Wednesday 28 March 2012

An Interview with Max Brallier

Max Brallier - author and all round good guy
The following interview with author Max Brallier, who wrote the novel Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? is reprinted in full from an e-mail he sent back to me after I'd posted the questions to him.

The idea to have my blog followers send in questions for you to answer proved to be hugely successful. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that prizes were on offer! Anyway without any further ado here are the questions.
From The Angry Lurker  
Q: Do you like your zombies slow or fast?  Slow!  Though I do think they both sort of have their place.  But I grew up on Romero – Dawn of the Dead was one of my biggest creative influences as a boy – so I gotta go with slow. 
Q: What do you rate your survivability chances out of 10 for a real zombie apocalypse? 11
From Whiteface  
Q: What's more dangerous in a zombie-apocalypse - zombies or other (living) people? If The Walking Dead has taught me anything, then the answer is people.
From Mathyoo 
Q: Where do you get the inspiration for the stories in your book? Really not one place in particular.  Almost the entire book takes place in NYC, where I live, so a lot of it just came from me seeing things and thinking, hmm, what if zombies attacked right now?  Like the subway scenes – those came while I was standing around in the subway.  The wrecking ball scene – I saw a wrecking ball and thought man, that could kill a lot of zombies – then I called up a buddy and was like hmm, how could a wrecking ball best  kill zombies? 
Q: If there would be a zombie outbreak, would you be confident enough to use one of the many survival guide books to help yourself survive? Honestly, yeah – some of them would be pretty helpful I think.  Like the ones on combat.
Q: How long did it take, from idea to publishing a book as complex as Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?  Year and a half or so, I think. 
From Doctor Warlock  
Q: OK, you've been bitten by a Zombie - what would you do in your last minutes? Drink heavily.  Go skydiving?
Q: Now you're Dead, the Zombie Virus has taken you over - but your personality remains (for now - think the Fear Itself Episode "New Years Day") what would be your actions?  So I have to admit I didn’t know Fear Itself until just this moment.  So thank you!  I just googled it, saw it’s on Netflix Instant, and I’m watching it now as I type!  There’s some super cute girl waking up on a bed – good start!  I’m a big Masters of Horror fan, so I’m sort of confused as to how I missed this show!  Anyway, it depends on what sort of motor skills I still have.  I’m going to finish watching this episode then answer this question!  Be back!  OK, UPDATE, back to this question momentarily – this girl looks sort of like Rashida Jones.  This show keeps getting better.  ANOTHER UPDATE – this girl looks and sounds  A LOT like Rashda Jones.  I had to check IMDB and make sure it wasn’t.  This show’s great!  FINAL UPDATE – Wow, awesome show.  Gonna watch some more episodes.  Good little twist at the end there.  Honestly, I think I’d go try to hang out with my buddies and play video games and have a beer.  Is that lame?
From Stefan 
 Q: Will the book be translated into other languages? Preferably German ;)  I hope so!  So far it’s just been English, but I’d of course love it to get to as many fans as possible.
From Dawnofthelead 
Q: Why zombies?  Dawn of the Dead, man. 
From Luckyjoe 
Q: How long would you expect Zombies to last once an outbreak occurs? Personally I'd say they would rot away after a couple of years.  Gotta ask the scientists that one.  You’re probably right – they’d rot away, and then the rebuilding process would start.
From Zombie Ad  
Q: Zombies and gaming go hand in hand like descriptions of the time of day and the phrase 'of the Dead'. What are your guilty gaming pleasures?  Ha.  I like that.  If you’re talking real “guilty pleasures,” mine is Star Wars Masters of Teras Kasi, since everyone seems to think that’s one of the worst games ever, but I think it’s amazing.  In general – hmm, I play a lot of stuff.  Right now really, really loving Twisted Metal – been waiting like 10 years for that game.  Also still playing Elder Scrolls and just Dl’d Angry Birds Space.
From 6milphil  
Q: Should a boy kiss on the first date? If the boy can get up the courage, certainly.
From Zerloon  
Q: How come you decided to write a "game-book"? It originally started as a totally different book – just a straight zombie book set in NYC.  But I had so many different ideas, I decided to do it this way.  It allowed me to get in all the different cool stuff I wanted.
Q: Tell us, were you a Lone Wolf fan?  I was not.  I didn’t know about it until I started writing and researching
Q: Do you plan to write other books based on zombies? Yes!
Q: Zombies seem to get a lot of attention from media, but we are talking about rotten, semi mute, non sentient walking corpses... Why so much talking about them? I wish I knew.  I think because there’s just so many cool ways to kill them.  Plus they’re so awesome looking when the effects are good – they’re like simultaneously gross but still scary and can still provide for great action.  And they’re always associated with the apocalypse, which is a popular subject in it’s own right.
From Lord Siwoc  
Q: If there were an outbreak of zombies, where would you go to and why? My parent’s house.  I’d like my last meal to be mom’s mac and cheese.  For real.
Q: If you were to get to choose a celebrity to tag along with you, who would it be? (This is after the outbreak).  The main dude from The Raid. No idea who he is, but I saw that movie last night, and he pretty much seems like he could asskick his way out of any situation.
From Brummie  
Q: What movies/books inspired you to write this one? Dawn of the Dead, the Walking Dead, all the classics – nothing particularly obscure.
From Patient Zero  
Q: What research did you do for the book, or did do you just watch a lot of zombie movies as research? Watched A LOT of zombie movies.  By the end I was really like, man, I don’t ever wanna hear the word zombie again.  Of course, a few weeks passed, and I was back to devouring The Walking Dead and everything else.  But also reading a lot of zombie books and then research into some NYC geography and stuff.
Q: Even though the 'quality' of youth today might cause us to think the zombie apocalypse is upon us, how prepared are you for a potential zombie apocalypse? (i.e. what is your zombie survival plan?)  Oh totally horribly absolutely unprepared.  I have like a Mr. Goodbar and a half an ice coffee in the fridge and half a box of Cheez-Its in my cabinet.  That’s it.   I only own butters knives.   The only guns I own shoot rubber bands.  I’m slow and I wear slippers most of the time.  I’d be totally screwed.
From Ray Rousell  
Q: If after a Z outbreak, someone close to you, family, girlfriend, lover, best mate, gets infected, what do you do? Put them out of their misery or lock them in the cellar and feed them tit-bits?  So I’ve never heard the phrase tit-bits before and it made me giggle.  That’s how much of a child I am!  Ahh – let’s see – I like to think I’d be the stoic man who, without shedding a tear, ends his best friend’s life because he has too.  In reality – hmm – might end up more like the end of Shaun of the Dead.
 From The Extraordinarii  
Q: If there was a zombie outbreak, what would be the top three things that you would first acquire?   Q: And why? (Don’t answer part B if obvious.) A tank, a manual for how to drive a tank, and, ah, tank gas.
From Ross Rigby 
Q: To have so many endings to your book, where did your inspiration come from?  Just everywhere – day to day stuff, movies, books, anything.
Inside cover of Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?
And finally from me, Vampifan 
 Q: You mentioned to me that you had a lot of freedom in how the cover of the book should look. How did this come about? It wasn’t so much freedom as it was I had a vision, and luckily the fantastic art department at S and S liked it.  If I had some really awful idea for the cover, I would have had zero freedom, I’m sure!  But yeah, when I was writing it, I always pictured a sort of Army of Darkness or National Lampoon’s Vacation style cover.
Q: What’s the reasoning behind going for such a distressed look to the book cover? Funny how that happened.  In general, I love Pulp Fiction and that distressed look.  I even have a Pinterest board for my fav pulp covers!  So my editor emailed me the cover without the distress and I loved it – I wasn’t even thinking about having it done distressed.  But then the gmail preview thing showed it really tiny, and it made it look distressed – and I was like whoa, I love that!  So that’s how that happened.  Really random.
Q: How often per day would you write? Three hours, maybe.  Really depends.
Q: Is there a time of day that is best for your creativity? Middle of the night, usually (and unfortunately).  Though if I’m able to force myself out of bed early enough, it does feel good to get going and then I’m usually able to get a lot done at a coffee shop or Starbucks.
Q: Do you listen to music when writing, and if so, to what? It depends.  When I do, it has to be blues or jazz – I can’t do anything with lyrics, because I get distracted by the words.  So just instrumental stuff, when I do.  So it’s a lot of Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis – stuff like that.
Q: Which other authors of zombie fiction do you admire? Jonathan Maberry, Max Brooks, David Moody, Robert Kirkman
Q: Do you play any zombie games on your computer/console and if yes, what? Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead II, a lot of the Resident Evil games, Plants vs Zombies, Dead Rising (which I simultaneously loved and hated).  I’m probably leaving some stuff out.  Not Dead Island, actually – just been too busy, but I want to.
Q: What’s your favourite zombie film? Original Dawn of the Dead followed closely by Shaun of the Dead.
Q: What book/project are you working on now?  A series of graphic novels for kids – no zombies.
Q: Have you ever been mistaken for Max Brooks, who wrote “World War Z” and “The Zombie Survival Guide?” I ask this because one of my followers DID mistake you for Max Brooks! He did apologise profusely after I pointed out his error. Yes!  My girlfriend’s friend once thought I wrote World War Z and then they were over for drinks and he was like “Really, this is your apartment?  I thought it’d be bigger.”  There’s also a review on, I think Amazon or GoodReads, not sure, from someone who hated the book and was like “I bet this jerk author even used the name Max Brallier so people would think he was Max Brooks and buy the book by mistake!”  I can assure you, it’s my real name. J  If I had to pick a pseudonym, it’d be Max Hauk or Max Bullet or something awesome.
Many thanks for agreeing to take part in this interview. It’s so heart warming to find an author who is so friendly towards his fans. I’d just like you to choose the people you thought were the worthiest to win one of the signed copies of your book... and can I have a signed copy? Hey, shy boys get nothing so I figure there’s no harm in asking!  Of course you can have one.  Make it out to Bryan?
For the fans, let’s do: 6milphil, Doctor Warlock, Zombie Ad, Lord Siwoc, The Extraordinarii

Max offered five signed copies of his book to those who sent in the most interesting questions. Would the winners please send me their addresses in an e-mail? You can contact me at vampifan at talktalk dot net. I'll send the books out to you as soon as I receive them from Max. Well done, guys and thanks to everyone who took part. My biggest thanks have to go to Max. Thanks, Max, for being such a good sport and an inspiration to us all.

Sunday 25 March 2012

WWG Police Patrol Cars

Once I'd finished making my police station I knew what was going to be next on my card modelling list - police patrol cars. You can't have a police station without any patrol cars. Up to now the only police vehicles I'd made were a police van and two interceptor patrol cars. I needed some bog standard police cars. In other words, these -
Four seemed like a fair number to build, just to start off with. I may build some more in the future, but for now I'm happy with these four. You get two cars on an A4-sized sheet, with the numbers 01 and 02 on their roofs. WWG very helpfully provide a bonus sheet with an extra 36 numbers printed on with the numbers 03 to 38. I can't imagine anyone making 38 police patrol cars but if you're mad enough to want to the option is there.
Here's a hint for you if you're using any of the higher numbered roofs. I cut out the roofs of cars 01 and 02 and replaced them with numbers 03 and 04. These were kept in place by strips of masking tape on their reverse side. This made folding down the back, front and sides much easier. Some of you may be tempted to glue the new numbers directly on top of the old ones and this is certainly a viable option. I decided not to as it would have made their roofs slightly taller. I should point out that I printed these onto 250gm Satin Photo Paper, which is a lot thicker that the matte photo paper I normally use. I like to use Satin paper for most of my vehicles as it gives a nice shiny look to them, without being too glossy. I have used Gloss Photo Paper on a few of my cars, like the aforementioned police interceptors and on my sports car. These are the kind of vehicles you expect to see highly polished.
This front view of two of the cars shows an inherent design fault that is only noticable when viewed from this angle. Check out the wheels - they appear to bent at an odd angle and are pointing inward. This is due to the sloping sides of the car. However, when viewed from above as in the two previous photos it is barely noticable. Personally, I can live with it. If they look good on a gaming table then I'm happy.
At first glance the two cars look identical (apart from their roof numbers) but they aren't. The difference is subtle but car 01 (at the left in the above photo) is cleaner than car 02. Car 02 has more mud splashes on its sides than car 01.
And the other difference is that they have different number plates., as you can see here. I'm not sure why one is a combination of letters and numbers and the other is made up of just numbers. Probably an American thing.
You can see the mud splashes on Car 02 better on this photo than on the previous one. If you want to use these cars in your own games they can be found in the World Works Games' set, Mayhem Police. The set is very good value for money at $11.50 and can be found in the Vault section of the WWG web page. Not only do you get these cars but also the police station itself, and some more vehicles - police van, motorcycles, helicopter and SWAT APC. The latter three are on my list of models to make.
These police patrol cars are very useful models to have. I wish I'd made mine a lot earlier as they'd have been perfect to use in the ATZ scenario - Quarantine from the Haven supplement. Expect to see them making an appearance when I play my "Assault on Precinct 13" scenario later this year.

Wednesday 21 March 2012

West Wind SWAT Troopers 02

This is part two of my review of the West Wind Road Kill 28mm scale SWAT troopers, which this time looks at sets GRK19 SWAT Team with Shotguns and GRK10 SWAT Team. As before, I shall identify the figures by numbers going from left to right.  Both sets contain four figures.
I'll start by looking at set GRK19 SWAT Team with Shotguns. As before, I'm working on the assumption that these guys are part of the LAPD, due to the weapons they are equipped with, although to be fair, most of my SWAT Troopers will see action in Mayhem City, site of my ATZ campaign.
Figure 1, at the far left of the two photos above, is standing in a relaxed pose. We can get a good look at his shotgun - a 12 Gauge Benelli M1 Super 90 Pump-Action Shotgun. Zombie fans note that Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) uses one of these in the film Zombieland. Note the addition of the pistol grip next to the trigger on the shotgun. He is wearing a set of night vision goggles.
Figure 2 is crouching down as he holds his Shotgun at the ready. He is the only figure out of this set who is not wearing a helmet. His head does have some form of protection in that he wears a fire-retardant Nomex ski-mask. Note that he is wearing anti-glare goggles, not night vision goggles.
Figure 3 is advancing with his Shotgun held in a similar pose to figure 2. Note that all of these figures have a back-up pistol in a holster on their right hips. The pistol will be the .45 Kimber Custom II, standard issue for all LAPD cops.
Figure 4 is firing his Shotgun from the shoulder in an aggressive pose. He is not wearing any form of goggles.
Finally, we come to set GRK10 SWAT Team. These four figures shown above and below are your standard SWAT Troopers, all armed with the ubiquitous 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun. It is the single most common firearm used by SWAT Teams worldwide.
Figure 1 leans forward with his 9mm SMG held at the ready but pointing it skywards. All of these figures wear night vision goggles and all carry the .45 Kimber Custom II Pistol in holsters. He wears a helmet, which is very similar to the PASGT helmets as used by the U.S. Army.
Figure 2 holds his SMG at the shoulder but is not ready to fire it yet. You can see that his head is not pointing in the same direction as the gun's barrel, so he appears to be assessing the situation around him. He is not wearing a helmet.
Figure 3 is clearly in the process of firing his SMG. He's firing from the hip and leaning back to absorb the weapon's recoil. It is a very dramatic pose. He too, is missing his helmet.
Figure 4 is also firing his smg, but this time from the shoulder, as he leans forward and slightly crouches down. Another very dramatic pose.
I gave a number of reasons why I like the West Wind range of SWAT Troopers best of all last time, and nothing has changed since then. If the two sets I reviewed last time were the specialists (commanders and snipers) then these figures are your standard troopers. Once again, the two sets cost a very reasonable £6.00 each.

Sunday 18 March 2012

West Wind SWAT Troopers 01

Getting back to my police theme, I still have more SWAT Troopers to review and to show. This time I'm going to take a look at two sets from West Wind's 28mm scale Road Kill range - GRK17 SWAT Team Commanders and GRK18 SWAT Sniper Team.
Set GRK17 SWAT Team Commanders contains four figures as shown in the photo above and the one below. I have yet to name any of these guys so I'll just identify them as figures 1 to 4 going from left to right.
What particularly strikes me about figure 1 is the unusual way he is holding his 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun. It looks like he's about to use it as a club! Very unorthodox! Another unusual thing about this figure is that most SWAT personnel only have one pistol as a back-up weapon, but this guy has two, one on either hip. If he is a member of the LAPD SWAT, which seems most likely as their SWAT officers receive two pistols each, his pistols will be the .45 Kimber Custom II Pistol, a variant of the old Colt Government Pistol.
Figure 2 is in a more orthodox officer's pose, with his left hand raised as if telling his team to halt. He holds his MP5A Sub-Machine Gun pointing skywards in a standard non-threatening pose. He has night vision goggles but he has pushed his up onto his helmet. He only has one pistol in a holster on his right hip.
Figure 3 is the only one out of this group not to wear a helmet and not to be armed with a Sub-Machine Gun. His only weapon is the .45 Kimber Custom II Pistol, which he holds in his right hand, ready to fire. His head is protected by a Nomex ski-mask, which is fire-retardant.
There is nothing to distinguish figure 4 from a normal SWAT Trooper. He is dressed, equipped and armed as any standard LAPD SWAT Trooper. He holds his MP5A Sub-Machine Gun in a two-handed grip as he crouches down.
Set GRK18 SWAT Snipers contained four figures but I have only shown three here in the photos above and below. The reason for that is that you get two of each of the second and third figures in the photos. The first figure is a conversion of the third figure. The second figure will be a lot harder to convert, so for now remains in my bits box.
As I said, figure 1 is a conversion of figure 3. I cut him in half at the waist and added a pair of standing legs out of modelling putty. I also posed him so that he is pointing his sniper's rifle upwards as if aiming for a target at a higher level than him. Another reason to assume that these guys belong to LAPD SWAT is his choice of sniper's rifle. It is the 7.62mm Heckler and Koch PSG1 Sniper Rifle. This is standard issue with the LAPD SWAT. I added a rather large piece of granite to his base to give him a modicum of cover. It would work better if he was prone.
Figure 2 is the spotter for his sniper partner. He is nicely posed, kneeling down whilst searching for targets through his binoculars. Sadly such a pose makes it difficult to convert him. It wouldn't be impossible to alter his pose to a standing one, but it wouldn't be easy cutting him in half. He is armed and equipped as any standard SWAT Trooper with MP5A SMG and Kimber Custom II Pistol.
Trooper 3 is also kneeling down as he prepares to fire his PSG1 Sniper's Rifle. He carries a lot less equipment than other SWAT Troopers but he does have his .45 Kimber Custom II Pistol in a holster on his right hip.
I must admit, that in my opinion, I have kept the best range of SWAT Troopers to last. Foundry's SWAT figures are the most numerous but are let down by an odd choice of non-regulation weapons and far too many females. RAFM's SWAT Troopers are more accurately portrayed but are heoically sized, ie. they are very tall. Copplestone Castings' HRT Team are damned near perfect but there are only five of them. The Heroclix SWAT Troopers are long gone but may be found if you search the Internet. But they too, are massively overscaled for 28mm. Which brings me back to West Wind. Their SWAT Troopers are perfectly sized to fit in alongside most other ranges of 28mm scale figures. They are all accurately armed and equipped. There are four sets in their range and I'll be reviewing the next two sets in my upcoming post on Wednesday. One other big factor in their favour is the price. They retail for £6.00 per set, making each figure a bargain at £1.50. If you are on a tight budget and can only afford one lot of SWAT Troopers I'd highly recommend going for this range. I think they are superb!

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Vampifan's Views 21 - Happy 3rd Birthday

This is a special Vampifan's Views post for two reasons. First of all, as you can see from the title of this post, my blog is celebrating its third birthday. On Friday 16th March it will be three years old. I have to say that I am very proud of my blog and it has pleased me no end to see it grow from strength to strength. What makes me most happy about my blog are the amount of wonderful friends I have made. Even though I have yet to meet any of my followers I feel that our friendship is something that will endure for many years to come, and that is something that money can't buy. So, I'd like to say a big thank you to all my followers. You guys are just the best! It's thanks to you that this blog is regarded so highly in the zombie gaming community.

My second reason for this post is to make a special announcement. Last Sunday I posted a review of the book, Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier. I received a pleasant surprise that evening when Max sent me an e-mail thanking me for the very positive review. He also asked me if I'd like to do an interview with him for my blog and would I be interested in receiving five autographed copies of his book? Hmm, tough decision there! Of course, I said yes. Okay, so this is where you guys come in. If you can send in a question (or more) to ask Max, I'll compile them all at a later date, say a week from now, and send them off to him. Those who ask the most interesting questions, as judged by Max, will receive a free autographed copy of his book, Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? How cool is that? And, you have to admit, what an incredibly generous offer by Max. I'm sure that Max wasn't aware that his message coincided with my blog's third birthday, but I must say, the timing could not have been better. If you want to be in with a chance to win one of Max's books just leave your question in the comments section of this post.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? by Max Brallier is a throwback to the old fighting fantasy books that were popular in the 1980's, where you chose how the story progressed. You were presented with numbered chapters that ended with a choice you had to make like for example, if you want to fight the orc go to 234, or if you want to run away go to 89. I quite liked them but found that their biggest drawback was that most combats had to be resolved by rolling a dice. This meant you couldn't read them anywhere as you needed a dice and somewhere flat to roll it. Plus, your fate was often decided by that very roll of the dice.
Thankfully, Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse? avoids that pitfall by getting rid of all dice rolls. You survive or fail purely by the decisions you make. This is actually a two-edged blade, as sometimes the "right" decision can get you killed.
The story is set in contemporary New York and you're a twenty-five year old office worker, living in an overpriced studio apartment in Manhattan. Nothing exciting has ever happened to you, until that fateful July morning when everything changes and the dead return to life.
I read this book once, with every intention of surviving and reacting to situations as I thought I would if the hero was me. To my delight, I did survive the zombie apocalypse. Then, I realised I'm going to have to review this book and that means reading it again and again and again until I've read every chapter. I'd note where I was and if I died, I'd just go back to a previous point and make a different choice. This wasn't as big a chore as it might have been. After about two weeks of reading I eventually covered every choice you can make in the book. What made the task so enjoyable was mainly down to Max Brallier's writing style. He writes with a lot of humour and the story can head off in directions you'd just never imagine. There are a lot of pop culture references and loads of imaginative ways to kill a zombie, or be killed by a zombie. It is a very easy book to read and due to the nature of the narrative, it's a book you can read anywhere - in bed (as I did), whilst travelling to work (although not if you're driving!), in a waiting room  or even whilst sitting on the toilet. Once you've survived or died, just start again and choose a different path to take. There's enough to keep you entertained for many an hour.
I should point out that if you are a parent and you think your kids might enjoy this, then think again. The gore and violence probably won't bother them but be advised, there is a lot of swearing in the book and adult situations like drug taking and visiting a strip club.
There are two explanations given for the zombie apocalypse, which you can discover if you make the right choices. One is the boring old chestnut of a secret laboratory experiment that went wrong. Hardly original! The second explanation is so far out of the field, I'm sure that Mr. Brallier had to be drug addled to come up with it. Should I tell you it or not? Oooh, decisions, decisions! Okay, I'll fudge it. If you get to meet Tom Savini (special effects make up maestro) he'll tell you a very interesting story about George Romero. If you want to know more you'll have to buy the book, but as far as zombie apocalypse origins go it is one I guarantee you'll never have heard before!
One thing that I did find strange about this book is the cover. I have no complaints about the artwork, but it has been done in a style that makes it look distressed. There are crease marks painted down the spine to make it look like a second hand or much used book. Why the publishers would want to present the book in this manner is beyond me. But be warned if you see the book in a shop and think it looks tatty, it is meant to look that way!
The blurb on the back of the book states that there are 100 paths to take and 50 endings to choose from. This is wrong. There are 150 paths and 75 endings. Of those endings, 40 end in death, 20 end in zombification and just 15 end in survival. I thought this was a fun book to read and I certainly enjoyed reading it multiple times in my quest to discover every ending. Even if you're not a fan of these types of fighting fantasy books this one is better than most. I'm fairly sure it is unique in using this format to cover the zombie apocalypse and so I'll happily give it an 8 out of 10 rating.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

WWG Police Station part 2

As promised on Sunday, here is part two of my review of my World Works Games 28mm scale Mayhem City Police Station. This time, I'll concentrate on the ground floor interior.
This is the overhead view that I left you with last time as a teaser shot. Well, no more teasing. I'll tell you what each of the rooms represents, starting in the top right hand corner and moving around clockwise. First up is a detective's office, followed by a second detective's office. Next is the corridor to the cells. There are four cells, and each one can hold four prisoners. Next, we come to the corridor leading to the rear exit and to the stairs to the first floor. The processing room and identity parade room are side by side. Above them are an interrogation room and a connecting room, which leads to four other rooms. In the top left hand corner is a third detective's office, next to the public toilets and the entrance hall.
Let's take a closer look at the rooms, starting with the pair of detective's offices next to each other. Against the far wall of the office at the top of this photo are a filing cabinet with a computer on top of it, a wall-mounted bookcase and a selection of wanted posters hanging on a wall board. The far wall of the lower office shows a photocopier machine, a fire extinguisher and a large wipe-board.
I did not want each office to look the same, so I rearranged the placement of the furniture in them, even though they all contain common elements. Both have their desks behind a window but due to the placement of the windows the desks are at ninety degrees to each other.
Against the far wall of the office at the top of this photo are a filing cabinet from my Mayhem Industrial set and a bookcase, which this time, I have placed on the floor. As in part one of my review, all furniture items came from the Mayhem Police set, unless I note otherwise. The far wall of the office at the bottom of the above photo shows a large filing cabinet in the corner and on the wall, a poster of Great Cthulhu. Apparently, he has been linked to a number of ritualistic murders. Police advise the public not to approach him!
This photo gives a good overview of the layout of both rooms. They each measure 6" by 3". Nothing more to say, so move along now.
The entrance hall is the second largest room in the building (after the first floor squad room). It measures 9" by 6" but loses a 3" square for the toilets at the bottom right of the above photo. The giant shield mounted on the far wall lets visitors know in no uncertain terms that this is a police station. In the public toilets, the checkered floor came from the TLX Mayhem Armoury set. The two wash basins in the toilets are from the Ebbles Ambient Elements - Barracks set.
You can see that the room is dominated by the huge reception desk, upon which I have placed a computer keyboard and monitor, and a telephone unit. The computer stack stands off to one side of the desk, near the coffee dispensing machine.
I cut out the clock from the entrance wall, glued it to mounting card then stuck it back in place. This gives it a 3D effect, as it sits away from the wall. The two red leather seats either side of the main doors are for the comfort of waiting visitors. The three toilet cubicles came from the same Ebbles set as the wash basins. I suspect that Mel Ebbles aka Christopher Roe never envisaged anyone making them with open and closing doors. But I did, and whilst I realise that the doors should open inwards that was physically impossible and so I had to compromise and make them open outwards.
The short wall by the toilets shows an array of wanted posters, pinned to a board.
Moving ever onwards, we come to a small connecting room with a door in each wall, a small interrogation room and the third detective's office to be found on this floor.
At the top of the picture, in the detective's office are a bookcase with a telephone unit on it, a small filing cabinet and a taller bookcase.
As you'd expect, the interrogation room is very spartan, containing nothing more than a desk and two chairs. In between the two front windows of the detective's office is a photocopier machine.
In the detective's office, a computer keyboard and monitor take up half of the desk. The computer tower sits at the side of the desk next to the wall. I added a motivational poster to the wall behind the desk.
From left to right in this photo are the stairs to the first floor, the processing room, where suspects are photographed, finger-printed and their details entered into the computer. At the far right is the identity parade line-up room. Against the far wall of the processing room is a storage locker from the Ebbles Ambient Elements Workshop set.
The identity parade room contains no furniture. Its two-way mirror is actually a window printed onto transparency paper. In the processing room, the desk and chairs are from the WWG Police set but the other items come from the Ebbles Ambient Elements Workshop set. In the upper left corner is a filing cabinet. In the centre is a computer terminal and in the upper right corner is a workbench.
I'm not exactly sure what a processing room should look like but this set-up looks fine to me and I'm not going to change it now.
Against the far wall of the identity parade room is a height chart stuck to the wall to measure how tall the "usual suspects" are. It can also be used to photograph single suspects against it.
Finally, we come to my cell block. These are the holding cells to retain prisoners before they are transferred to a more secure prison facility. I normally reinforce my walls with mounting board, but I knew that if I did that with the "metal" bars, it would make cutting out the holes a majorly difficult task. So, instead, I reinforced the inner and outer printouts with thin card. The upper walls above the bars are reinforced with mounting board. Even so, cutting out 192 holes was a complete chore. The walls between each cell could also be made of bars but I thought, sod that, and made them brick walls instead!
The eight double bunk beds that occupy the cells came from the Ebbles Ambient Elements Barracks set. The beds that come with the WWG Mayhem Police set are good, but they are only single beds and I wanted my cells to hold twice as many prisoners, which is why I chose the double bunks.
Each cell contains one toilet and one sink unit. The cells measure 4" by 3" each and the corridor leading to them measures 12" by 2".
Many of the cell walls are covered in graffiti, which I like. There was no way that I wanted my cells to look pristine and clean.
And that concludes my tour of my police station. Hopefully, it may inspire you to have a go at making one yourself, but be warned this is not a project for the faint-hearted or novice. The amount of work I put into this project was staggering but I think the end result was worth it. It is a building that I am immensely proud of and I'd like to thank everyone who has left a comment for your kind words.

Sunday 4 March 2012

WWG Police Station part 1

Okay, folks, here it is - my largest ever card building and without doubt, the most eagerly awaited. It is, of course my World Works Games 28mm scale Mayhem City Police Station.
Here it is in all its glory. Those of you who can remember my work in progress shot that I showed last year will notice a few changes, most notably the first floor parapet, two air-conditioning units, a communications dish and tower and a set of ladders to the helipad. There is one external prop that I have deliberately omitted and that is the searchlight. I honestly couldn't see any need for adding one (or more). If ever I do need one or more, I'll add them as non-permanent features.
Three of those four new items came from the Mayhem Police set. The ladders, however,  came from the original Mayhem Armoury set. The Mayhem Police set does come with a rooftop access structure for the helipad, but to be honest, I thought it looked naff and so went with the external ladder option instead.
The set comes with a wide assortment of signs to put above the entryway but I've gone for the most basic of them all, which is the "Mayhem City Police" sign. This is generic enough for me and doesn't tie the building to a specific location as some of the other signs do. Almost everything you see in these photos has been stuck onto thick mounting card. The parapet was glued to foamboard and the upper floors/roofs are reinforced with foamboard. This allows them to fit in place. All doors, the front entrance circular columns and the communications dish have been reinforced with thin card.
The building sits on a base that measures 24" by 15". The ground floor has a footprint that measures 21" by 12". The first floor (sorry American viewers, I'm going with the English convention where the first floor comes above the ground floor) has a footprint of 15" by 12" and the second floor measures 9" by 6". Each floor is 3" tall. Overall height, if you measure to the top of the communications tower is 12"
The rear of the building shows that vandals have been busy daubing graffiti on one of the walls. In my opinion, that lends the place an air of realism. I decided to add a footpath along the back of the building, but grass verges to the front and sides, thus ensuring that the station will not be abutted by another building.
One of the things that I am most proud of this building is the first floor parapet, which is a very clever piece of design. Because of my external ladder to the helipad and the access to the first floor roof I knew that I wanted to fit a parapet to the first floor roof. From a Health and Safety point of view, I'm sure it would be a legal requirement. The only problem was that the set didn't come with a parapet. Or rather it didn't come with one per se. What it did have was a sheet of roof edgings, which, if turned through ninety degrees, made for a perfect parapet. This, my friends, is called lateral thinking, or thinking outside the box. They are glued onto strips of foamboard and they make a perfect parapet.
Whenever I do my building reviews I always start from the ground floor and work my way up. This time, however, I'm going to work my way down from the top floor. Given that the ground floor is the largest of the three floors, that will be covered in part two of my review. The photo above shows an overhead view of the second floor interior, consisting of three rooms. To the left is the landing leading to the stairs down to the first floor and showing the door that leads outside to the first floor roof. The small room is the access corridor to the evidence room. Here, anyone who wishes to enter the evidence room, must sign in. The largest room is the evidence room.
The evidence collected by detectives is bagged and tagged and stored in here on one of eight shelf units. These shelf units came from the Ebbles Ambient Elements Storeroom and Workshop sets. Likewise for the two cardboard boxes I've added atop the shelves. Unless I mention otherwise, all furniture items come from the WWG Mayhem Police set. The low wall at the top of the staircase is the same design as my parapet, only not as wide. The wall was stuck to a piece of mounting card rather than foamboard.
The desk is actually made up of two small Ebbles desks from his Barracks set, glued together to make one long desk. The laptop computer is also from one of the Ebbles sets. The chair and telephone unit are from the Mayhem Police set. The filing cabinet in the corner is from the Mayhem Industrial set. Note that the door to the evidence room is kept locked at all times, but like all of my doors, it will open and close.
Moving down a floor, this photo above shows an overhead view of the first floor of the building and now things really start to get interesting. Starting at the top left hand corner and moving clockwise we have a detective's office, a small office, the CCTV monitor room, the Captain's office, the Captain's toilet and washroom, the squad room, the stairwell leading to the ground floor and the second floor, and finally, the locker room and armoury.
I'll begin my tour of the first floor with a look at the Captain's Office, a room I am very proud of. It is jam-packed with stuff, especially on the walls. The Captain sits behind an L-shaped desk, upon which are his computer keyboard, monitor and lots of papers. His computer sits in the corner of the room on top of a filing cabinet. On the wall behind him is a classical landscape painting, showing he is a man of taste.
On the wall in between the two windows is a large map of Mayhem City.On the wall with the exit/entrance door is a small bookshelf, a wall-mounted flat-screen TV (this came from the Mayhem Mega Mall set), a photo of his father hangs above two of his numerous certificates and sitting above the door, a Mayhem Police shield.
A huge bookcase (from the original Shellendrak Manor set) dominates the far wall, next to his own personal washroom and toilet. Actually, you can see what's inside the washroom far better from the overhead view that I posted above. The room is 6" square, with the washroom occupying a 2" by 2" corner.
Next door to the Captain's Office is the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) monitor room. This is where police operatives monitor and analyse footage from lots of CCTV cameras dotted around Mayhem City. It is not part of the WWG Mayhem Police set, but is something that I have designed for my police station.
The long desk, the two chairs and the two phone units are part of the Mayhem Police set. For the wall of TV screens I used a piece of black mounting card cut to the length of the room and stuck on 12 images of WWG scenery taken from their website and shrunk to fit, to represent various Mayhem City locations. Obviously, I chose images that had no writing on them. The result looks very effective and just shows what you can do with a bit of imagination.
This photo above shows the CCTV Monitor room and two offices used by some of the station's detectives, one small and one large. You can also see part of the L-shaped corridor that connects all the rooms on this floor.
In the small office, you can see a desk, with an Ebbles laptop computer on it, and two chairs. From left to right in the large office are a small filing cabinet, upon which sits a telephone unit; a computer stack, a wall-mounted bookcase, and in the corner, a larger filing cabinet.
In this photo above, you can see the desk in the large office has a computer keyboard and monitor on it. This room measures 6" by 3" whilst the small office and the CCTV monitor room are 3" square.
The rest of the small office is taken up by a small filing cabinet and a blackboard mounted on the wall. Next to the window in the large office is a photocopier machine,
Moving on, we come to the locker room and armoury. The two lockers shown above, one open and one closed, contain body armour, helmets and equipment for this station's SWAT team.
The eight lockers shown here are those used by the street cops. I'd have liked to have added more of both types of locker but I didn't have the space to.
Along the short wall at the far end of the room is the gun cabinet. This is kept locked electronically. It contains pump-action shotguns, sniper rifles and sub-machine guns.
Finally, on this floor, is the squad room, the largest of all the rooms in this building. It measures 9" by 6". This is where the street patrol cops receive their briefings and where they type in their reports. 
There is a lot going on in here. Against the long wall at the top of this photo are a long rack of filing cabinets (taken from the Mayhem Industrial set). A water cooler sits on top of the cabinets, off to the right, Above the cabinets is a long wall-mounted bookcase. Towards the right top corner is a photocopier machine and a coffee vending machine. Cops do like their coffee!

At the top of this photo you can see the desk and chair used by the duty-sergeant to give out the daily briefings and announcements. "Let's be careful out there!" At the top left corner of the photo is a large board showing a map of Mayhem City, identical to the one seen in the Captain's Office.
The room is dominated by four double desks, with seats and Ebbles laptop computers for eight cops. A pair of room dividers have been placed between each pair of desks.
I thought I'd leave you with a sneak preview of the ground floor interior. I'm sure you can identify many of the rooms yourself from this overhead photo, but I'll give you a much more detailed review in my next post in a few days time.