Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Vampifan's Views 12 Start of my Monthly Editorials

Vampirella by Joe Jusko
I recently received a very interesting suggestion from Joe (aka Zabadak), one of my followers, who wrote -
"On the subject of your blog could I encourage you to add one more post a month?  I’d like to “hear” your thoughts,  ideas and viewpoints as well as your reviews on film, figures, books, etc. You’ve done a few like that in the past, and I’m sure many of your other followers appreciate learning how your thought processes are working, what plans you are making or abandoning.  From other blogs I’ve read, you do seem to be the Guru of the Undead in many people’s eyes. Your  name and site crop up everywhere.  So how about it, on the first or last  day of the month in addition to the normal blogging schedule, a paragraph (or two) on Vampifan’s thoughts?"
My immediate reaction to this was, what a brilliant idea, closely followed by, how come I haven't thought of doing this? So, every month, I will post an editorial on exactly what Joe has suggested.
I'll kick off with what's currently on my painting table and it's a real eclectic ( I love that word!) mix. I cleared the decks yesterday so this lot are what I have chosen to get painted next - 6 Black Cat Bases 28mm scale Screaming Nighthawks bikers (all on foot and includes their pet Alsatian), 4 Eureka Miniatures 28mm scale zombies in barrels (a present from Fran aka the Angry Lurker), 4 Foundry 28mm scale vampires, 3 Reaper 28mm scale geeks (a present from Roger aka Rogzombie), 2 Hasslefree 28mm scale adventurers (Scooby Doo and Spike the vampire or as HF call them, Hamlet and William) and finally, a RAFM 28mm scale businessman (another present from Fran). I like to paint no more than 20 figures at a time and that's exactly how many I have to paint here. I prefer to base my figures before I paint them and this lot are waiting to get based. Basing for me means adding sand and pieces of Fuller's Earth cat litter to my bases with PVA glue, then coating the base with watered down PVA glue to help seal it. Hopefully, I'll have them finished before my next editorial. A batch like this would normally take me about three weeks to paint.
On the card modelling front I plan on making some vehicles next. As it has been such a while since I last made any vehicles I'm going to start with something easy and make the two fast food vans from the WWG TLX Mayhem Under Construction set. These vans sell hamburgers, ice cream and other snacks and are based on the design for the ambulance, police van and gold bullion van that I've already made. Once I've made them, which shouldn't take more than a day or two, I'll restart my work on my Mayhem Police Station. I have 11 rooms that need furnishing out of a total of 25. If I do them one room at a time and take a break to build something else, like another vehicle, in between each room, I should avoid burning out again. Of course, the closer I get to finishing it, the quicker I'll want to finish it. Building it has been a marathon but hopefully, I'll finish with a sprint. I may do something I've never done with any building before and that's let you see some work in progress photos. Any takers? Yes, I thought as much!
Moving on, I've just made a rather expensive purchase. For years now I have been after a 1/48th scale U.S. Black Hawk helicopter, preferably die-cast instead of a plastic model. Whilst surfing the Internet on Monday I came across one for sale from a UK model store. Alas, it had a price tag of about £52. Yep, very pricey but I really wanted it. Purely on a whim I decided to see if my good friend, were selling it. Yes, they were. Their price was £42, still expensive but it was £10 cheaper. So, I've ordered it from Amazon. Its made by Forces of Valor, who are a good firm. The main reason that I want it is to use in my ATZ campaign. Sometime in the future you will see it in action. I have a number of plans for it, not least of which is that encounter on P.52 of the Random Events table of Better Dead Than Zed "Black chopper flies overhead and pulls zombies 12" away from any survivor."
Actually, the Black Hawk is just about the only gaming-related item I've bought this month. I bought and downloaded a few new models from WWG (Mayhem Corporate set, Mayhem Props, Mayhem Traffic and the Podtel building). As for figures, I bought 10 new Hasslefree 28mm scale adventurers, including the two now on my painting table. I'm making a real effort to spend less on miniature figures until my lead mountain is reduced considerably. I simply have far too many figures waiting to get painted.
The book I'm currently reading is The First Days by Rhiannon Frater, a zombie novel that interestingly has two females as its main heroines. It's part one of a trilogy, so if I do like it, which I think I will, I'm going to have to wait for parts two and three. Oh, well!
I've noticed that in recent years my trips to the cinema have become less and less frequent. From a high of once a week not too long ago I now average about one trip per month. Am I becoming more selective or are there just too few decent films being made? I dunno. I haven't seen any undead related films this year. I did see two films this month, which was a bonus. First up was Captain America: First Avenger, which was quite good and not as bad as I feared it might be. I'm more interested in Marvel superheroes than those from DC. Next, was a serious contender for my film of the year, The Guard, starring Brendan Gleason. What a powerhouse performance he gives, as he is in practically every scene. He is so funny and incredibly politically incorrect. This low budget Irish film was about a Garda policeman (Gleason) who helps an FBI Agent (Don Cheadle) to hunt down a gang of drug smugglers. An absolute joy and so different from the Hollywood blockbusters that so often fail to deliver. It just goes to show that if you have a good script you don't need megabucks to make a good movie.
As you all know, I've just completed another ATZ scenario and I'll post part one this coming Sunday and part two next Wednesday. It did not pan out as I thought it might but then again, no scenario ever does, thanks to the randomness of dice rolling.
I usually add a zombie picture or photo to my editorials. I was thinking that I don't have a lot of zed photos in My Pictures folders. Should I scour the Interweb for more? At which point, a light bulb flashed on above me. Don't be daft, I thought, use some of your Vampirella pictures. After all, I am Vampifan and I have loads of pictures of my favourite vampire. So, I'm going to illustrate these editorials with pictures of Vampirella, starting off with some of the works of my favourite Vampirella artist, Joe Jusko.
Well, I've waffled on for far too long so I'll close now. Thanks for reading this far and I hope I haven't bored you too much!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Microtactix Deli and Dry Cleaners

It has been such a long time since I did a review of a card building I've made. Sadly, I suffered burnout making my WWG Police Station. For that, the exterior is 95% complete and the interior about 50% complete. Making furniture for it became such a chore, I came to a complete halt. Now though, I've got my mojo back and I thought I'd share with you a pair of buildings I've just made - the Microtactix 28mm scale Horseman's Deli and Magic Clean Dry Cleaners.
Microtactix offer a building called the Horseman's Deli. However, it comes with signage for an alternative establishment - the Magic Clean Dry Cleaners. Rather than choose which one to build I decided to make them both, side by side.
The dry cleaners is a mirror image of the deli's, although as you can see I have omitted the store room from the roof of it. I'd have prefered the roofs to be gridless but that's just a minor criticism.
This front view nicely shows off the large windows and glass doors. I printed the windows and doors onto transparency paper to give the model that realistic glass look. If you're not into that kind of super detailing, just use the ordinary printed version. For me, the doors were quite a challenge to make. I hinge my doors with masking tape sandwiched in between two thin pieces of card, upon which I glue the image of the door, which I print out on matte photo paper (roughly around 120 -130 gm). The problem with these doors is that I had such a thin strip of card to work with at the side of the door to stick the masking tape to. However, there was enough and the hinge worked fine. These doors do open and close and I'm happy with how they turned out.
 This is the boring right hand side of the dry cleaners. When I scanned in the original printouts so that I could flip the images for a mirror versions the colours didn't print out true when I printed them out. It isn't a big difference but it is noticable, more so inside than out.
 Here's the back of the buildings and you have to look very closely to see that the colours don't quite match. The dry cleaners has more of a blue tinge to the deli's. The windows were printed onto transparency paper and the doors do open and close. These doors were a doddle to make.
The left side of the deli's has been adorned with three advertising posters that Microtactix provide with this set. They add a bit of colour.
This overhead shot of the interior shows all of the additional work I've done to these models. It must be noted that the Microtactix models come without any interior detail. What you see in the photo above and those below are stuff that I've added myself. The wooden floor came from the record store found in the WWG Mayhem Mega Mall set. It was 9" by 7" so I only had to cut off 1" to make it fit the 9" by 6" footprint of these two buildings.
The interior walls are just the same as the exterior walls but reversed so that they fit in properly. To keep things simple, I was originally going to leave both shops unfurnished, but I soon realised I could furnish the dry cleaners with items from the clothing store found in the WWG Mayhem Mega Mall set. Here you see two clothes racks and a shelf unit stocked with folded clothing.
The only item of furnishing in the deli's is the step ladders, which lead up to a deserted storage room. Until I can find some decent furnishing for my deli it will remain as is. At present the store is either in the process of opening or closing down. The poster on the wall of the dry cleaners was provided by Microtactix and was meant to be stuck in the front window. I decided against that and stuck it behind the cashier's desk.
 At the front of the dry cleaners are three more props from the clothes store found in the WWG Mayhem Mega Mall set. They are the cash till, the cash desk (much cut down from the original) and the cashier's stool. There should be more furniture in here like for example, a steam press and sewing machine, but what I have is enough to show that this looks vaguely like a dry cleaners.
And finally, the right side view of the interior. I forgot to mention that the step ladders in the deli are a WWG kitbash, that are still available from the Mayhem City kitbash page of the website. A word of warning, I found making mine an incredibly fiddly experience when I reinforced them with mounting card. WWG provide a new set of step ladders in the TLX Mayhem Under Construction set, but to be honest, I find them a bit naff. They are much smaller and nothing more than a box shape with all the gaps between the steps blacked in.
So, now I have two new buildings to add to Mayhem City and for once, they aren't WWG models. These were easy models to make, despite my super detailing like the opening doors, transparent windows and interior design. From a personal perspective, I've regained my enthusiasm for card modelling. I'm going to make some vehicles next, but after that I'm not sure if I should start a new model building or try and finish my police station. Any thoughts?
I've deliberately kept the best bit about these models to last. They are free. Yep, you can download them for free from They fit in well with the WWG scenery, even if they don't come with interior detail. All told, it took me roughly two weeks to make these shops. They will make an appearance in my next ATZ batrep, which I'm playing right now. Yes, I have this weekend free to play ATZ. Woot, woot and double woot!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne

Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne is the sequel to his first zombie novel, Day by Day Armageddon, which I reviewed last time. The story follows on exactly where part one left off. At the end of Day by Day Armageddon the cast of survivors had found a safe sanctuary to hole up in and call it home. I won't spoil the story by saying where or what their new home is but it is well chosen for its defensive capabilities. Such a place inevitably attracts attention, be it from a marauding gang of humans, zombies or the military.
The marauding gang is dealt with at the close of book one, thanks to a great deal of good luck. The trouble with the zombie threat is that no matter how many they kill, there is always lots more to take their place. Zombies are just relentless. They keep on coming and never give up. In Beyond Exile the author introduces a new threat - the zombie horde. By horde I mean thousands and thousands of zombies gathered together as one massive group of undead. The faster, more intelligent zombies act as scouts for the horde as they probe ahead of them.
The other group I mentioned was the military. We learn that the military forces of the U.S.A. are still functioning, although in a vastly reduced capacity. Once the zombie apocalypse kicked off, the military forces were hit hard and suffered catastrophic casualties and loss of life. The narrator of these two books, as I mentioned last time, is an officer and pilot with the U.S. Navy, who has gone rogue. His first interaction with the military is to rescue a squad of soldiers who had got into difficulties not far from his base. He successfully rescues them after intercepting a radio message they'd sent. He could have ignored them but his conscience would not have allowed such a decision. Despite blindfolding the soldiers on the way back to his base, they still figure out his location when he releases them (again blindfolded)  and soon they return with heavy reinforcements. From then on he is forced to work with the military group but interestingly enough, he outranks all of the soldiers, which puts him in command of them, once he reveals his true identity.
This book concentrates far more on military procedures than book one, and J.L. Bourne's real life status as a naval officer comes to the front as he draws on his own experiences.
The format of the book is identical to Day by Day Armageddon - a daily journal written by the unnamed navy pilot. With the introduction of the military I expected the book to take a different turn to book one but that's not really so. The bulk of the novel deals with the hero going on a reconnaisance mission that goes badly wrong when he is being flown by a helicopter. The helicopter crashes and he is the only survivor. How he gets back to base takes up a good chunk of the novel. We learn of his mood swings, his despair at being alone and injured, constantly being alert enough to stay one step ahead of the zombie threat. No matter where he goes, zombies are never far away. His survival skills are tested to the limit. The longer he remained out there the more I doubted if he'd ever get back home. He really does suffer, both mentally and physically.
All in all, this is a fascinating read. I was glad I was able to read both books back to back because after book one I was desperately keen to know what happens next. I mentioned the zombie horde earlier on and they are truly frightening. The book ends with one such horde (there are more as satellites are able to track their movement) attacking the survivors' base. At this point the survivors can call upon military back up. The firepower unleashed upon the horde is phenomenal (A10 gunships were my personal favourite)... but it hardly makes a difference at all! Such is the mass of zombies gathered together. Now that's scary!
Criticisms? I'm going to ignore the typos and bad grammar again, because I think they are deliberate. There were a few ocassions when I thought the narrator was incredibly lucky but I guess a hero needs a slice or two of luck to survive. To be honest, I enjoyed book two more than book one, which given how much I liked book one is very high praise.
Beyond Exile is published by Permuted Press and retails for £8.99 but as I said last time, shop around and you'll find cheaper copies available. I was not sure if there was going to be a book three in this series but one of my followers mentioned that there would be, although possibly in a different format. I hope it happens as I'd be very keen to read it. If you haven't bought either of this novels, I'd recommend buying them both together and doing what I did, read them back to back.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne

There is no better advertising for any product than word of mouth recommendation.When I posted my last book review (for Deadline by Mira Grant), Brother Joseph, one of my followers mentioned that he'd just finished listening to the audio book of Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne and that he'd thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a book that I had been considering buying for quite some time but I kept putting it on the back burner. Brother Joseph's recommendation was enough of a spur to make me buy the novel. I had to buy the novel as I'm not a big fan of audio books. So, to cut to the chase, I'm mighty glad that I did take the plunge and buy it. It ranks amongst the best zombie novels that I have read.
The novel is written as the journal of one man as he struggles to survive in a world overrun by flesh-eating zombies. The story begins on 1st of January (year not revealed) as the narrator makes a New Year's resolution to chronicle his life in a journal. We never do learn the name of the narrator but we do know that he is an officer in the U.S. Navy, serving as an aircraft pilot. This is worth pointing out right from the start, because the actual author, J.L. Bourne is on active duty as a commissioned U.S. Navy officer. It rather begs the question, is J.L. the actual narrator in his imaginary apocalyptic world? I don't know, but his knowledge of all things military gives the book a greater level of realism when he mentions guns, aircraft and other military hardware. In short, the guy knows what he's talking about, and I respect that.
As the story begins, TV and radio broadcasters make increasingly frequent reports about some disease originating from China that is spreading globally. As the days pass it becomes obvious that this is no normal bug that is being spread. People panic and stockpile food and other supplies. The narrator, with access to military broadcasts realises that things are going downhill far too fast and he too stockpiles his home, as well as making it secure from "looters". Reports of cannibalism and the rising dead are dismissed as rumour at first but as the zombie plague spreads the truth dawns and in no time at all we are plunged into the all too familiar zombie apocalypse setting.
The narrator receives a call to report to his unit based nearby in Houston, Texas. He makes the decision to ignore the order and stay at home - a decision that is later proved to be the most sensible one. He starts out alone but soon acquires the company of a friendly neighbour, John, and his dog, Annabelle. They initially decide to stay in Houston but that plan is abandoned when the First Lady announces on TV that numerous U.S. cities will be targetted for nuclear destruction to stem the rising tide of zombies. Houston is one of the cities on the list. So they leave the city and begin to trek across America, picking up more survivors on their travels.
I'll say no more about what happens but I found this a gripping novel of survivalism and humanity. The narrator is well equipped to survive in this harsh, unrelenting environment. He'd certainly start out as a Rep:5 Military veteran if this was an ATZ campaign. But, unlike the action heroes of Hollywood, he does suffer if he gets injured. Wounds take time to heal. There is no such thing as overnight recovery here. Things like dehydration affects the body adversely and he is aware of this.
Pleasingly, there is plenty of zombie action in here to satisfy any fan. The zombies in this novel are the slow-moving kind we are all too aware of from George A. Romero's films. However, after the bombs are dropped, a new breed appears. These are faster and more intelligent than the normal zeds. Have they become mutated by the radiation of the nukes? The answer is a rather vague, possibly.
I've read a few criticisms of the novel claiming that we don't learn enough about the narrator's past. Sorry, but this is just not true. It's all there in the journal if you read it properly. It's just not all in one convenient chapter. You have to probe and search the text to find out who he is and why he is the way he is, but believe me, the info is there. The only thing we don't learn about the narrator is his name and quite frankly, I can live with that.
Another criticism I've read about is that the novel is full of typos and clumsy grammar but I'm not sure if that really is a valid criticism. After all, this is the journal of a naval officer, not an academic, written at times in very stressful and dangerous situations. How good would your spelling and grammar be if you were writing your journal under the light of the moon whilst surrounded outside by a horde of zombies who want nothing more than to rip you to shreds? If this was an ordinary novel then, fair enough, it has been badly proofread. As someone who has studied proofreading, spelling mistakes do jump out at me. But, as I said, this is not a novel, per se, it's a hand written account, and for that reason, I can accept the typos and bad grammar. Quite frankly, it adds realism.
One thing that fans of the novel will appreciate is that the author signs off with an acknowledgement - there will be a sequel! It's called Beyond Exile and I'll review it next time. Day by Day Armageddon is printed by Permuted Press and retails for £8.99. I recommend looking around on the Internet for much cheaper copies. Try Amazon (£5.57) or The Zombie Shop (£7.99).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Black Orc Games Zombies 03

In a recent editorial (The Kindness of Bloggers ) I mentioned that I received some free zombie figures from Mikko Merilainen (author of  Dawn of the Lead blog-site) that he'd sculpted for Black Orc Games. I recently finished painting them and so I thought I'd share them with you.
Mikko sculpted two new 28mm scale zombie figures but as you can see there are three figures in the photos I've taken. The figure at the far left is called Joe the Jogging Zombie. When I first saw I him I was rather put off by the fact that his left side was flat. Also, despite his lack of genitals, I could tell that he was meant to be a nude zombie. I mentioned this to Mikko and he told me that due to a mix up with Black Orc Games they had added a slottatab to his figure when it was supposed to be lying down, hence the flat left side. Mikko kindly sent me a second copy of this figure so that I could have one standing and one prone. Clearly, standing Joe needed some work doing on him. I bulked out his left side with modelling putty, redefined his backside and added his meat and two veg between his legs. The figure has some spectacular wounds on him. There is a huge hole where his lower stomach once was. In between his man boobs is another big hole. When I resculpted his left arm, I added a massive bite wound to it. The flesh has been stripped from the shin of his left leg, he has a piece of flesh torn from the back of his skull, and finally he's had a bite taken from his right buttock. Awesome set of wounds, I say!
The figure in the centre of the group is Joe as he was meant to be, lying down and struggling to get back to his feet. It's a very original concept and I applaud Mikko for coming up with the idea. I added his cuffs, collar and waistband so that it looked like he was wearing a track suit to help tie in with the name Black Orc Games gave him - Joe the Jogging Zombie. I toned down the gore content on this figure. The chest and stomach wounds are still present, as is the bite to his bum. There is also a bite to his right leg which I've made more prominent on this figure than on upright Joe.
I took this overhead shot to better show off the third figure in my photos - namely Matt the Crawling Zombie. As you can see, there isn't much of Matt left. Part of his intestines and other pieces of his innards trail behind him as he uses his hands to propel himself forward. I like this figure a lot as I can always find a need for zombie crawlers.
To be fair, these are not the best sculpted figures on the market. Joe's anatomy shows a number of faults. I don't want to be hyper-critical of these figures, especially when  Mikko let me have them for free, but at the same time I do want to give you an honest review. I like the concept of Joe more than the execution, but he isn't a really bad figure. My conversions were fairly minimal and easily done. Matt, on the hand, is a real gem and I have nothing but praise for him. As with all of Black Orc Games' figures these are ridiculously cheap, retailing at a mere $1.00 each.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Studio Miniatures Survivors 03

Studio Miniatures latest pack of 28mm scale survivors contains three figures that should be instantly recognisable to most fans of the zombie genre. This is Rich and Family or as we fans of The Walking Dead know them, Rick and Family.
At the far left of my two photos is Sheriff Rick Grimes, the hero of The Walking Dead comics and TV series. The figure of Rick, (sorry but I'm not going to call him Rich - we all know who he really is) comes in two parts. His right hand and shotgun are a separate piece from the rest of the body. I had to drill a hole in his wrist and hand and pin the parts together with a very small piece of wire cut from a paperclip to ensure a good fit. The sculptor has shown Rick with his beard and moustache. I'd have preferred a clean shaven version of him, but that's just me being picky. For most of the time in the comics, Rick is clean shaven. He is firing a large calibre Magnum pistol in his left hand whilst holding his police issue pump action shotgun in his right hand.
In the centre of the group is Rick's wife, Lori. I can't find fault with this sculpt at all. It perfectly captures Lori both in stance and way she's dressed, not to mention, likeness. She is holding a pistol at the ready, alert to any danger to herself and family. 
Third in line is Rick's son Carl. Carl has been sculpted with his dad's police stetson on, so let's not hear any complaints that it looks too big on him. It's meant to. Also, for those of you who say he never wore it in the TV series, he does in the comics and in the comics he looks almost identical to the figure. I say almost because the sculptor has got two details wrong. Carl has never used a revolver. Early on in the series, Rick gave Carl a pistol for self-defence. At first Lori wasn't happy about this decision but she soon came round to seeing the sense of it. So the figure of little Carl should be armed with a pistol. It would be an easy enough conversion to swap weapons. I won't because it's not that big a deal. The second inaccuracy is that the stetson should have a police badge on the front of it. Minor points, I know, but I thought I'd mention them.
Of course, there's no reason why you should use them as Rick Grimes and family. They work perfectly well as an ordinary family of survivors. The thing is though, now that Studio have made Rick, Lori and Carl, I've no doubt that fans of The Walking Dead will be clamouring for more. My personal choices are for Michonne, Andrea, Dale and Glenn. I guess we all have our favourites and it certainly would be nice to see an expansion to this set. If you buy the white metal version of this set, it will cost £11.99, however, the resin version will knock you back £14.99.
Incredible as it seems I've barely mentioned The Walking Dead on my blog. I couldn't review the TV series when it first aired as I don't have access to satellite TV. I finally got to see it when the DVD boxed set was released earlier this year, by which time I'm sure most of you will have already seen it. For what it's worth I think the comics are without doubt the finest zombie series in print. The TV series more than lived up to my expectations, even though it did deviate from the comics. That's perfectly understandable. It does and more importantly, will, follow the main story arc of the comics but it will add a great deal more. That certainly excites me and I look forward with eager anticipation to series two, although the loss of director Frank Darabont does fill me with concern. Series one set such a high standard. I hope series two can maintain that standard. Sadly, for me, I'll have to wait for the release of the DVD boxed set in 2012 to find out.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Studio Miniatures Zombies 10 - Mob 8

As promised, here is my review of Studio Miniatures' 28mm scale Zombie Mob 008, along with the freebie figure you get if you order this set and Zombie Mob 007 together.
I'm not sure if the zombie in the yellow polo-neck sweater at the far left of the two photos above should still be standing. From the front it looks like he's just been shot in the chest. But from the back you can see he's had the top of his head sliced off - surely a killing blow if ever there was one. When I first saw this figure I was reminded of the zombie in George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead film who walks into the spinning rotor blades of a helicopter and loses the top of his head. Instant death! Maybe this guy still has enough brain matter to function. Notice the massive exit wound in his back - it's not hard to miss!
The zombie female in the orange dress is quite tall. The rows of bricks behind her give you a good indication of her size as they are spaced 5mm apart. Her once pretty looks have been marred by a chunk of flesh that has been bitten off her right check. She has also suffered a big bite wound to her left arm and there are claw marks on her right thigh.
The zombie female in the blue top and jeans has not been so badly injured. Her right hand is held over a bite wound on her right thigh. Her jumper and jeans have been holed in a few places but, on the whole, she is a relatively intact zombie.
The one thing that I like most about the fourth zombie in line is that she is still holding onto her handbag, even though the shoulder strap has snapped. You can almost hear her brain thinking, "you can kill me but you aren't getting my handbag. It's mine!" She has a small hole in the left knee of her pants and I have smeared blood over her chin and neck, which has got lost in the shadows of my photo. Sorry about that. She is another zombie who looks virtually intact.
The balding male at the far left of the next two photos above has suffered a small wound to the chest and forehead and a large bite to his left arm. He is leaning over to one side as if unsteady on his feet. From afar you might mistake him for a drunk but not close up.
Standing next to him, you couldn't mistake this gentlemen in the dishevelled suit for anything but a zombie. His mouth is open wide in an angry snarl. Blood from a bite to his right cheek and from victims he has bitten is pooled around his neck and upper chest. A bite has been taken out of his lower right leg, which explains why his gait is so unnatural.
The zombie in the centre of this group is a bloody mess. His most notable wound is on his right arm, where the flesh has been picked to the bone between his wrist and elbow. He also has bite wounds to his right lower leg (major) and left lower leg (minor). The left side of his his face has had a lot of flesh removed. It's fair to say that he must have suffered before turning into a zombie.
The zombie to his left has also suffered badly. His stomach has been ripped open to reveal his innards, which are spilling out. He has a deep wound to the back of his left thigh. His right hand is covered in blood, most likely his own as he tried to stem the blood from his stomach wound.
Finally, I come to the freebie figure, available only if you buy this set and Zombie Mob 007 together. When Studio Miniatures released Zombie Mobs 003 and 004, the free figure was Bub, the intelligent zombie from Romero's Day of the Dead. I made a plea that the next freebie be Big Daddy, the intelligent zombie from Romero's Land of the Dead film but sadly it was just some jerk from Scrubs. (No, I'm not a fan of Scrubs at all!) Fortunately, this time round, Studio have listened to me and here we have Big Daddy in his garage overalls, with a 5.56mm Steyr AUG Assault Rifle slung over his back. And yes, he does know how to use it. In ATZ, that would make him a Smart Zombie. I just can't fault this figure at all. It is a superb sculpt that perfectly captures Eugene Clark's zombie character. If you are using Smart Zombies in your own games, you just have to get hold of this figure.
This is another set of zombies from SM that shows just why they are at the top of their game. If you want top quality, realistic looking zombies then look no further. Zombie Mob 008 costs £16.99 but do yourself a favour and buy it with the previous mob set, just to get your hands on the sublime Big Daddy figure.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Studio Miniatures Zombies 09 - Mob 7

I was checking my blog archives and I found it hard to believe that I haven't reviewed any Studio Miniatures zombies and survivors this year. That changes now as I review Zombie Mob 007.
 As with all of the Studio Mob sets, you get five male zombies and three female zombies. The two photos above show four of the male zombies, starting at the far left with a crouching zombie who has been shot in the chest by a high calibre bullet. The exit wound in his back is massive. His left knee and shin are all bloody. From a fashion point of view I'm not a fan of his trousers!
Next to him is possibly a former office worker in his shirt and tie. He wears a big chunky, gold watch, which would be a handy item to loot from him. I couldn't find a single wound on him, so perhaps he died of a heart attack.
Moving on, is an overweight zombie dressed in casual clothing and a parka coat with the hood down. When I was painting his hair, I accidentally painted over his left ear. Rather than correct my error, I daubed blood over his ear, which has dribbled down his neck onto his upper chest. That's the beauty of painting zombies - any mistake can be covered up by a spot of gore. He also has two small bullet wounds in his chest and stomach and his right hand is covered in blood.
The fourth zombie in line is a conversion of Studio's "not-Arnie" figure, Dutch. The head has been remodelled and his lower right arm has been bitten off. He has also lost all of the fingers and thunb from his left hand, leaving him with a bloody stump. He makes a fine biker zombie, possibly a Wild Hog. Those of you who remember my last batrep will get that reference!
The next pair of photos show the four remaining figures, starting at far left with the last of the males. He has certainly been in the wars. His left wrist and forehead were bandaged prior to him becoming an active member of the undead. His lower right arm has been chewed to the bone and his right hand is missing completely. Nasty! Blood still flows from his two bandaged wounds, indicating they reopened prior to his first death.
Second in line is one of my favourite zombie figures ever. She is just superb and something very different from Studio's normal zombies (if you can call any of them normal). She is a fat chav zombie, very reminiscent of the obnoxious Vicky Pollard character from the UK comedy series Little Britain. She is just grotesque, which for a zombie is definitely a good thing. Half of her face has been ripped off to reveal a grinning skull beneath. Her left eye has been torn from its socket. Her pendulous breasts are almost spilling out of her tracksuit top and if you look closely, her right nipple is exposed from behind a tear in the cloth. The right arm of her tracksuit has been ripped off to reveal a few bite marks. Her upper back has been scratched and clawed and her left knee is all bloody. Finally, to add insult to injury, a bite has been taken out of her bum! What an amazing figure!
Third in line is a one armed zombie, leaning over to her left. Her left arm from the elbow has been torn off. I have smeared blood around her mouth, chin and right hand. She is such a delicately sculpted figure, the complete opposite to the previous female walking corpse.
The final figure in this set is a conversion of the previous figure. If you compare their lower bodies you can tell that this is the case. Still, it is a clever conversion because the upper bodies look very different. She has had her throat torn out. The left sleeve of her coat has been ripped off but her left arm shows no signs of a wound.
I've said all along that my favourite 28mm scale zombie figures are made by Studio Miniatures and this set does nothing but cement their reputation as the best. The female chav zombie in this set is worth the asking price alone. The quality of the sculpting is as good as it gets and I can tell you that painting them was an absolute joy.
The price of Zombie Mob 007 is £16.99 for the white metal version. When I checked the SM website this morning I couldn't find any price for the resin versions. Either it was an oversight or else Studio have stopped making resin versions. Next time I'll be revieweing Zombie Mob 008 along with a free bonus figure you get if you order both sets together.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Copplestone Bikini Babes

I bring my trilogy of reviews of bikini babes to a close with a look at Copplestone Castings' set of 28mm scale Future Wars figures from set FW45 Bodyguards in Bikinis. There are five figures in this set but my photos show six figures. Don't worry, all will be explained later.
 Unlike the Foundry bikini babes, Copplestone does not give their figures names and I haven't got round to naming them yet. So, for identification we'll just call them Babes 1 to 6. Babe 1 at far left of my two photos is an oriental girl, dressed in a light blue bikini and dark blue high heels. She is armed with a deadly katana, which makes a very welcome change from all the firearms these girls have acquired. Note the big dangly ear-ring on her left ear.
Babe 2, with the platinum blonde hair, crimson bikini with white polka dots and red high heeled shoes holds a BA Pistol in her right hand. It looks like an IMI Desert Eagle and could be either .44 or .50 calibre. Either way, it packs a solid punch.
Babe 3 stands out from the rest in that she is the only girl wearing boots. I had the crazy idea that I'd like her to have a rainbow coloured bikini. It's crazy because there is so little material to play with. Still, I eventually came up with a colour scheme that I was happy with. She is armed identically to Babe 2.
Babe 4, in the white bikini and white shoes is armed with a Sub-Machine Gun that closely resembles the 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5. Copplestone makes generic weapons that look similar to certain contemporary weapons without being a direct copy, which is why I say it looks similar to the MP5.
Babe 5 has gone all girly with her costume - dark pink bikini matched with light pink shoes. She is the third babe to be armed with a BA Pistol.
That should have been the end of this review as those are the five figures that you get with this set. However, for some unknown reason, I get two figures of Babe 5 when I ordered them. Lucky me, huh? So, for Babe 6, I clipped off her BA Pistol and remodelled her left hand so that it held an ice cream cone. I also repositioned her lower right arm and hand. A different paintjob (white bikini with pink roses, red shoes and brown hair) makes her look just different enough from Babe 5. She is a unique figure, unless someone else copies my conversion!
These figures seem like they were made to go together with the Foundry Bikini Babes as they complement each other perfectly. I actually like them better than the Foundry Bikini Babes but it is a close call. I particularly like the Babe with katana. Another reason why these score higher than the two Foundry sets is that they are a lot cheaper. This set of five costs, just £8.50, making them £1.50 cheaper than Foundry.