Wednesday 29 October 2014

Vampifan's Views 57 - Monthly Musings 35

Vampirella by Michael Kaluta
October has been yet another busy month for me. Without doubt, the best news of the month was I had my second operation to remove the cataracts from my right eye. As before, it was a complete success and I now have damn near perfect vision in both eyes. One minor hiccup is that my close in vision is just a bit blurry. For everyday life this is of no concern. Where it does affect me the most is when it comes to painting figures. When I paint my figures I like to hold them up close to my eyes. Anyway, I was told by the surgeon that this might happen. I may have to get a pair of reading glasses. In the meantime, I have bought myself a pair of magnifying glasses, which I wear just like normal glasses. They have 4x magnification and are superb for focusing in on close up things like a miniature figure in my hand. For anything else they are worse than useless. They only cost me £4 from Amazon and at that price I really can't complain.

Speaking of painting figures, I have a mixed bag of figures currently on my painting table. They consist of 6 Recreational Conflict Hazmat Troopers, 3 Crooked Dice Doctor Who female companions, 3 Shadowforge assorted females (a US Army medic, a vampire and a sci-fi cop), a Black Scorpion female US Army medic and Ken the Zombie.
Let me tell you about Ken the Zombie. He is, apparently, a limited edition figure made by Partizan. I learnt that one was up for grabs on e-Bay. I made a bid of £3.80 for him, never expecting to win. This was a day before bidding closed and I felt certain I'd get outbid at the last minute. That has happened before far too many times. Indeed, I have never ever won a bid on e-Bay. I have bought things on e-Bay before but only if the buyer has the "Buy Now" option. Imagine my complete and utter surprise when I was informed that my bid was successful. I couldn't believe it! I am very happy to have him in my collection and soon he will join the ranks of my painted horde.

Coming soon - six new original films
On the card modelling front I have just finished making a Stoelzel's Structures Barn. Expect a review of it very soon. I am tempted to make the Farmhouse next, to go with my Barn, but Carl has just released a new set which has me very interested. Actually, to be honest, ALL of his sets have me interested. But this one is unique as I don't know of anyone else who has produced a card model of a cinema complex. The Colossus Cineplex is a two screen cinema with a large car park surrounding it. Carl ran a competition on his new forum to come up with the names of fictitious film titles. I suggested quite a few and he chose four of my titles, which appear as film posters for the model. I've included a picture of the six winning entries, which Carl has expertly illustrated. My suggestions that were chosen were Nun But The Brave (a thriller about a vigilante nun), The Scarlet Chronicles (a Vampirella film. In the Vampirella comics, the Crimson Chronicles are often mentioned but seeing as that name is copyrighted, I changed it to the Scarlet Chronicles), and Brummies vs Zombies and Geordies vs Zombies (both sequels to the film, Cockneys vs. Zombies). The other two film titles were suggested by my friend and fellow blogger, Colin Nash. It was a fun contest and the thrill of seeing four of my titles appearing in the set was reward enough for me. You can check out and buy this model from here -

Finally, I want to pimp a new blog-site run by my good friend, Stephen Gilbert, called Zombie Goths and Anime Candy. You can find it here- I persuaded Steve that it would be a good thing to buy the Zombicide board-game and he persuaded me to buy the Super Dungeon Explore board-game. We are both equally enthusiastic about these games. My interest in fantasy gaming has lain dormant for many years now - gone but not forgotten. I'm very excited about getting back into fantasy gaming after such a long absence.

Sunday 26 October 2014

Zombicide Zombies - Season 1 Male Walkers 03

And so I come to the last four figures of my Zombicide season 1 male Walker zombies. All four have been converted to give me more variety amongst the poses. These are dressed much more casually than the shirt and tie guys I reviewed last time.
Starting at the far left is a very simple conversion. I just gave this Walker longer hair with a bit of Milliput modelling putty. You can see much better from the rear just how long his hair is.
For the next figure in line I converted his vest into a T-shirt with a bit of Milliput and repositioned his left arm so that it hung by his side.
The third Walker in line also had his left arm repositioned. But even more noticeable are the intestines spilling out of his stomach. These were added on with thin "sausages" of Milliput that were twisted into shape. It looks like he is trying to stop his guts from spilling out but he's fighting a losing battle. It does beg the question of why he's doing it? After all, zombies do not feel pain and he doesn't really need his intestines. Perhaps he is reacting out of pure instinct as some long forgotten memory triggers in his brain.
For the Walker at the far right I repositioned his head slightly so that it is facing forward instead of to the left. I also drilled a hole all the way through his stomach to show the entry and exit wounds of a gunshot. Finally, I gave him the skin tones of an African/American to further emphasise his difference.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Zombicide Zombies - Season 1 Male Walkers 02

In my last two posts I reviewed the Zombicide season 1 female Walker zombies I had recently converted. Now it is time to show the first of my converted male Walkers. Remember that in Zombicide, a Walker is your basic slow-moving, easy-to-kill, generic zombie. Individually, they are weak but when in a group they become more powerful as the group grows in numbers.
There are only three figures in this group because I converted another Walker into my zombified Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame. The zombie at the far left of this group has had the bottom of his shirt added to with |Milliput so that the whole of his shirt lies outside of his trousers all around. It's a simple conversion that could easily be overlooked. Note how the other two have been sculpted with their shirts half in and half out of their trousers. It's more noticeable in the back views of them.
As I was thinking up ideas of how to convert these figures I had a sudden flash of inspiration - why not sculpt some with their guts hanging out of their stomachs? I make no apologies about being a gore hound and this conversion had real appeal to me. I smeared a very small blob of Milliput over the guy's stomach and groin to give the intestines something to adhere to. The intestines were just thin rolls of Milliput twisted into shape and placed over his stomach. Two or three "sausages" were enough to give the impression of his intestines spilling out. I painted his intestines with a mix of Tamiya Clear Red and Foundry White. The white helps give it that pale colour and the TCR makes it glisten wetly.
The Walker at the far right has had his arms repositioned so that they thrust forward more. This was done by briefly holding the figure over the flame of a candle then immediately dunking it into a mug of cold water once I'd repositioned the arms.
There is an interesting story to tell about the Walker zombie at the far left of these photos directly above and below. I decided to reposition his left arm so that he was clutching his stomach with his left hand. All went well with the flame and cold water technique... or so I thought! A closer inspection showed that the flame had melted a hole in his lower back. I looked at it and thought, cool! I can make that into a big wound. Serendipity in action! That gaping hole looks quite disgusting (in a good way) and makes for a unique wound. Note that I also added Milliput to his head to give him more hair.
I was much more careful when I repositioned the left arm of the second Walker in line. His arm is reaching out as if to grab someone.
Having done one zombie with his guts hanging out I had to do more. The walker in the tan-coloured suit had his intestines sculpted and painted in exactly the same manner as before.
The Walker at the far right had his left arm cut off near the shoulder. I added Milliput around the stump to make it a ragged cut and to show a bit of bone. In addition, I added Milliput to his head to cover up his bald patch. Finally, I painted his skin as an African/American by adding a Citadel Agrax Earthshade ink wash to my normal zombie flesh tones.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Zombicide Zombies - Season 1 Female Walkers 03

Here are my second batch of converted female Zombie walkers from season 1 of the Zombicide board-game. As with my previous four that I reviewed last time, I have a named zombie character here, although this one is far more famous than Alex Polizzi.
The Walker at the far left of my photos has had her arms repositioned in the same way as I straightened Alex Polizzi's arms last time - by holding her over a candle flame, repositioning the arms, then immediately dunking the figure in cold water to freeze the limbs in place. It is one of the simplest conversions you can do. Some folk soften the plastic by dipping the figure in hot water. Either way, do take care.
The second figure in line has had her hair slightly lengthened with Milliput. I also filled in the hole at the back of her dress, thus covering up her bare bum and panties. It was not done for any sense of decency on my part but simply because it is so unlikely for so many woman to suffer exactly the same wardrobe malfunction.
Moving on, the walker in the grey outfit has had the most work done to her. I made her hair much longer and I covered up the big hole in the back of her skirt. In addition, I repositioned her arms so that they were spread out more.
The female Walker at the far right is my named zombie and she is, of course, Tina Turner. Okay, I admit, not an obvious choice for a zombie and I certainly did not set out with the intention of making a zombified Tina. However, I did decide to totally alter her hairstyle and as soon as I came up with this hairstyle I had a mental image of Tina Turner flash into my brain. A quick Google search of images of Tina confirmed my initial thought. This is Tina from the 1980's. Okay, so more than likely it is just a Tina Turner lookalike and not the real deal but what the heck? To me she is Tina Turner - Zombie Walker.
This is Tina as I modeled her, not as she looks now, but as she looked back in 1984, when she released her fifth album, Private Dancer. It was all down to the hair! Incidentally, I am not a big fan of Tina's music. I don't dislike her either, but instead I feel rather ambivalent about her. Having said that, I did enjoy her acting performance in Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome.

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Zombicide Zombies - Season 1 Female Walkers 02

So far, in recent posts, I have reviewed my converted Fatties and Runners from the original Zombicide boxed set. That just leaves the Walker zombies to show. I'll start by showing you four of my female Walkers, which, very unusually for me, includes a named zombie.
I shall start with that named zombie. At the far left of my two photos is a zombified version of Alex Polizzi. Some of you (especially my foreign followers) must be wondering "who the hell is Alex Polizzi?" She is a business guru known as the Fixer and she helps revive ailing businesses in a series of documentary programmes shown on BBC2 called, appropriately enough Alex Polizzi: the Fixer. As I was about to paint these four figures a trailer for Alex's show kept airing on TV and I was struck at how closely she resembled one of these Zombicide females. I did not watch the shows but my interest in her was piqued. My conversion of the figure was very simple. I repositioned her arms by briefly holding the figure over the flame of a lit candle. Once the arms were repositioned I immediately dunked the figure into a glass of cold water, which froze the limbs in place. This is a simple conversion technique that works very well with plastic figures.
For the next three figures I decided to make them look different by use of Milliput modelling putty. You can instantly see what I've done with the blonde-haired woman. Her hair has been considerably lengthened and restyled. Her black roots show she is not a natural blonde.
It seemed odd to me that eight women would have their skirts torn in exactly the same way so I went with a couple of conversions that should satisfy the more prudish followers of my blog. I restored the skirts of both women to their former glory. They are intact and the only thing marring their skirts now are the splashes of blood. Their skirts are not quite identical. The woman at the far right has a slightly shorter skirt than her friend.
Here is a photo of Alex Polizzi showing her in the trailer that caught my eye. It is strange how inspiration can hit you. Until I saw her on that trailer I would never have thought of making a zombified version of her.
Look out for more female Walkers next time, including another named character, whom I'm sure you'll all know.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Zombicide Zombies - Season 1 Runners 02

Today I want to show you my eight Zombicide season 1 Runner zombies that I have converted. These are, for the most part, simple conversions.
The first two zombies in line (going from left to right) have had leg and body swaps with the shorts-wearing zombies shown below in the last two photos. All four of these Runners have the same upper bodies. Doing a leg swap seemed an obvious thing to do. Fortunately, Zombicide figures are made of a hard plastic, so it is very easy to cut them with a craft knife. I cut the figures at the waist. In order to get a good join between upper body and legs I used a pin drill to drill a very small hole in the centre of the flat surfaces of both parts. I pinned the two halves of the body in place with a small length of wire (actually cut from a paper clip) and I used superglue to glue the two halves together. I added a small amount of Milliput to cover up the slight gaps between the two parts. The upper body parts were posed slightly differently. The one at the far left is facing front, whilst the second one is twisted a bit further to his right. To help further differentiate between the two, I painted one as an African/American and the other as a Caucasian.
The third zombie in line has had his right arm cut off. I added a bit of Milliput to the stump to show the bone sticking through. I also added a small amount of Milliput to his head to cover his baldness. Underneath the right foot of each figure is a small tab which helps raise that leg from the ground. These tabs have been hidden by my basing materials (sand and cat litter). However, for the fourth Runner in line, I cut away this tab and glued his foot directly to the base. This had the effect of making him lean forward slightly more than the others. It is not a very noticeable conversion from my photos. So in order to show that he was a conversion I gave him long hair with a small blob of Milliput sculpted into shape on his head.
On this second batch of zombie Runners I simply replicated the conversions I did for the first four. So, to start off with, we have two more figures who have had body and leg swaps. The technique was exactly as before. Once again, the bodies have been posed slightly differently upon the legs.
The third Runner in line from the left has had his right arm cut off. My Fatty zombie chef (shown last time) ended up with his arm. Once again, I added a bit of Milliput to the arm stump to show this was not a clean cut and to show the bone. The fourth Runner in line also had the tab raising his right foot cut away and I glued his foot to the base with superglue. From my photos, especially the one above, you can see his pose is much lower to the ground than the other three. He looked to be a lot faster than the other Runners so I painted him with dark skin like a zombified Usain Bolt.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Zombicide Zombies - Season 1 Fatties 02

I am pleased to announce that I have finished painting the last of my Zombicide season 1 zombies and I plan on reviewing them over the course of the next couple of weeks. These figures all come from the second tray of zombies you get with the game, with each tray containing 32 zombies in 8 different poses. Every zombie in this tray has been converted in some way. I'll begin by reviewing the Zombie Fatties. If you're wondering why there are only three of them and not four, remember that I converted one into a zombified Oliver Hardy earlier this year.
Looking at this figure I was struck by how closely he resembled a construction worker. So I added a hard hat that I sculpted with Milliput modelling putty. That's all it took to transform him - simple but effective. So how do you make a hard hat out of modelling putty? I added a blob of Milliput to his head and with my fingers made it roughly semi-circular in shape. I then rolled out two thin sausages of Milliput of equal length and placed them on top of the hat. I smoothed them down with my finger and they form the two ridges that run from front to back of the hat. Finally, I rolled out a long thin sausage which I used for the brim of the hat. Easy? Well, I thought so.
For my second Fatty I decided to convert him into a hairy biker, so I added a long beard and moustache out of Milliput. I also added more hair to the back of his head but deliberately made him bald on top as I wanted him to be an older biker. The beard effectively hides his oxygen mask.
The Fatty chef is a much more complex conversion but is my second favourite conversion after my Laurel and Hardy conversions. The inspiration for this conversion came from an illustration that appeared on one of the downloadable Zombicide scenarios from their website (Mission A3 - Wanda's Revenge) that I have copied below. As soon as I saw the picture I knew I had to make him. So I cut off his oxygen mask and I sculpted his apron and chef's hat with Milliput. When I converted a couple of my zombie Runners I cut a few limbs off them. I thought it would be a great idea to have the chef holding a severed arm, so I glued one of the zombie Runner's arms to the chef's right hand. I remodeled his fingers so that he gripped the arm more realistically. I admit to going over the top with the gore effects on this guy but hardly any of the blood is his own. It nearly all comes from his victims. Besides which, just look at the illustration - he's covered in blood.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Zombicide Season 2 Survivors and Zombivors 08

And so I present the last six season 2 Zombicide pairs of survivors and zombivors. These are all original characters designed by three artists - Karl Kopinski, Adrian Smith and Kevin Walker. I had not heard of Adrian Smith before but I certainly knew of the other two. Karl used to work as an illustrator for Games Workshop and Kevin did some amazing artwork for 2000AD comic. All three were born in England.
I'll start with the two characters created by Karl Kopinski. At the left of the two photos directly above and below is "Angry Mary" Lucchesi. Mary used to lead a peaceful life in retail, with a husband (cop), two kids and a house with a white picket fence. Then the zombies came and took it all. Returning home to an almost empty house one day, she narrowly escaped becoming zombie chow by dispatching the untidy interlopers of her lovely home. Something snapped and the wild energy of her misspent youth came roaring back. Mary emptied her husband's gun safe and turned into an urban warrior. She does seem to have a special grudge against zombies though and never passes up a chance to kill them. Survivor Mary is armed with a 9mm Pistol, 9mm Sub-Machine Gun and a Knife, whilst zombivor Mary is just armed with a 9mm Pistol. Angry Mary begins the game with the Reaper: Ranged skill, which is used when assigning hits that resolve a Ranged Combat action. One of these hits can freely kill an additional identical zombie in the same Zone. Only a single additional zombie can be killed per Action with this skill.
Next up is "Red Cap Ben" Koplinski. Yes, I gave him the same surname as the artist who created him. As a young boy, Ben was strongly influenced by the Cold War and the fashion for survival that abounded from the 60's to the 80's. he went from job to job, knowing the inevitable would happen and preparing for it. He didn't really expect zombies to show up, though, and still suspects it might be a government conspiracy. Nowadays, Ben is best known as "the Red Cap" - a hardcore survivalist with numerous successes on what seemed impossible missions. As grumpy as he acts, Ben likes the nickname. Both survivor and zombivor Ben are armed with a Pump-Action Shotgun, an Axe and a Knife. "Red Cap Ben" starts the game with the Blitz skill, which allows him to get a +1 free Move Action to use immediately whenever he kills the last zombie in a Zone.
Next up are the two characters created by Adrian Smith. Bobby "Bones" Smith was the lead guitarist of a heavy metal band famous the world over... but lately things have been getting a little stale. World tours, sell out stadiums, groupies, even the drugs and booze just weren't that fun anymore. In his darkest and most sober moments, "Bones" knew he hadn't really done anything creative for the best part of a decade - just rehearsing the same old thing over and over... The zombie apocalypse changed all of that of course, and ironically, "Bones" is now incredibly inspired to create songs about death, blood and liberation! Unfortunately, electricity is hard to come by so he's perfecting his strictly acoustic metal for now. Survivor "Bones is armed with an AK47 Assault Rifle and a hand axe. Zombivor "Bones" is only armed with a 9mm Pistol. I have a story  to tell about Zombivor "Bones." I never realised until two months ago that I'd been sent two survivor figures of "Bones" and no zombivor version. Bummer! What to do? I decided to convert one of the survivors into a zombivor. I carefully cut off his guitar and hand axe. I cut down his AK47 to turn it into a pistol. I re-sculpted his left hand with it holding the battered remains of his guitar. I added modelling putty to the back of his hair, coat and trousers to hide where the guitar had been. Finally, I drilled a large hole in his stomach. Once painted, I figured who would know? (Well, all of you now that I've told you!) "Bones" starts the game with the Tactician skill, which allows him to take his turn at any time during the player's phase.
Padre Ezekiel Johnson led his small flock during the first days of the apocalypse, until they were finally, inevitably overrun. The Padre was the only survivor, miraculously emerging from the ruins of his church. Now he spreads the good Word amongst other survivors, albeit slightly unhinged from his narrow escape from death. Still, he's handy with a shotgun and a quick prayer, and is always a welcome sight. The survivor version of Padre Johnson is armed with a Pump-Action Shotgun and a Flail, whilst the zombivor version is armed with a pump-Action Shotgun and a large Mallet. He starts the game with an extremely useful skill - Super Strength. This raises the damage caused by any Melee Weapon he uses to 3. Awesome! Bring on that Abomination!
Last but by no means least are the two characters that Kevin Walker created. After graduation, Mitch Walker held down a dead end job for a while before embracing the biker life. For him, it wasn't really about the one percenter life, but more about getting some freedom of choice, a little room to breathe in a constricted world. Better to die young with stories to tell than as a senile fool in a gloomy hospital, right? Living on the edge taught Mitch a useful trick or two that let him survive when the zombies invaded. Absolute freedom is now at hand, and despite all the slaughter, life is good! Both survivor and zombivor Mitch are armed with a baseball bat and a Pump-Action Shotgun. Mitch starts the game with the +1 Free Move Action, which gives him an extra Move Action per turn.
Finally, and rather creepily, is Uncle Honk. Little is known about Uncle Honk, as he likes to call himself. Most people think that he used to work in a circus. Some mutter that, more likely, he was a patient in a psychiatric hospital. What everyone knows for sure, however, is that Uncle Honk is a brute with a taste for the circus world and zombicide. If he likes you, you can rely on him and all his formidable might. He'll expect the same in return, of course. Uncle Honk likes to taunt zombies every once in a while, to get in a "funny" during a fight. With his blood-chilling laugh, Uncle Honk is both your best friend and worst nightmare. Both survivor and zombivor versions of Uncle Honk are armed with a Machete and a horn. He starts the game with the Taunt skill, which counts as free action, allowing him to select any Zone he can see. All zombies in that Zone gain an extra activation as they try to reach him. They ignore all other Survivors, making this a useful skill if used correctly.
You have to admit that this is a very eclectic mix of characters and I'm curious to know how they'd work together as a team. I do like Angry Mary, simply because she looks hard ass and can handle herself in a fight. I particularly like Padre Johnson, purely for his most outstanding skill - Super Strength. Imagine him armed with nothing more than a frying pan, which he then uses to kill a Zombie Abomination. Totally ludicrous in reality but quite feasible in the game. I would laugh myself silly if that happened! Fans of my blog will know that I have an unhealthy interest in circus clowns. Who can possible forget the demon from Hell that was Sunny the Clown? Having a clown like Uncle Honk as one of the good guys does not sit well with me. I just couldn't trust him... even if I was playing him! Everyone knows that clowns are evil... right?

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Project Zeke Survivors and Zombies

Up for review today are three of the latest 28mm scale figures from Project Zeke Miniatures. We have Zeke the Smart Zombie, Bridges the ex-Texas Ranger and Eddie the veteran biker.
First in line is Zeke the Smart Zombie. When Zeke first heard the adage “Marines don’t die, they just go to Hell and regroup”, I don’t think he realised it would be quite so accurate. Zeke comes complete with broken leg, torn cheek and dangling eyeball but none of these things were enough to pry this Marine away from his rifle. That one’s his... and he knows how to use it! It's just as well Smart Zombies are so rare. By the way, his rifle is a 5.56mm Colt M4A1 Assault Rifle.
Next up is Hoyt Bridges. Former Texas Ranger, Bridges, is the cool head that everyone needs around during the apocalypse. Wise and capable, Bridges and his Semi-Automatic Rifle get it done. Bridges’ rifle (supplied) is a separate piece so can be easily swapped for another weapon in your collection. I have no idea what type of rifle he's holding. The closest likeness I could find doing a Google search was a .30 Springfield M1 Garand Semi-Automatic Rifle. By the way, in case you're wondering about his right hand, it is drawing something out of the pouch, most likely a spare ammo clip.
Finally, is Eddie Ross. This Vietnam veteran could never settle down for a quiet life. Bikes, beer and broads kept this unfortunate son going until the apocalypse gave him a reason to pick up his 7.62mm  M60 Machine Gun once more. Note that this figure of Eddie replaces the original Young Eddie. He's now older, wiser and much better armed.
These are all perfectly acceptable figures. I'm glad to see that Simon (Hunter) has started adding zombies to his range and as the company mascot, Zeke, was an  obvious character to make first. Be  warned though, he is overscale when compared to most other 28mm scale figures. Scale creep never bothers me but I know that some of you aren't keen on this sort of thing, hence my warning. I did think about replacing Bridges' rifle with one from my spare parts box but then I realised I have hardly any figures using a Semi-Automatic Rifle, so the weapon HAD to stay. My only criticism of Eddie is that M60 looks to be underscale, but that's just a minor criticism.
All three figures cost just £2.00 each and come with integral metal bases, which makes a nice change from slottatabs. I glued them onto 25mm plastic discs.