In Full Bloom! (Michael Awdry)

  Some with the end of June fast approaching I am delighted to present for your delight and delectation my completed ‘Audrey II’.  This has been, without doubt, one of my most ridiculous undertakings to date, but one that has proved to be a truly delightful distraction.

When it came to the painting, I slowly, but surely, started to build up the layers of green around the base and neck leaving only the mouth to contend with.  This has been my greatest worry throughout the build, but in the end I used the musical version of ‘Audrey II’ as a point of reference and enjoyed the added splash of colour the mouth and lips brought to the piece.

Whilst I knew that I wanted to pay homage to the intergalactic, carnivorous plant star of the 1986 musical film, ‘Little Shop of Horrors’, I could not have envisaged the way the project developed and led to all sorts of wonderful diversions.      Even with the addition of cast members and companion pieces, my addled brain continues to dream up additional accessories and scenarios.  Already plans are afoot for a more permanent home for ‘Audrey II’ and this in turn might call for a return to my ‘Paranormal Exterminators’ project, perhaps even calling in assistance from ‘Mystery Inc.’

All that remains is to thank all my fellow contributors that have helped make this another great year of madcap modelling, sculpting, cutting and converting, but a special thanks must go to Roger Webb who has tirelessly reposted all our entries on to the ‘Forgotten Heroes’ site.  I leave with one final shot as ‘Audrey II’ makes an exciting discovery in the lost lands of ‘Awdry Towers’!

I’ve given you sunlight, I’ve given you rain
Looks like you’re not happy, ‘Less I open a vein

An Ensemble Cast (Michael Awdry)

Audrey: I don’t believe it.
Audrey II: Believe it, baby. It talks.
Audrey: Am I dreaming this?
Audrey II: No, and you ain’t in Kansas, neither.

Throughout the build it has been important to keep an idea of scale and whilst I accept that there is a little leeway when it comes to an accurate portrayal of an intergalactic carnivorous plant, hell bent on world domination, the constant presence of Seymour Krelboined* has help keep the project on an even keel.   Now admittedly my Seymour, actually an ‘Artizan Designs’ Dr. Bell, reminds me a little more of the Florist’s owner Mr. Mushnik, but nevertheless his unwavering commitment to the project has seen him bumped up the painting queue.

*Changed to Krelborn in the musical
It was whilst I was putting the final touches to Seymour’s tatty jacket that I started to wonder if I had any other suitable miniatures that could pass as members of the cast?  As luck would have it my latest ‘Studio Miniatures’ Horror Characters Kickstarter threw up a potential dentist in the shape of a Peter Cushing inspired sculpt – a truly terrifying prospect, but what about the luckless Audrey?

This proved a tad more problematically as it appears that I have a shortage of sorrowful looking, female sculpts, but as luck would have it I spotted a potential plant food wannabe on the ‘Crooked Dice’ website, simply known as the Duchess and decided to treat myself – all in the name of completion you understand.

So cast assembled it is time to return to the task in hand.
Paint me!  Paint me now!

An Amuse-bouche. (Michael Awdry)

Seymour: It’s true! I chopped him up. But I didn’t kill him!

I used to worry about my inability to focus, but more recently I have decided to embrace it, to see where it takes me.  More often than not these flights of fancy lead to dead ends, but occasionally one takes hold and really lifts off.  So it was with this project as when I was assembling ‘Audrey II’, I found myself imagining different uses for all the redundant bits and pieces that I had collected during the build.  Before long a couple of little companion pieces were assembled, which I present for you here.

The first, ‘Audrey Jnr.’ started life as a simple bud, found amongst the assorted broken silk flowers and leaves that I had stashed away. It just seemed to cry out to me, “Feed me, Seymour!” and so before long I was looking for something suitable to plant him in. This flowerpot was made from a slender cardboard tube, with a simple cardboard lip. Using an off cut of the identical resin flagstone that had formed the base for the main build things were soon underway.

 A couple of planting trays from ‘Supreme Littleness’ and some small dolls house terracotta flowerpots started to give the impression of a forgotten corner of Mushnik’s Florist. It still needed something extra though and by chance I unearthed the final element, a ‘S & D models’ metal watering can.
The other piece is a little darker and simply known as the ‘feeding station’.  For some reason I found myself wondering how Seymour would be able to feed the plant as it started to dwarf him? By climbing up his step ladder of course!  The floor is once again the now familiar resin flagstones with the rest of the elements predominately made up from various ‘S &D models’*, all originally bought a while ago as part of a now long forgotten greenhouse project.  The final addition of a couple of bags of miracle grow and some serious gore saw this particular flight of fancy exhausted.

*Available through Forty-Third Limited
 Back to the build proper and ‘Audrey II’ has had an undercoat and a couple of passes with the trusty airbrush and I have to say that I am rather pleased with the results.  Everything is still holding and the green has had the unifying effect that I had hoped for!

Feed Me! (Michael Awdry)

Audrey II: Feed me!

With the base constructed it was time to think about completing the head, no small matter given the characterful nature of Audrey II.  If truth be told I was quite worried about this stage as although ideas and images had been sketched out, I still had no way of knowing if it would come together, more importantly would the magnet hold the weight?
Seymour: Does it have to be human?

The first job was to fix said magnet to Audrey II’s head, a dab of the Poundland’s ‘Hard as Nails’ seemed to do the trick and as it started to set I was able to splay out the wires giving the effect of veins.  I was hoping that the same technique employed for the body would be used for the head.  Making sure the polarity of the magnet was the right way round I secured it initially with superglue and then built up the join with more Milliput.  Finally more Green Stuff tendrils were used to disguise the rather manufactured look of the wires – it was working!

Audrey II: Feed me!
Teeth, so important, but how to do them?  Looking back at the example that had inspired the original build, Ssendam had used some plastic card cut to give a ferocious row of teeth, but given that my plant is based on Audrey II I wanted to try and pay homage to the creation in the comic/films a bit more.  Eventually I stumbled upon the idea of using the pointed end of a cocktail stick, but I now needed some way of fixing them to the walnut.
Rolling out my Milliput again I simply embedded the teeth into the gum, but this just didn’t look right.  Initially wanting to avoid Audrey II’s luscious lips for fear of not doing them justice, I resigned myself to giving it a go by way of making the teeth sit properly in the mouth.  Things started to take shape and as the Milliput stated to harden I gave the teeth a sealing coat of PVA at their base to hold them in place.  Now feeling more confident with the material a tongue was fashioned and finally it was time to fix the top and bottom halves of the mouth together.

Seymour: Does it have to be mine?
There was a brief moment when I considered the possibility of having the mouth hinged in some way allowing for movement of perhaps miming!  But in the end copious amounts of glue gun glue were used to fix the two halves together and seal the gaps.  Once secure the final stage was to match the tendril effect of the lower neck to the head again using Green Stuff.  This was a little bit haphazard, but after much fiddling and cursing we started to achieve the desired effect.  Again as the Green Stuff started to harden a light wash of watered down PVA glue helped to seal the work and hopefully made the fix a little more permanent.  This in essence was the end of the build and so another patient wait  is required before the whole thing can be undercoated, hopefully linking everything together.
Audrey II: Feeeed me!

A handful of nuts. (Michael Awdry)

Narrator: On the twenty-third day of the month of September, in an early year of a decade not too long before our own, the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence. And this terrifying enemy surfaced, as such enemies often do, in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places…

Every project has to start somewhere, that little kernel of an idea, the seed or nut from which all things grow.  In my case it was, very literally, a nut, the humble walnut to be precise.  Before I go any further I need to acknowledge the work of someone I know only as Ssendam.  It was Ssendam’s work that I stumbled across on the ‘Lead Adventure Forum’ and without that inspiration ‘Audrey II’ would not have been conceived.  Ssendam had used a walnut to form the head of his carnivorous plant and this, simple yet wonderfully effective idea, was what convinced me that I could actually achieve my goals – thank you Ssendam.


With nuts in hand*, I got off to a truly nightmarish start, worried as I was about losing fingers whist battling to get inside the iron hard nut.  Finally in, and with the interior now cleaned out, I pondered my next move.  I had become fixated on a small plastic flowerpot that I had found and wanted to make it work but reluctantly had to accept that it was just too big.  In the end I cut it down to a more acceptable height, rebuilding the lip with built up strips of cartridge paper.

*Not a phrase that should be repeated out load I have subsequently discovered.
Although not the tiled floor of the flower shop, as seen in the film, the resin flagstones proved a useful base to fix the flowerpot to and so it was time to get cracking with the Milliput, something that I haven’t used before.  After a couple of false starts I started to tame the substance and the roots started to take shape.  Trying to give a sense of the plant’s ability to move, I had some breaking through the pot whilst others were crawling over the lip.

At this point my thoughts turned to leaves and tendrils.  Some paper covered florist’s wire might work for the tendrils with drops of super glue gel to give the effect of the petioles.  These had the added benefit of being flexible and could be bent to different positions.

A good rummage through a bag of discarded silk flowers and leaves** turned up a few likely suspects, but they needed some new stems.  Again reaching for the florist’s wire I needed to make these more secure with the glue gun, which had the added effect of disguising the bare wire – so far so good.

 I started to think about fashioning the stem holding the head to the body by using some electrical cable, the flexibility of the material in turn leading to the possibility of a swivelling head.  In order for this to happen magnets were going to have to be employed!  A 5mm magnet was superglued to the top of the electrical cable.  This was then sited in the flower pot with more Milliput added.  Whilst necessary for the structural integrity of the piece it did rather take away the plant like quality I had previously achieved so out came the green stuff and thin tendril like shapes were rolled out and draped down the neck, hopefully restoring the illusion.

Finally soil, in the form of pumice gel, was added to the top of the pot and a little more around the roots where they had smashed through the terracotta retainer along with a few shards of plastic to represent the broken pot itself.  The final throes of the base build saw the leaves and wire tendrils pushed into the still soft Milliput and that, as they say, was that!


Putting down roots. (Michael Awdry)

Forgotten Heroes, the brainchild of Messrs. Webb and Winstanley, is an opportunity to indulge in a spot of converting/scratch building to plug those unsightly gaps in your Superhero or Super Villain collection.  Now I had initially thought that I might give this themed month a miss this year.  The encyclopaedic knowledge of my fellow contributors, when it came to the comic universe, was truly staggering and I have to say that I felt a little out of my depth.  Although I enjoyed conceiving and putting together ‘Bouncing Boy’, I wasn’t sure to what purpose I would then employ his services?

 However regular readers of this humble weblog will have no doubt realised that I am fickle sort of chap when it comes to sticking by a decision and it was during a particularly distracting bout of web based research that I stumbled across a kernel of an idea that was to take root and sprout into my planned entry for this month’s event.  Yes, I was back in the running and this time with an idea that could, possibly, actually be used in a gaming scenario!  Bizarre as it may seem, I had been consumed with the notion that what I needed in my collection was a mean, green, carnivorous plant from outer space – I give you ‘Audrey II’.

A quick check of the rules was required to see if I could shoehorn my idea into the format:

1. The character you create must not yet have had an official or unofficial miniature made for it.
A cursory search didn’t unearth anything too damning; there were certainly carnivorous plants out there, but nothing obviously ‘Audrey II’.
2. The figure must be in 28mm scale.
That would be fine, admittedly the plant grows throughout the story, but I should be able to stick to this one.
3. The figure must be completed during the month of June.
In the interest of total transparency I need to confess that ‘Audrey II’ was started before June, but only to see if I could actually achieve what I had envisaged.  The plan is most definitely to finish her during the month of June.
4. In your first post, you should provide a bit of detail on the character you’ve chosen and why.
Considered yourself invited to the following longwinded introduction!
To many ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ is a rather brash, musical from 1986 staring Rick Moranis as the hapless flower shop assistant Seymour Krelborn who discovers the blood drinking plant after a meteor storm.  Perhaps what is less well known is that there was another celluloid version that gave a budding young actor, by the name of Jack Nicholson, one of his earliest rolls.  It was this film, released in 1960, that would form the basis for the comic book series ‘Welcome to the Little Shop of Horrors’.  The comic book, serialised into three episodes, is beautifully explored in a wonderful article by Matthew Hurwitz for ‘Cinemachine’, certainly well worth a read.

The ‘detail’, then, is straightforward, but the ‘why?’ is a little more problematical.  The idea of carnivorous plants have always fascinated young Master Awdry and more recently, I have been toying with several ideas as to how to use them in a gaming capacity, undeniably inspired by Simon Moore’s ‘Seeds of Doom’ project.*  These have included a Wyndhamesque Triffid game using a zombie ruleset, or creating a greenhouse for Poison Ivy, filled with all sorts of mysterious plants, that could be employed in a Batman Miniatures Game.  There is also the idea of fearsome ferns in a Pulp Jungle adventure or even a bloodthirsty bloom forgotten in the depths of some haunted house – so many ideas, so little time!  So having been made into two films, a couple of comic book serialisations and a Broadway Musical ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ certainly seemed fair game.  Now it was my turn, could I take this vile, ‘Super Villain’, intent on taking over the planet, one drop of blood at a time, and recreate it as a unique 28mm miniature?  That, good reader, is what we are about to find out.
 I’m just a mean green mother from outer space and I’m bad!

Boing! (Michael Awdry)

bounceFirstly an apology as I have been incredibly busy a work this week and so have not had a chance to peruse the many splendid weblogs that I enjoy, hopefully things should get a little easier next week!  That said, I was determined to meet the deadline for the ‘Forgotten Heroes’ month and present here my completed ‘Bouncing Boy’.

IMG_3676Having put him together last week, ‘Bouncing Boy’ finally got an undercoat and away we went with the painting.  To try and get the stretched Lycra look, I dusted off the airbrush and reached for the brightest blue I could find – in this case Army Painter Crystal Blue.  A couple of layers later and the bulk of the painting was done, just a case of picking out some details to bring the whole thing to ‘life’.IMG_3688IMG_3690So in true superhero fashion, I have managed to compete the project just in the nick of time.  All that remains is to thank Jez of ‘Carrion Crow’s Buffet’ and Roger of ‘Rantings from under the War-games table’ and all the other contributors whose ingenious ideas and efforts have combined perfectly to produce such a wonderful monthly distraction!

Bouncing Boy has lift off! (Michael Awdry)

Spurred on by the many kind words of encouragement, I am pleased to report that my contribution to ‘Forgotten Heroes’ is back on track; ‘Bouncing Boy’ is slowly, but surely, starting to take shape! Having already identified the ping pong ball as the structure on which the character was to be built, I started with the ubiquitous utility belt, in this case a strip of foil from a ‘Pringles’ tube*. To this was added a few likely looking pouches from a handy sprue that was in this year’s ‘Salute’ goody bag.

BB 100

Whilst I was harvesting the pouches, it struck me that the legs, or at least part of them, might work for ‘Bouncing Boy’ and so out came the side snips again, now I don’t know exactly what a Maelstrom’s Edge Epiran Handler** is, but I am grateful for his sacrifice in this project!
 BB101Arms proved a little more difficult to source as I wasn’t sure about the pulse rifle attached to the Epiran Handler’s hand, but as luck would have it the ‘Victrix Limited’ Napoleonic Highlanders sprue offered up a couple of alternatives that fitted the bill perfectly. I decided to keep the buttons on the cuff, they are probably not called buttons and I may just have committed an awful Napoleonic faux pas, as they added a little more interest to what was, in effect, a ball!
BB102So it was now all about finding a suitable head, but I was right out of youthful molecular scientists!   I could muster the odd grizzled Viking, or a helmeted GI, but I was struggling for the right look for my Charles Foster Taine.  In a fit of desperation, I took a more left field approach approach and attached an unmarried Zulu warriors head left over from the the ‘Cetshwayo Challenge’.  I was thinking that there was, arguably, an air of youth to the sculpt and that headband could certainly add something to the costume!
BB103BB104Given ‘Bouncing Boy’s’ unique skill of being able to inflate into a round shape that could bounce and ricochet off walls without harm, it seemed like a good idea to incorporate a flight stand.  I also managed to unearth a suitably futuristic base topper as well, so all is nearly complete.  I hoping to get some undercoat on him tonight and then, if all goes according to plan, try and get the bulk of the painting done over the weekend; I may yet make the deadline!

Forgotten Heroes….still a work in progress (Michael Awdry)

Now let’s be honest, there hasn’t really been much progress at all.  The frenetic pace that comes as the end of the academic year looms into sight has rather scuppered my plans to resurrect ‘Bouncing Boy’ from ‘forgotten’ to  ‘occasionally talked about’.  The irony of this sad tale is that I chose this character because I thought that it would be simple and quick to do!

IMG_3594 There has been some movement and I have collected, what I hope will be, the composite parts required to finish the job.  Included in these are a selection of spherical objects to form the main body.  The beads, my first choice, are clearly too small and the ping pong ball feels a little big, but I think that I am going to go with it anyway, if for no other reason than comedy value; my only concern with this choice is that I have a nagging thought that ping pong balls don’t react well to superglue?  I will let you know!

To further compound the ignominy of my current project there has been some truly wonderful progress made by my fellow contributors, which has all been documented on the official site and I would encourage to stop wasting time reading this drivel and go and see what should be happening!  Hopefully, once I have ticked off a few chores this morning, there might be a little more to show later in  the week.

Forgotten Heroes are go! (Michael Awdry)

On its launch, I was gripped by the excitement that was ‘Forgotten Heroes’, immediately signing up to be ‘on board’, when I suddenly became aware that I hadn’t a clue what to do!  I toyed with the idea of replicating various current celluloid superheroes, but of course that meant that, with franchising being what it is, there were already many viable options of miniatures available on the market, which didn’t seem to fit with the ethos of the event.  I decided to cast my net a little further and tried to remember comic book heroes from my youth, but tittles like Warlord and 2000AD* yielded little to work with.  Union Jack Jackson and Rogue Trooper were undeniably super, but were they superheroes?  This was getting serious, I was starting to worry that I might have to withdraw!

*Young Master Awdry’s preferred reading at the time.
I trawled around the internet for inspiration, but again was left a little bewildered by the current multitudes of squeaky clean and squared jawed defenders of justice and peace.  Deciding to go back to its source, I narrowed my search to focus on those Superheroes that were created in, what I now understand to be, the Silver Age of comics.  This was a fascinating exercise and it was wonderful to see the original incarnations of many of the now lycra or rubber clad denizens of the silver screen – different times indeed.  Eventually my research unearthed a totally new character to me and yet one that seemed to resonate with yours truly – let me introduce you to Bouncing Boy.
Bouncing Boy, created for DC Comics in 1961 by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney, first appeared in Action Comics #276 and was a wholly unlikely member of the Legion of Superheroes, but all the more charming for it.  Charles Foster Taine, a 30th Century Earth scientist, accidentally drank an experimental super-plastic fluid believing it to be his sugary beverage of choice while watching a sports match.**  The fluid drastically altered his body’s cellular makeup, giving him the power to inflate into a round shape that could bounce and ricochet off walls without harm.  As Bouncing Boy, Chuck, was impervious to both physical damage, and of all things, sadness; yes, Bouncing Boy’s good humour and charming personality led him to proclaiming himself the Legion’s ‘Morale Officer’.
477703-bouncingboys[3]Life as a ‘Super’ seldom runs according to plan and Chuck had to prove his worth, having initially been rejected by the Legion.  Fortunately an electrically charged villain was duly dispatched, due to Bouncing Boy not being grounded, and all was well.  Bouncing Boy then had to leave the Legion when he married Duo Damsel, formerly Triplicate Girl***, settling on the colony world of Wondil IX before ultimately returning to become Headmaster of the Legion Academy.  So my unlikely choice for ‘Forgotten Heroes’ is Bouncing Boy, a round, happy chap, with a penchant for sugary drinks – me as a superhero!  I just need to build him now.