Gun Dun

Only a very quick post tonight. Starting off with a photo of the finished (for now) Elephant Gun for Halloween.

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So on with the rest of the costume! And some bits for it turned up in the post today… Some bandages and some black webbing tape.

splicers3The bandages are pretty self explanatory, but you might need a look at this picture to remind yourself of the details with regard to the webbing tape… I’m trying to make the strapping that goes around the chest and waist. I’ve managed to stitch the section that goes behind the neck and under the arms, now I’ve just got to figure out how to do the rest.

I did also get a pair of gloves I ordered today, but now I’ve got them I’m not so sure about them. They’re just not quite right… And I’m still waiting for some other bits as well. With the boots and gaiters I’ve purchased it’s pretty much sorted from the waist down (which I suppose is half of it if I choose to be optimistic about it…).

I’ve made a mask and I know what I want to do around it, I’ve got to snarl up a shirt at some point but between three different versions in the illustration I’ve got a bit of scope, so there’s a hat on standby, and a pair of steam-punky goggles winging their way in the post.

And just over a week to go!

 

Gun? Damn!

Progress has been annoyingly slow on the Halloween costume over the last few days. Mainly because I’m waiting for stuff to turn up in the post, but also because a lot of it isn’t a quick build. For those of you that missed the first Halloween post you can find it here. I’m trying to recreate some of the concept art for the Splicers in Bioshock 2. I know I won’t be able to make a lot of the detail, but it’s the feeling of it I’m aiming for. Part of that feel is getting the silhouette right. And part of that silhouette is the Elephant Gun.

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The creators of Bioshock decided they didn’t really need a super long range rifle like you find in a lot of First Person Shooters (as the environments don’t really allow you the space to ever need a super long range shot) so the Elephant gun was their answer. It fits with the time period and gives you a medium to long range rifle in the game. But how the hell should I go about recreating it?

Luckily I managed to get hold of a couple of ‘sort of rifle shaped’ bits of MDF from work. At some point in the dim and distant past they were used in an education session, but no one could remember what or why any more so I was allowed to take them home. As they were a little too thin (only half an inch thick) the first thing to do was glue and clamp them together. I knew the overall shape wasn’t quite right, but there was enough there to start with.

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Anyway, once they were together it then came to making them look the right shape. The first thing that went was the barrel. It was square and even my rudimentary knowledge of firearms told me that this was wrong. Then there was the godawful trigger guard which came off fairly quickly. And finally there was the stock. It shouldn’t be all in a straight line with the barrel like that. It needed angling down and then shaping a bit. And then reattaching…

A lot to do in other words.

So I started off by cutting the barrel, trigger guard and stock off. The stock was cut on a curve so I could just rotate it and reattach it at a lower angle, but everything else was thrown away. A piece of 3/4 inch copper pipe was cut to length for the barrel and the foregrip part of the wooden furniture and the stock were shaped a bit more. Before anything was attached to anything else it ended up looking like this.

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I promise it is mostly the same bits of MDF I started with.

Anyway, then the stock was glued and screwed to the main body of the gun and I’ve since attached plates and a rear sight to the back end of the gun using plasticard, a copious amount of glue and some teeny screws (just to make sure). I figured I can then add detail fairly easy to the plastic if I get time.

My main problem now is working out how to attach the barrel, but for the time being I’m reasonably happy with it. And it looks like this.

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The different variants of Elephant Gun that the designers went through include a fairly basic (it even lacks a trigger guard) version, so that’s the most likely iteration. I do get the impression that once I get it all together and painted I might not want to walk around in public with it as it’s starting to look pretty good (it only needs to look good in the dark remember).

More progress soon. I hope.

 

Materialism FTW!

I know capitalism isn’t cool – but there’s so many wants in me right now I’m fit to burst. Here’s my pre-Christmas list (for any philanthropist Santa Clauses out there). Let me just say before you carry on reading that I’m actually a very lucky person and I’m generally very happy. These are just some things that have caught my eye and piqued my interest of late. I do like being surrounded by “stuff” though… Character flaw I guess.

So here we go.

1 – A Loot Crate Subscription

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A monthly box of geeky goodness delivered straight to your front door? What’s not to love? T-Shirts, collectibles, books, posters and all sorts of other bits and bobs normally tied into some sort of monthly theme (for October it was a Halloween inspired “Fear” box). If I had already subscribed I’d be looking at a room that had in it cool things like a baby Groot bobblehead, an alternate cover Walking Dead comic, all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and an “Ewoking Dead” tee.

2 – PS4 Games

I’ve lumped (most of) these into 1 key want, but here’s the full list…

Far Cry 4 – Far Cry 2 was good, Far Cry 3 was amazing and Far Cry 4 looks like it’s shaping up to be sensational.

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Assassin’s Creed Unity – I’ve owned every iteration of the Assassin’s Creed games and I’m a bit miffed that Rogue is being released on last gen and Unity on current gen. That doesn’t stop me medically needing a copy of AC Unity though. Especially as I know Paris fairly well. It’ll be nice to climb the sights.

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Rocksmith 2014 Edition – I had it before on the PS3 and I’ve really missed it. And not just for myself, mainly because we used to bring a few guitars down to the living room and play together (badly, for my part, but still enjoyable). So I guess that should be “Rocksmith 2014 Edition AND an extra Real Tone Cable”.

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Oh, and it actually makes me feel like I can play the guitar a little bit, instead of the ham-fisted monster I normally feel like.

Bit of an Ubisoft collection there… Entirely coincidental.

3 – The Ten Thousand Immortals, the new Tomb Raider book by Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent. This was released today!

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Two awesome authors, one awesome protagonist and the continuation of the story from where the recent game left off. Sounds like a winner to me. If you’re not familiar with the work of Mr Abnett (or his wonderful other half Nik) you really should be (and actually you probably are…). He’s written consistently for Black Library, Games Workshop’s publishing arm but has also written for 2000AD, Marvel, Doctor Who, He-Man… His name was on the end credits of Guardians of the Galaxy. Legend.

4 – This PS4 game is on a whole new stratosphere of want…

Dragon Age Inquisition. This is probably the “main want”. It needs to be released already. There are simply not enough words. So here are some pictures instead.

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5 – A selection of supplementary wants…

…Which includes albums (on CD and vinyl), books, comics, trinkets, new sofas (one for the family there), an AWESOME Halloween party and loads more… Anyway, lots to look forward to.

The Splice of Life

Halloween is fast approaching and we’re thinking about having a party. Well, we are having a party. It is, after all, a Friday night, a pay day and we will only have one under 18 year old in the house (instead of the four we’re used to!). In typical geek fashion I’m trying to put together a computer game inspired costume prior to the big event. It had to be something game, comic or film inspired, but it also had to be something I could actually do (although my wife has already said something along the lines of “The problem is you want it to be perfect”).

I don’t necessarily want it perfect, but I certainly want it to look good.

Anyway, games, comics and films obviously gave me a bit of scope. Walking Dead, Resident Evil, Twilight – don’t worry, only kidding! In the end I decided to have a look through the art book I got with the Special Edition of Bioshock 2 and there was plenty of inspiration.

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The first two Bioshock games were set in the dystopian underwater city of Rapture and were genuine creep out, shock fests. The hulking Big Daddies, the creepy Little Sisters (and later Big Sisters), the mutated Splicers – there had to be an idea in there somewhere.

What I’ve ended up with is this.

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I’m not necessarily trying to match any one of the images exactly, but the thing I learned from the book is that one of the more important aspects is the silhouette. It’s recognisable even when you can’t see the details. So it’s the silhouette I’m trying to match.

So far I’ve managed to get (and adapt & paint) a masquerade mask (lots of the Splicers in the game are dressed for a new year’s masquerade ball that, well let’s just say it goes a bit wrong), a hat, boots, gaiters and I’ve got some other stuff on the way… Black webbing tape, bandages, goggles. It’s all being done on the cheap, but it should still look ok. Then there’s a fairly important part of that silhouette, the Elephant Gun, which I’ve started to make.

There were some old (bad) MDF rifle blanks at work which I’ve been given. Because they were too thin to form the woodwork for the gun I’ve glued them together. Then I’ve got to cut the barrel off and replace it with something that’s actually round, replace the trigger guard and build a trigger, cut off and lower the stock and then round all of the wood off so it’s curved rather than square edged. Finally it’ll all need painting.

It looks like this at the moment…

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And this is what it needs to look like…

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The good thing about the weapons in Bioshock is that they start basic and the upgrades change their visual appearance – quite dramatically in some cases. So if I don’t get time to do much to it, I’ll just stick with the basic Elephant Gun. If I do get a bit more time I might try to Steampunk it up a little bit.

If no photos of the finished costume make it onto here – you know it looked awful!

The book itself, on the other hand, looks amazing. It’s called Deco Devolution and there’s normally some copies kicking around on eBay.

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Suicide Mission

I know we’ve stepped outside the bounds of historical wargaming tonight at the regular Thursday night Victory At Sea meet, but it was worth it.

Myself and another regular attendee both got a set of the 2014 reissue of Space Hulk. I’ve got a 2009 issue as well but, for one reason or another, I never got around to playing it. Well tonight we ran through the first mission (of the 2009 issue, not the more recent one which has additional missions). It’s accurately called “Suicide Mission”. 5 Blood Angels Terminators against an ever increasing number of Genestealers.

It’s the first time I’ve played Space Hulk in the best part of 20 years and it was, satisfyingly, as fun as I remember it. We did the usual trick of playing it through once each as the opposing teams (then we did it a third time with people completely new to the game).

Funnily enough a few of the gamers tonight and I watched the 1986 sequel to Alien, James Cameron’s Aliens a couple of nights ago. The inspiration for Space Hulk is pretty clear, from the “blip” mechanic of having an unknown number of enemies closing on your position until there is line of sight, the tight corridors, the aliens that are faster and more dangerous than their human opponents, the design of Genestealers themselves is more than a little Gigeresque. I’m not saying it was the complete inspiration for the game, but the atmosphere has certainly lifted from it quite heavily, and the game was originally launched 3 years after the film.

I was too busy having fun tonight to take more than one photo, but here it is…

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And we got talking about future games. With three sets of miniatures, floor tiles and markers we have enough stuff to play some BIG games of Space Hulk. I remember adapting the rules for normal Space Marines in Power Armour (only rolling 1 dice for shooting a Bolter instead of the 2 for a Storm Bolter for example – less chance to kill the Stealers, but no chance of jamming the weapon) and the options for multi-level games already exist with lifts and ladders included in the current rules. I’d love to make a bespoke board, but realistically I don’t think I have either the time, the ability or the money to be able to do so.

Anyway, tonight was a good night.

Red Hulk

I’ve never really liked painting red miniatures. It’s my third most feared base colour (after white and yellow).

So far though, the Space Hulk Terminators seem to be turning out ok, and I recently had a chance to get some practice at painting white with the Dark Vengeance Terminators for my local GW store, so I guess this is my chance to have a go at red…

I started off with a black primer, then a basecoat of Mournfang Brown. This basecoat was then gradually made redder and redder by mixing it with Mephiston Red. Highlights then with mixed in Blazing Orange (I learnt a long time ago not to mix white in when highlighting red…).

I’ve just about finished one, and like I said in an earlier post, I’ve got them on 40mm bases (in case I ever want to use them in 40k). Here are three of them in with the nearly complete one on the far left, one in the mid stages in the middle and one that’s been basecoated on the right.

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I’ve resisted the temptation to use metallic paints so far. I normally would, just because it’s easier, but I’m trying to paint these properly rather than quickly. I’ll see what I learn painting these before I start on the next set (I have 2 to paint). These will be used to play rather than sit in a cabinet, but I’m in two minds about whether or not to spray varnish them. I (and I’m sure many other people have had similar experiences) have had awful results with purity seal frosting up the finished miniatures. Apparently this can be resolved by wiping it down with olive oil – but should we really have to or should we expect the product to be able to do what it says on the tin?

Anyway… I might try it – unless someone can recommend a good alternative?

I’ll continue to work my way through these, so you can obviously expect to see more soon.

Modern Life is Rubbish

Not just the title of Blur’s second album, but also how I feel at the moment.

I dare say we’re not alone as parents in constantly fighting for our children’s attentions with the all powerful Xbox. We’ve done what we can in that each of them has two ‘no computer’ days a week, they’ve got an evening curfew and it is taken away if there’s seriously bad behaviour. There still seems to be this idea though that it’s a right, not a privilege, that they should be allowed on the damn things as much as they want.

As a gamer myself I understand the appeal – but I also do other things. Even if I wanted to roll out of bed, pick up a controller and not put it down until crawling back under the duvet the chances I would actually get to do that are minimal.

I don’t think we’re bad parents. We try to encourage the kids to do more, to interact, to go out, to read, to create – but having said that we could probably do more… I got to thinking about how I remember my own childhood and how it differs from the childhoods of my own child and step-children.

I was born in 1977 and I’m the oldest of two boys. My little brother was born 3 years later in 1980. We spent the majority of our formative years living about 4 miles from Maidstone on a pretty standard semi-detached housing estate. BBC and Nimbus computers were introduced into my 3rd and 4th year at Junior School (year 5 & 6 in modern parlance) and I was taught basic programming. We were lucky enough to get a home computer in the late 1980’s, an Amstrad CPC6128.

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Believe it or not, the fact that this thing didn’t have a cassette deck attached to the right hand side of the keyboard was a BIG DEAL (although we regularly plugged my dad’s bright yellow Sony Walkman into it in order to load games from cassette tapes. Which, while I think about it, if you’re too young to even remember cassettes, this is probably making no sense whatsoever…).

Then, later on my brother got a Sega Master System II, I got a Sega Megadrive, He got an Atari Jaguar and a 3DO, I got a Playstation, he got a second Playstation and so on and so forth through Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Playstation 4. And that’s not including PCs, Laptops, Tablets and all the other accompanying gadgets and contraptions. My brother was the first to get a TV in his bedroom (with the introduction of the Master System II) and it was a big horrible wooden cased lump. I think my first bedroom TV was given to me in about 1991 or 2. A tiny screened, fuzzy imaged thing that if you watched anything on now you’d wonder how any of us made it through adolescence with our eyesight intact.

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Despite computers being a near constant presence since (I would guess) the age of 9 or 10 there was always more to the school summer holidays than sitting in a room with the curtains drawn playing Alex Kidd in Miracle World. I can’t remember (conveniently perhaps) whether or not we had to be encouraged outside, but I do remember being outside a lot. Making club houses in back gardens, exploring the neighbourhood, riding bikes gradually further and further afield until first the local shops about ¾ of a mile away were within reach, then Maidstone town centre, then the surrounding areas. Through teenage years I guess hormones took over a bit and the hair got longer (so did the face), the curtains stayed closed a bit more and computer games began to take up more time. But there was still a social life outside of the bedroom. Online gaming wasn’t really as available or as efficient as it is now so you had to go outside to converse with your friends. Or meet girls. Or drink.

By the time I was at University, the Playstation had arrived on the scene, definitely not aimed at children yet for some reason I still felt the need to pretend to the shop assistant that I was buying it for someone else… Weird looking back on it. I certainly didn’t feel at all embarrassed while I queued up before midnight on the 28th November 2013 to pick up a shiny new Playstation 4 on launch day.

I reckon I got my first mobile phone in 1999, my first PC / laptop in about 2001, my first camera phone in 2003 or 4, and my first tablet in 2010 (and yes, I’m still rocking that iPad 1!).

I don’t think any of that technology defined the period of time in which they were introduced as much as they do now though. I didn’t feel tied to any of it. My parents would probably chip in here and say that they positively needed to crowbar me off that old Amstrad to get me to go outside in the summer, but like I said, I don’t remember it like that.

So will our kids? I don’t think they are as independent as we were at their ages. Maybe because they haven’t grown up in the same sort of surroundings, or because they’re interested in different things, or because we’re very different parents to our own, or because of some sort of fear of what could go wrong… It could be practically anything.

They still come out when we ask them fairly happily, but they don’t seem to be as willing to do things themselves. To explore or discover things for themselves. Is this how people of my generation feel in general? There are a lot of posts by people my age on Facebook (the irony isn’t lost on me) about them as kids coming home when the streetlights came on, not having a mobile phone, covered in mud and losing the skin on your knees, but are we misremembering it? I can sort of remember at the time there were the concerns about what we were watching on TV, video nasties, poor diet, lack of exercise and of course the ever present risk of getting your wellies chewed up on an escalator (I know people who are still traumatised by that particular little video even today). Maybe it’s all just a generational thing and I’m suffering from a serious case of nostalgia.

The whole reality of it has just been brought home by my oldest step son who’s 18 and in his first term at University. He settled into his student accommodation for the first time in the third week of September, here we are now in the second week of October and he’s asked us if we can bring him his Xbox One when we visit later in the month…