Monday, 27 June 2016

Vampifan's Views 81 - Monthly Musings 55

The month of June has been very good to me. More on why later, but first I start as always with another painting of my favourite superhero - Vampirella. Here she is again, painted by my favourite Vampi artist, Joe Jusko. Nice use of colour in this painting. I wonder what music Vampi is dancing to? Bat Out Of Hell, perhaps? :-)

The best news of the month was that I received delivery of my Zombicide: Black Plague expansion sets. I knew I had ordered a whole load of stuff for the Kickstarter pledge but I was very surprised to see my mail-man coming down my garden path carrying two big brown cardboard boxes. Both were filled with amazing goodies. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon opening every box within the two parcels. Usually, when I get a big delivery like this I post a "what-I-got" article on my blog but this time, I'm not going to. There are a lot of unboxing videos on YouTube showing what backers received for their Black Plague pledges. I watched a lot of them, whilst waiting for my stuff to arrive and they show what's available far better than a few photos of mine could.

What I will say is that I ordered the Wulfsburg expansion set, extra tiles, some very useful plastic card holders and every single figure that was available for the game. That means I now have nearly 100 Heroes to fight the Zombie hordes. The Zombies have also grown stronger with extra Zombies, including Deadeye Walkers (aka Zombie Archers), Notoriously Plagued Characters (Zombie NPCs), Zombie Crowz, Zombie Wolves and some truly awesome Zombie Abominations like the Ablobination, the Abominalpha, the Abominotaur, the Abominarat and the Abominatroll. What is amazing about all of the new figures in these sets is that the sculptors have really raised their game. The standard of sculpting is absolutely top notch! Painting figures of this high quality will be a labour of love.

I have just about finished painting the last of my Zombies from the basic Zombicide: Black Plague boxed set. I was hoping to get them finished before my expansion sets arrived but no matter. They'll be finished within the week. As soon as they are done I'll photograph them all and then I'll be posting lots of reviews of the figures from that set on my blog. Batreps will follow later. However, I'm resisting the temptation to dive straight into my new stuff and start painting some choice figures from this massive collection of minis.

What I plan on concentrating on next are my Shadows of Brimstone figures. They'll be taking centre stage on my painting desk. I am determined to make a push to get them all painted. Other stuff will get painted as well, as I like to have a few things going on at once. Currently, in addition to my Zombicide: Black Plague Zombies I am also painting a few figures for the Judge Dredd Miniatures Game - Fatties and robots. I have been making some buildings and scenery from 4Ground for Shadows of Brimstone and Six Gun Sound. To the left is a photo of a New England Settler's Cabin taken from the 4Ground webstore. This was the very first 28mm scale Wild West building that I bought and made. In my opinion, 4Ground make the best buildings for any genre. They are pricey but you are paying for top quality. I'll be slowly building up my collection of Wild West buildings in the months to come, buying one or two per month, mainly from 4Ground but not exclusively so.

This has also been a very good month for me playing games. I have played games of Airfix Battles, Rum and Bones and Thunderbirds, once each, four games of Heroclix and six games of Shadows of Brimstone, repeatedly playing the High Noon Duel scenario from the Frontier Town expansion set using a different hero each time against the Outlaw gunman. It is always nice to find the time to play some games but this month has been exceptional for me. Okay, so many of the games I played were short ones, lasting less than an hour each, but I'm still overjoyed to have played so many games in just four weeks.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Vampifan's Superheroes and Supervillains 03

Here are three more supervillains that I made and converted many years ago. These are all loners but any one of them would be an ideal recruit for the Yamaguchi Yakuza clan that I reviewed last time. When I converted the Villains and Vigilantes scenario, Search for the Sensei, to GURPS Supers I added all three to the Yamaguchi Yakuza to give my player characters a greater challenge. Despite the extra manpower the villains were still defeated!
At the far left of this group is Mount Fuji, a supervillain from the GURPS Supers 3rd edition supplement. Tashiro Yamato is a disgraced Sumo wrestler who has become a ronin, a renegade samurai serving no master. He is a Robin Hood type - to some a hero, to others a villain. He is wanted by the police and a mid-level Japanese Yakuza gang (not the Yamaguchi Yakuza, who are much more high-powered and are quite willing to recruit meta-humans). His super powers in GURPS Supers are Enhanced Strength:190, Damage Resistance:50 and Increased Density level:8. He cost 600 points. He weighs 1,100lbs and yet one of his Quirks is that he thinks he is too thin! I sculpted Mount Fuji out of Milliput. If I was making him today, I'd probably convert him from the Marvel Heroclix figure of the Blob. He is meant to be rather squat looking, hence his lack of height.
Standing next to him is Predator, one of the supervillains featured in the GURPS Super Scum supplement. During the 1920's Archer Hayes led a band of mercenaries on raids along the northern coast of Japan. On his last raid he entered a village temple and found an unusual golden opal. A priest warned him the stone was cursed, the curse being everlasting life. Archer took it anyway and when the temple suddenly exploded he was surprised to find he had not only survived but that his body had changed, leaving him stronger and more agile. A group of ninjas, the Nimba Cult, heard of him and recruited him. He learnt faster than any other recruit and was sent on a mission to assassinate the British ambassador's daughter. But when it came to the actual kill he found he could not stomach such a senseless death. He fled to America and found work as a stuntman in Hollywood. He survived numerous assassination attempts by the Nimba Cult and was forced to move constantly. As the years passed he grew bored. Life held no excitement for him. He never aged and he soon realised that eternal life was a curse. Now he will accept any challenge if it has the possibility of being fatal. In GURPS Super Scum the characters can be one of three power levels - low, medium or high. I chose the high 1000 point option for my Predator. His super powers are Clinging, Damage Resistance:20, Enhanced Strength:60, Full Co-ordination level:2, Infravision, Regeneration and Unaging. Once again, I sculpted the figure myself. His katana and wakizashi came from Dixon's Miniatures who sell samurai weapons separately. The wakizashi is just a katana I bought with its blade shortened. I cut it down to an appropriate length. I think he is one of my better sculpts.
At the far right is Python, the first figure whom I converted from the Golden Heroes role-playing game. I never played Golden Heroes, but I did find it a handy sourcebook for converting some of its characters to GURPS Supers. Mai Lee Noh paid a scientist to develop a serum to bestow upon her the abilities of a python to help her become a Grand Master of the Bando style of Kung Fu. It was partially successful, granting her great strength, fast reactions and a scaly skin, but she was still defeated by the current Bando Grand Master and was forced to flee China in disgrace. She has since made a small fortune hiring her skills to the highest bidder and has built up a good reputation in her work and will do anything to keep her reputation intact. She is a cold, calculating crook, who only gives up if the defeat can somehow be turned into a moral victory. For GURPS Supers I gave her the following super powers - Enhanced Strength:30, Increased Speed level:3 and Passive Defence:2. She also has very high Skill levels in Judo and Karate, specialising in the Bando style of Kung Fu. She cost 800 points. Her figure is a conversion of the Marvel Heroclix Psylocke from the X-Men. I made her in 2003, a year after the launch of Heroclix.
I leave you with illustrations of these three supervillains. They were all scanned into my computer from their respective sourcebooks but I digitally coloured them.
Mount Fuji

Predator and Python
Blog News. I would heartily recommend you check out the Gamers Cupboard blog if you want to see what a Chibi version of Vampifan looks like! Even if you don't like Chibis it's still worth a view. Here's the link - http://thegamerscupbard.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/chibi-vampifan-and-chibi-vampirella.html

Monday, 20 June 2016

Vampifan's Superheroes and Supervillains 02

In my previous post I looked at three lone supervillains I had made, based on characters from GURPS Supers and Villains and Vigilantes. This time I'm reviewing a team of supervillains - the Yamaguchi Yakuza clan. They appeared in the V&V scenario, Search for the Sensei, published in 1986.
At the far left is Kazutoshi Toshinaga, leader of the American West Coast operations of the powerful Yamaguchi Yakuza clan. Crippled as a boy in a car accident that also killed both of his parents, Kazutoshi was taken under the wing of a rich uncle with contacts in the Yamaguchi Yakuza. He studied Engineering at Tokyo University, specialising in Cybernetics. He was offered a post in the Yamaguchi clan, which he accepted. He created his special armoured suit, which gave him full mobility. He quickly rose through the ranks and became known as Shujin. Like Marvel Comics' Iron-man, Shujin gains all of his superpowers from his High Tech suit. He is now based in San Francisco. In GURPS Supers, his suit grants him Super Strength:80, Psionic Resistance level:20 and Damage Resistance:65 in the body and DR:50 in the head and limbs. He is armed with a gold-plated Force-sword. He cost 1000 points. I sculpted him out of Milliput.
Next in line is Maiden Japan, leader of the American East Coast operations of the Yamaguchi Yakuza, based in New York. Lotus Sawara was born in Osaka, Japan. She was a lonely child so she created an imaginary friend, a companion who did things for her, like play catch with her or put away her toys. Later, she realised this was her own mind at work. She was a telekinetic. At age 14, her parents disowned her, thinking she was possessed by demons. She joined a travelling circus and developed an affinity with the circus animals, especially the big cats. At age 20, she joined the Yamaguchi Yakuza, where her talents were appreciated and rewarded. In addition to her Telekinesis, she is a superb athlete and she can speak with feline animals. Indeed, she owns a pet Indian tiger, whom she calls Nihon. Shujin crafted a Force-staff for her much like Darth Maul's double-bladed Light-sword, although long before that Star Wars film ever saw the light of day. In GURPS Supers she cost 500 points, an average score for any superhero or supervillain. Once again, I sculpted her. Her Force-staff is the shaft of a metal spear.
Third in line is Solaris. Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Tetsuya Kori turned to a life of crime after she was made redundant from her job as an electronics teacher. Whilst on a skiing trip, her latent super powers activated when she was caught in an avalanche. She was able to melt the snow that covered her with her latent Flame powers. Upon joining the Yamaguchi Yakuza she was presented with a flame retardant costume. She named herself Solaris. In addition to her Flame powers, Solaris can blind opponents with a Flare and can fly at super speed. She operates in both New York and San Francisco, depending where she is needed the most. In GURPS Supers she cost a respectable 800 points. I was fortunate enough to find a 28mm scale Grenadier superhero figure who perfectly matched her look. All I had to do was lengthen her hair with Milliput then paint her in the appropriate colours.
Finally, we have Genghis Chi. He may be small but he is powerfully built, super strong and weighs far more than normal for a man of his size and stature. He was born in Brooklyn, New York. He has two loves in his life - chemistry and beating up people. After graduating from college he became a pharmacist and was soon recruited by the Yamaguchi Yakuza. Basically, he is a super-powered version of the villain, Oddjob from the James Bond film, Goldfinger. He even has a steel-brimmed bowler hat, which he can use like a boomerang. In GURPS Supers, his super powers were Super Strength:30, Extra Hit Points +10, Increased Density level:3 (adds 300lbs to his 140lbs weight and reduces any Knockback by 3") and Increased Speed +2. He cost a total of 600 points. The figure I used for Genghis Chi was a Denizen Miniatures figure of a not-Oddjob. Although he is true 25mm scale, he was perfect for my needs.
I'll close with illustrations of the four figures shown above. They were redrawn by me and digitally coloured by me.
Shujin and Genghis Chi

Maiden Japan and Solaris


Friday, 17 June 2016

Vampifan's Superheroes and Supervillains 01

During the 1980's when I was games mastering my group of wargaming and role-playing friends there was one superhero RPG that we played many, many times. It was Villains and Vigilantes (V&V) by Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU). V&V was far away FGU's most successful game and more supplements and scenarios were produced for it than for any other game in their range. In the late 1990's we switched to GURPS Supers. However, I converted a few of the V&V scenarios to GURPS for my group to play. Carrying on from my recent posts for the Forgotten Heroes challenge I thought you'd like to see some some of my earlier superhero figures that I made and converted for those two superhero RPGs. The majority of the figures I created back then came from various supplements and scenario packs for GURPS Supers and V&V. In this post and the next few, I'll show you some of them, starting with this trio of lone supervillains.
At the far left is the supervillain, Doctor Apocalypse. He was the primary protagonist of the scenario set, The Island of Doctor Apocalypse, published in 1982 for V&V. Pietor Apoucalos was a megalomaniac whose powers came from the mystical Apocalypse Gem which was grafted to his forehead. This allowed him to use any six super powers of his choosing at any one time. I forget which six powers he used in V&V but in GURPS Supers, I kept the six powers limit and gave him up to 1200 points to spend on them. In his current incarnation he chose Enhanced Strength: 80 (200 points), Extra Hit Points +40 (200 points), Immortality (140 points), Increased Speed +10 (250 points), Laser level:10 (270 points) and Teleportation level:30 (self only) (120 points). I spent 1,180 points on his super powers and his total points cost came to 2400 points. When I ran The Island of Doctor Apocalypse scenario using the V&V rules, he wiped the floor with the superheroes of my players. This was the one and only occasion that they lost a fight. He was simply too tough and too powerful for them. Much later, with some trepidation, I replayed the scenario using the rules for GURPS Supers and a team made up of Gothique (a player created Dark Elf superheroine), Vampirella (obviously played by me) and Wolverine defeated him.
The figure was sculpted by me and is based upon the front cover illustration of Doctor Apocalypse that appears on the V&V scenario book. His head is far too big, I realise but I was happy with him at the time so never bothered changing him.
Next up are my two winged flyers. In the centre is Blue Demon, who was one of the villains featured in the GURPS Supers supplement, Super Scum. This was a collection of supervillains both loners and teams. Blue Demon was unwittingly summoned to Earth by a coven of witches (now all dead). He caused carnage wherever he went and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of humans. Annoyingly, he has been killed several times but he always comes back later. His super powers include Doesn't Breathe, Flight, Hardened Skin (metallic blue in colour), Pressure and Vacuum Support, Regeneration, Regrowth, Super Strength and Unkillable. In GURPS Supers he cost 1400 points. My players had no problems in defeating him in both games, although they could never kill him and thus, like any good villain, he would always return. For my figure of him I used the wings of an old Citadel Khorne Demon of Chaos. Being made of metal, these helped to anchor him to his base. Note that his feet do not touch his base. The rest of his body was made out of Milliput modelling putty. He looks exactly like the illustration of him (see below) and I'm very pleased with my sculpt of him.
Finally, we have Talon, another character from the GURPS Supers supplement, Super Scum. Jani Yamahito, a brilliant geneticist, was transformed into the monstrous, reptilian Talon after a failed laboratory experiment. She is not truly evil, even though she has killed, her violence is mostly unprovoked. Her super powers include Chameleon Skin, Claws, Clinging Ability (she can walk on walls or ceilings at half Move), Flight, Regeneration, Regrowth, Super Strength and Toughened Skin. Although she cost 900 points in GURPS Supers, she could still be taken out by a single superhero and she'd be no match for a team of heroes. My figure of her is a conversion of an old Citadel Dark Elf Harpie (similar to the one I used for my conversion of Purgatori). I simply remodelled her head and added a long tail with a forked tip.
I'll leave you with illustrations of this trio of supervillains drawn and digitally coloured by me.
Doctor Apocalypse

Blue Demon

Talon
Blog News. Those of you who are interested in the Shadows of Brimstone game should check out my review of it on The Gamers Cupboard blog here - http://thegamerscupbard.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/shadows-of-brimstone-overview.html
If you think you've already seen it before, think again. It has been rewritten and greatly expanded.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Forgotten Heroes - Purgatori & Vampirella 02

Here I present my four finished conversions for the Forgotten Heroes project. As I explained last time, the heroes I wanted to create were the vampire characters of Purgatori and Vampirella, who both appear in comics produced by Dynamite Entertainment. I mentioned that I'd be making two versions of each of them - a normal 28mm scale version and a 28mm scale Chibi version. Here they are.
For my normal version of Purgatori, I decided to base her on an old Citadel Dark Elf Harpie (typical of Games Workshop, she is now out of production). A copy of the Harpie I used is at the far left of my two photos. I remodelled her hair, and added plastic horns taken from a GW Skeletons sprue to her head. I added bone shoulder pads and gave her long fingerless gloves and a bra made of Milliput. I added thigh length boots and remodelled her feet. The Harpie had longer legs and feet, so I hid her taloned feet by surrounding them with a pile of decapitated heads from my spare parts box. She stands on a 25mm diameter MDF base, which is textured with sand. Overall, I'm very pleased with my conversion. There are no official or unofficial versions of Purgatori, which makes my figure unique.
For my figure of Vampirella I chose a Marvel Heroclix figure of a Con Artist from the old Xplosion expansion set as the basis for my conversion. The Heroclix Con Artist appears at the far right of my two photos. It was probably not the most obvious figure to choose but I thought she had potential. Her arms and legs were almost perfect. I remodelled her two bracelets and added extra upper arm bracelets as well. Her body needed extensive reworking and her hair obviously needed lengthening. Cutting off her clothes was not an easy task but a very sharp craft knife helped and I knew if I cut too deeply I could always repair her with modelling putty. Once I had removed all of the extraneous plastic (working with plastic made my life a lot easier!) I then went to work with the modelling putty and remade her bum and boobs and added her iconic costume. Finally, I added her long length hair, based her and textured the base. I'm reasonably happy with her. I think it's a decent effort but I'll be the first to admit that some of the unofficial versions of Vampirella are a lot better than my version. Still, once again, I have a unique figure to add to my collection.
Moving onto the two Chibi versions of Purgatori and Vampirella I must admit that these were a lot easier to convert and more fun to do. Both conversions are based on the same figure - Succubus Vandella from Soda Pop Miniatures' game Super Dungeon Explore. She's at the far left of these two photos. Vandella can be either an evil Mini-Boss or a Hero, depending upon which version you choose for her. She was also the perfect figure for me to convert into Purgatori and Vampirella.
For Purgatori, I first cut off Vandella's pigtails and tail. I snipped the ends off a wooden cocktail stick to use as her horns and glued them to the front of her head. I know they should be curved but this was the best solution I could come up with. I added her left eye with modelling putty as I wanted her to have both eyes open. Then I remodelled her hair and costume with Milliput. All in all, a relatively simple conversion.

For my conversion of Vampirella the first thing I did was to cut her head off (!). This was to make it easier to remove Vandella's wings. It is a fact that Vampirella can fly. In the original black and white Warren series she used to transform into a bat but more recently she spouts wings from her back when she wants to fly. However, because she rarely ever flies I decided to model her without the wings. Once again, I cut off Vandella's pigtails and tail and also her two wings. I cut away the flame from her candle. I repainted the candle so that it is now a scroll holder. I added Vampirella's white collar to her neck, which was made from Milliput. Then I drilled and pinned her head back in place and added her left eye and remodelled her long hair. She was a slightly more complex conversion than Purgatori but in no way a difficult conversion for me.
I have to admit that I absolutely love my Chibi conversions of Purgatori and Vampirella. I think I have captured the look and personality of them both just perfectly. I am now working on ideas on how to incorporate them in a game. Do I stick with Super Dungeon Explore or shall I try out Chibi World? Do I have them in an unlikely team up (with superheroes any team up is possible) or do I have them on opposing sides? I have lots of ideas spinning in my head.
I'd just like to end by saying this project was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed taking part. A big thank you to Jez and Roger for bringing it to fruition and for allowing me to participate. Here's hoping the project continues next year.