Monday, 8 August 2011

Just a perfect day, problems all left alone

After a brief excursion to see the sights of Junction 5 of the M60 (totally deliberate you understand and nothing at all to do with the fact I missed the exit for Junction 7) I made it to Altrincham's Homebase and there found the long sought-after cobblestone wallpaper. It took me some time to realise that I had, since the closest I could find was actually a weave pattern, with indentations between the raised weave, whereas I was after something to emulate stones raised above a recessed ground surface.

Yes, you can already see it can't you. I had to stumble across an opened roll on the shelf and actually *see* the back-facing side of the paper before the penny dropped. What's embossed in on one side is naturally embossed out on the other. The reverse of the wallpaper is what makes the cobblestone pattern.

Buoyed by success, I decided to turn it into a bit of a shopping trip looking for GASLIGHT or 28mm Modern/Zombie fodder. Toys R Us was surprisingly disappointing, although I was tempted by an "emergency services" playset with a police car, helicopter, ambulance, fire engine, huge ladder truck and an "incident" van, plus a whole load of assorted street signs, barriers and other street furniture. Very nice and great value, but at £25 not quite a no-brainer bargain.

Tesco is another place you hear of people getting bargain vehicles for zombie gaming. I found it a little disappointing too, but picked up a pack of "City Vehicles", three trucks , two of which are carrying various sorts of recycling bins while the third is a skip. All the containers are dismountable, which means they double as street furniture as well as parts of the vehicles. Not bad for £7.

So on the way home I decided to call in at my parents house. Like many fledgelings leaving the nest, I left behind piles and piles of junk, or as I called them "precious things that absolutely aren't to be thrown away and I'll collect it all as soon as I can make room for it." So naturally my old room turned into "the junk room" and the piles of "precious things" grew (I'm reasonably sure I didn't used to have a hospital-style commode in there)

Years passed and as 2011 rolled around I finally plucked up the courage to start clearing out the junk room with a vengeance. (In fact this is one of the things that prompted me to think about restarting wargaming, but I digress) It's a long ongoing job - an hour here, an hour there, a trip to the local charity shop, another trip to the dump. So today I was just going to spend five minutes collecting up a box of bits & bobs to take down to the charity shop when I started poking around in a recently opened up corner of the junkpile.

And hit the GASLIGHT motherlode.

I'd been certain that I had more toys for VSF than I'd been able to find for the Big Birthday Battle, but hadn't been able to find them in the place where I was sure I'd piled all the GASLIGHT boxes. This box, however, had somehow migrated to a different part of the room by some sort of mystical junkpile brownian motion that only the messiest of us can truly appreciate. It includes...

Three "Days Gone" Lledo horse-drawn post office vans
Two Lledo Steam lorries
one Lledo delivery van (more suited to VBCW than GASLIGHT)
Scheltrum's German Armoured Pullman, resin steam tank - currently £19.50 on the Scheltrum website.
Scheltrum's American Privateer - £7.50 and War Wagon (£9.50), resin steam vehicles
The leg assemblies of two Wild Wild West quad walkers
An Atlantis truck - different to the ones I've been working on (this one used to launch a glider)
Four die-cast Atlantis drill vehicles (perfect for 15mm, I'm torn whether to try to make them useful for 28mm)
Three die-cast steam engines, actually pencil sharpener souvenirs from the US
Two robot dog toys from the Jimmy Neutron cartoon - can't wait to hack those heads off.
A tracked arctic-looking vehicle
A Wild Wild West "spider head walker" which I think came from one of....
Two Wild Wild West "Derailler" tanks
And the crowning glory of the find - a GI Joe Cobra Tank.

There was even more in the box, quite a bit more in fact. Some of it is better suited to 15mm, some of it is suitable to a hypothetical underwater game (lots of Atlantis fish monster/vehicles, plus a huge green lobstery thing that I can't make head nor tails out of, no pun intended) and some of it is just fodder for the Bitz Box. Funnily enough, I even found the handles that I'd cut off those toy pogo sticks to make the legs for the Springenpanzer!

What to do with all this?

Well the Derailler tanks and the Cobra Tank are huge enough to truly deserve the name "landship", even in 28mm, so I guess I'm going to have to re-read the rules for Leviathans in the GASLIGHT Compendium. The Derailler's huge forward cannon coupled with immense wheels smacks of Russian military engineering to me (get the biggest gun you can make, then build a tank around it). So these and the other WWW vehicles I've got look destined for the Tsar's forces. The two American war wagons from Scheltrum look primitive enough to have been thrown together by the Fenians (though I think they'll be getting some upgrades courtesy of Ramshackle Games "Tridlins" store), as will the Jimmy Neutron dogs once they've been suitable converted into crude walking gun platforms. The German Armoured Pullman should, of course, be returned to Imperial German service. But I can't help thinking it would look absolutely fabulous in the Evil Genius colours of burgundy and gold.

The die-cast drill machines are much smaller than the plastic MoleMachine I've already got. Instead of a vehicle that troops can ride in, these might be manually operated engineering equipment, with troops following behind on foot. Possibly one of the Great Powers copying Doctor Vesuvius's idea, though possibly it could be another Fenian secret weapon (operated by sympathetic Welsh miners?)

I was never quite happy with my original plan of using the huge Atlantis trucks & tractors as prime movers for conventional field artillery pieces. For one thing, each Atlantis vehicle could easily carry the gun and crew on its flatbed, which begs the question why not simply mount the weapon on the vehicle and have self propelled artillery? I think I'll dodge that thorny question by assigning the smaller pencil-sharpener engines to artillery duties, which frees up the Atlantis toys for more extensive conversion at some point.

And on top of all this, I had parcels from Ironclad (British Infantry) and Renegade (ACW troops for the Fenians and Austro Hungarian WWI for the Evil Genius regulars.) Kudos is due to both companies - I've given Ironclad a hard time in the past for slow delivery and poor comms, but this order has arrived within a week. And the guys at Renegade are absolute stars. They offer absolute bargain Regiment packs of 24 figures for £18, and when I asked if they could do me a couple of Austro Hungarian regiments but without the kneeling figures that make up about a quarter of the range, they didn't bat an eyelid. Now from my experiences with a miniatures company I know that to a caster, a figure is just raw material in a different shape and it's almost nothing to throw a cast, but unwanted figure back into the melting pot and in fact they do it all the time with miscasts. But it did mean that they will have had to do an extra casting run or two to meet my order, at no extra cost. They've even thrown in a bag with a handful of kneeling figures labelled "Freebies :-)" Renegade are my new miniatures-casting heroes and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone.

So what next? Finish the slum prototype first, iron out any kinks for mass-production, then maybe look at getting the Fenians based and primed. I have a hankering to get me kinfolk into action in time for the next game.

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