Sunday 28 June 2009

ATZ: Haven

The first supplement for Two Hour Wargames' All Things Zombie game is now available to buy as either a booklet or a PDF file. When I reviewed the core rulebook - ATZ:Better Dead Than Zed I did not realise at the time that it was the first part of a trilogy. Had I known that, I would not have criticised THW for their lack of scenarios in the book. It is now apparent that to get the most out of this game you need all three books and they need to be read through and more importantly, played through in sequence.
This is essentially a book of scenarios, 15 in total. You don't have to play them all and if you are running a campaign either solo or with a single group of players it is unlikely you'll need to play all 15. You see, what scenarios you play depends greatly upon who your group of survivors are.
ATZ:Better Dead Than Zed essentially covered what happened on days one to three of the zombie apocalypse. ATZ:Haven covers the events from days four to twenty-one.
There is a small section that comes under the heading "The Choice" that is fundamentally important to the running of the game. No matter what class of character you start play as, (Civilian, Ganger, Military, National Guard, Police or Survivor) after three weeks are up you must make the choice as to what he or she will become. And your choices are limited to three - Military, Ganger or Survivor. Even the Military types can turn rogue and end up as a Ganger or a Survivor. In truth, there is little difference between being a Ganger or a Survivor other than moral attitude. Both are out for themselves. Gangers prefer the cities, Survivors prefer the countryside but this is not universal. The rules state "Gangers are those Civilians, Police, Guardsmen and Military characters that have crossed the line and care only for their own gain." Whereas a Survivor "accepts the world as it is. If the world is going to be saved, that's all well and good, except it's not their job. Until then they'll look out for their own." Of course, there is nothing stopping you from playing a Ganger, Military or Survivor from the start. You can play these scenarios first, before making your choice but at some point during days 1 to 21 of the zombie apocalypse you will have to make "The Choice."
The scenarios are listed and should be played in the following order. In brackets after each scenario is the class that the scenario is written for. DAYS 1-5 Domestic Disturbance (Police), DAYS 6-9 Quarantine (Police), Exodus (Survivors), Riot (Police), DAYS 10-14 Gang (Gangers), Protection (National Guard), Riot (National Guard), Territory (Gangers), Law and Order (Military), Evacuation (Military), DAYS 15-21 Supply Convoy (Military), Ambush (Gangers), Safe Zone (Military), Breakdown (Military) and Nowhere, Nevada (Survivors). The scenarios are written for starting characters, which is wholly appropriate. They do get progressively tougher and due to the random encounters and events of each scenario allow for repeat playability if you so desire. Ed Texeira writes in his designer notes, "Haven is an intense book. You will soon come to realise that there will be times when you cannot win. Let me repeat that, there will be times when you cannot win. That's how it should be because IMHO when the outbreak comes everyone loses. But how bad you lose is up to you. Maybe the best way to look at it is playing Haven is good practice for the real game... an ATZ campaign."
This is an excellent supplement and an essential purchase if you already own ATZ:Better Dead Than Zed. Not only do you get 15 well written scenarios but for Survivor players there is a fully detailed base camp - Nowhere, Nevada. This comes with named NPCs, with full stats and equipment, saving a harrassed GM a lot of work. You don't have to use the base as your HQ and obviously, it doesn't have to be in Nevada, but if you want it, it's there to use. My only criticism, and it is a minor one, is that some of the photos are not as clear as they should be. I think that is down to the fact that 15mm figures are used throughout the book, all by Rebel Minis. In book form, ATZ:Haven costs $20, whilst the PDF file costs $17.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

ERM Zombies

ERM stands for East Riding Miniatures and I'm going to review their small range of 28mm scale zombies. These two sets come from their Golgo Island range. First up is set GG4 Zombies Pack 1, which comprises the five figures shown above. Look closely at their poses and apart from the chap at the far right they could all pass for living civilian NPCs. This view is further reinforced by the fact that not one of them appears to be wounded. Any blood you see on the figures has been painted on to make them appear more interesting! There are no tears or rips in their clothing. As zombies go these are very neat and tidy and clean. I'm not going to review each one individually like I normally do because they are all so bland and uninteresting.

Set GG5 Zombies Pack 2 features the same five figures from the first set but each one has been slightly converted by the sculptor. I've got nothing against this practice - just look at my review of the Crocodile Games' zombies to see what a fine example Chris Fitzpatrick did of converting. However, these five conversions are even more bland than the first set. The chap at the far right now looks like he could be hailing a taxi! If I hadn't painted them with pallid grey flesh and added blood stains they would pass as a group of civilians. I'm struggling to find anything good to say about them. They are cheap - both packs retail at £5.00 each. £1 per figure is about as much as anyone ought to pay for these uninteresting, undynamic and downright boring zombies. For anyone interested in bulking out their collection of zombies, which is why I bought them, ERM can be found here
Are these the worst sculpted zombies on the market? Some may think so but not me. I am not a big fan of the Mega Miniatures range of zombies - too small and far too many are anatomically inaccurate. For me, my least favourite range of zombies are the boxed set of 20 plastic Citadel 35mm scale zombies for Games Workshop's Warhammer game. I actually like nearly all of GW's plastics range but their Warhammer zombies really raise my hackles. Whoever sculpted them had no idea about basic anatomy. Just look at how huge the hands and heads are in comparison to the bodies!

Sunday 21 June 2009

SFX Vampires Special Edition Magazine

I wouldn't normally review a magazine but this is something rather special - the SFX Vampires special edition. A magazine devoted solely to vampires immediately caught my attention. As if that wasn't good enough reason for me to buy it, it came with three free gifts, best of which was, for me anyway, the set of four Buffy the Vampire Slayer coasters. A paperback containing two classic 19th century vampire tales - Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan LaFanu and The Vampyre by John William Polidori and a double-sided poster featuring Twilight - New Moon and Being Human made up the other two gifts. I've read the two stories before and I could live without the posters but they make up a nice package of freebies.

So what's inside the mag that's of special interest? Top honour must go to the SFX readers' poll of the top 50 vampires of screen and TV. I wasn't at all surprised to see so many vampires from Angel and Buffy making such a good showing. I love those shows and it is obvious that many fans still hold them in great affection. For the record, top spot went to Spike (from Angel and Buffy). Christopher Lee's Dracula was second and Angel was third. Such a list is purely subjective and no two people will agree on who should go where. My own choices would have been Selene (as played by Kate Beckinsale in the Underworld trilogy) followed by Spike, then Angel. Selene was number nine in the list, the highest placed female vampire. Selene has the looks, the moves, the style and the attitude that I most admire. Being such a fan of Vampirella I'd have loved to have seen her make top spot but until a "proper" Vampirella film is made I can only dream. No-one mention the low budget pile of crap called Vampirella that starred Talisa Soto as the eponymous vampire in one of the worst films of all time. I'm still trying to scour it from my memory!

Other features include interviews with Buffy stars James Marsters (Spike) and Juliet Landau (Drusilla), as well as interviews with author Laurell K. Hamilton (Anita Blake is going to be made into a TV series - oh joy!), True Blood star Stephen Moyer and the creator of Being Human, Toby Whithouse. There is a fascinating look at the making of two of Hammer's golden oldies - Dracula and The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Twilight features prominently in the mag with a look at the second film, due out in November of this year. Current TV shows like Being Human, Moonlight and True Blood are covered favourably. New vampire films are previewed. I'm looking forward to watching Blood - the Last Vampire, which opens next week. I saw the trailer for it recently and was most impressed. As if that lot wasn't enough there are features on vampire fiction and some fun stuff like the comparison between the TV series Ultraviolet and the film Ultraviolet - two very different beasts! All in all there is much to enjoy in this special edition and at £7.99 this is a must have for any vampire fan. Buy it now whilst it's still on sale.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

St. Trinian's and the Living Dead

It’s time for my second battle report as once again I play-test “The Zombie Game That Cannot Be Named.” This is a simple breakthrough scenario in which a group of survivors must exit the board from the opposite side they entered. To make things “interesting” (i.e. harder) the game would take place in a part of the city that was heavily populated with zombies.
Before I get into the scenario let’s take a time-out to have a look at the survivors that I used in the game. I decided to use a group of six teenage schoolgirls. Now if I was a betting man I wouldn’t give good odds for them making it... but these are no ordinary schoolgirls – these are St. Trinian’s schoolgirls! These girls know how to fight and they fight dirty. The zombies won’t know what’s hit them!
Moving from left to right is the leader of the group, Kelly Jones, based on a Copplestone Casting Bikini Bodyguard (FW45) that I’d converted by adding her miniskirt, blouse and tie. The head-girl is armed with a high calibre heavy pistol and a flick knife. She is a crack-shot and a car-jacker. Next in line is Annabelle Fritton, another Copplestone Casting Future Warrior from his Corporate Babes 2 set (FW46). She has no conversion work done to her and appears as is, armed with a katana. I love katanas! She was a skilled athlete and possessed combat reflexes.

The next four girls were sculpted by me. Yes, myself! Some of you might recognise them as set Girl001 Sorority Twisted Sisters from Graven Images’ Dystopia range of 40mm scale figures – and you’d be right. Problem is they’re far too tall and no way would they fit in with my range of predominantly 28mm scale figures. I really liked those girls and I bit the bullet and bought them. But one look at them in the flesh was enough to convince me they were totally unusable. What to do? Well, I have said that I can sculpt figures, so I resculpted them in 28mm scale. So these four figures are totally unique! I enclose a photo of the 40mm Dystopia figures to the right so you can compare the two sets.
The first girl of the four is Sabrina Sykes. She is armed with a 9mm pistol and a flick knife. She was an incredibly accurate shooter. Incidentally, Kelly and Annabelle are named after characters in the 2007 film St. Trinian’s, whilst the other four were given names that I came up with.
Moving on, we have Rosalie Alexander, a bubblegum-chewing miscreant with a serious attitude problem. At first glance she appears to be unarmed but hidden in her blazer are six sticks of dynamite, a flick knife and a spray-can of paint. She is the scrounger of the group.
Next up is Peaches Fraser. You have to admit these four girls are never going to win any beauty contests, are they? Unlike the Copplestone girls, who invariably look gorgeous. Peaches looks like a frog! She too, was armed with a 9mm pistol and a flick knife. Her perk was being able to rapidly reload her pistol. She was also the group’s medic and she carried a medi-pack in her backpack.
Finally, is Bridget Strong, the psychopathic bully of the group. Although armed with nothing more than a baseball bat, she was more than a match for most fighters. Her particular non-combat skill was breaking and entry.
Before starting the scenario, there were a few pre-game checks to make. First up was rolling for weather. Nothing out of the ordinary was the result, so weather would not influence the game in any way. Next, I diced to see what year after the outbreak that the game took place. In a one-off game like this, this is important, as it determines the type of zombie reinforcements that appear. Freshie zombies (fast movers and for ease of identification I used my Eureka zeds as freshies) are more numerous closer to the year the outbreak began. As time moves on, more and more zombie draggers (slow movers) appear. This game took place eight years after the outbreak. Next, I rolled for how many zombies should be placed on the board (32, all normal zombies) and their starting positions. Finally, I rolled for which side of the board the girls would arrive on. They entered from the north. Okay, let’s begin!
Here’s a few photos of the initial set up.

TURN 1. With Kelly taking the lead, the girls crossed the road at a jog to the car park entrance. Kelly shot and killed a fat female zombie not far away from her. Sabrina shot and killed an old lady zombie standing in their path. Zombie Reinforcements = 7 (1 Freshie, 5 Normals, 1 Dragger).
TURN 2. The girls picked up the pace and ran down the car park. Three zombies closing in on them were shot and killed by the three pistol-armed girls (Kelly, Peaches and Sabrina). Zombie Reinforcements = 8 (1 Freshie, 6 Normals, 1 Dragger).
TURN 3. The group reached the far end of the car park. Kelly blew the brains out of a female zombie lurking by an overturned RV. Annabelle beheaded a zombie emerging from the small park. Sabrina fired at a zombie dragger behind the now headless zombie but failed to kill him. Peaches shot at a zombie in a chicken suit but she also scored a glancing wound. A male zombie blocking the group’s path was swiftly dealt with by a fatal blow from Bridget.
Zombie Reinforcements = 10 (2 Freshies, 7 Normals, 1 Dragger). The zombie dragger made a futile attempt to grab Annabelle but she stabbed him in the brain.
TURN 4. Moving at a walk, five of the girls stepped onto the pavement at the back of the car park. Bridget, however, charged into the road to bash the chicken suit zombie in the head. “Why’d the zombie chicken cross the road?” she asked. “To get away from you,” sniggered Annabelle. She killed her third zombie in quick succession as her trusty katana spilt more blood. Kelly was surprised that it took two bullets to kill a bearded zombie; one should have sufficed. Sabrina and Peaches each bagged another zombie. Rosalie had been quiet up till now. Blowing a large bubble she pulled out a stick of dynamite, lit it and threw it at a group of three zombies advancing by the back of the lawyers’ offices. The blast killed two by only wounded the one furthest away.

Zombie Reinforcements = 11 (1 Freshie, 9 Normals, 1 Dragger). A freshie and a normal zombie charged at Kelly. Swiftly, she drew her flick knife and stabbed the freshie... to no effect! However, both zombies failed to hit the head girl. A let off for Kelly!
TURN 5. Kelly ran away from the two zombies to the front entrance of the warehouse, hoping to find the doors unlocked. They weren’t! Rosalie sprinted alongside her. Bridget dealt with the two zombies that had attacked Kelly. She swung her baseball bat with all of her might. Strike one! Strike two! Both zeds went down with caved in skulls. Sabrina’s sharpshooting took care of two zombies closing in on Annabelle. Annabelle ran across the road to pull up alongside Kelly. Peaches walked into the middle of the road and shot at two zombies by the wooden horse barrier. She killed the closest one but her second shot clicked on empty. No big deal. She could reload in the blink of an eye and she did. Zombie Reinforcements = 10 (1 Freshie, 7 Normals, 1 Dragger, 1 Dog). The zombie that had survived Rosalie’s dynamite attack lurched towards Sabrina. She whipped out her flick knife but rushed her attack and just nicked the zombie across the face. The zombie retaliated by wounding her in the left arm.
TURN 6. The warehouse doors survived a couple of blows from Annabelle but flew open after Kelly blew the lock away with two shots. Rosalie had spotted two zombies approaching from the petrol station. What else could the girl do but hurl another stick of dynamite at them, which she’d quickly it? The explosion blew both zombies to smithereens. Sabrina calmly walked away from her assailant and shot him between the eyes. Bridget and Peaches joined the others at the warehouse entrance. Peaches fired at a zombie youth holding a road sign but only caused a flesh wound. Zombie Reinforcements = 9 (2 Freshies, 5 Normals, 2 Draggers). The zombie dog bounded along the street and leapt at Bridget. She dodged the attack but failed with her own attack. The road sign carrying zombie pursued Sabrina and caused a flesh wound on her – a mere irritancy to the plucky sixth-former. Sabrina struck back with her flick knife but stabbed him ineffectually in the chest. So both melee combats ended in stalemate.
TURN 7. Was the warehouse unoccupied? No, of course it wasn’t! How boring would that be? Inside were ten normal zombies. Fortunately, they were spread out and none were near the entrance.
Kelly was the first to enter. Moving cautiously, she shot and killed two male zombies near to the entrance. Annabelle charged past her and attacked a zombie descending the stairs from the office. Perhaps he was the warehouse manager. Not that it made any difference. Her katana sliced through his neck with ease. Sabrina entered next and she fired twice. Her first shot killed a zombie lollipop man but her second shot failed to kill a bare-chested male zombie. Rosalie stepped in with a stick of dynamite at the ready but did not light it. Her targets were too spread out, plus she had no idea what was in the crates that littered the floor.
Outside, it took two bullets from Peaches to kill the zombie holding the road sign. Bridget was having no luck against the zombie dog. Her first attack missed and her second only caused a flesh wound. The dog failed to bite her. Zombie Reinforcements = 8 (2 Freshies, 5 Normals, 1 Dragger). All of a sudden, Bridget was nearly surrounded by zombies. As well as the dog, she faced a freshie, a dragger and two normal zombies. Well, if she was going down, she’d go down fighting... and she’d take that damned dog with her! She put all of her anger into one mighty blow that stove in the dog’s skull. Then the zombies attacked en masse and scored two wounds on her, one from the freshie and one from a zombie tramp who had been pierced with a katana.
Back inside, a female zombie on roller-skates lunged at Kelly. Kelly struck her in a flailing arm, enough to disrupt the zombie’s attack but not good enough to kill her. A one-armed zombie shambled towards Annabelle. He stood no chance against her and his head soon parted his body.
TURN 8. With Bridget facing so many zombies, she had no other option but to beat a hasty retreat. She had enough presence of mind to drop her gore-splattered baseball bat and pull the katana from out of the zombie tramp. Finders keepers! Now that Bridget was safely indoors, Rosalie lit her stick of dynamite and threw it at the four zombies that had tried to make a meal of her friend. The blast killed the freshie zombie and two normal zombies. Two other zombies suffered flesh wounds. Rosalie hollered in delight at the carnage. Kelly took one step back away from the zombie on roller skates and blew the girl’s head off with a .50 calibre bullet. Sabrina failed to kill a fat zombie in a bloody apron. Her first shot merely winged him. And that was when her ammo clip ran out! Bummer! Peaches did not fare much better. Twice she shot a zombie hoodie in the chest but still he kept on moving towards her. Annabelle advanced on a young girl zombie. Incredibly it took two swings of her katana to kill the youth.

Zombie Reinforcements = 6 (1 Freshie, 4 Normals, 1 Dragger). Sabrina drew her flick knife but her attack on the zombie in the apron was weak and failed to kill him. Bridget, standing next to her, swung her newly acquired katana at the zombie and totally missed. The zombie had a choice of targets to attack. Both smelt of blood but Bridget seemed to be the tastier of the two. He lashed out and sent Bridget sprawling. As soon as she hit the floor, Bridget’s eyes rolled back and she passed out. Peaches stabbed the zombie hoodie in the left eye, killing him instantly before he could attack her. A zombie biker stood up on the loading bat moved in to grab Annabelle. She thrust her katana up so that it pierced his skull from below. A freshie zombie sped into the warehouse and tried to grapple Kelly. Her flick knife did enough damage to put him off his attack but failed to stop him permanently. Rosalie was in the most danger as she stood in the doorway, a prime target or every zombie outside. Two normal zombies and a dragger ganged up on her. She drew her flick knife and stabbed one of the normal zeds in the head. The second normal zombie failed to hit Rosalie but the dragger got lucky and knocked her over, causing a nasty bruise to her head. With lots more zombies headed her way Rosalie did not want to be lying on her back as they surged forwards. Without a doubt, this was the zombies’ best turn.

TURN 9. Kelly stepped away from the freshie zombie and shot it in the mouth. Sabrina copied her move and killed the zombie that had knocked out Bridget. Peaches grabbed hold of Bridget’s ankles and dragged her towards the loading ramp. Annabelle ran between the two rear doors to the control mechanism that opened them. The back doors were electronic sliding doors. As the doors began to slowly whirr open, Rosalie scampered to her feet and ran towards her classmates.

Zombie Reinforcements = 5 (1 Freshie, 4 Normals). Three zombies entered the warehouse and two made contact with the girls. Female dragger was easily killed by Sabrina and her flick knife. Rosalie dispatched her male normal zombie with equal efficiency.

TURN 10. As the girls moved onto the loading ramp alongside Annabelle to await the sliding doors opening there were only two zombies left inside. Kelly and Sabrina shot and killed them. Rosalie scrawled graffiti on the white wall by the rear door – St Trinian’s rule!

Zombie Reinforcements = 9 (2 Freshies, 4 Normals, 3 Draggers). Outside, at the rear of the warehouse, four zombies stood by one door. Three were normal zombies and one was a freshie. Hidden from them by a flat-bed truck that was parked against the other door was a zombie nun. As the two doors finally slid open, four zombies tried to grab the girls. A zombie cheerleader managed to grab hold of Peaches, causing her a flesh wound on her right leg. Peaches failed to strike back.

TURN 11. Annabelle walked onto the back of the truck and spotting the zombie nun she plunged her katana into the top of the woman’s skull. Rosalie sprinted on board, urging the others to get their arses in gear! Peaches moved away from the zombies and dragged Bridget closer to the truck. She was almost there. Kelly and Sabrina did not move. They stood in the other doorway and fired four times at the zombies below them, hoping to shoot all four. Kelly killed a male normal zombie but unfortunately ran out of ammo when she tried to shoot the freshie zombie. Sabrina shot and killed the two female zombies just below her.

Zombie Reinforcements = 10 (2 Freshies, 6 Normals, 2 Draggers). Not one of the new arrivals came anywhere near the rear of the warehouse. The freshie zombie was now the only zombie standing in the way the girls’ escape. With athletic ease he leapt up onto the loading ramp, hoping to sink his teeth into Kelly’s throat. He may have been fast but Kelly was faster. She thrust her flick knife between his eyes, killing him instantly.

TURN 12. Peaches dragged Bridget onto the back of the truck. Sabrina pressed the button that would lower the two back doors – that way no zombies could pursue them from the warehouse. Annabelle and Rosalie kept watch but there were no zombies in sight. Kelly dropped down from the loading bay and ran to the cab of the truck, hoping that the door would be open but not too bothered if it wasn’t. Remember, she was a car-jacker. Zombie Reinforcements = 7 (1 Freshie, 5 Normals, 1 Dragger). Once again, not one zombie arrived anywhere near the back of the warehouse. The girls’ tactics seemed to have paid off. Although more zombies entered the warehouse from the front it was now quite obvious that the girls would escape.
TURN 13. Kelly climbed into the truck’s cab and discovered there were no keys in the ignition. No problem. She simply hot-wired the ignition and she accelerated away. The shutter doors slammed shut behind them, just as some of the zombies inside reached them. They had made it. Victory for St. Trinian’s! Peaches, the group’s medic took out her medi-pack and tended to the wounded. Bridget had suffered a cracked skull. She would recover without any long term effects. The other girls who had received wounds made full recoveries. No one was coming back as a zombie.
Kelly suffered no wounds. She killed 2 freshie zombies and 8 normal zombies.
Annabelle suffered no wounds. She killed 6 normal zombies and 1 dragger zombie.
Bridget suffered 3 normal wounds that caused a critical injury – a cracked skull. She killed 1 freshie zombie, 3 normal zombies and 1 zombie dog.
Peaches suffered 1 flesh wound. She killed 5 normal zombies.
Rosalie suffered 1 flesh wound. She killed 1 freshie zombie and 8 normal zombies.
Sabrina suffered 1 normal wound. She killed 8 normal zombies and 1 dragger zombie.
The game was great fun to play, even if it was a solo effort.

Sunday 14 June 2009

EM4 Zombie Rockers

This review is a little out of the ordinary as the figures you see above are not available to buy as I've shown them. You see, each one is a conversion. I can't claim credit for coming up with the idea of converting these six EM4 28mm scale figures. That accolade must go to another zombie fan who went by the name Pappa Midnight. Sadly, his website is no longer active. I saw what he'd done with this group, and being a good modeller and a fair sculptor myself, I thought I'd copy what he'd done. The results came out remarkably well, I hope you'll agree. The idea of a zombie rock band certainly appeals to me. Just imagine if these were "intelligent" zombies what kind of a following they could attract!
All but one of the figures comes from EM4's Rockers range of Future Warriors. Going through each one in turn and starting at the far left is 0063 Guitarist with Machine Pistol. The first thing I did was remove his machine pistol from his right hand. All of the rockers are armed and I did not want any of them carrying firearms. The idea of armed rockers might be okay for a Cyberpunk or near future game but not for a zombie band. Gore effects were created by making cuts with a craft knife (be very careful if you do this), drilling holes for small bites and/or adding modelling putty, in this case to his right arm and smoothing the putty flat then scooping out a big chunk of it with a cocktail stick. This gives the impression of a large bite with ragged edges of flesh surrounding the wound. A simple but effective technique! I also bent his left foot inwards with a pair of pliers and added another bite wound to his left lower leg. Obviously I had to cut the foot away from the slotta-tab before bending it.
Next in line is 0059 Bass Player with Machine Pistol. Again, I removed his machine pistol then I remodelled his right hand to make it look as if he is trying to grab someone. I smeared his hand and mouth with blood to give the impression that he'd feasted on some body part.
The third guitarist of the group, 0060 Guitarist with Machine Pistol, held his weapon in his left hand. After clipping off the gun I bent his arm at the elbow so his fist faced forward. I added a small amount of modelling putty to the top of his hand so it didn't look smooth. With a craft knife and small file I removed a large part of his left side, then replaced it with modelling putty. I sculpted his exposed ribcage and a few internal organs to show how this rocker met his demise.
The rips in his jeans were already in place. I just added a few gore effects to them.
Figure 0062 Singer with Heavy pistol lost both of his hands and I remodelled them in a similar manner to the bass player. I suppose I could have left the microphone in his left hand but again, I wanted it to appear as if he is trying to grab someone. A small hole drilled into his heart by a pin-vice revealed that he was shot dead. Perhaps he got too uppity with a trigger-happy cop or nutter with a gun. When Z-Day arrives there'll be plenty of both about!
The fifth member of the group is 0061 Drummer with Two Pistols. His pistols were holstered at his sides and he stands in a classic gunfighter pose about to draw them. I cut both holsters off and because the space I'd created was too smoth I added a small amount of modelling putty to bulk out his sides. I did a lot of work on his arms to make them look badly chewed; you can see bone showing through on his right arm. I also gouged out a chunk of his left cheek. All three wounds involved the use of modelling putty to make the edges of the wounds show up and to show the bone beneath the flesh.
The sixth and final figure in the group is 0080 Unarmed Thug from the Street People range. Technically speaking, he isn't unarmed - he has a knuckleduster in his right hand. And I suppose the spanner in his back pocket could be used as a club. Anyway, he is the group's roadie, as indicated by his staff T-shirt and doesn't he look the part? With use of a pin-vice and more modelling putty I gave him a neck wound to show how he died. I also added cuts to his arms and a few holes to his clothing.
This was a fun project to do and I hope that Pappa Midnight (wherever he may be) appreciates that his work lives on. The conversions are not too difficult to pull off and if you fancy a go I hope you succeed. As I said, I have had experience in this kind of work, but if you've never tried converting figures before you might think that this is a step too far to take. All six figures cost £1.25 from the EM4 website. I've dealt with them on many occasion and generally get whatever I've ordered from them within two days.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Eureka Miniatures Zombies

Eureka Miniatures are an Australian company and this review looks at 100MMR03 Pack of the Dead Zombie Set. It contains 10 finely sculpted figures in 28mm scale from Eureka's Movie Monsters Range. At a glance you can tell these are not your normal zombies. The phrase "toxic zombies" seems perfectly apt for them. There is an almost skeleton-like quality to them as their bones show through their emaciated skin. All ten are naked, bald-headed and suffering from horrendous wounds. Gore-hounds, like me, can really go to town painting these. Huge lumps of flesh are missing from their bodies. Some have entrails hanging out of gaping stomach wounds. Normally, I paint my zombies in very pale grey-flesh tones but for these I wanted them to have a greenish tinge to their flesh. Games Workshop's Rotting Flesh acrylic paint was the ideal colour to use. The detail on them is fantastic and makes the use of washes and dry-brushing techniques so easy. Also, because they lack hair and clothing you can get them painted up very quickly; no worrying about what colours to paint their clothes or hair. Then comes the fun part - painting the gore. I usually write a few lines about each zombie in the photo but these zeds are identical in looks that it would be impractical and repetitive to do so.

However, having said that, four of the five zeds in the two photos above are worth commenting on. The zombie to the extreme left of the photos is very similar to the previous six apart from a slight pot belly. Next to him is the only fully clothed zombie in the group and he is a lot fatter than the others. There is something about fat zombies that I like. Maybe it's because I'm a fat bloke myself and I think "that could be me!". Now, I have seen examples of him painted up as a naked zombie and he fit in well with the others. I have also seen other painters doing as I have, and painting clothes on him. You have to decide if those rolls of fat are skin or clothing. I'm not sure if there is a right or wrong answer; it all comes down to what you think is best. Moving on, we have two zombies that I converted into females. I added hair on their heads, breasts and rounded out their backsides. With so many of the group looking alike I wanted some variety, and in particular I wanted a few female zombies. I suppose having added hair to them I could have done the same to some of their male brethren. The final figure in the group is not part of this set. The zombie emerging from the barrel was a freebie that Eureka sent me. I love it when companies send you free stuff. At the time that I ordered this set I knew nothing at all about the barrel zombie. He did not appear on their website, so I was even more happy at receiving him. He clearly fits in with the rest of the group and gives further credence that these are toxic zombies, created in a laboratory. As we all know, such experiments inevitably end in disaster! I recently revisited the Eureka website and discovered that he is now one of a range of six. 100MMR07 Toxic Zombie Emerging From Barrel is his website description. He is available for $2.95. Be aware that the website proclaims that the six variants are supplied randomly. I would hope that if you ordered six they would all be different. I'd be well pissed off if you got six of the same figure. As for the Pack of the Dead Zombie Set they retail at $27.50. Those are Australian dollars, by the way. They are available separately but once again, are supplied randomly so you can't specify which one(s) you want. If you can find a supplier in your own country you might want to use them instead but I had no trouble when I ordered mine direct from Eureka.

Saturday 6 June 2009

Vampifan's Views 02 My Immediate Plans

Something different this time. No reviews, just some rambling from me about what I'm doing and what I plan to do.
What has me most excited at the moment is a new scenario that I'll be running next weekend as I continue to playtest "The Zombie Game That Cannot Be Named Yet." I'll be playing a scenario that is called "Breakthrough" in the rulebook but I'll be giving it a new name that will hopefully draw the crowds in. Nope, I ain't saying what it'll be called until I'm ready to post the battle report here on my blog. There will be photos, lots of them, and it will take place in Mayhem City, which means more of my wonderful World Works Games scenery. Look out for the new stuff since I ran the zombie rescue mission. I was going to use the same group of survivors from that first mission in this new one but have decided to introduce a new group and it is they whom I think will attract a lot of attention. The zombie rescue mission that I ran before generated a lot of favourable comments on the TMP and WWG forums, so I'm hoping this new one will prove just as popular.
Most people in our hobby (gaming, figure painting and collecting) have a "mountain of lead" to paint. I try to keep on top of my lead mountain and paint any new figures as soon as possible and try not to get too snowed under with new figures. Thus far I've been quite successful. Mind you, my plastic mountain, i.e. horde of plastic figures (Citadel Orks and Space Marines) is getting out of hand! However, I've recently splashed out on a load of metal figures, the vast majority being zombies. This is my current list of metal figures awaiting paint, all of which arrived this past week - 65 Cold War 28mm zombies and 5 Cold War 28mm zombie hunters (I ordered the 70 figure horde set last Monday afternoon and received them on the Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours later! Much respect to Cold War for their ultra fast service), 7 Rezolution 30mm scale Toxic zombies, 3 Spinespur 30mm scale naked zombies, 2 Hasslefree 28mm scale zombies (mime and surfer zeds), 3 Hasslefree 28mm scale cyborgs (2 Jotun and a Druusch Stryker) and 6 Hasslefree 28mm scale male adventurers. Painting that little lot will keep me busy for weeks to come.
I should resist the urge to buy any more new figures but it isn't going to happen. I've decided that for the first time ever I'm going to enter the Diorama of Doom painting competition that is run by the four Forum of Doom companies. After posting pictures of my recent Hasslefree Matt Lord zombies on the FoD I was persuaded that I should take part. Thanks, Toosh! I have an idea for the diorama, which must consist of at least two figures from the four FoD companies (Black Scorpion, Eolith, Hasslefree and Heresy). Eolith make 54mm scale figures so it's going to be hard (but not impossible) to include one of their figures. I'm not even going to try. The other three figure companies will be represented. The centre piece of my diorama will be a figure of my favourite vampire - Vampirella. Hey, I'm not called Vampifan for nothing! She will be a conversion of one of Hasslefree's figures of Taxxis, a busty demon. Oh, and there will be zombies as well!
On the scenery front I'm busy making a skateboard park from the WWG Urban Grind set. It'll be roughly two feet square, which will fill one of my modular gaming boards. WWG offer two versions for their skateboard park - a clean version or one covered in graffiti. I'm going for the graffiti covered version.
Finally, I have just started reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I've held back on buying this set for far too long. I ordered the trilogy from Red House Books in England for just £7.99 - a fantastic saving as each book should cost £6.99. I know that there is a fourth book in this series but at the moment it is only available in hardback and I'm going to wait until the softback version appears before buying it.
Thanks for reading and a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment on my site. Look out for more reviews of zombie miniatures and especially look out for my next battle report.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

Hasslefree Zombies 02

These five 28mm scale contemporary zombies were unveiled by Hasslefree Miniatures earlier this year. These are not sculpted by the awesome Kevin White but by Matt Lord. You can tell that they lack Kev's style and finesse but that doesn't make them poor figures. Far from it in fact. Hasslefree are a company I have a great deal of time and respect for and it's always a pleasure to receive a parcel of figures from them, as Sally (or Kate) usually includes sweets, and if you're really nice, extra goodies. Their template for running a company is one which all companies should follow - be nice to your customers and they'll be nice to you.
So, let's look at the figures in turn. Moving from left to right, we start off with a negro zombie (HFW207). I'm all for more ethnic diversity amongst the hordes of zombies, so I was delighted to see this character. His corn-row hairstyle marked him out as one of the "boyz from da hood." Add in his distinctive clothing, so reminiscent of the youth of today and he simply has to be an undead gangsta. His cause of death is down to three bullet wounds to his chest. He is the only figure out of the group who is not a one-piece casting. His right arm is a separate piece that must be glued in place.
Next up is a yuppie businessman (HFW208). I see him as young banker who has got his just desserts for causing so much mayhem in the financial industry. His left arm has been ripped off and a large chunk of his left side is missing, revealing part of his rib cage and internal organs. Serves him right!
As soon as I saw the overweight guy (HFW206) in the middle of the group I knew what logo I'd be painting on his T-shirt. FoD stands for the Forum of Doom, my favourite internet forum, which is the home of four small independant figure companies - Black Scorpion, Eolith, Hasslefree and Heresy. Yes, I know that the "F" is back to front - that's just the way it appears on the logo. Injury-wise, this guy is suffering from a huge bite out of his left thigh and has had a chunk taken out of his lower right arm.
Next up is another businessman, (HFW205) although he looks older than the yuppie. He retains his shirt and tie and suit. Note his well-groomed hair. He too has been bitten in the lower right arm. I smeared his mouth and chin with blood to indicate that he has been feasting on some poor unfortunate victim.
Finally is another young man (HFW204) this time wearing a shirt, not tucked into his trousers, and minus a tie. Apart from a few holes in his clothing and his ragged shirt sleeves there is nothing to indicate his cause of death, which is perfectly fine. Not all zombies should sport gaping wounds or missing limbs. Nonetheless, I decided to show that he too had been feasting, only this time I went over the top with the blood as it covers his mouth, chin, neck and most of the front of his shirt and the palms and fingers of his hands.
Matt Lord has done a fine job on these zeds and it is great to see Hasslefree giving freelance sculptors a boost by selling their wares. The figures retail for £3.00 each, although if you order HFW209 Zombie Multipack you get all five figures for £12.00, effectively five figures for the price of four. Although not the best of sculpts, they are far from the worst and are still worth including in anyone's zombie horde.