Tuesday, February 23, 2021

My First Shipping Container

28mm-scale shipping containers seem to be THE go-to scatter terrain for modern-era tabletop wargaming. I painted this one red, then drybrushed some black grime onto the container to give it a weathered look. 
 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Random Thoughts on Cloak & Dagger

Richard Franklin's Cloak & Dagger (1984) is certainly a lot more violent than I expected from what seems to be a film targeted at kids. Our tween protagonist (played by Henry Thomas of E.T. fame), hunted by spies after he accidentally winds up with an Atari 5200 cartridge that has top secret military blueprints hidden within, is directly or indirectly responsible for at least four deaths (bad guys, but still), gets stuffed in a trunk with the dead body of an adult friend (shot through the back of the head a few minutes earlier), sees his girl friend kidnapped, gets held at gunpoint more than once, and thinks for a moment his dad's been blown up. There's also an uncomfortably realistic moment where some innocent airport worker gets shot in the leg at close range; his agonized reaction is incredibly effective. Great acting from a bit player! 

According to Wikipedia, Atari and Universal were working on an arcade game and a film, respectively, called Agent X. When the creators of the two projects got wind of each other, they agreed to cooperate, changing the name of the game/film to Cloak & Dagger. Atari supplied graphics from the arcade game, though in the guise of a (never-released) 5200 version of the game. There's also a ton of Atari project placement in the movie, concentrated in the computer store where the two kid protagonists hang out. 

A strange movie from a strange era. I don't believe I ever played, or even saw, the arcade game. I wonder if it's any good . . .

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Dark Juggangel

I repainted my Juggernaut/Zauriel composite figure to form a new generic hero or villain. 
 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Another HeroClix Repaint

I repainted this Superwoman (the Lucy Lane version) Heroclix figure to represent a generic heroine or villainess. 

Here she is from behind. 
 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Marvel

Here's another repainted HeroClix figure. This time, I repainted a Freddy Freeman/Captain Marvel Jr. figure from his "white period." I kept the gold trim, painted the whites over in black or red, and replaced the familiar Shazam! lightning bolt chest emblem with something more abstract. 

Here's the figure from behind. He'll make a decent hero or villain for V&V someday. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Plowshared

This started out as a 3D-printed fortification cobbled together from mud and logs. I painted and dressed it so as to make it appear as if the battle here was long ago, and now the muddy entrenchment has been mostly overgrown with grass and flowers. Now it's a nice little garden spot, and Astrid is here to enjoy it (and to provide scale). 

Working with materials other than paint is turning out to be a lot of fun. Now I can understand folks who build model railroads. 
 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Astrid and Her Goose

Astrid Illuck spends long, hot days picking fruit in the orchards, but her true passion is exploration. Obsessed with maps, she dreams of long voyages by land and sea, and even imagines spelunking to the Earth's core one day. Perhaps her dreams will come true; she's an exceptional student, and her teachers are sure her next step will be the Academy . . .
 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Creepers

Years ago, I came up with the idea of modifying the duplicates in my HeroClix collection into figures suitable for use in tabletop roleplaying games. I had several copies of DC's The Creeper (created by the legendary Steve Ditko), which have each been repainted and rebased as shown above. The one on the left has been only slightly modified; I removed his flowing cowl and gave him a black hood. The Creeper on the right has been painted red and black, with black rather than the original green hair. The one on the right looks like he could be some sort of demonic villain, while the guy on the left looks like a garden-variety generic robber in tights. Maybe I should paint him all in yellow; he could be one the guys from that IKEA-themed Beck video
 

Monday, February 15, 2021

This Stand Doesn't Deliver

I don't envy anyone who tries to adapt Stephen King's magnum opus, The Stand. The book's greatness doesn't lie in its good vs. evil plot, but in the tremendously evocative way King captures the downfall of the world and the impact of Captain Trips on the survivors scattered across the United States. Journeying with the survivors as they seek out each other and try to rebuild some semblance of civilization is a genuinely satisfying adventure. 

Even the main storyline - the confrontation between the forces of Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg - is tense, exciting, and even surprising on first read. Yes, the deus ex machina resolution of that confrontation still makes no sense, but almost everything before and after is full of taut drama, wonderful characterization, and some delicious philosophizing on the nature of good, evil, and civilization. 

Unfortunately, no film or miniseries can do justice to the world King builds in The Stand. In this 21st-century adaptation, we barely get to know the main characters before they're gone. Some important secondary characters disappear entirely, or are replaced with hybrids. Many of the most evocative scenes are lost so as to cram the bare bones of the plot into a few hours. (Stu's return west is just one example.) Frannie Goldsmith is woefully miscast for the second adaptation in a row. And for some unfathomable reason, the first half of the narrative is presented non-linearly--a choice that certainly works in some contexts, but woefully out of place for this story, which depends so much on the unfolding events of the plague. 

This adaptation's bright spot comes in the last episode, a new coda written by Stephen King that explores the conversation Stu and Fran have at the end of the original, shorter version of the novel. King sends Stu and Fran back to Ogunquit to see if they might not be better off starting their own little civilization rather than staying in Boulder, which shows hints of returning to the old ways that ruined the old world. As in the expanded version of the novel, King brings back Flagg, but he also brings back a new incarnation of Mother Abigail, along with a test of Fran's character. In this new coda, King adds new meaning to the title of his novel, putting the Stand in personal terms; still a conflict between good and evil, but on individual terms. There comes a time when we all have to take a stand. 

I would have given this review another star had the miniseries ended here, but instead King couldn't resist including the tacked-on "gotcha" ending of the expanded version of the novel, in which Flagg returns to conquer an isolated indigenous tribe, suggesting the cycle will one day start all over again. As it did way back in 1990, this feels more like a cheap horror film trope than an effective way to end the book. Does God really feel it necessary to purge the Earth every couple of thousand years? I thought he promised there wouldn't be any more floods...maybe we took that too literally.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Stop and Go Lights

A few nights ago I painted a couple of 28mm-scale traffic lights. They look good on the table, but as ever, these close-up photographs really amplify the mistakes, such as the sloppy signal lights up top. My "Don't Walk" hand is off-centre, and my "Walk" dude isn't quite right either. I do like how the pedestrian call button turned out, though, at least on the right-hand post.