Thursday, June 25, 2020

News at 11

猫 シ Corp. : NEWS AT 11

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment I to the United States Constitution

Denigrating the news industry has been a popular pastime in many quarters, but I still have the utmost respect for the journalism profession (even if specific media people and news outlets make me shake my head on a regular basis).

I have my own views on opinion disguised as news, the 24-hour news cycle, national media outlets (including social media), their c-level overlords, and how they gain access to the news they report to us, but I won't bore you with them.

Instead, if you like, you can watch a clip from the Patriot Act which is more entertaining (if you're not using headphones be warned that Hasan has a bit of a potty-mouth).

Anyway, on to more pertinent issues. In the 1/72 world, there are four sets of modern news crews that I own and am aware of.

The first figures are from the News Crew set from MJ Figures (not to be confused with MJ Miniatures).

There are a female reporter, photographer, and security contractor in the set as well, but I seem to have misplaced them somewhere.

The next three sets are from Elhiem, and they're pretty much the same figures in different outfits.

The first pair are the Afghan/Al Jez TV crew (AFC03), then the TV crew in casual shirt and trousers (OBJ10), and finally the TV crew in body armour (OBJ11).

The Afghan news guys are dressed in Pashtun clothing for some reason, but whatever. Most Middle Eastern news crews I've seen in war zones look more like the TV crew in body armor, and their regular TV news people also wear modern dress.

Several news vans are also available for your 1/72 reporters.

The first van is a 1/73 Mercedes TV News Truck by Matchbox. The one I have is in Sky News livery.

The camera can be raised out of the truck, but only rotates when it is in the lowered position. The satellite antenna isn't entirely convincing, but it can rotate in either the raised or lowered position.

The next two vans are Hot Wheels Custom '77 Dodge Vans similar to the one I wrote about in my van post. I bought these in particular because they represent the local So Cal region.

The Action News 68 El Segundo van is a reference to the year that the first Hot Wheels car was released, and the city where Mattel is headquartered. It has a clear roof which I'm guessing is supposed to showcase the interior of the van.

The KVWN 4 San Diego van is from the movie Anchorman. A 70s style satellite dish antenna is mounted on the roof.

Last is an overhead comparison of the three different roof styles for the Hot Wheels '77 Dodge Vans along with the Matchbox van.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Ochre Jellies and Vargouilles

The ochre jelly is a monster from D&D that is based on the amoeba. Its special ability is that it splits into multiple monsters when struck with lightning spells or weapons.

I have two metal miniatures of this creature from Grenadier. The jelly on the left is from the Monsters large boxed set (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 5002), and the one on the right is from one of the Monster Manuscript boxed sets (Monster Manuscript Vol.VII 1507, MM59).

They're essentially something that anyone with a hot glue gun or blob of clay can make nowadays, but the early Grenadier slimes are quite interesting because they were sculpted with eyes.


I actually made a press mold of this particular miniature at one time with the intention of using the Dark Art to cast up a modified miniature in clear resin. I planned to use small clear beads mixed in the resin as vacuoles and organelles, a larger colored bead as the nucleus (or eye), and bits of treasure or bone as excretory crystals.

I never got around to make the cast, but if I ever find that mold again I will definitely finish that project.

The most recent depictions of ochre jellies show them with writhing pseudopods that they use to bludgeon prey. The Pathfinder Battles Ochre Jelly (Dungeons Deep #028) is typical of this representation.

I find the idea of an ochre jelly fighting with flailing pseudopods rather unfitting, and offer an alternative method of attack. I envision small ochre jellies trying to envelop the heads of victims to suffocate them like the slimes from Dungeon Meshi.

Large ochre jellies on the other hand, rear up and then collapse on top of their prey to engulf them like real amoebas do.

I actually like the D&D Miniatures Living Spell Cloud Kill (Eberron: Rising from the Last War #029) as an ochre jelly proxy because it looks like it is about to rise up and come crashing down on its victim.

The next monster I'll cover is the vargouille. It first appeared in the AD&D Monster Manual II, where its bite resulted in the permanent loss of hit points. In later editions it seems that the vargouille gained the ability to kiss its victims and transform their heads into new vargouilles that would then separate from the body and fly off.

Is it possible to kiss without an upper lip?

The vargouille seems to be based on the chonchon or tue-tue from the mythology of the Mapuche people of Araucanía and Patagonia. It is also a monster used in both RuneQuest and Castlevania.

The chonchon is the transformed head of a kalku, who appears as a normal human by day. At night, the chonchon separates itself from its body to go about its nocturnal activities.

Chon Chon by Ed Kwong

It is often said to be invisible to normal human eyes, and its cry is supposed to bring misfortune to those who hear it.

El chon chón de Limón Camilo

The chonchon also reminds me a lot of the harpy from the Daijiro Morohoshi story Adam's Rib (アダムの肋骨).

I bought a couple of Vargouille miniatures from the D&D Icons of the Realms line because they were really cheap. There are two variants that differ based on the color of their hair. On the left is the black haired version (Waterdeep Dragon Heist #03), and on the right is the brown haired version (Waterdeep Dragon Heist #14).

An even cheaper option is to make them on your own as described over at HotT in the Lower Hunter. I may create some with talons and wings like actual chonchons in the future.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

BL 8-inch Howitzer Mark VI

The BL 8-inch howitzer Mk.VI was a seige howitzer used during WWI and WWII. Roden makes a 1/72 kit which I believe is a scaled down version of their 1/35 model.

The gun is molded in very soft plastic, so exercise care when removing/handling the thinner parts as they are very prone to breakage.

Nevertheless, it was a fairly simple build, and I spent more time trying to decipher the instructions and searching for reference images than actually putting the model together.

For step 2, I added the ground spade (28E), but many of the pictures that I see of the howitzer don't seem to use it. Most of the time it looks like the trail is set on some kind of rail.

Step 3 has some typos, and parts 32E/33E can probably be installed more easily during this step.

I used the wheels (1F) to help with aligning the brakes (7F), and also recommend not attaching the handwheels (8E) until the howitzer is almost complete.

For step 4, I needed to create a replacement tow hook because part 31E was short shot.

Step 5 only shows one side of the gun, so it's not really clear how or where some of the parts are supposed to fit. It doesn't help that some of the arrows point to puzzling locations. Luckily, Landships has excellent images of how these parts should fit.

Step 6 also has some typos, and some of the parts don't look much like the drawings.

I built 3E/11E/12E/41E with the gun assembly, but allowed the barrel to pivot freely. While the glue was still setting, I aligned everything with the carriage to make sure that the mount fit properly. After the gun mount was aligned, parts 23E/39E were glued on and checked for fit with the carriage.

Next, decide on the how you want to display the howitzer and fix the position of the barrel in the mount with glue. In tow configuration, the end of the gun mount is connected to the gun lock (18E).

In loading position, the barrel is parallel to the carriage. I was originally thinking of building the howitzer with the breech open for loading, but it would have meant filling in the seams on the inside of the barrel, so I changed my mind.

Attach 16E/19E/35E after the barrel is glued in place. These parts were the most difficult for me because I couldn't really find any close up pictures of how they fit together.

I don't see the gun lock in many pictures so I left off part 18E and substituted a metal pin instead, but there are location holes to fit it on the right trail if you want to include it in your build.

I'm guessing that the lock got in the way of the loading tray so it was taken off when the howitzer was used in the field.

For step 7, just glue 40E into the notch in the trail instead of to the gun mount.

There will be a couple of extra pieces left over after the build. I'm not sure what part 15E is, but it looks like a part for Mk I-V howitzers.

Now I just need to attach the treads to the wheels and paint. It should be noted that there has been some controversy regarding the orientation of the tread pattern, but I will follow the mirrored look as shown below.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Tin Soldier

I don't know too much about them, but The Tin Soldier was an Australian game store that also carried it's own line of historical and fantasy miniatures. The physical store closed in 2011 and their URL seems to be long defunct, but the figures are still sold by Tin Soldier UK and Essex Miniatures Australia.

Some of my earliest posts include Tin Soldier figures, but their typical sculpts are in the chunky, cartoony style that I personally don't care for.

Despite that, I was always very interested in getting their 15mm Aztecs. I don't know if it's because their style reminded me so much of the images seen in Aztec codices, but there was something about them that struck a chord with me.

I finally decided to order one of their Army Command packs (AZA1) which includes a Chosen Speaker, Chief of Men, Arrow Knight Captain, Eagle Knight Captain, Jaguar Knight Captain, and Quachic Captain.

They're obviously very short, but their heads and upper bodies look comparable to those of 1/72 scale figures.

It's probably not realistic, but I always imagined them painted up like in modern clip art of Aztec pictographs, or like the Chinelo dancers of Carnival.

Perhaps with some effort the figures can be converted to be 1/72 compatible, but for now they go to into the lead pile.

I also ordered some Assorted Standards (AZ20) from their line of 25mm Aztecs. I'm not 100% positive, but I get the impression that they are similar in size to the banners from the Revell Aztec set.

Last up are three miniatures from their 25mm Fantasy line.

The first figure is labeled as a Minotaur (DF112), but it clearly looks like it was based on the Trampier Gorgon from the AD&D Monster Manual.

The next figure is a Hydra (DF103), which looks like it was based on a Sutherland illustration from the D&D Basic Set rulebook (except with only five heads). The model comes in five pieces consisting of two pairs of heads, one single head, the torso, and the tail.

The final figure is a Gargoyle (DF96) in the typical style of the sculptor for the Tin Soldier Fantasy line.

Shipping from the UK to US seems to be taking over a month now, but the cost is still relatively low, and I really like the Tin Solider accessory items even if I'm not a huge fan of the sculpting style used for their miniatures.