Thursday, 29 December 2016

Vampifan's Views 86 - Monthly Musings 60

My main Christmas present of 2016.
As 2016 draws to a close I want to take this opportunity to look back on the year and to tell you of my plans for 2017. I'll start off by telling you about some of the presents I received this Christmas. As is usual my mum gave me a big cheque so that I could buy whatever I wanted for myself. Each year I like to buy a large scale statue of Vampirella and so when I saw the statue pictured to the left of here being advertised about six months ago I immediately ordered it. Fortunately for me, I placed my order to America just before the referendum for the UK to stay in or leave the European Union took place. As a consequence I got a good deal with the exchange rate with the pound against the dollar. The statue cost $190 and I paid about £125 for it. If I'd ordered it today it would cost me £155 at the current exchange rate. It is produced by Dynamite, who are also the producers of the Vampirella monthly comic, as part of their series of statues honouring the Women of Dynamite. Here's what the blurb about the statue says, "Based on the work of comics sensation J. Scott Campbell and sculpted by the ever-talented Jason Smith, the debut statue in the brand-new "Women of Dynamite" line brings Vampirella, the iconic horror hostess and heroine, to life in all her glory! Hand-painted on cold-cast porcelain, the Vampirella statue stands approximately 12" in height with a 6" base, with each individually numbered as part of a Limited Edition run of 1969 statues (celebrating the year that Vampirella first appeared). The Women of Dynamite: Vampirella statue comes packaged in a four-colour box with a hand-numbered Certificate of Authenticity. The ravishing, raven-tressed vampire has never been so beautifully represented in three dimensions, the perfect addition to every hardcore fan's collection!" I received my statue in October but kept it boxed until Christmas day. Naturally, I'm delighted with it and it brings my number of Vampirella statues to six. Directly below are a lot more photos of my newest Vampirella statue.
That wasn't the only piece of Vampirella memorabilia I received. In mid-December a small parcel arrived for me containing a rather delightful Vampirella bottle opener. You can see it to the right of here. It is such an unusual item and I knew I wanted it as soon as I saw it. I keep it as a decorative ornament on my painting desk. Being teetotal, it is unlikely I will ever use it as a bottle opener - I only ever drink water. But as a fanatical Vampirella fanboy I am really thrilled with it. It brings a smile to my face whenever I look at it.

I also bought myself a new boardgame and its one expansion set. What, another boardgame? I hear you say. Yes, but this is very different to all of my other boardgames. For a start it does not include any miniature figures. First though, a bit of background history. From childhood I have always been fascinated with castles. This came from my father's love of castles. He was always photographing them whenever we went away on holiday. My brother and I followed in his footsteps and developed a passion for architecture. My brother actually works as an architect. I have visited many castles throughout the UK but my favourite castle of all time is situated in Bavaria, Germany. It is Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II in the late 19th century.
This impressive castle perched on a mountain top was the inspiration for Walt Disney's fairytale castle in Disney World. So, when  I saw the boardgame called Castles of Mad King Ludwig with a picture of Neuschwanstein on the front cover I became very interested. I read numerous reviews of it and watched a lot of reviews and how to play videos on YouTube and liked what I saw. It is a game for 1 to 4 players and each player takes on the role of the King's architect and must build a castle using tiles of various sizes and monetary value. Bonus points can be awarded by building certain types of tiles. The player who builds the most expensive castle after the deck of cards has run out is the winner. The rules are quite simple but there is a lot of strategy and decision making involved. I showed my brother the game and he was very enthusiastic about playing it. This was unusual as he is a computer gamer and he has never shown any interest in wanting to play any of my other boardgames. Finally, I have found a boardgame that he wants to play. Result! I mentioned that the game has rules for solo play, which was a big reason for me buying it. I've played a few solo games of it and found it a lot of fun. This is a game that really appeals to me but is unlikely to ever feature on my blog again.

I'd like to thank the following people for their kindness, for being such good friends and for sending me some amazing Christmas presents.
To Steve from The Gamers Cupboard for gifting me the Z Nation series 1 DVD boxed set. I know very little about this series but I am certain I will enjoy it, after all, it has zombies in it! 😊
To Roger from Rantings from under the Wargames Table for sending me an assortment of five very different comics and a copy of Ragnarok fanzine. I especially liked the GOMC1 scenario in the fanzine.
To Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop for proving once again that you get the best customer service from the little companies. His enthusiasm for Judge Dredd matches my own and I truly value his friendship. He very kindly sent me a couple of unique gifts when I placed a big order with him early in December - a beautiful 28mm scale figure of Tweak the alien from the Judge Dredd The Cursed Earth Saga and an alternative version of Warlord Games' Oz Judge on Trike, which I consider far superior to the official version. I'll show both of these figures early next year. Indeed, you'll be seeing a lot of Dave's figures from WTW on my blog throughout 2017.
To Andy from Da Gobbos Grotto for making me a member of his illustrious "Nerd Herd" and for sending me my own personalised dice bag, as shown in the photo above. I will use it to store my Warlord Games 10-sided dice, which I'll be using for my Judge Dredd Miniatures Game campaign. Great timing, Andy!
To Christine, my next door neighbour, who is well aware of my love of Vampirella and all things Gothic horror. She bought me this wonderfully sculpted purple dragon perched atop a giant skull (see the photo above). I was totally gob-smacked when I unwrapped it. She knows me well and correctly surmised it would be right up my street, so to speak. It was such a surprise to receive it but I couldn't be happier. It has great gaming potential.
To my brother, Mikie, who bought me the Bones series 11 DVD boxed set. He was on safe ground as I did ask him to get it for me.
Finally, to my mum for the exceedingly generous cheque and also for the huge bar of Cadbury's chocolate, which I used as a backdrop in the photo above. Yes, that's an 850gm bar of chocolate. I didn't think it too much!

Looking back on 2016 there were lots of highs and very few lows. From a gaming perspective, for me, the best thing to happen was when I received my massive amount of Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse Terrain sets. These will feature very prominently in my zombie games such as All Things Zombie and The Walking Dead, as well as my Judge Dredd Miniatures Game campaign. I have yet to showcase them in a batrep but that will change very, very soon. These sets will have the biggest impact on how I game in the future. I have always loved making card buildings and scenery but the big drawback to making them is that they are very time consuming and labour intensive. Battle Systems has created terrain that can be assembled and disassembled in a matter of minutes. And best of all, it looks AMAZING!

This neatly brings me on to my plans for 2017. Followers of my blog will know that I have spent the past two months showcasing some of my extensive collection of Judge Dredd miniatures. These are just the prelude to what will be a huge ongoing campaign based on the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game rules by Mongoose Publishing. My first JDMG batrep will appear in early January 2017, so you won't have long to wait for it. I am thinking of presenting my JDMG batreps in a very different format to all of my previous batreps. As you all know, Judge Dredd is based on a long-running strip in the the 2000AD comic. I'm planning on doing my JDMG batreps as a comic strip as well. I recently bought and downloaded the Comic Life 3 program, which is perfect for creating your own online comics. I'm keen to see how it turns out and what kind of response it receives. I expect the JDMG campaign will tie up a lot of my time in the foreseeable future. However, I won't be neglecting my other games and projects but I'm not sure how many of them will receive coverage on my blog. For example, this past month I have been playing loads of games of The Walking Dead by Mantic Games, but because I've been playing with unpainted figures I don't want to show any of them on my blog.

2017 will see me taking delivery of a few Kickstarter projects I backed in 2016, with the Battle Systems Sci-Fi 2 terrain sets being the one I am most eagerly awaiting. That is due in August, which feels like a long way off.

I am not going to make any New Year's resolutions. As long as my health stays good and I carry on enjoying my painting, model making and gaming I'll be happy. To all of my friends and followers I'd like to wish you a very happy New Year. I hope it is all you want it be and more!

26 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you had a good Christmas Bryan, and that you were pleased with the gifts you got. You are a difficult man to buy for as the obvious choice of comic for you, you already appear to own everything in existence!

    All the best for the new year (I'm jealous as heck of that Vampy statue!)

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    1. Your presents were a lovely surprise, Roger. It was nice to read about heroes I wouldn't normally consider being my cup of tea, although I have long admired Red Sonja. Yes, that was my favourite out of the selection you sent me. It made me chuckle that you think I own everything in existence. Hah! If only! :-)

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    2. Thought I was on safe ground with Sonja.

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  2. Some very nice gifts in there Bryan, the Vampirella statue is outstanding and great you got it on the better exchange rate. The best thing for 2016 has been making some great new friends who love and enjoy this hobby we share. Looking forward to a great 2017 and hopefully meeting in person some of these new friends. Also very much looking forward to seeing the batreps in comic form, outstanding idea ! Glad you liked the presents

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    1. Many thanks, Dave. The Vampirella statue was special and I was glad I bought it when I did. Your presents really made my day. Tweak is painted and the Oz Judge on Trike is getting painted right now. You can look forward to a lot of reviews of your products on my blog and lots more orders.

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    2. Look forward to seeing what you do with them, it's one of the biggest rewards seeing people enjoy painting what you create

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    3. I can well imagine that, Dave.

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  3. What a nice post :) looks like you and your mum had a jolly good Christmas. Your castle interested me: this was where they based much of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, and has in fact featured in many cool films over the past years. Its even one of my `wish list` places to visit one day. While your castles boardgame isn't something I would probably buy for myself: (a) it includes solo play (and all solo play games have oodles of potential for any self respecting lone gamer), and (b) I too have a bit of the thing for castles... that's why English Civil War appeals to me so much, as much of that conflict is all about sieges. Same with the French Indian and American Revolution Wars.. which are often all about protracted siege and fort warfare.

    I was blown away when you mentioned the Comic Life 3 program: of all the random chances... THIS is the same program I am seriously looking to purchase for myself for my Gotham Redux campaign stories for my own site. I looked at many of the apps and this one is the one impressed me the most. So I may very well buy it as well for the second season (as I call my stories) right after the current season one - the "Carlotta" chapters; as I want to go all comic script by summer of 2017.

    I opened a very sturdy parcel on Christmas Day: and was delighted at the contents. Beatrix The Witch Queen an her freaky Ghost Creeps, and GORO Fairy Lord and his mischievous Giri Creeps. My adventures with of Super Dungeon Explore will be greatly enhanced by these cool additions to the game. Very much appreciated :)

    Unlike you Bryan (I know its silly, but I enjoy it) I do like doing the `New year Resolutions` thing: for me find it focusses me on new projects (and resolves my metal on old and current hobby projects as well), and I use it as a way to plan my hobby year.. and invigorate and inspire me. For this very reason I always very much enjoy January and planning out the forthcoming year.

    A lovely post to finish off 2016 Bryan, and jut remains to be said, A Very Nappy New Year to you and your Mum.

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    1. Many, many thanks, Steve. Mum and I had a very quiet Christmas... as usual, Sadly for us, Christmas had never been the same since my dad died in 2011, just a few weeks before Christmas.

      You are right about Neuschwanstein appearing in many films. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was certainly one. Also, you can see it at the end of "The Great Escape." I knew we shared a love of castles from some of your past e-mails.

      I can highly recommend Comic Life 3. I, too, have been searching for comic apps or programs and this seemed to tick all the boxes for me. I have already tried it out doing some sample comic pages and it works very well. With Dredd being a comic strip, doing comic-style batreps seemed like a natural choice. Your Gotham campaign will fit this format extremely well. See what I do with it next month and then decide if its what you want.

      I'm delighted that Beatrix and Goro were so well received. Beatrix is one of my all time favourite SDE characters!

      I have made resolutions in the past few years and pretty much stuck to them. But I decided to keep things simple this year and all I want is a happy life. Whatever you decide on I wish you well.

      A very "Nappy" new year? I'd rather settle for "Happy!" All the best to you and your family!

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  4. OMG did I really put Nappy hahahaa, I`m sooooo sorry lol.

    yes, happy happy happy :)))

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    1. Yep, you sure did say "Nappy." I was thinking, am I going to be a father in 2017? If so, what does Steve know that I don't? And who's the mother? LOL!

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  5. HAHAHAHAhahahahaahahahahahaa, that's so cool :))


    .... and CONGRATULATIONS - what you calling her? *wink*


    *grins wickedly*

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    1. Err... Vampi, if it's a girl. That's providing her mother (whoever she is) agrees! *Chuckle!*

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    1. And to you too, Tarot. I hope it is a great one for you!

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  7. A good year buddy! Some great posts this year and lovely minis. As you know I can't wait for the JDMG batreps.

    2017 is gonna be a good hobby filled spectacular

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    1. Thanks, Andy. 2016 was a very good year for me both health-wise and hobby-wise. I fervently hope that 2017 will be even better. You won't have too long to wait for my first JDMG batreps.

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  8. An outstanding posting Bryan, with your Vampirella statue being well worth the wait imho. It looks absolutely stunning and, despite its cost, clearly well worth the money!!. I was especially pleased to see its connected to "Dynamite Entertainment, and as such is an official version of the comic book character - excellent stuff!! Though I would have hoped you'd have picked up a suitable Ash sculpt too, so as to remind you of this year's great comic book crossover "Vampirella/Army Of Darkness"; I'm sure you can't have forgotten that classic mini-series so soon ;-)

    As to "Castles" - I'd certainly appreciate a review if possible, or at least some more thoughts on its solo play potential. Its review on "board game authority" was rather underwhelming and seemed to say the game was rather broken with less than four players - so your solo thoughts would be especially appreciated?

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    1. I always appreciate your comments, Simon, and I love reading your own blogs. I was looking on eBay today and someone was asking £240 for the same Vampirella statue I showed here! That's nearly double what I paid for her.

      As for "Castles" like most boardgames it works best with more players. Four players is the optimum choice. Solo play is very different to the 2, 3 or 4 player versions and not nearly as challenging. I certainly would not describe it as being underwhelming if you aren't playing with 4 players. The bottom line is that I like it a lot, so that's all that counts for me.

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  9. New years resolutions last on AVERAGE 8 days. (yes some last longer and some do not last until night fall) so No resolutions is a good idea.

    If you feel you need to change anything then do so. Do not wait, just change it.

    As for everything else it all looks good. And I shall await the JD Bat rep with much interest!

    Hope the season is treating you well. All the best Mate.

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    1. Cheers, Clint. I've decided that New Year's resolutions are not for me. I wish you all the best and every happiness for the New Year.

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  10. Apologies for the late comment, Bryan - I'm trying to catch up on all my favourite blogs before the New Year turns. I'm glad you had a nice Christmas and a good Christmas haul.
    I'm looking forward to seeing your Judge Dredd batreps in the New Year, as the combination of your painted miniatures and your Battle Systems terrain should making it really memorable.

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    1. No apologies needed, Jez. It's always nice to hear from you. I'm so looking forward to starting my JDMG campaign. Not long to wait now.

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  11. Sounds good Bryan. I'm interested in what you produce with the comic book software. Presenting Dredd reports in that form would be awesome so I'm looking forward to those. If you haven't started painting your TWD set yet that's cool; I think mine will show up tomorrow so we could have a race (I'm a pretty slow runner though :) ).

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    1. Many thanks, HP. The much anticipated JDMG batrep will appear next week and it is in comic format.
      I haven't started painting my TWD figures yet, as I'm still concentrating on Judge Dredd. I look forward to seeing your own output.

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