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Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards

October 3rd, 2015 (11:50 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

A thousand years have passed since the events of Tales From the Kingdom of Fife, when Zargothrax, Dark Sorcerer of Auchtermuchty, invaded Dundee with an army of undead unicorns before eventually being imprisoned in a frozen pool of liquid ice, encasing his immortal body in a cage of eternal frost. (“Seems legit”, as the top comment under the relevant YouTube video says.)

Now, in the far distant future year of 1992, Zargothrax is released from his prison of frost by a cult of unholy chaos wizards, and Dundee and the Galactic Empire of Fife must be defended from their evil domination by King Angus McFife XIII (descendant of the original Crown Prince Angus McFife) and the eagle-riding Knights of Crail.

Yes, it’s Gloryhammer’s second album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. (Buy it!)

Like the previous album, it romps joyously through a Fife-flavoured galaxy of cheese. It’s a worthy successor, but with more laser-powered hammers, chambers of cryogenetical fire, robots, cosmic rage (of Astral Dwarves from Aberdeen), and eagle-riding Space Knights of Crail.

Stylistically, it’s still HEROIC FANTASY POWER METAL (of course), but as befits a more futuristic epic, there’s a greater role for synthesisers than was previously the case.

The previous tale concluded in the ten-minute Epic Rage of Furious Thunder. This album doesn’t pull its punches either, with another 10 minute epic finale – Apocalypse 1992. I can’t express how accurately this track captures the far-off technological future of 1992 – you’ll just have to listen to it and find out for yourself.

As for me – I’m also waiting, for the physical album to arrive, so that I can find out what the disc of bonus tracks has to offer…

The Cavorite Sphere

September 6th, 2015 (11:52 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

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&quot;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.

Invasion of the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs

God help us! The Iguanodon&quot;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

Cabbies’ Shelter

September 6th, 2015 (08:14 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

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&quot; 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&quot; 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

St Andrews Model Railway Exhibition – in 3D!

September 6th, 2015 (06:48 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Also from about a month ago, as usual I went round the annual model railway exhibition in St. Andrews (attended by StARLink this time, please “Like” if, unlike me, you’re on Facebook).

I usually take photos of the layouts, as I admire a good model, but I hadn’t taken a 3D camera before. I pointed it at a few layouts but wasn’t expecting great results as it’s pretty point-and-click and I thought it might struggle with scale models. And there were focus problems, and motion blur – but a few came out as the most effective 3D pictures I’ve taken so far, so I thought I’d share the best:

Scale model of the Forth Rail Bridge (3D)

A model railway layout in St. Andrews

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