Sunday 29 January 2012

Foundry U.S. Street Cops 02

This review is tied in to my last one, which looked at Foundry's first set of street cops from their 28mm scale Street Violence range. This time I'm looking at set SV065 Shot Gun Cops. Each of these figures is a conversion of the cops found in set SV031 Street Cops. Note, that once again, I received a bonus figure with this set, but I'm sorry to say, he's no longer available. The first five figures from left to right are the ones you get with this set.
I have painted these figures up in the uniform of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), just as I did with the last set.
The only thing that I don't like about the cop at the far left of my two photos above is the horrible name that the Foundry crew gave her - Bella Oxmix. Yuk! I haven't come up with an alternative name but I can assure you that she won't be called Bella Oxmix in my games. Okay, so a name change is dead easy but it doesn't detract from how well sculpted she is. She is sculpted in a relaxed pose, resting her shotgun on her right hip.
Next up is "Pizza Pete," a figure that almost surpasses Coronary Bob from the previous set for its humour and sheer awesomeness. Don't get me wrong, I think Pete is an excellent figure but I feel that Bob only just shades him. As his nickname indicates, Pete is very fond of pizzas and he has been depicted taking a bite out of a slice of his favourite snack. You just have to admire the humour and originality that have gone into this figure and Coronary Bob.
I haven't mentioned the Police Academy films yet, as so many of the Foundry street cops seem to be based upon characters from that series. That is certainly the case with the third figure in line, who passes a very close resemblance to the overly gung-ho Eugene Tackleberry. To be honest, he is too tall for an accurate representation of Tackleberry, so maybe you'd be better of using the name given to him by Foundry - Baker. The addition of the sunglasses is a nice touch.
Staying with the Police Academy connection, next up is Foundry's version of the unassertive, soft-spoken cop with the high-pitched voice, Laverne Hooks. She does become authorative and aggressive if she gets frustrated or pushed to the limit. Foundry named her Cully, another name that I don't like.
The fifth figure in this set is Taffy, holding his shotgun at the ready in a two-handed grip. He is a rather unremarkable figure. He's not badly sculpted but he doesn't really stand out from the crowd.
The sixth figure in line is the bonus figure that I was sent. Sadly, it would seem that he's no longer available, which is a shame, as I like the pose he's in. He's the only figure in this set who looks like he's about to fire his shotgun.
This set complements the original set extremely well. I don't mind that all of these figures are conversions of the ones found in the original set. By giving them shotguns instead of pistols their profiles have changed enough to make them seem like original figures. They are well-sculpted and not too big. On the whole, they will work okay if you add them to cop figures from other companies. For example, Hasslefree's Ken, with his choice of pistol or shotgun, would make for a great companion to either or both  of the two Foundry street cop sets.
As with most Foundry Street Violence sets, this set of five figures costs £10.00 from Foundry's webstore. C'mon, cops with shotguns - what's not to like?

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Foundry U.S. Street Cops 01

Here's a blast from the past as I review set SV031 Street Cops from the Foundry Street Violence range of figures. I've had these figures for years now but it's taking me time to show off my complete collection of this range. Bear with me and I will get round to reviewing every figure in the range. Yes, I do own them all, and yes, they are all painted!
I usually paint my U.S. street cops in the colour scheme of the NYPD but these are painted up as LAPD cops. Is there a difference? Oh, yes.
Starting at the far left of my two photos shown above is Sergeant Storm. I'm going to use the names provided for the figures by the guys at Foundry. It has been noted by quite few people that some of these figures bear more than a passing resemblence to a few of the cast from the Police Academy films. That being the case, then Storm is a dead ringer for Sergeant Debbie Callahan. Her pose and stern demeanour on her face suggests that she is a tough, no-nonsense cop.
Next up, is my all-time favourite cop figure, Coronary Bob. Kudos to Foundry for giving him such a great nickname! He is nonchantly walking along, having just popped into a KFC restaurant for a takeaway meal. He has his large drink in his right hand and his bag of food in the other. To be honest, he could have been to any fast food restaurant or food store but I painted the KFC logo on his bag and cup, simply because it's my favourite fast food establishment. This figure just oozes character and I love him!
We return to the Police Academy theme with the extremely tall and aptly named Moses Hightower, although Foundry have christened him J.J. A lot of the Foundry Street Violence sets feature one over-sized figure and for this set this is him. Moses is the very definition of the term "a gentle giant." He may have immense strength but he is mild-mannered and soft-spoken.
Fourth in line is Betty. Now if I'd painted her with brown flesh she could have been  the timid Laverne Hooks from Police Academy, but there is a much better version of Hooks in the shotgun armed street cops set. You'll notice that three of these cops have their pistols pointed skywards, but are still ready for action. I guess Betty is just assessing the situation to see if an armed response is necessary.
The fifth figure in this group is the mustaschioed Willy. I couldn't find an equivalent for him in the Police Academy films but I haven't seen all of them. I stopped watching them after Police Academy 3. He also carries his pistol pointing to the heavens but he holds it in a two-handed grip. He's a good generic cop.
Now that should have been the end of this review as those are the five figures shown on the Foundry website for this set. However, when I received my blister pack, I found an extra figure included. This was about fifteen years ago, so I have no idea if Foundry still offer this bonus figure. Anyway, he does look very similar to Steve Guttenberg's character, Carey Mahoney, the star of the Police Academy series. He is also holding his pistol in a two-handed grip but this time, he's pointing it at the ground.
Okay, I know I've made numerous references to Police Academy, but seriously, these are a great bunch of bog-standard street cops. If you team these up with their shotgun-toting colleagues, which I'll be reviewing next time, you'll have a nice force of cops to use in your games. This set of five figures (or maybe six) costs £10.00 from Foundry's webstore. With the exception of J.J. they are not over-sized and will fit in well with cops from other ranges, like Hasslefree or West Wind. I have to say that this set is worth buying for the Coronary Bob figure alone. He is an absolute gem!

Sunday 22 January 2012

Underworld: Awakening 3D

I'm a very happy bunny! My favourite on-screen vampire, Selene the Death Dealer, has returned in the fourth film in the Underworld series. I saw this just two days ago, when it first screened at the cinema without reading any reviews of it. To be honest, I would have still gone to see it even if every film critic slated it because I am a Selene fanboy. As it happens a lot of the film critics did slam the film, but as I always say, the only critic who counts is yourself. Once again, Kate Beckinsale, who plays Selene, dons her iconic black leather skintight costume (how cool does she look in that film poster to the left?) and does what she does best, blows away anyone who stands in her way... only this time in glorious 3D!
THE PLOT. Six months after the events of Underworld: Evolution, Selene and her lover, Michael Corvin, are captured by human troops during a puge of all vampires and Lycans (werewolves) when humanity finally learns of their existance. Selene and Michael are special as they share the blood of Corvinus, the first vampire. Selene the vampire and Michael the Lycan both gain additional powers that make them unique, so naturally they become test specimens to be experimented on. For twelve years, Selene is kept in a cryogenic coma at the Antigen facility, a government sponsored research facility run by Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea). Another captive at the facility, known as Subject Two, helps Selene to escape. At first Selene thinks that Subject Two is Michael, because she can see events through his eyes. But when another vampire, David (Theo James) comes to Selene's aid, they discover that Subject Two is a young girl called Eve (India Easley). They head off in a van for David's lair but are attacked by a trio of Lycans on the way. Eve is bitten by one of the Lycans and retaliates by ripping its head in half. Selene and David kill the Lycan trio and arrive at David's underground lair. David is the son of an elder vampire, Thomas (Charles Dance) who doesn't take too kindly to their arrival. Selene uses her blood to help heal Eve and she learns that the young vampire hybrid is actually her daughter. Hmm, now there's a turn up for the books!
India Easley as Eve, the hybrid vampire daughter of Selene.
Things take a turn for the worse when the vampires' lair is discovered and infiltrated by a pack of Lycans. This is odd as all Lycans were supposedly eradicated during "The Purge." Looks like someone has been telling lies. The Lycans are only after one thing, Eve. Selene promises to protect her but fails in her duty when she is beaten by the largest Lycan ever seen (Kris Holden-Ried). This beast is about twelve feet tall and a real bad ass! David is killed in the fight and Selene knocked out but she makes amends to Thomas by bringing David back to unlife with her unique blood.
She leaves the coven and enlists the help of an FBI detective, Sebastian (Michael Ealy) to gain access to the Antigen facility, where Eve has been returned. Dr. Lane is revealed as a Lycan and he has been using Selene's DNA to create a race of super Lycans who are immune to silver. That huge bad ass Lycan I mentioned earlier is Quint, Dr. Lane's son. The film climaxes in a bloody fight to the death with no prizes awarded for guessing who emerges victorious.
THE FILM. This time the film had two directors, Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, both from Sweden. The series creator and original director, Len Wiseman, (husband of Kate Beckinsale) wrote the screenplay and was one of the film's producers. With a running time of just 90 minutes this packed in a lot of fight scenes, which were very gory. The 3D aspect was supposed to help kickstart the franchise but to be honest didn't add a lot to the film.
Kate Beckinsale as Selene in action. Do not mess with this lady!
THE VERDICT. For one and a half hours I just switched my brain off and was immersed in a fast-paced, action-packed bloodfest and I came out of the cinema with a huge smile on my face. I was entertained and the sight of Kate in her skintight costume kicking butt was enough for me to give this film a huge thumbs up. There are holes you can pick in the plot and no one is going to win any acting awards for this film, but that kind of misses the point. It's an action and adventure film, pure and simple with no pretensions of being high art. Sometimes we need our fix of mindless mayhem and bloody violence as an escape mechanism from the rigours of real life. Believe me, I've seen a lot worse than this offering. As a result I'll happily award this an 8 out of 10 rating. I'd have rated it higher if we'd seen more of Michael and Selene together, but Scott Speedman, who played Michael in the first two Underworld films did not want to appear in part four, which was a shame. Since I've seen the film, I've read numerous reviews of it and it certainly has not gone down well with the film critics. So is it a one to avoid? I guess a lot depends on what you thought of the previous films in the series. These are my favourite vampire films of all time, so it was pretty much a given that I'd enjoy Underworld: Awakening. If you don't think much of the previous offerings or haven't seen them you may want to avoid this one. I'm now looking forward to the DVD release and if there is an Underworld 5, I'll go and see it and no doubt enjoy it.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Recreational Conflict Civilians 02 and Survivors 01

Recreational Conflict have two sets of eight 28mm scale figures in their Lead Bones horror range called Civics Class or if you want all 16 figures there is a set called Gearing Up. I said in my last post that these were the best figures made by Recreational Conflict and I'd go even further to say that these are amongst the best civilian and survivor figures available anywhere. What I particular like about them is that each figure comes with a choice of arms, allowing you to make an unarmed civilian version of the figure and an armed survivor type. What a fantastic concept! The range is made up of four pairs of males and four pairs of females and covers a wide range of ethnic types, which is another reason why I like these so much.
Set 1 contains the four African-American figures shown in the two photos directly above and below. I got to use a lot of my Foundry flesh paints on these figures. For the two figures on the left I used African Flesh 126 and for the two on the right I used North African Flesh 124, which isn't as dark. The civilian at the far left is a basket ball player and as befits his profession, he is quite a tall figure. Note how taller is than the other male alongside him. Be aware that these figures vary in height, with the females being a few millimetres shorter than the males. This is not a bad thing and quite frankly, reflects real life very well. As well as the basketball, which he's holding under his right arm, he also carries a bottle of some kind of energy drink. His armed version totes an Ingram MAC-10 Sub-Machine Gun.
The civilian on the right is another sporty type but he has taken up skateboarding rather than basketball. Incidentally, the logo on his skateboard reads "Flip." I did a Google search of skateboards and skateboarders to get an accurate representation for the colour scheme for his board and for his clothing. The survivor version of him is armed with a double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun.
The females in set 1 are made up of a shopper and a businesswoman. The shopper could be described as a Chav if she was a U.K. resident, but I'm going with the sports mum look for her, because she's a U.S. citizen and I think that label is more appropriate. The civilian version of this figure is carrying a pair of shopping bags, so she's probably only just started her shopping spree. The survivor type has swapped her shopping bags for a pair of pistols. I wonder if she's ambidextrous? I used the standard Foundry Flesh 5 for her skin tones.
The businesswoman was clearly an oriental, so her flesh tones were painted using Foundry Oriental Flesh 122. She is speaking on her mobile phone and in her left hand she holds another small electronic device, perhaps a pager. The survivor version of this figure carries a pump-action shotgun.
The males in set 2 are made up of a cameraman and a businessman. I wanted the cameraman to look like he spent a lot of time outdoors, because of his clothing. So I decided to give him tanned flesh, and for this I used Native American Flesh 120. I really love the Foundry Flesh paints! I guess that spending so much time looking through a lens, it was a logical choice for the survivor version to be armed with a sniper rifle, in this case the awesome Barrett .50 calibre sniper rifle.
The business man, seen talking on his mobile phone and carrying a small briefcase in his other hand is obviously another African American. This time I painted his flesh tones using Dusky Flesh 6. The survivor version sees him armed with a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5 Sub-Machine Gun and a baseball bat. He must be skilled enough in the use of his SMG to be able to fire it single-handed.
The two pairs of females in set 2 consist of a tourist and a waitress. The tourist, seen reading a guide book, could be of any etnicity but I decided to paint her as a Hispanic lady and so used Tan 14 for her flesh tones. I also decided to make her a more mature woman and so painted her with grey hair. I do like that she is overweight. With so many people being overweight, fat or obese it's nice to see this being reflected in at least one of these minis. The survivor version carries a bolt-action sniper's rifle.
The final figure combo in the set are the waitress ladies. She had to be a Caucasian female and therefore I painted her flesh bits with the standard Flesh 5 paint. Only she and the shopper were painted with identical flesh colours. I must admit that I'm not happy about how I painted the civilian's face. She looks very stern and harsh. The civilian carries an empty tray and has a cloth draped over her right arm. The survivor has ditched them for a Big Ass Magnum Revolver.
I could have painted all 16 figures differently and I did think about that as that would have given me 16 unique figures. But I was put off by having to come up with an extra 8 colour schemes and I thought it would make more sense to tie the two versions together by painting them both identically.
Let me list the reasons why I rate these figures so highly.
1. The concept of combining civilians and survivors is one that I wish other companies would copy. I love this idea of a before and after character.
2. There is a wide range of ethnic types amongst these figures. Full marks to sculptor Brian Cooke for not making them all Caucasian.
3. The heights of the figures vary, as they would in real life. The basketball player is the tallest in the range, and so he should be. The females are smaller than the males, and again, so they should be. If they were all the same height it would look unrealistic.
4. There is a lot of character in these figures. Each one looks as if he or she could tell a story. I like to see that in my figures.
5. They have been beautifully sculpted in 28mm scale. The proportions of the figures look right and they'll fit in very well with most other ranges of 28mm scale figures, despite their slight variations in height.
I do have one minor criticism of them and that is that I had to refer to the pictures of them on the Recreational Conflict website to ensure that the right combination of arms went with the right figures. Once that was sorted I must admit that the arms attached to the bodies very well.
There is one thing that I think could make this range even better and that is to release a second set of them showing them as zombies and corpses. Civilian, survivor, zombie and corpse - what a winning combination that would be! I mentioned this to RC's head honcho, Richard Brooks but sadly from the response I got back I don't think it'll happen but a man can dream, can't he?
Set 1 and 2 cost $18.00 each or you can buy both sets together for $36.00. Each figure is available to purchase for the price of $2.50. I've had these figures for quite a few months but have only just gotten round to painting them. My bad, as I had a lot of fun painting them. These figures would make the basis of a great starting group of characters thrown together when the zombie apocalypse kicks off. I'd be quite happy to use any and all of them in my own ATZ campaign.

Sunday 15 January 2012

Recreational Conflict Civilians 01

For my second review of civilian figures I'm taking a look at the Recreational Conflict 28mm scale Clerks set. When I first saw the greens for this set of figures last year, I couldn't believe my eyes. Here were three of the four figures instantly recognisable as the main characters from the classic English comedy series, Open All Hours, being made by an American figure company. I find the fact that an American firm has made figures from a series so quintessentially English quite amazing. I'm guessing Richard Brooks must be a big fan of the show.

At the far left of my two photos is the irascible miser,  Albert Arkwright, as played by the great Ronnie Barker. Sculptor Brian Cooke has achieved a perfect likeness of the wily old, stammering storekeeper. He has a broad smile on his face as he stands with his hands in his coat pockets, no doubt thinking of his latest scam to fleece his customers of their cash. Recreational Conflict have named him Mr. Wainwright, which is a good alternative name that helps get round any copyright problems.
Forever by his side, and often under his feet, is the much put upon Granville, as played by a very young-looking Sir David Jason. Granville is the errand boy whose ambition for something more out of life, like a steady girlfriend, is inevitably thwarted by Arkwright. Poor lad! He's called Trevor in the Recreational Conflict catalogue.
Next up is Nurse Gladys Emmanuel, as played by Lynda Baron, she of the ample bosom and the only person who can wrap the lovelorn Arkwright around her little finger. Nurse Gladys is a typical northern woman, who is not to be messed with, especially by any male with salacious thoughts and wandering hands. She has been given the name of Mavis (same name as my mum) by Recreational Conflict.
The fourth figure in this set, is not based upon any of the characters from Open All Hours but is, I believe, Richard's father. He is depicted as a chemist. I think that it's a marvellous gesture of Richard to have his father immortalised in white metal. Much respect, sir! He's called Joseph on the Recreational Conflict website.
This was a set that I had to buy as soon as it was released, as I am a big fan of Open All Hours. Civilians are like zombies - you can never have too many of them. Whether I'll use these in my ATZ campaign remains to be seen. I'm sure that if was to avoid calling them by their TV character names I'd be able to find a place for them in Mayhem City. For anyone who is setting a game in the U.K. then these are an essential buy. I'll be honest, I never envisaged the day that I'd own a set of 28mm scale Open All Hours figures, and even more so if they were sculpted by a non-Brit. And yet, here I am with them. 
This set retails for $10.00, a fair price in my opinion. If you wish, you can buy each figure individually for $2.50.
Next time I'm going to review some more Recreational Conflict figures and they are, in my opinion, the best figures they've made. Pure awesomeness abounds next Wednesday!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux

I read this novel last month and was so impressed with it that I mentioned in my last Monthly Musings post that it warranted a full post to itself. Allison Hewitt is Trapped is the debut novel by Madeleine Roux. I hadn't heard of this novel until I noticed it well down the list of recommendations for me on my Amazon website home page. It's another zombie apocalypse story, although the title intrigued me as it sounded like something written for a teenage audience. I read the online reviews of the book and was convinced I had to buy it. I was very glad I did, as I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Allison Hewitt. who works in the Brooks and Peabody book store in an American city centre, is a young female who is a keen blogger. The novel is made up of a collection of her blog posts from the day the zombie apocalypse begins up until the point where she finds sanctuary far away from the city. At this point, some of you may be drawing parallels with Georgia Mason, the heroine of the Newsflesh series of books. Sure, Allison and Georgia are female bloggers but the similarity ends there.
The story begins with Allison trapped in the cellar of the book store along with five other co-workers. The fire-axe shown on the front cover of the novel plays a prominent role in the story. It is one of two weapons the group possesses. The second is a baseball bat, which the manager kept under his desk. Allison takes charge of the fire-axe and uses it to great effect throughout the novel.
The first part of the novel deals with the group's claustrophobic existence whilst trapped downstairs in the break room of the bookstore. It has a secure metal door and more importantly, security TVs, so they can monitor where the zombies are in the rest of the building. Even the mundane chores of a food run and toilet waste disposal are covered, adding gritty realism to a desperate situation. As time goes on, they realise that no one is going to come and rescue them. They're on their own and they can't possibly stay downstairs for ever. So, they venture out and find refuge in a nearby apartment. Another survivor, a young male joins them, claiming to know the dead couple whose apartment they have acquired as their new home. All goes well for a while until one of their group dies in a most unlikely fashion. I won't spoil it for you, but for me, this was the weakest point of the book and a situation that I found silly.
The newcomer uses this distraction to reveal his true colours. Again, I won't spoil it for you by saying what happens next but if you weren't rooting for Allison before you will be now.
Afterwards, Allison and her friend, Ted, decide to find sanctuary at the local university, where a refugee camp has been set up. Life there is good to start with but becomes increasingly intolerable as more and more survivors claim sanctuary and stretch the camp's resources to the limit. Without giving too much away, things eventually reach breaking point. Allison finds love in the refuge camp but cruelly, has that snatched away.
This is a story that concentrates a lot on character development and the relationships in the small groups at the book store and later at the refuge camp and beyond. But above all, it is a story about Allison's tenacity and sheer determination to survive in a world that has literally gone to Hell. Allison is a wonderful heroine who struggles through great adversity with courage and bravery. As a fellow blogger, I'd be proud to call her my friend.
I imagine that most of you will never have heard of this novel. It was purely by chance that I came across it, but I'm glad I did. Madeleine has published a second zombie novel, Sadie Walker is Stranded, which I am waiting to be released in paperback format. Allison Hewitt is Trapped retails for £7.99 but is currently on sale for £6.96 from It is a worthy addition to any zombie fan's library and the blog entry story telling makes for an interesting twist and one that I could certainly empathise with.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Foundry Zombies and Corpses

I have a sneaking suspicion that a good many of you won't know about these Foundry 28mm scale zombies that I'm goung to review. They are part of their Undead range of fantasy figures. Technically speaking they aren't really zombies, seeing as they are listed as UND028 Emaciated Plague Victims. Well, that may be true but just take one look at these poor souls and tell me they aren't zombies. I bought three packs of them - one to use as zombies, one to convert into corpses and one to give to my friend, Roger, who was in need of cheering up as he was about to move house. Always a stressful time. Anyway, let's take a look at my zombies first and then I'll show you how I converted them into corpses.
You get five figures in the pack and they are the five you see standing in the photo above. I'll talk about the zombie crawler later. When Foundry describes these as being emaciated, they aren't kidding. These are amongst the most skeletal looking zombies I've seen and so I wanted to do something different with the paint scheme of them. So I decided to paint them as African zombies, with inspiration coming from the excellent film The Dead, which is set in Africa.
The zombie at the far left of the photo is the village elder, recognisable by his straggly grey hair. He's holding onto half a leg, which he has been feasting on. All of these figures have non-existant stomachs, as if they have shrunk away to nothing, or as I decided in a few cases, like this figure, to show with a lick of paint that his stomach has been picked clean by other flesh-eating zombies when he was still alive.
Next to him is a zombie with an outstretched bloody hand as if preparing to grab hold of a victim. He too, got the same chewed up stomach treatment as the village elder. I also made his sunken left cheek look like a chunk of flesh had been bitten from it by painting it with Tamiya Clear Red (TCR), the best paint on the market for painting gore effects.
The third figure in line has a mane of long hair and I did think about converting him into a female by adding breasts to him but in the end I left him untouched. Quite by accident, I got a piece of sand stuck to the inside of his lower left leg when I was basing him. I didn't notice it until after I'd primed him. I thought about scraping it off but then decided it looked good as a flap of skin hanging from a zombie bite. Sometimes a little accident can bring about a rewarding result! I also painted on bite wounds to his left shoulder and upper right leg.
The fourth figure in line is another of the three bald-headed zombies in this pack. He has his head raised skywards, as if he's emitting a loud moan to alert other zombies of the presence of fresh prey nearby. I gave him a bite wound on his right arm and also where his stomach should have been.
The final figure in this set has been left unbloodied. He is in a walking pose as he slowly advances. Incidentally, if you are wondering what colour I painted these figures in, I used Foundry Bay Brown 42 on them. I have now switched from Citadel paints to the much better Foundry paint system. Two of the things that particularly attracted me to these paints were their selection of flesh tones and secondly was the three tones of each colour - shade, base colour and highlight, which blend together so well. I plan on running a full review of the Foundry paints soon as I am so impressed with them.
Now, I'll take a look at the corpses and the zombie crawler. These figures come with integral metal bases, so the first thing I had to do was remove the figures from their bases, I did this using a good set of model cutters that I'd bought from Heresy Miniatures. They sell some of the best modelling tools. I quickly discovered that these figures were made of a much softer metal than say for example, the Foundry Street Violence range. This made converting them an absolute doddle as it was so easy to bend and reshape arms, legs and necks into new poses. All of them have had a very small amount of Milliput added to the small of their backs to help them lie flat and to strengthen what is a weak part of the figures.
Moving from left to right in the photo above, the village elder has had his right arm reposed to lie flat. His feet were bent at the ankles to lie flat on the ground. His head was tilted much further back, as was his body at the waist. as with the standing figure I made his stomach a gaping hole.
The zombie with the outstretched arm had it repositioned by gently bending it upwards. I also turned his head through 90 degrees so that it faced to one side. His legs were slightly reposed and his feet were bent forward. This was a simple conversion that just involved the bending of certain body parts. Always take your time when bending limbs and be careful not to bend them too far, otherwise they'll snap off. Actually, for a corpse this might not be a bad thing! Even so, I'd still advise caution when reposing body parts.
The third figure in line was the one that had the most conversion work done to her. This time, I did change the sex of the figure and I added a pair of breasts to her chest, which I painted on a black bra. I filled in part of her stomach cavity but left a big, bloody hole on the right side of her abdomen. Her upper torso had to be bent back to help her lie flat. Just as a change from the others, I decided to paint her as a Caucasian corpse. I think the sex change on her has worked well and it's nice to add a female to the set.
The fourth figure in line was another simple conversion achieved purely by bending limbs so that they lay flat and by twisting his head to one side and by straightening his back. I twisted his feet so that they were pointing inwards. I drilled a small hole on either side of his head between his eyes and ears to show that he'd been killed by a head shot.
When I received these figures, I immediately noticed that one of them had been snapped in two at the waist. Normally, this would have resulted in me sending them back to be replaced but in this instance I decided to make good use of the mishap. So I ended up with two figures out of one. The legs were ever so slightly reshaped and I remodelled the loin cloth into a short skirt with Milliput modelling putty. This very simple conversion gave me my second female and again I painted her as a Caucasian. I wanted her to have a nice flowery and summery dress as a stark contrast to the violence of her death.
For the zombie crawler, I had to slightly reposition his hands so that they gripped the rim of the slottabase. I added some bloody entrails to his lower torso trailing behind him. Again, this was a really simple conversion, but it's worked very well. He too, was painted as a Caucasian zombie.
Set UND028 Emaciated Plague Victims costs £10.00 for the set of five figures. However, you can buy three sets for £27.00, giving you a saving of £1.00 per set. Alternatively, wait until Foundry hold one of their frequent sales and you'll be able to get them even cheaper! I like this set a lot. Even though they were designed with a fantasy army in mind there is nothing about them that precludes their use in a contemporary setting. Plus, as I've shown, they're great for converting into corpses. If you're looking for something slightly different for your zombie horde than I highly recommend buying this set.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis

Let me start this review with a question: how do you feel about the special features on a DVD? Are they something you look forward to? Or do you ignore them? Or do you fall somewhere in between: you'll watch them if they're there but you won't be too bothered if they're missing? The question is pertinent, because how you feel about them will influence your decision on what you make of this book - The Walking Dead Chronicles by Paul Ruditis. Essentially, this book is the literary equivalent to the special features found on a DVD. In this case, the subject in question is series 1 of the TV series The Walking Dead.
I should point out my own opinion on the matter. I absolutely love special features. I like to know how a film/TV show is made. I like watching interviews with the cast and crew. I like listening to the commentary if one is provided. Given the choice between a single disc DVD with no extras or only minimal extras and a 2-disc DVD with a boatload of extras, I'll always opt for the 2-disc version. For me, the more special features on a DVD the better.
This book fills that need for me. Yes, I do have the DVD boxed set of series 1 of The Walking Dead and I loved all the extras provided, but this book goes into a lot more depth and covers a lot more ground.
It begins with a look at the inception of the comic series, upon which the TV series is based. This is followed by chapters on how the comic was developed for television, how the zombies look the way they do, the casting process, the visual style of the show, location reports and numerous articles on how certain scenes were made. In addition, each chapter includes an overview of one episode of the show. Bear in mind, series 1 only ran for six episodes.
A big selling point for this book is that it is lavishly illustrated throughout with photos from the series, behind the scenes shots and excerpts from the comics. Many of the photos have never been seen before. In short, it is a visual feast for the eyes. Most of the photos are in full colour, although any excerpts from the comic are, obviously, just in black and white.  I said "obviously" but if you haven't seen one of The Walking Dead comics you might not know that it is printed in black and white.
The prose by Paul Ruditis, is well written. The guy has form on this type of book, having written similar styled books for three of my favourite TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Bones. There is a foreword by director Frank Darabont and an introduction by Robert Kirkman, the creator of the comic series.
I was very impressed with this book, although I do have one criticism to make. The book is littered throughout with short chapters on a particular aspect of the show, be it a synopsis of the plot of an episode or how a particular special effect was achieved. These break up the main text at random but at the end of a page break there is no mention of where the main text continues. For example, this first happens on page 16. There is a three-page break and then the main text continues on page 20. A simple caption at the bottom of page 16 saying "continued on page 20" would have been nice.
This is no cheap rip-off trying to cash in on the success of the TV series but a very well written and well researched journal that is worth buying if you're a fan of the show. Whether you should buy it or not goes back to my question that I posed at the start of this review - how much do you like the special features of a DVD? If you like them as much as I do then this book is a must have. Otherwise, the decision to buy or not buy then depends upon how much of a fan of the TV series you are. It is a nicely produced and illustrated book but is it an essential purchase? That's up to you to decide. The book retails for £12.99 in the UK and $19.99 in America. If you were to shop on-line at somewhere like Amazon, as I did, you'll find it a lot cheaper.