Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

The Christmas display this year has come from the Lego Winter Village collection, and the City Advent Calendar.

The village I've collected over the last few years comprises of a post office, toy shop, bakers, cottage and a winter market and merry-go-round that with a turn of a handle also rotates.

However I must say the festive spirit in Lego City is a bit of a worry. Alongside the snowman, festive table and toys under the tree quite early on you got a policeman and a burglar. 

Not exactly keeping in with the spirit of the season I'd say personally considering other variations of the minifigures they have produced over the years.

Anyway all the best 

ps. The last book review of the year will follow shortly.

Book review September & October 2013

Australian Ghost Stories
(Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural)
selected by and includes an exclusive Introduction by James Doig.
ISBN-13: 978-1840226416

A collection of short stories with an Australian connection, whether by settlers or their decedents. Across this collection there are a couple of stories that draw on mythology for Australia, like The Bunyip, but the others are very general and do not draw on what could have been offered by the history and culture of the island. . For the low cover price on these books it is worth a read.

Titan Books
Sherlock Holmes - The Stuff of Nightmares
James Lovegrove
ISBN-13: 978-1781165416

In the autumn of 1890 a strange figure haunts the streets of London, this strange figure is the scourge of the crime world, but Holmes does not believe he is all that he seems, so when he is called in by Mycroft to investigate a series of bombings in the capital Sherlock's attention is directed at the new apparent champion of the people. A story more in the steam puck nature of the Rodney Downey Jr style Holmes than the Jeremy Brett TV adaptations of the original Conan Doyle stories.

Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural 
- Wordsworth Editions Ltd
The Tangled Skein
By David Stuart Davies
ISBN-13: 978-1840225273

I usually have some doubts when there is a merging of different characters from different works come together but fortunately this does keep the voice of Dr Watson. Holmes takes a lot of convincing when Van Helsing arrives with an account that Dracular is on the prowl. Holmes's investigations return him then to Dartmoor, the setting for Hound of the Baskervilles. An enjoyable read.

Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair
By David Stuart Davies
ISBN-13: 978-1840225488

This one is the Sherlock Holmes equivalent of the Prisoner of Zenda with Holmes pulled into a story of  royal inheritance, love and betrayal in the Ruritanian court. A pacy and exciting tale one Dr Watson would have been proud of. 

Monday 2 December 2013

Charity Night

It’s the second of December already where has the year gone? Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog, but I’ve been so consumed with getting the last part of the Karl trilogy written all model building and other activities have gone on a back burner. The first draft is not yet ready and it’s already longer than the first two put together. 

Kelly Wilde & Tom Kohler
© Marc Major

I’ve not spent all the time locked away in a dungeon typing; I got out Saturday night to the Victoria in Walthamstow for their charity night in aid of Positive East. Along with the obvious flow of alcohol there was a charity raffle, an auction and other fundraising activities. 

Auction in progress.
© Marc Major

Yours truly even found themselves buying purchasing a James Bond Goldeneye jacket in the auction. Kelly Wilde and Tom Kohler were in great voice and entertained the crowd.  I believe the final count of money raised is yet to be announced.

Leon the winner of Karl book 1
© Marc Major

There were a large number of donated prizes and one of the lucky winners, Leon, won a signed copy of “Karl – Birth of Mystery”. I do hope he enjoys it.

I will present the book reviews for the last few months shortly and I’m going to be handing the blog over to a guest blogger to provide a review of two very unique and very different protections we’ve seen recently.
But more on that later.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Finished Models

A quick round up of a couple of models I finally got finished recently.

Two finally finished models for the Ghost Town

Checking the weather in the Ghost Town

First is the ‘off-cuts house’ which was made to use up scraps of the foam board which could not be used for larger designed buildings, the shape of this was determined by the pieces of board available. This has finally had the windows painted black and the varnish applied.

Here is a shot with a figure on the front steps, I was planning to take a few more pictures but it started to rain so I had to get the models in before any damage was done.


The original ‘mystery model ‘has also been painted and varnished now – this can have various uses. I’ve made the very top flat roof as an additional piece and not fixed, this allows models to be put in and two different looks for the tower. It can be a guard tower / look out post or as suggested a siege tower. I plan to make some wheels and a base for it later.

Here are a couple of rangers taking aim from the tower.

Rangers using the tower

And finally the ‘slot in place doors’ for the earlier coffee stick houses for the ghost town have finally been varnished and can be packed away with their respective models.

Switchable door selection

Monday 16 September 2013

A Stich in Shelka

Quite some time ago, before the re-launch of Doctor Who, there was another Ninth Doctor, played by Richard E. Grant – this was an online animation on the BBC Website. Now for the first time that has been released on DVD. 

Writer Paul Cornell has a blog covering many details regarding this release and the Shelka panel from my tapestry gets a feature. 

At the time we all thought this was the new Ninth Doctor little did we know what plans were already afoot for the 2005 series. For me then, here was the new Doctor and he had to be added to the tapestry. Fortunately there was a panel that had not been allocated which allowed me to work in the new Doctor, the two young companions and Shelka itself.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

New Mystery Model, parts #9, #16 & #18

or “The Pointy Bits”

It’s probably quite easy to guess what these are. 
Pyramid Power

The working names for these parts are:

#9 Front Tower Roof
#16 Rear Tower Roof
#18 Second Floor, Left Side, Rear Tower Roof.

Opposite sides tiled first

This suggests that there are going to be three towers to this model, whatever it turns out to be. I do have plans and designs I’m just keeping them to myself for a little while longer.

These are all made from cardboard, cut from the remains of an Amazon delivery package, and covered in tiles in the same way as the other roof pieces from the small cereal bar box. 

Opposite sides trimmed before adding remaining tiles
That small box has made all the tiles for these pieces so far, but what’s left will not be enough for the main roof piece of the model.

Pieces #9 & #18 were cut out as four matching triangles and glued together.

Piece #16 has two pairs of different size triangles making for a thinner tower rather than the square tower of the other two.

All sides trimmed
I stuck the tiles onto opposite sides and allowed them to dry before trimming the sides up, then I added the other two sides of tiles. 

Once these were dry those sides were trimmed.

So far the best guesses have been:
  • A city ruined by an earthquake.
  • A brothel.

Next article in this series: Mystery model parts #13 & #14
Previous article in this series: New Mystery Model, parts #6, #10 & #12

Sunday 8 September 2013

New Mystery Model, parts #6, #10 & #12

Three more roof related pieces of the new mystery model today – the weather was a bit windy and rainy so working out on the table in the garden was really not an option. 

This means I usually look for smaller scale pieces to work on and sticking roof tiles is about the simplest option.

These three parts have the working numbers and names as follows:
#6 Front reception roof
#10 Second floor, right side, centre piece
#12 Second floor, right side, rear roof.

Two are triangles of foam board with cardboard roof covered in tiles, whilst the other piece is an L shape made from foam board with a slanted piece of card going partially up leaving a small side of wall exposed.

Piece #12 also has a lip to the roof so that the tiles will over hang the front slightly. This will be to the front of the final building.

The biscuit box is now fully cut up into tiles, it was used on these three pieces and will still have enough for the other three small roof pieces that I’ll be working on next.

Next article in this series: New Mystery Model, parts #9, #16 & #18
Previous article in this series: New Mystery Model section #20

Friday 6 September 2013

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens

I’ve not presented a theatre review for a while, but what a production to return with. Last night we found ourselves down in the seedy night club called Saucy Jack’s on Frottage III. (Aka Leicester Square Theatre) Where the Slingback Killer has been knocking off the cabaret acts. Quick somebody call for the interstellar super-fashion crime fighters The Space Vixens. With the rest of the acts stuck in this world of doom your life may only be save by Glitter Boots and DISCO.

It’s fair to say this is very much in the style of The Rocky Horror Show, and if you enjoyed that then you’ll enjoy this. It’s one of the few musicals I’ve seen recently where we’ve come out humming the songs and wanting to be a Space Vixen.  I don’t want to spoil it for you by giving too much away.

But, will The Space Vixens be able to bring The Slingback Killer to justice? Will Booby Shevalle get her dream come true, and Sammy Sax, Mitch Maypole and Dr Von Whackoff what will be their fate? There is only one way to find out, and that is to join them at Leicester Square Theatre for a fabulous night.

Multi-award winning West End star Leanne Jones heads a brilliantly strong cast who deliver with great zest this wonderful musical which has certainly won my heart. The show is presented in an intimate setting with the stage down the centre of the studio area ending in the obligatory accessory for the pole dancers, and the audience is sat around as if they were really in the cabaret bar - this works really well.

I’m still humming ‘Glitter Boots Saved My Life’ YES - 
I stopped off to buy the soundtrack on the way out.

Well done to all

Saucy Jack and the Space Vixens” is on at The Leicester Square Theatre from 1st August to 15th September 2013.  For more details http://www.saucyjackandthespacevixens.com/

Wednesday 4 September 2013

New Mystery Model section #20

Here is the first piece of the large mystery model, no I‘m afraid it’s not a city in ruins – not this time, but I might head down that route one day.  

Mystery Model piece #20 plus uncut roof tiles.

This is actually piece numbered 20 on my list of pieces, affectingly known as: SECOND FLOOR, FRONT LEFT SIDE ROOF. It’s basically a rectangle of card approx 135x105mm cut from an old Amazon delivery package, and the tiles are cut from cereal packet, in this case the box for some Nature Valley biscuits.

Roof tiles cut and ready
I do find cutting these tiles and sticking them down quite laborious so I’ve decided to do some of the roof pieces early in the process. The average size of the tiles is 10x10mm but not measured exactly and a few variations to give it some character, but not too much larger. 

The tiles have been cut and glued down and once the glue is fully dry I’ll trim up the overlapping pieces that are sticking out around the edge of the roof plate.

Piece #20 Front Side with tiles added

Piece #20 Reverse side
Next article in this series: New Mystery Model, parts #6, #10 & #12

Previous article in this series: New Mystery Model

Monday 2 September 2013

New Mystery Model

Just time for a quick post regarding a new project – yes I know there are a few more outstanding to finish. But this is something I’ve been itching to do for a while and I think the time is right having experimented a lot recently on different things. 

You’ll see I’m being a bit vague at the moment, all I will say is that the skeleton has been made from foamboard and cardboard and constructed in sections. 

There are 21 section pieces in total. 

So watch this space.

Next article in this series: New Mystery Model section #20

Sunday 1 September 2013

Book review July / August 2013

After reading the original Frankenstein a couple of months back, this period I turned my attention to two ‘sequels’ .

The Revenge of Frankenstein
By Shaun Hutson
Published by  Hammer House of Horror

The first is an actual sequel, picking up after the original story as originally adapted by the Hammer House of Horror group into a film. This was their sequel to their film with Dr Frankenstein awaiting execution for his crimes. Somehow he manages to escape, we he would otherwise there would be no story that’s not really a spoiler. He then relocates and begins to rebuild his experiments with terrifying results.  This story does not try to be anything that it’s not, it was made a commercial follow up to a successful film, and I actually enjoyed it.

Monster (A Novel of Frankenstein)
By Dave Zeltserman
Published by Duckworth Overlook 

The second book also takes up the story of Dr Frankenstein but this time attempts to reconstruct the original story this time from the monster’s point of view. I admit this book started off for me on the wrong foot, by setting out to announce that Mary Shelly got it wrong, turning Mary Shelly almost into a fictional character who narrated her own book.  Let’s face it, if Mary Shelly had not written the book you would not have anything to work with – so don’t be so arrogant to begin with. It also attempts to accuse the original as depicting the creature created by Frankenstein as being nothing more than a monster but the original certainly gave the creature far more character than I expected.

Towards the middle I started to warm to the book but overall I felt it did not enrich the mythology for me.

Two more autobiographies this period, one a well known Doctor Who companion and the other a much loved actress from Blake’s 7 and a Doctor Who guest star. Both books very revealing.

Fantom Films Limited
From Byfleet to the Bush
By Jacqueline Pearce

Jacqueline Pearce will always be known for playing the Federation’s President in the popular cult series Blakes’ 7. Servalan had the glamour and the screen presence but as you read Jac’s own personal account of this period of her life, she neither enjoyed the recognition she deserved as an actress nor the glamour either. This is a very personal and very emotional account of somebody who never really knew who they were because of parental issues so very early in life and never fully found her feet until more by chance as the title implies, she swaps everything for a life looking after monkeys in the South African Bush. Here you will not find funny anecdotes of life on Blake’s 7 but you will find a very personal life exposed.   

Hines Sight
By Frazer Hines
Previously published as Films, Farms and Fillies by Boxtree in 1997

Frazer was not only Jamie in Doctor Who, and Joe Sugden in Emmerdale Farm (Yes it was about a farming community at one time) but he is also a qualified Jockey, and has quite a claim to fame on the cricket pitch as well.  Ok it’s quite well known Mr Hines has an eye for the ladies, and he does not deny it, but here you get to see the other side of the story and the lessons he learnt regarding relationships along the way. Nice one Frazer.

The Best British Fantasy 2013
Series Editor Steve Haynes
Published by Salt Publishing 

A curious collection of short stories paraded as the best of British fantasy, the introduction admits to being quite loose with the definition of fantasy but I feel it was also been quite loose with the definition of British and Best.

I did enjoy a few of the stories in the collection, but there were several that I found it very hard to care for at all. Stories like ‘The Last Osama’ have me wondering what they are doing in this collection as it certainly does not represent the British aspect of the suggested offering. In other cases I would question dark, being used for 'poor taste'.

The highlight of this collection for me was ‘The Scariest Place in the World’, a clever twist on the ghost story and it is probably no surprise why this story stood out above the rest, having been written by Mark Morris whose Doctor Who novels and audio dramas have entertained for many years. I would recommend those who like Mark’s work to track this little gem down outside of this collection.

Tales of Mystery & The Supernatural
Dracula's Guest & Other Stories               
By Bram Stoker
Published by Wordsworth Editions

I read Dracula earlier in the year, this edition was a bumper double book not only containing the original masterpiece of Bram Stoker but the previously publish separate collection of short stories. Now I’m turning my attention to the Dracula’s Guest and Other Stories.

Dracular’s Guest is presented as a separate short story but one that was lifted out of the original due to making Dracula too long, and being too much of a distraction to the original. Some have tried to work out where it would fit into the original story, but as a separate story it returns anyone who has read Dracula back into the Count’s dark world with ease.

The other stories in the collection go on to show an even darker side to Bram Stoker, and the fact the even then he did not pander to delivering a story necessarily for moralistic value. The Dualitists is not a supernatural story but certainly shows Stoker at his more darker side with his protagonists progressing from wanton destruction of property to vicious coldblooded murder and being praised and awarded for their deceit, certainly a story that should be read with great warning still today.

Finally I’m going to finish this review with another audio book. Having raved previously about the Mervyn Stone books by Nev Fountain I was delighted when Big Finished released a new adventure for our reluctant detective.

The Mervyn Stone Mysteries
The Axeman Cometh 
By Nev Fountain
Published by Big Finish Productions

The Axeman Cometh takes Mervyn into the recording studio for an audio re-launch of the drama ‘Vixens from the Void’.  Nothing goes to plan for Meryn’s new script, and that is only the start of things, as he has been warned by ‘a friend’ that to prevent a murder he must attend the recording. Let’s just hope this really isn’t Mervyn’s Last Adventure.

This drama comes over as a full cast audio drama, but with the two leads played by John Banks and Nicola Bryant with other parts played by members of the cast it is really a two hander that give these two performers a chance to really shine and prove what they can do. Listen to it; you would not believe that just two people provide 99% of the voices. The only additional voice comes from Big Finish production but I’ll leave you to spot that.

More details and to order visit the Big Finish website http://www.bigfinish.com/releases/addtobasket/the-axeman-cometh-908

Sunday 25 August 2013

Lego travels "Back to the Future"

One of my favourite films from the 1980s has to be "Back To The Future". Every time I watch it I’m convinced that with Doc Brown hanging from the cable connected to the clock tower, the time ticking away, the storm on the horizon and Marty stalling the engine there is no way our time travelling hero is going to get home.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I heard that Lego had released a Back to the Future set. Cue music, Da-da-da-daaaa, da-da-da-da-da-Dummmmm.

Off I trod to the local Lego Store and part with my £34.99 to take away a pack that allows you to build the DeLorean time travelling car in any variation from the three films, as after you have built the vehicle there are additional customisation options. The pack also comes with two wonderful Lego Minifigures , Doc Brown and Marty McFly.

On go the CDs
So on went the CDs, and out came the instruction manual and I set to work building the car of my dreams. (There was this time I took part in a stage hypnotist show, *cough* but that’s another story)

Three CDs later I had finally built my Lego DeLorean – I’m sure the original took Doc Brown a lot longer. It also took a lot longer for the original designers of this set to get it from conception to market. This is set number 4 in a range of sets from Lego named ‘CUUSOO’.

The CUUSOO project in short - you can design and submit a Lego model you think other people would love to build to the Lego Cuusoo website.  Then once it appears on the website if it receives 10,000 supporters it goes up before a review committee. The reviews are now undertaken by Lego on a quarterly period and if it passes the review and is chosen for production you get a small royalty, 1% of the sales.

The designers of the Lego Delorean project are two Japanese Lego enthusiasts called Togami & Sakuretsu , they are depicted in the instruction book as two Lego Minifigures. They have also donated their royalty payment to the Michael j. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. .

These guys form a group called Team Back To The Future and have several other models vying for votes on the website - I'd love to see them released as Lego sets so please give them your support.

The DeLorean in hover mode with doors open, Marty & Doc and some of the customisable features.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Ghost town so far

Again not a very wordy blog post, just like last time. I know usually you can’t shut me up when I start. Although the latest building is not quite ready yet, I couldn’t resist setting out all the buildings for the ghost town including the latest models when I got the opportunity the other day.