Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Pow, biff, clunk, thwack, staple

It's that time of year again when one of the tiny people in our house has a birthday. We have two tiny people scuttling around the place, and their birthdays are evenly spaced apart (nearly six months to the day), so the long, decent break between them means the missus and me are always happy to make a bit of an effort.

Actually, scratch that. The missus is always happy to make an effort, it's me that's only happy to make a bit of one.

This year the tiny person in question is mostly fascinated by superheroes. Which is lucky because, as I'm sure you can guess, I'm not exactly anti that kind of thing.

He's also into dinosaurs and pirates, so putting that little lot together sounds like a pretty good theme. Some people might say it goes a little overboard, that it's lost all subtlety, and is a transparent attempt to cover all bases. And to them I would say, "yes, you are correct".

Actually, the tiny person also likes dumper trucks and similarly industrial-looking toy vehicles. But if I included a fourth element we would have lost that fundamental principle of good communication, the tricolon, or rule of three. Sir Winston Churchill didn't say "Never in the history of human endeavour has so much been owed by so many to so few, with so little change in return". Julius Caesar didn't say "I came, I saw, I conquered, I went home again". And Abraham Lincoln didn't say "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, and their pets".

So, you know what? Screw the damn dumper trucks.

In order to try to reinforce the theme throughout our home (the venue for the party) we decided to make bunting. I started with some liberal downloading of free vector images from this vital little website, which I then chopped up, edited, and put back together. The images were especially useful for the dinosaurs, which, frankly, I couldn't be bothered to draw. A few of the other bits and pieces were the result of redrawing images found with Google searches, and a tinier few were even my own work.

I printed them out at my office, turned the paper around, put it back in the machine, and printed them again. I then cut and scored each of the resultant double-sided sheets and took them home.

Meanwhile the missus started on the cakes. She found some images online and went off to Hobbycraft to buy a load of Renshaw coloured icing.

When we were done with all the baking, icing, piping, with all the printing, cutting and stapling, and the cakes were ready and the bunting was up all over the house and garden, then, only then, did I realise the party needed one more thing.

Your friendly, neighbourhood, giant, inflatable, helium-filled Spider-Man balloon.

He took up vigil above the door to the back garden, and the party began.

Finally, after all that hard work, the party was a complete success. Admittedly this may have had less to do with the decorations and more to do with the fact that all the parents were plied with alcohol and all the kids filled up on sugar, but that's a mere detail, right?

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Bringing law to the lawless, one swing at a time

If you've been following my 'Dredd' style Abites project, and you've been paying an inordinate amount of attention, plus you've got an excellent memory for obscure details, you may remember there were two remaining footsloggers I was yet to arm up. And when I say 'arm' I don't just mean weapons, but quite literally their upper set of limbs as well. 

I was going to attempt a 'not-so-armless-now' gag, but I think, even by my own low standards, that's scraping the bottom of an already-well-scraped barrel.

A few weeks ago I started work on the two bike cops that will round out this Arbites squad. A few hours later I had switched my efforts to the two guys shown here. Basically once I realised how difficult it was going to be to build the two identical Lawmaster motorcycles, with their distinctive front fairing, lights, badge and weapons, creating the riot shields from scratch, and converting the mauls felt like it could be a comparitively quick win.

It wasn't. 

I'll come back to that. Here's the pic.

Building the mauls was actually a little simpler than I expected. I merely shaved off all the unnecessary bits from the Space Marine Terminator hammers (that I showed at the bottom of this article) and smoothed over any unsightly areas with either liquid poly or green stuff.

It only got complicated when I came to the hands. The Terminator fists looked too big to attach to the Space Marine Scout arms. It made the Judges look like tiny children wearing comedy Hulk gloves. I toyed with the idea of completely cutting them off, but decided I would never get the grip on the replacements to look as convincing. Instead I slowly carved tiny slivers off the existing mitts until I'd made them as small as I could, without them looking silly. Then I pinned them in place with bits of paperclip, and tried to create a perfect seal with more liquid poly.

The shields were more involved. I wanted them to look like slightly modernised versions of the Enforcer shields released by Games Workshop's Specialist Games division, Fanatic, back in the late nineties (or perhaps early noughties). I knew what I had in mind, so started by looking at other manufacturers for proxy models. I can't remember them all now, but some of the contenders were as follows:

Victoria Miniatures Riot Shields
MaxMini Anti-Riot Gear
Anvil Industry Ballistic Shields
Anvil Industry Riot Shield
Zinge Industries Riot Shield

I also looked through the existing Games Workshop and Forge World stuff, plus the Kromlech, Puppets War, Spellcrow, Fox Box, Ramshackle Games, Pig Iron Productions and Scibor ranges, not to mention brief dalliances with the shields from the Mantic Enforcer Defenders and After Glow Shield Warriors.

But it was all to no avail. Most of the shields I found had something about them I liked, but didn't quite fit what I had in mind. In the end I decided it would be easier (and cheaper) to make them from scratch. 

I wanted a slight curve on the shield so I started with a discarded shampoo bottle. (You can see it in the same article I mentioned above.) I cut a section out of the bottle, washed it thoroughly and lightly scored its surface with a scalpel to give the glue something to hold onto.

I then used plasticard, green stuff, some no-longer-available modelling rivets from Antenocitis Workshop and a Forge World etched brass imperial eagle to build all the details. 

During construction I decided they looked a little plain, so borrowed an idea from the Mantic Enforcer Defender shield, to reinforce the vision slit, as it added just enough extra detail to break up all those flat surfaces without deviating from the original design too much.

Anyway, after many evenings of fiddly work, glued fingers, and some far-from-inventive cursing, the two Arbites are finally ready to join their fellows on the parade ground.

So this completes the beat cops, leaving me with only the two bikes to finish. After that I can finally start painting. With a little luck I won't have grown old and developed arthritis by then. Fingers crossed. While I can still cross them.