Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Vampifan's Views 34 - Monthly Musings 18

Vampirella by Buzz
Since my last Monthly Musings post my blog has achieved two notable landmarks. My number of followers (well, those who have signed up here) has passed the 300 mark. Secondly, the number of page views for my blog has now passed the 300,000 mark. Yay, me! Onwards and upwards, I say!
Having been a prisoner in my own home for two weeks of this month, simply because of the amount of snow that fell in my home village, I am now delighted to say that all of the horrible white stuff has gone. Man, I HATE snow! If I never see another flake of snow it will be too soon. Okay, rant over.
I have been very busy this month on the hobby front. I have finished painting 9 Reaper 28mm scale zombies, 10 Tengu 28mm scale zombies and 3 Tengu 28mm scale zombie dogs. I also painted a Black Cat Bases fly-tipping pile of rubbish. I am not saying what is currently on my painting desk. It's a surprise!
I added a few extra pieces to the interior of my Stoelzel's Structures Warehouse and now it is finished. I also made an RV (Recreational Vehicle) that I found for free on the Internet. I also made 3 Fat Dragon Games Sedan Cars, one of which is a taxi. Just yesterday I made a couple of WWG shopping trolleys from their Mayhem Mega Mall set. These will play a major part in my new ATZ-FFO campaign as they are going to be used by Team Vampifan for collecting supplies. Check out the rules on p.54 of FFO under the heading "What Can I Carry?" and you'll see that a shopping cart can hold 24 items. Ideal if your party is planning a scavenger hunt.
February is going to be card model month on my blog as I plan on reviewing all of my recently made card models plus some that I made a while back but never got round to reviewing. Any new figure reviews won't appear until the end of February or possibly the beginning of March. I always like to plan ahead for what's coming up on my blog.
There is one brand new card model set that has just been released that has me very excited and that is the Stoelzel's Undeveloped Real Estate (URE) set. Basically, this is a collection of 28mm scale ground tiles that can be used in contemporary rural or urban settings. Here is a picture of one or the urban tiles with the littered road option. Isn't that just perfect for a zombie apocalypse?
I am planning on making this set my default set of ground tiles for my FFO campaign. I'm still keeping my WWG ground tiles as I've invested a lot of time in making them but seeing as I am falling out of favour with WWG and since I have become such a huge fan of Carl Stoelzel's entire catalogue of work, the URE set will take preference for my gaming boards.
I should mention that these new tiles measure 7.5" by 7.5". The roads are 4.5" wide and there is either a pavement or a grass verge measuring 1.5" on either side of the road. This means that they are not compatible with the WWG tiles. That's no big deal to me. I'll do a much more detailed review of the set once I have made a few tiles. One big advantage with these tiles is that they are a lot easier and quicker to make than the WWG TLX tiles. With Carl's tiles all you need do is stick the tile to a piece of foamboard and you're done. There is an option for raising the pavements. The choice provided is for gluing the pavement sections to another piece of foamboard. I'm not very happy with this option as I think it will raise the pavements too high. Instead, I will be gluing my pavements to mounting card, which is roughly a quarter of the height of foamboard.
Finally, this set includes a lot of extras that aren't road tiles. There are tiles for a car park, river sections, grassland, a graveyard (make sure you check out the gravestones for Vampifan and a few other zombie bloggers), a basketball court, tennis court and lots more. Props include road signs, speed bumps, street lights, litter bins, telephone booths (US and UK versions) and many others. Speaking of US and UK versions, I must mention that the road tiles come in two flavours for those who drive on the left and those who drive on the right. Cool! For those of you who are interested in purchasing this set you can buy it from here -
Two other pieces of undead related news has me very excited. Whilst browsing the GURPS website I noticed that the latest supplement that is in production is GURPS Zombies. For me that will be the most eagerly anticipated book of the year. Secondly, I see that series five of Being Human begins on BBC3 next Sunday. The story of a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf living together continues with an all new cast taking over from the original cast of the first few series. Bring it on!
And on that high note I shall sign off. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Foundry Russian Mafia Mobsters 02

Having showed you the inner circle of my Russian Mafia mobsters last time, I thought it only logical to move on to the rank and file members of Sergei's Korporation. After all, these figures are also from Foundry's 28mm scale Street Violence range, being set SV058 Hired Hitmen and set SV062 Professionals. Due to the similarity between the two sets I decided to make them all part of the same gang. The long coats worn by nine out of the ten helps to create a cohesive looking group.
First up is set SV058 Hired Hitmen and they are led by the heavily armed Valeri Schevchenko. I came up with the majority of the names of these figures. Valeri is armed with the most famous Russian designed Assault Rifle - the 7.62mm AKM Kalashnikov, a more modern version of the older AK47. In her right hand she holds a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5KA5 Machine Pistol and slung across her back is a Hawk MM1 40mm Grenade Launcher. She wears a polo-necked jumper underneath her smart business suit. She is far and away my favourite figure out of both of these sets.
Next in line is Leon Poteyenko, who is bald headed and who sports a goatee beard and moustache. He is armed with a 5.56mm Heckler and Koch 33E Assault Rifle.
In the centre of the group is Anton Trofimov. He holds a 5.56mm Colt CAR15 Assault Carbine, with a shorter barrel than the rifle.
Whilst most of the gang wear buff coloured trench coats, Ivor Trotsky, has opted for a fur-lined long coat. He is the gang's heavy weapon specialist and he is armed with a 5.56mm M249 Squad automatic Weapon.
Last in line is the gang's sniper, Ivan Mirzakeyev. He is looking through the scopesight of a 7.62mm Heckler and Koch PSG1 Sniper Rifle, a very reliable and accurate weapon.
The five figures from set SV062 Professionals are mainly resculpts of the previous set. This doesn't bother me, but I know from previous comments that some of you disapprove of this practice. At the far left is Mukhtar Lukyanenko, who is identical in almost all respects to Leon Poteyenko above other than the fact that he has had a head swap. So, obviously, he is also armed with a 5.56mm Heckler and Koch 33E Assault Rifle.
Standing next to him is Timor Kublitsky, the first of three mobsters armed with a 12 Gauge pump-action Shotgun. He is the only original sculpt in this set.
Bohunk Tabbak stands in the centre of this group. He is also armed with a pump-action Shotgun and he is a conversion of Ivan Trotsky from the previous set. It is a good conversion, as he has had a head swap, a weapon swap and his tie and shirt have been replaced with a polo-necked jumper. Finally. his fur-lined coat has now become a trench coat. 
The second figure from the right is the third of the pump-action Shotgun wielding mobsters and his name is Anatoly Kiselev. He is a conversion of Anton Trofimov from above and he has had a head swap and a weapon swap.
Finally, we come to Sergei Maximov. He has also had a head and a weapon swap. His 5.56mm Heckler and Koch G36 Assault Rifle replaces the sniper rifle of Ivan Mirzakeyev from the previous set. An oversight by me is that I should have painted the bullets in his ammo clip, as the G36 uses translucent plastic magazines.
For a set of mooks, these two sets fit the bill nicely. They are good without being exceptional. The fact that four out of five of the second set are simple conversions does not bother me in the least. Grouped together they all look different and that's good enough for me. Coupled with the Sergei's Korporation set, this gives me 15 Russian Mafia figures, which is a fairly decent sized gang for my skirmish wargaming needs. The two sets cost £10.00 each.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Foundry Russian Mafia Mobsters 01

Having reviewed my Foundry Italian Mafia Mobsters last time, I just had to review my Russian Mafia Mobsters this time. These five figures are from the Foundry 28mm scale Street Violence set SV024 Sergei's Korporation. As with my Italian Mob, these are partly named by the Foundry Figures crew and partly by myself. All background information relates to my ATZ-FFO campaign.
At the far left of my two photos is "Rodeo Boris" Vashkov, armed with just a 9mm Glock 17 Pistol. Do not mistake that white dot you see at the front top of his shirt as a priest's dog collar. It is actually a silver tie pin. His tie is string thin and is not easy to see being black on black. Boris has so embraced American culture that his colleagues have nicknamed him "Rodeo Boris." He is very streetwise and has a long list of contacts among the criminal fraternity of Mayhem City. It is for this reason that Sergei keeps him in his inner circle.
Sergei Kasparov is the head of the Russian Mafia in Mayhem City. He and his gang have muscled their way into the city's crime scene by sheer ruthlessness and a vicious determination to be top dog. Sergei's Korporation arrived in Mayhem City in the year 2000 and has grown in power and influence since then. Sergei is armed with a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A3 Sub-Machine Gun and he knows how to use it. He has taken part in many of his gang's violent takeover operations. He is every bit as ruthless and as nasty as his rival "Viper Joe" Marciano. Suffice to say, the two are sworn enemies.
In the centre of the group is Sergei's chief enforcer "Big Piotr" Rasputin, who stands 6' 7" tall. He towers over most of the other gang members. He carries a 5.56mm M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) in his hands. He has a flight bag slung over his shoulder and that could carry all kinds of nastiness. "Big Piotr" does not say much, but to be honest, he does not need to. He is not a man to be messed with.
The woman in white is Lena Mastikova (surprisingly, both names were supplied by Foundry) and she is Sergei's wife. She kept her own surname for business reasons. She is every bit as ruthless and determined as Sergei and she too has been known to bloody her hands in a gang fight. She is armed identically as Sergei, but her SMG has a torchlight fitted just below the barrel. She spends a fortune on clothing, jewelery and cosmetics.
Last in line is Irina Suporov and she is Sergei's finance manager and advisor. She is a hard-nosed bitch, who works out regularly and is a highly talented martial artist. She carries a laptop computer in a briefcase in her right hand and a small 9mm Makarov Pistol in her left hand. She is left handed. Her main talent lies in her ability to successfully manipulate stocks and shares, which explains why she is handsomely paid by Sergei.
Again, I like this set, but I don't think they are quite as characterful as the Italian Mafiosa. The males are okay but could really be any trio of armed goons. The females are far better sculpted and they show a lot more character. Still, they make a fine set of adversaries for many a group, criminal or otherwise. As usual, this set of five figures retails for £10.00 from Foundry's webstore.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Foundry Italian Mafia Mobsters

I still have a lot more Foundry 28mm scale Street Violence figures to show you. Here then are my Italian Mafia gangsters from set SV034 The Mob. I make the distinction of these being Italian, or more accurately, Americans of Italian birth, as I also have a gang of Russian Mafiosi. In my ATZ campaign, this gang, run by "Viper Joe" Marciano, have been a part of the crime scene of Mayhem City for many decades and are very firmly established.
At the far left of my two photos is Pauli Cigarini. He is "Viper Joe's" money man and financial adviser. The two have worked closely for many years and have a good working relationship. He is not armed. Indeed he shuns violence and would be useless in a fight. He is holding a large, fat cigar in his left hand, which is a trademark of his, as he is rarely seen without a cigar. Some call him Cigarini the Cigar Man, but never to his face. He loves eating and he isn't just fat, he's obese. He is a heart attack waiting to happen.
Next to him is Lola De Rossi, the latest mistress of "Viper Joe" Marciano. What Lola gained in good looks and sex appeal she lost in intelligence and wisdom. She is in it purely for the money and whilst she professes her undying love for "Viper Joe," it is all a facade. She knows exactly what "Viper Joe" is and what he does but that doesn't bother her. She is too busy enjoying the trappings of high living to care about minor details like where the money comes from. She is armed, and carries a pistol in her shoulder bag, but she is no markswoman.
In the centre of the group is the Mob leader himself, "Viper Joe" Marciano, so named because he is as slippery as a snake and just as deadly. He is not a man to be crossed as the word "forgiveness" does not exist in his vocabulary. He has been known to personally torture and kill those who have pissed him off, although usually he leaves that to his chief enforcer, Luigi Ruffino. "Viper Joe" runs a successful crime empire but in recent years has faced growing competition from Mayhem City's larger ethnic gangs, especially the Russian Mafia. "Viper Joe" is not armed but he is good in a fight, despite him piling on the weight. Like Pauli, he also enjoys expensive cigars and he holds one in his left hand.
Fourth in line is Luigi Ruffino, and as mentioned he is the chief enforcer for "Viper Joe." He is as hard as nails and as tough as they come. He has a 5.56mm Colt Commando Assault Rifle slung over his right shoulder. Note the long scar that runs down his face on the left side from his hairline to the corner of his mouth. He served with the US Marine Corps prior to working for the Mob. His reputation is such that he is one of the most feared men in all of Mayhem City.
Finally, is Mario Baldecchi, known to many as "Little Mario" due to his lack of height. Mario is a vicious thug with a disturbing penchant for violence. Think Joe Pesci from the film Good Fellas and you're on the right track. He is armed with a 9mm Beretta M92 Pistol. "Viper Joe" likes "Little Mario" and will use him when someone needs teaching a harsh lesson. The problem with Mario is that he lacks subtlety and he acts first and thinks later.
I like this set a lot. The figures are tremendously characterful. Coming up with backgrounds for them was so easy. Their first names came from the Foundry folks and I added their surnames. I like the fact that they are not all armed to the teeth. Three of them could double as unarmed civilians if you wanted. This set of five figures costs £10.00 on the Foundry webstore.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Foundry Outlaw Trash

This set of Foundry Figures Street Violence 28mm scale figures from set SV023 Outlaw Trash are ideal post-apocalypse figures. Although described as Outlaws, there is no reason not to use them as Survivors or a player character group in a game of ATZ.
The set contains five figures - three males and two females. At the far left of my two photos is Gunther Brockmann, whom I have nominated as the leader of this group. In a lot of the Foundry Street Violence sets you get one figure who is much taller than the others. I figured that the biggest, strongest and toughest character in this group would be the leader. He is well armed with a pair of Big Ass Desert Eagle Pistols in his hands, a 7.62mm Sniper Rifle slung over his shoulder, and he has a selection of Grenades hanging from his belt. His chest is festooned with ammo pouches. No chance of him running out of ammo! All five of the gang wear long duster-type coats. Gunther has ripped the arms off his coat. Just look at the muscles on his arms.
To his left is Zob Gondek, who wears a skull and crossbones T-shirt. In his right hand, Zob holds a Hawk MM1 40mm Grenade Launcher with a 12 round ammo drum. In his left hand, he holds a Bowie Knife. He also carries a selection of Hand Grenades. He has had three extensions added to his hair in the colours red, yellow and green, suggesting he is a follower of the Rastafarian faith.
In the centre of the group of figures is Aaron "Airborne" McQuarrie. He is armed with a Squad Automatic Weapon in his right, a Sub-Machine Gun in his left hand , and an assortment of Hand Grenades hanging from his belt. I have no idea of the make of his firearms but in ATZ, that is not important, so I'm not that bothered. He has exactly the same coloured hair extensions as Zob. He wears a string vest, which wasn't the easiest of things to paint. He has ripped the right sleeve off his coat.
The female second from the right is Carol Roach and she is holding a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5KA5 Machine Pistol in a two-handed grip. She is left-handed. She has a pistol in a holster on her left hip as a back-up and slung across her back is a katana. She has braided her very long hair into dreadlocks and added two rows of light blue beads at the end.
Finally, is Cyrise Montoya, who is something of a cowgirl, going by her Confederate flag T-shirt and her little cowboy hat. She is armed with the popular 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5A Sub-Machine Gun, which has two ammo clips taped side by side for a quick reload. She is also left-handed. She also has a Pistol in a holster on her left hip, a knife tucked into the top of her right boot and a Hand Grenade on her belt. She is the only gang member not to be wearing goggles.
These would make for a good Wolf Pack in After The Horsemen. They are a well-armed and capable looking gang that could be used in any post-apocalyptic setting. Heck, I could even see them being used as a Cursed Earth gang in a Judge Dredd setting. I like these figures a lot. They are well sculpted and very usable.
The set of five figures retail at £10.00 from the Foundry Figures webstore.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Acheson Creations Crazies and Cultists 02

Here are the final two sets of Acheson Creations' 28mm scale Crazies and Cultists. The first set is actually called Clown and Crazies, for a very obvious reason. I'd like to issue a few words of caution about the Female Crazies and Cultists set. First up, it is advertised on the webstore as containing four figures, although only three figures are shown. When I received my set there were only three figures in the package. Oddly, it cost the same as the four figure packs in this range. Go figure. The second point is a warning to those viewing my blog at work - the pictures of the females may not be suitable for work and one in particular may cause retinal damage!
Shown in the photos above and directly below are the four figures from the Clown and Crazies set. At the far left is a pilot in his flight suit. This guy has Star quality in abundance. He is armed with a pistol with fitted suppressor and with a machete - a good combination for taking on zombies. Whenever I look at him I am instantly reminded of the unnamed narrator and hero of J.L. Bourne's novels Day by Day Armageddon and Beyond Exile, as he was a U.S. Navy pilot. He's certainly not a Clown or a Cultist and he doesn't look like a Crazy to me.
The next guy in line, however, certainly does look like a Crazy. He has the look of a tramp or hobo about him, with his long unkempt hair, straggly beard and his ragged clothing. Look closely at his eyes. They are the eyes of a killer and I can see him getting ready to take on all comers, be they human or undead in a berserker-like fury. He wields a sawn-off pump-action shotgun and a machete, which is quite a popular weapon in AC's sets.
Will it come as anything of a surprise if I say that my favourite figure in this set is the clown? I thought not! But he's not just a clown, he's a clown with a chainsaw! How dangerous is that? He's going straight into Sunny's gang of Killer Klowns and he'll be a welcome addition. We all know that clowns are evil but just how evil is this guy? Shudder!
At the far right of the group is a civilian with a sniper's rifle and scopesight. He is bald headed with a goatee beard and moustache. He has a tool belt around his waist with pouches for an assortment of tools, making him a handy ally to have on your side.
And now we come to the controversial Female Crazies and Cultists set. I say controversial because two out of the three are fully nude. The young lady at the far left is armed with a 9mm Sterling Sub-Machine Gun. It is the first time I have ever seen a figure armed with this weapon, which was used by the British Army from the late 1950's until 1988. She is a blonde-haired but her pubes show that she is not a natural blonde. No matching "cuff and collar" here. Something that I have wanted to do with a nude female figure for a long time (stop sniggering at the back!) is to paint her with visible tan lines. So I painted her with Foundry Tan 14 but painted the flesh bits covered by her bikini a lighter Foundry Flesh Light 5C. I must admit that I am very happy with the results.
I can understand why young blondie would want to flaunt her body but not the mature lady in the centre of the group. I have to say that she is possibly the scariest figure I have ever seen. Ye gods, but she is UGLY! You can actually see the cellulite on the back of her legs! With her fat belly, huge pendulous breasts, stumpy legs and a face that could curdle milk she is the stuff of nightmares. She holds a 9mm Heckler and Koch MP5KA5 Machine Pistol in her right hand. I wonder if she's just an old hippy, or perhaps she's one of those Cultists who dance around naked at midnight to perform some ritual.
Finally, at the far right of the group is a more modestly dressed woman, although she still manages to exude a lot of sex appeal in her choice of costume. There is a slight comparison to a certain female vampire whom I am rather fond of but I assure you my choice of colour scheme was a pure coincidence. I just thought she'd suit black hair and on the AC webstore she is depicted in a similar red costume. After I had painted her costume I gave it a coat of Tamiya Clear Red to emphasise the red even more and to give it that glossy finish. It's one of the few times I have used TCR for something other than gore effects. She is armed with a 9mm Pistol and a katana.
I should mention that all of the AC figures that I have reviewed in this and the previous two posts were sculpted by Richard Deasey. Too often the sculptor is uncredited, so it's nice to give him a bit of recognition here. I think that the four figures in the Clown and Crazies set are very well sculpted, but be warned three of them (pilot, tramp and clown) are heroic scale and are roughly 33mm tall. The female Crazies and Cultists are definitely an oddity. I am broadminded enough not to be bothered by the nudity but I can well understand if others feel differently. I can't think of any good reason why they should be naked, other than it being part of a cult ritual.
Both sets cost $7.50. I have no idea why the three females should cost the same as the four males.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Acheson Creations Crazies and Cultists 01

At the same time as I sent away for my two sets of Acheson Creations zombies (shown in my last post) I ordered their four 28mm scale Crazies and Cultists sets. I'll review two of the sets today and the other two in my next post. I'm not too sure if the designation "Crazies and Cultists" applies to all of the figures in these sets but they certainly apply to some of them.
The four figures shown above come from the Male Crazies and Cultists set 1. First in line is a Biohazard Trooper dressed in a Hazmat suit, with gas mask and flamethrower. I have given him the same paint job as my EM4 Biohazard Troopers, as he closely resembles the look of them. He is actually a much better figure than the flame thrower trooper in the EM4 set because his flamethrower looks like a real weapon and not like a Warhammer 40,000 inspired flame rifle. He is a nice figure but is he a Crazy or a Cultist? No, I don't think he's either.
However, the next guy in line could be either or both. I decided to give him bright orange overalls, to indicate that he is an escaped prisoner. I am not too sure what he is armed with. Fantasy Fixtures (whatever happened to him?) suggested on his blog site that it was an M79 grenade launcher, but I'm not convinced. I shall probably rule that he is armed with a sawn-off shotgun.
Third in line is a paramilitary type, who could be a Ganger or a Survivor. He is armed with a 5.7mm FN P90 Sub-Machine Gun with an integral scope-sight. The military version of this innovative SMG comes with a 50-round ammo clip, whilst the civilian version comes with a 30-round ammo clip. He also has a pistol in a holster and a number of pouches on his belt, as well as a water bottle. He seems well prepared to survive a zombie apocalypse. I like this figure the most out of this set.
You may be forgiven for thinking that the last figure of this group is a boy holding a machine gun. But if you think about it seriously, that assumption is just silly. How could a young boy possibly carry such a heavy weapon? No, what we have here is a dwarf adult, which is most unusual but not improbable. He is of course, armed with a 7.62 mm Saco M60 General Purpose Machine Gun. I gave him a sleeveless camouflage jacket over his coat. Just like the previous figure, he appears to have had some military training, and again, would work well as a Survivor or a Ganger. Perhaps his comrades think he is crazy for hefting such a heavy weapon around!
The next four figures are from the Male Crazies and Cultists set 2 and the figure at the far left clearly falls under the category of Crazy. One look at this doctor's face tells you all you need to know about his sanity, or rather his lack of sanity. He has a wild-eyed manic look about him. He is a very characterful individual and I like the almost cartoon-like way he has been sculpted.
The figure standing next to him is the only one that you would definitely describe as being a Cultist. I thought long and hard about what colours to paint his robes before I settled upon this red and white colour scheme. The white front denotes that he is a leader. I would imagine his followers would be dressed all in red. I chose red as a reference to the Cult of the Red Queen from the Vampirella comics. No surprises there, huh? He wields a double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun in his right hand and an ancient tome in his left hand. If magic exists in your games, that could be a book of spells. He does make a great cult leader.
Finally, are a pair of negro Gangstas (Crazies?). Both are armed with 9mm pistols and both are holding their firearms "gangsta-style," which may look "cool" but is not an effective way to fire a pistol. Of the two, the one I like best is the dude in red, second from the right, What I particularly like about him is his machete - an excellent zombie killing weapon. In the second photo of him, the blade has really caught the light. However, if he is going into zombie territory he'd be well advised to ditch the iPod and headphones. That said, they are a nice touch to the figure.
The other Gangsta is also wearing a hoodie top, but he has pulled his hood up. His pistol is fitted with a silencer, so he'd be well worth mugging for that! He is pointing his pistol downwards, which may seem odd, but I think he is waving it up and down as if gesturing to someone to drop their weapon. In his left hand he holds a mobile phone. These are a well sculpted pair and would make a worthy addition to any African/American gang.
Some figures in these sets are probably more useful than others, depending upon your needs and preferences.These two sets of four figures cost just $7.50 each from the AC webstore, making them good value at less than $2.00 per figure.
A word of warning for next time, when I review the female Crazies and Cultists set. It contains what is possibly the scariest figure I have ever seen! Be afraid! Be very afraid!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Acheson Creations Zombies

For my first figure review of 2013 I want to showcase a bunch of 28mm scale zombies that I ordered from Acheson Creations (AC), an American based company. These arrived late last year and I finished painting them just in time for Christmas. AC currently make two sets of four zombie figures and they can be found under the All Things Zombie section of their webstore. The sets are labelled Undead 1 and 2. Annoyingly, set 2 is not illustrated on the webstore, so I was buying blind when I ordered my sets. Anyway, if you are wondering what they look like you can always refer to this post on my blog.
Set 1 comprises the four figures shown in the photo above. At the far left is a female zombie crawler. She has been cut in half at the waist and is totally naked. Nudity is a common theme with this set of zombies, which may put off some prudish gamers but not me. Remember that George A. Romero showed a naked female zombie in his classic Night of the Living Dead film way back in 1968. Apart from her obvious wound, she has a deep cut to the left side of her back and a couple of minor wounds to her right arm and shoulder. I like her a lot.
Next up is a Hazmat trooper with a massive wound in his chest that has punched all the way through so that you can see daylight on the other side. God knows what hit him to cause such a devastating wound - possibly a .50 calibre bullet. He has also been bitten in the lower right arm. He has lowered the hood of  his suit and his gas mask is hanging around his neck. He is just an average sculpt in my opinion.
The third zombie in line is a nude male. His fat belly has been ripped or sliced open and his intestines are spilling out of the opening. Note how they are wrapped around his left leg. Whilst I love the concept of this figure I am not happy at the way he has been sculpted. His legs are far too short for his body. He just looks... odd. Sensitive souls should note that his spilled guts hide his genitalia so the fact that he is nude shouldn't be a problem.
Last in line is a huge bloated zombie, who is clearly overscale. He stands about 40mm tall. He reminds me very much of Studio Miniatures' Fat Man zombie, who is of a similar size. I have to admit that he was a lot of fun to paint. A slice of his head has been cut off, revealing a part of his brain in his skull. Obviously the cut did not do enough damage to his brain to kill him. Note the subtle patches of purple bruising on his body to show where blood has pooled before his transformation into a zombie. There is also a slight greenish tinge to his flesh. I sculpted an empty crisp packet on his base. American followers may recognise it as a Frito Lays classic chips packet. Man, I LOVE those crisps/chips! It is probably a good thing that they aren't available in the UK, as I'd pig out on them without a doubt.
Set 2 starts off with what appears to be a duplicate of the Hazmat zombie from set 1. But look again and you can see that he is different. His head is turned to face the right and isn't looking straight ahead. He is not wearing a glove on his right hand. Finally, the design of his gas mask is different to his colleagues. His wounds are identical to the other Hazmat trooper. Again, he is an average sculpt.
A doctor is such an obvious choice for a zombie, seeing as the medical profession will be in the front line when the zombie apocalypse kicks off. I couldn't see any obvious wounds on this figure but even so, I have dabbed his shirt and coat with blood stains. Note the stethoscope wrapped around his neck. I'd rate him as the best figure out of this set.
Next up is a zombie dressed only in his pyjama trousers. He has a single wound to the right side of his torso. He is slightly overweight. I like this figure.
Finally, is a male zombie in a two-piece suit and tie. His head rests on his left shoulder and his right arm is covered in multiple bite wounds and hangs uselessly by his side. I do think that he has been poorly sculpted. He is definitely the weakest link out of this set.
My overall opinion of these sets is that they are good but not great. You can certainly find much better sculpted zombies on the market. But if you are a completist like me then they are worth purchasing. The cost for these sets are $7.50 and I must say that I was very impressed at how quickly AC sent them to me. Good service!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater

The Last Bastion of the Living by Rhiannon Frater is one part zombie apocalypse horror, one part love story and one part science fiction. As you may know by now, I am a big fan of the novels of Rhiannon Frater. Her zombie trilogy, As the World Dies was outstanding and I am eagerly awaiting part three of her vampire trilogy Pretty When She (Dies, Kills and Destroys). The Last Bastion of the Living is a stand alone novel and because it is part science fiction is very different from any other zombie apocalypse novel that I have read.
The blurb on the back cover sets the scene very well. "A walled city surrounded by lush land, protected by high mountain summits and fortified by a massive gate to secure the only pass into the valley, The Bastion remained humanity's last hope against the fearsome undead creatures known as the Inferi Scourge. On one fateful day, the valley gate failed and the Inferi Scourge overran and destroyed the human settlements outside the walls, trapping the remaining survivors inside the city. Now, decades later, the remaining humans are struggling to survive in a dying city of dwindling resources... and dwindling hope."
"Vanguard Maria Martinez has lived her entire life within the towering walls of steel. She yearns for a life away from the overcrowded streets, rolling blackouts, and food shortages, but there is no hope for anyone as long as the Inferi Scourge howl outside the high walls. Her only refuge from the daily grind is in the arms of Dwayne Reichardt, an officer in the Bastion Constabulary. Both are highly-decorated veterans of the last disastrous push against the Inferi Scourge. Their secret affair is their only happiness."
"Then one day, Maria is summoned to meet with a mysterious representative from the Science Warfare Division and is offered the opportunity to finally destroy the inferi Scourge in the valley and close the gate, reclaiming the lost lands and energising the populace with renewed hope for the future. The rewards for success are great, but she will have to sacrifice everything, possibly even her life, to accomplish the ultimate goal of securing the future of humanity and saving it from extinction."
The front cover of the novel shows Maria in a high-tech skintight costume holding a special zombie killing blade. She looks a lot like Selene (Kate Beckinsale) from the Underworld films, so you just know she's going to be a hard as nails, kick-ass killer... and she is!
I won't say anything else about the plot but the origin of the Inferi Scourge and why Maria is so successful at fighting them is very interesting. I absolutely adored this book, simply because it was so refreshingly different. Yes, the idea of a small band of survivors trying to survive against a relentless horde of zombies has been done to death many times. But full marks to Rhiannon for giving this tale such a different twist. The three elements of the story - romance, science fiction and zombie horror combine remarkably well and kept my interest high from start to finish. If you are looking for something different in your zombie horror fiction then I urge you to give this novel a try. I liked it so much that I'll give it a 9 out of 10 rating.