Thursday 29 July 2010

West Wind Zombie & Vampire Hunters

The four figures in the two photos above come from the West Wind Road Kill set GRK016 Zombie Hunters. The figure at the far left of the group is armed with a revolver in his right hand and a double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun in his left hand. He is naked from the waist up and seeing how well muscled and bronzed he is, I'm not surprised! Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it! I see him as a Hispanic, which is why I painted his flesh tones darker than I normally do. He is extremely well sculpted and in ATZ, he'd be ideal for either a Ganger or a Survivor.
Next up is a big, black dude swinging a metal baseball bat. Look closely and you'll see he has a pair of pistols tucked into the front of his trousers. Like the previous figure, he clearly works out and is very muscular. He is bald headed and wears a pair of sunglasses, a vest and a pair of baggy trousers. This is one tough hombre and again, would be ideal as either a Ganger or a Survivor.
Next in line is the only female of the group. I'm guessing the sculptor envisaged these being used in somewhere with a hot climate as all four are dressed for summer. This fit looking lady in a crop top and baggy trousers is armed with a pistol and a combat knife. She, too, has a hardass attitude and she'd be a fine addition to any group of Gangers or Survivors.
Last up is the only caucasian of the group. I think it's great to see so much ethnic diversity in this group. That gets a big thumbs up from me. This chap is armed with just a golf club, a useful two-handed improvised weapon. A golf bag is slung over his back but there are no more clubs in it. D'oh! Again, you can tell he's dressed for summer as his shirt sleeves are rolled up and he's not wearing a jacket. Plus, he too, is wearing sunglasses. They could be ordinary glasses, I know, but I decided to paint them as shades. This guy would work better as a Civilian or a Survivor. I just don't see him as a Ganger!

Continuing with the theme of zombie hunters, the two photos above showcase four of the Road Kill special characters. First up is GRKNET001 Cleaver Vine, who has an uncanny resemblance to the Marvel superhero, Wolverine! He is armed with an axe and a double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun. A nice touch is the cigar stuck out of the corner of his mouth. He has a slightly deranged look to him, but he is a great figure.
If Cleaver was borderline psychotic then this next figure, GRKNET002 Sister Saw, has tipped over the edge into full on psychosis. Her face has a very manic-looking expression, suggesting she is in a berserker fury. Her choice of weapons are far from subtle - a chainsaw, which she wields overhead, and a Big Ass Pistol strapped to her left thigh. I wouldn't want to mess with her!
Next up are the two vampire hunters from the Road Kill range. GRKNET004 Night Stalker is obviously inspired by the Marvel superhero, Blade. He is very heavily armed (as you'd expect) with silenced Ingram MAC10 sub-machine gun, katana and twin pistols. He has body armour covering his chest. A snazzy pair of mirrorshades and long leather coat completes his iconic look. I like his pose but I'm undecided about which Blade figure I like best - this one, the one by Musketeer Miniatures or any of the Heroclix versions. I like them all for different reasons, so I'll wimp out and just sit on the fence!
The final figure of this group is GRKNET007 Night Blade, a female vampire slayer. Mention the words "vampire slayer" to me and I automatically think of Buffy Summers. But in the Buffy TV series, there were other notable female vampire slayers - Faith and Kendra being the two most obvious. This figure looks nothing like Buffy or Faith but it's not too far off Kendra. And before anyone points out that the figure is missing Kendra's ponytail, yes, I know. I'm not saying this figure is definitely Kendra, but until something better comes along I'm using her as Kendra. The figure is nicely animated and is armed with a katana.
I don't review many survivor types as I tend to concentrate more on the undead. But where would the undead be without opponents? These are very nicely sculpted figures, although despite being advertised as 28mm scale these are more heroically sized at roughly 32mm. The set of four zombie hunters (GRK016) is priced at £6.00 on the West Wind website, whilst the four characters are priced at £2.00 each. They are well worth looking at if you don't already have them, in my humble opinion.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Vampifan's Views 06 No More Spammers

Hi, all! It's been a while since I had an editorial so bear with me whilst I witter on about what's coming and what I'm working on. But first some serious news. I've noticed that my blog is attracting some comments from Asian readers in their own language(s). I'm a very tolerant person and I'll accept followers and comments from whoever or wherever you live in the world. But, and it's a big but, if you must leave a comment, please type it in English and not your native tongue if you are a foreigner. I find comments left here in a foreign language disrespectful to me and the majority of my followers. I've put up with foreign comments for quite a while now but when I receive complaints about them from other English speaking followers then it is time for action. So, as of now, all comments that are not written in English will be deleted. I have numerous foreign followers, particularly from Europe for whom English is not their native tongue and yet we are able to communicate with each other just fine. I will not criticise any one for poor language skills or spelling. I respect anyone who makes the effort to leave a comment in English and more so if that person is a foreigner. So please, guys, by all means leave a comment, good or bad, but think of the majority of the people who read this blog and think of me, especially if you want a reply. Not only is English my native language, it is the only language I know!

Okay, serious mode off now! What's occuring? Until a few weeks ago my big project was the construction of the World Works Games Mayhem Police Station. The exterior has been completed and I began work on making furniture for all the rooms - a task that I find especially tedious! It's a necessary evil, I know, and it's my own fault for making my buildings so detailed but when it comes to filling offices with furniture I find the task becomes more of a chore than a labour of love. It's odd, but I only feel that way about offices. Other rooms, like the police armoury, for example, were a lot of fun to furnish. The upshot of my whining here is that I got distracted and made some other stuff that I'd planned on making much later in the year. First up were some military vehicles from Ebbles Miniatures, another cardstock firm that I can highly recommend. They tend to concentrate on near future and sci-fi models. I made two of their military-style SUVs and a Kirchner main battle tank, which I'll review shortly. The Kirchner is a massive beast and a very impressive model. Work on the police station hasn't stopped, it's just slowed down!
I've had the new WWG Terrainlinx (TLX) sets since they first came out and I knew that I wanted to remake my ground tiles, which are currently 23" by 23" square boards using the pre-TLX system, i.e. printed ground tiles glued atop a sheet of foamboard. Why the remake? Well, for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, the new TLX system offers a far greater range of tiles and options. The picture above, taken from the WWG website, shows the complete range of tiles in clean, dirty and apocalyptic versions. That is a huge plus in my book. Any zombie fan is of course, going to be attracted to the apocalypse tiles. I'm going to mainly use the dirty tiles, along with a few clean and a few apocalypse tiles. I'm going for a gritty, rundown look to my Mayhem City. As my ATZ campaign progresses the dirty tiles will slowly be replaced by the apocalypse tiles.
The second reason for switching to TLX is that these tiles slot together. My old tiles don't but I wish they did as a few of them are warping and don't lie flat. The warping isn't too bad (only one or two millimeters) but it is noticable on a few of my boards. Because of the smaller size of these TLX tiles and the way that I'm making them, (foamboard sandwiched between mounting card and thin card with the ground tile itself wrapped around them) warping will not be a problem. I'd love to have enough tiles made for my next ATZ batreps (coming soon) but I suspect I won't. The one major drawback to the TLX system is that making a tile is VERY labour intensive. This is a project to be taken only if you have LOTS of spare time. I'm fortunate in that I do but even so, I'm still finding there just aren't enough hours in a day! When I get enough tiles made I'll type in a review. With WWG investing so much in this new system it is obvious that TLX is the way forward and so it makes sense for me to adapt to it sooner rather than later.

On the painting front, I'm still inundated with zombies. I recently bought 60 Blue Moon 28mm scale zombies and once I get those painted my horde will easily surpass the 500 mark. At the moment it's standing at 456. But first I must finish painting my 11 Tengu Models 28mm scale zombies - a lovely set of figures from a new company. I noticed that Studio Miniatures mentioned on the TMP forum that they were planning on releasing another 20 zombies soon. Oh, yes! Bring 'em on!

I'll be reviewing a lot of West Wind's Road Kill range of figures over the coming weeks. I made a start with their rage zombies, last week. My next review will feature zombie hunters and vampire hunters. Look out for that in the next few days.Next month will see me playing more games of ATZ for my ongoing campaign. Vampifan and co. are going to try to break out from the centre of Mayhem City. Wish 'em luck! They'll need it! I'm looking forward to continuing the campaign. If you're still here, thanks for sticking around and if you do feel inclined to leave a comment, by all means, do so... but PLEASE, PLEASE make it in English!

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Litko ATZ Plastic Tokens

Whenever I read one of LTL Dad's THW batreps, I noticed he used little coloured tokens to indicate the status of a particular figure. It was a good idea, I thought. Having originally seen the tokens being advertised on the THW website I knew that they were made by an American company called Litko Aerosystems. A quick glance at the Litko website showed me that they were a company who specialised in making gaming aids and accessories for a wide variety of games. Seeing as I am such an unashamed ATZ fanboy I thought I'd order some. They arrived a couple of weeks ago, so here's my review of them.
First up is the ATZ Action Token Set, which comprises 15 coloured plastic tokens - 5 Hunker Down, 5 Fast Move and 5 Duck Back. They are made of a hard plastic and are about 3mm thick, which makes them not too difficult to pick up. I just wish they'd made the Duck Back tokens in any other colour than blue as they are too similar in colour and shape to the Fast Move tokens.
The next set is the ATZ Status Token set, which also comprises of 15 tokens - 5 Stunned, 5 Out of the Fight and 5 Dead. The Litko website offers a good tip if you find the writing on the tokens a bit difficult to read. Rub over the writing with a white wax crayon then wipe it clean with a cloth. Although I could read the wording on the tokens I bought well enough I still tried out the tip and it made quite a noticable difference!
Moving on, we come to the ATZ Bullet Token set, which can also be used for anything that makes a loud noise in the game, e.g. screaming kids, a car or motorcycle engine or a chainsaw to name but a few. These 15 tokens comprise 3 number 1, 3 number 2, 5 number 3 and 4 number 6.
Finally, is the Obviously Dead Token set, which comprises 10 identical tokens. This was the one set of the range that I did not buy. For starters, it costs the same as the other three sets - $4.99 - so that represents poorer value for money. Secondly, you already get a set of Dead tokens in the Status set, so I don't see the need for this unnecessary duplication.
I ended up buying two each of the Action tokens and Status tokens and three sets of the Bullet Tokens. You can purchase them from I noticed that THW have recently revamped their website and I couldn't find them listed there any more so it looks like you'll have to go directly to the source if you want to buy them. EDIT: I just got an e-mail from Ed at THW to say they are now available from the THW website, so there you go.
Which brings me to the main point of this review. Should you buy them? Are they essential for play? Undoubtedly, they are not essential for play. I've been playing ATZ for a few years now and never felt that the thing that was most missing from my games were a bunch of plastic tokens! Having said that, I think they look cool. The bullet tokens are without doubt, the most useful of the sets. Instead of placing a small die as I used to do, I can now use a bullet token, which also has the added bonus of showing the direction of the shot(s) being fired. I'll be using these in all of my future games of ATZ so look out for them in my next batrep sometime next month. So, should you buy them? That's not for me to say. You make up your own mind but if you're as big a fan of ATZ as I am then you'll surely want them!

Sunday 18 July 2010

West Wind Road Kill Zombies

West Wind Productions are a UK-based miniatures firm with a huge output of 28mm scale figures. My favourite range is their Road Kill modern horror figures. This range includes zombies, vampires, werewolves, religious fanatics, cops and survivors. I have every figure in the range and I intend to review them all as they are all relevant to what my blog is about. To start off with, I'm going to look at set GRK12 Rage Virus Zombies, which comprises of eight figures in five different poses.
In the two photos above, at the far left, is the figure that I consider to be the leader of this group. The way he is posed just exudes power and malevolence. Note how his hands are dripping in blood! Like all of the figures in this range, he is bald and extremely muscular. By painting his clothes with Citadel Catachan Green, I'm suggesting he was once a soldier before he succumbed to the virus. Also, because these are Rage Virus Zombies, I've painted their flesh in Citadel Rotting Flesh tones rather than my normal pale grey that I use for the majority of my zombies. This zombie has a small hole in his stomach. He is also one of the two "unique" figures that you get in the pack.
Standing next to him is the second "unique" figure. What I mean by unique, is that he is not duplicated in the set. A common theme with these zombies is the bloody hands, which they probably use to rip their victims apart. This zombie has been bitten in the left cheek. The sculptor has done a great job on defining the muscles on his upper body.
Third in line is a zombie standing in a macho pose, flexing his muscles and no doubt, reveling in a fresh kill. His shirt and trousers are ripped and torn but he bears no obvious wounds. Once again, I have painted both of his hands covered in blood.
The fourth figure of this group is a duplicate of the third, but in order to make him appear slightly different, I have bent his arms ever so slightly. Of course, the easiest way to make two identically posed figures appear different is to give them differing colour schemes, which is what I did with the clothes of this zombie. I left his hands unbloodied but I did smear red paint around his mouth, neck and upper chest.
The figure at the far left of the two photos above is similar to to the figure I designated as group leader in that there is a stream of blood dripping from his right hand. When I first saw these figures in the flesh I thought the bits dangling from their hands were entrails but a closer look shows the dangly bits originate from the finger tips, ergo, it is dripping blood. There are no wounds on the figure but I do like that his belt is unfastened. It's just a little touch but it makes him stand out.
Next to him is his duplicate, which you can clearly see I have altered by reposing his left arm. I also bent him forward at the ankles to show he's about to lunge at a victim. I've left his left hand unbloodied. As with the other figures in this set I greatly admire the musculature of the sculpt.
The third figure in line is in a jogging pose with his left arm raised high above his head. As well as covering both his hands in gore, I also smeared blood around his mouth and neck. The blood on his hands must be fresh as it has ran down his left arm and body to soak his left hip. Despite all of the blood that I painted on him, none of it belongs to him.
The final figure out of this group is a swap of the previous figure, Once again, I repositioned his arms slightly and omitted most of the blood that I painted on his lookalike partner. There is a slight cut running from above his right ear to the corner of his right eye that, unfortunately, isn't very apparent from my photos. Other than that, he is gore free.
These are not your normal run-of-the-mill zombies. Someone has experimented on them to get them into this state. I like them a lot but sadly don't have much use for them in my All Things Zombie campaign. That will change, however, once THW release part three of the ATZ series, a supplement called Ragers. It was supposed to be released months ago but keeps getting pushed back in THW's release schedule. Fans of 28 Days Later and films of that ilk ought to like these zeds, although there are two potential problems. One is that they are all bald. The second is that although they are advertised as being 28mm scale they are much nearer 32 or 33mm in size. Neither problem bothers me but it might put some of you off. The pack of eight figures cost £9.99 from West Wind's website.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Twilight: Eclipse Review

There's just no escaping the phenomenon that is Twilight these days. Eclipse, part three of the series was released in the cinema just last week here in the UK and having reviewed the first two films I was honour-bound to go see part three. Thankfully, I got to see it before the schools broke up for their summer holidays so there were very few people in the cinema. The mere thought of watching a Twilight movie in a cinema packed with teenage girls fills me with dread. Shudder!
THE PLOT. At the end of New Moon, vampire Edward Cullen asked Bella Swan to marry him. Eclipse begins with teenager Bella's response. She still wants Edward to turn her into a vampire so that they can be together for all eternity but the thought of marriage does not appeal to her. Meanwhile, in nearby Seattle, a group of newly created vampires have gone on a murder spree, making the police and the media think there is a serial killer on the loose. Such behaviour attracts the attention of the Volturi (the ruling elite of the vampires) and they send a team to investigate. Alice Cullen, the vampire with psychic powers, gets a vision of the newly created vampires moving from Seattle en masse to track down and kill Bella. So forewarned, the Cullen clan makes a pact with the local werewolves to join forces and defeat their common enemy. Because Jacob the teenage werewolf is so in love with Bella the two sides are able to work together despite their mutual loathing. Jacob still holds a torch for Bella, and throughout the film tries to woo her back from Edward. Followers of the films and/or books won't be surprised to learn that Victoria is the instigator of the young vampire army as she still seeks vengeance on Bella, whom she blames for the death of her vampire lover, James. So the scene is set for a big confrontation. Who will win the war? Not hard to guess, is it?!
THE FILM. Directorial duties are passed over to David Slade, who directed the much gorier vampire film 30 Days of Night. Consequently, he is quite at home directing action scenes, although he is hampered somewhat by the film having a teen-friendly 12A certificate. Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward), Taylor Lautner (Jacob) and Ashley Greene (Alice) reprise their roles from the previous two films. Likewise with the actors and actresses playing the rest of the Cullen clan and the tribe of werewolves. The one major change is that Bryce Dallas Howard has been brought in to play Victoria the evil vampire, replacing Rachelle Lefevre. She does so-so in a role that has her do little more than snarling.
THE VERDICT. Irrespective of what I say or think about this film it will be a huge box office smash and I fully expect it to earn more money than any other film this year. The multiplex where I saw it was showing it on five screens, so they clearly expect it to be a massive money-spinner. For what it's worth, I'm not a big fan of the whole Twilight Saga but I don't hate it either. It has vampires and werewolves in it, so that grabs my attention straight away. I am so far removed from the target audience (teenage girls) that it is hard to review the film objectively. There is much to criticise - I still don't see what Edward and Jacob find attractive about Bella (she's a moody, sullen teenager) or what she sees in them (Edward is such a wuss and Jacob is overly emotional). With a running time of just over two hours there are parts of the film that drag along at a snail's pace. In the novel of the same name, I felt that the big fight at the end was over too quickly. Sadly, the same applies to the film. I quite liked the flashback scenes; Rosalie's in particular was rather poignant. I like the look of the werewolves - they are huge and very imposing. If I was a vampire, I wouldn't want to mess with them. And still, my favourite character in the film is Alice Cullen, although she has too little screen time for me. I noticed that one of my new followers has chosen a portrait of Alice for her personal profile. Good choice, Laura!
Twilight Saga author Stephenie Meyer will undoubtedly have a huge hit on her hands with this film. I'll admit to liking it more than I expected and it is certainly a better film than the previous one, New Moon. Just don't expect to find any acting masterclasses here! So, because I gave New Moon a 6 out of 10, I'll rate Eclipse 7 out of 10.

Sunday 11 July 2010

Black Hat Miniatures' Zombies 02

Those of you familiar with the output from Black Hat Miniatures will realise two things - first, I reviewed their range of zombies last week and secondly, these are their range of Skeletal Marines. So what gives? But, look closer. These are converted Skeletal Marines. Now they are Zombie Marines! To be honest, I had very little work to do to make them zombified. They are quite chunky to begin with so their bones that are showing could just as easily be flesh. So let's take a closer look at what I did.
Starting with the three figures in the two photos above, at the far left is MM300 Skeletal Marine 1. I added two very small balls of modelling putty to his empty eye sockets to give him eyes. I also added a small amount of modelling putty to his midriff to indicate some of his remaining internal organs. This guy had suffered a massive stomach wound. His uniform is torn and ragged, especially his trousers and he has lost both of his boots. I have no idea what make his assault rifle is, although I suspect it is something invented by the sculptor of these figures. If it is based on a real firearm and you can identify it, please let me know what it is.
In the centre of this group is MM303 Skeletal Marine 4. His conversion comprised of three stages, First, I added some modelling putty to the left side of his face and added an eye to the empty socket. This gave the impression that half of the flesh had been stripped from his face. Second, I added hair to his head and thirdly, I added a spool of intestines spilling from his stomach. He has a couple of bullet wounds to his back and a big tear in his trousers, revealing his right kneecap.
The third figure in this trio is MM302 Skeletal Marine 3. Once again, I added eyeballs to his empty sockets. I extended the sleeve of his right arm to his wrist and added an elbow pad to the same arm. Finally, I added a pair of boots to him as I thought too many of these soldiers had lost their footwear. Painting the skulls on his bandana was quite a challenge but I'm quite pleased with the result. His wounds are not as severe as the previous two marines. He has a minor cut to his left arm and a nasty looking hole in his left thigh.

Moving on to the next batch of figures is MM304 Skeletal Marine 5 at the far left of the group. Instead of placing his eyeballs in their sockets I placed his right eye just dangling out of the socket. I added a small amount of modelling putty around his right elbow to give the jacket sleeve a ragged look. I extended the sleeve on his left arm to his wrist but I added a hole to it where his elbow is. He has quite a few bullet and bite wounds to his legs and he has lost his left boot. Also of note, is a bullet wound to the left side of his helmet. I'm guessing it didn't penetrate all the way through!
In the centre of this second group is MM301 Skeletal Marine 2. I did very little conversion work to him. Apart from adding his eyes, I left him alone. I decided to paint him up as an African-American zombie just to add some variety to the squad. I deliberately left the parts of his ribcage that are exposed untouched, thus indicating he has suffered a massive middle body wound that has virtually stripped away all the flesh there. He has three wounds to his legs and he too, has lost a boot, this time to the right foot.
Finally, at the far right of the group is MM305 Skeletal Marine 6. He also has had minimal conversion work done to him. I added a few strips of hair to his skull. I decided to have most of the flesh stripped from his face and so left the eye sockets empty for once. He has holes on either side of his head, which would suggest a bullet has gone all the way through his skull. Maybe it did but failed to kill him properly. It is possible, but very rare, for people to survive gunshots to the head. I love how his upper left leg is in tatters, both flesh and cloth. This zombie sports more wounds than any of the others. His arms, legs, body and head all show varying wounds.
For me, the hardest part of painting military types is deciding on a colour scheme. For these, I went with the US Army "Desert Storm" camouflage scheme. I was influenced in choosing this colour scheme after reading the ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction mini-series of comics written by Kevin Grevioux of Underworld fame. They were fun to read.
These six figures cost £2.00 each and they are sold separately. Be warned, scale purists, that although they are advertised as being 28mm scale, they are closer to 32 or 33mm in height. Whether you'd want to buy these to convert as I have is open to debate but nevertheless, I thought I'd share my work with you.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

True Blood Series 2 DVD

About seven months ago I reviewed series one of True Blood and absolutely raved about it. Well, I'm pleased to say that series two was recently released here in the UK and that it is even better than series one. The boxed set of series two comprises of five discs, containing all 12 episodes. I bought my set from Amazon.UK for £26.71. The story of telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse continues in a tale taken from book two, "Living Dead in Dallas" of Charlaine Harris's best selling series. The main villain of the TV series is Maryann, who was introduced to viewers at the end of series one when she befriended Sookie's best friend, Tara. I've got nothing against the producers greatly expanding Maryann's story for the TV series as it kept me on my toes, wondering what was going to happen next. What did happen next was a complete rollercoaster of a ride, which I don't want to elaborate on too much for the sake of those who haven't seen the show yet.
THE STORY. Series one ended on a cliffhanger with Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Detective Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) finding a dead body in the back of Andy's car. The murder victim, whose heart had been ripped out,  is revealed and sets in motion a series of events that will affect everyone living in the small Louisiana town of Bon Temps. Sookie and her vampire lover, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) become a lot more comfortable in their relationship. Bill's superior is Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgard), who owns the Fangtasia night club in neighbouring Shreveport. He sends Bill and Sookie on a mission to Dallas to find a missing 2000 year old vampire called Godric. Meanwhile, Sookie's brother, Jason (Ryan Kwanten), finds religion and becomes a disciple of the Fellowship of the Sun, a vehemently anti-vampire church. Tara (Rutina Wesley) falls in love with "Eggs" Benedict (Mehcad Brooks) who was also taken in by Maryann (Michelle Forbes). They soon discover that Maryann has a powerful pull over them. And not just them! Pretty soon, she has the whole town dancing to her tune. The parties that she throws become wilder and more like orgies as ordinary folk lose all their inhibitions. Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) who is a shapeshifter who runs Merlotte's Bar in Bon Temps is immune to Maryann's charms and he quickly realises that she is evil incarnate. The teenage vampire, Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), whom Bill sired at the end of series one has a tender and heart-warming romance with Hoyt (Jim Parrack). Okay, that is a brief precis of the set up to series two. To say any more would be to reveal too much and I don't want to do that.
THE EXTRAS. I always look forward to the special features on a DVD. This boxed set has some extras, but I'd really liked to have seen more, especially about the making of the show. What you do get is two faux TV shows to complement the series. First up is "Fellowship of the Sun: Reflections of Light" in which the church leaders, Steve and Sarah Newlin, set out rules to live by in four separate sermons. Next up, showing a more positive view of vampires is "The Vampire Report: A Perspective with Victoria Davis." Both are nothing more than waffle, albeit entertaining waffle. Six of the twelve episodes come with commentaries from cast and crew and for the most part, are entertaining and informative, which is just what I want from a commentary.
THE VERDICT. Well, I already said in my intro that this series was even better than series one, and it is. What I love about True Blood is that it is clearly written for an adult audience. This is about as far removed from the world of Twilight as you can get. The violence can be extremely graphic and gory. The camera doesn't flinch or pull away from someone getting their heart ripped out, for example. The language throughout is pretty ripe but is there not to shock but because it seems so appropriate for that particular character and situation. Then there is the nudity and sex scenes. With Maryann happy to let any party denigrate into an orgy there is a lot more sex and nudity this series. What is great about series two is how all of the characters are allowed to develop. Even the minor supporting cast, who may have had less than ten lines in series one are allowed to shine this time round. It would be unfair to pick out any one person for praise. Every single member of the cast deserves high praise for their performances. Kudos also to the writers, producers and directors for taking what was an outstanding series to a whole new level. Oh boy, they sure have raised the bar high for series three. And damn, but they left series two on one humdinger of a cliffhanger! Bastards! Now, I gotta wait another six or seven months for series three and my American readers can rub my nose in it by telling me how good it is as it is showing in the USA right now! Not surprisingly, I rate series two 10 out of 10 but the boxed set just 9 out of 10, purely because I'd have liked to see more special features.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Black Hat Miniatures' Zombies 01

Black Hat Miniatures are a small UK-based figure company that makes a range of five zombies in 28mm scale. What became apparent to me when I looked at the images of them on their website was that these were designed with the fantasy gamer in mind. This did not deter me from ordering them as I knew that I could make them fit into a contemporary setting either by paintjobs or a bit of conversion work. The three males in the two photos above have had no conversion work done at all.
First up is DLZ004 Zombie 4 at the far left of the photo. What is unusual about him is that his right hand has been replaced by a hook. It is unusual but not unique as I can remember Studio Miniatures offering a zombie with a hook in set 4 of their range. There are no visible wounds on this zombie but I have bloodied the end of his hook and added a few splatters of blood to his shirt.  
In the centre of this group is DLZ005 Zombie 5, a near naked zed, wearing nothing but a loin cloth. He is a very muscular male who clearly looked after his body before reanimating. There are no big wounds to see on him but look closer and you'll see small cuts to his chest, arms and forehead.
The last of this trio is DLZ001 Zombie 1, who is wearing a kilt. I'm rather pleased with how my tartan pattern has turned out as normally I do not like to paint tartan or checked patterns on clothes. This guy has had a huge chunk of flesh torn or bitten from the back of his lower right leg. It is so deep that his bone is showing through. There are a couple of holes in his lower back and right arm, which could be bullet holes. With both hands raised in the air he might be surrendering, until you realise that is something zombies never do. I think he's raised them just prior to grabbing hold of a victim.
These three figures shown in the two photos above have all been converted in some way. The zombie at the far left of the group is DLZ002 Zombie 2, a male zombie dressed in a short sleeved top and a kilt. I did not want two kilt wearing zeds in this group so I decided to convert him into a female. I rounded out his bum and added breasts with a small amount of modelling putty. It was a very simple conversion. I left his/her hair as is. I'll admit she does look a bit butch for a female but so what? Not every female is blessed with stunning beauty. She has been bitten in the left lower leg, although not as bad as the previous figure. As a consequence, her left boot has gone missing.
The figure in the centre of this group is DLZ003 Zombie and is my most extreme conversion. She too began life as a male. I just thought that there was no way I was going to have three zombies in kilts in this group. He had to be transformed into a female as well. I worked on the body first and filed down his belt, which got covered over with modelling putty. Again, I made his bum more pronounced and I added a large pair of breasts to the figure. When that was dry I added a thin covering of modelling putty to his bald head and on a whim, decided to do his hair still up in rollers. I can't ever remember seeing a female figure with her hair in rollers so I suspect she may truly be unique. I saw her as one of the "blue-rinse brigade" before the zombies caught up with her. She was probably attacked whilst sitting in a chair at her hairdressers. She has also had a large chunk taken out of the back of her lower right leg and she, too, is missing a boot. Even more noticable, is her left eye, which is dangling from its socket. I'm very proud of this conversion. The body was easy to do but the hair required a good deal of skill to look right. If you wanted to convert him you could give him any hairstyle you want.
Finally, is MM002 Tonka, a figure from the Black Hat Mutants and Madmen Superheroes range. When I saw him, I thought he'd make a great "tank zombie." Converting him was a doddle. I drilled a line of bullet holes across his chest and used a craft knife to score some cuts across his back and right arm. I decided to paint him up in Citadel Rotting Flesh, which is how I paint all of my rage zombies.
Be aware that although these are sold as 28mm scale figures they are more "heroic" in scale and are nearer to 30mm. It's not too much of a height difference but it just might put some scale purists off buying them. The five zombies cost £1.20 each and Tonka costs £2.00. These are well sculpted miniatures and whilst I doubt if they'd ever be a person's first choice for starting a zombie horde, they may be worth considering if you want to bolster your numbers. They are very reasonably priced, as well. I can well understand that converting some of them may put  some of you off but first of all, I enjoyed the challenge immensely and secondly, they are available separately so you could either buy the figures you like best or buy them all and not bother with converting any of them.