front, I'm getting lots done. As well as painting brand new 28mm scale Wild West figures from various sources, I'm also repainting and re-basing many of my old 28mm scale Wild West figures. I now have loads to show you, which is a nice situation to be in. Figures that have gone off the table are 15 Crossover Miniatures Ninjas, painted up as Foot Assassins to use as opponents for my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I also painted a stunningly beautiful Black Scorpion Birthday Girl as a St. Trinian's sixth former. She was such a pleasure to paint - drool! Currently on my painting table are 5 North Star Wild West gunfighters and 6 civilians, 6 Greebo Games not-TMNT allies and villains, 2 Ninja All Stars Ronin and a Super Dungeon Explore Mini-Boss. Quite a mix, I'm sure you'll agree.

Despite my efforts to cut down on spending more money on Kickstarter projects I failed spectacularly this month and backed two within a week or so of each other. First up was the new sci-fi/Western game by Soda Pop Games called Rail Raiders Infinite. This just ticked so many boxes for me - sci-fi, Wild West, Chibi miniatures and simple and fast game play. You can check out my preview of it here.
The other game I backed was Rum and Bones: Second Tide, which was another no-brainer for me, seeing as I loved the first Rum and Bones game so much. Please, no one remind me that I have yet to paint any figures for this game (yes, Simon, I am thinking of you!). I know and I will get round to them... sometime.

One thing that did please me immensely was that I managed to play 3 games a total of 8 times this month. WOOT! All of them were games that arrived this month. First up, I played two games of Thunderbirds by Modiphius Games. This parcel contained the three expansion sets I had ordered when I first backed this Kickstarter project. Expansion set 1 adds three new player characters to the mix - Brains, Parker and Tin-Tin. Expansion set 2 adds 10 new non-International Rescue vehicles to aid in rescues. Expansion set 3, which I haven't played and to be honest, am not too keen on, sees the villainous Hood take a much more active part in the game as a player character in his own right. The two games I played used the first two expansion sets, individually, not together.

The second game that I played was Airfix Battles, which is also produced by Modiphius Games. It is a simple World War 2 boardgame played at squad levels. You do have the option to replace the card counters with your Airfix toy soldiers and model tanks if you so desire. The game is fast, fun and easy to play. In fact, I enjoyed playing it so much I played it five times in three days. The game is designed to be played by 1 to 4 players. Despite the solo play rules, I played all of my games with the rules for a two player game. Funnily enough, all five of my games resulted in resounding victories for either the Allies or the Germans. There was never a closely fought game where the outcome was in doubt. The setting is Normandy in 1944, starting just after the D-Day landings. If there is interest in the game I'll do a full review later. This was not a Kickstarter project. I bought it purely for nostalgic reasons as I used to collect hundreds of Airfix figures and models as a youngster. It costs £24.99.

The third and final game that I played (just the once) was Project Z by Warlord Games. Yes, folks, what we have here is yet another zombie apocalypse game. This was designed primarily as a game for those who collect the former Wargames Factory plastic multi-part zombie and survivor figures. Warlord Games now produce these sets and have added two new sets to the range - bikers and special forces troopers. All of these figure sets are excellent and you can mix and match the parts between the sets giving you so much variety and choices. However, whilst the figures are top notch the game failed to impress me. I will do a full review of the game next time as it is very relevant to this blog but my advice to you would be buy the figures but don't buy the game.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Killer B Games Criminals with Shotguns

I have more wonderful 1970's style 28mm scale villains made by Killer B Games to show you. This time, the one thing they all have in common is that all six are armed with Shotguns. I have given them all names to help identify them better.
So, starting at the far left is Marc Jessup, a gang leader, who could be either a Villainous Star or Co-Star in 7TV2e. He is carrying a 12 Gauge Pump-Action Shotgun and is aiming a .38 Revolver. With his sunglasses, porn-star moustache and huge sideburns he could only be a 1970's character. You'll find him on Killer B Games webstore in the "Geezers! Shut It!" range as KB023 Blagger with Shotgun and Pistol.
In the centre of this group is balding Roger Longhurst, who is armed with a Double-Barrelled Sawn-Off Shotgun. He is KB015 Bald Geezer with Sawn-Off Shotgun. Finally, is hippie criminal, Jeremy Campbell. He is definitely not all about "peace and love!" He is armed with a Sawn-Off Pump-Action Shotgun and he is KB019 Funky Geezer on the Killer B Games webstore.
At the far left of my second trio of ne'er-do-wells is "Mad Mike" Turrell, a psychopathic thug, very much in the same mould as Gang Boss, Charlie Slater. On the Killer B Games webstore he has been painted as having white hair and beard. I almost went with that paint scheme myself but in the end I decided to make him a much younger version. Not surprisingly he is known as KB017 Bearded Geezer with Pump-Action Shotgun.
In the centre of this trio is Davey Lowe, who is armed with a Double-Barrelled Sawn-Off Shotgun. He is unshaven and unkempt and a low level criminal. You'll find him on Killer B Games' webstore as KB004 Geezer with Sawn-Off Shotgun.
Last of all, is a figure that some of you may recognise - he is a dead ringer for Jack Carter (played by Michael Caine), the eponymous villain of the 1971 film, Get Carter. Forget the awful remake with Sylvester Stallone! I could have named him Jack Carter but seeing as how the film ended I decided to slightly change his name to Michael Carter, mixing up the character and actor's names. He is, rather unusually, armed with a Pump-Action Shotgun (in the film, Carter used a Double-Barrelled Shotgun. See photo below) and he wears his trademark black trench coat. He is a terrific figure and such an iconic villain. Killer B Games sell him as KB009 Hitman with Shotgun. I'd most likely use him as a Hitman Criminal Extra in 7TV2e.
As always, each of these figures costs a mere £2.00 each. Let's get tooled up!
Michael Caine as Jack Carter in an opening scene of the film, Get Carter.

Friday, 22 April 2016

7TV2e Criminals in Balaclavas

Here is Charlie Slater's gang that I'll be using in my first game of 7TV2e (see my last post about Criminal Masterminds to see who Charlie Slater is). These figures are predominantly by Killer B Games with one addition from Ral Partha, who is a real "blast from the past." All six figures have been named by me.
At the far left of the two photos above and below is Slater's right hand man, Micky Neville. He is armed with a 12 Gauge Sawn-Off Pump-Action Shotgun and is carrying a bag of money. Like Slater, he is dressed in a British Army camouflage jacket. Both men grew up in South London and have been close friends all their lives. He'll be a Faithful Lackey Co-Star in my 7TV2e scenario. On the Killer B Games webstore he is KB042 Masked Raider with Shotgun and Sack.
Next up are two Bruiser Thugs armed with a 12 Gauge Sawn-Off Pump-Action Shotgun and a 12 Gauge Double-Barrelled Sawn-Off Shotgun. In the centre is Dougie Wetherall and at far right is Tom Kilgour. You can find these on the Killer B Games webstore as KB046 Masked Raider with Pump Action Shotgun and KB044 Masked Raider with Sawn Off Shotgun respectively.
Moving on, I have two more Bruiser Thugs made by Killer B Games. At the far left is Colin Briggs, armed with a pick-axe handle and in the centre is George Houseman, armed with a 9mm Pistol and carrying a money bag. These are KB045 Masked Raider with Pick Axe Handle and KB043 Masked Raider with Pistol and Sack.
Bringing up the rear, is Paddy MacDee who is armed with a 5.56mm Colt M16A2 Assault Rifle. He was made by Ral Partha and is a very old 25mm scale figure of mine. In those days all 1" tall figures were 25mm scale. Then scale-creep raised the average height to 28mm and we now regard that as the norm for 1" figures. Paddy is a teenager and so his lack of height is not an issue for me.
All of the Killer B Games figures cost £2.00 each. Good luck finding the Ral Partha Masked Raider with Assault Rifle as he is long out of production and I can't even remember what range he came from, although I am certain he was made by Ral Partha.

Monday, 18 April 2016

7TV2e Criminal Masterminds 01

Having concentrated on the Police figures I plan on using in my 7TV2e games these past few weeks, it is now time to look at their opposition, starting with this post concentrating on the criminal masterminds - the Villainous Stars and Co-Stars.
At the far left is Tony "King Tut" Tuttle, who bears a close resemblance to the inimitable Arthur Daley (played by George Cole) in the TV series of Minder. I might have named him Arthur Daley, but Crooked Dice Games gave him a much cooler name, in my opinion, and so I have stuck with that. In 7TV2e I see "King Tut" as either an Underworld Boss Star or as a Faithful Lackey Co-Star. He appears to be unarmed but there is a good chance he's carrying a concealed pistol. He costs £3.50 on the CDG webstore.
In the centre of the group is another CDG figure who bears a close resemblance to yet another well known villain from TV - "Genial" Harry Grout (as played by Peter Vaughan) in Porridge. "Grouty" as he was also known as, was feared by prisoners and prison guards alike. Upon his release from prison he returned to his life of crime and eventually died of a heart attack. This time, I have decided to keep the name as CDG have not named him, simply referring to him as Underworld Boss to tie in with his Villainous Star status. On the CDG webstore he has been painted with a white shirt and black tie. I decided to swap the colours round and it works very well, in my opinion. He is quite expensive, costing £4.00.
At the far right is Charlie Slater, a crime boss made by Killer B Games. He'll be making an appearance in my first 7TV2e scenario, either as an Underworld Boss Star or as a Jackbooted Sadist Co-Star. He's a vicious bastard who specialises in violent crime, notably armed robbery. On Killer B Games' webstore you'll find him listed as KB006 In Scarf with Pistol, where he costs a mere £2.00.
All three are full of character and great sculpts and each one makes for a great Mister Big. "King Tut" and Grouty (doesn't he just ooze menace?) are more sophisticated villains; both share a love of expensive cigars. Slater, on the other hand is one of the new breed of criminals, violent, hot-headed and unpredictable. I'm going to have lots of fun running these guys.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Killer B Games UK Policemen with Caps

I reach the end of my batch of reviews of Detectives and UK Policemen from the 1970's and 1980's to use in my games of 7TV2e. This time I'm showcasing six Killer B Games 28mm scale Policemen wearing caps. When I saw these figures my first thought was to use them as members of the Special Patrol Group (SPG). The SPG was active from 1961 to 12 January 1987, being replaced by the Territorial Support Group.
The SPG recruited experienced officers capable of working as disciplined teams, either in uniform or in plain clothes preventing public disorder, targeting areas of serious crime, carrying out stop and searches or providing a response to terrorist threats. It also conducted its own surveillance and was tasked with reducing the problem of burglaries. During the time it was active it had a dedicated radio channel and a fleet of vans to allow it to work independently of routine divisions.
The SPG originally consisted of four units based throughout London. This was increased to six and finally to eight. Each unit was made up of an inspector, three sergeants and thirty constables. Its position within the Metropolitan Police was unusual; whereas the Flying Squad became the symbol of the Criminal Investigation Department in London, the SPG became recognised as a unit that efficient uniformed officers could aspire to join. As such it had an exceptionally high level of esprit de corps. Other police forces outside London created their own versions of the Special Patrol Group. The Greater Manchester Police created the Tactical Aid Group (TAG) in 1977. The Merseyside Police formed the Task Force in 1974 which was later disbanded in 1978 and replaced with the Operational Support Division (OSD).
In the two photos above are KB012 Police Officer in Cap Standing, KB010 Police Office in Cap Tapping Truncheon and KB028 Police Officer in Cap Swinging Truncheon. The Officer at the far left of this group is Inspector Steven Dyson, leader of this group and the only one I have named so far. The other figures are all unnamed constables.
Next up are three more constables who appear of the Killer B Games webstore as KB011 Police Officer in Cap Advancing, KB026 Police Officer in Cap with Pistol and KB027 Police Officer in Cap Firing Pistol. All six figures can be bought for just £2.00 each.
In 7TV2e I would use Inspector Dyson as a Strongarm Co-star and the five constables as Riot Police Constable Extras, due to their superior training in dealing with violent crimes. I'm not sure when I'll get round to using them in a game but they are good to have, especially if I want a small group of cops that are better equipped to dealing with trouble than my ordinary Police Constable Extras.

If you haven't checked out my other blog, why not give it a view. You may well be pleasantly surprised as it is a very different beast to this blog. Here's the link to it - 
The comments received so far have been highly favourable and quite surprisingly, very long, which is great because Steve, Hilary and myself love writing and we do enjoy a long chat about anything to do with gaming. Oh, and it's not all about Chibis!

Monday, 11 April 2016

7TV2e UK Policemen with Helmets and WPCs

I have more UK-based policemen in helmets to show you and a small selection of Women Police Constables (WPCs). Once again, these are a mix of 28mm scale figures from Crooked Dice Games and Killer B Games.
The three Police Constables shown directly above and below are from Crooked Dice Games' range of Heroes and Allies - Coppers sets 1 and 2. All are wielding their truncheons in an aggressive manner. The figure at the far left is from set 1 and is Copper with Truncheon.
The other two figures are from Coppers set 2. The one in the centre is Copper Running and the one at far right is Copper Kicking. All three figures cost £3.25 each. As with the other CDG police constables I showed last time these come with separate helmeted heads, which you can replace with other heads from the CDG webstore.
Next, are the Women Police Constables. At the far left is WPC Cathy Black, one of three figures found in CDG's Tough Detectives set. If you want to buy her individually, she costs £3.50. She is a one-piece casting.
The other two WPCs are made by Killer B Games. In the centre is KB040 WPC Standing. I have named her Annie Cartwright as she looks remarkably like this character from the Life on Mars TV series. Annie was played by Liz White and she became the girlfriend of DS Sam Tyler. Annie was far more intelligent than she was given credit for by her male colleagues. Only Sam saw her true potential and it was he who helped her gain eventual promotion to Detective Constable.
At the far right is KB041 WPC Walking, whom I have named Juliet "Bravo" Bartley. She gained her nickname from the 1980's TV series, Juliet Bravo, a cop drama that starred Stephanie Turner in series 1 to 3 and Anna Carteret in series 4 to 6. Note that Juliet Bravo was not a character but a radio call sign for the Police Inspector played by the two leading actresses.
I'm sure that CDG's Cathy Black was meant to represent Annie Cartwright but I think the Killer B Games version is a much better likeness. The two Killer B Games WPCs cost £2.00 each.

Friday, 8 April 2016

7TV2e UK Policemen with Helmets 01

Having previously looked at a few 1970's and 1980's style police detectives I'm now switching my focus to the beat patrolmen from the United Kingdom, or as DCI Gene Hunt so delicately calls them, "the plods!"
At the far left of the two photos directly above and below here is an unnamed Police Constable from Crooked Dice Games. He is one of three figures from the Coppers set 1. He is holding a torch in his right hand. He comes with a separate helmeted head but you have the option of using alternative heads for him, the most obvious choice being the peaked cap version. I was quite happy to leave him with his helmeted head. On the CDG webstore he is available to buy with a police dog for £4.50 for them both. I've painted the dog but I'll show it later.
The other two Police Constables are made by Killer B Games. In the centre is KB-032 British Bobby Advancing and at far right is KB-031 British Bobby Tapping Truncheon. Unlike the CDG coppers, these are all one-piece castings. They cost £2.00 each.
Moving on, at the far left is another Police Constable made by Killer B Games. He is KB-033 British Bobby Standing. He also costs £2.00. I haven't named any of my Police Constables yet, but I'm sure I will once I get round to using them in a batrep.
The two remaining policemen are from Crooked Dice Games. In the centre is Police Sergeant Tony Sykes (I figured he deserved a name because of his rank). He is easily identifiable by his bushy beard and, of course, by his sergeant's stripes. He is part of the Coppers set 2 and he costs £3.25. He comes with the separate bearded, helmeted head.
Finally, is a Police Constable from CDG's Coppers set 1 and he is known as Copper with Whistle. The whistle is held in his right hand. He also costs £3.25.
All of these will be used as Extras in upcoming games of 7TV2e. All are very nicely sculpted and are worth having if you want to use UK bobbies on the beat in any of your games. Next time I'll be reviewing yet more bobbies on the beat from Crooked Dice Games and Killer B Games.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Killer B Games Detectives

Killer B Games produces a 1970's inspired and themed game called Geezers! "Shut it!" which I own but have never played. It is a niche genre of gaming that fascinates me as I grew up watching and enjoying these types of cop shows when they first aired. Now that Crooked Dice Games have brought out 7TV2e, a similar kind of game, and in my opinion, better produced, I can recreate on the table top scenarios starring some of my favourite TV characters of old.
My favourite TV cop show of all time was The Sweeney, which ran from 1975 to 1978. It spawned three feature-length films, one of which was an updated version made in 2012. The programme's title derives from Sweeney Todd, which is Cockney rhyming slang for the Flying Squad, a branch of the Metropolitan Police specialising in tackling armed robbery and violent crime in London. It was a fast-paced edge-of-your-seat action series, depicting the Squad's relentless battle against armed robbery; but it nevertheless included a substantial degree of humour. For the time, it had a high degree of graphic on-screen violence and the episodes had many character deaths.
At the far left of the two photos directly above and below is Detective Inspector Jack Regan (played by John Thaw. John "Jack" Regan is the Flying Squad's chief "thief-taker". He is a tough police officer, often frustrated by Scotland Yard's red tape. Originally from Manchester (like Thaw himself), he has been in London for several years, so his accent has modified somewhat, but traces of his northern origins are still evident. He also refers to his northern roots every now and again (his poor upbringing, his father's work on the Manchester Ship Canal), which brings mild ridicule from George Carter, a Londoner, such as humming "The Red Flag". A heavy drinker and smoker (comically, he is sometimes seen stealing other people's cigarettes), Regan has some success with the ladies – although not as much as Carter. He can be seen as quick with his fists. He has an ex-wife, Kate, and a daughter, Susie. On the Killer B Games webstore, Regan is shown as KB-001 Flying Squad Guvnor, where he costs £2.00.
Next in line is Detective Sergeant George Carter (played by Dennis Waterman) who comes from South London. Regan seeks him out in the pilot episode, Regan, because of his knowledge of the South London area. We learn that George had previously been in the Squad, but had quit for family reasons. George was married to Alison Carter, a schoolteacher, but is widowed in the series 2 episode Hit and Run when Alison is murdered by mistake by a gang of diamond smugglers. He's a former amateur boxer, as we see from the pilot episode, and is described as having professional boxing potential. Like his superior, he's fond of drinking, football, and after the death of his wife - womanising. Carter isn't as violent or aggressive as Regan and usually plays the good cop.
Moving on is Detective Sergeant Tom Daniels (played by John Alkin) who is the most prominent member of the supporting Squad. He is a solid and reliable copper.
Last in line is Detective Constable Jerry Burtonshaw (played by Nick Brimble) who is softly spoken but a good scrapper. Note that all four detectives are armed with .38 Revolvers, a snub-nosed version for Regan and longer-barrelled versions for the others.
These characters can be found on the Killer B Games webstore as KB-002 Flying Squad Skipper for Carter, KB-008 US Lone Wolf Detective, who was actually meant to represent Inspector "Dirty Harry" Callahan but I already had a better figure for him so I used him as Tom Daniels, and KB-024 Geezer in Shoulder Holster for Burtonshaw. All three figures cost £2.00 each.
The next four figures represent the main characters from two more 1970's drama series - The Professionals, which ran from 1977 to 1981 and Starsky and Hutch, which ran from 1975 to 1979.
The Professionals feature a team working for CI5 (Criminal Intelligence 5), a fictional British law enforcement department, instructed by the home secretary to use any means to deal with crimes of a serious nature that go beyond the capacity of the police, but are not tasks for the security service or military. The choice of name CI5 is possibly inspired by Criminal Investigation Department and MI5. The premise allowed the programme-makers to involve a wide variety of villains including terrorists, hit-men, racist groups and espionage suspects, with plots sometimes relating to the "Cold War." Led by the formidable George Cowley (played by Gordon Jackson), CI5 is known for using unconventional and sometimes illegal methods to beat criminals, or as Cowley put it "Fight fire with fire!"
Cowley's two best agents are William Bodie (played by Lewis Collins) and Ray Doyle (played by Martin Shaw). Bodie (shown at far left in my photos directly above and below) is an ex-paratrooper, mercenary and SAS (Special Air Service) sergeant while Doyle (the figure shown armed with a 5.56mm Steyr-Aug Assault Rifle) is an ex-detective constable who has worked the seedier parts of London. Of the two, Doyle is the softer, compassionate and more thoughtful character, while Bodie is ruthless and more willing to take on criminals on their own terms. That said, Doyle is more hot-headed and tended to rush in, while Bodie waits for the shooting to start. While polar opposites, Bodie and Doyle have a deep and enduring friendship, and are almost inseparable. Although their loyalty to Cowley is beyond question, they have no qualms about disobeying orders if it means getting the right result, either for the case or themselves.
Bodie and Doyle can be found on the Killer B Games webstore as KB-021 Police Agent with Pistol and KB-020 Police Agent with Steyr-Aug. They cost £2.00 each.
Finally, are the eponymous heroes of U.S. cop drama series, Starsky and Hutch. The series' protagonists were two Southern California police detectives; David Michael Starsky (played by Paul Michael Glaser), the dark-haired, Brooklyn transplant and U.S. Army veteran, with a street-wise manner and intense, sometimes childlike moodiness; and Kenneth "Hutch" Hutchinson (played by David Soul), the blond, Duluth, Minnesota native with a more reserved and intellectual approach. Under the radio call sign "Zebra Three", they were known for usually tearing around the streets of fictional "Bay City, California". The vehicle of choice was Starsky's two-door Ford Gran Torino, which was bright red, with a large white vector stripe on both sides.
Starsky is shown second from right wearing his trademark chunky patterned cardigan. He is armed with a 9mm Colt M1911A1 Pistol. Hutch, at far right, wears a baseball jacket and is armed with a .357 Colt Python Magnum Revolver.
On the Killer B Games webstore this pair are identified as KB-013 U.S. Detective in Fleece Cardigan and KB-014 U.S. Detective in Baseball Jacket. Once again, they cost £2.00 each.
I liked all three shows but I'd place them in order of preference as The Sweeney, The Professionals and Starsky and Hutch. The importance of The Sweeney cannot be overstated. At its time it was ground-breaking TV and without it series such as Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes would never have been made.

I have just launched my new blog, All Things Dungeon Crawl, which can be found here -
The plan is to post Vampifan's World of the Undead every Monday and Friday and All Things Dungeon Crawl every Wednesday. Note that while ATDC will initially be concentrating on the Chibi games of Chibi World and Super Dungeon Explore it will expand to cover other types of dungeon crawl games that have nothing to do with Chibis.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

7TV2e Detectives 01

I wasn't sure whether to call this post "7TV2e Detectives" or "Crooked Dice Games and Killer B Games Detectives." The latter might be accurate but it is long winded and besides which, all of these figures will feature predominantly in my 7TV2e games. What I have for you are two sets of figures based on the BBC TV series of Life On Mars (2006 to 2007) and Ashes to Ashes (2008 to 2010).
These five 28mm scale figures are part of the Crooked Dice Games range of 7TV2e Heroes. They are very clearly based on the detectives from Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes, although CDG have got round copyright problems by renaming them. Not so me! For me, these ARE the heroes of two of my all-time favourite TV cop series.
Life on Mars tells the fictional story of Sam Tyler (played by John Simm), a policeman in service with the Greater Manchester Police. After being hit by a car in 2006, Tyler awakens in 1973 to find himself working for the predecessor of the GMP, the Manchester and Salford Police, at the same station and location as in 2006. Early on in the series, it becomes apparent to Tyler that he awakes as a Detective Inspector, one rank lower than his 2006 rank of Detective Chief Inspector. As part of the Criminal Investigation Department, Tyler finds himself working under the command of DCI Gene Hunt (played by Philip Glenister). Throughout the two series, the plot centres on the ambiguity concerning Tyler's predicament and the lack of clarity, to both the audience and the character, whether he has died, gone mad, become comatose, or actually travelled back in time.
Ashes to Ashes tells the story of DI Alex Drake (played by Keeley Hawes), a police officer in service with the London Metropolitan Police, who is shot in 2008 by a man called Arthur Layton and inexplicably regains consciousness in 1981. The first episode of the series reveals that, in the present day, Drake has been studying records of the events seen in Life On Mars through reports made by Sam Tyler after he regained consciousness in the present. Upon waking in the past she is surprised to meet the returning characters of DCI Gene Hunt, DS Ray Carling (played by Dean Andrews) and DC Chris Skelton (played by Marshall Lancaster), all of whom she has learned about from her research, the trio having transferred from the Manchester setting of Life on Mars (Manchester and Salford Police) to London.
Tension between Drake and Hunt is built through the unsatisfactory explanation of Sam Tyler's absence and the perceived underhandedness and shoddy work of Hunt in contrast to the methodical, ethical and thoroughly modern Drake. Continuing the theme of Life on Mars, throughout the series, it is ambiguous to both Drake and the audience whether the character is dead or alive in the present day and to what extent her actions influence future events.
From left to right are Detective Inspector Sam Tyler, Detective Inspector Alex Drake, Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt, Detective Sergeant Ray Carling and Detective Constable Chris Skelton. The likenesses to the real life characters are spot on and even their poses capture the personalities of them quite brilliantly. Note that Sam and Alex never met but as a "what if?" scenario it would be intriguing to play where they do meet up. On the CDG webstore these figures are listed as Tough Detective Lenny Kennedy, The Duchess, Tough Detective Frank Skelton, DC Drew Falstaff and Beat Detective.
Moving on, we have the main cast from Life On Mars as imagined by Killer B Games. From left to right are alternative versions of Sam Tyler, Gene Hunt, Ray Carling and Chris Skelton. I prefer the CDG versions to these, although there is nothing wrong with either set. For the Killer B Games detectives I decided to name them after the characters from 7TV2e's own fictional cop series, The Beat. So from left to right are Detective Sergeant Lenny Kennedy, Detective Inspector Frank Skelton, Detective Constable Drew Falstaff and Detective Constable Matt Jordan (whom CDG did not name). On the Killer B Games webstore these four are listed as KB-050 Wimpish DI, KB-049 Tough Northern DI, KB-037 Mr. Polyester (I converted him by adding a revolver in a holster to his right hip), and KB-035 Young Geezer (I converted him by giving him a revolver in his right hand).
The Killer B Games detectives cost just £2.00 each. The Crooked Dice Games detectives are more expensive at £3.50 each.
I plan on using the CDG cast for Ashes to Ashes (i.e. Alex, Gene, Ray and Chris) in my first game of 7TV2e. They will be accompanied by four uniformed coppers in an ambush against a gang of violent robbers. I hope to showcase this batrep next month as I still have a lot more cops (and villains) to show you.
Life On Mars and Ashes to Ashes were two of the best cop dramas to appear on TV. Having modern day detectives like Sam and Alex go back in time to the 1970's and 1980's respectively was a work of genius. Their modern policing methods were very much at odds with those used by Gene, Ray and Chris. Different times, different attitudes. DCI Gene Hunt is a legend and unquestionably the star of both shows even if he is a monster. He is tough, uncompromising, hard as nails, misogynistic, frequently brutal and always politically incorrect. The contrast between Gene and both Sam and Alex is marked but over time they develop mutual respect. The shows contain some cracking dialogue, which at times are laugh out loud funny, including this classic gem from Gene, "No one move! You are surrounded by armed bastards!"
The main cast of Life On Mars. From left to right are DC Chris Skelton, DCI Gene Hunt, DI Sam Tyler, DS Ray Carling and WPC Annie Cartwright. I'll be showcasing my 28mm scale figure of Annie very soon in a separate post. Once again, both Crooked Dice Games and Killer B Games make a version of her.
The main cast of Ashes to Ashes. From left to right are DS Ray Carling, DCI Gene Hunt, DI Alex Drake and DC Chris Skelton.