Friday, 27 June 2014

A couple of ladies...

"I say! Girl!  Goodness, where are your clothes?" gasped Agnes O'Brien as she rounded the strangely sinister statue in Sir Lawrence Swann's garden in the Meon Valley.  The poor girl was practically naked except for a few barbaric trinkets and a very immodest loin cloth.  The girl looked back at her evenly, seemingly unashamed by her state of nakedness.  "Do you speak English?  Where is Sir Lawrence?"  The girl must be some sort of primitive savage who Swann had brought back from Egypt.  "Are you one of Sir Lawrence's dusky acolytes from Darkest Africa?  Are you, perhaps, a Hottentot?"  It was bad enough having to address a woman with no clothes on but one who just stood there and stared at you, as if you were the one prancing about in your natural state, was even worse.

"Nah, love.  I'm from Rovver'ive.  You ain't got a ciggie ave ya?" said the girl.

"What impertinence!" said Agnes, swatting the girl's rear with her parasol.  

"Ooh!  Do vat again!" grinned the girl.

Agnes retreated towards the house in some haste, wondering what else she was going to discover in Sir Lawrence's house.


Mark Copplestone sculpted Foundry Darkest Africa lady and Egyptian Slave girl from new firm Dark Fable Miniatures completed last weekend.  The slave girl will serve double duty back in the Bronze Age.  The Sphinx was an unexpected present from the Old Bat who saw it in the aquarium section of the local garden centre.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ripper Street Series Three begins filming in Manchester

Ripper Street began filming its third series last week in Manchester; the first time the production crew has moved outside Dublin.  They were shooting outside the old Town Hall.  Interestingly, given the announcement of the new Gothic incarnation of IHMN, part of Daniel Radcliffe's new Frankenstein film was shot there recently too.

The crew is moving onto Loughborough and then back to Dublin for the eight episodes of Series 3.

Filming continues until August for an Autumn premiere on Amazon's online film service and then on the BBC a few months afterwards (I would guess in its usual winter slot).

Some useful costume colour reference material here.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Nineteenth Century Street Scene in colour

I was very taken by this recently released colour postcard of a New York Street in the nineteenth century.  Alright, it isn't London but it gives a very good idea of the hustle and bustle of streets at the time, with market stalls along the edge of the road. Worth remembering.

I have always been fascinated by the United States as a Lost World where a natural wilderness was tamed (some would say ruined) in less than a couple of centuries.    I will have to pick up the exorbitantly priced (£135) book of these colour postcards of past America when it is published.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Prince of Wales' Extraordinary Company

Well, I am keeping up with the release of new North Star IHMN companies even if I am not painting them!  I had forgotten I had pre-ordered the new PoWEC until they turned up at home last week.  A nice surprise!

This is a particularly nice set for someone like me who enjoys painting Sudan and Zulu War British.  Basically the set consists of six figures in standard home service uniform (i.e. the helmet has the spike on which wasn't used in the field).  There is a  sergeant in a bearskin, a medic in a patrol jacket, a character with some sort of large support weapon (I can't be bothered to get up and have a look at the rules as I have hurt my leg so am trying not to walk unless I have to) and the company leader, Captain Napier.  The official version of Captain Napier has him, oddly, in infantry uniform but with a lifeguard's cuirass.  Or, at least an approximation of one.  The one on the model is too short and finishes above the infantry belt whereas the actual ones worn at the time would have finished lower down with the belt over the cuirass.  I shouldn't be worrying about this sort of thing!  However, because I pre-ordered I also got a version of Captain Napier without the cuirass too, which is much better.  He will become Captain Jonty Smalme in my company!

Anyway, it's very tempting to get on with these straight away (as you can see I have already mounted them on washers) although I do want to finish a company of Confederation of the Rhine first.  Maybe I'll just paint one!

I am thinking about combining some figures from this unit with some of my Naval Brigade to check out Sir Lawrence Swann's house in Hampshire, given Scotland Yard were repelled from the area lately

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

In Her Majesty's Name - my first game: The Servants of Ra vs Scotland Yard

Somewhere in Hampshire: my forces lurk in the hamlet while innocent bystanders mill about unconcernedly

Alastair at Guildford Wargames Club very kindly offered me my first game of In Her Majesty's Name, which we played at the club night yesterday.  Now, I have very many sets of rules, most of which I have never played, so it is particularly satisfying to christen a new set.  Fortunately, Alastair is well aware that as a wargamer I am very much a painter and was very patient with me as I stumbled through these rules for the first time.  

Brontosaurus (1897) by Charles R Knight (1874-1953) One of my favourite dinosaur pictures when I was a child and nothing to do with IHMN - yet!

Firstly, I had to assemble my force and work out their mystical powers which I did while simultaneously watching the addictive Revenge of the Egghead on TV.  I am shocked at the low level of general knowledge that most people display on this.  Why enter a quiz show if you have no general knowledge?  If they'd all read Look & Learn when they were young, as I did, they would know a lot more stuff.  Of course, it does mean that my scientific knowledge, for example, doesn't really cover anything that has happened since 1974.  That's why they are still brontosauri in my mind.  

Anyway, we had agreed 250 points, which meant I could take most of the North Star company with the exception of the mummified priest.  Instead I took my newly painted (the kiss of death) Nubian as a Nubian guard for 25 points and a good investment he turned out to be.  I was a bit worried about this company because of the seemingly fragile nature of the cultists, of which I had seven, so I wanted the Nubian guard with his shotgun to give a ranged attack.  I had to quickly choose some mystical powers for Akhenaton, Sir Lawrence Swann and Zairah Al-Ghais.  Not knowing how they worked in practice I chose largely defensive powers such as clouding men's minds to try to ward off the long range weapons of the Scotland Yard men.  This was, indeed, effective and forced them into having to close into hand to hand combat; perhaps more than they would have liked.

Alastair's civilians mill around some crates of produce.  Probably rhubarb, rhubarb

We had an English rural set-up with a lot of well dressed civilians wandering around, thanks to Alastair's random direction dice, and generally getting in the way.  I deployed in the hamlet while Alastair's Scotland Yard men advanced through the fields, in two groups, with military precision. 

Pig alert!  Scotland yard advance in the distance as Akhenaton prepares to take cover.

Akhenaton took some of his cultists (all members of the Worshipful Company of Bankers -so no one cares if they die) over to protect his flank by the barn.  Alastair, who provided all the scenery and civilians had placed some livestock on the board too.  There was some discussion as to whether this should have been a steam powered pig.

Sir Lawrence urges Shabaka on behind the barn which would become the epicentre of the battle

After several turns of movement, where I sent more men to boost the right flank, Scotland Yard's redoubtable sergeant and Shabaka the Nubian faced off and exchanged the first fire of the game.  Alastair has played a few games of this and I had only had a quick read through the rules but it was very easy to pick up the basics.  The only thing we couldn't find (and I am sure it is in there somewhere) was what effect difficult terrain has on movement.  It is stated that there is a movement penalty for each of the three types of difficult terrain in the rules but while the shooting penalty is clear the movement penalty wasn't.

The inspector leads his men into the high street

On my left flank the Scotland Yard chaps soon shot most of my cultists and volley fire by the Special Branch put paid to one in the centre.  Akhenaton was safe because of his clouding men's minds power, which meant he could only be shot if in base to base contact, but he decided to retreat to the back of the barn anyway.  Shabaka successfully downed the sergeant but Dr Watson was on hand to use his medic's talent to revive him on the next move, annoyingly.  Things were not going well for the Servants of Ra.  I had lost four out of my eleven figures in two turns!

Brains vs brawn: Sherlock and Shabaka face off

Then I had a surprise!  One of the random civilian ladies turned out to be the consulting detective in disguise!  And he was right in the middle of my force which I had consolidated around the back of the barn.  He attacked Shabaka from the rear which was a bigger shock than holding off the assault from the constabulary with their electro-truncheons.  At this point I was down to just five figures while Alastair had eight still in action.  An enormous hand to hand brawl ensued with multiple attacks, shooting from melee and all sorts of other shenanigans.  This was where I discovered the almost invincible strength of Akhenaton.  He started to cleave through the opposition with his mighty Khopesh while the lovely Zairah did for Dr Watson.  Sir Lawrence, as all good cult leaders should, ran away and hid for most of this. 

Gradually, the tables turned and Scotland Yard started to lose more and more men as Zairah sliced through them like a Whirling Dervish and Akhenaton fended off the constables.  Holmes and Shabaka got involved in a massive slugfest which went on for turns while two Special Branch men went after the cowardly Sir Lawrence.  Outnumbered two to one he unexpectedly put one of his attackers down with a very unpainterly roundhouse punch.

Sir Lawrence goes on the attack 

Surprised by the eminent painter's aggressiveness the Special Branch man disengaged, only to have Sir Lawrence pursue him.  Meanwhile Akhenaton and Zairah attacked Holmes.  After a fight Holmes succumbed, as did Sir Lawrence.  The cowardly (sensible) Special Branch man fled the field leaving the hamlet to Akhenaton and Zairah.  A very rare wargames win for the Legatus!

Zairah rushes over to the fallen artist.  Can she revive him?  Will he ever paint a naked Egyptian slave girl again?  We'll have to see in the next game!

There is a reason that In Her Majesty's Name is selling like hot cakes and that is because it is an excellent, well thought-out game that even an idiot like me can pick up very quickly!  Although I thought the Servants of Ra would have no hope against Scotland Yard their key characters are tremendously strong and the game was very close.  A lot of thought has gone into the composition of the companies and all credit to Messrs Cartmell and Murton for this.  During the game, Alastair and I were thinking of all sorts of other scenarios and periods we could play with these rules and he is currently working on some African cannibals against which I could try to devise a Belgian Force Publique company.  So it could be IHMN in Africa next!  I have the new supplement Heroes, Villains and Fiends but haven't read it yet; something I will remedy shortly!

There is an interesting, recent YouTube video of Mr Cartmell discussing some possible directions the game might take, which is well worth a look.  Pulp and swashbucklers, possibly.  I'd be in for both of those!

Now I am enthused to get on and paint my next company.  I have started Scotland Yard so that will be next I think!  I don't think, from what he said during his video interview, that Mr Cartmell will be too pleased with the figures for an unofficial company I am working on.  Too many corsets and goggles!  

Thanks to Alastair for putting this game on and providing all the scenery.  It was actually a game that didn't get me stressed!  He is a very calming and convivial opponent!

Excellent fun and a highly recommended set of rules!

Friday, 28 February 2014

The Servants of Ra: Zairah

Here is Zairah from the Servants of Ra company.  This is a lovely, animated figure but her slim ankle is a weak point and she needs careful handling.

She was discovered by Sir Lawrence Swann during his two year stay in Cairo,  He introduces her, in London, as his draughtswoman and explains that she is someone who would copy Egyptian inscriptions, sculptures and paintings as source material for his magnum opus The Pharaoh Akhenaten and his court inspect candidates for the role of temple dancing girls purchased from an Akkadian slave trader.  A painting he is producing for the Worshipful Company of Bankers livery hall in Threadneedle Street.

"Just make sure there are lots of naked slave girls in it. And heaps of gold!" demanded Sir Paul Fudgge ("that's two gs, old man"), one of the richest but most unpopular aldermen in the City of London, who had commissioned the painting.

Although she is, indeed, a talented artist, Swann actually discovered Zairah dancing virtually naked in a brothel just a few streets behind his hotel, Shepheard's, in Cairo.  Sir Lawrence was surprised at the number of such establishments so close to Shepheard's and the recently renovated Grand Hotel.  He supposed the proximity of the Greek Consulate had something to do with it.  He needed a dancer who could be the centrepiece of his painting.  In  truth, he was looking for a Circassian dancing girl, as he supposed that they might be more likely to happily dispense with their clothes than the local lovelies.  When he saw Zairah, however, he knew he had found his model.  She had the most beautiful back he had ever seen and, indeed, her entire rear aspect was one of the great sights of Egypt. Or so he told himself as Zairah went through a series of artistic contortions for him in his room at Shepheard's, while he tried to capture her sinuous form on paper.  

He discovered both her extraordinary gymnastic ability and her skill with a blade when a trio of unsavoury locals tried to relieve him of his Breguet pocket watch in the narrow alleys behind the Khan el-Khalili souk.  Zairah, in a sudden flash of movement, disarmed one robber with a swift blow to his wrist and flicked the knife into the air with her foot before it hit the ground. She caught it, deftly, in her dainty hand and supporting herself on the shoulder of the astounded knifeman ran up the side of a wall to land a solid kick on the head of the thief behind.  A quick slash of the next man's cheek, with her recently acquired blade, sent the low life scum scuttling back into the shadows. 

Shortly afterwards, recovering over a strong Turkish coffee in Fishawi's coffee house, Sir Lawrence offered to employ Zairah full time as draughtswoman, model and bodyguard.  He took a room for her adjoining his, for the sake of propriety, although it had an interconnecting door which was never locked. 

One afternoon, as she stood on the small balcony overlooking the delightful garden at the rear of the hotel, she began to speak of a lost tomb discovered by a Turkish archaeologist.  An intact, possibly royal, tomb containing an extraordinary device covered in hieroglyphs linking it to Akhenaten himself. 

Having become fascinated by the pharaoh in the research for his painting, Swann was intrigued but sceptical.

"I would bet ten thousand pounds that there are no intact royal tombs in the whole of Egypt.  No one will ever find one. They have all been plundered by filthy Egyptians; either in antiquity or more recently, since Egyptology has become so fashionable!" he declared. "No offence about the "filthy Egyptian" comment, of course, young Zairah!"

"No offence taken.  The sponge bath you gave me this morning saw to that, anyway!" she giggled.

"How do you know this Turkish chap?" asked Swann.  Zairah raised one elegant eyebrow and looked at the floor.

"I see.  Best not to ask.  Perhaps I should meet the fellow!"

"Perhaps you should.   I will arrange it!"

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Servants of Ra: Rumblings in Hampshire

A gentleman with the hideously foreign name of Laurens van Zwaan would never have been completely acceptable in the more rarefied strata of English society. As Sir Lawrence Swann, however, the famous painter was welcome at every society occasion, with the embarrassing exception of Court, where her Majesty the Queen lately refused to receive him because of an increasingly dubious reputation.  She had knighted him only last year, on his return from two years painting in Egypt.  Now, however, the Queen Empress believed that an unmarried man such as Sir Lawrence should not be seen to be consorting with quite so many young, unaccompanied women at his Egyptian-decorated home in Hampshire.  Arguments that a famous painter of scenes of Ancient Egypt would need a multiplicity of young female models, to help him replicate the court of the pharaohs for the vast painting commissioned by one of the City livery companies, fell on haughtily deaf royal ears.  The word harem had been mentioned on more than one occasion.   Sir Lawrence's recent affectation of wearing a tarboosh, since his return from Cairo, did little to allay the Queen's suspicions of what might be termed "Ottoman" tendencies.

In the smoking room of the United Services Club in Pall Mall, Lt. Colonel "Eggy" Newman, who lived not far from Sir Lawrence in the Meon Valley, was telling of strange comings and goings, odd lights in the middle of the night and unearthly shrieks at the painter's house.  "The general feeling locally is that odd rites are taking place there. Arcane rites.  Heathen rites.  All to do with the chap's fascination with the Pharaohs.  Half naked slave girls and what have you."  He took an appreciative sip of his Taylor's 1868, from a vintage before the phylloxera blight ravaged the Douro a few years later.

"I say!" said Captain Jonty Smalme.  "How do you know all this?  Met the fellow in the Castle at Cowes this summer.  Seemed a perfectly decent chap for a foreigner, apart from not liking Stilton.  Thought the Dutch ate cheese all the time, what? Although I never quite know with the Dutch whether they are our friends or enemies.  Not like the French, of course.  Know where you are with the French. Fire on the uproll eh, Admiral?"  He glanced across at Admiral Troutbridge who was puffing on a large cigar and gazing into the middle distance. "But the Dutch?" Smalme continued.  "I know they gave us a king and what have you but didn't they give your chaps a good pasting a couple of hundred years ago?"  Smalme, who was very much the junior officer sat around the table and not eligible to be a member of the club, looked at Admiral Troutbridge realising that he might have just gone too far.  Too much port. Again.

"Dashed good chaps in a sea fight," replied the Admiral. "Strapping milk-fed gels.  Good at dykes.  Overrated cheese. Talk too loudly!"  He looked at Smalme pointedly.

"I think," said Newman, "that someone should come down to Hampshire and investigate his house.  Do a bit of a recce.  After all, Holland is right next door to Germany and he could be up to things a lot more sinister than having a few half naked bints running about."

"Perhaps some of the bints need rescuing..." ventured Smalme.

"Well done, Smalme.  I'll leave it to you to put a small force together. Strictly informal. I'm sure the Admiral can supply a couple of chaps from the Senior Service."

"You can count on it!" confirmed Troutbridge. "I'll get some fellows up from Pompey!"

"What?" said Smalme, realising he had been outmanoeuvred.  What had he let himself in for?

Friday, 24 January 2014

Steampunk Cheescake!

The Legatus is not really surprised to discover that there is a whole genre of Victorian steampunk cheesecake.  Certainly some of the wargames figures out there fall into this category and I am currently working on one now, although as she is one of the most challenging figures I have ever attempted to paint I'm not going to do any work in progress shots in case, as is quite likely, she turns out to be a total disaster!

Our first picture is by Taiwan-born American comic-book artist Ben Dunne who has actually written a book on how to draw steampunk; and their are quite a few books on this subject.   The young lady's weapons have a seventeenth century look to them.  She illustrates many of the conventions of the genre:  brass back pack, goggles, straps, random clock faces/pressure gauges and an inability to keep her upper thigh covered. Her blouse is more early Edwardian and, in common with a lot of these pictures, she sports anachronistic suspenders (garter belt for our American friends) for her stockings. Dunne was influenced by Manga early on while living in Taiwan as can be seen from her face.

A sword-armed lady this one, channeling Catherine Zeta-Jones, in Zorro perhaps.  Hopeless underwear here: Victorian ladies would have worn knee length drawers, no suspenders and bras hadn't been invented yet.  Probably a scientist could work out exactly how many sword strokes it would have needed to render her into this state.

This is a better effort, although it is let down by the suspenders and the sheer stockings.  The wings are intriguing.

Pistol connected to backpack. Check.  Goggles check!  Random dials attached to stockings. Check.  At least this girl doesn't have suspenders but the required tightness of her garter, in order to support all those brass dials, would surely cut off the blood to her legs.  The gloves are a nice touch but the effort of lugging all that equipment around has given her rather fearsome shoulder muscles.

Our next steampunk heroine, who looks like she may, in fact be the one above her as well, is certainly generating a lot of steam from her enormous, but rather nineteen thirties, backpack. She is encased in a frankly very un-Victorian catsuit affair. Her shoes are wrong so we can’t give this effort a high mark. Where are her goggles? Where are her dials?

More steam in this one and at least she has boots and goggles. Her trousers, vest and screwdriver all put her rather later than the nineteenth century, however.  Still she would make a good engineer (no doubt the Professor's wayward niece) in the engine room of a steam powered tunnelling machine or some prototype land dreadnought.

A trio of ladies, now, and not a backpack in sight but a very assertively displayed frontpack instead. Goggles straps (one of which appears to be dragging the centre lady’s petticoat rapidly southwards) and big brass-bound pistols are in evidence. There is not much point in having a corset that is so abbreviated that it doesn’t cover the waist, however.   The lady on the right has a nicely sportif hat; ideal for riding or a spot of archery, perhaps.

This picture of two exhausted looking maids (why are they so tired, we ask?) was the first steampunk cheesecake picture we found. What is that, exactly, gazing at them through the window? Perhaps it is a Victorian gentleman paid to play phonograph cylinders looking for a young lady to moles...,er, impress? A reasonable attempt at the stockings but those knickers are hopeless. The bra, of course, didn’t really catch on until the period of the Great War with the first short, boned camisole appearing in about 1900. It certainly didn’t look anything like this frothy, abbreviated little number.

The final one, I have to say, is my favourite. Not only does the lady look feistily independent but her clothes are much better; with lace cuffs, ankle boots and striped stockings, which were very popular at the end of the nineteenth century. She has a nice hat too. Too many of these ladies are out and about without hats which is certainly not the thing!  The brass encased fingers add the requisite steampunk element as does her fearsome looking pistol

So, I hope to get on with my own steampunk heroine this weekend.  

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Allan Quatermain

I've just completed my third West Wind Empire of the Dead figure: Allan Quatermain.  Although he was easy to paint I'm not quite so enamoured of him as a figure compared with Irene Adler and Captain Nemo.  The main issue I have with him is the way his hat sits rather uncomfortably perched on top of his head.  His gun looks a bit short too for the sort of elephant gun I would imagine him carrying. 

His clothes look like they are, in part, based on Sean Connery's portrayal from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

For the Legatus, Allan Quatermain will always be Stewart Granger, as seen in King Solomon's Mines (1950).  Unusually for the time, actually shot in Africa (the prospect of having to live in a tent was what caused original choice for the role Errol Flynn to pass on the part) the film is unusual in that it doesn't have an accompanying musical score.

Richards Carlson, Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger in King Solomon's Mines

The Legatus listens to a lot of soundtrack music, which is particularly good for painting too, but, really, the notion of music playing in the background of a film is quite odd if you think about it.   A hangover from the days of silent film it is strange that so much effort goes into making what appears on screen as realistic as possible and then accompanies it by the completely unrealistic practice of having music underlining the action.  In a way, it is just as unrealistic as the much derided idea that in Bollywood films everyone suddenly breaks into a song and dance routine, even in an otherwise serious drama.  But, of course, King Solomon's Mines, an otherwise excellent film, seems to have something lacking about it because of the absence of music.   I painted Quatermain to the sound of the scores from Mountains of the Moon by Michael Small and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Trevor Jones (his music is better than the film itself).

Next up are The Servants of Ra figures for In Her Majesty's Name.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Irene Adler my first figure of 2014

The light has been just awful lately, as we suffer almost constant inundation, so although I finished this Empire of the Dead Irene Adler figure a few days ago it has been too dark to photograph her.  This is my second EotD figure and she was, like Captain Nemo, lovely to paint.

I might try to finish my IHMN policemen next but they will need good light to work on, given the need for some quite subtle shading.  I bought the Brick Lane Collective for IHMN too from North Star.  Given North Star's leisurely service they won't be with me for several weeks, I suspect, in contrast to some figures I ordered from Australia (more about which shortly) recently which arrived in about five days.

Rachel McAdams

Irene Adler, an American opera singer, appeared in the 1891 Sherlock Holmes story A Scandal in Bohemia.  As a woman who gets the better of Homes, despite appearing in just the one story, she has engendered a fascination greater than her actual profile in the original stories.

Robert Downey, Jr and  Rachel McAdams

Recent versions of Sherlock Holmes have included a representation of Irene Adler.  Rachel McAdams turn in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows (2011) was feisty and coquettish.  She also displayed some fetching Victorian underwear.

Natalie Dormer

Both the current modern day adaptions of the Holmes stories, Sherlock and Elementary have also featured Irene Adler.  In the US made, Elementary she was played by Natalie Dormer and the supposed death of Adler was the reason that Holmes took up drugs.

Lara Pulver (dressed, unusually)

In the episode of Sherlock, A Scandal in Belgravia, the plot is very much an update of the original story although Adler is English and played by Lara Pulver in a notorious performance that enabled the episode to become the BBC's most watched programme on iPlayer.

Gayle Hunnicutt

My favourite Irene Adler, however, is the gorgeous Gayle Hunnicutt in the 1984 version of The Scandal in Bohemia which was the first episode of the definitive Jeremy Brett Granada series.

Gayle Hunnicutt and Jeremy Brett

A glimmer of hope for Ripper Street

Several newspapers reported yesterday that the BBC was looking for a partner to fund a third series and is in talks with LoveFilm.

Let's hope this is true and that the resultant budget cuts won't ruin it  It remains a continued inspiration for my slow but sure progress on my various steampunk figures.  I based and undercoated another few figures today. Hopefully I can do a bit at the weekend but it's looking like I will not have much time again. 

Finding Nemo

 Lots of teeth!

When I got my big box of West Wind's Empire of the Dead Requiem figures I couldn't for the life of me remember which figures I had ordered.  I then had to go on several trips so just based up all the individual figures and decided to work out who was who afterwards.  

One figure which was quite easy to identify was Nemo, especially if you have seen The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. I decided to start work on him as the first of my Empire of the Dead figures and I finished him today.  As ever, I am finding it easier to concentrate on character figures at present rather than trying to paint units of anything but this does mean my slow painting speed has now become glacial.  This is my first completed figure in five weeks. 

This is the first West Wind figure I have ever painted and I found the level of detail excellent with hardly any mould lines and no flash.  I'm looking forward to doing some more.  They have now issued an entire Captain Nemo and crew set with Nemo dressed more in the manner of the Disney film of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Looks like I will have to get that too.  Then, of course, I will need a Nautilus!

Ripper Street cancelled

No more tarts with hearts

I was shocked to learn, from a number of other blogs, that the BBC has cancelled Victorian crime drama Ripper Street, basically because it couldn't compete with I'm a Celebrity Get me out of Here in the ratings.  Especially as I was about to start work on two of the North Star In Her Majesty's Name figures based on the actors from the show. There is an online petition you can sign but it will do no good, I'm afraid.  Not because it hasn't had enough signatures, which it hasn't, but because that is not how the BBC works.  It is a monolithic governmental organisation that is far from responsive to anything, and will, like government, never acknowledge its mistakes.  My sister worked there for a couple of years as an external consultant and said it was the worst managed organisation she had ever come across.  A friend of mine was a BBC producer (he is now a freelance) and despite being quite a lot more liberal (not to say a complete pinko) than the Legatus, said that he felt like a fascist. there.  Odd then, that something as commercial as ratings now seems to hold sway over creative instincts. 

The key issue is, of course, why the BBC feel that they have to chase ratings at all given that they do not (yet) take advertising.  Shouldn't they just be making the best programmes they can?  Of course, I suspect that Ripper Street was very expensive to make compared with bunging a lot of members of the public in a tent and getting them to bake scones.  

Lost World Monster Hunters!

I finished another two figures today to complete my initial Lost World force.  From left to right we have Zambo, Edward Malone, Professor Challenger, Professor Summerlee and Lord John Roxton.  They are a mixture of Foundry Darkest Africa and Copplestone Castings High Adventure series.   Challenger was the one I was struggling with but I found I had a spare Foundry John Hanning Speke figure which had an appropriately large beard so after a bit of surgery and the addition of a Greenstuff jacket I had something usable and a little different from the original figure.

Now I may add a defiantly non-literary woman to the plateau-ascending group as a nod to all their cinematic incarnations.  However, finding a good adventuress for 1912 will be tricky.  By 1912 corsets were still worn (they would survive until just after WW1) giving a slimline look with long straight skirts and loose blouses.  Most of the female 28mm figures are either mid-Victorian (crinolines and full skirts), late Victorian, (small bustles, fitted bodices) or nineteen twenties and thirties (mid-calf skirts or jodphurs - first worn by women following Coco Chanel in 1921).  More research needed!