Wednesday 23 February 2011

Nicholas Courtney Tribute

In memory of Nicholas Courtney - Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart.

Nicholas Courtney first appeared in Doctor Who in 1965 in the story “The Dalek’s Master Plan” playing Bret Vyron. He later returned in 1968 where he played Lethbridge-Stewart for the first time, and after that the character became a regular in the classic series throughout the early 1970s. He returned on several occasions, and had played against all first eight Doctors either on screen or on audio.

It almost became part of the Doctor Who tradition that the new Doctor was not really ‘The Doctor’ until he had met the Daleks and his old friend ‘The Brigadier’.

Nicholas Courtney returned to the character recently in the new Doctor Who spin off series ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’.

I had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Courtney at several Doctor Who events, where he was always a marvellous ambassador for the series, always warm and generous to the fans.

However I first met him in Pizza Hut in Wimbledon where he and a small party with him sat at nearby table. We ended up comparing notes as to what was good on the menu. I will always treasure that memory of our first meeting.

Here is a photo of the Fine Art Castings 80mm figure of the Brigadier I painted in the mid 1980s, and another picture of the other figureheads of the programme already passed over, who I am sure were there to greet him.

Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

A memorial tribute has been set up in memory of Nicholas Courtney by Hirst Publishing, raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care. If you would like to donate please follow the link to the 'Just Giving' website.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

One From The Archive - The Water Mill

This was actually one of the earlier models I made, having built the coaching inn and the medieval town house based on the "White Dwarf" articles, I turned my attention to photos taken on holiday and pictures in magazines for inspiration. If I could get the frame work right then the rest would follow.
This was some time ago, so I don't remember exactly how long it took me to work out from the picture all the foam board pieces that were needed to build the frame - but I'm sure some got scrapped, I expect these pieces then became the thatched cottages later.

This photo was taken last year outside in the garden, with the model placed on a table in front of a small bush. With the focus on the building the background foliage looks quite effective.

This is more of a display piece, being built up on a board; the buildings I tend to make now for the game table are without bases so that they can be placed down where ever they are needed, often on grid maps to mark out game movement.

The water is basically painted - I do want to try using the water effect material “Realistic Water” made by “Woodland Scenics” to add the effect of water running off the wheel, but before I go back and make these amendments to this model I'll have a trial run on another piece first. However, having watched the short 'how to' video on their website this is something I am eager to try out. (Watch this space).

The exterior of the building is constructed from balsa wood for the wood frame work, back then I would have bought sticks of balsa from the model shop - now I find other sources for recycled material, although I do still buy some if I don’t find what I’m looking for. The 'brick work' was modelling clay with a brick effect carved in, and the other walls were wall filler. The roof tiles like before were cut from cereal packets.
There was some element of recycled material even back then; the wheel on the side of the Watermill was the lid from an old coffee jar. It was covered in strips of balsa wood on the top and around the side then fixed to the model with a screw worked through the centre.

The garden area in the front also contains wedges of oasis, the deep green thick foamy material used for flower arranging. I think mum had received an arrangement for a special occasion and once the flowers had died I acquired the oasis and cut it up to stick it on to the board. I plastered it in and covered the whole area with flocking. In those days I also had a model railway, and the trees sold for the railway had wire trunks which you poked into the baseboard. Using the oasis in front of the watermill allowed me to decorate the model using these trees as and when I wanted, and to remove them again when I did not want the trees as part of the display. As you can see from the photo, the presence of the trees does make quite a change in character for the model.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Coffee Stick Houses – Part One

First of all I would like to thank Big Lee and The Angry Lurker for welcoming me to the world of blogging, and to those who have started to follow me already. I hope I don’t let you down, and yes, you have Big Lee to thank / blame (delete as applicable) for me being here blogging.
When Big Lee featured some of my buildings in a previous post the buildings made from mainly coffee sticks seemed to get some interest, so I thought I’d start by talking about them in more detail.
Several separate thoughts came together to set me on the road to building these models, and in true tv ‘reality/talent’ show style I can honestly say when I list these they are in ‘no particular order’ any more.

(1)    Big Lee was GM for a while (yes he has been the GM in the past – and a good GM he was too) – he gave us a setting on the edge of a hell like place where everything was wooden construction and coated in sand.
(2)    At the end of the second series of Supernatural, Sam Winchester found himself in a derelict old western-type town, and the atmosphere of the place even before the action started was very creepy.
(BTW I’ll probably draw further inspiration from Supernatural in later projects – personally I wouldn’t mind giving the RPG based on this series a go at some time in the future.)
(3)    I sat in the local coffee shop holding a wooden stick, fiddling with it after I had finished stirring my hazelnut latte (guess where that came from...) and thought that the wooden stick would be great for planking on the side of a building. So I gathered up as many as I could.
(4)    I saw a model magazine (not sure which one it was now – will see if I can still find it and credit it at a later date) where a feature was made on wooden buildings.
In the end it was inevitable where this was going.
I started  at first using the coffee sticks as planking seen here, along with the roof tiles made from cereal packets and lower walls made from balsa and wall filler, but when I started gathering the sticks from the staff restaurant at work, word got round and soon many people were saving their sticks and my supply soon grew.
It was time for bigger projects with the wooden sticks.

Thinking back to that set on Supernatural  I set out to make a town that was just slightly wrong. It was to look abandoned but not entirely derelict. So the edges would be rough, any mistakes made cutting wood to length would be patched up rather than made perfect. In short it was to look like the people who had lived there once had tried to make a go of it, but for whatever reason their civilization had failed.
The models were started in the same way with foam board frame work and cardboard roof, but the entire exterior was then built up using just the coffee sticks.
The first stage was to place on the main support beams, these were glued on using PVA glue, and then a second layer was stuck over them to give the support beams extra thickness. Then the planking sides were fitted in. If the planking sides didn’t always fit then one or two were allowed to angle up slightly – this gave the impression of warping on the building – you can see this in one of the photos.
After that it was basically a job of cutting and sticking the rest of the wooden sticks in place.
Eventually when the entire foam board structure was completely covered I under coated in black paint, then painted over with a dark brown, then a lighter brown & white mix and finally dry brushed with white to give the aged effect. The windows had a couple of coats of black paint to make them really blacked out. I have some other ideas as to what to do with the windows at a later date.
I worked on two models at the same time, as you have to give drying time for the glue to set when placing the sticks otherwise the whole lot ends up in a big mess if you try to be too adventurous in one sitting.
Since these were built (and I might do some final fiddling with them before they get finally get put onto a game table) I have started a few more from this set. These I’ve taken more candid photos of in their earlier stages of construction so when I return to these I’ll be able to go into more detail on how they were constructed and how any mistakes were ‘boarded’ over.

Monday 14 February 2011

A Quick Hello from DJK

A quick hello. Hello.
I’ve started this blog page as a place to talk in some detail about the scratch built models I’ve building for some of our fantasy role play games. In most cases I try to build using as much recycled materials as possible.

If you follow Big Lee’s blog ( you will already have seen some of the models as he featured them a while back.
Here I will go into more detail regarding how some of the older models were made, along with details on new projects I’m working on.
I won’t be such a regular poster as Big Lee, but I’ll try to keep a regular update on projects as they come along.
I started this as a hobby back in the late 1980s, when I followed the plans printed in Games Workshop’s White Dwarf magazine to build the coaching inn. There followed a few articles on scratch building models and scenic material – these were well written and very detailed so that anyone with no previous experience could follow them.
After discovering that, hey I could do this, I started to make my own designs based on photos. Hence along came the water mill, and the stone circle (although I’ll confess here that the stone circle was made to use up an excess of wall filler that I had mixed up and didn’t want to see go to waste.)

I’ll be back soon with details of the rustic old town being built from old wooden coffee sticks, and the rock / stone town currently under construction for our latest game.