Monday, 31 August 2015

To protect and serve and shoot the place up

The Street Judges of Mega City One have a very specific type of patrol vehicle. Not just specific, but iconic. Chances are that if you picture Judge Dredd, you also picture his wheels. He and the Lawmaster are like the Lone Ranger and Silver, like Scooby-Doo's gang and the Mystery Machine, or the kid from Gentle Ben and, er, Gentle Ben.

This has given me a slight problem. See, as much as I like motorbikes, really big, badass motorbikes with onboard A.I. and laser cannons, I had something else in mind for my 'Dredd' style Arbites Enforcers. I've had my eye on Games Workshop's Sentinel kit for some time, and as soon as I began this project I started imagining a Sentinel in 'Judge' colours, stalking through the city, providing the beat cops with a mobile heavy weapons platform and the much lauded 'higher ground'.

But I couldn't completely abandon the bikes, could I? And if I didn't, wouldn't it look a little odd with two completely different one-man patrol vehicles?

Hmm, it was time for a little post-rationalisation. 

So the Arbites of Kruenta Karoliina Arx Rotunda routinely deploy two types of urban patrol vehicle. One, slightly less common, carrying heavy weaponry; the other, more ubiquitous, but more lightly armed. One completely enclosed by thick armour; the other offering only a minimum of extra protection. One designed to express the faceless intimidation of an all-powerful regime; the other for intimidation on a more personal level. One slow but sure; the other fast and responsive.

So whether the Arbites require a mobile fort manoeuvred into position through the labyrinthine back alleys of the sprawling city, or a ground-based, rapid-reaction force prepped and on-point, like, yesterday, they'll have the right tool for the job.

The first of the above is, of course, the Sentinel, and it's the piece of Arbites hardware I mentioned I was working on in an earlier post. I think it's now ready for painting. It's my urban pacification variant with a closed cockpit, a single heavy weapon and plenty of lights and scanners. I've given it some stowage on the back, mainly because I liked the idea of some visible roll bars, and I've posed it climbing down some stairs to reinforce the manoeuvrability point I was trying to make.

The Daleks will never follow it down there

As is often the case, my model-making skills have a tendency to leave miniatures looking like a one-eyed ork mekboy built them in a hurry, wearing his patch on the wrong side. But I'm pretty confident that most of the crimes on this model can be covered by painting things to look as dilapidated as they surely are. After all, this belongs to an empire that's been around for roughly ten thousand years, and if my bruised and battered five year old car is any kind of yardstick then things aren't exactly going to look pristine. And in the Imperium of WH40K we all know 'there is only war', whereas I'm fairly certain my bruised and battered five year old car has been shot at precisely never.

Anyway, I'm quite excited to get started on the next stage of this Sentinel, but I'll try to hold off at least until I have some progress to share on the squad of Judges. Hopefully that won't be too far away, even if this post pretty much commits me to having to make a bike as well now.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

How many actors have portrayed the Doctor?

If you have even a passing interest in Doctor Who you'd think this was a nice simple question, right? Certainly I did. I thought there could be a few random one-off cameos that I might miss, but essentially I'd have spent thirty seconds counting out some names on my fingers, then added in a few toes, and probably have been confident enough in my final answer that, although I might not be exactly right, I wouldn't make myself look like a dick.

Unless, of course, a dick is the kind of person who tries to name all the Doctors by counting on his toes.

Regardless, I’d have been confident right up until the point I wandered into WHSmith and a magazine stood up on the shelf and screamed at me.

This magazine

Before standing in that newsagent, flicking through this mag, pretending I was about to buy it, I would have said 14.

• William Hartnell
• Patrick Troughton
• Jon Pertwee
• Tom Baker
• Peter Davison
• Colin Baker
• Sylvester McCoy
• Paul McGann
• Christopher Eccleston
• David Tennant
• Matt Smith
• Peter Capaldi

• Peter Cushing (from the old Dalek movies)

• John Hurt (who played the War Doctor in a recent TV special)

But looking in the mag I was somewhat shocked to see what it had to say. It's been put together by the teams behind Total Film and SFX from Future Publishing, and they clearly know a thing or two. And not just about the Doctor. As the cover makes abundantly clear, there are profiles in there for 100 different sci-fi characters, and many of these contain interesting and unusual snippets of info that I hadn't heard elsewhere. There's an article comparing clone cop 'Dredd' with cyborg cop 'Alex Murphy', another about sci-fi characters who have switched gender, and plenty of interesting facts about other fan favourites. For instance did you know:

• The town of Riverside in Iowa has put up a plaque celebrating it as the future birthplace of James T Kirk on 22 March 2228

• And in every episode of Firefly, somewhere in the background onboard Serenity, there's a hidden 'Han Solo in carbonite' toy?

In among all these greats the Doctor gets an exceptionally respectable third place. The makers of the magazine have scoured all the actors who've played him in stunts or documentaries or in weirdee time warp bits, or on stage, or who've played characters who are arguably the doctor in another incarnation etc. and added them all up into one big list spanning four pages. They've managed to come up with one for every year of the TV show's history. And that's a grand total of 52. That's right, it's so unexpectedly high I had to put it in bold.

It's going to be a logistical nightmare if the BBC ever tries to make the 52 Doctors TV special.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Tinker tailor servitor spy

I've been tinkering with one of the tailor-made servitors you may have spied earlier in this blog. 

It looked a little bare in the old photos so I decided to do the quickest of quick jobs to paint a little extra detail. It was that giant claw of his that seemed a bit naked so I added some simple caution stripes on a couple of the plates. The stripes are a general warning, standing in for something like "you see this ridiculously large claw arm here - the really unsubtle, huge hydraulic one, that could cut you in half - just be a little careful around it, as you probably like your legs where they are". To be honest I'm not even sure what function this character and his claw might perform in the city of Kru. Maybe hedge trimming?

Hopefully not dentistry

This tiny tweak doesn't really deserve its own entry on the blog, but I've managed to achieve so little recently that even the smallest detail has to get reported. There's not really much more to say on the subject, except that I'm still a little pleased with myself for using that silly opening line to crow-bar in the even-sillier title of this entry. I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ultima Ratio

So things are taking a little longer than expected. The green stuff work on the small squad of Arbites is quite involved, but not the main problem.

The baby waking up and reducing our nights to just a few hours sleep is also taking a toll, but again, not the main problem.

Having all my work deadlines meet at once sucks up a great deal of time, but, yet again, this is not the main problem.

No, the main problem is my complete lack of attention span. I got about a third of the way through the rest of the Arbites Enforcers when I found another little project to work on. It's a piece of hardware for them, but I won't go into any further detail here. I promise I'll get both jobs to a stage worth sharing at some point in the near future, but in the meantime I thought I'd post some pictures of another old model.

A few years ago my good friend Sergeant Gavertson, the man who introduced me to Airsoft, and the person who played the best game of Space Hulk I have ever witnessed (quickly earning him a promotion to Brother Captain) asked me to do him a favour. He wanted me to paint him an Ultramarines Baneblade.

So I did.

And it took ages. 

But I enjoyed the experience, and used the opportunity to learn a few new techniques. Here are the results.

I haven't seen this model for years. I miss it a little

It's a bit weird to miss a toy tank, right?

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, France was the era's equivalent of a major superpower. This seems to have had a great deal to do with a single individual, Louis XIV. Without turning this into a half-baked history lesson he seems to have been a little bit like a certain Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, in that he successfully consolidated domestic power, and used it to further extend his influence across the world (or in Guilliman's case, worlds).

On the side of Louis XIV's cannons he had the words "Ultima Ratio Regum" stamped. Latin for "the last argument of kings". I'm not sure Guilliman would ever refer to himself as a king, but I thought the sentiment of resorting to warfare only after all other avenues have been pursued was a nice fit for the Ultramarines. And a rare superheavy tank, more of a relic than part of their regular arsenal, felt like exactly the kind of weapon upon which such an idealistic name would be bestowed.