Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Vampifan's Views 66 - Monthly Musings 44

Miss Vampirella July 2015 - LeeAnna Vamp
This month's Vampirella model is the intriguingly named, LeeAnna Vamp. LeeAnna is an actress and professional cosplayer who has appeared as many super-heroines and villains. The picture I chose of her for my July calendar girl came from a photo shoot she made for Playboy. You can see a making of video of her Playboy debut here - https://youtu.be/CIIXchP_Hiw?list=LLprdr49Gj5eb0Px0xPa8EwA
Have no fear, folks, it is perfectly safe to view despite the Playboy connection: there is no nudity. I like LeeAnna and her depiction of Vampirella is spot on. Her costume is excellent, although her boots are too long, but that really is a very minor criticism. LeeAnna is a very friendly person, who likes meeting her fans at the many conventions she attends. Watching her all too brief appearance on that Playboy video gave me a good sense of how Vampirella would move in real life. As you know I am totally in love Vampirella but I do wonder how practical her costume would be in a real fight? Boob spillage would seem to be a very obvious drawback and yet it has never occurred in any of her stories. In GURPS Supers it was posited that female supers wearing skimpy costumes never suffer a costume malfunction because their costumes are made of a highly advanced material that always clings to the body. It's as good an explanation as any I've seen.

Moving on to my hobby news, it was a real treat meeting fellow blogger Mathyoo from Slovenia again, even though it was only for one day. He wanted to play Super Dungeon Explore with me. We played two games and he easily won the first but lost the second by the narrowest of margins. Balance was maintained but more importantly, we both had a great time.

Speaking of SDE, I have spent quite a bit of money on the game in these past few weeks. One of the biggest criticisms of the original SDE game was its lack of gaming tiles. It came with five double-sided boards. Now that The Forgotten King expansion set has been released, Soda Pop Miniatures (SPM) have addressed this problem in a big way. TFK contains six double-sided gaming tiles. I have just bought two more sets of six double-sided tiles. Shown above is  the set I most wanted - Von Drakk's Ghost House set, which contains six ghost house tiles and on the reverse of them, six graveyard tiles. In addition, the set comes with 12 Rattle-bone Skeleton figures. I also bought the set shown to the right - the Dungeons of Crystalia set, which contains six double-sided dungeon tiles and 12 figures of slime monsters. This gives me more than enough gaming tiles to play on and oodles of choice.
I also bought two Warband sets - the Mistmourn Coast Warband and the Stilt Town Zombies. Perpetually locked in an unnatural fog, the Mistmourn Coast is home to fickle and cruel faeries who make sport from tormenting trespassers. Trolls are some of the few mortal creatures who call the Mistmourn Coast home, and even they have been deeply affected by its magic. This set contains 1 Hero, 2 Spawning Points and 16 Monster figures with associated cards. Stilt Town Zombies adds the Survivor Marie-Claude Hero and Mr. Bitey the Zombie Bunny pet along with Gruesome George Mini-Boss, 2 spawning points, and 11 zombies with associated cards. I have been patiently waiting for SPM to add zombies to the game ever since I first saw the Von Drakk Manor expansion set. Now my prayer has been answered.
Finally, I bought some new Hero figures and a new Mini-Boss villain. One of my favourite SDE Heroes is Candy and her pet familiar, Cola. Candy is the narrator of the SDE rulebooks and often adds hints and tips on how to play the game. I was lucky enough to get the original metal figure of Candy and Cola (both on the same base). She is now out of production and incredibly rare. With the release of TFK, a new version of Candy and Cola were made - Brave-Mode Candy and Never Lost Cola - two incredibly cute figures.
Another Hero whom I considered a "must have" purchase was the Tabbybrook Mage. She is from a race of cat-like beings known as the Freyjans. Mages are a rarity in Freyjan society, which makes her something very special. She is a good all-rounder with healing skills as well as fire and ice spells. Being a cat lover, I have a great fondness for feline races in games and as soon as I saw the Tabbybrook Mage, I knew that I had to have her. The most noticeable thing about this figure is how tall she is. She stands 38mm tall from the bottom of her feet to the tips of her ears.
Finally, to redress the balance in the Consul's favour, I bought this figure of Ser Snapjaw, a   Kobold Mini-Boss. Ser Snapjaw is the greatest Wyrm Claw Exemplar in an age. Legendary among lesser Kobolds, they rally to Ser Snapjaw with zeal, his cunning leadership allowing them to fight with discipline that matches the mightiest armies. I just think he's a cool figure and I like him a lot. Some of my purchases came from Amazon.UK, whilst others came from eBay, courtesy of user-friendly sellers offering the "Buy Now" option.


My current interest in Zombicide remains undiminished. I have managed to play a few games of it, although none that I recorded. However, I do have Zombicide batrep planned very shortly. I took a short break from painting my Berserker Zombies (I'm two thirds of the way through them) to paint a load of Zombie Crows from the Murder of Crowz expansion set. As soon as I photograph them I'll review them on my blog. Grouped together they look damned impressive. The next few blog posts will be featuring some stuff that will most probably surprise you, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Oh, I almost forgot the biggest news I have to tell you. My collection of painted 28mm scale zombie figures has now broken through the 1,000 barrier. As of this post I have 1,010 fully painted and unique zombie figures. Now that is what you call a horde! I must take some photos of the assembled horde. Does this mean I'll now stop buying zombie figures? Don't be silly! Of course not. I'll keep on collecting as long as possible. Addicted, moi? Hell, yes!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Zombicide Dork Tower Survivors 01

One of the many things I like about Zombicide is that the creators invite guest sculptors to contribute to the game with sculpts of their own for Survivors and Zombivors. This idea began when Zombicide Season 2 was announced and has continued for Season 3 and Black Plague. One of the sculptors asked to participate in Season 3 was John Kovalic, creator of the cartoon strip, Dork Tower. I am a big fan of John's work but I didn't include his set of Survivors when I made my very large pledge for the Zombicide Season 3 Kickstarter project. To be honest, I didn't think I could find a use for his cartoon figures. That all changed once I developed a love for the Chibi figures of Super Dungeon Explore late last year. Just last month I was fortunate enough to find John's set going for sale at a very reasonable price on eBay, so I bought them and quickly painted the four Survivors from the set. Although the figures are very cartoon-like with their disproportionately large heads they are not Chibi figures. John's work is more akin to that of The Peanuts by Charles M. Schultz.
So, what is Dork Tower about? It's a story of five gamers and the lives they lead in the town of Mud Bay. Anyone who follows my blog ought to be able to identify with them. Dork Tower is unashamedly geeky but a lot of fun. The story has been in print and online since 1997 and is still going strong today. You can learn a lot more about it here - http://www.dorktower.com/ Let's meet the cast of Matt, Gilly, Igor and Carson, shown below from left to right respectively.
Matt McLimore was a web cartoonist and Games Master for his local group in quiet little Mud Bay, Wisconsin. DM'ing made him a natural leader, gaming taught him strategy, while trying to make a living cartooning trained him to survive on little. General frustration and plenty of free time playing Warhamster: ZombieSide meant that when the zombies did come, Matt was ready and waiting. The hordes have disrupted his weekly gaming sessions and they're gonna pay - and he doesn't mean in Gold Pieces or Experience Points. And, unlike his game-table experience, he's not giving any of them a saving roll!
Matt is armed with a pair of 9mm Browning HP Pistols, a Broad Sword and has a Hand Grenade in his coat pocket. Matt starts with two Blue Level Skills. Yes, plural. A lot of Season 3 Survivors get either the Helicopter Pilot or Fast Roping Skill to make use of the new rules for helicopters in the game. So Matt starts with Helicopter Pilot (self-explanatory) and Born Leader, which allows him to give one free Action to another Survivor to use as he or she pleases. This Action must be used during the recipient's next Turn or is lost.
Gilly Woods was Mud Bay's Perky Goth fangirl and cosplayer, so she's always been an outsider, making her strong, fiercely independent and self-reliant. She's had to put up with idiot fanboys labeling her a "fake geek girl" long enough. A veteran of many Comic-Cons, she's used to dealing with the mindless, shambling, unwashed masses. Since most of the haters were zombie-like to begin with, she doesn't see a whole lot of difference between putting down a basement-dwelling fanboy with a well-timed quip, or plugging a zombie right between the eyes with a trusty Glock.
Gilly is armed with a pair of  9mm Glock 17 Pistols, a Short-Sword and has a Dagger on her upper right arm. Gilly's two starting Skills are Fast Roping (allows her to exit a flying helicopter by rappelling down a rope) and Shove, which allows her to use this Skill, for free, once during her Activations. Select a Zone at Range 1 from her. All Zombies standing in her Zone are pushed to the selected Zone. This is not a Movement. Both Zones need to share a clear path. A Zombie can't cross barricades, fences, closed doors or walls but can be shoved out of a hole. Shove can't be used by Survivors in a car or helicopter.
Igor Olman believes that anything worth doing is worth doing to excess: comics, gaming, movies and fandom in general. So it's no surprise that when the horrors of the zombie hordes appeared on his doorstep, he launched into them with all the gusto of a Warhamster Fantasy Roleplay 25th-level Dwarven Hellwarrior armed with Zordaz's +25 Axe of Lordly Slicing and Dicing, with the "Mighty Big Cleave" bonus. Nobody's quite sure where Igor got his full arsenal of bazookas and rocket launchers from. Nobody's quite sure where he was storing them. Frankly, his friends are afraid to ask. Igor calls his bazooka "THACO."
Igor is armed to the teeth with a Bazooka, three rockets for the Bazooka, one Mini-Nuke Missile, a Two-Headed Axe, a Spear and a Hunting Rifle. He didn't think it too many; in fact, he didn't think it enough! Igor's two starting Skills are Fast Roping and Bloodlust: Melee, which if he spends one Action, he may Move up to two Zones to a Zone containing at least one zombie (or rival Survivor). He then gains one free Melee Action.
Carson the Muskrat is a mild-mannered soul. But he's small, fast and clever, making him hard to get a hold of. And somehow he got hold of a vintage, fully-operational British Bren Gun Carrier. Igor may have been involved, frankly. Don't let Carson's quiet demeanour and trepidatious outlook on life fool you; when his friends are threatened, he fights like a cornered animal: literally.
Carson's Bren Gun Carrier is, of course, armed with a .303 Enfield Bren Light Machine-Gun. Carson starts out with the Skills, Helicopter Pilot and Slippery, which allows him to Move through a Zone containing Zombies without having to spend one Action per Zombie in the Zone. Entering a Zone containing Zombies ends his Move Action.
These are fun sculpts and contrary to my initial misgivings that they have no place in Zombicide, I now realise I was wrong. Looking through my Zombicide Compendium volume 1, I spotted one scenario in particular that would be ideal to play using these four Survivors. Expect a batrep soon. By the way, do any of you get the THACO reference for the name of Igor's bazooka? Old gamers, like myself, will remember it from first edition Dungeons and Dragons. It stood for To Hit Armour Class 0. My God, that takes me back many a year!
DORK TOWER is the award-winning fan-favorite comic strip and comic book about five gamers, and the real world.
Sure, it’s also about the worlds they create, the games they play, the technologies they abuse and misuse and the conventions they road-trip to. But it’s a comic for everybody, geeks or otherwise. You don’t have to know Dungeons and Dragons, the music of Jonathan Coulton, the latest social networking phenomenon or the hippest meme to get it. All you need to know is that Geek if the new Mainstream, and pretty much everyone has the same hopes and fears, whether you’re a dork, a nerd, or a mundane.
DORK TOWER has been published in print and online since 1997, when it was first in the pages of Shadis Magazine, and later in Dragon. The comic book has sold nearly a half-million copies, and is collected in 9 award-winning trade paperbacks that have been published in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish…and soon Portuguese.
Games such as CHEZ DORK and DORK TOWER (Steve Jackson Games) and WARHAMSTER RALLY (Jolly Roger Games) have brought the comic’s cast to life over the gaming table. The characters also make frequent appearances in MUNCHKIN (Steve Jackson Games), which DORK TOWER John Kovalic also illustrates.
DORK TOWER is the story of Matt, Igor, Ken, Carson the Muskrat (yes, he’s a muskrat) and Gilly, the Perky Goth.
And they’re human. Just like you.
Even the muskrat.
Welcome to DORK TOWER.
- See more at: http://www.dorktower.com/about-dorktower/#sthash.aG6ppVKO.dpuf
DORK TOWER is the award-winning fan-favorite comic strip and comic book about five gamers, and the real world.
Sure, it’s also about the worlds they create, the games they play, the technologies they abuse and misuse and the conventions they road-trip to. But it’s a comic for everybody, geeks or otherwise. You don’t have to know Dungeons and Dragons, the music of Jonathan Coulton, the latest social networking phenomenon or the hippest meme to get it. All you need to know is that Geek if the new Mainstream, and pretty much everyone has the same hopes and fears, whether you’re a dork, a nerd, or a mundane.
DORK TOWER has been published in print and online since 1997, when it was first in the pages of Shadis Magazine, and later in Dragon. The comic book has sold nearly a half-million copies, and is collected in 9 award-winning trade paperbacks that have been published in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish…and soon Portuguese.
Games such as CHEZ DORK and DORK TOWER (Steve Jackson Games) and WARHAMSTER RALLY (Jolly Roger Games) have brought the comic’s cast to life over the gaming table. The characters also make frequent appearances in MUNCHKIN (Steve Jackson Games), which DORK TOWER John Kovalic also illustrates.
DORK TOWER is the story of Matt, Igor, Ken, Carson the Muskrat (yes, he’s a muskrat) and Gilly, the Perky Goth.
And they’re human. Just like you.
Even the muskrat.
Welcome to DORK TOWER.
- See more at: http://www.dorktower.com/about-dorktower/#sthash.aG6ppVKO.dpuf

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Zombicide Season 3 Survivors and Zombivors 01

I thought I'd take a short break from reviewing zombies. However, still sticking with my favourite zombie apocalypse game, Zombicide, here's a look at the first of my Season 3 Survivors and Zombivors. Three of them (Dick, Leroy and Paul) came from Survivor and Zombivor Set #5: Moustache Pack #2. The other figure (Lucius) was one of the free stretch goals I received for backing the Zombicide Season 3 Kickstarter project. He also sports a moustache, so he fits in well with the other three. All four bear remarkable similarities with well known film and TV stars.
First in line is Paul Rourke, the reality TV star. Discovered by TV producers during $2 Pitcher Night at his local bowling alley, Paul hit the big time in the African Safari Journey reality show, leading his team to a fourth place finish. His star rose as he starred in the inevitable sequels and reunions. When African Safari Journey was cancelled Paul hit the skids and was working as a short order cook at a local diner when the dead rose. Taking charge, he led his terrified patrons to safety. Paul doesn't have many useful survival skills, but people respond to his leadership skills and irascible persona. The world needs a hero, and Paul is glad to play his part.
Both Survivor and Zombivor Paul are armed with twin Knives. Paul's starting skill is Swordmaster, which allows him to treat all melee weapons as if they had the Dual symbol. The figure of Paul is clearly based on Mickey Rourke's character, Tool, in the film, The Expendables.
The tall African/American gent is Leroy Thompson, an accountant. Leroy always knew he wanted to be an accountant and he worked hard to make his dream a reality. The day he became a Certified Public Accountant was the greatest of his life. All was well in the world of spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations until he went on a mandatory team-building exercise set deep in the woods. The team-building exercise involved paintball and copious amounts of alcohol. Leroy woke the next morning with a hangover and a Mohawk haircut. Unfortunately, the zombies chose that day to attack. the sole survivor of his slaughtered team, Leroy traded in his paintball rifle for the real thing. His transformation from mild-mannered accountant to cold-blooded killer has been nothing short of astounding.
Survivor and Zombivor Leroy are both armed with 5.56mm M16 Assault Rifles. Leroy's starting Skill is Tough, which allows him to ignore the first Attack he receives from a single Zombie every Zombies' Phase. Leroy is unmistakably based on Mr. T's character, B.A. Baracus, from The A-Team TV series.
Surprisingly brightly dressed is Dick Johnson the undertaker. Voted undertaker of the year three years running, Dick Johnson's chain of cut-rate funeral parlours consistently buried the competition. When the dead actually rose, Dick hid in one of his coffins for three days hoping to ride it out. Re-emerging into a dead new world and realising that since nobody died anymore he was now the most useless man on Earth. Dick threw himself into the business of survival with the same vigour he displayed in building his one-man empire of the dead. Dick's knowledge of anatomy, embalming chemicals and obscure knowledge of undertaking lore will prove invaluable to any group he joins.
Survivor Dick is armed with a .44 Magnum Revolver, whilst Zombivor Dick has upgraded to a 7.62mm AK47 Assault Rifle. His starting Skill is Lucky, which allows him to re-roll once all the dice for each Action he takes. The new result takes the place of the previous one. This Skill stacks with the effects of other Skills (+1 Re-roll per Turn, for example) and Equipment that allows re-rolls. Dick's figure is based on Will Ferrell's eponymous character in the film Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy.
Finally, we come to Lucius Reno, aka the Weed Man. Lucius started growing marijuana soon after smoking his first joint. After flunking out of high school, Lucius discovered he had a green thumb and turned an enjoyable hobby into a full-fledged business. Everyone loved Lucius’s bud, and his nickname of the Weed Man stuck. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. Busted by the local cops, Lucius was being escorted to the police station when the zombie outbreak hit. The cops soon had other things to worry about and Lucius managed to slip away. Not a hero, Lucius ekes out a precarious existence bartering herb for life’s essentials.
Survivor Lucius and Zombivor Lucius are each armed with a 9mm Pistol. Lucius's starting Skill is +1 to Dice Roll: Ranged, giving him a handy bonus to all of his Ranged Attacks. The figure of Lucius is based on the character, Leone "Leon" Montana from one of my favourite films, Leon: the Professional in which he plays a hitman who befriends a young girl after her family is murdered by a corrupt police detective. Rather unusually, Zombivor Lucius has been sculpted in a running pose.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Zombicide Zombies - Season 2 Toxic Female Walkers 02 & Zombie Tramp

So, at last, I come to the end of my reviews of my Toxic Zombies for Zombicide. Here are eight more female Toxic Walkers and a special conversion of one of my favourite comic book characters - Zombie Tramp.
These five Walkers are new sculpts not found in the Toxic City Mall expansion set. The first three came from the Box of Zombies - Set #2: Toxic Crowd and the other two were free stretch goal figures that I received for backing Zombicide Season 2. The two Toxic Walkers at the far left of the photos directly above and below are straight from the box and only their colour schemes makes them look different.
The Toxic Walker in the centre of the group has had a simple conversion that could be easily overlooked. I made her ponytail thicker but not longer.
The Toxic Walker fourth in line has had her ponytail both thickened and lengthened with modelling putty. In addition, I cut off her left arm at the shoulder.
For the Toxic Walker at the far right I repositioned her right arm so that she is clutching her stomach. This was done using the flame and cold water technique I have described previously.
The three Toxic Walkers shown to the left of the photos directly above and below were also free Kickstarter stretch goal figures that I received. The woman at the far left has had her right hand cut off.
The Toxic Walker standing next to her had her left arm cut off and glued back in place at her side. The gap at her shoulder was filled in with modelling putty.
The Toxic Walker dressed in white with the pink cardigan had a hole drilled all the way through her back and out her stomach.
And finally, we come to my conversion of Zombie Tramp. Who is Zombie Tramp? I hear you ask. I'd be very surprised if any of you have even heard of her. Zombie Tramp is the heroine of a series of comics produced by Action Labs Entertainment created by Dan Mendoza. Janey Belle was one of Hollywood's elite call girls with a rich and famous clientele. Her life changed when a corrupt sheriff, Julian Rudolf, coerced her to spend a night with his son, Jason. Sadly for Janey, the son turned out to be a flesh-eating zombie and he bit her. She escaped but soon died and came back to life as a zombie. Fate intervened when she met Xula, a voodoo queen. Xula instantly recognised something unique and  different about zombie Janey - she still retained her soul. Xula took Janey under her wing and taught her all she knew. Together, they sought revenge against the Rudolfs.
Janey is virtually unkillable. Whenever she dies (and she does quite often!), her spirit leaves her body and takes over the body of the nearest human. She prefers taking over females to males but whoever she takes over quickly transforms into Janey in appearance. Janey is also a skilled necromancer and can reanimate the dead as well as transforming humans into zombies with a spell. It is hard to define Janey. She is not inherently evil, although she does torture and eat people who piss her off. Yes, she is a zombie, but a very intelligent zombie. She can speak and can easily pass for being human.
I fell in love with this character when I bought her first two mini-series in graphic novel format. Lately, she received her own on-going comic series and I am an avid collector of them. Zombie Tramp is the kind of person you'll either love or hate. Sure, she's bawdy, frequently nude or topless, foul-mouthed and has a bad attitude but she is also very lovable and extremely funny and there is far more to her than just another tits and ass superheroine. When it comes to collecting comics, Zombie Tramp is my one guilty pleasure.
When I saw the figure of the female Toxic Walker wearing the miniskirt I immediately saw a resemblance with Zombie Tramp and I knew I had to convert her. So, first I cut off all the spikes that covered her limbs. I remodeled her hair to give it more body. And I enlarged her breasts and made the decision not to cover them up. She certainly looks the part. If I was to use her in Zombicide it would have to be as a Zombivor. She is far too powerful to be a normal zombie.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of Zombie Tramp from the comics and real life (!).
Zombie Tramp artwork by guest artist, Patrick Finch

Artwork by series creator, Dan Mendoza for series 2. Janey is using a pair of severed hands as a makeshift push-up bra! The white streak in Janey's hair is a clump of blonde hair attached to a piece of skull to cover up a gaping wound when Janey got shot in the top of the head. She can fuse other peoples' body parts to her own. "Wrong colour but should do nicely," she said as she ripped apart the head of a young female corpse. To the right is cosplayer, Diana Prince, who perfectly replicates Dan's artwork. She just IS Zombie Tramp. There aren't that many Zombie Tramp cosplayers but Diana is far and away the best.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Zombicide Zombies - Season 2 Toxic Female Walkers 01

I'm drawing to a close of my reviews of the 28mm scale Toxic Zombies for Zombicide. In this and the following post I'll review my female Toxic Walkers. The eight figures that I'm showcasing here all came from the Toxic City Mall expansion set.
As usual, I start off with two figures that are straight from the box. These two Walkers, looking like office workers, have not been converted at all. I still can't explain why female Toxic Zombies keep their hair but males don't.
The two Walkers to the right of the two photos above have kept their upper bodies but have had leg swaps with two of the Walkers in the photos below. They look taller than the two Walkers at the left of the two photos above and a lot less classy.
The two Walkers at the left of the photos directly above and below are also straight from the box sculpts. When I first saw them two words immediately sprung to mind - "trailer trash!"
The two Walkers at the right of the two photos had their legs swapped with the two Walkers at the right of the first two photos. They aren't as trashy looking as the two women to the left of them, thanks to their long skirts, although they are still flashing their bras.
I like the sculpting of these figures far more than that of the male Toxic Walkers. The way they have been posed means that they do lend themselves to lots of conversion possibilities. I'll show even more ideas that I came up with next time. One conversion in particular, takes pride of place in my entire collection of 28mm scale zombie figures, which is why I have deliberately kept the best until last.