Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Post of The Beast

Just to explain the title, this is the 666th post on this blog.  Thanks to all of you who've kept it going so long and kept me company along the way.

Now, for those of you who didn't stick with the Alexandrov Ensemble concert in yesterday's post long enough to see the dancing sailors, here are some from The Andrew (BRNC to be precise)...

And Prince Charles joining in...

The Alexandrov Ensemble

I am very far from being a supporter of the old Soviet Union, or of the direction of Russian politics in the years since the fall of the USSR, but I've always had a respect for the Red Army.

That of course is based on the Soviet sacrifices of the Great Patriotic War, but I suppose I am a sucker for the propaganda image of the worker-soldier, grim in battle, but ready to relax with a glass of vodka and a rousing song (let's not talk of the rape of German women or the oppression of the majority of Eastern Europe).  One of the great projectors of that propaganda image was the the Red Army Choir - now the Alexandrov Ensemble (properly the Academic Ensemble of Song and Dance of the Russian Army named after A. V. Alexandrov).

The crash of the Russian Defence Ministry's Tupolev Tu-154 is of course a tragedy, and would have been whoever it was on board and whenever it happened.  But the fact that it happened on Christmas Day (as we celebrate it in the West) and that 64 of the 96 killed were members of the choir does tug at the heartstrings somewhat.

So, ignore the uniforms and the lyrics if they upset you, but sit back and enjoy some rousing music.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Terrain Tuesday #20

It's been a little while since I did a round-up of purchases from charity shops.  So here goes...

First up is a bottle of stuff I picked up a couple of months ago.  I'm sure it'll come in for basing (or I may have to make a pile of coal a la 'Railway Children')

The next I picked up last week.  I don't know if they're ornaments or the remains of a chess set, but with a little dry-brushing they will make monumental statuary.

And last Friday I hit the Pulp jackpot when the shop I went into had a half a shelf devoted to Egyptian bits and pieces! 

And while we're on Pulp, how about the greatest Pulp Hero of all time?  Not terrain, but it came from a charity shop.

Where can I get Snowy in a space suit?

And not from a charity shop, but terrain, are these skull beads which came from China via eBay and arrived just before Halloween.  They're a tad out of scale for normal use - but what is Pulp and Lost World without giants and giant apes?!  Thanks to Martin Cooke for the tip (he got the red ones and put them to good use).

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Dr Who Wednesday #17

By a pleasing coincidence this Dr Who Wednesday falls on the 53rd anniversary of the first broadcast of the show.  

I should have something interesting and erudite to say about it all, but frankly I haven't the energy to write anything sensible.  Instead, I'll point you to BBCAmerica Doctor Who's-Day round-up - a blatant rip-our of our own dear Dr Who Wednesday.


After last week's lament that Crooked Dice's Not-Doctor-Who range had be pull from the shelves before I'd managed to stock up, I managed to pick up three of the companions.

Now, I know a couple of my readers don't approve of Capt Jack or the Paternoster Gang for introducing sexuality to the programme, but that ship sailed once they started allowing snogging in the TARDIS.  Personally, I find Capt Jack a great character.  I enjoyed Torchwood greatly before it got too dark in the last two seasons.  I have my reservations about how Sontarans are now portrayed as comedy characters rather than menacing ones, but I must admit that Strax is written and acted very amusingly.

Gratuitous Sarah-Jane Smith photo

Monday, 21 November 2016

The News We've Been Waiting For

A little later than in previous years, the Seventh AHPC has been announced: it will be running from 20 Dec to 20 Mar.  For full details see here.

This is one of the highlights of my hobby year, and although I'm not a very productive or particularly talented painter, I find it very enjoyable and great fun.

I'm probably going to stick with my usual plan of looking at the lead pile - so more Doctor Who, some Pulp, and perhaps some Frostgrave characters.

The theme this year is "Camaraderie and Teamwork" and in a unusual twist Curt is asking us to do just that: to pair up for the Curtgeld.  Do any of you want to partner me?  I'm open to suggestions as to theme, etc, bust ask that you remember my limitations!  Get in touch at diplomatist2 AT gmail DOT com.

Equally, anyone up for a Doctor Who side challenge?

Friday, 18 November 2016

A Few KickStarters

A few Kickstarters to share with you...

First up is Bad Squiddo Games' Ghosts of Gaia.

The likelihood is that you don't need to be told of this, given that it's 733% funded.  In fact, when I first visited 15mins after the launch it was 115% funded.  Post-Apoc isn't really my cup of tea, but as I'm a supporter of Annie's efforts and know the great service she provides, I present it for your consideration.

Secondly, is a Kickstarter that started earlier today.  It's from Midlam Miniatures and is the Cultists of the Kraken Lord.  Some of you will remember that I subscribed for their apprentice wizards (which are now available for pre-order on their website) and which arrived dot on time in fine order.

Now tentacly cultists!  That is down my street!  So I've signed up.

And having done that, Kickstarter directed me to Mushimen Attack! by Toad King Castings.  This looks intriguing, but I think I'll leave it for now.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Dr Who Wednesday #16


Last week Annie from Bad Squiddo Games announced in her FaceBook group that she wasn't going to include the Not-Doctor Who figures on her new website, and she was thus selling off her existing stock,  

I picked up these two - a Crooked Dice Not-River Song and a Heresy Not-Amy Lake.

Being a little dim, I didn't twig that Crooked Dice and Heresy had each removed their Dr Who lookie-likies from their sites.  I should have stocked up as soon as I realised that there were likely to be Cease and Desist letters!  I notice however, that Heresy have kept their "Emily Lake" with the simple expedient of changing her name and colour of hair.  I must stock up on Not-Firefly and Not-Blake's7 figures...

Spotted on the Web

As suspected, news from Warlord Games is coming thick and fast as Christmas approaches.  

The Silents have been released in sets of three lead figures for £11.99.  And we've had a a teaser pic of plastic Cybermen.

These leave me a little cold, but then I'm not a great fan of the 'new' Cybermen.

Gratuitous Sarah Jane picture

Gratuitous Sweep picture

Friday, 4 November 2016

Dr Who Wednesday #15 (On a Friday)

I'm doing this special edition of Dr Who Wednesday because people keep asking what I make of the Warlord Games releases.

Let's get two, much-mentioned, points out of the way first
  • they're larger than most of the figures that people have been using to date (being close to 32mm)
  • the cost (which is more than I at least generally pay for figures)

As to the first, well, that's the way it is.  We'll have to get used to it.  The same can be said for the second point.  Honestly, the ones released so for aren't that much dearer than Crooked Dice.  That will be alright for the 'character' figures.  We've not yet seen the release of any of the plastics, which should be more reasonable sonic screwdriver fodder.

Releases and news are coming out now, presumably in time for Christmas.

Already we have

I've shown pictures of the Doctor sets before and mentioned that some have criticised the sculpts, both for the non-dynamic poses and the likenesses.  Personally, I don't think them too bad and that there's a lot of 'nay-saying' involved in these criticisms (I should declare I left the Doctor Who Miniatures Facebook group because of the negativity).

As to the Jadoon and Zygons, the likenesses seem fine to me.  The poses seem fine - I don't know how variable they are: we're told that assemble is required - will that leave scope for tweaking with the pose?  Equally. I don't know why we get three of one and two of the other - perhaps the answer lies in the mechanics of how each species operates in the game.

The choice of subjects has been criticised by some who like "Classic" Who - but we shouldn't forget that the Zygons first appeared in 1975 with Tom Baker.  Judoon, I can take or leave - they seem merely act as spear-carriers.

'Free' magazine Daleks

This week's big news has been the teaser photos of the Daleks.  Now, here Warlord are on a bit of a loser, as we've been spoiled by the 'free' Daleks that have appeared with the magazines - ropey perhaps, but they paint up nicely.  If were going to be expected to pay money, we want something better!

Well, they're certainly better than the 'free' ones, but as we don't yet know the price, we'll have to wait and see if they're worth it.

The spru pic has had some people worried.  These are three-part no-glue-required models.   Because the skirts, collars and heads are all together there will be no choice in pose.  Daleks aren't the most dynamic of beasties, but sticking to the fore-and-aft look is a little limiting.  It's also been pointed out that this choice means that one can't interchange heads, skirts, etc to make different Dalek varients.

In summary, I'm still firmly in the 'wait and see' camp (especially wait and see what comes in plastic and what in metal).  I see nothing wrong in what Warlord has done, and welcome the arrival of a new range of Who miniatures.

Warlord has a dedicated website for the range.  If your interested in the latest news, check there.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween Game

Tonight being Halloween, The Wife and I decided to do one of those things we only ever seem to manage once or twice a year - get a game in!

In honour of the season we decided to have a go at Strange Aeons - a straight fight between Agents and Nosferatu(s).

Rumours of strange deaths and disappearances around the town of Eskmouth have reached the ears of the Agency.  A crack team of investigators were according sent to find out just what was going on...

...a nest of Vampires in the old abbey ruins!

Positions were taken and we faced off, trying out the unfamiliar ruleset.

It worked well, though I realised some aspects too late (some weapons had to be Readied as an Action) and kept forgetting others (that the terror of facing up to vampires forced Resolve checks).

And even when Stoopy the Vampire did get into base-to-base contact with Miriam the Lady Librarian it didn't go well.  First, I remembered to force a resolve check on her: she failed, but then rolled Insane Frenzy, which doubled her attack dice.  Secondly, it turned out that she was a Kung Fu Master, so had three dice to my one.  And finally, she had the Strike-to-Kill skill.  Poor Stoopy, who had already suffered from a dynamite blast, was soon no more.

But we enjoyed Strange Aeons and found the rules easy enough to pick up.  We'll play it again.  We suspect that those scenarios which are a little more that a straight fight would be more interesting - especially when monsters who can only do close combat damage are faced up against agents armed with rifles and dynamite!

We hope you had fun this Halloween!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Midlam Apprentices

I must have been among the lucky ones who were in the first trance for their Midlam Apprentice Kickstarter rewards to be posted out, as I received them on Friday, some hours before the notification of mailing was sent out.

For those who like humorous, characterful sculpts, you couldn't really do better than these lads (and lasses?).  They really do seem to be having difficulty getting the hang of their spells.

Who knows, I may paint them as some time...

Monday, 10 October 2016

Lovecraft Listening

It's been a while since I posted (or painted for that matter).

For today I'll contain myself to recommend some listening I've been following - the HP Lovecraft series produced by Ladbrooke Radio.  Good stuff.

Monday, 19 September 2016

'Thanks Old Chap' and Podcasts

This morning I received a surprised parcel containing the following splendid figures

These came from a fellow blogger, who likes the world to think that he's a miserable old git, but many of us know as a open-handed, generous benefactor to various projects.  Thank's mate!


This morning I noticed in one of those 'On This Day' columns that today is the anniversary of the discovery of Ötzi the Iceman.*

*Not to be confused with Pete Marsh, who has a similarly 'amusing' name.

This prompts me to write about podcasts - something I've been meaning to do for a while.

Not being a fan of music, I like to listen to talk radio* or other interesting stuff while I'm on the computer or travelling.  Like a lot of people, I was put off podcasts early.  There are far two many barely-edited, unscripted stream-of-consciousnesses three-hour monologues (or worse, conversations between three or four people) by people who think they because they know something about their hobby they can produce a magazine show.   A particular bug-bear of mine is signal-to-noise ratio.  Why people can't add a little thing at the beginning of their podcast (especially if they consider they are presenting a magazine show!) that says "This starts with an intro and catch-up, we interview X at 48 mins, talk about Y at 138 mins and then discuss Z at 180 mins"**

*My radio station of choice is the BBC World Service, which probably tells you all you need to know about me!
**The answer of course is that this would mean admitting that  over two hours of their four-hour show consists of self-indulgent waffle!

But in search of entertainment, I've persisted.  As the best podcasts I've come across have been through recommendations on other people's blogs, I thought I'd pass a few on.

Here are the three I'm currently listening to:

History On Fire

"Whether you like history or not, if you care about bravery, wisdom, passion, larger than life characters and some of the most emotionally intense moments in human experience, you have come to the right place."

This is a history blog by Daniele Bolelli, an Italian academic and martial artist (he also has a podcast on martial arts), who's been based in the US for the last twenty years of so (some people have a problem with his accent, but it seems clear enough to me).  He says he's influenced by Dan Carlin of Hardcore History, but I've never listened to these.

My reason for starting with mention of Ötzi is that one of Bolelli's early episodes was a discussion of him.  But if you want a taste of History on Fire, I suggest you start with Episodes 1 and 2, which are a discussion of slave revolts in the Roman Republic (Spartacus is in the second episode, the first sets the scene, discusses the first two slave revolts and why there were only three major slave revolts against Rome).

Episodes are generally between 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours.

Critical Role

"Voice actor Matthew Mercer leads a group of fellow voice actors on epic Dungeons & Dragons campaigns."

As this includes video rather than just audio,  I'm not sure if counts as a podcast or is some kind of webshow*.  As the video consists of (admittedly beautiful) people rolling dice, I generally just listen rather than watch,  The show consists of a group of mates playing D&D**.  One advantage is that they've been doing so for some years, so are comfortable together and with the rules.   They play with good humour and without too much competition.  Another advantage is that they're all actors*** so know how to play in character and develop them convincingly.  The real treasure here is the love of the game that Matthew Mercer - the GM - has, and the amount of hard work he has put into world-making.  The show has been such a success that he's going to publish his setting.

*But I don't care.
**They currently play 5th Edition, but started their campaign with Pathfinder, and there's a lot of homebrew thrown in.
***Voice Actors - think video games and anime.  True nerds.

Be prepared!  Weekly episodes are between three and four hours long.It's taken me over a year, but I've finally caught up with all the episodes.

If you want a taster, I'd recommend this episode that was done with one-off characters when Mercer and a couple of the players were away.

Hello from the Magic Tavern

"Hello! I’m Arnie. I fell through a magical dimensional portal behind a Burger King in Chicago and found myself in a strange magical land called Foon.  I’m still somehow getting a weak wi-fi signal from the Burger King so I host a weekly podcast from the tavern the Vermilion Minotaur, interviewing monsters, wizards and adventurers."

This one is a bit of a curate's egg and definitely an acquired taste.  It all depends on what your view of improvised comedy is*.  The benefit is that you will know within five minutes whether you hate it or not.
*And specifically American improvised comedy.

Personally, I feel that improv is best in small doses.  Fortunately the episodes are only 30-45 minutes long.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dr Who Wednesday #15

From the Painting Table...

Back in August I promised an update on the next batch of Daleks.  Given past experience with Daleks you might think my subsequent silence was due to lack of progress, but surprisingly that's not the case.  I finally broke the curse, and managed to knock these off in a couple of days.  Of course, it helped that I undercoated them in silver and just had to add the balls and details...

And Now for the Grand Dalek Parade...

You may spot that the 'orrible yellow Dalek has been re-painted...

Davros takes up position on the saluting platform

The stragglers are executed....

Spotted on the Web

Not a lot recently.  Following some domestic upheaval, I've cut down on some Facebook traffic - the Dr Who miniatures and Dr Who miniatures trade and exchange groups were ones that went (and I don't miss the nay-sayers).

Nevertheless, I'm still with the FB fan page.  Their monsters of the month are Sontarians ("Sontar-ha!").

Which reminds me that I need some Sontarians (and some Sea Devils, and some...).  Perhaps in time for the Painting Challenge.  I missed the chance to get Crooked Dice's Not Paternoster Crew (or indeed any of there other Not Dr Who figures) when we were are Hereward,  But (as regular readers will have guessed), I'd prefer a squad of Classic Sontarians anyway.

Gratuitous Sarah Jane shot

I've some silicone oven gloves just like that...

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