Saturday 30 June 2012

Vampifan's Views 25 - Monthly Musings 11

Vampirella by the legendary Frank Frazetta
The big news for this month was that I got to play my ATZ scenario "Assault on Precinct 13" and it was the most epic game I have ever played. This game was most notable for the number of "firsts."
It was the first time I had played ATZ on a 6' by 4' board. It won't be the last!
It was the first time that I used the optional rule from I, Zombie regarding PEFs (Possible Enemy Forces). If you rolled doubles for Activation, a new PEF was placed on the board. I rolled quite a few doubles!
It was the first time that I ran an ATZ game that lasted for five days (Monday to Friday) although I only played on three of those days. Monday was setting up day (actually just over two hours) and Friday was clearing up day. I played for about five hours each day on Tuesday and Wednesday but on Thursday I gamed for nearly 12 hours from 10.30am to 10.00pm!

The good guys suffered very badly in this scenario with far too many of them dying. To find out who lived and who died you'll have to read my batrep.
The number of zombies that appeared in this scenario was the largest amount in any game in my campaign so far. How many? Well, Ive decided to have a bit of fun here and make a competition of it. I want you to make a guess at how many zombies appeared in the scenario. Leave your answer in the comments section and whoever is the closest will win a mystery prize of something that has appeared on my blog this year. To give you a clue, the answer is more than 50 but less than 150. I won't reveal the answer until I post the final part of my batrep, which won't be for a couple of weeks. Read on for the reason behind the delay.
Another first for this scenario was the amount of photos I took - 170+. That'll give you some idea of how epic this game was! As a consequence, I will be splitting my batrep up into four bite-sized chunks. I am hoping to post part one next Wednesday, so you won't have long to wait.
I was asked by Hrodgar on the Board of the Living Lead forum if I could post some teaser photos of the board I played on. I said of course I could. So, check these out.
 The northern edge of the board is closest to the camera. How impressive does Mayhem City look?
 A view from the western edge of the board.
The eastern edge of the board showing some new models from my WWG Mayhem Junkyard set (fences and JCB digger) and in the top right hand corner, my Stoelzel's Structures Cottage.
This is where most of the action took place. Obviously, there are no figures on the board but the initial three PEF markers have been placed. Well done to you if you can spot them!
I added a little gadget to the sidebar of my blog that lets you know how many 28mm scale zombies I have painted and how many I have unpainted. Figure painting and card modelling have taken a back seat this past week as I was too focussed on playing ATZ. Normal service will resume very soon. Currently on my desk getting painted are 9 Red Box zombies, a Red Box demoness, 4 Studio Minis cops, 4 Studio Minis U.S. Soldiers and 3 Reaper college students.
Speaking of Studio Minis, have you seen their plastic zombie figures that they are working on? You can learn a lot more about them by clicking on this link - I have already made a pledge for $100. I think these figures will be the best plastic zombies on the market. They already make the best metal zombies on the market, so high quality is guaranteed.
Seanan McGuire aka Mira Grant. I've fallen in love with her!
On the reading front, you'll know by now that I recently read Blackout by Mira Grant, seeing as I gave it a glowing review not so long ago. I am currently reading Tooth and Nail by Craig DiLouie. Anyway, getting back to Mira, Varangian, one of my followers left some interesting comments about her on my blog but he made them a week after I'd posted my review, meaning most of you will have missed them. He informed me of an interview with Seanan McGuire (the real name of Mira Grant) held here -
It was from this link that I found this delightful photo of Mira that appears just above. The interview is quite long but very well worth reading as she certainly knows her stuff when it comes to zombie plagues and viruses. I loved the bit where she harrasses the real CDC for info about what might work and what won't work regarding a zombie virus. You can't say her Newsflesh trilogy of books are not well researched. Varangian then managed to make me very jealous when he informed me he was hoping to meet Mira next year. She'll be one of the guest speakers at JordanCon 2013 held next April. For the benefit of my American followers, details can be found here - I wish I could attend but it seems highly unlikely.
I'll sign off now and I hope you have as much fun reading my epic ATZ batrep as I did playing it.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Zombiesmith Scientists

Just a short review today as I'm in the middle of playing my "Assault on Precinct 13" scenario for my ATZ campaign. When I ordered the ZS Wedding Hunters (shown last time) I also ordered a few other figures from them at the same time. Here, I present the ZS Science! figures. For some strange reason ZS has added an exclamation mark after their name on their webstore. Go figure!
With his hair looking like someone has stuck his finger in an electrical socket, the scientist at the far left of my two photos reminds me of boxing promoter, Don King! Alternatively, if painted as a Caucasian, he could pass for Albert Einstein. He's quite a nice figure with one hand stuffed in his lab coat and the other holding a clipboard, which should have been bigger, in my opinion.
The scientist next to him reminds me of Dr. Beaker from Gerry Anderson's Supercar TV series. I'm really showing my age by mentioning that, as I can remember watching Supercar as a very small child in the early 1960's. He also has one hand stuffed in his lab coat and the other hand holds a computer printout. Note the combover on his balding hair!
The scientist wearing the black gloves has the lower part of his face tucked behind his turned-up collar. Perhaps he's shy... or maybe just cold? He is gripping a test-tube in his right hand. That might explain why he needs to wear the protective gloves.
Finally, at the far right of the photos is a young scientist holding, what I can only assume is some kind of experimental weapon. Your guess is as good as mine regarding what it could be. Whilst two of the scientists are wearing glasses, he is wearing goggles. I have to admit that out of the four he is the weakest sculpt. His anatomy is far too cartoony and just doesn't look realistic.
These are not the best sculpted figures I've seen, but nor are they the worst. They are passable and if you are looking for scientist types, they fill a niche as there aren't that many available. Anyone interested in researching a cure for the zombie disease or wanting to find out how it started could surely find a use for a bunch of scientists. And, of course, for pulp gamers, these are a staple of the genre. This pack of four figures retails for $12.00 from Zombiesmith's webstore.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Brides and Grooms

I thought I'd review a few survivor-type figures that you'd definitely class as "out of the ordinary" - brides and grooms. The first pair (to the left of the two photos below) are made by Black Cat Bases and the second pair by Zombiesmith.
I got the Black Cat Bases couple for free last year, when BCB ran a special promotion over the weekend  of the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. They had a 20% discount on all orders, plus you got a free armed bride and armed groom figure. I placed quite a big order with them and was delighted with the discount and freebies. It was a while before I got round to painting this set but they will always stick in my mind for one special reason. These two were the first two figures I painted using my new Foundry paints and the Foundry painting method as advocated by Kevin Dallimore. My method of painting is very similar to that recommended by Kevin, although I can't get away with his suggestion of painting the eyes first. I have to paint the rest of the face before I tackle the eyes. I immediately found the Foundry paints far better to use than the Games Workshop paints that I'd previously been using. Foundry works on a triad system whereby each colour is made up of a base colour, a highlight and a shade. I can highly recommend them.
Anyway, this isn't a review of Foundry's paints, so let's take a closer look at the BCB figures to the left of the photos. The groom measures 29mm from the sole of his feet to his eye level. Of course, his top hat makes him appear a lot taller. Even so, this pair are slightly oversized. He is reaching under his coat to draw a pistol from his shoulder holster. I think he looks very smart and my colour scheme works well for him.
The bride is in a much more animated pose, moving at a jog or a run. She has a most impressive rack and not much support. I fear a "wardrobe malfunction" may be on the cards if she runs too fast! She holds her bouquet of white carnations above her head, which again, adds to the height of the figure. She has hiked up her wedding dress in her other hand to reveal a shapely leg and a holstered pistol stuck behind her garter belt. I like her a lot. Both figures were a joy to paint and made me an instant fan of Foundry paints.
The second couple are from U.S. based Zombiesmith and are based on a real life bride and groom.
To the left of here is a photo of Zombiesmith head honcho, Josh Qualtieri and his wife taken on their wedding day in June 2010. Josh had the clever idea of having himself and his bride immortalised in metal. Aaron Brown sculpted the 28mm scale figures and at the wedding reception all of the guests were given a set as a wedding favour. Afterwards, the set was made available to the general public on the ZS webstore. I think they are exquisitely sculpted. Anyone looking for "true" 28mm scale figures should consider purchasing them. The groom holds a large axe in his right hand and a bottle of champagne in his left hand. The bride is armed with a pump-action shotgun. As Josh said, "no bride is complete without a shotgun to go with her bouquet!" Having the photo of the real life couple made painting the miniatures a lot easier, as I had a colour scheme for them, which I stuck to as closely as possible. These two got painted a couple of months ago. I could have reviewed the two sets separately but given the rarity of the subject matter, it made more sense to combine them for one review.
The BCB bride and groom are very well sculpted, whilst the Zombiesmith Wedding Hunters, as they're called on their webstore, are superbly sculpted. I like all four figures. They are something unusual but in all honesty how much use would you have for them in a zombie apocalypse game? For sure, a wedding could take place even if the world has gone to hell. But I can't imagine the happy couple remaining in their wedding outfits for long. And that rather limits their use. On the other hand, if you are playing their wedding on Day One of the outbreak, they may be forced to keep their wedding clothing for far longer than they envisaged. You are going to have to make your own judgement call on whether to add one or both of these sets to your collection.
The Black Cat Bases Bride and Groom costs £5.00 for the pair or you can buy them separately for £3.00 each. The Zombiesmith Wedding hunters costs $8.00 for the pair. You can choose to have them supplied with 25mm diameter slottabases or 30mm diameter slottabases. They are not available separately.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Blackout by Mira Grant

I mentioned in my last post that I was keen to read Siege and Blackout this year, both being part three of trilogies by Rhiannon Frater and Mira Grant respectively. Of the two, Blackout was the one I was most looking forward to reading. Ever since I read Feed and Deadline, the first two novels in Mira's Newsflesh trilogy I've been desperate to know how the story will end. If you are not aware of this trilogy, shame on you.
It concerns a zombie apocalypse set twenty years after the dead came back to life to feast on the living. The world is at an impasse. Large groups of humans have survived but they rarely travel far and security measures to prevent further infection from spreading are a constant part of everyday life. Some parts of the world are no-go areas having been completely overrun by hordes of zombies.
In this world, most of the news come from bloggers, who dare to step outside and discover what is going on in the world. They have taken over from the traditional news networks. In Feed, a small group of bloggers led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, brother and sister, were invited to report on the campaign trail of presidential candidate, Peter Ryman. Georgia was the Newsie of the group. Bloggers are given different categories depending upon their field of expertise. A Newsie, is, as its name suggests a news gatherer, and generally the brains of the group. Shaun is an Irwin, the action man of the group, who goes out of the way to get the most dramatic footage of any story being covered. Things went very badly for the team in Feed, when they discovered a huge conspiracy, which resulted in the deaths of some major characters in the book, including one which shocked the hell out of me!
Deadline saw the depleted team of bloggers going to ground and Shaun taking over the leadership of the team. When a CDC (Centre for Disease Control) scientist came to them seeking help, they learnt a lot more about the conspiracy and just how corrupt the CDC were, despite their good guy facade that the general public believed in. If Feed was a politcal thriller with zombies, then Deadline was a scientific thriller with zombies. Blackout is a mix of both.
Blackout starts with the return of Georgia. God, how I missed her in book two! She is being held captive by the CDC, who have a very specific task for her to perform. The way that Georgia works out that she is a clone and where exactly she's being held, despite being given virtually no news of life outside the CDC facility, is fascinating and shows just how badly the CDC underestimate her. She is like a reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes, able to make sense of the smallest of clues. If you're at all like me, the event you'll be most anticipating is Georgia and Shaun being reunited. They are, but you have to wait until half way through the novel before it happens. What happens afterwards is just a rollercoaster of a ride as the team decide to tell the public the truth and to blow the cover ups and conspiracy wide open. Help comes from a most unexpected source, but inevitably, there is a price to pay.
Although this trilogy is set in a world plagued by millions of zombies, the undead take a back seat for the most part. Sure they are always there, lurking in the background, ready to leap out when you least expect it. But this is a story about the small but brave team of bloggers and their friends. It is a story of relationships and above all about characters that you care about very deeply. Trust me on that last point. Whenever a major character dies, and too many do, you feel for their loss. It's a sign of good story writing to create characters that you care passionately about.
I gave Feed a very rare 10 out of 10 rating. It was just so good. I gave Deadline a 9 out of 10 rating. It was an excellent novel but I now realise why I didn't like it as much as the original - I missed Georgia too much. Shaun held the team together well, but he lacked the intelligence and wisdom of Georgia. Blackout sees the return of Georgia, even if she's not the real deal, and is all the better for having her back. And if you think I'm revealing too much by telling you that Georgia is a clone, you'll learn that from page one of the book. So it's not much of a spoiler. Georgia Mason has become one of my all-time favourite characters in literature, not just zombie literature. Blackout perfectly wraps up the trilogy and I have no hesitation in awarding it a 10 out of 10 rating. The more I read of the novel, the harder it became to put it down and I ended up reading the last 150 pages in one sitting. That, my friends, is the sign of a damned good book!

Sunday 17 June 2012

Siege by Rhiannon Frater

At the start of 2012 there were two books that I was desperate to read and both were part three of a trilogy. Top of that list was Blackout by Mira Grant (which I'm happy to say I am currently reading.) In second place, but not by much, was Siege by Rhiannon Frater. Siege is the third and final part of her As The World Dies trilogy and was released a couple of months ago. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. I'll go into greater detail on my thoughts about the novel towards the end of this review. But first, the plot.
For our two heroines of the story, Katie and Jenni, life goes on in the small, but well fortified town of Ashley Oaks, Texas. Katie has married Travis and is pregnant with his child. Jenni, along with her stepson, Jason, pet dog, Jack, and her new love, Juan (that's a lot of names beginning with the letter "J"!) have become a family.
Travis is the newly elected mayor of Ashley Oaks but not all of the inhabitants of the town agree with his policies, especially snobbish socialite, Blanche. She goes completely off the rails and shoots Juan. This forces Travis to send out a snatch squad to acquire medical supplies to help save his buddy's life. Jenni insists on being part of the team that sets out to a hospital not too far away. Inevitably the hospital is overrun by zombies and the team suffers casualties. A couple of them make it back home but not Jenni and Bill. Instead they are captured by a military contingent based at the Madison Mall shopping complex. The mall is home to a large group of survivors, a small military force and a power-hungry U.S. senator, who treats the mall survivors like slaves. She desperately wants to take over Ashley Oaks, so that she can use it to offer as a trophy to the president of the United States, who is apparently still alive and holed up in a secure location.
What the senator fails to realise is that not all of the military under the command of her lover, Major General Knox agree with her. When a small force led by Lieutenat Kevin Reynolds take a helicopter flight to Ashley Oaks to offer a deal with the townsfolk, what he sees there makes him realise he should support Travis and not the senator. He returns to the mall with Travis, Katie and a few others and they persuade all of the mall survivors and most of the soldiers that a better life awaits them at Ashley Oaks. I shall stop here with my precis as to carry on would be to give away too much. Suffice to say, quite a few folk do make it back to Ashley Oaks but not everyone. The siege mentioned in the title of the book occurs at the end of the novel and it involves a zombie meta-horde moving slowly but relentlessly towards Ashley Oaks. Now I should point out that this is just the start of a meta-horde, numbering between ten to twenty thousand. Small by the standards of the meta-hordes I mentioned in a previous post but still overwhelming for the populace of Ashley Oaks, who number about three to four hundred.
Siege is a book that pulls no punches. Be warned that a lot of good people who you really care about get killed, along with some who deserve to die. One person who does come to a sticky end is the mysterious Vigilante, whom I correctly identified in the last novel, even though his true identity is not revealed until late on in Siege. Yay me! What ultimately makes this such a great novel are the characters, who by now, are well rounded and defined with their own unique traits and quirks. When one of them does die, you feel for their passing.
Perhaps controversally, Rhiannon introduces a new supernatural element to this novel - ghosts. Some folk may baulk at this but not me. If zombies can exist, why can't ghosts? Besides which, the ghosts are there to help the living. They may be dead but they sure don't want their loved ones to end up like them. At times their appearance can seem like a deus ex machina but I was so wrapped up in the story by then that I didn't care.
Rhiannon's love and affection of the zombie genre shines throughout. Just witness her George Romero references when Jenni first sees the shopping mall surrounded by a horde of zombies. Volume three brought the trilogy to a very satisfying conclusion. Siege is primarily a story about people. It's about love, heroism and selflessness in the face of adversity. It's about overcoming a crisis despite the chaos of a world going to hell. I enjoyed it immensely and I'll give it a well-deserved 9 out of 10 rating. This is a trilogy that deserves to be on the bookshelves of any fan of zombie literature.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Ainsty Castings Armoured Pick Up Truck and Wrecked Car

Last time I told you that I had placed an order for three Ainsty Castings 28mm scale resin vehicles but I only told you about one of them - the Derelict School Bus. So, here are the other two vehicles that I bought - set 8056 Armoured Pick Up Truck and set 8050 Wrecked Car. Both come from Ainsty's Streetwise: Car Park range.
Vampifan gets in on the act again to give you an idea of scale. Don't worry, he isn't getting paid any extra for this!
My only criticism of the Pick Up truck is that I wish the floor in the back section was much lower down. As you can see from the photo above there is very little clearance between the floor and the tops of the surrounding sides. Okay, it probably is this way to make it easier to be cast in one piece but I still find it a bit jarring when I compare it with my WWG card model pick up trucks. On the plus side, you can easily fit a figure with a 25mm diameter base in the back of the truck.
The wrecked car is an absolute beauty and you can see straight away that this is just so much scrap metal. All four tyres are missing. One of the headlights have been removed, as has the engine hood. The bodywork is full of dents and bullet holes.
I painted the glass parts of both vehicles in Foundry Black Shade 34A. For the bullet holes in the windows of the wrecked car, I painted the cracks around the bullet holes in the windows with Foundry Arctic Grey 33B. The area directly surrounding the bullet holes was done with little dots of Foundry White 33C. If you paint over the bullet hole, as I did a few times, just repaint the hole in black. To finish off the windows I gave them a coat of gloss varnish, being careful not to paint it over the actual bullet holes.
The pick up truck was painted in Foundry Chainmail 35A and given a variety of ink washes over various parts - Citadel Badab Black, Citadel Devlan Mud and Citadel Asurmen Blue. Since Games Workshop stupidly renamed all of their paints and inks I have no idea what they are called now. Most of the truck was given a black ink wash. Some panels were given a blue or a brown inkwash for that patchwork look.
The body of the wrecked car was painted using the Foundry triad of Bright Red 15 paints. Note that on the Armoured Pick Up truck the area between the wheels is solid resin. It looks odd at first but once you paint it black and put the model on your gaming table it is not noticable at all. I wonder if any of you would have spotted that from my photos if I hadn't pointed it out. I certainly wouldn't have.
The Armoured Pick Up Truck has a solid look to it and looks like it was built to survive in a post apocalyptic world. Add some weapons to it if you want to use it in a Car Wars type setting. As for the wrecked car, it is a great piece of scenery, ideal for depicting a run down part of your neighbourhood. As with the Derelict School Bus reviewed last time, these models have been reduced in price by the good folks at Ainsty Castings. The Wrecked Car now costs £4.00 and the Armoured Pick Up Truck now costs £5.00. Both are good value for resin cast vehicles.

Sunday 10 June 2012

Ainsty Castings Derelict School Bus

A couple of months ago I ordered three 28mm scale resin cast model vehicles from Ainsty Castings. The jewel in the crown was this model - set 8054 Derelict School Bus from their Streetwise: Car Park range.
I have always wanted an iconic American yellow school bus to add to my collection of vehicles. They are almost impossible to find here in the U.K. so when I saw that Ainsty Castings had one in their catalogue I knew I had to have it. I waited a long time to buy. If Ainsty hadn't announced a sale with 20% off the price of all their models I might still be waiting now. Anyway, I ordered it and now I'm a proud owner of it.
I know it is a wreck and not roadworthy, but that doesn't bother me too much. Also, I know that WWG have a school bus in their Mayhem Vehicles set but I really don't like that version. It looks fine from the back but from every other angle you can see it is not the same as this model. It is just the WWG coach with a new skin. The shape is all wrong.
Here's Vampifan showing off as he stands on the roof. "Look at me, ma. Top of the world!" The model came with three wooden platforms to fix to the roof and three sets of wooden barricades for fixing to some of the windows. I deliberately left them off as I have other plans for them. As you can see, other wooden planks have already been sculpted onto the model.
This side view of the bus shows just how big the model is, as Vampifan stands next to it. The base measures 9" (23cm) long by 3" (8cm) wide and the bus is 2" (5cm) tall. It is not solid resin as the inside has been hollowed out to help keep the weight down.
I used a Rotring technical drawing pen to write in the word "School Bus," the registration plate and the "1974" date, rather than trying to paint them. The windows were painted black and given a coat of gloss varnish for that glassy look.
I primed the model with Foundry black paint, as I do with almost all of my figures and models. I had to give the bus five coats of yellow paint to get it looking as good as it does now. I know that if I'd used Games Workshop's foundation paints I'd have got away with just two coats but I no longer use GW paints. To be honest, I didn't consider it a chore. It was just something that had to be done and I got on with it.
The detailing on this model is of a very high standard. This is a great model for use in a zombie apocalypse game. It could be the centre-piece of numerous scenarios. A small group of survivors could be holed up inside it and in dire need of rescuing. Or it could be the source of a plague of zombie kids. Or just use it as an awesome piece of cover.
If you want one, I have some good news for you. Ainsty have reduced the price of it from £20.00 to £16.00. Yes, it is still expensive, but look at the size of it. It is a fantastic model and I'm looking forward to using it in my ATZ campaign. Next time I'll show you the other two Ainsty vehicles I bought.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Armorcast Mystery Machine and Wrecked Car

A while ago I mentioned that I had bought the Armorcast 28mm scale Mystery Machine van, along with an extra one for my friend Joe/Zabadak. See here for his enthusiastic review of it
I thought it was about time that I do my own review of it. The Mystery Machine is sold as set ACAU001 Clue Contraption Hippie Van. At the same time as I ordered the two vans I also ordered set ACCS020 Wrecked Import 1. Here they are.
 I have included my figure of Vampifan in all six photos purely for scale purposes.
The Mystery Machine came in five parts, with the four wheels being separate from the body. The wrecked car came in two parts. The large I-beam girder was a separate piece that had to be glued in place. I suppose it could be left off, but I think it looks more dramatic with it on.
Armorcast are an American company (you can tell by the way they spell "armor"), which is why they have described the wrecked car as an import. I'm afraid I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to car recognition, so I can't identify the make of this model, although I'm certain it is based on a real life design. Perhaps one of you can let me know which car this is modelled on. Incidentally, in case you're wondering I do not drive and nor do I have any desire to learn how to.
Doesn't the Mystery Machine look small? And yet it is in scale. Obviously, you can paint it any colour you want but it's going to be really hard to get away from the Scooby Doo influence. For me, there was never any doubt that I'd paint it in the Mystery Machine colours. I did question my ability to paint the words "THE MYSTERY MACHINE" accurately and the same size on the sides of two vans, so I cheated! I had a 28mm scale colour paper model of the van that I'd downloaded from the Interweb, so I printed out two copies of it and then carefully cut out the logos to stick on to the sides of the resin models. Job's a good 'un as far as I'm concerned.
This photo above shows the number plates of both vehicles. I'm not sure what the actual registration number of the Mystery Machine should be, so I came up with SC 00 BY to spell out the word "Scooby." The registration of the wrecked car is VWM 562 and I decided that VWM should stand for Very Wrecked Motor!
Both vehicles are sculpted in resin and are nicely detailed. Incidentally, I painted the wrecked car in Foundry Spearpoint (i.e. silver) with a hint of Anita's Acryllic Metallic Sapphire to give it that nice silvery-blue shade. I'm very happy with the way it's turned out.
To give it its official name, the Clue Contraption Hippie Van costs $12.00, whilst Wrecked Import 1 costs just $8.00. If you own the Hasslefree not-Scooby Gang, you're going to want to get the not-Mystery Machine to go with them. Armorcast are selling the van with the Scooby Gang for $35.00 but be warned their Scooby Doo is not the Hasslefree figure but the Beaumont Miniatures Buster the Scaredy Dog, a much inferior figure. Incidentally, Kevin White, Hasslefree's sculptor, has recently made a set of armed Scooby Gang figures. They are very nice figures and ideal for those of you who want to use the Scooby Gang in a post-apocalypse setting. I'll be buying them as soon as they go on sale. Suffice to say, a review will follow.

Sunday 3 June 2012

West Wind Werewolves 01

I was looking at my blog labels for Werewolves and saw that I had six, but only one of them was for a figure review - my West Wind Werewolf Bikers (see here for that review) . So here I am with my blog over three years old and I have never done a "proper" review of any of my werewolf figures. By "proper" I mean werewolves who aren't toting guns and/or riding motorbikes. I actually own a lot of 28mm scale werewolf figures from a wide variety of companies that I've collected over the years, although many of them are now out of production. They will all get reviewed in time, just as I plan on reviewing my all of my many vampire figures. I thought seeing as I have been looking at West Wind's Bad Moon Over Memphis range in three of my four past posts that would be a good place to begin with.
The huge brute at the left of the photo above is the Big Bopper, set GHB0002 from the Bad Moon Over Memphis range. He is 43mm tall from the soles of his feet to the top of his head and comes as a one-piece casting. Anyone who thinks that he is over-scaled should think again. He is just the kind of uber-werewolf that Selene went up against in the recent Underworld:Awakening film. Also, anyone who has played White Wolf's Werewolf: the Apocalypse role-playing game will know that this figure represents a lupine in Crinos form, the most powerful of their five forms, ranging from human (Homid) to wolf (Lupus). The other two forms are Hispo (a dire-wolf) and Glabro (a human with wolf features).
The black skinned werewolf in the two photos above is from set GH00012 Loup Garou (Great Werewolf), which is part of the Gothic Horror Vampire Wars range. This figure came in four parts - body and legs, right arm, left arm and head and he went together very well, with all parts being a good fit. I used epoxy resin to glue him, which I much prefer to superglue. He is leaning forward as if lunging to attack someone, which gives the appearance that he is smaller than the Big Bopper. Don't be fooled - he is still an impressive looking beast, full of aggression. With his long claws extended, he could easily rip someone's head off with a single swipe of his arm. Incidentally, in W:tA the werewolves call themselves the Garou, from the French, Loup Garou.
The two figures shown above are from set GH00011 Giant Wolves. So why have I included these in my review of werewolves, you may be asking? Aren't they just big wolves?
No, they are much more than that. These are akin to the dire-wolves of many a fantasy tale (see Tolkien's Lord of the Rings for example). Also, referring back to the five forms a lupine can change into in the W:tA RPG mentioned above, this is the Hispo form of a werewolf. Outwardly, it looks like an ordinary wolf but it is much bigger and much more powerful. I have no hesitation at all in declaring these two figures as werewolves.
Finally, is set GH00010 Werewolves, four human-sized werewolves. Going back to Werewolf: the Apocalypse, these figures would most closely approximate the Glabro form. They are still bipedal but nowhere near as large or as powerful as the Crinos form.
These are the classic bipedal werewolves that many folk associate with that species - a cross between man and wolf, bearing the features of both but transforming into something that is totally unique. I guess it is okay that they have still retained their trousers when they transformed, as they are still human sized. If they had transformed into their Crinos form, any clothing they were wearing at the time would have been ripped to pieces during the transformation process.
I like all of these werewolf sets a lot. If you're just starting out in building a werewolf pack, these would get you off to a fine start. They are very nicely sculpted in a variety of poses, heights and forms and best of all, they are very reasonably priced. All four sets cost just £6.00 each from West Wind's webstore.
It's not often that I criticise my own paintwork, but I'm not happy with how the eyes of these creatures have appeared in my photographs. I painted them gloss black, which looks good in real life but which is hard to make out in my photos. Sorry about that, folks. Maybe if I'd painted a dot of white either as a highlight or at either side of the pupils they would have stood out better. I'm also wondering if I should have painted the claws on the two huge werewolves a bone colour instead of black. It would have provided a better contrast in the photos. Ah well, it's all food for thought. Give me your thoughts on the subject and if need be I will modify them.