Saturday 24 February 2024

Another 5 Starblazer Comics Reviewed

 Starblazer - Fantasy Fiction in Pictures

Yet more issues from my growing Starblazer collection

Star Blazer #187 - Mind Warrior

Starblazer #187 - Mind Warrior - In the battle to keep the warlike alien hordes at bay, the Terran Army used no end of ingenious devices in combat.  None were successful, non except the most ingenious device ever developed - The human brain...

This is a pretty average story where a crack group of Earth commandos need to neutralise the alien Zarg superweapon.  They discover that the Zarg are using a device known as the Time Gun to de-materialise asteroids and crash them into ships and space stations.

The eponymous "Time Warrior" doesn't turn up until page 40 and the book is only 66 pages long.  The plot leans heavily on deus ex machina which is incredibly lazy but does lend itself to the cliffhanger nature of all Starblazer storylines.  The hero usually saves the day by utilising some trait or technology that hasn't ever been discussed before.

Mind Warrior is particularly guilty of this in the final scene, I won't spoil it but even I had to do a doubletake.  Perhaps my nine year old self would not have been so critical... 

Starblazer #191 - Carter's Law

Starblazer #191 - Carter's Law - Frank Carter was a policeman in the huge Terran galaxy of the 32nd century.  His job was hard, lonely and extremely dangerous.  But he didn't mind - the harder, lonelier and more dangerous a job was, the more he liked it.  Carter was hated by some and disliked by most, but he was used to it.  He was half man, half android and completely mean.

This one's a gripping tale of corporate espionage as Carter and his newly appointed sidekick Dolan break every rule in the book to bring their quarry to justice.

Some top notch art for this episode which draws inspiration from news photo libraries of the day.  Repurposed images of riot gear wearing cops and a beautifully drawn ferret armoured car would have been very familiar to young readers watching news footage of the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Carter is much more dramatically posed and his dialogue much fruitier than his first outing.  Could he have been inspired by early Dredd's one liners or is he channeling Clint Eastwood as a robotic Dirty Harry?  A solid second outing for our favourite mandroid.   

Starblazer #198 - Time Warriors

Starblazer #198 - Time Warriors - They were fighting men from the past, transported thousands of years into the future, and put in a life or death situation with a technology beyond their understanding.   

A cool concept for this story.  Six warriors from across Earth history are "drafted" to fight for a peace loving alien race to save the planet Paxos from domination by the dog headed Korvans. 

The fight takes place in an Arena and like ancient gladiators each warrior is pitted in single handed combat to the death against a Korvan adversary.  Galactic rules govern how the deathmatch is conducted and the primitive warriors must get in close to use melee weapons to deal a deadly and decisive blow.

This story could have had a great twist at the end, but the execution feels like a missed opportunity and a waste of a great sci-fi title.  It's a shame because the art is pretty good especially in the early pages where the warriors are plucked moments from death.  This storyline gets recycled in the movie Predators (2010)

Starblazer #199 - Netherworld

Starblazer #199 - Netherworld - Mikal R Kayn never went looking for trouble - it came looking for him.  Involved in a simple motorway shunt, he didn't anticipate much bother.  But he hadn't bargained on the body.

Ex cop turned Private Eye Mikal Kayn digs a little too deep when he finds a partially disintegrated corpse.  Someone doesn't want the case investigated and tries to set Kayn up. 

This is a really fun story and one that could easily work in Mega City One.  I really appreciate the clean lines of Jose Casanova's artwork.  His depictions of the weird and wonderful denizens of Netherworld and of the jungle planet Babalon make this story pop.  The character arcs of Cinnibar and Rulf are never really explained hopefully later Kayne stories will right that wrong.

Kayn is a great character, taken straight from the pages of a Mickey Spillane detective novel, a futuristic Mike Hammer who wears dark glasses to protect his infra-red eyes.  I'm going to look forward to reading more of his exploits in coming issues.

Starblazer #208 - Planet of the Dead

Starblazer #208 - Planet of the Dead - Thieves, Killers and Conmen... it didn't make any difference to Borg the Bounty Hunter.  He'd hunt them to the far reaches of the galaxy and bring them to justice.  He thought he'd seen it all till he came face to face with Baal.  This evil creation didn't just kill people... it sucked the very life force from them!

This story is a weird mashup of survival horror and an oddball team up between Borg and his two captive conmen against the evil space vampire Baal.

The artwork is serviceable and the character design on point as all vampires of this era wore black cloaks with high pointy collars.  Of course space vampires don't drain your blood they drain your life force and feed upon it making them ever stronger.  

Whilst there's not much to the story, it's a long chase sequence, there are some cool looking locations, landscapes and pirate ships on wheels.  All good worldbuilding fun for the princely sum of 28p...  

Essential Starblazer Links

The Starblazer Checklist is a fantastic resource if you are collecting or want to know who wrote and illustrated each issue.

Many thanks to the chaps who run the Starblazer Covers archive, this is immensely useful resource when looking at ebay joblot listings.

Retro Sanctuary has a great article covering his top 20 Starblazer Issues which is worth a look and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing some of these classics in the very near future.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Jessie's Prints - Episode 35 - 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat

This week, I are mostly been printing... 3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat!!

3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat - MZ2450 Patreon 

Our Friday game at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club has seen us sucked through a portal onto one of the levels of hell called Las Infernalis.  Basically this is Disneyland for Demons and I'm sure is going to full of weird and deadly rides, games and equally weird characters.  

Having recently joined the MZ2450 Patreon, imagine my surprise when I stumbled on a recent post containing an STL for this guy!!

3 Goblins in a Trenchcoat

This is exactly the sort of mini that floats my boat and so I quickly printed and painted him and sent a photo off to Alex the DM.  He's a very amenable sort of chap and we share a love of weird cinema.  His reaction was classic and I expect to bump into this trio of ne'rdowells in the very near future.
Miguel also does a version with 5 Wyrmlings in a Trenchcoat which is totally not Tiamat!

Three Halflings in a Trencoat (D&D 5e)

A very creative Reddit user put up a statblock for the 3 Halflings in a Trenchcoat for D&D 5e games.  It would be a very challenging encounter and seems rather overpowered to me.  It is written more as monster statblock and perhaps something that occurs as a consequence of donning a cursed magical trenchcoat which must be filled with 3 of something... Mwahahaha  

Origins of the Totem Pole Trenchcoat Trope

This is one of those prints that irrespective of age we all seem to instinctively have a memory of it from our childhood.  According to TV Tropes this is known as the Totem Pole Trenchcoat but there is no reference to a historical origin.  I seem to remember an episode of Wacky Races or The Perils of Penelope Pitstop where the Ant Hill Mob used this technique.  
Fun Fact, the names of the members of the Ant Hill Mob are different in each show.  In Wacky Races they are: Clyde, Ring-a-Ding, Mac, Danny, Rug-Rug-Benny, Willy and Kirby.  Their car is number 7 The Bulletproof Bomb.
The Ant Hill Mob

 Whereas in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop they are called, Clyde, Dum-Dum, Softy, Yak-Yak, Snoozy, Zippy and Pockets.  Their car, Chug-a-Boom, is much more of a character in its own right in some episodes of this series,  It gets the classic headlight eyes and is voiced by the late great Mel Blanc  

Ant Hill Mob - Perils of Penelope Pitstop

If you know of any earlier uses of this trope, please feel free to comment in the box below.

Monday 19 February 2024

Can you buy good modelling accessories from AliExpress in 2024?

I have been playing Wish and AliExpress bingo for a while now.  It can be a dangerous game, but if you've got a few quid that are burning a hole in your pocket, there are worse ways to spaff it up the wall. 

Now this isn't one of those exercises.  I genuinely needed some specific items and thought I would put each store to the test.

AliExpress Modelling Accessories

HobbyMio Sci-Fi Decals (maybe a bit of a Gundam theme here) - £1.83 - 4/5

You may have seen my recent print of Trix Robot Rider on these pages.  I'm really happy how she came out but the robot hand is crying out for some decals.  I had a look on AliExpress and was stunned by the sheer volume of waterslide decals that are available at some extremely good prices.  Most of these are replacements for specific Gundam kits but there are some which are just generic.  

I chose the HobbyMio Model Decal Vol 1 set and I'm really impressed with the diversity of symbols warning signs numbers which come in the set.  They are a mix of black, white, red and yellow with plenty of variety to sticker up your robot.  I'll update this post when I've used some to let you know how they come out and how easy they are to lay down.

12Pc Set 21x15cm Leopard Print Grafitti Stencils - £4.21 - 3/5

When I painted the wings of my Ulimate Radical Centrist B'lakor Demon, I used an old orange bag as stencil mask to get a diamond pattern.  It was okay, but very fiddly and I had seen some of the AFV modellers on YouTube using some splatter masks so thought I'd try one.  

I think I ordered the wrong thing as these are considerably larger than I expected.  With 12 different patterns to choose from these are still very useable for bigger models.  In the set are a:

  • Leopard Spots - each spot ranges from 1 to 2cm 
  • Waves - 11 different wave patterns should look good for water effects or Chris Foss inspired shampoo bottle spaceship patterns
  • Bubbles - well I don't know how to describe this stacked bubble design.
  • Large Tiger Stripes - again very useable if you are doing a tiger striped camo theme on a vehicle.
  • Voronoi - small holes measuring 1 to 1.3cm across.  Very useable for dragon hide or interior wing patterns.
  • Square Cells - an irregular collection of 4 sided holes with rounded corners.  This is going to be an absolute must for that cracked earth look.
  • Large Zebra Stripes - same as the Tiger stripes
  • Lizard Skin - a tighter mesh of diagonal holes.  Great for any large lizard (wink, wink)
  • Squished Lizard Skin - a mesh of varying sized organic shaped diamonds large on the edge to tiny in the middle.  this is going to get a lot of use I can tell.
  • Rust Splatter - that collection of irregular shapes which the AFV guys go wild for 
  • Swoopy Curves - this is less useable in my opinion and will probably see action when I just want to define a swooping curve in much the same way you might use a french curve.
  • Large Irregular Cells - again this is likely to see use in large base texture shading.

I will give them a whirl on my next 3D printed mega project which is currently staring at me with it's five fearsome heads.

Hobby MS Small Wet Pallette Set - £3.59 4/5

I've always wanted to try out a wet palette, but they are kind of intimidating and come in at around £20 or so.  I thought I'd try out one of these little travel palettes to see how I get on.

The box measures 21cm x 7cm and has two compartments, one for the palette and the other I am guessing is a water supply section.  Included are 10 sheets of "baking paper", two absorbent blotters, a thick white foam pad and a strange square metal grill.

I will have to learn how all of this goes together and how to use it as it did not come with instructions, but I did find this video on how to use it.

I'll report back with my findings...

Postage Not Included

The total I paid for all three items was only £15.83 so that was £6.20 for flat rate shipping and delivery took just shy of 8 calendar days.

Given that a pint in a london pub in 2024 is about £10 these days I think I'll try this again.  Tune in again soon for a review of some model making goodies.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Even More Starblazer Comicbooks

Some say I should not be left alone with eBay, but I say let's read more Starblazer...

Starblazer Comics

Starblazer #171 - Star Knight
Starblazer #171 - Star Knight - Released from a million year imprisonment, the most evil being in the galaxy unleashed eons of hate and unimaginable fury on the race he blamed - the inhabitants of Earth.  But he had to pit his evil skills against Earth ace troubleshooter - STAR KNIGHT.

This strip is a unabashed mashup of the origin story of superman and the plot of Alien.  The protaganist Rorta, is an alien cyborg warrior with dreams of intergalactic conquest imprisoned in a stasis egg by the benevolent Syran elders as punishment for his treachery.  

A million years later he is accidentally released by some space archeologists looking for alien artifacts.  Rorta goes on to capture an experimental space weapon and only the brave Star Knight, Li Opurney, can save the Earth from destruction.

This story suffers from a serious case of the deus ex machina, as both Rorta and Star Knight overcome adversity with ease deploying numerous unheard of technologies.  A hordroid; las shields, laser lances densitrax mining ships, nullgrav beams, it's all here waiting to implant itself in a young furtile imagination.  There are some weird looking spaceships that look like they jumped out of the pages of a Terran Trade Authority Handbook. (I must get around to writting a blog post about them someday). 

Starblazer #172 - Nightraider
Starblazer #172 - Nightraider - They made the Mafia look like a charity organisation.  He was the only person who could stop them.  They had unlimited credits, men and mchines.  He had one craft and three helpers.  They were the Kratos... He was Nightraider.

Let's face it Nightraider is a cool pseudonym, but when your real name is Garry Clark you need all the help in the universe you can get in order to strike fear in your space mafia adversaries. Fighting at his side are Ursa, the blind Triton navigator who can "see" using his Neuroweb helmet.  Samuro the Cygnan samurai armoured weaponmaster and Typhon the sensor operator and all round fifth wheel.

This is a fun little galaxy hopping story chasing down mafioso whilst dealing with the thorny subject of xenophobia.  The plot takes a twist about a third of the way through when it is revealed that Nightraider's own built-in arm weapon, a deadly neutron beamer, exposes him to fatal Q radiation.  The helpers must get Nightraider back home or he will die, 

I love how the writer borrows the then new fangeled "microwave cooker" technology and turns it into a deadly weapon.  I won't spoil the ending for you but it caught me by surprise.

Starblazer #179 - Mandroid
Starblazer #179 - Mandroid - He was a cop. A good cop! Too good for his fellow enforcement officers, some said.  Some others said he wasn't even human - and they were right.  He was Carter, and Carter was a Mandroid.  Half man, half android and whilly mean.

This is my first Carter story and it's a corker.  High stakes action on every page and it was a gripping read.  Carter definitely has shades of Judge Dredd and Robocop in his character and this story really lets that shine through.  The art by Enrique Alcatena is fantastic, very dynamic and full of inventive costume design.  I felt it was reminiscent of my favourite Dredd artist Ron Smith.

The story starts out as a murder investigation on a remote mining planet but quickly evolves into a tale of robot revolution.  Carter is the perfect protagonist for this story, being half robot himself means he straddles both sides of the conflict.  A classic Starblazer issue and one that comes highly rated.

I can't wait to see what happens in the next Carter storyline in issue #191 Carter's Law

Starblazer #181 - Death Trek
Starblazer #181 - Death Trek - Sergeant Wilse T Force was surly, bad tempered and hated the war.  He owanted out, and the only way he could do that was to obey orders, no matter how difficult they were.  His job was complicated by two things... a bunch of recruits he had to wetnurse through the Badlands, and an enemy commander who wanted him dead - for personal reasons.

This story feels like it is ripped straight from the pages of Commando, another very popular "War Story" title from Starblazer Publisher DC Thompson.  Our hero is trapped behind enemy lines and orders come through to evaccuate the planet.  He just has to get his men to the safety of the rendezvous point in time or be left behind.

Sgt Force and his men have to survive encounters with the strange alien life on the planet whilst being chased by the Carthan enemy soldiers.  The powered armour troopers are equipped with a host of wepons and gadgets to help them survive, but being green recruits they need a veteran like Force to keep them alive.

Solid adventure story stuff and a great read.

Starblazer #183 - The Cyborg Chaser
Starblazer #183 - The Cyborg Chaser - It was 2086AD, and the Earth was in the grip of a drought.  Only androids and cyborgs could work in the intense heat while humans stayed in their controlled areas.  The companies that manufactured cyborgs grew more powerful, until they all but ruled the world.  Faced by secrecy, World intelligence decided to penetrate the largest firm, Cyborg Corporation, and they sent in Britt the Commando, a one man army, a CYBORG CHASER.

The cover illustration brings together two great cinematic images, Max Von Sydow's Ming the Merciless as Arrigon the Head of a Andro Corp and Sean Connery's James Bond as Britt the Commando.

This is an interesting story of global domination being foiled by a super spy and perfectly fits into the Starblazer mould like a hand in a glove.  Being an anthology comic, you never knew exactly what you were getting every other week.  Unlike 2000AD or Star Lord, there was no stable of regular characters who appeared every week.  What was guaranteed were solid adventure story lines with action on every page.  

In the 80s we used to judge our action movies by their kill count, perhaps we should do the same with our Starblazer issues?

Essential Starblazer Links

The Starblazer Checklist is a fantastic resource if you are collecting or want to know who wrote and illustrated each issue.

Many thanks to the chaps who run the Starblazer Covers archive, this is immensely useful resource when looking at ebay joblot listings.

Retro Sanctuary has a great article covering his top 20 Starblazer Issues which is worth a look and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing some of these classics in the very near future.

Monday 12 February 2024

Jessie's Prints - Episode 34 - Teenage Mutant Sorceror Tortle

This week, I are mostly been printing... A Tortle!!

Epics N Stuff Tortle Sorceror - MyMiniFactory - 109539  

This week saw us return to The Rivenlands D&D Campaign at Dragons Keep Roleplay Club.  My clubmate and fellow founder Paul needed a mini to represent his Tortle Sorceror so he commissioned me to print and paint a supplied STL. 

Tortle Sorceror

He's a chunky boy and basically pyramidal in shape.  The mini came both pre-supported and unsupported, as is common these days.  However, he also came as a pair of pre-hollowed out variants for those wishing to not waste resin or just wanting a slightly lighter mini.  

This is the first time I've seen this done on a 35mm single piece character mini, so I printed a hollow one for shits and giggles.  The only issue I had is that the wall thickness just wasn't thick enough to prevent the odd hole appearing when I removed the supports. 


The customary zenithal priming was done and mounted to my base of choice (a two pence piece).  I said he was chunky and barely any base was visible under his girthy feet.

Paul supplied me with a photo of a make by Empire of Minis so I didn't even have to make any colour choice decisions. 

Base colours were a mix of Vallejo Acrylics, with midtones dry brushed on before picking out the highlights.

Tortle Sorceror

Serious Skin Problems

I really struggled with the skin on this model, in fact it was practically the last thing that got painted.  The sculpt had no texture and yet he is supposed to be a tortoise like humanoid.  Last time I looked they had pretty scaly lizard like skin and his was as smooth as a baby's bottom.  I have a small collection of greens and they were covering really horribly over the zenithal, particularly where areas of shadow were converned.

Tortle Sorceror


I persevered though and resorted to mixing in a bit of some Crafter's Choice acrylic that I found in a Wallington "Arkwrights" shop.  

Arkwrights Store - Open All Hours
G.. G.. G.. Granville! Fetch me that tube of G... G.. G... Green Paint!

This stuff is so random it doesn't even have a paint name, just a number (PNTA-134) but it's made by Royal & Langnickel and it did the job where my specialist miniature paints could not.  
This just goes to show that when you are painting don't just dismiss your art materials because they aren't Vallejo or Games Workshop.  Try out lots of different paints and you just might hit on some secret sauce.