Wednesday 28 April 2010

WWG Ambulance and Police Van

Staying with the theme of vans, here are two that are very different to the ones reviewed in my previous posts - an ambulance and a police van. As can be seen, they share the same body design. The ambulance can be found in the Emergency Response kitbash set that I mentioned last time in my review of the Channel 5 News van. As you might guess, the police van is one of the vehicles found in the Mayhem Police set.
These are much chunkier and larger vans than the civilian vans reviewed earlier. Note how the words "AMBULANCE" and "POLICE" have been reversed on the bonnets (hoods if you're American) of the vans. This is standard procedure on emergency vehicles so that the words can be read the proper way round in the mirror of any vehicle in front of them.
Due to their shapes, these models are a lot easier to make than the civilian vans. No sloped sides here, just a nice simple box shape. The hardest parts to make on these were the wheels but once you've made a few it becomes a lot easier to make them. Mind you, they're still fiddly critters!
The ambulance comes with a set of red flashing lights, whilst the police van has blue and red flashing lights. I'm not sure if there is a right or wrong way for how the blue and red lights should appear on a police vehicle. I doubt if it really matters, just so long as you are consistant.
Both of these vehicles can be classed as emergency response vehicles and should be a welcome addition to any contemporary gamer's vehicle collection. In a zombie apocalypse game, these will be in the frontline once the balloon goes up and all hell breaks loose. They would also make tempting targets to loot if their owners end up as zombie fodder! If you are just starting out in the wonderful hobby of card modelling, I'd recommend these two kits for any novice to try their skills on. For more experienced modellers, you'll find these refreshingly easy to make.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Mega Minis Zombies 01

Mega Miniatures were once a company that solely traded on E-Bay but they now have their own website, so that customers who don't like/want to deal with E-bay can purchase their goods in the normal online manner. I'm going to be reviewing their six 28mm scale zombie sets over the coming weeks starting, naturally enough, with set 1.
At the far left of the two photos above is a zombie crawler. This very gaunt looking female has had her left foot removed. She is using her right hand to try and stop her intestines from spilling out of the huge wound in her stomach... not very successfully! The quality of the sculpts in this set (and indeed, all of the other sets) is a mixed bag. She is quite well sculpted and I have no complaints with her.
On the other hand, the martial artist next to her, is one of the weaker sculpts in this set. What immediately struck me was how far round his head has turned. It just looks wrong. Also, his left arm is far too long. If it hung by his side it would reach his knees! I painted him up as a green belt judo or karate fan, meaning he's no novice but neither is he an expert. Both arms have been bitten and I added a large bite wound to his neck as a possible explanation to why his head is at such an odd angle.
The girl zombie is quite a gem and it is great that Mega Minis have included so many zombie kids in their sets. Okay, this set only has this one but the others include two each, apart from set 5, which has three. Blood smears her blouse and skirt and runs freely down her right leg. Poor mite! But look closer and from the back you see she is holding a large carving knife that she is trying to hide. I painted congealed blood on the knife blade to show that she has used it. Beware this child - she can wield a weapon!
The final figure out of this group could be the girl's mum. She wields an even bigger knife. The left side of her face has been chewed away. Blood has run down her top and her dress shows a large blood stain that could be hers or that of a victim. She is quite well sculpted and looks very aggressive.
The final four figures from this set all have one thing in common - they are all armed. I should point out that this particular set has more armed zombies than any of the other sets in the range.
First up, in the two photos above, is the zombie construction worker hefting a heavy maul over his shoulder. His hard hat has remained in place. A large chunk has been taken out of his lower left arm and the fleshy part at the back of his lower left leg. His body proportions are good and I like this sculpt.
Likewise with the next zombie in line, the oriental chef. His receding hairline suggests a more mature gentleman and so I painted his hair grey. He holds a bloody meat cleaver in his right hand and an unidentifiable body part in his left hand. I could not find any obvious wounds on the figure so perhaps he died of a heart attack.
It has to be said that the zombie biker swinging a victim's leg has been crudely sculpted. He is definitely the weakest figure in this set, which is a shame, as I love the concept for this figure. I like to see zombies holding victims' body parts. Even better is if they are eating those body parts! But sadly, the sculpting lets this figure down big time. There are bite wounds to both of his arms and to his head and face.
Swiftly moving on, the last figure out of the group is a zombie holding a spade. Was he a grave digger or a gardener? Who knows? You decide. The sculpting of this zed is more in keeping with the others, which is to say, not too bad. He has been bitten in the right armpit, left shoulder and left knee. I have painted blood dribbling out of the left side of his mouth onto his shirt.
This set costs $10.00, roughly £6.50 on the E-bay site but only $9.50 on the internet site. Wherever you order them from they represent good value for money. If you do visit the official internet site you can purchase the figures individually for $1.43. I purchased all six sets from the E-bay store but that was before John Lauck, Mega Minis' main man, added the website store. A good decision, as I would certainly have used that option if I had the choice.
Until I saw a Mega Minis figure in the flesh I had a very low opinion of them. To me they looked too crude and I was afraid they'd be too small to fit in with other popular 28mm scale ranges. I admit I was wrong on both counts. My good friend Rogzombie (an ardent follower of this blog) sent me a couple of the Mega Minis zombie kids and I was blown away by the high quality of the sculpts. I checked out their range online with renewed vigour. When Roger told me that it was he who had painted all of the figures that appear on the website I was convinced to give them a try... and I'm glad that I did. There is no denying that some of the figures are crudely sculpted but fortunately these are in the minority. Most are decently sculpted and the kids from sets 3, 4, 5 and 6 are just superb. Scalewise, these will fit in well with the likes of Studio Miniatures, Zombiesmith and Hasslefree, for example. A big plus in their favour has to be the price of the sets. At roughly 80 pence per figure or just over a dollar if you reside in America, these are exceptional value for money. Buy all six sets and you'll have 48 zombies to add to your horde. That has to be food for thought if you're undecided. Before I leave, I must point out that these figures come with their own integral metal bases, all of which are plain and circular. I stuck my figures onto circular slottabases and covered them with sand and rubble as I do with most of my figures.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

WWG Channel 5 News Van

This is a kitbash of the van design that I showed you last time and it's an absolute cracker! The kitbash was designed by Bob Cooper and is part of the Emergency Response package, which also contains an ambulance and two police interceptors. I'll be reviewing the ambulance and police interceptors at a later date.
I love how the number plates have been personalised to read "5NEWS." The one thing that makes this van stand out from the ones I reviewed last time is the inclusion of the satellite uplink dish. After I'd cut out the dish from my normal printer paper, I glued the front to the back without reinforcing it, which goes against the grain from my normal procedure. Because of its curved shape, there was no way that I could reinforce it with mounting card. Not that I'd want to anyway. The dish itself should be thin, so I figured a double layer of 130gm photo paper should suffice. And it has!
However, the support for the dish has been reinforced with mounting card. You can see this clearly from the photo below, which shows just how thick the support structure is. You can also see how I have "edged" (i.e. colouring the white edges of the card) with acrylic paint. I use acrylics for two reasons. First, I can perfectly match the edging to its surrounding colour and secondly, acrylics stiffen the card better than felt tip pens.
As with the normal vans, I cut the spare tyre out from the back of the van and turned it into a 3-D structure by gluing three pieces of mounting card together that had been cut to shape.
What I love about this kitbash is that, first of all, it answered my plea to see a van with a company logo painted on its sides (and front), and secondly, Bob has gone the extra mile by including the satellite dish. It is that inclusion that turns this from being a good model into a great model. A news van is a great addition to any game. Whether you are playing a zombie apocalypse, superhero campaign or anything else set in the modern/near future era, the press will always be nosing around... whether you want them to or not!

Sunday 18 April 2010

Horrorclix Male Vampires

Following on from my review of the Horrorclix female vampires here are the male vampires. Without further ado, let's have a look at them.
At the far left of the photos is a Vampire Enforcer from the basic set. He is not a named vamp but for me he is Angelus, the evil alter-ego of Angel from the Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Just look closely at his face and there is a definite similarity to David Boreanaz's eponymous character. As a huge fan of both shows I love this figure. Quite a few companies make not-Buffy figures but this is the closest I've seen to a not-Angel figure. I'd still like to see someone sculpt a good Angel figure rather than his evil version. He is dressed in Victorian-style clothes and wields a long dagger/short sword.
Next in line is a Victorian Vampire from the Freakshow expansion set. The veteran version of this figure is called Gerard, which would not appear in my top fifty names to call a vampire! Here you get two figures for the price of one - vampire and victim.The vampire is dressed as a member of the high class in top hat and suit, with a long coat. He is bearing his fangs, prior to sinking them into the exposed neck of his female victim. She lies in his arms and looks like she is about to faint. It is a very nicely sculpted vignette and is quite unusual in combining the two figures together.
In the centre of the group is Stoker, one of the 12 unique figures from the starter set. I was lucky enough to get a swap of him, so I could keep one for my Horrorclix games and rebase the other for use in other games. Stoker appears to be based on Gary Oldman's portrayal of Dracula in the 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula. Given the name that WizKids have given to this figure I must assume it is no coincidence. This figure looks distinctly inhuman as he is about to flex his long wings. Also, note the animalistic shape of his legs.
To his right is the Vampire Roustabout, another figure from the Freakshow expansion set. The veteran version has been given the name Bloody Tom. Hmm, no prizes for guessing why! A circus strongman with vampiric strength is going to be immensely strong indeed. The muscles of his arms are very pronounced. His bald head shows he was not in front of the queue when good looks were handed out as he has a nasty scar running down the right side of his face. He wears an ankh necklace. Note that this is a very tall figure - 37mm from sole of feet to top of head. Somehow, that doesn't matter - he should be a giant of a man and his height only adds to his character.
The fifth and final figure from this group is Nosferatu and he, too, is from the basic set. In the role playing game Vampire: the Masquerade Nosferatu was the name given to a whole clan of vampires. Indeed, Nosferatu is not the name of a single vampire but a type of vampire characterised by their ugliness. The pretty boy vampires from the works of Anne Rice and Stephenie Meyer could never be described as Nosferatu! This particular figures bears a passing resemblance to the Max Schreck character, Count Orlok, in the 1922 film, Nosferatu. Bald head - check, long pointed ears -check, gaunt face - check, simple two-piece dark suit - check. He is bent over, rubbing his hands in anticipation, which gives him a rather sinister look.
These figures complement the females very nicely, although only the Vampire Roustabout would look most at home in a contemporary setting due to his choice of clothing. Still, perhaps the others haven't caught up with modern living. If you are looking for some cheaply priced vampires to start or bolster your collection, these are worth checking out on the Internet auction websites. However, given that Stoker is a unique figure be prepared to pay a lot more for him. The rest ought to be picked up for pennies or cents.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

WWG Vans

For this week's WWG review I'm looking at the four vans that come with the Bits of Mayhem set. As you can see, they come in four colours - blue, green, red and beige (?). I'm not sure if the beige van was meant to be a white van (much maligned here in the UK due to most white van men lacking any road sense or good manners) but it hasn't turned out that way.
I was pleased to see that there is some variety in the number plates, and even happier that they are all unique. The designer logo (seen in red on the front grilles) reads WWG. Well, what else would it be?
Note the sliding doors in the centre of the vans. These do not appear on the opposite sides. Also, note how the upper halves of the vans taper towards the top. This makes construction a bit more difficult than if the van had straight sides but it's not a major challenge. As you all should know by now, I reinforce my WWG models with mounting card (or art board if you're American). For the sides and back I cut the mounting card to the correct sizes and scored them across the centre line so that I could gently fold them to the desired shape. For the van front I used three separate pieces of mounting card (for the window, bonnet and grille).
The spare tyres were originally just printed as part of the back of the vans, which did not look very realistic. So I cut out three small circles from mounting card for each tyre and stuck them back to back. Once they were glued in place I painted them in Citadel Chaos Black and added a dark grey highlight to their tops.
Vans like these are such a popular sight on the roads that I was glad that they came in four varieties. I'd have liked to have seen a proper white van. A selection of vans with company logos printed on them would have been a nice bonus. I suppose if your Photoshop skills are up to it, it should not be too hard a kitbash to do. WWG do offer one van with writing on the panels and that is the Channel 5 News van, which I shall review next time.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Horrorclix Female Vampires

This is the first of a two part review of the 30mm scale vampires made by WizKids for their Horrorclix game. The three vampires shown in the two photos above all share the same body but their heads and weapons in their left hands are different, as is their paint schemes. These are known as Razorvixens, which presumably is the name given to their coven.
At the far left is Dominique. In the Horrorclix game she is an experienced Razorvixen, meaning she's better than a rookie but not as good as a veteran or unique character. She is armed with a pair of katanas and is dressed in skintight rubber or leather pants, a rubber or leather bra, thigh-length leather boots and a long leather coat that has slipped from her shoulders. Her reddish brown hair has been cut to shoulder length.
In the centre of the group is Angelique the rookie Razorvixen. Her favoured colour is blue and she comes armed with a katana and a whip. Her blonde hair has been styled into twin ponytails. The way her head has been sculpted makes her look younger than her colleagues.
Finally, we come to Natasha, the queen of the group and a veteran Razorvixen. In a stark contrast to her long black hair, her clothing is red. Her choice of weapons are the katana and a machine pistol, which looks very high tech. She also wears red-tinted glasses. Again, her face has been well sculpted and suggests power and arrogance. 
The vampire at the far left of the two photos above bears an uncanny resemblance to my favourite vampire - Vampirella. The figure's boots were originally painted red to match her dress but I repainted them black to tie in with Vampirella's colour scheme. This is Vampi's idea of putting some clothes on when she has been castigated for the skimpiness of her normal costume! The microskirt only barely covers more flesh. It certainly does not cover her backside fully as you can see from the rear view there is bum cleavage on display. Naughty Vampi! In the Horrorclix game she has not been named but for me, she can only ever be Vampirella. Will it surprise anyone if I say this is my favourite Horrorclix figure? I thought not!
Next to Vampi is Candy Striper. According to her background blurb, she has training as a nurse, although most of her patients end up drained of blood after one of her visits! None of which explains why she is dressed as a cocktail waitress and why she needs to arm herself with a 9mm automatic pistol. You can bet that the glass on the tray in her right hand is not filled with cherryade! Just note how tall she is compared to the ladies either side of her.
I was undecided about including the last figure of this group but in the end thought, why not? She is not a vampire but a succubus. Succubi do share a lot of traits with vampires so I thought I may as well review her here. Note the two little horns sprouting from her head. Far more noticable are her wings. She is dressed in a very skimpy black bikini, black leather boots and fingerless black gloves. Her main weapon is seduction.
As I mentioned in my reviews of the Horrorclix zombies, WizKids have pulled the plug on the Horrorclix range. However, the figures frequently pop up on auction sites, like E-bay, often at ridiculously cheap prices. The Razorvixens were part of the original Horrorclix range. Vampirella came with the starter set that contained the rulebook and two floorplans. Candy Striper appeared in the Freakshow expansion set and the succubus came with the Nightmares expansion set. I absolutely adore all six figures. For me, female vampires should exude sex appeal and these certainly do that in abundance. There sure is an awesome amount of cleavage on display here!
I have tweaked the paint jobs on all of them but not by much. For the most part, I was happy with their paint jobs, which is quite a compliment to pay as a lot of pre-painted plastic figures look ghastly. Next time, I'll review the male vampires.

Wednesday 7 April 2010

WWG Taxis

Last week I reviewed the WWG sedan cars and I mentioned just what a versatile model it was. Here, I take a look at one of the sedan car variants - the taxi. Like the two sedan cars reviewed last week, these two taxis can be found in the Mayhem Bank set.
I'd just like to point out a small flaw in the vehicle design, which can clearly be seen in this photo above. Notice how the two front wheels curve inwards. This should not be possible on a real car. I suppose it could be corrected but it seems like too much effort for a flaw that very few people would notice. From a distance or from the side the vehicle seems fine.
I applaud the decision to produce two versions of the taxi - one all yellow and the other, yellow and white. Variety is good. It is clear that Mayhem City has at least two taxi firms operating. You can also see that these cars are filthy dirty and could do with a trip to the car wash. Hmm, car wash - there's an idea for a new set.
The only real difference between these vehicles and the sedan cars, other than the paint schemes, is of course, the inclusion of the taxi signs on the roofs. Both signs are identical.

These are useful additions to my fleet of vehicles. They also show that the designers at World Works Games listen to what their fans want. Before the Mayhem Bank set was released I was one of a number of people requesting the release of taxis on the WWG forum. And lo, it came to pass! Not only did they release these modern day taxis but in the same set is a design for a 1930's style taxi. How cool is that?

Sunday 4 April 2010

Survival of the Dead DVD Review

In the world of horror films there is one name that transcends most others - George A. Romero. He single handedly invented the zombie film genre with Night of the Living Dead. He then went on to make what is in my opinion the finest zombie film ever made, Dawn of the Dead. However, Day of the Dead, his next release runs it a close second. Land of the Dead, his fourth zombie film, received mixed reviews but I thoroughly enjoyed it. By the time he released Diary of the Dead a few years ago, many critics were questioning whether it was time for George to hang up his hat. Not me. Although I consider Diary to be his weakest offering that does not mean it is a bad film. So, when I learnt that George was going to direct a new zombie film and that it would be a modern day Western, I was very thrilled and was hoping for the best.
THE STORY. The film follows a group of army deserters (who were briefly seen in Diary of the Dead) seeking shelter from the zombie apocalypse on scenic Plum Island off the east coast of America, only to become caught up in a bitter feud between two warring families. Sergeant Crocket (Alan Van Sprang) and his motley crew of military dropouts are searching for a safe place to rest when they cross paths with Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh). O'Flynn has been banished from Plum Island, where his family is locked in a long-time quarrel with the Muldoons, led by Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick). The O'Flynns see the flesh-eaters as subhuman, never hesitating to put a bullet between their eyes; the Muldoons baulk at the prospect of killing their gut-munching loved ones, instead opting to care for them until scientists find a cure for the zombie plague. As the division between the two families grows deeper and wider, Crocket and his men realize that on Plum Island, the zombies are the least of their worries.
THE EXTRAS. Nothing. Nowt. Nada. Zilch. Not a thing. Not even trailers of the movie or other films. This goes back to the bad old days of video releases when all you got was the film. Even the Blu-Ray DVD is bereft of extras. A crying shame that I hope will be rectified in the future.
THE VERDICT. I'd read some mixed reviews of this film before I saw it. Both critics and fans seemed divided on its merits. Ah well, I thought, there's only one critic who counts... and that's yourself! And my verdict is that it is a hugely entertaining film. What surprised me greatly was the amount of humour in the film. Okay, some of it is black humour but it is humour, nonetheless. Zombie kill of the week goes to the irrascible Patrick, who hands a zombie a bunch of dynamite as he leaves a wooden shack before slamming the door in its face. The zombie just looks at the dynamite in total bewilderment as his undead colleagues gather around him. Two seconds later - KABOOM! Hey, it made me laugh.
What I liked a lot about this film is that I got to care about the characters, and that is the first rule of film-making. Make the audience care. In Diary, Crocket and his soldiers were a bunch of arseholes, who you hoped got devoured by the zombies. But in here, right from the offset, you feel an affinity with them and hope they'll all survive but knowing they'll suffer casualties. By the time the film comes to its bloody climax a lot of the major characters end up as zombie food. Despite the fact that this film is set in contemporary times it is indeed a Western, and all the better for that. The O'Flynns and the Muldoons step straight out of the pages of the American Wild West. The big question of which side is right is an intriguing one. By the time the credits rolled I was still wondering which side had the right attitude and even now, I can't decide. Watch it and make up your own mind. I promise you this, the film offers you food for thought, characters you care about, a simple story and some great zombie kills and human deaths (although the CGI effects don't work all the time). Despite its shameful lack of extras and short running time (just 86 minutes) I rate this film 8 out of 10. When it comes to making zombie films, George is still the master!