Monday 31 October 2011

Headless Zombies - a Flintloque Halloween Campaign

Barking Irons Online is featuring a three part Flintloque Halloween Campaign written by me and called Getting Ahead  The initial idea and story was intended to be a short story and featuring on BIO as one of The White Liar stories. However as the idea developed it became obvious that this simple short story could be expanded into both a longer tale and three linked gaming scenarios.

Craig Andrews had spent some considerable time honing my initial scribbling and produced a quite horrific background story and gaming scenarios the first part of which is featured on Barking Irons Online (see link above). Craig will be publishing the following two instalments over the next couple of days.

The story thread was first penned back in March of this year but as it developed both Craig and I decided that the ideal time for publication was Halloween - The First Barking Irons Halloween Special. I hope you enjoy part one.

To illustrate the story I produced these Headless Zombies - Flintloque/Deadloque miniatures that have been converted based and painted.  More to follow.

Given the length of time from start-to-finish on this project it is great to finally see it published. I hope that you enjoy reading part one.

Happy Halloween.


Wednesday 26 October 2011

On-Line build for Halloween - part three

With the bead pumpkins added I basecoated the whole piece with a mixture of Chaos Black and Scorched Brown.

Photo One - The model all ready for painting.

Photo Two - I started with a couple of simple drybrushes. Snakebite Leather for the trunk and Grey (Chaos Black and Skull White) for the rock.

Photo Three - The drybrushing was refined and the groundwork filled in.  The pumpkins were painted over a Brown base with Orange and later Orange/Yellow highlights.

Photo Four - The stalks were painted over a very dark Green and highlighted with lighter Green (Forest Green from Foundry) and then Green/Yellow. Prior to fully finishing I gave the pumpkins a 'wash' of Baal Red from GW.

Photos Five, Six and Seven - The Halloween inspired terrain piece finished and flocked with railway scatter (as are all of my terrain pieces - to 'blend-in with my scatter covered gaming board).

I find these modelling interludes fun as I can usually finish them between jobs. This particular piece will be added to my growing collection of Flintloque gaming terrain and I feel fits in well with the 'fun' or 'comic' feel of Flintloque.

I hope that this short On-Line Build has been informative and maybe inspire others to keep their vegetable waste and build some simple terrain piece!


A little earlier than expected - but Happy Halloween.

Tuesday 25 October 2011


Earlier today my Wife and I drove down to Cheltenham but instead of driving straight down the M5 from Droitwich we detoured via the picturesque village of Winchcombe which was once the centre of the ancient kingdom Mercia.  The first six images are of The George Inn which is reputed to be the oldest original building in Winchcombe and was used by the Abbott of Winchcombe Abbey to house visiting pilgrims.

Today the George Inn has been converted into individual cottages. Access to these dwellings is through the archway in image one and down a steep alleyway. This LINK gives details of how the original building has been converted.

Further into Winchcombe we saw some interesting timber-framed houses, some of which are detailed below.

On our return to the car which was parked next to Lloyds Bank (reputed to be the site of the original settlement) I passed a small toy store and was struck by the beautiful internal stone work - Cotswold honey-coloured stone. Upon closer examination I saw that the main stone beam across the fire and holding up the chimney breast had been repaired with metal strapping. I spoke to the owner of the store who said that it had happened soon after the fire had been completed and the wrought iron repair has lasted hundreds of years!

For more details see THIS LINK

We drove from Winchcombe over Bishops Cleave (which has some fantastic views of Tewkesbury) and down into Cheltenham where we spent most of the day shopping before having a very good 'all-you-can-eat' Chinese Buffet Lunch.


Sunday 23 October 2011

Grand Manner - the new web pages

Dave and Chris have recently updated the Grand Manner Web Pages, for full details go to this link The new pages feature updated images and additional information.  I know that there have been many hours spent tweaking the new site and I think it is a great improvement on the earlier version.

Good luck with the revised site and best wishes to Chris - who starts his University Course this month.


Friday 21 October 2011

On-Line build for Halloween - part two

With the construction completed, I undercoated the piece with a mix of Chaos Black and Scorched Brown. At this point I was looking to simply drybrush the heavy texture and get on with painting.

However two things.  Firstly I saw a post over on The Lead Adventure Forum showing a group of Pumpkin Headed troops then later when on a visit to Worcester, I picked up some beads to model some miniature pumpkins.

Here you see the the latest modelling, three 28mm scale pumpkins with metal-wire stalks and Milliput leaves.  I have built up the groundwork and roots with left-over Milliput.

Here you can see the three pumpkins nestled down at the base of the root/stalk.

And now - back to painting.  I think adding miniature pumpkins adds to the Halloween Theme as well as reminding readers that the initial idea was inspired by a 'real' pumpkin!


Tuesday 18 October 2011

An On-Line build for Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching I thought this On-Line build would be fun.  Last year I kept this pumpkin stalk and dried it out on the window sill. Since then it has laid gathering dust and waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

I trimmed off the base of the stalk with a large 'snap-off' bladed knife and mounted it onto a dried wood/bark chip with my hot glue gun.  Both pieces were then glued to a rough oval of 3mm plastic card.

The groundwork has been built-up with Terracotta coloured DAS Modelling Clay to model this old and gnarled tree trunk. This is not an original idea - but one copied from some article on the Web, sorry that I cannot remember where it came from or who posted it. If anyone remembers seeing it, please post details in the Comments section.

Finally for this post, I have added some ground texture by sprinkling sand and small sieved stones over uPVA glue. You should also be able to see where I have modelled roots and additional features to the trunk.

I am pleased with the effect so far and will be starting the painting soon. It is my hope (but not a promise) that I will be able to finish this piece of terrain before the 31st.

The piece is 110mm long x 65mm wide x 55mm tall.

Almost a year on and I am finally getting around to modelling something from this Halloween Pumpkin stalk.


Saturday 15 October 2011

Away-Day 2011 - a Tour of Herefordshire

For the last two years Dave Bodley (of Grand Manner) and I have had some great trips or Away-Days researching various historic building and museums. Previous days out have included a visit to Hessen Park in Germany and a day out at Weald and Downland Museum in Sussex.  This year our plan was a grand tour of the Welsh Marches stretching from Chepstow up to Chester. As the plans grew and grew and the Summer was coming to an end we decided that we had 'bitten of more than we could chew' and as realism struck home we  revised our Away-Days to have a day out driving around Worcester and Hereford and trying to see the main historical buildings that are in our back garden.

I planned the day and as late as the night before I was worried that we had not included enough to fill even one day.  I should never have worried. As it was we covered about 60% of the planned route!

Starting at Droitwich Spa, Worcester the first stop was Lower Smite to see this beautifully restored farm building. It sits on the side of a small hill which allows access to a below-ground store. I believe that the reconstruction work was carried out by Avoncroft Museum, Bromsgrove, but the building once finished has been allowed to stand on its original plot.

Next it was on to Warndon to see this 17th Century church.  St Nicholas' Church, Warndon has a restored wooden bell tower attached to an older stone built church.  Our first bit of good fortune was that the 'key holder' was doing his rounds and when we told him what we were planning on our away-day we were allowed access to both the church and the tower.  The tower interior showed signs of how the original had been built and was a great benefit to us as model makers.

Back into the car and through Worcester (We are planning another Away-Day for Worcester - seeing the traditional black and white buildings and a visit to The Commandery, so no stopping this time). Onto St Johns where we spent time examining both the reproduced Wooden-Framed house next to the Co Op superstore and then Alfred Taylors House where Dave was allowed to see and photograph the beautiful painted wall murals.

Heading South we drove to and then through Upton-on-Severn and out towards Ledbury.  On the hill climb up and over The Hereford Beacon we stopped and visited The Little Malvern Priory.  We had not planned this visit but it was one of the highlights of the day and very well worth a visit.  A small priory situated on the steep slopes of The Malverns with stunning views and an equally stunning interior.  A major plus is that situated to the West is a large Manor House with a Tudor black and white tower.

We drove in to Ledbury at about noon and with plans to have a pub lunch were looking forward to a quick walk around and a glass of local cider.  The weather was glorious and after parking at the back of The Feathers we emerged into bright sunshine and a crowded market square where a Continental Market was taking place. Two hours later (and still no cider) we were still exploring the fantastic array of buildings and regional architecture.  I think the highlight for me was the visit to The Butchers Row Museum where once again we spent time speaking to the curator about our plans and different historical buildings in the area.

The licensee of The Talbot, seeing us taking photos, asked us what we were doing.  When we told him, he asked if we would like to see the oak-panelled dinning room and showed us where 'buck-shotte' holes still marked the framing.

After a quick stop in Hereford City Centre where we walked around the Old House (a very prominent and ornately decorated building in the centre square) we had a quick snack (sandwiches which we had brought with us) a visit to The Hereford Model Centre and then made our way up to Leominster.

Our first major detour from the plan was a visit to Canon Pyon where I took this photo of a restored Dovecote.  the overwhelming memory of the day will be the strong and sweet scent of apples - it seemed that everywhere we went the scent of freshly picked apples and fermenting cider tantalised both out taste-buds and our nose.

Later we came across a second dovecote and as we were photographing it - along came the farmer (with over a hundred sheep in tow) to question us.  A couple of minutes later and we were pointed in the direction of further historical buildings.

Further North we visited Weobley - a town just crammed packed with traditional wooden-framed houses. If you have never been, make plans now - it is a fantastic day out.  This house was undergoing some extreme repairs and re-structuring.  the builder was saying that it would be completely rebuilt and used for holiday rented accommodation.

As well as the new carpentry, the archway (behind the white van) was being re-cobbled.

Weobley has dozens of wooden-framed buildings and if you have ever seen Grand Designs you will know of the town as one of the programmes follows a young couple and their modern house build while trying to blend-in with the local style.

From Weobley it was up to Pembridge and as the sun began to set we saw more timber-framed houses while following the black and white trail.

Our plan to move on to Leominster and then down to Bewdley never materialised as the day was now over. Similarly visits to Stokesay Castle (thanks Chris) and Brockhampton will have to wait for another Away-Day!

It is clear to Dave and I that our ill-conceived plans to do the whole the Welsh Marches in a day were totally unrealistic, equally even this short journey of less than 100miles succeeded in pointing out the folly of trying to cover so much in one day.  I came back with hundreds of images which OK may never be modelled. But the inspiration is quite marvellous and proves that in Worcester and Hereford you are never far from some beautiful history.  We are very lucky.

Maybe next time we will have time for a pub meal and that pint of cider.


Thursday 13 October 2011

IPMS Scale ModelWorld 2011

In one months time I will be visiting the IPMS Scale ModelWorld 2011 show at The International Centre, Telford. This is the main IPMS (International Plastic Modellers Society) meeting of the year with thousand of visitors from all over the world and hundreds of displays. In my opinion one of the best (if not the best) model shows in the world. Quite a claim, but in this case well deserved.  Full details can be found HERE

Last year I spent a full day studying the models and retailers on display and wrote nine separate Blog entries detailing some of the fantastic models I saw, for details go to Wargame Shows Labels or this LINK

My own plans are to visit the show on Sunday 13th November. I find the Sunday is a little quieter and as the main judging has taken place, you can see the competition entries/winners without interfering with the judges.

I have also convinced Dave (from Grand Manner) that he should come with me.  I have in previous years told him of the event, but this year he has agreed to come along.

For anyone interested in model making, model collecting, aviation, military history or just looking for a great day out, I would recommend this 100%. Just remember to bring lots of money as the choices on display are 'mouth-watering' and very hard to resist.

It is my intention to take many more photos and post them on this Blog, but seriously - if you can, please come along, I assure you that you will not be disappoint. This may sound like an advert - but I have no official connection with the IPMS group (although maybe I should join). I just feel that modellers everywhere deserve to see this exhibition at least once.

Full details are;
IPMS Scale ModelWorld
Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November 2011 at
The International Centre, Telford, Shropshire (just off the M54)


Tuesday 11 October 2011

Ming Officer for Flash Gordon

This particular character model is a conversion of an officer figure from the 40mm Graven Images/Cliffhanger range (sometimes available from Monolith Designs).  The model uses the body of the 40mm Cliffhanger miniature (CH015 Mongo Officers)  with the head and Greek helmet from a Spartan Miniatures Hoplite (HML003 Greek Hero B).  I have 'pinned' the head for added strength and filled the gaps with Green Stuff.  Additional uniform detailing is built up with Green Stuff.

Photo One - Shows the finished miniature mounted on to a 40mm round base, the groundwork being built-up with broken cork (old wine bottle cork) and Milliput.

Photo Two - The same miniature but with the image taken from a different angle.

Photo Three - Neither figure is 'stock' both having some conversion/detailing work carried out but I do feel that this photo shows how a miniature can be easily converted.  I choose the dark red colour scheme for two reasons, firstly to make it as different as possible to the white clad figure and secondly as I did not want another blue clad officer. I am less confident at painting blue than I am at painting red?

I converted and based the figure just over a week ago, having the Spartan head in my spares box.  The painting was finished in one evening with the gloss varnish going on last night and the matt varnish and flock being finished this morning.

Overall I am happy with this finished figure (particularly the jewel on the belt buckle) however I realise that my 'idealized' or 'impressionistic' painting style may not be to everyone's liking.  Given that my two previous Flash Gordon miniatures - Vultan and Frigia Officer have not come out as expected, I am pleased that this one has.


Monday 10 October 2011


A bit of a mixed bag with this post as I thought it was about time I commented on current or on-going projects.

During the Summer I have continued to read books, paint models and build terrain.  Most (but not all) have been recorded here.

Personally speaking I do not want to change the style or 'feel' of this Blog as I find producing it very therapeutic.

Having spent a huge amount of time modelling the Sudan Paddle Steamers and Sudan Buildings for Dave at Grand Manner. My order book has been slow.  I am not worried as after building over 50 separate pieces, all modular and inter-changeable - I think I deserve a rest.

Dave and I have another 'Away-Day' booked for this weekend, so I am hopeful that more modelling commissions will come soon.

Flash Gordon;
The increase in posts relating to my 40mm Flash Gordon project has come as a bit of a surprise to me and was not planned.  I recall reading a post on some Blog of a modeller who had set himself the goal of painting 365 figures in 2011.  As my own 'Lead Mountain' is huge, I thought that a slightly smaller goal of one miniature a week would force me to get painting.  So far this has been quite enjoyable and I can see it continuing.

I have been busy building and writing Masterclass Articles for Barking Irons Online.  When Craig asked me to supply a monthly terrain building article I felt that I needed to stock-pile a few so as to give me some breathing space.  Regular readers will know that full details are posted here when the article is published (usually the first week of each month).  I can tell you that there are enough finished articles to run until the New Year plus a couple of 'specials' that should be released very soon.

In addition, I continue to write stories for BIO with White Liar short stories and even a Flintloque themed Novella due out soon.

Over the last six months I have set myself the goal of reducing my 'Lead Mountain' and so further figure modelling and painting posts will continue this year and into 2012.

Space 1889/Aeronef;
Since the announcement of new Space 1889 miniatures and rule books by Frank Chadwick, my interest has waned. I have no immediate plans for more Aeronef's, but this might change.

Moved to the 'back boiler' over the last couple of months, but still a project that I am looking forward to adding too.  Currently there are plans for a Typhon gaming board with themed terrain and more miniatures - but 'don't tell my Wife.'

I have purchased a second-hand Corgi Blake's 7 Liberator model from e-bay with the intention of re-modelling it and mounting it as a gaming piece.  This could lead to yet another new project.

2011 has been busy and I am sure will continue to be busy, but should anyone want me to produce masters for them, please contact me via this Blog.


Sunday 9 October 2011

The Shadow over Innsmouth

BBC Radio 4 Extra have recently run the audio play The Shadow over Innsmouth by H. P. Lovecraft.  Split into five half hour episodes, I enjoyed this production much more than the earlier Mountains of Madness which I felt did not portray the 'horror' as much or as well as this particular tale.

Both stories were read by Richard Coyle and had very high production values and beautifully atmospheric sound effects.

I tend to listen to my DAB radio when modelling or painting, preferring either sport stations (Radio 5, Radio 5 Extra or Talk Sport) and speech or drama stations (Radio 4 Extra, which until recently was called Radio 7 and Radio 4).  These audio books are a great way of passing the time while in 'the-shed-at-the-bottom-of-the-garden'.


Saturday 8 October 2011

Simians and a standing stone

Continuing with my painting marathon and trying to make a dent in my 'lead mountain' I have based and painted these Monkeys for my Flash Gordon collection.

The group of four simians were all painted over a simple black basecoat.

Photo Two - The metal monkeys - three miniatures from Lance and Laser (an American based miniatures company). Two are based on 30mm round bases, the third on a 40mm base.

Photo Three - A resin monkey sitting on top of a tree trunk.  The figure was picked up at a tradeshow some time ago and has sat contently in my 'too-do' box for some time.  Once again painted over a black undercoat and mounted on a 30mm round base.

Photo Four - The standing stone.  Following an earlier post where I had based a simple stone from the garden on a Milliput base my Wife found this small strip of slate and asked me if I wanted it.  The stone is a simple slate off-cut superglued to a 40mm round base and the groundwork built up with Milliput then textured with sieved stones and fine sand. The stone stands 65mm tall.

This particular image reminds me of a scene from a film! Any ideas which one?

Photo Five - The same standing stone alongside my Vultan character figure.

This image also shows the finished and flocked Vultan base - something that was missing from the earlier post.

The Flash Gordon collection continues to grow.


Friday 7 October 2011

The Coronation by Boris Akunin

Earlier this week I finished the latest Erast Fandorin novel The Coronation by Boris Akunin.  For anyone not familiar with this series of Russian themed books, I would describe them as a Russian Sherlock Holmes, 'Who Dunnit', beautifully written and with well drawn-out characters and plots.

The Coronation places Fandorin at the heart of the Russian Coronation and right in the middle of a kidnap attempt.  The story is written from the stand point of the head servant and this offers and interesting and sometimes amusing view of life at a Russian Royal Household.

I will not give away too much in the way of plot but will say that I found it flowed and moved along quickly. I would recommend that new readers start with book one - The Winter Queen as this sets up back-story for the stammering hero, Erast Fandorin.  The second series of books by Boris Akunin, The Sister Pelagia mysteries are also worth checking out.

For full details search out Boris Akunin - all of his books are available via the library or cheaply in second-hand book stores.  I would recommend these two series of novels to anyone interested in who dunnit or Sherlock Holmes style genres.


Wednesday 5 October 2011

Prince Vultan Leader of the Hawkmen - part two

In this post I have detailed the steps in painting my 40mm Flash Gordon Miniature conversion of Prince Vultan, Leader of the Hawkmen.

Photo One - The finished Prince Vultan, just awaiting some static grass clumps.

Photo Two - The miniature painted with matt black spray paint.

Photo Three - To help define the different areas I dry brushed the whole figure with Scorched Brown from Vallejo.

Photo Four - Starting with the flesh areas which were built up over Snakebite Leather from Games Workshop.

Photo Five - the Bronze breastplate was built up over Scorched Brown, using various GW Metallic paints, while the kilt or skirt was painted red to match in with my existing Hawkmen.

Photo Six - Next was the base. The groundwork is Scorched Brown with snakebite Leather highlights and the stones are a mix of Chaos Black and Skull White with individual stones picked out in the same mix.

Photo Seven - My first attempt at the wings.

Photo Eight - The wings further highlighted with the small white feather painted white rather than drybrushed white.  I think this looks better and fits my other Hawkmen better.

Photos Nine and Ten - The finished figure from different angles and with all the painting complete.

Photo Eleven - Finished and shown alongside one of the original Hawkmen conversions for comparison.

Finally, I have tried (very hard) to paint this particular miniature to a higher standard, however I am disappoint with the finish and quality I have achieved.  I am uncertain if my miniature painting skills have improved over the last ten years, feeling that my original Flash Gordon miniature (see much earlier posts) was one of my better painted figures.

I have thought long and hard over this and believe that 'washes' although much easier to use have in fact given my newly painted miniatures a rather dull look.

Overall I am pleased with the figure and proud to have it as a gaming piece.  I just wish I could 'take the next step' and have Superb painted figures, rather than just practical or gaming miniatures.  By the way I do not feel the same about my Flintloque figures, which I quite enjoy painting in a 'cartoon-y' style.

Having concentrated on my Flash Gordon collection for some weeks, I should now move back to something else - however my painting desk is currently full of FG miniatures, so just maybe there are more to come over the next couple of weeks.