Dio-Bolical Monday No: 2 – “Fools Gold” – Part 1

This last week I have begun work on my “Fools Gold” diorama.  As the Table Top World cottage building is the smaller and much cheaper of the two (the other being the Wizard’s Tower) it made sense to use this model as the experimental one.  As with much of my diorama work my starting point was the base.  Not the base I would build but the base I would build the diorama on.

Now unless I plan to box the completed diorama up and store it away I prefer to have it on display in such a way that it doesn’t get covered in dust.  My wall storage units are not deep enough for displaying larger dioramas so I lean towards individual display cases which I buy from my mate Paul at Just Bases.  I generally buy the larger perspex cases he sells which measure 35cm wide by 20cm deep and 13cm high.  This then governs the size of the diorama I am about to do.  Armed with a ruler and my large cutting mat I worked out that this size base would be just about right for what I had in mind and duly placed my order with Paul.

Now under normal circumstances I would meet up with Paul and collect my base from him within a week or so but as we all know these times aren’t normal.  Meeting up wasn’t the problem but getting perspex was.  With all the screens going up everywhere to deal with Covid-19 perspex is an in demand material meaning it has become a little harder to get and more expensive to buy.  Oh goodie!  Paul assured me all was not lost and in a few weeks he would be stocked up, things would just take a little longer is all and so for now I am waiting on the base.

The good news is that because the design for this diorama incorporates a small stream section the base needs to be built up.  The MDF base that comes with the perspex case cannot be dug into so if I want to achieve depth I have to build upwards.  Does this make sense?  Well it does to me and if it is confusing you then all will become clear in due course as the diorama develops.

While I am waiting to collect the base from Paul I figured there were three things I could work on 1) the mine opening, 2) the Reaper figure and 3) painting the Table Top World cottage.  I decided I would start working on the mine entrance.

Plaster board has very much become my material of choice these days for a great many things.  Having raided a skip for some thrown out board a long time ago I went to the garage to review my stash.  Some suitable bits  were found and using an old tile saw I set about cutting some basic shapes to get me started.


Exciting pictures huh?  I cut out a few of these and then did a Google search for some reference material.  I settled on the image below for a rough idea of what I wanted to achieve.


I liked the idea of the mining track and wagon, the hole in the side of the hill and the wooden lintel to add some contrast to just the earth and stone.  I hadn’t consider the mining wagon and track before but thought it would be a great improvement so I thought I would try and see what I could find to buy.  As luck would have it Zealot Miniatures came up trumps so I ordered a couple of bits from them which hopefully will arrive shortly.  Fortunately their website had measurements for the track so I was able to press on with more of the mine construction.


Now whilst things might look like a mess at the moment you should know that I am delighted with how this is shaping up so far.  Essentially this is nothing more than the skeleton to which the flesh will be added.  The plaster board is building up the side nicely, the wooden supports and lintel are in and slate chippings have been added to show exposed rock from the digging and blasting which created the whole in the first place.  The thing is I can’t do much more on the mine now until I get the Zealot delivery because I need to fix the track in place and be able to get to it for painting before I can put a proper top on the mine entrance.

While the mine work done so far was set a side to dry I thought I would take a look at the Cottage.


It really is a lovely and highly detailed two part model.  On the positive side of things I can’t screw it up with glue (I don’t get on well with glue, whatever I do it goes every bloody where).  On the slightly negative side it is going to be a challenge to paint the inside.  Brush angles to paint the fireplace and windows is going to be tight.

The kits say they don’t need to be washed but I did so anyway and after they air dried I began to prime the two parts.  For as long as I can remember I have always primed using Humbrol White Matt Enamel diluted with White Spirit.  Unorthodox?  Most probably but it works for me.  Time now for the cottage to dry too so for now that is it for this week.

Hopefully next week I will press on with the mine if the Zealot bits come, if not I’ll start painting the cottage.


The Magnificent Seven

Knuckleduster continue to expand their range of 28mm Old West figures at a pace I have given up on in terms of trying to collect and paint them all.  As a consequence I made the decision to focus only on the figures which really caught my eye or had some other special meaning.  So when they recently brought out the seven figures from the classic western movie “The Magnificent Seven” I knew this was a purchase I had to make.

The quality of the metal sculpts was typically excellent but there is a problem with figures of “real” people.  Whilst I consider myself to be a reasonable figure painter I am not an artist capable of painting a face to look anything like the actual actor.  Those of you familiar with the film will no doubt be able to work out which figure is which from the pose and the clothing but alas you ain’t going to look at the faces and say “He’s a dead ringer for Yul Bryner/Steve McQueen”.   All I can say is I did my best.

Pictures below along with a final group shot.



“Easy Boy!” – 54mm Cowboy (Circa 1865)

There was a time a long while ago when 54mm figures and cowboys in particular were pretty much all I painted.  These days as followers of this blog are aware I have dropped down to 28mm/32mm figures almost exclusively.  Occasionally I will venture into a bigger scale but it takes something special to wet my appetite and get my juices flowing.  Something like this chap for instance.

What we have here is a white metal figure by Romeo Miniatures comprising of approximately 30 parts.  It was a bugger to put together.  Partly because the figures I now paint rarely have very many pieces and partly because the gradient of the figure whilst making for excellent composition worked against me for holding, assembling and finally painting.  It’s very heavy too.  In fairness the accuracy of the fit was very good and only a minimal amount of filler was required.

On a personal level I love the composition and overall it didn’t come out too bad.  It warranted a bit of a scenic base but I chose to keep it relatively minimal so as not to distract from the figure itself.  Painting for this one was a combination of acrylics and oils with some dry brushing, ink and weathering powders thrown in for good measure.

Images below.


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Tomb Stoned – A 28mm Old West Diorama (Part 2)

If I’m being honest this is probably going to be a dull post to write and an even duller one to read but lets see how it goes.

The truth of the matter is this is going to be a long project involving lots of work and lots and lots of down time while I wait for things to dry.  Progress will be slow but in many respects that’s the point.  One, it gives me a large background project which can develop as it goes and allows me to dip in and out as I please.  Two, while things are drying I get to work on other things allowing my boredom threshold to not get the better of me.  Hence the posts I have put up since part 1!

So, where exactly am I at the moment?  A bloody good question!

Well the roof has now been fully tiled.  It now needs to be undercoated and painted.  I will probably undercoat it but I am thinking I might keep the proper painting on hold for the moment until I have other buildings at a similar stage.  It might be easier that way to match colour schemes, not that they have to be identical in any way.  I’ll mull that one over a bit more.


The building walls have been assembled and 99% has now been clad.  There is an annoying little bit to do which I need to get my head around so I don’t create a problem for myself at the next stage of assembly.  The same issue on painting applies here too, do I wait until I have made similar progress on other buildings first?


The chimney is almost finished.  Now completely clad in bricks it does to my mind look so much better.  What needs to be done now must wait until the next stage of sub-assembly.


All in all I am happy with the progress.  Yes it is going very slowly but that was always the plan.  The questions for me now are where on this building do I go from here?

Right now the big question I have to answer for myself is what, if anything, is going inside the building?  This is not a gaming board, it’s a diorama.  The figures don’t simply sit on the groundwork they have to be incorporated into it.  The question of how much you will actually see also comes into play.  Some serious thinking to be done before making some purchases and/or starting some scratch building.

In the meanwhile I have another biker to finish!






Tomb Stoned – A 28mm Old West Diorama (Part 1)


Last November I went on my first ever visit to the Telford show.  In a brief write up afterwards I mentioned that one of the many things I came home with was a very large display case which set me back the bargain price of £50.00.


My plan was and still is to put together an Old Western Town diorama featuring half a dozen buildings and a good number of figures.  For sometime now I have been trying to decide just what to do and although I still have no detailed plan I am clear on a few things.  With that in mind I decided I would make a start and, like all the dioramas I have ever done, I will figure a lot of it out as I go along.

So, a couple of things to note before getting into some detail.  Firstly, the title for this diorama is a working one.  I have no idea right now what to actually call it.  Maybe this title will stick, we will see.  Secondly, this diorama is going to be a marathon.  If it doesn’t extend into a 100 posts I will be amazed so this is going to be a long ride for all of us!  However fear not.  There is no way I will be dedicated to this without deviating from time to time to do something else.  All things being well there will be lots of other posts to break things up a bit.

Now let’s get started.

Building No: 1 – Blacksmiths & Livery Stable

Of one thing I was certain, this diorama was and is is going to feature a blacksmiths/livery stable.  The question I had to answer was do I completely scratch build something like I did way back when I did this building …


… or do I buy an MDF kit and pimp it?

Before answering that question I decided to take a look at what buildings were out there.  After checking out the manufactures I knew and others I found from more searching, I once again settled on Sarissa Precision (I suspect I will use Blotz for all the other buildings I do).  Sarissa had a Dutch Barn which I didn’t like and a Livery Stable which looked nice but was just too big for the case.  In the end it was the Blacksmiths building which caught my eye.  At a cost £20.00 it was a no brainer so I made the decision to “pimp”, made the purchase and a few days later this is what I got.


Now followers of this blog might remember that I have a love hate relationship with MDF.  I love the precision fit but I hate the flat finish even when it has been neatly etched.  It’s personal but there you are.  In fairness I struggle to get the depth on flat surfaces that others can achieve with their painting so adding texture overcomes the problem for me.  It does require a lot of effort though.  Still that is what I do.

A study of the bits revealed that assembly would be relatively straight forward and also highlighted what I needed to do.  The etched brick work has to go as does the etched boarding as well.  The flat interior will have to be addressed and the roof needs to be tiled.  Signage is something I need to get my head around and I will need to make a decision before too long as to what figures and accessories to acquire before I get to carried away.  They need to be incorporated into the assembly before hand and not afterwards.

What figures to buy is still an issue I need to resolve.  I have two preferred suppliers for the old west.  Kuckleduster are far superior to Dixon miniatures but Dixon’s produce wagons and a stage coach whereas  Knucleduster don’t, well not so far.  The obvious thing would be to use a combination of both suppliers but Knuckleduster figures are heroic scale and Dixon’s are more like 25mm.  I appreciate people come in different shapes and sizes but this difference in scale just doesn’t work for me.  As things currently stand I am erring on Knuckleduster and hoping the figures and accessories will continue to expand over the life time of this project.  Time will tell.

In any event I have made a start.


The fire/furnace and chimney has been put together and as you can see I have begun to clad the assembled piece with individual bricks.  The bricks are a red mix from Juweela and are 1:48 scale.  They match perfectly with the etched MDF so just a case of sticking down whole and half bricks in line with the etched pattern and finishing of with some filler to any gaps afterwards.  I reckon 500 bricks should do it!  That’s me sorted for the next week.

Might even listen to IRO’s podcast while I’m at it!





Azazel March Challenge (Part 2)

The monthly challenge for March as set by Azazel was twofold, a squad and/or something gender ambiguous.  Having posted my contribution for “Gender Ambiguous” last week this week sees my submission for a “Squad”.

As a non gamer I have applied my own interpretation and thus have gone with Wyatt Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan and of course Doc Holliday.  All the figures are Knuckleduster 28mm heroic scale and have been modelled on the characters portrayed in the film Tombstone starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt and Val Kilmer as Doc.  Simply lovely figures to paint!

Individual figure images below along with a group shot at the end.



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Knuckleduster Minatures (No: 2)

I thought it was time for me to present you with another couple of 28mm Knuckleduster figures.  Both were a joy to paint and both are very simply based.

The first figure is of John Wesley Hardin, a real character of the Old West.  According to Wikipedia …

John Wesley Hardin (May 26, 1853 – August 19, 1895) was an American Old West outlaw, gunfighter, and controversial folk icon. The son of a Methodist preacher, Hardin got into trouble with the law from an early age. He killed his first man at age 14, he claimed in self-defense.

Pursued by lawmen for most of his life, he was sentenced in 1877 at age 24 to 25 years in prison for murder. When he was sentenced, Hardin claimed to have killed 42 men but contemporary newspapers accounts attributed only 27 deaths to him. While in prison, Hardin studied law and wrote an autobiography. He was well known for wildly exaggerating or completely making up stories about his life. He claimed credit for many murders that cannot be corroborated.

Within a year of his release in 1894, Hardin was killed by John Selman in an El Paso saloon.


The second figure is of Rattlesnake Jack, not a legend of the period but who ought to be.

Jack got his nickname from being bitten on the arse by a rattlesnake while de-flowering a native american indian against her will.  Jack jumped up in a flash and in panic farted several times before mounting his horse and heading for town to see the resident doctor (few people know that this true story inspired Jagger and the Rolling Stones to write their classic track Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the lyric “it’s a gas, gas, gas”).

On examination the doctor announced to Jack that he had good news and bad news for him.  Wanting to hear the good news first the doctor told Jack that it would be possible to suck the poison from his arse and thus save his life.  With some relief Jack asked for the bad news only to be told by the doctor that he was going to die from the snake bite!

The pictures of Jack below were taken before the fatal incident.





Knuckleduster Minatures (No: 1)

As much as I have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, all historic and futuristic modelling genres my heart always returns to the Old West.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this was the relevant genre of my youth.  It captivated me as a kid and continues to do so.  I’m sure those of you brought up on a diet of Star Wars, for example, feel much the same way about Luke Skywalker et al.

There are numerous Wild West figures available from a great many manufactures and, as is typical within the hobby, the quality varies.  Trial and error continues to be ongoing but Artizan Miniatures and Dixon Miniatures I have found to be among the best for 28mm figures whilst Andrea, Romeo Models and Pegaso Models are my go to manufactures for 54mm.  Although I had discovered Knuckleduster as a potential supplier for the larger 28mm sized figures I had been unable to locate, until recently that is, a UK distributor.

Upon emailing Knuckleduster I was advised The Caliver Books (yes I thought it was just a book shop too) stocked the entire range.  A visit to the website confirmed this to be true so I placed my first order.  The figures arrived literally the next day (free postage if you spend over £20.00 was an added bonus and easily achieved) and were to my mind simply superb.  I have since made several other orders and fallen in love by email with Clare who works there and simply can’t do enough to keep me happy.  My kind of girl but I’m resisting the urge to meet her on the basis that one of us (probably both) is going to be disappointed!

The good news for me is the Knuckleduster range is extensive and continues to expand.  The bad news for you is the Knuckleduster range is extensive and continues to expand.  I feel sure you have now grasped the idea that for quite some time you are going to see plenty of cowboys.  Whilst this is true I shall for my sanity as well as yours try to mix things up a bit throughout the modelling year.

At some point in the future and as the Knuckleduster range expands I anticipate creating a large western themed diorama for the perspex case I purchased at last years Telford show.  Until that happens I’m focused on simply painting the figures and basing them with the aim of eventually collecting them all.  As there are well over a hundred in the Gunfighters Ball range I’m going to be kept nicely occupied for quite some time.

I thought I’d kick off my first Knuckleduster post with a couple of iconic fictional figures from the 1953 movie Shane.  First up we have GBF55 – Gun For Hire, a sculpture based on the character “Jack Wilson” played by Jack Palance.  In the movie Wilson is a hired gunfighter tasked with helping to railroad the homesteaders to get them to vacate their land.  Unfortunately for Wilson he comes up against Shane and meets his end in a shootout which takes place inside Grafton’s, the towns saloon and store.

The second figure is GBF61 – Shawn.  Clearly modelled on Shane but presumably the name change is aimed and getting around copyright.

Pictures below.



Rooster Cogburn – 54mm Andrea Miniature (September Neglected Challenge)

It was touch and go whether I made this post in time as I had been waiting for the base to arrive in the post for the best part of two weeks.  Fortunately I got there in the end!

The figure is by Andrea miniatures and is based on the Rooster Cogburn figure played by John Wayne in the film True Grit for which he won his only Oscar.  A fantastic sculpture in my opinion but anyone who is familiar with their work will know that Andrea set the quality bar very high.  It’s been a while since I’ve done a 54mm figure, despite the scale being where my modelling roots lie.  I’d forgotten how different it is to paint them after doing so much in 28mm scale.  Hopefully I’ve managed to do it justice.

So how did it become a neglected model?  In truth it’s less a case of neglected and more a case of forgotten.  The copyright date on the box was 2006 and I reckon I bought it about a year or so after that which puts it at about 10 or 11 years old.  As best I can remember I had problems pinning the front legs to the base, a pretty crucial aspect of the model given the scale and its weight (it’s a metal model).  I then put it to one side with the aim of doing it at some later date only for it to be submerged underneath various models subsequently bought but waiting to be done.

While She Who Must Be Obeyed has been away I decided a modelling tidy up was required and thus the fruits of my labour were rewarded by finding this forgotten piece.  After much deliberation between washing, cleaning and cooking for the kids in her absence or starting on neglected Rooster I decided it was time the kids learnt to be more self-sufficient.

A modest amount of acrylics were used in painting the figure, mainly as undercoat.  When it comes to 54mm figures, and horses in particular, I’m an oils guy.

Pictures of the finished figure below.



“The Lamerton Posse” – 28mm Old West Figures – The June Challenge (Part 2)

With the Plymouth show taking my time from this (Friday) afternoon and all day Saturday I thought I’d better post today instead of hoping to do so tomorrow and risk missing the boat and with it the June challenge deadline.

A much better week saw me manage to complete the remaining figures for the June challenge by the skin of my teeth albeit that I only achieved five figures in the end and not the six I’d hoped to do.  Not a great deal to say.  Basic figures on basic bases but enjoyable to paint all the same.  Still a little rushed but you can’t have everything!

Individual images of the three new figures below along with a group shot of all five.

Figures by Artizan and Dixon’s and painted using acrylic and oil paints.