Monday, 20 January 2014

Back from the Future: Lost World monster hunters for In Her Majesty's Name...

Lord John Roxton tracks something that has escaped the plateau

I've been wondering about putting together my own company for In Her Majesty's Name but every time I think of something someone else has already done it.  Now, however, I have an idea of something that might work and which will also help start me on another project I have had percolating away for some years now.

Neovenator: the Isle of Wight's very own dinosaur

I have been planning a Lost World project for some time and have been steadily collecting model dinosaurs from a variety of sources, including Copplestone Castings, the British Museum shop and various seaside shops on the Isle of Wight which is, of course, officially Dinosaur Island this year.

Copplestone Castings figure from the Dinosaur Hunter's pack

It was just a matter of finding the right figures for the Lost World characters.  Searching through the lead pile I found figures for most of the characters I need from Foundry's Darkest Africa and Copplestone's High Adventure ranges. So here is the first from my Lost World/Monster Hunters company, Lord John Roxton, who I painted over the weekend.  I really like this figure, with his backpack and blanket roll, but the shorts are really wrong for Victorian times.

Conan Doyle's version of the four adventurers

The Lost World project will look at the successor to the Professor Challenger expedition which, at the end of The Lost World novel, was going to include just Roxton and Malone.  I will have both Summerlee and Challenger join the expedition at the last minute.  I found figures for Malone and Summerlee quite quickly but Challenger was, er, a challenge.  I needed someone, ideally, with a very big beard! The problem is now solved and I hope to finish painting all three, plus the usually forgotten character of Zambo, in the next week.

Jill St John in The Lost World (1960)

This also gives me the opportunity to field a suitably feisty female character.  Every film or TV version has added a gratuitous female adventurer to the expedition: Paula White (Bessie Love) in the 1925 version,  Jennifer Holmes (Jill St John) in the 1960 version, Jennie Nielsen (Tamara Gorski) in the two John Rhys-Davies 1992 films, Amanda White (Jayne Heitmeyer) in the 1998 version, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely - rather splendid) in the 1999 Canadian TV series and Agnes Cluny (Elaine Cassidy) in the 2001 BBC version, which is probably my favourite dramatisation even if it does, as do all the versions, play fast and loose with the plot and characters.

A rather gratuitously wet Elaine Cassidy in the BBC's The Lost World from 2001

Conan Doyle was not always very internally consistent with his characters so, while she isn't mentioned in The Lost World, in The Land of Mists (1926) Challenger has an adult daughter, Enid, who Malone takes a shine to and eventually marries.  I have a few feisty females for my Darkest Africa Zambezi project and they would work for the late nineteenth Century setting of IHMN but not so well for the just pre-WW1 setting of The Lost World.  The Copplestone Female archaeologists pack has some good young ladies but the two best ones are wearing jodhpurs, which did not become fashionable wear for women until Coco Chanel wore them in 1921.

She designed her own costumes for the series, you know

I think there is also a place for a plateau-stranded wild beauty, like the potently named (for the Legatus, anyway) Veronica, as played by the lovely Jennifer O'Dell in the Canadian TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1999-2002).  One of the several not Jane figures will work for her, I think.

There is also the opportunity, as hinted at in some of the later Challenger books, of including German spies out to discover the diamonds of Maple White Land.

So, that's The Lost World project nearly sorted but how do I get characters from around 1910 back to the late nineteenth century?  The answer of course is a time portal.  I did toy with the idea of some kind of stargate but have settled instead on a sparkling anomaly.  This will transfer a plague of prehistoric creatures onto the streets of London followed, fortuitously by the group of experienced dinosaur hunters who ran into a similar anomaly up on the plateau.  It is a London slightly different from the one they experienced in their younger days, however.   In Conan Doyle's books Lord Roxton was a friend of Sherlock Holmes so there is no doubt who the consulting detective would call in to deal with the flocks of feral reptiles terrorising the East End as well as some of the other monstrous creatures abroad in the fog-bound alleys of Whitechapel.  Roxton was a great anti-slaver so it would be quite possible for him to appear in the Zambezi taking on the Arab slavers, who appear to have captured some form of monstrous creature: She-who-must-be fed.

The real problem will be working out statistics for the IHMN company but the authors of the rules have supplied (I think) the means to calculate these. Also others are creating their own, rather excellent, companies which can now be found on the In Her Majesty's Name site.

So, another project!  Hooray!

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