Sunday, 23 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 4

<== For week 3, go this way


Another Sunday, another duel - it must be Zomtober!  Here are another pair of figures, one from each side of the zombie apocalypse, for your amusement, education or whatever else you gain from the brief time it takes you to skim over this article :-) !

The Duel

For today's show, we have a couple of older gentlemen (though I use that term cautiously; I'm not really certain that either of them is particularly genteel or well-mannered).  On the motorbike, we have Storm, whilst moaning at him from the side of the road is Old Man Zombie (OMZ).

It is possible, at least in my mind, that OMZ isn't really a zombie at all, but just an angry old sod.  He has made some strange wardrobe choices: the smiley tee shirt might have been a present from a favourite grandchild, but it doesn't really fit with the cold-weather hunter's cap.  Maybe OMZ is just a confused, older guy who is shouting at the biker for having thrown a beer can and cigarette butts at him?

OMZ is a Studio Miniatures plastic zombie, mounted on an Escenorama resin base and decorated with a home made tee shirt decal.

 Storm doesn't seem to have any doubts about OMZ's status: he's a target!  At this range, the biker's sub machine gun shouldn't have any difficulty at all in cutting down the zombie if it is used properly.  But (and this is one of my pet peeves with some wargames models and some Hollywood movies) if the bike is moving then aiming a gun sideways whilst retaining control of a vehicle is nigh on impossible!  One or the other will give: either the bike will crash or the shots will be essentially random.

Before anyone claims that just strafing a target with an automatic weapon will be good enough, I've done some simple maths.  If the SMG fires at 600rpm (not uncommon for such weapons) then there is 1/10th second between each successive bullet.  That doesn't sound like much, yet a vehicle travelling at a mere 36Kph (i.e. around 20 miles per hour) will move 100cm (about 3 1/4 feet) in that time.  Which gives you about a 50% chance of hitting a 50cm wide man at all, let alone achieving a crippling head or centre body shot on a zombie.

Storm is a Westwind Productions model, placed on a base of my own construction and decorated with a home made jacket decal.  There are very few 28mm biker-on-bike models around, yet I'd hesitate to recommend these kits.  They can be finished nicely and are not at all badly sculpted.  However, they are a real pain to put together and require quite a lot of cutting, filling and repositioning to achieve this result.  Not for the novice!


What happens next?  I think that Storm is attempting a drive by shooting and isn't prepared to take the chance that OMZ is really human.  As I've discussed above, I don't think his chances of hitting and killing the potential zombie are very good, but OMZ isn't going to catch the moving bike either.  However, the noises of the shooting and the motorcycle together are going to draw a lot of attention to this area.  Perhaps there are enough other zombies nearby to block the road and pull Storm off his machine?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 3

<==  For week 2, follow this link


This is a slightly late posting, but it's still Sunday and therefore within the Zomtober rules.  Phew!  I've been away for the weekend (it was my wife's birthday), so it's just as well that I had prepared these figures earlier last week than usual.

So, as is my custom for these posts, here's another duel between a zombie and a survivor.  What do you think happens next?

The Duel

Tonight's main attraction is a contest between Nadim and Chicken Man Zombie (CMZ).  Nadim is using an unusual anti-zombie weapon: a giant firework rocket ("The Big One").  He is wearing a handkerchief over his face, possibly to protect against sparks or to protect himself from inhaling zombie bits if his planned rocket attack is successful.  That may also explain the hoodie pulled up over his head.

CMZ has been described by the owner of Studio Miniatures (who make the figure) as "the unluckiest man in the zombie apocalypse".  I'm paraphrasing here rather than providing an exact quote, but I expect you get the idea.
After all, having a job that involves dressing up as a giant chicken is fairly unlucky in the first place.  Being bitten by a zombie and therefore infected yourself whilst at work in a job that requires you to dress up as a giant chicken is just stupendously unlucky!
[Hmm, that could be another theme for someone to pursue in Zomtober: "the unluckiest man/woman in the apocalypse".  Please feel free to use this if you wish...]

As mentioned above, CMZ is from Studio Miniatures, specifically from "Zombie Mob 002".  Like many of my recent urban figures, he's on an Escenorama base.  In this case, CMZ is trampling a sign that had been placed on the grass.  I found a picture on the internet of a suitable admonition, scaled it down, printed it and stuck it to the sign.  In case you cannot read the sign under CMZ's foot, the it reads "Please do not feed the birds".  There is also a small sheet of green paper on the ground nearby; perhaps this is an advertising flyer that has been dropped by CMZ?

Nadim is yet another of the young thugs from Offensive Miniature's "12 Street Kids" pack, in the Near Future, Rioting Mob range.  His base is also from Escenorama, though in this case it's a rather simpler pattern.  There's nothing on the ground here other than a small metal cover and a cigarette butt (visible in the earlier pictures).  Maybe that's what Nadim used to light his firework?

So, here's my reading of the situation: if Nadim hits CMZ with the rocket and if the firework catches on the zombie's costume then I've no doubt that the resulting explosion will do a lot of damage to the zombie.  But there are a lot of "ifs" here:
  • A firework is going to be hard to aim, firstly because of its inherent lack of directional stability and secondly because of the uncertainty over when exactly it will ignite.  It might have some value as an area effect weapon, fired into the middle of a mob (note that I wrote might, not should).  However, targeting an individual, even at close range, is going to rely on a lot of luck!
  • Even if the firework hits the intended target, the motor will probably still be running for at least a few seconds.  I reckon there's every chance that the rocket will just bounce off and keep going in a semi-random direction, unless of course the target has a lot of nooks and crannies in which the missile might become jammed.
  • A firework rocket contains gunpowder (or some close equivalent) as a bursting charge, but it doesn't have a metal case or anything else which might produce a lot of shrapnel.  Whilst blast damage isn't to be taken lightly by a human, a firework, even a big one, won't necessarily destroy a zombie.  If you're lucky (there's that word again) then the zombie will be sufficiently disabled to allow your escape.
No, I think that this is what happens: the rocket ignites but the backblast burns Nadim's face and blinds him.  The firework then skids off CMZ or misses him completely and the zombie attacks immediately and bites the stunned human.  Assuming, of course, that CMZ can bite anything whilst wearing that ridiculous costume rooster head...

Week 4 is here ==>

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 2

<==  Week 1 is this way


Another Sunday in October; here's another Zomtober post.  As ever, the rules are that I have to show at least 1 zombie or 1 survivor.  However, I've made a habit of showing one of each, posed as a duel.  This week, its "B.B." versus "Cocktail Waitress Zombie" (CWZ).

The Duel

I've talked before about the possibility of zombies retaining some form of instinctive need to finish a task, notably with my zombie ballerina.  I imagine that in a few, extreme cases, a fresh zombie may attempt to carry on with some activity in which they were engaged before they were "converted", at least for a short time.  This might be used to explain those rare cases where the living dead wield a weapon including, on rare occasions, a firearm.

Thus it is with Cocktail Waitress Zombie: she's attempting to carry a tray of drinks without spilling them.  This is complicated by the fact that her high heels have caught in a drain cover.  The proximity of the interfering human isn't helping either!

"B.B." is a young hooligan with a catapult.  Some may sneer at this as a weapon, but it has many advantages:

  • It's quiet.
  • Ammunition is free and readily available.
  • A powerful catapult using 1/2" steel ball bearings will do a lot of damage to a target.  Not as much as a powerful handgun, admittedly, but perhaps equal to a .22 rifle?
Of course, there are some disadvantages as well:
  • Effective (accurate) range is quite short.
  • Once the rubber perishes, you probably can't replace it in an apocalypse.

CWZ is a Wargames Factory "Zombie Vixen", built straight out of the box.  I've added a couple of wine glasses to her tray; these come from Black Cat Bases.
B.B. is one of Offensive Miniatures "Street Kids", from their near-future rioters section.  I made the catapult elastic from a length of plastic rod, but otherwise he is also unmodified.
Both models are mounted on resin urban bases from Escenorama.

Here are the questions in my mind about this encounter:

  • Is B.B. trying to fell the zombie, or is he just interested in plinking at the wine glasses as a form of target practice?
  • At what point will CWZ give up her balancing act, discard the tray and just go for the human?
  • When CPZ finally tries to eat B.B., will she be able to catch him by surprise, or will he be nimble and alert enough to escape her clutches?
  • Will B.B be able to kill the zombie with his catapult?  If not, will he keep trying, or will he get bored and run off?

What do you think?  What happens next?

Week 3 is this way ==>

Thursday, 6 October 2016



Regular readers may remember my Witch Hunters and Witches warbands for the Song of Blades and Heroes rules.  Well, it's been on my mind for quite some time to expand my game by adding new factions.

Various ideas for forces which might fit into a loose version of mid-17th century England have come and gone.  I have recently built a 3rd, small force of French musketeers (on a secret mission abroad to find Milady, or fighting for or against the Puritans?).  Additionally, I may someday do a troop of hidden ghouls/cannibals (think Sawney Bean or "The Hills Have Eyes").  I might even build a force of Scots Covenanters, if only to have someone more fanatical than the English Puritans!

However, tonight I'm going to describe my 4th faction: the rats!

The Head Rat

So, here's the fluff: somewhere in the growing towns and cities of 1650s England, at least a few super-rats have evolved.  Either these are the discarded experiments of some careless natural philosophers, or they are the product of satanic dark magic.  However they came to be, the dark alleys and deserted barns are now infested with a huge number of variously-sized plague-carrying vermin!

The leader of the band is the creature above.  He (she?) doesn't have a name - at least, not one that I could pronounce.  However, the head rat is man-sized, intelligent, bipedal and understands people well enough to attempt to disguise its appearance so as to be able to pass amongst them without challenge.  I suspect that it has unholy powers as well...

This model is from Black Tree Design.

Little Rats

As I understand it, all swarm models of the same type in Song of Blades and Heroes must remain in base contact.  That makes this just one very large swarm of rats, rather than a number of smaller swarms.  Hopefully this will provide an unusual challenge for their enemies!

The rat swarms are from Black Cat Bases, who make (in my opinion) all of the best swarms for 28mm figures.  They really do look like a seething mass of small animals, rather than 4 or 5 separate models which just happen to be sharing the same base.

Mind you, looking at the other models in this band, the rat swarms' bases seem a bit bare.  Hmm, perhaps I ought to put a little grass on them, to add a bit of different colour and texture?

Big Rats

About the size of a large dog, these critters aren't a match for a human soldier one-on-one.  But whoever said that they would attack one at a time?  There are enough of them to surround a careless person and give him a whole load of grief.

Models are old Games Workshop plastics; I've had these for quite some time.

Biggest Rat

At the other end of the spectrum, the warband has one huge, nightmare rat monster!  Although sold as a "Giant Wererat" (it's a Reaper Bones model), the animal has huge chunks of flesh peeling away from both flanks.  Either someone has already carved it up a bit or the stress of its mutation is tearing its body apart.

I think that I prefer the latter explanation; it's clearly a diabolical abomination and if such a creature was unstable (with a lifetime measured in hours after its transformation, at most) then the world would be a safer place for people like me.  Not much safer, but every little bit helps, right?


I've collected and painted these models over quite a period of time, so the styles and colours aren't quite the same.  Rather than repainting any of them, I'm tempted to just paint up more models instead (I've still got many of the dog-sized rats).    I'll probably add some grass to the swarms, but other than that these are all completed.

So, is this a good warband?  What powers or vulnerabilities might it have?  Are there any obvious gaps in its composition?  What do you think?

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Zomtober 2016, Week 1


It's the first Sunday of the 10th month in the year, which means that it's Zomtober!  I've not seen much evidence that anyone else plans to mark this, but I've been presenting articles for the past 3 years (2013, 2014 and 2015); I don't intend to break the pattern now.  So, here is another duel; a pairing of a zombie and a survivor, both recently finished models.  Who will win this one?

Zomtober 2016, Week 1

For the humans, today's contender is "Postie".  He's a teenager or young adult, wearing a leather jacket and crash helmet.  I'd give him points for the level of protection provided by such clothing, though the helmet might reduce his hearing and peripheral vision a bit.  However, his choice of weapon (an unused fence post) is probably sub-optimal and his posture suggests that he's a bit hesitant and afraid.

Facing him is "Mantic Plague Zombie".  I had wanted some zombies in army uniform for a while.  Earlier this year, I saw a box of Mantic's sci-fi infected troopers on sale (for a rock-bottom, bargain price) and I just couldn't resist.

MPZ has full battledress, including helmet and body armour - apart from any boots.  He is (was?) also a large man and therefore looks capable of overpowering Postie quite easily.  However, the zombie seems to be putting most of his effort into thrashing about and roaring, though whether this is an attempt to intimidate his victim or is a reaction to his own pain and anguish isn't entirely clear.

The human figure is from Offensive Miniatures; he's one of their "street kids".  I've mounted the figure on a resin base from Escenorama (I still have many of their bases remaining, even though it's 2 years since I first obtained them: here).

Annoyingly, the paint on the base has "silvered".  In my haste to prepare the figure for today, I haven't let the wash dry completely before varnishing it.  I'll have to re-paint the base.

As mentioned before, the zombie is a model from Mantic Games.  These are hard plastic figures in a variety of contorted, agonised poses.  Most wear uniforms and have body armour, but quite a few are bursting out of their clothing ("hulk-ing") and have spiny bits growing from their flesh.  That's all very well for a science fiction plague, but doesn't really fit in with my world of zombies, so I've removed the spikey bits wherever possible.


If this was a typical, urban zombie then it's possible that Postie might be able to impale the creature and keep it at a distance with his stake while he works out what to do next.  However, I cannot see this working against a large, raging monster that is wearing body armour.

Keep the stakes for vampires, Postie!  Run away, as fast as you can.  If your motorbike is handy then use it instead; that would be even better...

Week 2 is here ==>

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

28mm Captain Haddock

You Wait For Ages...

I'm annoyed.  I've just gone to the trouble of converting a figure to use as Captain Haddock.  For anyone who doesn't already know, the Captain is Tintin's best friend and sidekick (after Snowy, the dog) and you can't really have one without the other.  I previously built Copplestone's excellent Tintin and Snowy and needed a Haddock to go with them.  So, here's my model:

Haddock is a perpetual and extreme drunkard, but is fiercely loyal and has an impressive command of nautical-themed invective.  He is usually dressed in a blue roll-neck pullover, captain's cap and a black blazer, but I couldn't find any model quite like that.  There were the occasional U-boat commanders or similar models that just about had these elements, but they really looked too thin and fit to be the past-his-prime Haddock.

In the end, I used a figure from Black Cat Bases - a seaman with gun and pipe - but I've removed the pistol and replaced it with a whisky bottle.  Haddock is sometimes seen without the blazer, so I think this is acceptable.  I'd have liked my model to have less in the way of sideburns, but that's perhaps a bit picky.

Then Two Come At Once!

So, if you have read this far then I bet you're wondering why I'm annoyed.  After all, this is a pretty good figure, right?  Well, I had just finished this figure and was wondering how to model Professor Calculus, Thomson & Thompson and possibly other members of the gang.  I'd even gone so far as to inquire on The Miniatures Page after sources of 28mm umbrellas (basically, there aren't any available as separate pieces).

Then I discovered that someone else, with rather more sculpting talent than I have, has done this.  Not only has he worked out Pulp Alley stats for Tintin and his mates already, but he has made his own figures for at least some of them!  And there's more: reading down the thread, there's an intimation that these models will soon be available from 1st Corps Miniatures (note that there is no mention of this on the 1st Corps website, though - and this would seem to be a bit of a departure from their usual offerings).

So, maybe if I'd just waited a month or so then I wouldn't have needed to make my own conversion or spend long hours pondering how to make the other models needed for a game...

Sunday, 25 September 2016

More Congo Tribesmen


I've been busy trying to build enough figures to play a basic, 70pt game of Congo.  Here are the latest additions to my Forest Tribes force.  Mind you, even with these additions I think that I'm still slightly short of my goal, though I haven't stopped recently to add it all up.  Just one more unit should do it, I think...

Cannibals/Married Warriors

The Forest Tribes list for Congo has the potential to have 3 classes of warrior, all of whom are basically a man with a loincloth, spear and shield.  It may seem obvious  to others, but I struggled to think how I could make these categories visually distinct from each other.  I don't know about anybody else, but I don't enjoy games with units or models which have different capabilities but which look very similar to each other.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that I'd finish my Cannibals or Married Warriors (I doubt that I'd want to use both classes in the same game) with war paint.  These are the most experienced guys in the tribe; it seems reasonable that they would take the effort to do things properly!

The pattern I've used for my war paint is a simplified version of a scheme that originates in Papua New Guinea.  That's a long way from where my tribe is based, of course - but I figured that skeletal designs of paint are probably quite universal.  In any case, I found some excellent & very detailed photos of the Papuan tribe on the internet...

I remembered to add some war paint to the backs of these natives as well.  This is, again, for the benefit of the players: these models are distinctive from any viewing angle.

Young Warriors

In contrast, the Young Warriors have no markings or decorations, though a few have beads or bracelets.  They are either too brash and hasty to have applied war paint, or they can't afford the ingredients.  Or maybe it's just that they don't have a wife to apply it for them!  One way or the other, it doesn't really matter.


All of these figures are 28mm models from Foundry.  The natives are really quick to paint, so I expect to have my Forest Tribe ready for a game within a week or two.  Who knows?  I might even post a picture of the completed group at that time.  If nothing else, such a group photo would enable me to check whether I really do have the right number of figures after all!