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It’s been a while since I wrote, you know, actual words here – nearly six months, which is my longest gap ever – so I thought I’d make a cursory effort and record the weekend.

It started on Friday, with a day off work and a trip on a whim to Kirriemuir where my Dad grew up and where we visited my grandparents for many years. As with anywhere you haven’t visited in a while, there were changes. The Star Rock shop (established 1833) was still there, but across the road was a railway modelling shop that I hadn’t visited before, and I came out with my wallet figuratively lighter.

The square now features a statue of Peter Pan – apparently it’s a replacement for the one that used to stand in the Glengate, but which got damaged – and the Town House which I remember housing Kidd’s the chemist is now the Gateway to the Glens museum.

The Square in KirriemuirWP_20160916_14_53_03_Rich

Inside the museum, there’s a model of Kirriemuir in the 1600s, which I enjoyed seeing, and the silver casket and illuminated scroll given to J.M. Barrie when was granted the freedom of the town. I hadn’t realised he was buried in Kirriemuir as well as being born there – I’d always just assumed he’d been laid to rest elsewhere.

Kirrie’s other, more recent, famous son has also been honoured with a statue since last time I visited. I had seen the flagstone to his memory in Cumberland Close, but now he stands in effigy opposite the Gairie Mill.

WP_20160916_15_03_27_Rich 


Friday evening was spent pleasurably in the company of [livejournal.com profile] qidane, [livejournal.com profile] tobyaw and Beth.

Perhaps not as rock and roll as Bon Scott, but just as cool in her own way, on Saturday I was on my way home from spending the afternoon with friends in the Whey Pat when I spotted on Twitter that Sydney Padua was in town for a conference of mathematical biographers, and had gone to the Whey Pat shortly after we left. I hopped off the bus again and was able to shake her hand and tell her how much I liked her book (Buy it!). A very pleasant surprise.


ggreig: (Dark Wizard)

I’ve just spent a week and a half off work on holiday (back to work tomorrow). I didn’t get as much figure-painting or modelling done as I’d usually like to over such a period. My house is a bit tidier though!

I did complete one model that I was looking forward to assembling – an imaginative street-vending tea machine, by Infamy Miniatures. Unfortunately, I can’t direct you to a product page, as their store is temporarily closed while they move to a new location.

As Infamy make 32mm figures, it’s a little bit oversize for 28mm, but frankly, not so much you’d really care. It’s a very crisp and detailed moulding, in a number of parts, all of which fit together nicely. As all of Infamy’s Models seem to be, it’s a bit on the pricy side, but… STEAMPUNK TEA MACHINE!

The first face of the tea machine

I still need to stick some posters in that advertising space.

The second face of the tea machine

Sadly this is a bit out of focus but, moving clockwise around the tea machine, it gives you a look at how it’s powered, and you see some counter-top detail that’s only visible from this angle.

The third face of the tea machine

Moving round clockwise again, a look at the boilers and some of the internal workings (because it’s not steampunk without sticking some gears on it).

The fourth face of the tea machine

There’s a stack each of cups and saucers at this end; the pictures I took to give a good look at them were too poor to use, but you can catch a glimpse of them here and in the previous picture.

The pigeon perching on the chimney is an integral part of the model, and I enjoyed painting it. Animals are fun to paint, and there’s a huge amount of excellent reference material only a Google away.

The chap in a pith helmet enjoying his cup of tea, and the other models appearing in these shots, are ones that I’ve had for a long time and not related to the tea machine.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

On Friday we were encouraged to come to work appropriately dressed for a Cowboy vs. Aliens Nerf battle.

Me as a cowboy with a belt-fed Nerf machine gun

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

It suddenly occurred to me that a Cavorite Sphere – as developed by Mr. Cavor in H.G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon – is something that I did not have, and I searched for such a thing.

I discovered that there are two on the market suitable for 28mm. One is relatively easy to find mention of, but is sold in the US and doesn’t seem particularly easy to order even there.

The other I discovered via eBay, and it’s made in the UK by Richard Helliwell’s company Infinity-Engine. This is the one I bought.

I first heard of it under a fortnight ago, ordered it less than a week ago and completed it today – this may be a record! And at this point I wish I’d included a 28mm figure for reference in the picture, as I had to ask the seller for the size and I’ve made it no better for anyone finding this – but you’ll just have to take Richard’s word and mine that it’s the right size. The sphere is about 9cm across, from bumper to bumper, or about 3½” in old money.

The Cavorite Sphere on the Moon - hatch open

It’s a 38-piece resin kit, of which 32 are railway bumpers and one is the Moon’s surface (or a small part thereof). Visually, it’s based on the 1964 movie, which I re-watched parts of in preparation for painting this kit. (If you’re interested in this story, the 2010 Mark Gatiss TV Movie is also worth watching).

Having re-watched some key parts of the movie, the easiest thing to pick up visually was that the Cavorite itself was a yellowish substance painted on to white blinds. The yellow turned put to be metallic and reflective when the sphere was flying through space lit by the sun, so I could have gone for a very brassy look and it would probably have looked great. But the thing about Cavorite is that it counteracts gravity when it’s a) cool and b) exposed. If the blinds were deployed, and we had the brassy look, the sphere would probably not be – wherever it’s meant to be. It would be flying off into space. I thought about having one blind partially exposed, and maybe weathered so that the Cavorite covering is only partial, but ultimately I decided to keep it simple. No exposed Cavorite.

With my dodgy colour vision, I was less sure about the colours used for the rest of the sphere. However, the impression I wound up with was the ribs were a dark metallic colour, the panels surrounding the portholes were wooden, and the other panels of the sphere, where the blinds would be deployed were also dark in colour. I couldn’t decide whether it was a dark metallic colour or something else, but then I caught a hint that it was a dark red.

Now, this could be entirely my imagination, and if you watch the film you may see something else. As I’ve mentioned, my colour vision is dodgy, so if you see something else you’re probably right. But having seen it, real or not, I was caught up by the idea and decided that the majority of the panels were to be painted Burgundy. It’s not so far-fetched after all – burgundy was a popular colour of the period and not a million miles from the “Purple Lake” colour used for some railway carriages, so it fit in reasonably well with the railway theme of the bumpers.

The only “clever” bit of painting, as opposed to using flat colours, was for the wood panels, where I used a base coat of ochre and a wash of burnt umber to achieve a slightly textured varnished wood colour. I dry-brushed a little silver on the hard edges of the bumpers to give them a bit of wear.

You can attach the hatch open or closed. I chose not attach it at all, so I continue to have the choice. I also chose not to glue the top and bottom halves together, so that I have the option at some future date of scratch-building the interior. As you can see if you click through for the larger version of the picture, the interior is a bit ribbed – you can also see a bit of waviness on the exterior panels, although it’s not so marked. I think the body of the model was originally mastered in a 3D printer, with some details being modelled more traditionally before the whole was cast in resin; which is of course a faster way of producing multiple copies than 3D printing is, at least for now. It’s quite cool to see new technology being used in this way, and although there are detectable artefacts, I don’t think they harm this model, adding to the “hand-built” charm of the fictional sphere.

The Cavorite Sphere with the hatch closedTwo halves of the Cavorite Sphere

Finally just a brief mention for the base. Not used to getting a base in these sorts of models, it was quite nice to do so. Here it is in a photo of its own, where it doesn’t look quite so washed out in the harsh rays of the sun:

The Moon's surface

I decided that the powdery surface was pale, but under the surface – or harder bits that hadn’t weathered away – would be darker, and a combination of washes and dry-brushing in different shades of grey got me there, more or less. These highlighted most of the structure I wanted, but I did try to paint faint impact rays around the centre of the largest crater.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

God help us! The Iguanodon's loose!

A tranquil street scene – just before the populace become aware that an Iguanodon has escaped from the Zoological Gardens.

There’s a Highland company called Antediluvian Miniatures that have started producing proper miniatures of dinosaurs, taking into account the very latest scientific thinking – of the 1850s. As yet their range is small, but includes the two most iconic early representations of dinosaurs: the Crystal Palace Iguanodon and Megalosaurus! (Also, not included in this post, but I have to mention them – three intrepid adventurer figures including Shug McClure, Raquel Scotch and the finest of all: Professor Peter Cushion, adjusting his monocle and preparing to fend SOMETHING off with a furled umbrella.)

I should also mention that Antediluvian Miniatures have a very cool t-shirt, featuring their mascot Professor Buckland.

The real Crystal Palace IguanodonsThere’s a good chance you’re aware of the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, if not, then Wikipedia and other places are your friend.

The Iguanodon figure isn’t a perfect replica of either of the ones at Crystal Palace, but it’s more like the one standing upright.

The Crystal Palace dinosaurs are often given as an example of how scientists of an older generation got things hilariously wrong, especially the Iguanodon with the horn on its nose (now known to have been a thumb-spike), but the Iguanodons actually show a greater humility from Sir Richard Owen than our caricature allows. The two Iguanodons are different, with the one that Antediluvian have taken as their inspiration standing upright, while the other one is more lizard-like, and lounges on the ground with one paw up on a tree-trunk. There was doubt even at the time that these reconstructions were correct – they were just the latest theory.

When painting these two I tried to get something in between the look of the statues and something that could be a real beast, so the Iguanodon is a bit more vibrant than one of my paint jobs would usually be, making the faded shade of the statue look more lively. That’s the current colour of the statue, of course, as that's what I could find in photos; the colour they’re painted has changed over time as well as our theories of what the beasts were actually like.

Iguanodon wandering the Zoological Gardens

I defy you to spot the joins – both the Iguanodon and the Megalosaurus come with separate legs. I did apply a bit of Milliput as filler, but the fit of the moulded parts was really good, to a level that I know must be difficult for figure designers to achieve, judging by the frequency with which they don’t attain it. I was really impressed with these models. The Iguanodon is resin with metal legs, while the Megalosaurus is all resin.

Iguanodon figure inspired by Crystal Palace - right sideIguanodon figure inspired by Crystal Palace - left side

Rather annoyingly, there’s a mould-line that shows up in these photos of the Megalosaurus that’s actually hard to pick up with the naked eye under most conditions. The light in these photos hit it just right – or wrong. It’s also intended to look like a potentially living version of the real statue. The Megalosaurus also comes with scale replicas of the original fossils (not included in these pictures, and not yet painted, though I have some other scale fossils for them to go with).

Megalosaurus figure inspired by Crystal Palace - right sideMegalosaurus figure inspired by Crystal Palace - left side

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

You may (or more likely won’t) remember that about 18 months ago after painting some jolly nice models I made some suggestions for new designs to Nathan Yeoman of Yeoman Models, and he expressed a definite interest in making one of them. For various reasons, I rather lost track of what Nathan was doing until recently I discovered that he’d completed what I’d asked for (in various scales, including 28mm) and it was on sale!

What I’d asked for was a particular feature of Victorian streets that I couldn’t find anyone making a model of – the cabbies’ shelter. These did exist in other towns, but so far as I’m aware the only place they can still be found is in London, where almost a quarter (13) of the original 61 survive. The Cabmen’s Shelter Fund was set up in 1875 by the Earl of Shaftesbury (among others) to construct and run these shelters, and is still looking after them today!

A cabbies' shelter in Wellington Place
More images of cabbies’ shelters

The cabbies’ shelter was built in the road, and wasn’t allowed to be bigger than a hansom cab – so to put it in modern terms, it only took up one parking space of the time. inside, cabbies could take shelter from inclement weather, and nosh on grub provided by a small, self-funding kitchen, all without leaving the cab stand (again in modern terms, the taxi rank).

The buildings themselves are quite distinctive – small, rectangular wooden sheds painted green, but sometimes with quite attractive panelling and fancy roof. I thought of designing a laser-cut model myself that I could have made by an online service, but ultimately I’m glad I didn’t soldier on and carry it through, because what I would have designed wouldn’t be as good as what I’ve got.

The 28mm cabbies’ shelter from Yeoman Models is a five part model cast in resin – four walls, and a solid roof. It doesn’t seem to be a replica of one particular shelter, but takes attractive elements from several of them. Nathan’s mouldings are very sharp, and although by the nature of resin castings a little clean-up was required, it was very minimal. I glued the four walls together with Araldite, and to make the roof removable, I built up a lip to go inside the walls by super-gluing on matchsticks and reinforcing with Milliput.

That was about it for modelling – the rest was paint. I’ve left the interior untouched for now, but I may attempt some representative additions in future like the stove from 4Ground. Here’s how it looks when done:

Cabbies' Shelter from Yeoman Models

There’s a serving hatch, if you’re not stopping (or not a cabbie – only cabbies allowed inside):

Figures 020

And here it is flipped 180°, to show the side usually facing away from the road:

Figures 017

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

I’m catching up a bit here, as I actually visited the fledgling Dundee Museum of Transport nearly a month ago. It opened last year in temporary accommodation (it’s eventually going to inhabit the Maryfield tram sheds, which are still standing at the crest of the hill just south of the junction between the Kingsway and the road to Forfar). It’s not going to pose great competition for the transport museums already around in larger cities, but for a small first effort I was quite pleased with it. It took me a couple of hours to wander round taking my time over it.

I was a bit disappointed that the 1950s seemed a bit better represented than earlier eras, but there were still cool things to see.

AnaglyphDundee Transport Museum 3D 003

A 1959 Jaguar XK150 (3D)

Steamroller, Dundee Transport Museum

An Angus council Fowler DNA steamroller (follow link for better pictures of the whole vehicle)

Horse-drawn tram 24, Dundee Transport Museum

A Dundee horse-drawn tram, being restored having spent approximately 114 years as a summer-house in Perth after being sold off in 1900.

Tram 24 in operation in Dundee

The same tram in service in Dundee, some time ago.

Inside horse-drawn Tram 24 (3D)

Inside horse-drawn Tram 24 (3D)

The interior of Tram 24 from a different angle

The interior of Tram 24 from a different angle

There’s also a double-decker Aberdeen Corporation Electric Tram which is currently even more skeletal. It’ll be interesting to visit in a few years’ time and see how the restorations have gone.

A horse-drawn ambulance

A horse-drawn ambulance, and its interior.

The interior of a horse-drawn ambulance

An Ashford Litter, Dundee Transport Museum

An Ashford Litter, in use as a foot ambulance between 1887 and 1921, when this one was last used in Perth to take a patient with appendicitis to Perth Royal Infirmary.

There’s also an Austin J40 pedal car (very posh), a Sinclair C5, and a full scale reproduction of Preston Watson’s first flying machine. You know, the Dundee guy who flew before the Wright brothers hogged all the publicity! (Sadly, alternative facts exist.)

Other vehicles I personally found less interesting, but it depends on your tastes and DMOFT is well worth a visit. I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of the special guest:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's horn

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's horn

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Interesting music video. Musically hard to characterise; to me it sounds like a blend of computer game, 70s TV theme, sound effects, electronica, and dubstep (you can see how the album it's from is categorised by genre on Wikipedia). The video's steampunk western and both music and video tell a short story - a bit gorily in the visuals, but very watchable.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Chap hop is a blend of hip-hop music with a chap æsthetic; that is, a dandyish steampunk or early twentieth century style. It’s decidedly uncool – and was even before Michael Gove expressed a fondness for it – and furthermore, a fair proportion of it is not especially good.

However, fear not, for a while I ago I ploughed my way through most of it and compiled a list to share with some friends. Here, for your delectation, I present “Chap Hop – The Good Bits”. (If you’ve only got time for one, make it Fighting Trousers, but they’re all worth checking out for different reasons.)

Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer:


Songs for Acid Edward: a history of 1990s techno, on the banjolele

Just Like A Chap: a more typical example of chap hop

Professor Elemental:


Fighting Trousers: Professor Elemental challenges the upstart Mr. B
(The unseen "Geoffrey" is, of course, the Professor's simian butler)

Sir, You Are Being Hunted: gangsta chap hop; a promo for a computer game of the same name

Sir Reginald Pikedevant, Esquire:


Just Glue Some Gears On It (And Call It Steampunk): chap-hop meets barbershop

A Belated Introduction: Sir Reginald realises he’s being mistaken for Mr. B and Professor Elemental.
Spot the cameo by Glamis castle, and count the knuckles at the end.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Great Martian war from PLAZMA on Vimeo.

Archive recreation for The Great Martian War documentary by impossible factual for History Canada.
Directed by Christian Johnson, (Plazma). and Steve Maher (impossible factual).

Music: "88" by Working for a Nuclear Free City.

http://www.history.co.uk/shows/the-great-martian-war

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Interesting story on the BBC web site, with video, about a serious attempt at a modern airship, hybridised with a flying wing. (Its airship ancestry is more obvious.) You may have seen pictures before, as it’s a project that’s been resurrected in a new form, but interesting to see it within a hop, skip and a jump of becoming a commercial reality. May contain trace quantities of Iron Maiden.

4Ground

Jan. 26th, 2014 06:10 pm
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

You may remember last year I wrote about a Western building created as a laser-cut MDF kit by Battle Flag, which I’d picked up at Claymore in 2012.

Claymore in 2013 revealed a clear winner among producers of laser-cut scenery, at least in terms of the number of people stocking it; and there’s an obvious reason why.

4Ground’s models are “pre-printed” with colour paint, so don’t need a lot in the way of additional painting (or printing wallpaper as water-slide transfers). Stick ’em together, with a dab of glue for permanence, and you’re done.

Naturally, I did do a wee bit of painting myself to improve some of the minor details – doors, windows, joints – but  the assembled models you see are pretty much the pre-printed article. Given how thirsty MDF is when you try to paint it, this saves a lot of effort. For many people these will be good enough without any work beyond assembly. The Battle Flag building has a better finish, but at the expense of a lot more work.

(Although 4Ground win easily on convenience, I have some other Battle Flag kits that I look forward to building and although I don’t have any yet I love the look of Sarissa Precision’s Gaslamp Alley and City Block ranges.)

The 4Ground buildings have interiors, but are only printed on a single side of the MDF. What this means is that all the walls are double-thickness with the exterior printed on one slice and the interior on another, which makes for great, sturdy buildings but must shove the price up a bit.

As the buildings are designed for wargaming, roofs and interior floors lift out so that you can get at what’s inside – shown in the photo galleries accompanying this article. Doors can also be opened, which is a nice touch. Laser cutting allows “hinges” to be tight-fitting enough to sort of work.

The two models shown here are a small cottage and a larger market hall. The cottage is a rustic-looking timber-framed building, while the market hall is timber-framed but with the space between the framing filled with herringbone brickwork. Cool though this is, if I’d realised there was a version of the building that didn’t have the brickwork I’d have got that instead because:

  1. I prefer the look and
  2. it would have been cheaper. Brickwork means more laser etching, and more lasering increases the cost of the kit. By a tenner, in this case.

However, by the time I discovered that, it was too late and I’m still pleased with the result.

The cottage isn’t big enough to have stairs, but there is a ladder provided for getting to the upper floor. There are leaded windows, and for wargamers, there’s damage to the walls that can be punched out to make loopholes for firing through. I chose not to knock these out, but they can be seen plainly in the interior photos as I didn’t attempt to clean them up or hide them either. As an interesting aside, you can clearly see the scorching left there by the laser; in many places the scorching is not obtrusive, but in others it can need work to conceal it. I chose to live with it here, because I thought attempting to clean it up would just draw more attention to it. In other places, where it was easier to deal with, I covered it up.

The market hall has a largely open ground floor for traders, with a flight of stairs at one end leading to the upper floor and, tucked away at the back, a small jail cell for anyone breaching the peace. The upper story has a small walkway looking out over the side of the building, with a door opening from there into the main hall. The walkway is roofed over by a small internal gallery, accessible by ladder, so there are actually three levels to this building, albeit one of them is fairly minimal.

Between them, these buildings give a nice flavour of a small English village/market town. If you were serious, you could add more, although you would quickly require repeats – this range only includes one building not shown here, a timber-framed shop/dwelling somewhere between these two in size. For me, I think this may be enough and other buildings I may acquire will be about establishing other settings.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Royal Navy 50 foot Picket Boat (from HLBS)

For Christmas, my sister gave me a Royal Navy 50 foot Picket Boat (from HLBS) in 28mm scale, and I spent time over the New Year period painting and assembling it.

Prow of the pinnaceThe boat is a steam pinnace. “Pinnace” has a couple of possible meanings but in this case means a smaller boat carried by a larger ship for use as patrol boats, for ship-to-shore operations and as a defence against torpedo boats – the pinnace would be fast enough to respond to a torpedo boat, and was armed with one or more gun (a Hotchkiss 3 pounder in this case) that would allow it to respond at range. The other gun, not present on my model, might be a Nordenfeldt or Maxim machine gun mounted on the roof of the rear cabin.

This type of pinnace was in use from 1880 right up until the Second World War, with 620 in service during the Great War, so excellent for a steampunk setting.

The kit mouldings are very crisp and clean, mainly in resin with white metal for the finer details and fine plastic rod for the hand rails. The main thing required for painting it was a steady hand (never really got the hang of masking tape), though patience came in handy too while applying several layers of white paint to get a decent solid finish. The only thing I’m a little dissatisfied with is the rear cabin, which is a bit dark in colour and I feel I could maybe have done better there. Good enough though, and I’ll leave it.

An aft view of the pinnaceI had a few minor issues with the parts. The shoulder rest on the Hotchkiss 3 pounder doesn’t have an obvious place to attach it. I checked images of similar guns on the Internet and settled on a location to fix it; I then had to break it off and try again when I discovered the gun couldn’t pivot due to the shoulder rest hitting the top of the engine house. One of the stanchions for the handrails broke (recoverably). One of the cowl vents doesn’t sit comfortably in the space left for it, and some of the instructions could have been clearer.

Finally, I wondered whether the scale was quite right everywhere, as the spaces to be occupied by anyone operating the gun or steering the vessel seemed extremely cramped.  This might be just economy of space on an efficient working vessel, but in particular the space at the wheel is very restricted. Over all the issues were all relatively minor though, and didn’t distract from a very satisfactory model.

As far as colour schemes are concerned, I aimed to make it look more Victorian than 20th Century (which would have featured more light grey). I also went for black rather than blue, so it’s a perfectly normal pinnace; blue would have identified it as an Admiral’s barge. Picket boats such as this don’t seem to have had a lot in the way of individual markings – not even a name – so that helped to keep the paint job simple. If I ever feel brave enough, I may add a bit of coal dust around the coaling holes (the black circles on the deck amidships) using weathering powder, but as a working navy vessel I’m assuming it would be kept pretty spick and span most of the time.

There’s a surviving pinnace of more or less this pattern which is believed to be the last remaining naval steam boat in the UK. Steam Pinnace 199 was built in 1911 and now belongs to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth. Steam Pinnace 199 was an Admiral's barge, so you can see the blue colour previously mentioned. There are a couple of interesting videos on YouTube:

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Typical. You wait a hundred years for a tram, then two come along at once.

Another horse-drawn Dundee tram has been (re)discovered and taken for restoration. Story on the BBC, and with video at The Courier.

It's not looking too great on the outside after spending a century as a summerhouse, but apparently it still has the original interior.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

A welcome recent addition return to the Dundee city centre since late last year is an original Dundee & District Tramways horse-drawn tram.

Repurposed horse-drawn tram in DundeeRepurposed horse-drawn tram in Dundee

Unfortunately it’s not fulfilling its original function – might be a bit tricky without a full set of rails – but it’s back sitting on such rails are available, and interesting to be able to have a close look at it. It last saw service here as an actual tram over 100 years ago.

It’s now The Auld Tram, selling coffee and sandwiches. Must try the nosh some time; so far I’ve not been sufficiently hungry when passing by, but it looks like they’re aiming for high quality but satisfying. It’s an offshoot of Bridgeview Station, a restaurant overlooking the Tay Bridge with an 1870s railway carriage.

Something else to look out for later this year will be the opening of the fledgling Dundee Museum of Transport.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Earlier this month, I came across a model maker I wasn’t aware of before, selling his work through eBay. Nathan Yeoman works in a selection of scales, and across a variety of subjects. The common element seems to be quirkiness, in the best sense. If you wish something was available in your scale, but no-one else is making it, then maybe Nathan is.

So if you need (or just want) for example: a V1 rocket and launch ramp in 1:100 scale (or a V2); a Horten Ho 229 in 1:144; assorted GWR buildings; Nissen huts or a brilliant selection of call-boxes, including AA and RAC, then take a look at Yeoman Models. The blog in particular seems worth keeping an eye on.

Despite being tempted by some of those things, what I went for was a selection of Victorian street furniture – three post boxes, a water pump, a snowman, and a selection of manhole covers:

Yeoman Models Victorian street furniture

They’re all sitting on a tile of Wills Granite Sets, a nice, cheap way of getting a set of cobbles just about the right size for basing a 28mm horse-drawn vehicle, and accompanied by a 28mm figure for an idea of size. As usual, you can click through for a full-size photo.

Apart from the snowman’s arms, which are metal, these are all resin and include some fantastic detail. The cast lettering on the pillar boxes and drain covers is crisp and legible - my photos don’t do the moulding justice, even at full size, but you can read the words “Post Office” on the Penfold pillar box (the middle one). For reference, here’s a photo of a real one in the village:

Penfold pillar box, Kingsbarns

For fans of The Talons of Weng-Chiang and associated audio spin-offs, one of the manhole covers bears the legend “Jago & Litefoot Ltd, Limehouse”, while another was apparently created by Yeoman & Sons!

Yeoman Models Victorian street furniture

The pillar boxes were painted in a red acrylic from Inscribe, with details picked out in black, white and gold. They were finished off by an application of Rotring Artist Color red ink which helped deepen the shadows a bit and provided a reasonably subtle gloss; applying a gloss varnish would probably have been too much. Apparently Rotring inks aren’t available any more, but there are probably alternatives.

The manhole covers were painted a rust colour (Revell Aqua Color 83), then given a Raw Umber wash. The flash makes them look a bit paler than they actually are, but natural light was not an option today. Looks like I’ve overdone it with the black on the one pierced manhole cover – I may have to revisit that.

I rather wish I’d placed the pump at an angle so that you can see it more clearly. It’s another nice and atmospheric piece. The base colour is Revell Bronze Green (65), with the cast features picked out using Inscribe’s Honey Dew. I used rust again for the grating, and Revell Tank Grey for the base. It’s the same colour I used as the base colour for the cobbles, but left “as-is” without the further shading the cobbles received.

The snowman is painted white, but with a thin wash of Inscribe’s Blue Mist to give a little bit of depth to the shadows – pretty much washed out by the flash, of course. The scarf is based on one given to me by [livejournal.com profile] msinvisfem. You may be able to guess which other scarf inspired that one!


A few days after placing my order, I got an e-mail from Nathan inviting any suggestions for other things to make. Rather excitingly, a couple of my suggestions seemed to be of interest, with a possibility that one may become available sometime in the year ahead. Something to look forward to…

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Within the last couple of years, laser-cut MDF seems to have taken off as a material for building wargaming/roleplaying scenery with. Last year at Claymore, I picked up a small selection of carts and the fanciest looking of Battle Flag’s range of Western buildings. It so happens this is the bordello.

I didn’t think I could improve on the colour scheme in the publicity artwork, so I went for it wholesale; a bright red (toned down a bit by the MDF surface it was applied to), a golden yellow around windows and doors, and white for the balustrade.

Bordello ExteriorThe boardwalk

Where I did think I could improve a wee bit was on the interior, which can be exposed by lifting off the roof and the floor of the upper storey. The exterior has planks etched into it and ornamental carvings, but apart from a couple of planked floors the interior is very plain. I didn’t think large areas of flat, brushed colour were going to look too great and I’ve never really got into spraying or airbrushing for this sort of thing (a lot of hassle setting it up, messing about with mixing and thinning paint if you’re airbrushing, and cleaning up afterwards).

It occurred to me that it would probably be possible to find a bit of Victorian wallpaper on the Internet, hopefully in a form I could use. Right enough, there appears to be a number of possible sources. The site I wound up using was Jennifer’s Printables (a collection of free printable materials for doll’s houses) that has a page dedicated to Victorian wallpapers, but if the materials there aren’t to your taste there are alternatives.

I selected a relatively plain wallpaper for downstairs and other public areas, and a variety of richer papers for upstairs. There aren’t actually any internal partitions (nor stairs!) included for the interior, but they are marked out on the floor that lifts out, so I though I might as well try to give each an individual character.

I could have just printed them out onto decent paper and stuck them on, but that would have involved being sure they were cut exactly to shape for awkward bits like windows and doors, and my experience with gluing paper is mixed; Copydex is pretty good, but it doesn’t take much going wrong with paper in order to end up with a bit of a nasty mess.

So I thought I’d try something new, and bought some inkjet water-slide decal paper from Crafty Computer Paper.

Printing the wallpaper was a scoosh. I lined up the paper samples to the measurements I wanted using PagePlus, and rescaled them a bit so that the patterns looked OK; then when a few test prints satisfied me that I’d got it about right I printed my wallpapers onto a couple of A4 sheets of the decal paper.

That puts a layer of ink on top of the water-slide substrate, but if you just stuck that into water most ink would not come through the experience well. A layer of varnish sprayed on top will seal the ink between the two layers. I played safe and bought the brand that Crafty Computer Paper recommend for the job. Once the varnish had dried, it was time to apply the transfers. Click through for a closer look:

Wallpapering

There are two transfers on each wall of the house, one for upstairs and one for downstairs, each cut to size and applied over several layers of almond-coloured paint. The obvious gap between the storeys is well-hidden in practice once the floor is in place, but with the benefit of hindsight, I might have cut them a little more oversized – or even as a single transfer per wall – in order to eliminate the worries about that. I was nervous about how robust and easily managed such large transfers would be, but they held up very well and were fairly manageable. Positioning one edge and gradually sliding the backing paper out seemed to do the trick. It may also have helped that I pre-brushed the surfaces with Micro Set, and also applied more once the transfer was in place.

It was my original intention to use a sharp knife to cut out the excess transfer material over the windows and do, er, something else for glass, but at this stage I discovered that the pattern I’d chosen for the downstairs wallpaper also looked pretty good as patterned glass. So I left it. You can see it in this picture (again, click through for a closer look, the effect’s a bit subtle for blog-sized photos):

Transparent wallpaper passes as glass

You can also see one of the nice things about laser-cut MDF is that It’s pretty convincing as wood. There’s a slight texture to it that just works at this sort of scale that you wouldn’t get from anything else.

I stuck with my intention of cutting out the upper storey windows (stripy wallpaper isn’t so convincing as a pane of glass), but instead of using a thin bit of clear plastic in its place, as I’d originally thought, I used offcuts of the transfer paper to make clear windows that matched the patterned ones downstairs. The result is a bit blurrier to look through than the plastic would have been, but if anything I think that adds to the effect. Yay, serendipity!

The upper floorHappy with my results, I began assembling the walls permanently, and it was round about then that I discovered that, in all the best traditions of wallpapering slapstick, I’d papered over a door. There’s a passage across the middle of the top floor, leading to the door that opens onto the balcony, and with no markings on the interior wall apart form the two lights above the door I’d managed to ignore it. With the walls already assembled, it was a bit awkward to mark it in retrospectively, but I managed a passable result.

I may do a bit more to try to tidy the rough edges of that up, and maybe apply some weathering outside, but fundamentally the building’s done for now. Obviously there’s more could be done to build up a detailed interior, but that’s for another time (if ever).

Both floors wallpaperedBack door

Rear of the house

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Having promoted one Kickstarter a few days ago, it would be churlish not to mention a similar fund-raising attempt elsewhere. North Star are also raising money, on their own site in this case, for a range of steampunk figures.


This attempt seems to have been stalled at about £10,000 since I first looked at it. As far as I can tell, this won't affect availability of the figures - they will be available - but you should invest before 18th April if you're interested in any of the "reward" figures, as this is the only way they'll be available.

The range being offered isn't as broad as the Empire of the Dead one, and there are no vehicles; but there are some nice figures that might be worth considering. To be honest, I haven't spent any money here myself yet, but I am thinking about it. Check it out for yourself:

IN HER MAJESTY'S NAME
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

There’s a Kickstarter project for a new range of 28mm steampunk/gothic horror figures, with accompanying table-top rules. Empire of the Dead: Requiem is a sizeable expansion to the Empire of the Dead range from West Wind Productions. Of particular interest are the horse-drawn vehicles; a Black Maria, 4 hansom cabs for £40, a brougham, a London omnibus, a Victorian fire engine and a landau.

The project was funded within the first two hours, but more support does no harm and unlocks further options. Depending on your interests, you might get a bargain. Check it out:

"Empire of the Dead: Requiem" Kickstarter

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds has been available to listen to – or even watch – in a number of forms since it was first released in 1978. The latest incarnation is Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds – The New Generation. (This title was enunciated by skilled stunt men and should not be attempted at home – at least, not without taking a very deep breath first.)

Jeff%20Wayne's%20Musical%20Version%20of%20The%20War%20of%20The%20-%20The%20New%20Generation%20(Artwork)

This is a modern re-recording of the classic with, as the name might suggest, a new generation of artists. Probably just as well since Richard Burton and Phil Lynott are a wee bit dead to be taking part this time around.

Instead we have Liam Neeson taking on the Richard Burton role, Gary Barlow standing in for Justin Hayward, and others including Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs, Joss Stone and Maverick Sabre. Yeah, we’ll come back to him.

Names such as Gary Barlow may give you pause. Funny how twenty years or so of maturing doesn’t doesn’t translate “boy band” into anything but, well, boy band. (At least Robbie Williams managed to cream off the Angels share…) Hold that prejudice though – he has a good voice, and does a pretty good “Forever Autumn”. It’s nearly as good as Justin Hayward’s.

That’s the problem this album has though. Most of it is nearly as good as the original. Most of it is nearly the same as the original. Ah, what a shame.

There are three possible reasons for a remake. One is to do it better. Another is to do it different. Though The New Generation is a decent effort, and you’d probably love it if you’d never heard the original, it does neither of these things.

So the third reason it must be; to draw in a new audience haven’t been exposed to it before. I guess that’s commercially fair enough, but artistically disappointing.

Annoyances are not major, but there are several. The music develops a judder at a few key dramatic points, and distorted, echoed lyrics at others – both electronic tricks that already feel more dated than the original album. There are additions to the narration that feel pretty unnecessary – is it essential for us to know that Martians don’t have sex? – and, oh dear lord, who thought we needed chirpy Cockney newsboys à la Dick van Dyke, singing “Morning paper, men from Mars, men from Mars!” on Horsell Common?

And if you’ve listened to any Jeff Wayne War of the Worlds material produced in the last fifteen years or so, you won’t be surprised to hear that the voice of the devil Martians is heard in the land! It will be the phrase you think it is, plus a load of unintelligible background muttering. While I liked it the first time I heard the Martians speak (in cut scenes from the 1998 video game), it’s a shame they haven’t learnt to say anything new since then.

Good points include the gorgeous packaging, which could only be improved upon by making it the size of a proper 12” album. It’s a nice touch that the changes to the words are printed in gold, as it saves highlighting them with a green marker. Liam Neeson is not generally my favourite vocal performer. but he makes a fair replacement for Richard Burton and I even felt that he conveyed the emotion of relief at the conclusion better than Burton did (I’ve seen another review say the opposite, so your mileage may vary).

I can’t put it off any longer. Let’s come back to Maverick Sabre. Cool name! Unfortunately that’s the only thing he has over Phil Lynott, who might well have called himself Maverick Sabre too if he’d thought of it. Thing is, though, Phil would have lived up to it, the way he hammed up his Preacher in the original War of the Worlds, to the enjoyment of all. Maverick Sabre’s Preacher – well, I struggled for a while to identify how best to characterise his voice in the role. Is it spoilt child or querulous old man? Thinking of the character, you may think that either might work, but take it from me they don’t. It was on the fourth listening that I nailed it though, when he quavered “don’t touch me!” – he reminds me of nothing so much as the camp German pigs from Shrek! The rest of the album is OK; I am a little disappointed with minor aspects of it, but Maverick Sabre’s part is the only thing I wish just wasn’t there.

If you’re a fan of the original album, don’t get this one unless you’re a completist. It’s good, but ultimately it doesn’t add anything. If by some weird mischance you're reading this and you haven’t heard the original, then you might like either better – probably the one you hear first – but you’ll be down with all the cool kids if you choose to make that the original*.

* Caveat: a wise and cautious reader will check my profile picture before accepting my advice on what’s trendy.

June 2017

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