|Warriors of the Wutha-F'Kahwi tribe flee before The Nefarious Doktor Nefarious's mechanical terrors...|
On a fine Tuesday afternoon, back when your ancestors were fashionable, those ever-vigilant British Intelligence chappies reported grave reports of a grave, serious and otherwise disturbing nature that a New Player had entered the Race for the Lost Continent...
But for the heavy "tock-tock..." of an enormous grandfather clock, the library was silent. Reclining in a luxurious leather-upholstered high-backed armchair by the fire, Major Reginald Darkly looked for all the world as if he might be asleep, except for the gentle glow of his pipe and a lazy puff of fragrant smoke every now and then. He was waiting for his companion's outburst. He wouldn't have to wait long.
Seated at a walnut writing desk that was cluttered with ink pots, maps, books, a box of cigars, a couple of (rather tasteless, thought the Major) nude figurines and a small marble bust of Queen Victoria, Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe re-read the letter the Major had brought only minutes ago. The crimson glow of his enraged cheeks was outdone only by that of his nose. His monocle quivered as he read.
"Damn, it, Major!" Lord Smudgington slammed the letter down on the desk. Major Darkly opened one eye and wait for the rant to continue. "Who the devil is this fellow? And how dare he attack Her Majesty's forces? Doesn't he know we're already at war?"
Major Darkly took the pipe from his mouth and smoothed his moustache. Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe could be a little obtuse at times. "I believe that's the point, My Lord. He knows we're already stretched and he's taking advantage. It seems he's planning to build a little empire of his own. I'm sorry to say that he may well succeed."
"A private empire? On my continent? I'll be buggered if I'm going to let that happen!" Lord Smythely-Smythe poured himself a large glass of claret, took a sizeable gulp and seemed to calm down a little. "He says he represents 'all nations opposed to the tyranny of the British Empire.' Sounds bloody Russian to me."
"Could be, My Lord. Problem is, my agents have no real idea where he came from. Some say he's in league with the Chinese; others say the Hun, the Russians, even the bloody Yanks. Personally, I think he's in it for himself - no allegiances at all, with mercenaries and rogues from all over the world. Whatever the case, he's resourceful, cunning and quite clearly insane."
"A nutter, eh? What makes you so sure?"
"Well, for one thing, he calls himself 'The Nefarious Doktor Nefarious,' My Lord. And for another, he actually wrote, 'Mwah-ha-ha,' at the bottom of the page."
Before Lord Smythely-Smythe could launch another tirade, there was a polite knock at the door and a young man in the crisp uniform of a Captain of Her Majesty's 22nd Experimental Infantry entered. The freshly-pressed creases in his trousers could have sliced cheese.
"Good evening, Captain," said the Major. "What news on the attack?"
The Captain glanced from the Major to the fuming Lord and back again. He swallowed. "Tortoises, Sir."
Lord Smudgington snorted. The Major interrupted before he could start a fresh rant. "I beg your pardon, Captain?"
The Captain swallowed. "They were tortoises, Sir. Mechanical ones. Clockwork, we think, owing to a couple of them 'winding down' some distance from the redoubt."
"Are you telling us the redoubt was destroyed by walking bombs, Captain?" asked the Major, with the tone of a man who already knew everything about the situation anyway and was just going through the motions for the sake of appearances.
"Yes, Sir. Only 'clockwork' doesn't quite cover it."
Lord Smudgington grunted. "Explain yourself, Captain."
"Well, My Lord," the Captain continued, "It's the opinion of the engineers that clockwork bombs would just sort of walk straight forward until they either wound down or blew up. Only, these ones didn't. After the first couple hit the redoubt, some of the men tried to make a run for the river and get the wounded to the boats. Um... the tortoises followed them."
"Yes, My Lord. The men report the contraptions turned their heads, changed course and followed them."
Lord Smythely-Smythe almost spilled his claret. "But that's impossible, man! That would mean..."
Major Darkly cleared his throat. "It would mean they were alive, My Lord. And following orders."
Silence gripped the room again. The Captain wished he could have been anywhere but here right now. The Major refilled his pipe. The Lord drained his glass.
Finally, Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe addressed the Captain again. "Captain, I want you to bring in the men who got away. All of them. The Major and I wish to question the whole lot."
"I'll fetch him at once, My Lord." The Captain turned towards the door.
"'Him,' Captain? Are you saying..?"
"Afraid so, My Lord. Only one man got away. He had to swim three miles after the boats were destroyed."
"The boats, Captain? All of them?"
"Yes, My Lord. I'm afraid it was turtles..."
|A cheap plastic tortoise - a thing of beauty, n'est-ce pas?|
As promised in my last post, I hereby introduce to you the first of The Nefarious Machinations of Nefarious Doktor Nefarious
... Giant Clockwork Tortoise Suicide Land Mines...
|The prototype is begun: the legs and neck are trimmed down with a knife then wrapped with wire to look like springs. A pointy-miney-thing is inserted into a suitable hollow in the shell.|
|Two more tortoise land mines are started, while the lower half of three turtles is sliced clean off to make them seem submerged. The turtles' necks are crafted to look like springs with green stuff, so that I can keep the underside flat.|
The idea for these struck me when I was browsing the local heaps of crap in my local Heap O' Crap store. "Two dollars for a dozen assorted tortoises, terrapins and turtles?" I exclaimed, "Don't they care what might happen if these fell into the wrong hands?!" ...And fall into the wrong hands they did: Mine.
|Tortoises in various stages of readiness: The almost finished prototype, a ready-to-paint beastie and an undercoated one. The wires around the legs also allowed me to achieve some nice animated poses. |
|A key is added to the prototype - essential for a clockwork appearance, I feel, although I wasn't sure at first how I was going to do this. In the end, I opted for a simple piece of plastic rod with two thin slices of tube either side.|
|Three turtles, undercoated. The spikes on these are slightly different to their land-based cousins. All are made from plastic rod with a small round bead. How easy can it get?|
As with many of my favourite schemes, these were simple and fast to produce - and most of all, they are fun. I decided I needed three of each type (land and sea) for game play. I still have more creatures to mutilate if I need to.
|A finished Giant Clockwork Tortoise Land Mine, close-up. I'm particularly pleased with the eyes. I think they help suggest that this thing might actually be aware...|
|And another one...|
In game play terms, I like the possibility of these winding down and becoming a hazard to any and all - surely only a real madman would unleash such a terrible and unreliable weapon? I pity the man who has to try to wind them up again...
|Giant Clockwork Turtle Suicide Sea Mines terrorise the waterways of the Lost Continent...|
Of course, these are only the first of the terrors The Nefarious Doktor Nefarious has in store - I have much bigger things in mind!
But for now, back to Lord Smudgington Smythely-Smythe's Hydraulically Motorvated Sextupedal Land-Traversing Vacational Domicile...
|A nice, steamy porthole-shot. Atmospheric, innit?|
After a few decidedly unenthusiastic weeks, I finally feel ready to really get back to work on this monstrosity. And it really is about time I finished the engine room and moved on to the mid-section. So I got cracking yesterday and made some reasonable progress.
|A gantry is cut from plastic board and checked for size in the model.|
|Sections are cut out and strips are added to form girders.|
|The finished girders, complete with rivets.|
There really isn't that much to do on the engine room itself: I mainly have to add a couple of gantries and some handrails, do a little bit more work on the roof, finish the rear exterior balconies, clad the lower rear decks and add lighting, design the rear legs, add railings and safety chains to the exterior deck, design and build the underbelly, and attach the beginnings of the mid-section.
|A sieve is cheerfully destroyed for its wire mesh...|
|Mesh is laid over the girders and a trim placed on top with more rivets and loops for a handrail. The various parts will be painted before being glued together.|
|The painted gantry, with hndrail (unpainted) added. This is just plastic rod carefully bent into shape.|
Each side of the engine currently has levers and the like at the level of the upper deck, which obviously need to be accessed by the crew. The gantries will allow for this, and I will be adding ladders as well. I started with the port-side gantry.
|The gantry and handrail, painted and in place, atop iron supprts. The red lines on the girder edges correspond with those in the core-room (built months ago and soon to be incorporated into the model)|
|The control-gizmo-thingummy can now be easily accessed by crew. I still have to add a ladder down to the engine room floor. (The little marks on the floorboards are bits of my thumb - damned super glue!)|
Once the gantry was done (about two hours' work) I finally added the handrails to the port walkway.I've been putting this off - although it is so simple to do, I really don't know why!
|Handrail in place. Note the gap at the end of the walkway, where another ladder will be added beside the door.|
I also started to add the outer hull. This has been a long time coming, but I needed to be sure of how I was going to do certain things regarding the model as a whole. I now have my answers - but I'm not telling you yet!
|Plastic board is cut, scored and marked to form the hull.|
|Portholes are punched out, lined with frosted acetate, and a box is constructed to enclose and capture the light from two flickering yellow LEDs. There are now thirty-two of these in the engine room - and I only bought a hundred! I'll have to order more... |
Portholes will line the sides of the vessel all the way from bow to stern, and all will be lighted from behind. This, I am sure, will be well worth the effort when the whole model is glowing in a dim room!
|The portholes, illuminated. Detailing and painting will happen soon. Note the exposed cavity to the left: this is where the rear leg will be housed.|
I suppose you want a Rivet Count...
In detailing the gantry, I added a paltry 37 rivets, bringing the total so far to:
And so there you go - I am back into this now, enthused and excited! Thank goodness! I have started constructing the starboard gantry and will tackle the ladders, etc. very soon.
|Another atmospheric window-shot. Looking suitably Victorian, I feel.|
|The engine awaits a starboard gantry...|
|Officers of the Royal Navy fight desperately to turn the deadly machines from their course of wanton destruction...|
All the Best!