Friday, 29 December 2017

A Quiz of Thrones (now with added legibility)

A quick post today. But not the one I was expecting to write. I've finished a couple of models I'd like to share but, what with Christmas and New Year, I just can't find the time to photograph them.

Instead, what I have managed to find is the file containing the live type for my Game of Thrones quiz. You may have previously seen it in this post, where it was a little tricky to read.

The quiz is based mainly on the television show (not the books), and was written at the end of season six, before season seven had aired. I've pasted it below for any GoT fans to peruse, but please bear in mind some of the answers may have been superseded by the more recent episodes. At a quick glance I can't see anything that's been contradicted, but if you do find something, please let me know in the comments section. The quiz is made up of 3 rounds, with 25 questions in total, giving you 50 possible points up for grabs.


Round One: Names

1. Which one of these three fierce lords should you least want officiating at your wedding?
• Jeor Mormont
• Walder Frey
• Baylon Greyjoy

2. What character is sometimes referred to as The Spider?

3. The sparrows and the faith militant were intent on upholding religion as a pillar of the Seven Kingdoms. Which god or gods did they follow?
• The God of Light
• The Seven
• The Old Gods?

4. Which one of these noble knights should you least want to babysit your teenage daughter?
• Ser Meryn Trant
• Ser Barristan Selmy
• Ser Alliser Thorne

5. Two major characters share the surname Clegane. What are they more commonly known as? A point for each nickname, and a bonus point for each of the first names.

6. What is (the Onion Knight) Ser Davos’s surname?

7. What is the name of the dragon that went rogue, forcing the other two to be locked up underground?

8. Which one of these forts or castles did I invent for this question?
• The Dreadfort
• Dragonstone Castle
• The Black Fort
• Casterly Rock

9. What’s the name of the eunuch army from Astapor in Slaver’s Bay?

10. Sam killed a white walker with a dragon glass dagger. Dragon glass is said to be glass forged naturaly in the heat of a volcano, like frozen fire. What is the other common name for it? 

11. Which of these actors has appeared in GoT? One point for each correct answer.
• Peter Davidson
• Rupert Everett
• Paul Kay
• Ian McShane
• Honor Blackman
• Richard E Grant
• Keith Allen
• Tim McInnerny
• Robson Green
• Max von Sydow

12. It is said that George R R Martin was convinced to let David Benioff and D. B. Weiss make this TV show when they correctly answered a single question: Who is Jon Snow’s mother? What is the answer? 

Round Two: Wolves 

13. There are (or were) six Stark Dire Wolves. Can you match their correct names to the Stark children to whom they were given? One point for a correct name, and another for a correct match. This question is easiest to complete if you use the cards shown below. The choices for the Dire Wolves are shown in blue, and the Stark children are red.

Round Three: Misc 

14. How many actors have played the Mountain?

15. Which Golden Globe nominated Netflix drama features Pedro Pascal (the actor who plays the Red Viper, Oberyn of the house Martell) as a US law enforcement agent?

16. What is (or was) the familial relationship of the Blackfish (Ser Brynden Tully) to Kaitlyn Stark?

17. In Star Wars The Force Awakens, Captain Phasma is played by an actor from GoT – what was that actor’s character called in GoT?

18. According to the publishing order, Game of Thrones is the title of which book in the literary series?

19. Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Stormborn) have both played the same strong female lead in a major science fiction franchise. Who is that female character?

20. Which of these locations is yet to have suffered significant fire damage?
• The Sept of Baelor
• Harrenhal
• Riverrun
• Vaes Dothrak

21. Translate these commonly used Valarian phrases (one point each):
• Valar Morghulis
• Valar Dohaeris
• Dracarys

22. What fort or castle is home to the Moon Door?

23. As typified by the final episode of the last season, what would be the the usual order of appearance for these four locations in the opening credit sequence?
• Dorne
• King’s Landing
• Winterfell
• The Twins

24. Which one of these four roles has not been officially given to Tyrion Lannister?
• Hand of the King
• Master of War
• Hand of the Queen
• Master of Coin

25. Which of these is not a quote by Tyrion Lannister?
A) It may be good luck to rub the head of a dwarf, but it is even better luck to suck a dwarf’s cock.
B) Alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, may produce all the effects of drunkeness.
C) It’s not easy being drunk all the time. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
D) I’m not questioning your honour, I am denying its existence.


1. Walder Frey
2. Varys
3. The Seven
4. Ser Meryn Trant
5. The Mountain (Gregor) and the Hound (Sandor)

7. Drogon
8. The Black Fort
9. The Unsullied.
10. Obsidian 
11. Paul Kay, Ian McShane, Richard E Grant, Tim McInnerny and Max von Sydow
12. Lyanna Stark
13. Grey Wind (Robb), Ghost (Jon Snow), Lady (Sansa), Nymeria (Arya), Summer (Bran), Shaggy Dog (Rickon) 
14. 3
15. Narcos
16. Blackfish is 
Kaitlyn's uncle 
17. Brienne of Tarth (played by Gwendoline Christie)
18. This is a contentious answer. I originally thought it was second (after A Knight of Seven Kingdoms and before A Clash of Kings), but most people seem to agree it was the first.
19. Sarah Connor (from the Terminator films and TV show)
20. Riverrun was taken peacefully. (Harrenhal was already fire damaged when introduced to the show) 
21. Valar Morghulis is all men must die. Valar Dohaeris is all men must serve. Dracarys is dragonfire (or the command to burn)
The Eyrie
23. King’s Landing, The Twins, Winterfell, Dorne
24. Master of War
25. B (actually said by Oscar Wilde) 

And then finally, just on the off-chance you were enjoying that, here are some extra tie-breaker questions.


1. What was the name of the Hand of the King who died just prior to the beginning of the show, setting in motion the main chain of events?

2. Only a few actors have portrayed multiple characters. One of those actors, Dean-Charles Chapman, played both a Lannister and a Baratheon. Can you give the first name of either of those two characters?

3. The Seven – the God of Seven – The Seven-Faced God – The New Gods. Can you name any of the seven aspects? One point for each.

4. What is the relationship between Jon Snow’s father and Daenerys Stormborn?

5. The armillary sphere, or astrolabe (the thing like a sun floating above the clockwork map) from the opening credit sequence (or at least something that looks a lot like it) actually appeared briefly as a candelabra in the final episode of season six. Where did we see it?


1. Jon Arryn 
2. King Tommen Baratheon and Martyn Lannister
3. The Father, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone, the Warrior, the Smith, the Stranger 
4. He is most likely Rhaegar Targaryen, Daenerys’s elder brother. Meaning Jon is her nephew.
5. When Sam entered the library of the Citadel in Old Town

Friday, 1 December 2017

A weaving of the threads

It's unlikely there's anyone out there who pays particularly close attention to this little ol' blog (anyone other than me that is). But if there was, they might be aware that in among all the jumping around between subject matter, a number of themes have started to arise.

One of the things I've talked about a lot is my fondness for huge great, scary-ass robots. This has been evident in my Miniature Giants series (the first few models of which can be found here, here and here) and also in my almost-complete Giant Robo Alphabot illustration project.*

Another notable theme could be my experimentation with oil paints to apply weathering to models. I now add a little rust or verdigris, in varying degrees, to almost every model I paint. The culmination of this would probably be these wrecked and abandoned cars, where I tried to make them look utterly devastated by painting them almost entirely with oils.

And finally, more recently, I've started adding to my Plague Marines. I bought a handful of troops many years ago, but only started working on them in earnest when the release of Dark Imperium rekindled my interest and turned my small, unpainted war-band into the beginnings of a serious force. My first completed Death Guard model, some kind of lieutenant, can be found here.

Hopefully, the pictures here make it fairly obvious why I'm I going on about all these previous projects. It's because these two new dreadnoughts neatly encapsulate a coming together of those previous three themes: Rusty Death Guard robots.

The idea for spider-noughts first struck me after I bought the Robogear boxset just over a decade ago. Robogear was Airfix's abortive attempt to tap into the wargaming market, and although most of the models in the starter set were not that great, some of the individual components were incredible. Especially at a time before Games Workshop's plastic range was as huge and all-encompassing as it is now.

In this case the mechanical, insectoid legs I used significantly pre-dated Games Workshop's Defiler and Onager kits, yet still managed to make me think they'd be great motive systems for Chaos dreadnoughts.

The rest of the bits were a mixture of Games Workshop parts (bought as individual components from Bitzbox), Forge World dreadnought arms (bought directly from them) and whatever doodads I had lying around from other kits – namely a spare weapon arm, the banners, skulls, censers, and a very live and well Space Marine, who, when combined with an old skeleton body became the much deader impaled marine you can see on the fire support variant (the one with the missile launcher and autocannon).

And then to top it all off, there were a few scratch-built pieces made from cocktail sticks and plastic tubing, and the two lovely, but somewhat hidden, helmets from Chapterhouse Studios.

So with these two newly finished miniatures I'm finally able to adjust my Addiction Challenge score. Hopefully I'll be knocking some more points off with the next post too. More to come...


*My obsession with these clanking monstrosities can probably be traced back to a childhood spent reading the comic 2000AD, back in the early 80s. Anyone who read that comic will remember the ABC Warriors, a group of artificial soldiers of fortune, designed to withstand Atomic, Biological and Chemical attack. They were led by Hammerstein, a humanoid, war robot veteran of the Volgan War, armed with a giant hammer, whose major appearances I've documented here.

Monday, 27 November 2017

More generic sci-fi scenery, but this time because Necromunda

Before we get into this week's post, another apology. It's a big sorry to anyone who visits this blog looking to see models from the Warhammer 40,000 universe (or maybe Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Age of Sigmar). If you've flicked through my last few posts it won't have escaped your notice that things have not been very miniatures-focussed of late.

This is for all the usual reasons, plus a few unusual ones. But essentially it goes like this: really busy, blah, blah, stuff to do on house, blah, blah, looking after the kids, blah, blah, sorting out my career, blah blah, watching Star Trek Discovery and Stranger Things on Netflix, woo hoo.

If you do occasionally visit this blog you may be aware I've been going on about creating a section of an Imperial Hive City. One that I call Kruenta Karoliina Arx Rotunda, on the planet Ancora Fornax, or just Kru for short. You may also know that although I've built civilians, servitors, vehicles, tools, and robots for Kru, I haven't actually managed to finish a single building yet. But that's not to say I haven't started any. A while back I posted some work-in-progress pics of my first piece of terrain – a cobbled together industrial storage depot of some kind. I made much of it using some classic techniques published in an old White Dwarf. There should be some further development on this building in the near future, but in the meantime I've also been working on a second one. It's a Biocidic Filtration Tower, an installation likely to be found alongside storage tanks on Imperial worlds with similar industries to Ancora Fornax.

But more importantly than that, it's a tall open building with platforms, gantries, walkways, and ladders that should be useful in miniature-based wargames, especially the brand new re-release of Necromunda.

It's not quite finished yet, but I think these pictures give a pretty good idea of where I'm going with it.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

A Quiz of Thrones

This is another one of those posts where I have to start with an apology because I was meant to publish it a long time ago.

As usual, one thing led to another, and instead of getting this done, I ended up reinforcing the notion that I'm a lazy, slack-jawed slob, stuck miles behind the times, clinging on by the skin of my teeth, desperately playing catch-up, without a hope of ever meeting any real deadlines.

As it turns out, it's a statement that is so accurate it's like a window onto my very essence. So much for internet anonymity.

Anyway this should have been posted before the seventh season of Game of Thrones aired on HBO and Sky Atlantic during the summer, because it's kind of a refresher quiz I wrote for some friends who were hosting a small party to celebrate the first episode.

This means that some of the answers might have since gone out of date, become too obvious, or even changed altogether. And that's basically my way of saying that if any Game of Thrones experts find some horribly blatant errors in my answers, then it just wasn't my fault, guv'nor.

I've misplaced the digital file that has all the questions on it (in live type), but I still have the following photos. And with a little luck everything on them should be just about legible. (EDIT: I've found the file and the more legible questions can now be found here.)

The folded A3 sheet was designed for the quizmaster (me) to read from, so it had all the answers printed directly below the questions (because my memory is about as reliable as Little Finger's word). Therefore for the sake of anyone who might be interested in reading the questions first, I've crudely redacted all the answers on the first couple of photos.

The eagle-eyed among you (or perhaps raven-eyed) may have noticed that round two, question 13 suggests you look at some cards. These are shown below. Simply narrow down the blue cards till you are left with the six correct dire wolf names, then match each wolf to its correct Stark master (as shown on the red cards). Twelve points if you get everything right.

A word of warning, no-one who has ever played this round has got all twelve points.

And then here are the questions again, but this time without me censoring the answers. Please tell me they are not too small to read.* It's probably not much fun if you've forgotten your glasses. You'll notice there are some additional questions and answers at the end. These were included on the off-chance that people were really enjoying the quiz and didn't want it to end. Kind of like a standing ovation for the quiz... And me... If only.

 *If you can't make out the answers, and want to know what it says, just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you.

Monday, 30 October 2017

The Giant Robo Alphabot, part ten

Who said I never finish anything? Well, for a start, probably anybody who has ever glanced at this blog. And that's because when it comes to my hobbies I have a tendency to get distracted. The equivalent of chatting happily with someone, then suddenly walking off mid-

But that's about to change now, because we are rapidly reaching the end of my Giant Robo Alphabot. We're speeding towards the end of this project like a Sentinel hunting the X-Men or a Terminator closing in on Sarah Connor, or Ultron pursuing The Avengers.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Giant Robo Alphabot, part nine

So we've had the beginning of the alphabet and we've had the end, but we're still missing a few letters from the middle. Today's post is simply about plugging some of those remaining holes in my Giant Robo Alphabot, as I prepare to put everything together to see the final, collected poster.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, but are intrigued enough at the sound of giant robots not to click away elsewhere yet, then you can see the entire stream of posts on this subject here, or if you'd rather just read the first one (that will hopefully explain the basic premise) then go here.

Otherwise, there's not much more to add, other than the small selection of stray letters themselves. This time they're all from movies, with two being live action films, and the other two animations.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Bigger and badder than ever before

The new Death Guard are a bit bigger and bulkier than a standard Space Marine miniature. I imagine the scale of these genetically-enhanced giants has crept up in order to have them more consistent in size with the recently released Primaris Marines.

It makes sense for Games Workshop to have bulked them up a little, as they don't have any interchangeable parts with the old range, so there are very few compatibility issues. Apart from the obvious visual one, that is.

But the new miniatures are only a tiny bit bigger. Just enough to not look ridiculously out-of-place when standing next to an old marine.

I've got quite a few old marines, sitting on their sprues, waiting for the moment when I get all excited at the prospect of putting together an entire power-armoured army. But in that lies the rub. I'm not very keen on the idea of building hundreds of under-sized warriors, and yet neither do I like the idea of disposing of them. And complicated conversions are just out of the question for that number of troops, so what I really need is a nice, simple answer.

At the end of my last post, I had decided I wanted to build two more Plague Marines, based on regular marines, but using up some of the off-cuts from my trimming of the Dark Imperium Death Guard. I decided I could use this opportunity as an experiment to see if there was a quick way of giving some of my old marine models a little extra height.

My solution was to add a couple of spacers to their lower legs, and another to their abdomen. I did this by making as straight a cut as I could (working at a fairly hasty speed) and glueing small squares of plasticard into the join.

Once the spacers had set, they were trimmed roughly into place with a knife, then filed down until the fit was pretty good. If you ignore the drying time it was only a few extra minutes of work per model.

The results are not perfect, especially when doing it at speed, but I think the most inaccurate areas could be fairly easily covered by dirt or battle damage.

Once I'd established this basic technique, I then moved on to the fun bit: converting my two upscaled troopers into extra members of my Death Guard squad.

The resultant characters are noticeably larger than a regular Joe...

... yet seem to blend nicely with one of the new Death Guard...

... and don't even look too minuscule next to a Primaris.

Now all I need to do is repeat the process about 100 times, and I'll have a fully upscaled Space Marine company.


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Noxious, nefarious nightmares to add to my numerous nasties

Hobby progress has been slight these last couple of weeks. I've only really managed to build the Death Guard models from the Dark Imperium boxset. I'm going to add them to my handful of existing Plague Marines, in preparation for trying to paint them all in one go, and hopefully put a significant dent in my Addiction Challenge.

The building of ten marines isn't much of a feat, except that I did manage to chop a few of them up to better suit my tastes.

The Plague Champion (above left) was the first to feel the touch of my knife. I wasn't keen on the miniature's existing face, so I cut the whole thing off and swapped it for a Mark III 'Iron Armour' helmet (from the Burning Of Prospero boxset), then sculpted a replacement hood. I'm quite a fan of the addition of cloaks and hoods to some of the Death Guard figures in this release, so I wanted to make sure I kept them wherever possible.

Next up was the Noxious Blightbringer (above middle). I cut off the giant bell hanging from the huge horny spike growing out of his backpack, as I figured there were enough bells elsewhere on the model (at least six), for it not to be missed. I also reasoned that the loss of the oversized bell would put the focus of the model back to the face – and the somewhat unique helmet he's wearing.

With a lot of these miniatures I've tried to cut back some of the horns and spikes growing through the armour. I like seeing one or two of them, but felt that at least a few may have been added simply to hide mould lines, rather than because they look great on the model. The trooper above left is a fairly dramatic example of my tinkering, having had the horns on his helmet significantly reduced (or removed altogether). 

The Malignant Plaguecaster (above middle) was probably the trickiest to convert. I wanted to turn him into a standard trooper, whilst keeping a bare face beneath the spikey hood. However the existing face just didn't cut the mustard-gas, so I had to graft in a new one (with rebreather), while also replacing both his arms. It ended up taking a good couple of hours – or rather a bad couple of hours –  involving the standard glued fingers and uninventive cursing, plus lots of accidental inhalation of noxious glue vapours. In other words, exactly what the Death Guard would have wanted.

The three troopers in the above picture have had very little work done to them. The most significant change was the head swap on the middle one. He's got a Forge World Mark II 'Crusade Armour' helmet with an added spike.

And finally the Lord of Contagion with Plaguereaper. This is a great model and I really didn't want to do too much to him. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the huge icon mounted on his back. Although it was quite cool, I felt it drew focus away from his head to the wrong part of the model. 

Yet it was simple enough to fix – I just cut it off.

But then he looked a bit bare, so I scouted through the bits that had been cut off the other models and found a censer leaking some kind of airborne toxin. It was similar to one already carried by this Terminator Lord, and small enough not to detract the focus from his helmet, so it seemed like a pretty good fit.

In fact this whole process has left me with quite a few random off-cuts that could look excellent on some further conversions, so I'm going to try to make two final Plague Marines, before I start painting. With a little luck this won't take too long and I should be able to share them in the next post at the end of this month.

Everything on this page is a work in progress – there's nothing finished here – so, for now, my Addiction Challenge score remains untouched.



Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Nothing says dread like gold

Okay, so that headline clearly isn't true. Gold is a colour much better suited to the celebration of wealth and power than it is for striking fear into the hearts of your enemies. It probably works okay within the confines of the Emperor's throne room – as a sign of his supremacy and omnipotence – but I'm not so sure it looks all that great on the battlefield. Especially when filtered through my personal preferences for darker, grungier colour schemes.

I wanted something that looked a little more robust. A little more dangerous. Something the Dread Guardians of the Imperial Palace would feel proud to wear while crushing the skulls of their foes.

So for my take on the Custodes, I've heavily shaded their armour in an attempt to make it look more like an old oil painting. Like a cut-rate version of something by Caravaggio. Darker and more brooding than the shining gold of, say, Games Workshop's Hammers of Sigmar colour scheme.*

I detailed the construction of these three characters in a couple of previous posts (here and here), but for recap purposes here's the image of them unpainted again.

And, simply for the sake of completeness, here's my original Photoshop sketch, from before I started this project (where I got the gold colour utterly and horribly wrong**).

And finally, these three guys are all part of my Addiction Challenge, so here's the new score:


*And a paint scheme perhaps one step closer to the dark and shadowy Stormcast Eternals painted by Stats, showcased on the De Silentio Umbrae blog here.
**Except maybe his left leg, which is slightly more appealing than the awful yellow of the rest of his armour.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Unrelated movies that aren't

In May this year, Universal Pictures released its remake of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise. The film is meant to be the first instalment in the new Dark Universe series – a reboot of the old Universal Monsters movies from the 1930s, 40s and 50s that featured crossovers between Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man. Those original films, with their recurring cast and characters, were an early example of what is now referred to as a shared cinematic universe.

Monsters from Universal's Universal Monsters universe

These days the notion of a shared cinematic universe is quite familiar. We see all sorts of huge blockbuster franchises, containing sequels, prequels and spin-offs, where some of the different films focus on different characters, yet all are set within the same fictional context. The likes of Marvel, Star Wars and Alien, all display examples of different stories being told against the same background.

Some cinematic universes seem to be expanding faster than the real one

But there's a small cluster of popular films that have seen the shared universe concept used far more subtly. Films that are not part of an easily discernible series, instead connected to one another in less obvious ways. These films often leave only a single clue – just the merest hint of a crossover – to suggest they are in any way related. Like a puzzle for the audience to unravel and piece together.

Here are ten sets of tangibly connected movies, most of them worth watching*, where a minor element opens the door to a far wider universe.

Alien (1979) and Predator 2 (1990)
Anyone with a passing interest in film will be aware of some of the following connections already, but this one is perhaps the most obvious due to the Alien vs. Predator movies completely spelling it out. However, back when Predator 2 was initially released, the idea of a crossover between the two universes came as quite a shock. At the end of the film, when Danny Glover's Mike Harrigan gets inside the spaceship, an Alien skull is briefly seen on display in a kind of gruesome, Predator version of a trophy cabinet. It's only a few seconds worth of footage, yet it spawned a host of comics and video games that built upon the idea and eventually culminated in the aforementioned AVP movie franchise**.

Ripley's foe shows his distinctive teeth and skull in Alien

Lt. Harrigan finds a similar skull in Predator 2

Braindead (1992, also known as Dead Alive) and King Kong (2005)
Before director Peter Jackson made his ground-breaking The Lord of the Rings trilogy and propelled himself to international fame, he made a few low budget schlock-style films set in his native New Zealand. In one of them, Braindead, a Sumatran rat-monkey – a fictional, hybrid creature, meant to have been captured on Skull Island in 1957 – brings a zombie plague to Wellington. After The Lord of the Rings Jackson decided his next project would be to remake King Kong – one of the films that had inspired him to become a film-maker in the first place, and had provided the reference for Skull Island in Braindead. In Jackson's King Kong he completed the tie-up by showing us a cage containing a Sumatran rat-monkey on board the expedition boat heading out to find the same island, some 24 years earlier.

Brain Dead's rat-monkey. His bark is not very nice, but his bite is definitely worse

As if a giant ape and all manner of horrific beasties weren't enough for the crew to deal with in King Kong

Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994)
These two Quentin Tarantino films are irrevocably linked by a familial relationship. Michael Madsen's character Vic Vega (or Mr. Blonde) in Reservoir Dogs is the brother to John Travolta's character Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. For a while there was even talk of a third film, potentially called The Vega Brothers, set before both the others as a kind of prequel, effectively turning the whole lot into a trilogy***.

In Reservoir Dogs Mr. Blonde, Mr. White and Mr. Pink flash some teeth to someone who's about to lose an ear

Vincent Vega performs Pulp Fiction's famous Winston Churchill dance

American Psycho (2000) and The Rules of Attraction (2002)
Talking of brothers across movies, here are two from another couple of films, both of which are based on Brett Easton Ellis books. Nearly all Ellis's novels feature characters that are in some way connected to one another, so it makes sense that their movie adaptations will be too. In American Psycho Christian Bale plays Patrick Batemen, the serial-killing, Wall Street investment banker. And in The Rules of Attraction, James Van Der Beek plays Patrick's younger brother, Sean Bateman. During the filming of Rules, it is said Christian Bale declined the offer to reprise his role as the murderous banker, so Casper Van Dien (of Starship Troopers fame) stepped in, only to have all his scenes cut from the final theatrical release.

Bale's Batman famously tries not to kill anyone. In American Psycho, Bale's Bateman doesn't have nearly the same compunction

James Van Der Beek shows us Sean Bateman's dark side in The Rules of Attraction. A family trait?

Shallow Grave (1994) and Trainspotting (1996)
Danny Boyle's two breakout Scottish films are related by Keith Allen's character. In the first film Allen plays Hugo, a gangster with a suitcase full of money, who dies of an overdose near the beginning of the film, kicking off the main chain of events. In Trainspotting, set a little earlier than Shallow Grave, Allen plays an unnamed drug dealer with similar clothes and accessories to Hugo. Although that doesn't sound like much to go on, Danny Boyle is reported to have stated outright that the characters are one and the same.

Shallow Grave gave us the charismatic Hugo, then took him away again...

...only for Trainspotting to bring him back once more

Jackie Brown (1997) and Out of Sight (1998)
These two movies are both based on books written by the late Elmore Leonard, and as such they both feature the character Ray Nicolette. The cool bit is that although the first film was directed by Quentin Tarantino and the second by Steven Soderbergh, the character is played by Michael Keaton in both.

Jackie Brown...

...and Out of Sight. Spot the difference

The Conversation (1974) and Enemy of the State (1998)
There has to be a disclaimer here. Technically these two films aren't related at all. But read on and see what you think. In The Conversation, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Gene Hackman plays Harry Caul. In Tony Scott's Enemy of the State, Hackman's character is called Edward 'Brill' Lyle. But anyone who's seen the two movies should be forgiven for thinking that both characters, espionage specialists in communications equipment, with their similar dress sense and taste in industrial-looking hang-outs, are really the same man at different stages of his life. Even down to the fact that Brill's photo in his NSA file in Enemy of the State is the same one used in The Conversation nearly a quarter of a century earlier.

Harry Caul in The Conversation

'Brill' Lyle seems to like very similar glasses in Enemy of the State

Blade Runner (1982) and Soldier (1999)
David Webb Peoples co-wrote the screenplay for Blade Runner and later went on to write Soldier. He is said to have stated that Soldier is a 'sidequel' to Blade Runner  – a film set in the same universe, but otherwise unrelated. Soldier includes many references to Blade Runner, but most notable is a derelict version of a spinner – the flying cars from Blade Runner – seen among the junk on Arcadia 234, the waste disposal planet****.

Spinner, cityscape and giant face in Blade Runner

Pictures showing the right kind of junk from Soldier just don't look very good, so here is the wrong kind of junk in front of some pretty serious military hardware

Trading Places (1983) and Coming to America (1988)
In these films, both directed by John Landis and staring Eddie Murphy, the incontrovertible connection is provided by the secondary characters Mortimer and Randolph Duke. It could be said they only appear in the second film as a nod to the first, but I would argue that their scene is in keeping with the established continuity and actually moves their story on.

The Dukes before their fall from grace in Trading Places...

...allowed a second chance in Coming to America

The Abyss (1989) and The Terminator franchise (1984 onwards).
In The Abyss there's an overarching idea that the underwater aliens will help us if we love one another, but leave us to destroy ourselves during times of war. In The Terminator franchise, our machineries of destruction have risen up and turned on us. Seen together you could take the message of The Abyss as a warning against an eventuality like The Terminator's. But there's a far more tangible connection. In The Abyss an anchorman, played by Joe Farago, is seen on TV covering the news. We had previously seen the same newsreader in The Terminator (1984) telling us about the apparent serial killings of women named Sarah Connor. This probably isn't enough to prove the link, but coupled with the fact that the fictional oil company, Benthic Petroleum, that runs the Deep Core undersea drilling platform in The Abyss, is the same oil company that owns the gas station in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) I'd say we're on to something.^

A newsreader in The Terminator tells us someone (or something) is on the rampage

The same anchorman tells us about the problems facing the Benthic Petroleum Deep Core drilling platform in The Abyss

While in T2, in the gas station where the heroes hide for the night, the logos on the pumps show us Benthic Petroleum again

Although only meant as a light collection of movie trivia, the above list still had to abide by some heavy rules. There were five in particular that guided what went in and what got left standing in the cold.

1) The films must appear serious about displaying a shared, but subtle continuity.

2) The clues that link the movies together must appear during the films. Hints that exist only in the minds of the creators, and seep out after release, during interviews with the cast and crew, have been discounted.

3) Also excluded are movies that feature cameos of well-known characters or elements from other films simply as a nod to popular culture. This is usually done for the sake of comedy rather than a serious attempt to link backgrounds. An example might be Dan Aykroyd's character, Ray Stantz from Ghostbusters (1984) appearing in the movie Caspar (1995), uttering the line "Who you gonna call? Someone else!" A stance (and therefore Stantz) that mildly contradicts his original Ghostbusters character. Another example could be R2D2 and C3PO appearing as hieroglyphs in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), where they probably weren't meant to be telling us that ancient civilisations in Indiana Jones's past were familiar with droids. If we were including TV shows in this list^^, The Simpsons would be another obvious example of the 'crossover as comedy' scenario – a show that is filled with jokey cameos of characters from elsewhere.

4) We're also not talking about those series of films where different actors play the same central literary character. Films like the ones based on Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan books, or James Patterson's Alex Cross, or even Ian Fleming's James Bond^^^. The connection is simply too obvious.

5) And the Disney Pixar films have been deliberately left off the list. Some of the crossovers appear quite strong, but others are pure conjecture. Either way the various stories have already been covered extensively elsewhere and we don't need to re-iterate them here. Even if the king and queen from Frozen do turn out to be Tarzan's parents.

But what with this being a blog that is mainly concerned with all things science fiction, it would be remiss not to mention one last set of connections. Think of it as a bonus fact for the uninitiated. It brakes the rules above, but seeing as the links are between two of the greatest sci-fi universes ever committed to celluloid, we really can't ignore them. 

Blade Runner (1982), Aliens (1986), and Prometheus (2012)
Aliens and Prometheus are both part of the Alien franchise started by Ridley Scott in 1979, and as such already share a cinematic universe, but it's the bringing of Blade Runner into this that's of interest. The links are a little tenuous, and could quite easily fall into the 'crossover as comedy' category, but they're worth mentioning as they at least show some level of knowing intent on the part of the film-makers. Both the connections are found buried in sub-menus on DVD releases of the two Alien films. On the Prometheus DVD there's text that implies Guy Pearce's old Peter Weyland character is a protégé of Joe Turkel's Dr. Eldon Tyrell of the Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner. And on one of the Aliens DVDs there's a close-up of Dallas's crew screen (seen in the background of the inquest scene at the beginning of the film), that also mentions the Tyrell Corporation (along with another couple of in-jokes).

It's highly unlikely to happen, but with Blade Runner 2049 due for release in October, there's the tiniest chance we might discover why Guy Pierce was chosen to play an old man in Prometheus, set roughly 44 years later.

Eldon Tyrell is beginning to dislike where this little chat is going, in Blade Runner

Ripley (standing in front of the crew logs) asks if IQs just dropped sharply in Aliens

Peter Weyland is old before Guy Pierce's time in Prometheus

Obviously there's a certain amount of judgment in choosing which links are serious and which aren't, so contentious cases could easily fall on the wrong side of the line. Therefore, as always, if there's anything you'd like to add, like a favourite connection that's been missed, or something that's been unfairly excluded, or you really think we should have talked about Monsters Inc appearing in Brave, then please get in touch in the comments below.

*I won't name any films in particular that I would avoid because I don't want to offend Paul W.S. Anderson. Especially as I'm quite a fan of some of his other films. But I will tell you that none of the Adam-Sandler-verse movies made it anywhere near this list.
**The first Alien Versus Predator comic was released in 1991, after the film Predator 2, but there are some sources that state the idea for a crossover was originally formulated in the late 1980s by a group of Dark Horse comic creators working on related titles. Certainly the film Predator 2 borrows other ideas from the earlier Predator comics, including the scene where armed commuters are attacked on the subway.
***Many of Tarantino's movies are subtly connected. In Inglourious Basterds (2009), Eli Roth's character Donny 'The Bear Jew' Donowitz is meant to be the father of Saul Rubinek's movie producer Lee Donowitz from True Romance (1993). There's even a suggestion that Brad Pitt plays his own grandfather (or perhaps great grandfather) in the two movies: Lt. Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds and Floyd in True Romance. Patricia Arquette's Alabama Whitman from True Romance may even have, at some point, been partnered to Harvey Keitel's Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs. If it's the same Alabama that would put all four films mentioned here into the same cinematic universe.
****The link between Blade Runner and Soldier is somewhat undermined by director Paul W.S. Anderson's decision to include a handful of joke references to other sci-fi properties in Soldier. However it's my belief that the Blade Runner connection is legitimate while the others are merely 'crossover as comedy' at play (see the 'rules' above).
^Some sources that I am unable to substantiate have said that the same anchorman is also seen telling us the news in James Cameron's True Lies (1994), while Bethnic Petroleum is supposed to crop up briefly in Twister (1996), possibly as a nod to its star, the late Bill Paxton – a stalwart Cameron actor, with the rare distinction of having played characters killed by an Alien, a Predator and a Terminator.
^^We're not including TV shows in this list. The word 'movies' is in the title of this article for a reason. On television, popular shows often tie-in with lesser-known series or go on to launch spin-offs of their own, thereby creating a vast collection of related properties. For the purposes of this article all TV shows have been discounted, including Cheers, Frasier and Wings, or the prolific Marvel Television productions, the Battlestar Gallactica universe, the Arrowverse, the different Star Trek titles, the Stargate franchise, the Whoniverse, the crossovers between Murder She Wrote and Magnum PI, and all the other myriad ones out there. There's enough material in the world of TV crossovers to warrant an entire series of future Torva Tenebris articles, and I very much doubt even the most enduring readers would want that.
^^^Enduring readers might, of course, know that James Bond himself, or at least someone very much like him, at one point crossed over into the TV movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. You can can find more on that in an earlier post here.

And finally special thanks must be extended to Pete 'The Chef' Cook, Joe Stuart, Trey Collinge, Tim Footner, James Muthana, Wayne Hill and Cos Georgiou for their help with this article. You guys were all invaluable. Except you, Cos.