Sunday 24 March 2013

28mm Modern Civilians (improvised weapons)


In zombie apocalypse games such as ATZ, we typically need 3 levels of civilian.  Firstly, those who are unarmed; they may or may not be aware of the impending doom.  Secondly, the citizens who have acquired purpose-built weapons (typically, but not always, guns).  Lastly, there is an in-between category: the men and women who have used whatever was to hand to improvise as a weapon.  To me, this is a very important group who would be numerous in societies without easy access to firearms.  At least, they'd be numerous to start with.

Here are some of the plucky, inventive citizens from my collection who have managed to acquire at least a basic, improvised melee weapon.  I've given each of them a "survival" rating, based both on the choice of weapon and the attitude of the wielder.

Sports Equipment

A club or bat has several advantages.  Firstly, it's designed to be held so as to impart a considerable force to a small ball.  Secondly, many people are familiar with such items and already know how to wield them.  So, they'll do fairly well when defending against zombies.  From left to right:

  • Golf club.- the weapon is reasonable, but the owner isn't paying attention and will probably be caught by surprise.  Model by Hasslefree.
  • Baseball bat (x2).a good thwacking bat and the 2 guys look serious about using them.  Models by Foundry
  • Rounders bat.- she looks serious, but is really too small to do more than kneecap any enemies.  Model by Hasslefree
  • Golf club.- the lady seems determined, but would probably find it easier if she ditched the shopping bags.  Model by (?) Mega Miniatures/Alpha Forge
  • Cricket bat.- our man seems to think that having a pad on one leg will help protect him against zombies.  Maybe, maybe not...  Model by Offensive Miniatures.

Building and Gardening Tools

Not really that good, as most of these items aren't designed to be swung.  Still, here goes:
  • Wrecking bar.- an improvised, 1-handed weapon just isn't going to keep the zombies at bay, though the guy looks hard enough.  Miniature by Foundry.
  • Scaffolding poles (x2).- a lucky jab might finish off a zombie, but this seems quite unwieldy to me.  Models by Offensive Miniatures.
  • Chainsaw(x2) - destructive enough, but noisy, difficult to start and prone to stalling.  More show than substance.  Models by Foundry (Joe the Giant) and Mega Miniatures/Alpha Forge (granny).
  • Spade.- easier to wield than some, but not likely to inflict crippling damage to a zombie with the flat of the blade.  Model by Mega Miniatures/Alpha Forge.

 Whatever's Lying Around

Sometimes you've just got to grab for the nearest item and hope that it'll work for killing zombies:
  • Chair.- seriously, you think you can stop the walking dead with this?  Model by Offensive Miniatures.
  • Fire Axe.- if you're lucky enough to grab a 2-handed axe then you might reasonably expect to be able to decapitate your undead attackers!  Model from Hasslefree
  • Spanner.- a wrench this big has probably got quite a lot of weight behind it, but it doesn't have much reach.  Model from Studio Miniatures, converted.
  • Chain.- I suppose you might be fortunate enough to entangle the zombie and prevent it from biting your throat out.  Model by Offensive Miniatures.

Any Old Rubbish

Maybe there's nothing to hand other than junk.  I suppose it's better than nothing:
  • Rusty iron bar.- difficult to hold securely, though has enough clout to do some damage.  Model by Offensive Miniatures.
  • Piece of Lumber.- if you're lucky then you could kill a zombie with it, though you're likely to ruin your hand with splinters and/or rusty nails.  Model by Mega Miniatures/Alpha Forge.
  • Rock.- unlikely to do more than knock down a walker, if that.  Against faster classes of zombie, you're toast!  Model by Offensive Miniatures.

Total Fail

Some improvised weapons are just not going to protect you in the event of an apocalypse.
  • Toy Gun.- you might be able to rob a convenience store with a toy gun.  Maybe.  But there's no way it will help you against the zeds.  Model by Victory Force.
  • Bacon Sandwich and Mug of Tea.- I can't see the zombies slowing down for more than half a second when threatened with this!  Model by Black Cat Bases.
  • Petrol Bomb/Molotov Cocktail.- burning zombies will still rip you apart.  Model by Foundry.
  • Crucifix.- you'd better hope that the undead plague has been sent by the forces of darkness, because if it's just a natural phenomenon then a cross won't help you.  Model by Artizan Designs


I'm always on the lookout for more survivors.  There are so many gun-armed models on the market, but in many ways I prefer the ones above.  There's something about the desperate, make-do, ordinary civilian that just appeals to me!


  1. Fantastic work, they all look great, the guy with the sambo and tea is very good

    1. Yes, he's not the greatest sculpt around, but I did like the way the paint job worked!

  2. Great mini's and PJ and an entertaining read. The girl with the bat has a shield though worth at least an extra star surely :D

    1. I do have a soft spot for little Kitty, but her best chance of survival in the Z-apocalypse will be to hide or run away, I think. Even with the dustbin-lid shield, she's just to small to melee with a zombie!

  3. This is an excellent post, Hugh. I have most of the figures you've shown apart from the ones by Offensive Minis. They're still on my shopping list. I'd concur with your assessments.

    1. Thanks, Bryan. The Offensive figures are very nicely made and are a slightly unusual subject matter, so I couldn't resist!

  4. Great post, and quitee thought provoking.
    Of the above weapons ATZ/FFO mentions only the Baseball bat as a specific melee, although they fail to allow for a baseball bat's greatest weakness of breaking at the stem/handle.
    With no weapon,( even an improvised one) even a REP 1character, throwing no dice in melee, still has a 12.5% of scoring more successes than a zombie in ATZ/FFO !

    1. I'm not too sure that ATZ needs rules for specific melee weapons (as well as the baseball bat, I seem to remember seeing a rule for a machete somewhere). I'm happy enough with the generic improvised vs purpose-built and 1-handed vs 2-handed classifications.

      I'm also comfortable with individual zombies being somewhat ineffective (like the first such creature encountered in Shaun of the Dead). They should be very dangerous when massed, though!

    2. Unfortunately although Z's individually are more effective in FFO than they were in ATZ, en masse they are far less effective in FFO than ATZ.
      Bomber in your campaign (Rep 7) with his baseball bat taking on 6 zombies (I know the FFO rules only allow 4) has about a 1% chance of the z's getting more successes than him.
      (Individually the z's have about 0.32% of hitting him)

    3. True, if you play the rules exactly as written. However, I think I prefer to do it the way that 'Swordplay' handles melee: you get +1d6 in melee for each friend who is attacking at the same time. If *that* was applied to ATZ-FFO, then 6 zombies attacking a single human at the same time would each get +5d6 for their friends. Even for a REP 7 character with a decent weapon and some skills, that's a risky situation!

  5. I do like a good survivor weilding a melee weapon, great stuff!
    I really should have another look at the offensive miniatures and maybe pick up some of the mega minis before they stop trading!

    1. The Mega Miniatures range is very variable, but the ex-Alpha Forge figures are nice!

  6. Those ar some great painted minis! I liked the star assessments!:)
    I have to agree with Brummie and at least give the little girl a half star for pluck... I'm combat trained, but my three girls are are more than capable in bringing me down. Add a few more and the pack should get a five star! ;)

    1. Well, I do agree that she's got the right attitude (the colour scheme is based on my daughter!) Hmm, maybe I should revise this rating...

  7. Nice mix of figures. They can't all have Uzis.

    1. ...or assault rifles. Couldn't agree more :-) !

  8. Nice gallery there.

    I'm reminded of a trip to B&Q with my nephew Lukas.
    On passing the gardening department, he pointed out a long tree-lopper and asked me whether this was a Ninja shop.

    Gardening tools probably rate among the best choices to modern suburbanites. They combine good quality steel (Easily sharpened on paving stones of concrete driveways), and long handles for improved reach. Doesn't the good book say how "They shall beat their gardening tools into gruesome polearms and set about the hordes".

    I'm heading to my local garden centre as soon as I hear about the outbreak. I'll stock up on seeds, and weapons; and probably grab some of their tasty olde-worlde range of sweets while I'm there.

    1. Interesting choice :-) . I think most people who have a plan intend to go to a hardware store instead. However, if your local garden centre is anything like the ones I know then you should also be able to find some summer reading as well as DVDs of obscure railway engines ("presents for Dad"?!).

    2. Of course B&Q is a very large hardware store with a good sized gardening department. So the best of both worlds, tools, materials to fortify your dwelling, and sufficient polearms to earn a colonelcy in the Sealed Knot.

      Opening the boot of my car this evening I noticed my winter precaution still there. A long handled spade with sharpened blade (for "Digging out" after a blizzard). Shovel - Pah! Shovels are for snow clearing, spades are for ice removal.