Wednesday, December 25, 2013

So Here It Is... etc

Good morning and good tidings, readers!

Time for another annual yuletide-themed video. A bit obvious, this one, but it has been getting quite a thrashing at the Monkeyhouse after Jet Jr discovered it (mix-disc courtesy of Al over at Phasmatodea), not to mention work dos,  and I tried, but it seems you can't get Top of the Pops Slade without an especially intrusive gremlin DJ at the end. Never mind, hang your stockings on the wall, everybody, and be sure to listen out for the turnip on his sleigh...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

In the Beaut Midsummer

[NB: This post was being written on Christmas Eve proper, before a two-hour power cut cancelled proceedings and sent the Simian family instead to a candle-lit evening in front of an open fire. There's an irony in here, somewhere]

Santa's pants - or maybe just two red towels? Wellington, December 23rd 2013
It's Christmas Eve here in Wellington - happy festive season, wherever you are.

Sort of early apologies to my northern hemisphere readers who may be at this moment either waking up to the Eve, or even attempting to make their way to work (shudder)before a brief midwinter holiday, and then another one for New year's. Weird - how do you people do it?

Down here of course it's the middle of summer - although with today's weather you'd be surprised to hear that. Christmas in the middle of summer brings its own dilemmas for this simple Simian. Somewhere between curmudgeonly tut-tutting at the proliferation of cheap imported winter-themed tat, fake snow shopping displays and culinary stodge, and half-embarrassingly giving in to the whole upside-down tradition. The sad fact is, Christian observations aside, we're caught once again (as with Halloween) in the wrong hemisphere to be celebrating a mid-seasonal feast (hence the stodge) to keep the past literal wolf from the door. Down here, laden down with the obligatory ham, turkey, force meat and fruity pudding we'd be wolf-dinner rather too easily in the heat.

Really, it's a ridiculous premise, the tradition of fortifying oneself against the hardship of a long winter in the middle of summer with orchards and fields groaning with produce. Mind you, with cherries currently at over $11 a kilo... but I digress. Next Christmas, after grumbling about this to anyone who can't get out of earshot, I'm actually going to do something about it at the Simian abode. The Christmas pine can be replaced by a Pohutukawa, the holly and berries can feel the steel cap of my monkey boot and be exchanged for brilliant red and orange karaka berries (that puts paid to the 'pukeko up a ponga tree' nonsense as well - with karaka come the kereru or wood pigeon - even mid-winter a much more appetising bird), and latter-day cuckoo of Santa's retinue Rudolph the Red-nosed earworm Reindeer can give up his 'Sant-Nav' duties for local upstart Stickybeak the Kiwi. There - job done, and we can give a boost to our own endangered species of mistletoe too, while we're at it.

So, you see, this isn't just jingoism - it's a plea for regional diversity and putting a bit of local context into a seasonal observation that's laughably beyond irony wearing its wool-lined Santa hat in the sweltering afternoon sun. It's right and good that there are versions already about - Christmas cards can be found locally and easily with sun-kissed beaches, board-shorted Santas and pohutukawa in flower jostling alongside snowmen and red-breasted robins, and local versions aren't hard to find, really - as strings of brilliant colourful jandal tree-lights indicate. Enough of this seasonal denial, I say - let's band with our Trans-Tasman cousins and claim a proper summer Christmas with no denial!

[NB: This blog does agree with local mid-winter Christmas parties too, because they are aces]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lead Time Lords: The First Doctor (1)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Guv’nor, the First Doctor as played by William Hartnell.

I don’t think Harlequin did a bad job on this one. It is a tad generic, but compare it with the previous version created in the Eighties by Citadel Miniatures:

Already the two, while posed similarly, are quite different creations. What I like most about Harlequin’s offering is the face – there are hints of Hartnell’s mischievous grandfather Time Lord in the sculpt, whereas Citadel’s caricature is the sort of thing you might expect a newcomer to the series might present as a summation of the first Sixties Doctor – old and stooped, cantankerous and difficult to love. There’s a whole story of the actor and his complicated part in the role he’d come to define and inhabit still being told in fandom and to the series’ viewers. Mark Gatiss’ wonderful An Adventure in Space and Time does much to redress the balance, but we could also do with examples shown by Harlequin here, not so much recasting but reaffirming the youngest of the Doctor’s incarnations as an occasionally impish, curious citizen of the Universe.

The detail is also kind on this figure, although the fingers are perhaps a little roughly defined, and the face of my model had frightfully sunken cheeks and a moulding line across its mouth – not an easy flaw to remedy. That said, it’s a relatively easy one to paint if you don’t include the trousers (three passes, including one with a fine non-permanent pen) and the face, which I paled up a little to indicate the relative age of the Doctor and also reduce any contrast with his white hair. It’s something I could have done less with previously on the Third Doctor figure, actually, but will probably concentrate more next time I’m up to painting that particular incarnation. There’s going to be another First Doctor figure to come as well, although that’s some time off yet as well.

Additions include a golden(ish) sandy base (the First Doctor explored the Gobi desert, Saladin’s Persia, Ancient Egypt and the desert planet Aridius on television); my reference for this is a still from the (at time of writing!) missing serial popularly called Marco Polo. I’ve seen a few Hartnell Doctor figures painted with grey trousers, but I’ve gone for the more ivory colour shown in that story as well as others around it (Reign of Terror being another). Green stuff was used to fill in one of the cheeks (it really was quite a deep depression) and fashion the First Doctor’s rather practical blue-stoned ring, shown off by Harlequin’s regular ‘hands clasped across the chest’ Doctor pose.

And that’s the First Doctor done!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lead Time Lords: The Third Doctor (1)

Here’s my next Doctor paint-job from my lead Time Lords project: Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor. It’s another Harlequin model, and one of two that the sculptors did (I’ll cover the other one later).

 As it is it’s okay – the likeness is pretty good from a couple of angles (although I’ve observed in the past that he does also bear an uncanny resemblance to local politician Winston Peters), but it’s a pretty static pose, reach as it does for something a bit more dynamic The Doctor thrusts an accusatory finger at an unseen person – yeah, that’s sort of Pertwee-esque, I guess.

The costume he wears is without doubt his Season Eight/Terror of the Autons model, with purple-lined stain cape and red velvet jacket with some nice black frogging on the front.If that last sentence suggests to you that I’ve been frequenting cosplay blogs in search of colour clues for painting, then I admit it – I have. Pertwee’s Doctor is quite the clothes horse, with seemingly very few episodes where he shares exactly the same outfit (I could check, but probably won’t, that he even finds time to change between Frontier in Space and Planet of the Daleks, technically two interlinked stories.) Sadly, this mainly-black ensemble is the one we have, and after starting earlier with the First and Second Doctors, I’d got thoroughly sick of black by this time, and so I’ve added some other colours to my blacks, in an effort to try to introduce some sympathetic blending.

Thus, there’s some purple in the Doctor’s trousers here. I’m not sure if it entirely works, of r shows for that matter, but it makes me feel a little happier. I could, of course, paint black gloves on this Doctor as well, but, really, life’s too short. The only positive thing I could get from that is being able to overlook the distinctive Greek coin ring that Pertwee wore on one hand (fashioned from a relic he found while diving in the Mediterranean, you know) Otherwise it’s black shoes, black trousers, black cape and black frogging. With a dreary match-up like that there was only one thing for it base-wise, and that’s a vivid mustard-coloured rocky surface, recalling the famous tenth anniversary Radio Times cover. And we’re done!