For Queen and Country…

Warning, spoilers ahead…

I had high expectations about the Victorian Science Fiction’esque episode of Doctor Who this Saturday and to be honest I hoped I wasn’t going to be disappointed and I wasn’t.

I really enjoyed watching the episode, I thought the plot was interesting and the use of the Ice Warriors technology made this less Victorian Science Fiction and more Doctor Who, but even so, we had British Infantry in pith helmets on Mars. There were Victorian space suits as well, so still elements of Victorian Science Fiction.

The use of the Ice Warriors’ spaceship to travel to Mars and the use of its main weapon to mine for gold and gemstones was very much in the spirit of the Victorian adventurer.

The characterisation of the British soldiers was spot on, even if a little cliched in places.

The Doctor was slightly scuppered when the TARDIS mysteriously sent itself back to the future and the university and Missy!

I really enjoyed the episode and did make me think about possible gaming scenarios involving British Infantry and Ice Warriors. Lots of possibilities.

Why has ‘God save the Queen’ been scrawled on the surface of Mars?

Really looking forward to Saturday’s episode of Doctor Who, The Empress of Mars, where we see Victorian era British soldiers on Mars fighting the Ice Warriors.

‘God save the Queen’ has been scrawled on the surface of Mars. What are Victorians doing on the home of the Ice Warriors? And what will they find beneath the Martian soil?

I’ve had a fondness for Victorian Science Fiction for many years, though I was aware of HG Wells War of the Worlds and the Time Machine, what really got me interested was GDW’s Space 1889 game. I did buy some of their 25mm miniatures and played a few games.

As well as the British soldiers I also had a few of the Martians.

As you can see they don’t look like the Ice Warriors.

Since then I have expanded my awareness and interest in Victorian Science Fiction beyond Space 1889 and looked at steampunk and other sources.

I really did enjoy The Difference Engine and I published an article about gaming in that universe.

“In the mists down Knightsbridge a procession of some kind was moving steadily across the road. Ghostlike, blurred by distance and the fog, they appeared to be military gurneys, the squat treaded monsters of the Crimean war. Fog muffled a heavy chugging and the faint repeated clank of jointed iron. One after another they passed. Each gurney hauled a linked articulated caisson. These wains appeared to be canvas-shrouded cannon, with men, footsoldiers in canvas coloured drab, clustered atop the cannons like barnacles, with a sea-urchin bristle of bayonetted rifles.”

Though there have been many Doctor Who stories set in the Victorian era and the Doctor has even met H G Wells, but I can’t recall an episode of Doctor Who that had such a Victorian Science Fiction background to the episode.

I really like the idea of Victorian British soldiers, more use to fighting in the Sudan or down at the Cape fighting Martians (well Ice Warriors) on Mars. You can see they have some kind of steampunk weaponry, but I am curious about how they got there, what was their space ship like? Well all will be revealed on Saturday.

This may be just one such episode of the Doctor, but if it goes down well with the audiences then we may see more.

So what’s going on here then?

One of my limited number of purchases from the wargaming show at the Tank Museum was a blister pack of police officers from Artizan Designs Thrilling Tales range, PLP586 Long Arm of the Law.

They were in a bargain bucket and cost just £1.00 which is a lot less the list price of £8.50.

These are really nice castings, here is the manufacturers picture.

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I am intending to use them in Victorian Science Fiction games.

Walking down Gaslamp Alley

One of recent purchases was a couple of Sarissa Precision buildings, Victorian brick buildings, part of their Gaslamp Alley range. I had bought the terrached house and the terraced shop. Here is the model from the Sarissa website.

Gaslamp Alley Terraced House

The Sarissa Precision models are laser cut MDF and come plain. I do quite like how the 4Ground models come pre-coloured and though I have few Sarissa Old West buildings, as these are made from wood, the plain MDF look works okay.

The Gaslamp Alley models are brick, so I originally decided when I was going to put mine together, I would paint them later. So when I read the instructions that it was suggested to paint the window frames and doors (which were etched onto card) and the walls before gluing them together, it meant I had to think quickly about how to paint the walls. The instructions did advise about doing it sparingly, my concern was that would the paint cover the eteching.

I took some Vallejo paint red brick colour and watered it down. I was quite apprehensive about the initial result, so had started with the chimney. However after it dried I was quite pleased with the final result.

Gaslamp Alley Terraced House

After the walls were dry I picked out some individual bricks with the unwatered down paint, and some varied brown paints.

Gaslamp Alley Terraced House

After this I painted all the walls. I wasn’t sure about the window frames, decided a wood effect would be okay, so I used a watered down brown paint and almost drybrushed it.

The model went together really easily, though with the way the walls fit to the floor, I wasn’t sure if I should fix the walls first and then put them in the floor. In the end I went with taking it one wall at a time, gluing it into the floor, and doing all four walls in one sitting, so that there was some movement whilst the glue was still wet.

Gaslamp Alley Terraced House

I was quite pleased with the end result.

Gaslamp Alley Terraced House

The building was much deeper than I thought it would be and also much bigger. I really like the model and am now looking forward to building the shop that I got at the same time. I am also adding the corner pub to my shopping list, and thinking I should get a bundle of the houses too, so I can have a proper street.

Steampunk Soldiers: The American Frontier

Those of you who are regular readers of the blog will know that I have been playing around with Old West figures and games, but have also been adding Steampunk elements to my games, as reflected in various articles published on the blog.

The new release from Osprey, is right up my street. Steampunk Soldiers: The American Frontier.

Steampunk Soldiers: The American Frontier

Even as the discovery and exploitation of hephaestium helped bring the Civil War to its close in 1869, the arms race it engendered resulted in a cold war just as bitter and violent as the open hostilities had been. With neither side willing to rely solely upon the talents of their scientific establishments, saboteurs, double-agents, and assassins found ample employment. Against this backdrop of suspicion and fear, thousands of Americans – Northerners and Southerners alike – headed west. Some to escape the legacies of the war, some to find their own land, some for the lure of that great undiscovered strike of hephaestium that would make them rich, and some simply to escape the law. Ahead of these pioneers stood the native tribes, behind them followed the forces of two governments, while to the north and south, foreign powers watched closely for their own opportunities. This newly unearthed collection of the works of Miles Vandercroft fills a considerable gap in our knowledge of the travels of that remarkable individual, and also provides a fascinating guide to the costume and equipment of the forces active in the great drive westwards.

It sounds like an ideal background for a steampunk version of the old west. This publication accompanies the original Steampunk Soldiers which was published in 2014.

Steampunk Soldiers

Between 1887 and 1895, the British art student Miles Vandercroft travelled around the world, sketching and painting the soldiers of the countries through which he passed. In this age of dramatic technological advancement, Vandercroft was fascinated by how the rise of steam technology at the start of the American Civil War had transformed warfare and the role of the fighting man. This volume collects all of Vandercroft’s surviving paintings, along with his associated commentary on the specific military units he encountered. It is a unique pictorial guide to the last great era of bright and colourful uniforms, as well as an important historical study of the variety of steam-powered weaponry and equipment that abounded in the days before the Great War of the Worlds.

Both of these Osprey publications follow a typical Osprey publication with text and pictures.

If you are interested in gaming steampunk then check these publications out.