Tuesday 29 June 2010

The lost cathedrals of the sky: a heartfelt lament

I recently read a short article by Len Deighton entitled The Lost Cathedrals of the Sky: A heartfelt lament, the article was printed in the Mail of Sunday magazine - LIVE on Sunday June 13th and initially talked about a meeting between Len Deighton and Hans Von Schiller, an airship captain who commanded the Graf Zeppelin from 1935 to 1937.

It was an interesting article that discussed how these huge 'cathedrals of the sky' are no longer available for us to enjoy and how it is very unlikely that we will ever see anything like them again. One quote from the article; 'The expense of lighter-than-air craft for long-distance travel is prohibitive. It costs as much to design and build a rigid airship as to buy a Boeing airliner. The former carries 20 people at about 75mph - this speed is unlikely to increase very much - and the latter hundreds of passengers at over 500mph. In the time an Airship crosses the Atlantic the Boeing completed many round trips, one has a crew of 40, the other a crew of 10............'

The article went on to list the achievement of the Airship industry and how these huge monster of the air are no longer with us, as Len states; 'Quite possibly the greatest engineering feat of modern times - the Zeppelin still has a magic that aeroplanes cannot replace.'

Some years ago I worked for an alcoholic drinks company and one of my trade customers was Charles Wells, based in Bedford. At the time Chas. Wells Brewery were using the smaller Blimp airships based at Cardington as an advertising medium and I was invited to go up in one of the promotional/test flights. As you can imagine I was thrilled to be invited, but on every occasion I visited the airships were grounded due to poor weather or some such issue and I never got around to taking up the offer.

There are many 'Special Occasion' presents or treats that you can now indulge yourself with, days out at a racing track, driving a steam train (something that I did on a Narrow Gauge engine at Amberley Outdoor Museum), but the thought of not being able to experience the thrill of an Airship trip is one that I do regret. I know that there are still operational Airships/Blimps and some still offer personalised trips, but even the thought of not being able to see a Zeppelin, sailing majestically through the sky is a regret I think I will always have.


Friday 25 June 2010

The Ten Most Popular Airfix Models

A recent magazine article listed the top ten most popular Airfix models as;

1 Supermarine Spitfire, £5
2 De Haviland Mosquito, £8
3 Hawker Harrier, £9
4 BAE Hawk, £8
5 Eurofighter Typhoon, £13
6 HMS Illustrious, £50
7 Avro Lancaster, £25
8 Avro Vulcan, £30
9 HMS Belfast, £11
10 MGB Roadster, £9
Sources: airfix.com

The list brought back some very fond memories of my childhood, when with pocket-money in hand, I would catch a bus in to Swansea Town centre and either visit Woolworths or Redanas (both now long gone) and pick up an Airfix carded bag kit. The model was usually glued together that very afternoon, all stringy glue and droopy wings, this was the smell of my youth!

With reference to the list, I have (obviously) built the Spirfire, the Hurricane, the Mosquito and the BAE Hawk, they cost a lot less when I made them! In fact I have a 1/72nd Supermarine Spitfire kit in the shed at this very moment. I have also built the Lancaster and HMS Belfast, but the other are not some that I have attempted, I would however, like to try the Vulcan at some stage!

Other Airfix kits I have are the Horizontal Steam Engine, HMS Victory, a Sopwith Pup and a Westland Whirlwind, one of my particular favorites. However my all-time favourite kit is not an Airfix model but a 1/32nd scale Junkers Skuka with the red and white snake on the side. It was bought for my by my Grandmother many years ago and I know I made a total mess of it, but it remains one of those models and colour schemes that just had an impact on me. Maybe one day I will search out the kit and 'treat' myself.

This particular image was taken from the Internet (to illustrate the model) and IS NOT ONE OF MINE - although I wish it was!

One surporise to me was that there were no AFV models within the top ten. I had (almost) every 1/72nd scale tank and AFV in the range, the Sherman being the most numerous, but the Tiger being the most striking. And then there was the Churchill, which never mind how many times I tried, I just couldn't get the wheels to line up!

I would hope that my Airfix top ten would be inspiration to others.

1 Focker DR1
2 Sopwith Camel,
3 Sherman Tank
5 Westland Whirlwind
6 Comet Racer
7 1/32nd Napoleonic Guardsman
8 1/32nd (soft Plastic) highlanders
9 British (again soft plastic) Paratroopers - these were fantastic sculpts - but do you remember the soldier shooting up in to the trees, a useless figure?
10 Captain Scarlet Angel Interceptor

(It goes without saying that ANY of the Dogfight Doubles would come first, second, third......!)

For all my fond memories - thank you Airfix.


I have another ten! I didn't realise that there were so many Airfix models that had such memories. I honestly believe that it would be impossible for me to choose just ten. Maybe even just twenty - or thirty, or forty. In fact just give me the contents of an Airfix catalogue and some glue!

11 Vickers Wellington
12 Lee/Grant Tank
13 Space or Lunar lander
14 Bentley Blower
15 La Haye Sainte
16 At least one F4 Phantom
17 EE Lightning
18 Rotodyne
19 Ferrari 250
20 Golden Hind

And more, and more and more. This is a real nostalgia trip for me. I hope you enjoy your own memories.


Thursday 24 June 2010

Draco Rex for Space 1889/Aeronef

For no apparent reason I wanted to include Martian Aerofauna in my Space 1889/Aeronef collection. I already have some Canal Drakes and 'floaters', see earlier Space 1889/Aeronef posts. My criteria is simple the models have to be compatible in size with my 1/300th scale Aeronefs and be modelled in a flying stance or in the action of flying. This Thaniras Dragon from Spartan Games fits the profile perfectly. The bonus is that it is a fantastic sculpt.

I purchased my example for £6.30 (inc. P&P) via e-bay from Maelstrom Games, a company that I have no hesitations in recommending, the packaging was very good and delivery was within 48 hours.

Photo One - Shows the finished Draco Rex. I choose a dark brown, aged leather colour scheme and 'animated' the model, twisting the tail and bending the wings prior to painting.

Photo Two - An official image of the Dragon taken from the Spartan Games Web page, (used without permission), as you can see Spartan Games have chosen a very striking dark blue/black colour scheme.

Photo Three - Because of the weight of the model I decided that I needed to modify my usual basing technique and as well as using a cut-up metal base, I filled the 40mm GW base with resin, car repair resin from Halfords.

Photo Four - The bare metal casting.

Photo Five - My finished and based Draco Rex. The model has a wingspan of 110mm and is mounted on to a metal rod 100mm tall (slightly taller than my normal basing, but I wanted this to be an imposing model). I chose Draco Rex, The Dragon King as a name that would be immediately recognisable and instill fear into the crews of Martian and European Cloudships alike. So far I have no idea what Aeronef stats I will use for the creature, or how I will use it, - but it looks great.

Photo Six - Draco Rex alongside the Privateer Sailship Justus to give an idea of the size of this miniature when placed next to a 1/300th scale Airship/Aeronef.

This miniature was very easy to paint, a black undercoat, dark brown and Snakebite Leather upper surfaces with just a touch of red. The details were picked out with black, ivory and white and some red detailing to the crest along its back. I used black, sepia and red washes from Games Workshop prior to varnishing.


Tuesday 22 June 2010

Grand Manner Medieval Buildings painted by Captain Blood

Following on from my earlier post - Beautifully painted Perry WOTR and Grand Manner Buildings, Richard (Captain Blood) sent me these additional photos showing the same two buildings from the Grand Manner Medieval Town Houses set that I had originally sculpted. Thank you for sharing them.

The whole range of building from this set are built and planned to be inter-changeable and linked to produce Medieval street scenes, however these photos prove that they can just as easily be used as individual buildings. For more details please check out;

I am sure that you will agree - they are very well painted and staged. I think I will have to model a small photographic background scene in the same way that Richard has, so I can photograph my figures and models, rather than just a plain light blue background that I use at the moment.


Monday 21 June 2010

Fathers Day 2010

I spent Fathers Day, sitting in the garden, listening to the World Cup on the radio and drinking Pims. It was a fantastic day with my Son and his girlfriend and my Daughter stopping by for lunch. Amongst my pressies, of sweets and biscuits, I had this 2000AD Graphic Novel - Devlin Waugh - Swimming in Blood and the DVD Ingloriuos Basterds by Quentin Tarantino.

I have written about Devlin Waugh in earlier posts, but would add that I find the 'off-the-wall' humour and writing very enjoyable. I recently gave my earlier book to my daughter to read and her comments were much the same as mine - very strange, but funny strange!

I watched Inglorious Basterds last night, after the Brazil - Ivory Coast match and throughly enjoyed it. I had listened to reviews on Radio 5 - the comical Mayo and Commode Film Review, so knew exactly what to expect. Even so it was a rip-roaring, tongue-in-cheek war movie that made me laugh out loud.

I am now looking to have another quiet day in, I know my Wife is looking forward to the start of Wimbledon, so I can see arguments about who will have the 'big' TV and who will have to watch their sport on the portable! I think I may loose.


Saturday 19 June 2010

Beautifully painted Perry WOTR and Grand Manner Buildings.

These are a couple of photos showing two of the Grand Manner Medieval Town Buildings that I sculpted/modelled for GM.

Yesterday morning I received a personal email from Richard, (Captain Blood on the Lead Adventures Forum) who informed me that he had recently painted a couple of 'my houses'. For more details of the thread and additional photos, see;

These are just two of the photos Captain Blood up-loaded, showing his completed box of 40 War of the Roses plastics from The Perry's. I would be comfortable stating that these are some of the very best painted miniatures I have seen this year - they really are fantastic, very well painted and based. I have used them with permission.

The two buildings are the first examples of painted Medieval Houses I have seen and as a bonus, the painting and colour scheme is just fantastic, the email from Cpt. Blood was a complete surprise and a real treat. Maybe I should be more humble, but I still get a real buzz when I see terrain I modelled (and available from GM) painted. And in this case I would hope that you agree they are fantastic. Details of the two buildings are;

Part Jetted House 2 Story House;

Two Story House with Jetted Roof;

As a matter of interest, the Part Jetted House, was the first building I modelled in the range and the Two Story House was the last! The Part Jetted House was based on an illustration in a book called Discovering Timber Framed Buildings by Richards Harris, while the Two Story House with Jetted Roof was based on a black and white illustration in a magazine/web page. It makes me want to model more.


Friday 18 June 2010

Privateer Airship

In amongst all of my on-going projects and work commitments, I occasionally find time to finish a model! This is my latest 1/300th scale Space 1889/Aeronef model - an airship based on an illustration on page 11 of AERONEF by Steve Blease and Matthew Hartley. The sail-airship which is named Justus and No.5 was in turn based upon a miniature Zeppelin (with the tail now pointing forward) and some plastic card.

I have painted the body and sail plain linen and used a sponged finish to try and get the worn fabric finish. The transfers are mainly 1/48th scale WW1 French aircraft markings with some Games Workshop and she flies the Martian flag of convenience (the Texan, Lone Star) which is used by many privateers.

This second photo shows work-in-progress, sorry about the poor quality!

Finally we have a complete shot of Justus mounted on to a Games Workshop 40mm plastic base, but still without a nameplate. I am still to decide how to name her. (The Sailship, or The Privateer Justus).

The model, in a part finished state has sat patiently on my workbench for well over a year, this week, while listening to the World Cup on my digital radio, I finally got around to finishing it.

The Aeronef is 140mm long and 60mm tall, from the bottom of the cabin to the top of the mast.


Thursday 17 June 2010

Handmade Dice

As part of my on-going 40mm Typhon or Greek 'Sword and Sandal' Project I decided that I wanted some old fashioned - ancient looking dice. At the Games Expo show earlier this month there were thousands of different dice styles, colours and numbers but nothing like I wanted. I know I'm picky!

I decided that I would try to reproduce a set of Roman style D6 using either some left over Resin (from a Greek temple aquarium decoration) or a resin letter rack in the shape of a purse that I picked up from a charity ship for 99p.

This is the first D6, finished and given a wash of dark brown acrylic paint to pick out the imperfections and dots. The Dice is a nominal 18mm square.

In this photo you see the three dice 'blanks' and the finished D6. The blanks were cut from the resin oversize with a metal hacksaw, then sanded on different grade papers to smooth the sides and 'square' them.

The finished dice has had it edges curved and softened, as it was impossible to get a good role with the 'hard' edges.

I will work on the remaining 'blanks' later this week. I am very pleased with the look and feel of my homemade dice, there is something very satisfying in making your own dice, possibly the most personalised and tactile part of the hobby.

For those who want to know - they role well, with fives and sixes coming up regularly, I feel lucky!

Below I have copied a recent message from Roger Willcox, that was posted on the Alternative Armies Notables Pages earlier this month.

Dice rolling
Having small, artistic, hands (a good excuse to avoid any form of hard manual labour. Did they ask Chopin, Van Dyke or Shelley to dig the garden, put up shelves, or clean the car? I think not!) I tend to prefer to roll two d6, however there is a strange sensual delight in the rolloing of three or even four.
I find it advisable to use a dice box if more than three dice are to be rolled. This simple device not only saves the wrist from excess wear but also produces a pleasant sound as the dice are shaken. I favour a cylindrical, leather, box which makes a soft, cheerful rattle as it is being used. This simple device cusions the impact as the cup is brought, open end down, upon the board. A true master of the art may, by pausing for a a few seconds before lifting the cup, add a sense of drama and tension to the act.
I stongly advise dice rollers to perform a few symple excercises to minimise injury to the wrist, palm, thumb and fingers which might result from repeated dice use.
1. Make a loose fist with both hands and then rapidly flex the fingers and thumbs into a span. repeat this three or four times.
2. Place the palms of both hands together as if in prayer, interlock the fingers and then bring the hans downwards until elbows and palms are level. Do NOT push further than this point as this may result in damage the joints which would become detrimental to one`s rolling action.
3. Take two or three marbles in each hand and roll them around in your palms using your fingers and thumbs. Chinese metal Zen excercise balls may be employed by more experienced rollers. These contain small chimes which produce a calming effect which is beneficial.
4. Take a sponge ball, about the size of a tennis ball, and squeeze. Hold for a second then release. Repeat this four or five times. "Stress" balls are recommended for advanced rollers.
5. Make sure the fingernails are trimmed, but not too closely. A manicure is advised for professional rollers.
7. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! The hands must be supple. A little "Dog oil" available from herbalist stores should be applied to the joints daily.
8. Breath slowly and deaply for one minute before rolling.
9. Regular meditation, preferrably under the guidance of a two hundred year old Tibetan guru, is an essential.
10. Avoid ALL heavy manual tasks such as gardening, D.I.Y. cooking and cleaning which might damage the delicate precision instruments which are your hands. REMEMBER, you are an "artiste" not a mere human!
So, there you have it. If performed regularly these excercises will turn mere dice rolling from just an action into an art form!
Happy rolling,
Gilles Crookedeal, (Grand Master of the Tumbling Cubes of Chance).


Wednesday 16 June 2010

English Electric Lightning in 1/32nd scale

Regular Blog followers will know that I enjoy following a site called Aircraft Resource Centre or ARC, a site that features the construction and painting of model aircraft. Last week (Tuesday June 8th) there was a feature by J. B. Wolstenholme showing his 1/32nd scale EE Lightning. The initial article featured photographs of the finished vacuum formed kit, but there was also a detailed On-Line Build article that showed some of the very best modelling techniques I have ever seen. I have included a link to ARC, see;

Plus a separate link to the 27 page, On-Line Build that took over two and a half years to complete. Give yourself a very special treat, settle back and enjoy this quite breathtaking article by a true master. For details go to;

I hope that you enjoy the link. I did.


Sunday 13 June 2010

Greek Temple in 28mm/40mm

Here is a photo of the finished and first resin cast of the Greek Temple from Grand Manner. The model was designed to be used with either 28mm or 40mm Greeks or Romans, the miniature alongside the temple is a Spartan Miniatures 40mm Greek Argonaut. The Temple is available from GM for the very reasonable price of £72.00, a price that included both the damaged statue (to the left) and a shrine (which can be seen inside the temple, for historian amongst you, in Greek Temples the statue would have been inside the temple and the altar outside!) For more details go to;

The temple master was designed by me earlier this year and progress on this and the rest of the 28mm Greek models has been detailed over on my Dampfwerks Blog. The initial inspiration came from this illustration in a children's book.

This photo shows the finished master, again photographed with a 40mm Spartan Miniatures Argonaut. The model is 215mm long, 170mm wide, 200mm tall and is constructed with a one-piece, lift-off roof. Although designed to be used with 28mm/40mm miniatures, I would have thought that the temple could just as easily be used with 20mm/25mm/28mm/40mm models, I think there would be difficulties in using either 15mm or 54mm figures alongside it, but if anyone wants to try - please post photos.

There are plans for an alternative and more detailed base, which includes steps and a cave. In addition I have produced over a dozen 28mm Classical Greek models for GM, all of which should be cast in resin within the next couple of weeks. The range should increase to include a Ruined Temple, the alternative Temple Base (see above) and various pieces or Greek themed models, including Ruins, Buildings and even a Greek Ship.

I will post additional photos once the castings are available.

When launched at Partizan earlier this month, The Greek Temple proved to be one of the most popular pieces, with Dave selling all but the display model!


Friday 11 June 2010

Aliens - an illustrated compendium

This particular image was copied (with permission) from The Wotan edited Blog; Project Sword, see;

It gives a wonderful array of alien types, beautifully illustrated and should act as inspiration for a whole host of suitable miniatures in my Flash Gordon collection.

Project Sword is a Blog that I regularly stop by, if you have not seen it yet, give yourself a treat and check it out - it is just full of nostalgic space toys from my youth.


Wednesday 9 June 2010

Talos the Bronze Robot - part eight

With Talos completed, I just couldn't resist posing a photo of him alongside this 40mm Flash Gordon Miniature for comparison. Both are mounted on to 40mm round bases. The Ming Officer figure is a conversion of a 40mm Flashing Blades Spartan/Greek with legs from Graven Images and arms from the Foundry Sky Elf.

This second photo shows my ever growing collection of Pulp Robots, from left to right they are; Dick Garrison/WSD by Bob Olley, A modified Legionnaire from Hydra, The Tomb Maiden from Warmachine/Privateer Press, Talos, a modified Salute 2010 Presentation miniature and The Dustbin Robot from Captain Chaotica (and others), a sculpt that was produced by me for the Jim Bowen/ Graven Images Collection.

You can never have too many Pulp robots!


Sunday 6 June 2010

UK Games Expo - Birmingham

I have just returned home from a very enjoyable morning at The UK Games Expo, which was held at the Clarendon Suite, Birmingham this weekend. This is the third year in a row that I have attended this show and although I thought it was a little quieter than previous years, I was still impressed with the total experience.

My main intention this year was to meet with people whom I regularly correspond with over the Internet and via my Blog, however there were also a couple of surprise meetings that proved fun.

The event is (as stated on the tin) a gaming show rather than a wargaming or toy soldier show, there are miniature traders, board gamers and a number of discount roleplaying book stalls, but in addition there are many, many new game launches and opportunities to play or test out new games.

After arriving (just after 10.00am) I paid my £8.00 entry fee and started in the main hall, moving through to the gaming hall and then out into the foyer and into the myriad of smaller side-rooms to see boardgames, wargames and live roleplayers, Dr. Who and Daleks this year.

Photo One - Shows the Dr. Who live roleplayers in the main foyer. I thought this was very well done and a main attraction for families and children.

Photo Two and Three - show a Privateer Press Warmachine exhibition, quite a large display with at least three separate gaming tables and exhibition games for member of the public to join in. I enjoy the Warmachine background and figures, and particularly the No Quarter 'in-house' magazine but have never felt the urge to play the game. The displays as you can see were quite fantastic.

Photo Four and Five - Were Malifaux/Wyrd gaming tables and I took these two photos as I was so impressed with the buildings.

The remaining photos were taken in Zone 4, where Kevin Dallimore and John Teadaway were playing a Hammer Slammers game. I had already seen most of these terrain pieces and models in different magazine and on-line article, but they were so impressive 'in the flesh' that I got a little carried away and took loads of photos. Here are just a few.

As with previous shows, I was still able to leave and get back home in time for Sunday lunch. My purchases, were few, some transfers (decals), an Otherworlds Miniatures Minotaur (I had been looking out for this particular model - a superb human with bulls head Minotaur for my 40mm Greek Mythos project) and some magazines.

In addition I spent a considerable amount of time speaking to exhibitors and exchanging views, I had a great time, highly recommended.

I have been told that a VSF/Aeronef article of mine (Le Fee Verte) is due to be published in issue four of The Ancible. I will post further details once I have more information. Details of The Ancible can be found at;


Friday 4 June 2010

Talos the Bronze Robot - part seven

With the painting of Talos the Bronze Robot finally finished, it was now on to the varnishing and flocking.

Photo One - The finished model gloss varnished.

Photo Two - As above, but with the base, black body and left arm painted with matt varnish.

Photos Three to Seven - The finished miniature has now had the base flocked with some green static grass.

The re-modelling and painting of this Special Edition Salute 2010 Robot has been fun. The painting techniques used are pretty standard and at this moment I am still not sure what I will be doing with either the girl or the large metal base, for now they are in my 'spares box'.


Thursday 3 June 2010

Modelling Lathe

A quick and easy lathe set-up! I am sure there would be many who would see this particular set-up as a bit Heath-Robinson, but it works for me. The drill is a multi-speed and reversible Power Devil (a discount range Black & Decker) which can be 'locked on' and the aluminium rack was bought from a discount store many years ago, (discounted - as not all the pieces were in the box). I use it on an irregular basis and so when I set it up this weekend, I remembered to take some photos.

I clamp the rack to the rear step of the garage with some cheap 'G' clamps to ensure it doesn't vibrate around. In this particular photo, I am smoothing out a mast for a 28mm Pentakonter that I am building. The main shaping has been done with sandpaper although I also use modelling chisels to carve more intricate shapes.

I have used this set-up to produce some Greek urns and small fixtures, for which I attach a metal shelf to the arm you can see just under the drill.

In the past my Father and Grandfather used similar 'make-do' lathes to produce models, my Father, having a hand drill/home made lathe that he would use to produce masts for ships in bottles.

I hope that this photo gives some ideas as to what is posible.


Wednesday 2 June 2010

Talos the Bronze Robot - part six

In this series of images I show the fully painted Talos. The base has been painted in my usual colours of Dark Brown, Vallejo Game Color Charred Brown mixed with GW Chaos Black, highlighted with Charred Brown and lightly drybrushed with Charred Brown and Snakebite Leather. The rock outcrop and small stones have been basecoated with Dark Grey (a mix of Chaos Black and Skull White), highlighted with a lighter Grey and finally highlighted again with pure Skull White. The whole base was then given a 'wash' of Black and Brown before the base sides were tidied up with Chaos Black.

I have a theory about how to paint miniature bases; To achieve a uniformed theme amongst a whole range of (different manufacturers) miniatures, as I am trying to do with my Flash Gordon collection, it is important that all the bases are uniform (modelled in a similar style and painted with the same colour scheme), then even if the actual figures originate from a wide variety of sources, the uniform base unites the whole collection, much more than a uniform sculpting style or manufacturers style. In the same way, my Flintloque miniatures are all mounted on to 2p coins and painted with GW Snakebite Leather, my Space 1889/Aeronef craft are all mounted on to 40mm GW Round Bases and painted with a Brown/Red colour scheme.

Since the last post - I have amended the eyes, painting them first pure Mithril Silver and highlighting with Mithril Silver and Skull White. I have also highlighted the 'air tubes' from the power bottle on his back and further highlighted some of the chest detail with Mithril Silver.

As stated in earlier posts, I am very pleased with the way that this robot figure has turned out, the subtle changes and revised pose, help to make it less threatening, while the colour scheme remains very 'Pulp' or 'Space Opera'. Ideal for my collection.

The final post will show the varnished and flocked figure.