Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year

More boxes from America
Before the sun sets on 2015 and the year is shoved off into the archives of history, I thought I’d give a quick update on progress for the latest models in the coffee stick ghost town. 

To avoid making this post too picture heavy I have set up another page with some more photos which can be accessed here.


Just before I finished work for the Christmas holiday a couple more boxes were added to my collection by work colleagues, you’ll notice alongside the Twinkies are now Ho Hos and Ding Dongs. 


Christmas boxes added
Christmas itself gave a couple of interesting boxes which I’ll be using in the New Year on new models.

This pate box will be used for a roof piece of some kind.

I got a little time to work on the three models in progress, these have now reached a finished state as far as the shape and applying the sticks are concerned. 

WIP: boxes being turned inside out




They need to be rubbed down with sandpaper then painted; I think I’ll save this for the spring when it will be more comfortable working outside to sand the models. In the meantime I’ll add a couple more to the collection.




WIP: adding tube supports
before closing up


I would also like to thank everyone who downloaded a copy of 
Karl – Birth of Mystery during the period we set the book free on Amazon’s Kindle bookshop. I hope you enjoy it and if so please leave a review to help others find the adventure.

That only leaves me to wish all readers of the blog a Happy New Year.





And some early shots of the basic boxes joined for the next couple of models. 
Still need to add extra shaping to the roof areas.




Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas

Don't forget to download a free copy of
Karl - Birth of Mystery
on Kindle

25th December - 29th December 2015



Monday, 21 December 2015

Merry Christmas from DJK & Karl

Tis the season to be jolly and for giving, or so I'm told. It also seems to be that the shopping centres are full of idiots, travel is horrendous and as I write this the weather doesn't want to join the celebrations either. But I'm not doing a bah humbug post. 

I want to say that whilst getting excited for those gifts take a few moments out to look at all that exciting packaging coming your way and remember to keep hold of it for those scratch builds you plan to do in the new year.





Sweet wrappers that are like coloured filters, plastic packing around some of the Christmas cards makes excellent windows. The cardboard tubes inside wrapping paper and tinfoil - can't go wrong with them. Remember just like the turkey dinner you can go on enjoying Christmas well into the New Year.

I did say it was the season for giving, here's my gift to my readers.

If you've got a Kindle or getting one for Christmas then download the first book of the Karl Axilion Trilogy for free, on us, between December 25th and the 29th on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

And remember you don't even need a Kindle to read Kindle books because there is a free app that allows you to read Kindle books on any ipad, iphone, other tablets and computers.






Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Less Bangs but Bigger Bucks?

A November Update

(*) For a Who's Who see below.
You may have noticed that I’ve not got much in the way of model building done recently. That has something to do with the fact that I’m not only working with Tenth Planet Events signings and Doctor Who conventions these days but also Fantom Films as well. This has meant that I was at seven events over six weekends not leaving a lot of time for building work.  These are fun to do and if you’re into science fiction and fantasy, especially but not limited to Doctor Who then why not come along to an event. These are held in Barking, Chiswick, Newcastle, Peterborough, Slough and South London – so covering quite a few miles travelling as well. 


Also, if you do come along and would like me to bring a set of Karl books for you then drop me a line, because then I can offer them a special event price. You can find the next event I’ll be at featured in the right hand rail of this site.





That’s not say that I didn’t take time to do my Dagenham walkabout following the national celebration of my brother’s birthday. Ok, so maybe November 5th has other significance as well which is why the fireworks are let off. It might have been because the date fell on a Thursday this year, that when I took the walk this year’s haul was incredibly small by comparison to previous years.  But before anyone starts to shout, I’m in total agreement that fireworks should be restricted, they do scare pets and wildlife and it is not fare on them at all, but whilst they are still sold I shall continue to round up what sticks I can to recycle into these buildings. All the frame work on the haunted house was built from the rocket sticks from the last couple of years.



Building work aside I am also dedicating a lot of time again to writing, working on the new project that has been in progress now for a year or so since Karl was completed. 

There are currently two volumes planned to the new series of books – I’ve given some hints out in the past but not going to reveal too much at the moment, only to say that I was very excited by one of the figures in the recent Lego Minifigure series that was released, you might be able to guess why from this photo.








(*) Seen here with Barbara Windsor, Ralph Watson, Andrew Hayden-Smith, Peter Purves, Jimmy Vee, Daphne Ashbrook, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Bonnie Langford and Nicola Bryant.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Karl Axilion Trilogy Update

Back in September it was announced that the book arm of Berforts, Berforts Information Press, was put into administration. There are more details in the article on PrintWeek. Berforts were the publishers of the paperback edition of the Karl Axilion Trilogy. 

At the moment I hold the remaining stock of the books, but once these have been sold there will not be another print run unless the books are republished by another publisher.

I shall continue to offer them for sale via the blogsite and at various conventions I attend while stock remains.

Once again, when they are gone, they may be gone forever. I can make no promises to future paperback editions being made available.


The Kindle editions are not affected and will continue to be offered via the various Amazon websites.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Rubbish Re-used Part Three

Another photo update showing further progress on the new Ghost Town models built only from recycled boxes, card and coffee sticks. The first model is now awaiting a quick rub down with sand paper before undercoating. I’ll tackle this job once a couple more models are ready and do them together.

Model two is this cycle is progressing well, this looks a bit like a church now it has started to take shape.





Model three has been put together from more boxes and the roof, as before, created from Amazon package card. I find these quite good to work with.





I now have a whole box of boxes awaiting treatment, so I think it’s time to allow some to head back to the recycle bin for now; otherwise I won’t be able to move in the kitchen. However, in honour of the many readers of this blog in the US, imported at great expense I hope you notice the Twinkies boxes in this collection ;-)


Friday, 2 October 2015

Karl Book Two Offer

The 66% discount has now expired 
but you can still get book 2 for a 33% discount 
on the Kindle edition until Friday 9th October.


This weekend book two of the Karl Axilion Trilogy, 'Karl - The Lost Adventurer' enters the Kindle Countdown Deals, in the same way that book one did back in August.

The deals start low with the greatest reduction then the price slowly rises back up as the week progresses. So if you previously downloaded book one and have yet to download book two now is a good time.

On Amazon.co.uk the price drops to 99p for the weekend this Saturday 3rd October and Sunday 4th October then rises back later in the week to £1.99 then finally it will be restored to £2.99

On Amazon.com the price drops to 99c for the weekend, this Saturday 3rd October and Sunday 4th October then rises back later in the week to $1.99 then finally it will be restored to $2.99





Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Rubbish Re-used Part Two

A quick photo post update today showing the recent progress on the latest ghost town model which started life a couple of weeks back as a pile of small old boxes. The roof was made from the card out of an Amazon box. Now the model is almost complete as far as being covered in coffee sticks to give the wooden structure its required appearance.





Here is the next one, basic shape brought together with the boxes having been tried in various configurations before being settled and glued together. Again a roof made from the rest of the Amazon packaging, note I’ve used the natural bond on their packaging to give a ridge along the top of the building which will be covered in sticks as well.  I’ve left one side of the roof open, here I intend to have a hole in the side of the roof as if something has broken out.





And finally an exclusive heads up to blog readers.

The Kindle edition of book 2 of Karl’s trilogy
'Karl - The Lost Adventurer' 
will be on special offer Countdown Deal starting October 3rd

Don’t miss your chance to continue the adventure...

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Rubbish Re-used Part One

Aborted support, even sticking strips 
together at 90 degrees so that they 
supported each other the support 
was not rigid enough.
I’ve started to make use of the recycled materials I mentioned in the last blog post. The aim here, to add a couple more models to the Ghost Town made from the coffee sticks. 

A couple of these had their base shape constructed from foam board; others were made from old boxes. 

There were a few issues with some of them during construction which I hope I can address this time round.




Boxes turned inside out




The main problem is the weakness of this cardboard to hold up under building, but once they are fully coated with the sticks then they become quite solid. I start by taking the boxes apart and reversing them, so that they are inside out. This turns the shiny sides in, which means when you leave some card bare for the windows it will take the paint better.

It was whilst sitting in contemplation that thanks to an empty loo roll I was reminded of the strength of the humble tube. I tried a couple of ideas to add support to the inside of the boxes before sealing them up, but the tube is the best strengthening idea other than filling them with plaster – but that’s excessive, expensive and too heavy.

With the first of the tubes as support.



The tube was cut down and slid into the box before the end was fitted. Depending on the size of the box you’ll need several of these to support the middle and corners. Toilet roll tubes don't come round that frequently, so other tubes are needed. Some I made by rolling up those annoying flyers that come through the letterbox and what drop out of magazines, glued and taped in a roll then cut to the right length to support the boxes. Other tubes were made from corrugated card from a mail-order delivery. The thing to remember when using this cardboard is to ensure that you cut the card so that the direction of the corrugations is vertical for your tube, if they stand horizontal the tube will collapse under pressure.
New collection of boxes

I put the three boxes together in various patterns before deciding on this configuration. Then started to collect my next set of boxes. I did not expect these to be mainly made up of medicine boxes and ice cream boxes, but with a recent chest and throat infection this became the origin of the next collection.

I used one of the Lemsip boxes collected from the medicinal collection as an additional front entrance to the first of these buildings.

This model doesn’t look like much at the moment, but just wait and see what happens to it.


Previous blog in this series: Rubbish or Raw Material?


Friday, 28 August 2015

Rubbish or Raw Material?

In Doctor Who – Pyramids of Mars, Sutekh tells the Doctor: ‘Your evil is my good.’ The same reversal of truth often stands with scratch building models.

You can spend a huge fortune in a model shop buying polystyrene strips and blocks, thin strips of wood or sheets of cardboard to use in the construction of the model in question, and then throw away exactly the same materials as rubbish the next day.






It’s no secret on here that I collect up old coffee sticks and firework sticks post Bonfire Night to use for the wooden planking and beams on my models instead of buying strips of balsa wood, but there are so many other raw materials for building that can be sourced cheaply or for free that can make this a very cost efficient hobby indeed.

My mind has sometimes been described as a scary place. I admit it can tick over slightly differently to many others. It has been known for its darker side, as you would know if you have read the Karl trilogy, but it also tries to see more than is obvious.  Hence any unusual packaging that comes my way is almost always sized up for its potential.

A colleague at work came back from vacation with some chocolaty treats to share. Very nice they were too. However my greater excitement came at the packaging, there I could see exactly what I needed to make more window panes or broken windows from. This is just the right sort of stiff plastic that I need, and this time it is slightly cloudy hence these windows will be either misted over or dirt smeared depending on what effect I’m going to go for this time.







With a growing CD collection of audio drama I have had to invest in a couple of new storage towers. These came as flat packs, and once the Krypton Factor (Look it up) test had been completed without any of the listed pieces being left over I did have left over pieces that were not going to end up in the rubbish skip. These blocks and strips of polystyrene packing will make excellent starting points for walls and other constructions.


All the items in the above photo have been viewed as potential in one way or another and later I’ll share more of these thoughts. In the meantime since my coffee stick mountain is growing I am going to add a couple more cheap and simple buildings to the ghost town layout. The exact style and shape of these will depend solely on the next few empty boxes that come my way.


The first will be made from the Nature Valley, Cupasoup and Gu boxes...

Karl Bank Holiday Offer

SORRY THIS DEAL IS NOW OVER, BUT NEW OFFERS ON KARL'S TRILOGY COMING SOON...

The Kindle edition of the first volume of Karl’s trilogy is now available as part of the Amazon Countdown Deals promotion starting today 28th August. This will run until Thursday 3rd September. So why not give the adventure a try this Bank Holiday. With Countdown Deals the biggest discount is applied at the start of the deal and over the week the discount is reduced so that the price steps up eventually returning to its original price at the end of the run. The steps will vary from product to product depending on the exact length of time the deals run for, and the original price.

For more information on the trilogy click the links on the right hand rail.

For Amazon.co.uk the original price is £2.99. For the first half of the week the price will be just 99p, it will rise to £1.99 before returning to £2.99 on the 3rd September.

For Amazon.com the original price is $2.99. For the first half of the week the price will be just 99c, it will rise to $1.99 before returning to $2.99 on the 3rd September.

As far as I know these deals only run on these two Amazon markets.


See the following for more details on Amazon Kindle Countdown Deals.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Moss on the Roof

The standalone haunted house model is almost complete. I’ve finished the white dry-brush/dusting around the woodwork and turned my attention back onto the roof. I felt it needed a little something, and that was a greenish tint for moss. I got the idea after missing my train on Saturday and whilst stood on the platform at Romford, I found myself looking out onto a roof that was tinted in such a way. So using a deep moss green paint, which I also picked up from a pound store as part of that shopping trip, I mixed with it some PVA glue and a sprinkle of dark green flock and proceeded to tint the roof in patches. In most cases it was a fast flick of the wrist in downward strokes using the paint in the same dry-brushing approach, and on occasions picking up a little of the thicker mix just to add that little extra depth where the moss has actually taken.



I also gave the front tower a light brush with the green as well just to age the tower up and make that feel slightly more decayed than the rest. Something more sinister about the tower, maybe?

I’ll take some more photos in outdoor light before and after I varnish.

Finally I’ve glued the stone pillar in place on the bottom corner, and now I’m leaving that to dry before making a final check prior to varnishing. My next stage will be to build a baseboard to set the model off in its grounds, maybe a crumbling outer wall and an old gate, an over grown path leading up to the front door.  Who knows?




For anyone who might be interested in the first volume of my trilogy, a heads up, the first volume will be available at a discounted price for a week starting this Friday, 28th August. It will be part of the Kindle Countdown Deals which will have the greatest discount at the start of the offer but then the discount is reduced as the week goes on. That will be on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk from Friday morning.






Previous post in the Haunted House series: Woodwork Painting

Next post: Coming soon




Thursday, 20 August 2015

#ThrowbackThursday

This post jumps aboard the time ship and travels back to 1975 before jumping forward to 1979. 
So what happened in 1975 and why this post? 

Me, Mum & Auntie Darkie, July 1975
There’s no great weather report to speak of, the hot summer of the 1970s that gets mentioned by those of a certain age is a year later, 1976. If you want a list of events for 1975 then try Wikipedia although nothing jumped out at me when I took a quick scan through the list. Maybe a couple of interesting birthdays might pop up. In Doctor Who Tom Baker was already the Doctor, having d├ębuted in the first episode of “Robot” a few days before the start of the year. So why this trip back in time? 

Oh by the way, this was me back in 1975.




The reason is because Big Finish has recently released a couple of audio drama box sets based on a couple of other TV series from back then.  Their second series of new stories for Survivors and the first of a series for The Omega Factor have had me gripped to my CD player.

Their releases for both series begin with an audio book reading of the original novels written by the two show’s creators. In the case of Survivors this was Terry Nation, he of the Daleks fame who would later go on to create Blake’s 7, and for The Omega Factor, Jack Gerson. Both audio books are read stunningly by the show’s original female leads, Carolyn Seymour and Louise Jameson.  These stories really pulled me in and made me eager to not only move on to the new audio drama ranges but to seek out those original TV episodes on DVD.  These dramas were designed for adults, and as you can see from the photo above I was certainly not old enough to be allowed to stay up and watch. Whilst shopping for these I did discover a DVD release of a children’s series I remembered from then, one which I will admit, at the time, certainly freaked me out.  More on that later.


Having listened to the original books then watching the programmes I found they differed in many ways, so the audio readings are certainly worth a listen if only to gather what the show’s original creators saw as their direction for their creations.

Survivors
The first two box sets from Big Finish have brought back the original leads from the first series of the show and introduce new survivors in the same way as the show often did. Carolyn Seymour departed from the original show after the first series, but is now back giving Abby a new lease of life. The TV series ran for three years on the BBC, from 1975 to 1977 and having watched all three series back to back it did feel like it began to run out of steam. It must be noted that Terry Nation only ever wrote for the first series of the TV programme.

After the survivors had faced the great plague that had wiped out around ninety percent of the population and had gone on to face the worst of human kind could offer that the BBC would dare to feature back then there really was not a lot of direction for the series to go. In their second series Big Finish have been a lot braver in their material, maybe this is because we live in more enlightened times. The series is certainly a lot darker and as such I would say more believable than the later offerings of the original.


The Omega Factor
This series launched on the BBC in 1979 and promptly ended after one series. Which was a bloody shame. It fell at the wrath of Mary Whitehouse, the self appointed moral guidance councillor that oversaw all that was broadcast. The DVD release today actually makes a point of noting on the cover that she described it ‘Thoroughly evil’.  There was nothing evil about it. The only thing it could be accused of was being ahead of its time.  Having watched the series today, with one special effect not quite up to scratch the rest of the series could easily still be aired today as a supernatural investigation drama set in the late 70s. When Journalist Tom Crane (James Hazeldine) discovers he has psychic powers he is recruited by Department 7 and finds himself working alongside Doctor Anne Reynolds (Louise Jameson). The stories keep a very open approach to their subject matter, not everything is unexplained and not everything is as it seems, plus with a darker thriller aspect on top.

The Big Finish version, unlike Survivors which is set in and around the events of the original TV series, this picks up three decades later. Anne Reynolds once again played splendidly by Louise Jameson is contacted by the son of the recently departed Tom Crane. When Adam Crane (John Dorney) , contacts Anne he finds himself drawn into the problems of Department 7 and the reawakening of many dangers for the team. Again this series is not aimed at younger listeners and certainly appeals to the darker side of many of its listeners. John and Louise make an excellent team, long may this series run, and having heard both John and Louise’s scripts for other Big Finish ranges I would hope they would both be persuaded to contribute to future releases in this series.

The Changes.
And finally on to the last of the throwback DVDs I recently purchased. This is reported in the supporting booklet as being, “the oldest surviving BBC science fiction TV serial developed and scheduled exclusively for children.” Produced in 1975 it dramatised the three Peter Dickinson young adult novels, The Weathermonger (1969), Heartsease (1969) and The Devil’s Children (1970). Now that young me shown at the start of this post watched the series, or some of it, back in 1975 and was freaked out by it. I carried with me for some time a mental image of the electricity pylons and a strange sound that was associated with them. I have a feeling that maybe I did not watch the whole series. Watching this back now, obviously I’m not going to have the same reaction to it, although I was able to pick out the scenes from two of the episodes that fixed those memories for me.

However, unlike the two other shows I watched, this one released by the BFI rather than the BBC on DVD does not stand the test of time so well. Whether this is because it is a children’s production, or the story which felt patchy and inconsistent, or the fact that the release felt the need to apologise for not being 100% politically correct in every episode - I don’t know.  We know a lot of TV back then would fail that test; we have to accept that as historical fact, learn from it and move on rather than dwell on it. It is hard to put my finger on what exactly grated but something certainly did. The premise was another society in meltdown, but the cause, despite the final episode, for me is never satisfactory explained. After a freak weather pattern, you could not even call it a storm, society goes mad and smashes up all machinery and declares it as ‘wicked’. Nicky Gore is separated from her parents as they try to escape England for France, in a crowd of about ten people and sets out on her own journey to try and find them.  Very quickly she changes her mind and begins her own crusade to try and find out what caused this break up of society’s sanity in the first place.

Survivors, All 3 Series on DVD is released by BBC Worldwide Ltd.
The Omega Factor on DVD is released by Simply HomeEntertainment under licence from the BBC.
The Changes on DVD, is released by the BFI, made available to the BFI by the BBC.

The Omega Factor & Survivors Audio Books and Audio Drama series are produced and released by Big Finish Productions.

 Oh go on then, another photo of me from 1975.