Sunday, 3 July 2016

Mini prehistoric Project 2: Cavegirls and cavemen, a dinosaur book and a flashing girl

The new pack of cavemen characters under way with the three unfinished cavemen from years ago

Well, I have managed quite a bit of painting over the last ten days or so.  Certainly, the most for around a year.  This was largely due to finishing off my Lucid Eye Neanderthals.  Putting them in one of my 'painted' file boxes I spotted some Copplestone cavegirls and cavemen which I had only just started so, feeling suitably prehistoric, I started to do some work on these.  Then I realised that there was a pack of cavemen characters I didn't have, so a quick order to North Star (and a very quick parcel almost by return) means I now have seven cavemen and five cavegirls under way.  So I see this as two mini prehistoric projects.

These are all probably destined for some Lost World type scenarios rather than actual prehistoric games.  I feel  the need to boost the cavegirls a bit more and I notice that Foundry have reintroduced their elf nymphs (at an eye watering £4 each) so I may get a few (I have some already) naked ones and dress them up a bit.  Have to chop their ears off, though!  I got some more done on the cavegirls today and hope to do a bit more tomorrow.

As regards things prehistoric I recently bought, for 99p, a copy of a book which was my absolute favourite when I was at junior school.  I can remember every illustration in it from a time when sauropods had to support their weight in water, dragged their tails along the ground and no-one even dreamed of warm blooded, feathered dinosaurs.  This is, of course how they will have evolved in my Lost World, which is just as well as no one makes 28mm sized feathered dinosaurs yet. 

My original copy was given to my younger cousins years ago so I was very pleased to pick this up and can remember great tranches of the text.  It was the wonderful illustrations by Rudolph F Zallinger (1919-1995) that really captivated me, however and have fixed the image of what dinosaurs should look like (even if they didn't) in my mind even now.  I particularly loved this picture of Ankylosaurus with a flowering shrub.  Back in the sixties, Ankylosaurus used to be one of the most popular dinosaurs; along with Triceratops, Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex (I don't approve of the Jurassic Park 'T Rex' abbreviation -  it's sloppy Americanism and anyway Trex is a block of vegetable cooking fat.)  Sadly, Ankylosaurus seems to have fallen from favour these days.  No lovely Schleich model for him, as there seem to be far more Rococo armoured dinosaurs these days.

When I was about the same age as when I got Dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles I also had all the Pyro plastic dinosaur kits.  Some of these were terrible (like the Tyrannosaurus) but the Ankylosaurus was one of the better ones.  Based on the cover art I painted mine chocolate brown with a lovely metallic silver top part!

From the Age of Reptiles mural

Siberian born Zallinger is most famous for his giant mural The Age of Reptiles (1947) in Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History.  Two of his illustrations were used as part of a slide show given in the original Godzilla (1954) film 

New Zealand...I mean a Carboniferous woodland

It was his illustrations of prehistoric flora as much as the fauna that captivated me.  The ancient creatures were in fully realised environments that really acted as a portal into the past, for the eight year old Legatus.

I remember taking the book into junior school when I was eleven, in what wasn't called 'show and tell' at the time.  "Oh, poor baby!" said the pretty but stupid R in my class, looking at this picture.  It was pointless trying to explain that Tyrannosaurus and Pachycephalosaurus were both adults, I thought but I sat with her and we looked through the book together one lunchtime while all my male friends derided me for talking to a girl.  The Legatus was just starting to observe girls with rather more interest than he had before and the rather well developed for her age R was one of the girls at school he liked to observe, especially in her new Velcro fastening netball skirt. This led to some tentative, mutual first hormone-driven manouevering over my last summer term at junior school (and especially during country dancing classes - to the extent that R and I were banned by the teacher from being partners - too much hand holding after the music stopped).  This culminated, when we were both hidden behind the big tree in the school playing field, in R lifting her uniform summer dress and pulling down her navy blue knickers to give me a flash of her new blonde curls.  She then spoiled it all by demanding half a crown for another look.  Girls are stupid, I decided, you can get an Airfix kit for that!

You have to grab what you want!

Sadly, junior school finished before R and I had any more opportunities to discuss dinosaurs or anything else, for that matter.  I had completely forgotten about this incident until I looked at this book again but now I can clearly remember exactly where I was sitting in the school hall when she made her "poor baby" comment in the prehistoric summer of 1971.  Subsequently, I regretted not trying to give her a kiss and would have to wait another year for that from my next forward France.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Prehistoric Music

Not, literally, of course although there are people who have attempted to recreate such things as Mammoth skull drums.  No, this is about what music I play when I am painting prehistoric figures.  Of course I have a Prehistoric play list on my iTunes which has a surprisingly large amount of music in it.  First on the list is Benjamin Bartlett's truly excellent score for the BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs.  "Imagine you can travel back in time, to a time long before man," intones Kenneth Brannagh in the short spoken introduction to the first track.  Well, I certainly can with this evocative score.  Highlights are the lumbering The Ankylosaurus, Islands of Green, Secret Flight and, above all, Time of the Titans which accompanied the aerial sequence of sauropods walking down a valley which, as one TV critic said at the time, really brought a sense of wonder back to the small screen.  Oddly, it also reminds me of the Isle of Wight (or Dinosaur Isle as the local tourist board christened it a few years ago) as I bought this CD in the Dinosaur Isle museum in Sandown.  The score is performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Bartlett won the BAFTA for best TV score for Walking with Dinosaurs in 2000 as well as being shortlisted for an Emmy award.

Next on the list, naturally, is Walking with Beasts, Bartlett's follow up to Walking with Dinosaurs.  This also contains a few re-recorded (and therefore slightly different) cues from Walking with Dinosaurs and some music from one of the Walking with Dinosaurs specials, from which we get the theme music to Walking with Dinosaurs without Sir Kenneth. Best tracks are the title track, the Dies Irae inspired Lucky Escape and New Dawn.  Sadly, these are the only two Bartlett soundtracks that have been released, even though he went on to score Walking with Monsters and several Walking with Dinosaurs one off programmes.  Currently, you can hear his score for the second series of The Tunnel, which has just been released on DVD.

The soundtrack for Prehistoric Park by Daniel Pemberton (who went to the same school I did) is as good as Walking with Dinosaurs and, perhaps, melodically even stronger. Pemberton is a very prolific composer, with over a hundred TV and film credits to his name.  Recently he has been hired to score much bigger budget work, such as Steve Jobs (2015) and the recent Man from U.N.C.L.E.(2015) reboot.  Prehistoric Park was not nearly as successful a show as Walking with Dinosaurs (although it was made by the same team) and had a curious approach wherein the annoying wildlife presenter Nigel Marven supposedly goes through a time portal to collect prehistoric creatures for a modern park. Enjoyably, in Series 3 of Primeval (also made by Impossible Pictures who did the Walking with... and Prehistoric Park series) they had Marvin eaten by a dinosaur, in a sequence filmed at the Top Gear track at Dunsforld Aerodrome.  Best tracks are: Opening, Entering the Park, The Time Portal, Magical Flight and Mammoth Dawn.

Next on the list are two tracks from Hammer the Studio that Dripped Blood!  This features their horror scores, of course but also has an eight minute suite from One Million Years BC (1966) by Mario Nascimbene who is best known for his stirring score for  the Kirk Douglas/Tony Curtis epic The Vikings (1958).  There is also a suite from Nascimbene's score from When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).  Nascimbene would also score Creatures the World Forgot (1971) but, although he lived until 2002, he only produced one feature film score and some TV music after this.

The score for Primeval, by Dominik Scherrer, as do the Walking with... and Prehistoric Park scores mixes soaring orchestral music and percussive action cues.  The Swiss born, but London based ,Scherrer won an Ivor Novello award in 2014 for his soundtrack to Ripper Street, which is also in the Legatus' collection.  Best tracks in this are: Primeval Titles, Primeval Theme, Cretaceous Sea and Into the late Permian.

You can't have a prehistoric playlist without John Williams Jurassic Park of course, which contains some of his finest themes (indeed I might venture that it is  his last really memorable soundtrack).  Best tracks are: Theme from Jurassic Park, Journey to the Island and My friend, the Brachiosaurus.

Williams' follow up to Jurassic Park, The Lost World, was a very different score; eschewing the big themes of the first film for a much more percussive, dissonant score which, like the film itself, didn't go down quite as well.  It's actually a clever score but uses the Jurassic Park themes sparingly. Best tracks:  The Lost World, Malcolm's Journey and The Hunt.  Very difficult to come by, I had to get my copy from Hong Kong.

Although I enjoyed Michael Giacchino's score for the TV series Alias, I have never been that convinced by him as a big screen composer and felt his Star Trek scores (all for JJ Abrams) were rather weak.  This is a better score and although it quotes John Williams themes a lot there is some good original music too.  Best tracks:  As the Jurassic World Turns, Pavane for a Dead Apatosaurus and The Hammond Lab Overture.

The final piece on my nine hours long Prehistoric playlist is an original composition, not a film or TV soundtrack.  The Lost World by Michael Stearns (who does produce TV and, especially, IMAX film soundtracks) is a sort of New Age journey into the rainforest which includes recordings of birds in the jungle in a sort of ambient version of Martin Denny's exotica records of the fifties.  It's a bit indescribable really but if you like the wailing Lisa Gerrard parts of Hans Zimmer's Gladiator score you will probably like this. Best tracks are: The Lost World Theme, Matawi: Killer of Men and Warao.  

Now, time to do some painting!

Mini-Prehistoric project: 1 Cavegirls and cavemen

A few days ago I was putting my painted Neanderthals away in one of my completed figures file boxes (they are resident in the Bronze Age box at present as I don't have a prehistoric one yet) and I found these five cavegirls.  These are Copplestone Castings figures, except the one on the right who is a slightly converted Founrdy Valkyrie. 

 Copplestone only do four cavegirl poses (Why? I would buy as many as he can sculpt!) so, back in 2010, I slightly converted the Valkyrie, added some longer hair to one of the others and bent some of the arms of the rest to add a bit of variety.  This was my first, very tentative use of Greenstuff.  Anyway, they sat in the box for five and a half years ignored and unloved (rather like this blog).

Feeling sorry for the ladies, when I put my Neanderthals away I got them out and undercoated them earlier this month. I realised they would need some weapons and soon discovered that Baueda do some Stone Age weapons.  I ordered the axes and clubs rather than the rather tree trunk like spears.  They arrived pretty quickly so I was able to arm the cavegirls and start putting some paint on them.

Actually, I discovered that I had some Copplestone weapons left over (they used to include slightly more weapons than figures in the packs) but I will need to use a couple of them for two of the three cavemen which I also found in the box and added to the workbench.

Yesterday, I put some more paint on these and hope to get some more done on them this week.  I am going to take this on as a mini project and see if I can get them finished before a probable two week business trip next month.  I have just realised, while looking at the Copplestone Castings page, that there is a set of these figures I don't have - cavemen characters.  So I have just bunged off an order to North Star.  Of course this will now give me 12 not eight figures to paint!

Monday, 20 June 2016


April 2014

I bought my first Lucid Eye Neanderthals at Salute in 2014.  They are some of the heaviest 28mm figures I have ever owned and the leader (available separately) is a strapping 34mm tall.  I based and undercoated them as soon as I got them home. 

May 2014

At the time I was concentrating on Alamo period Mexicans but they did get some initial paint on them by the first week in May.

May 2015

After this promising start nothing very much happened.  They sat on the paint table for a year and then at Salute 2015 I bought the second pack of Neanderthals which are really Neanderthals in cold weather clothing.  I based and undercoated these and the Cro Magnon leader,

September 2016

I had finished the skin on the first four figures but stopped as I was having trouble doing their eyes.  In September 2015 I started work on them again and also got some paint onto the final three figures.

March 2016

Things slowed down again but by early March 2016 the first four were nearly finished and I was getting on with the last three.

March 2016

I completed the first four in mid March and posed them in front of my Lost World backdrop.  You can read my post on them here and discover the ins and outs of Neanderthal.human/sex too.

May 2016

My focus could now switch to the last three figures and, just after a year after I bought them they started to come together and passed that tipping point I reach when I know that it is all downhill to finishing them.

I finished them on 24th May and they make a very nice raiding party.  Somewhere I have another pack of the first three Neanderthals and I am hoping to arm them with some different weapons which I got from Baueda.  All I have to do is find them!  Next I need to acquire the Cro Magnons! 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ice Age mammals - A wasted opportunity...


As I carry on working on my Lucid Eye Neanderthals I have been thinking about some appropriate Ice Age period creatures to go with them.  I have already painted a Reaper Smilodon but would really like some more mammals.  I'm more thinking about a Lost World scenario than anything (pre) historic.

The key animal, of course would be the woolly mammoth but no-one makes a good one scaled for 28mm figures.  There is a new kickstarter for Ice-Age mammals but unfortunately the models are horrible Disneyfied caricatures deigned for a fantasy game called Doggerland.  What a shame.  If they had been accurate I would have bought them all!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Quick comparison: Copplestone Castings cavemen and Lucid Eye Miniatures Neanderthals

I started work on my Lucid Eye Neanderthals (part painted figures above) today.  As you can see they are a bit bigger than the Copplestone cavemen (painted figures above).

The leader, in particular is a massive figure; 33mm foot to eye. Interestingly the two Copplestone figures are also slightly different sizes with the red head a bit larger so that he matches the smaller Lucid Eye figure.

The key thing is that the styles, head sizes and weapon size are a very similar.  I would (will) happily mix them together and I am very fussy about non-matching sized figures.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Cavegirls by Reaper Miniatures

Reaper Miniatures have recently brought out a couple of cavegirl models. They aren't exactly up to Copplestone standards but the one on the right is quite Raquel-like and might be worth getting if I see them. The one on the left looks like it was done by a different sculptor and has rather fat legs! They sell Reaper Miniatures in Orc's Nest so they might get them, I suppose. They are usually a bit bigger than 28mm but the Copplestone figures are quite large so it shouldn't matter too much.