Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Secret of the Silent Submarine

The following information was collected by Leon Karff, a German spy, and was luckily intercepted by Raymond and Jacox who were working together to isolate and disrupt the workings of the German spy agencies.

"Report by Leon Karff, late foreman-fitter at Kiel Dockyard, on Submarine 'F 2,' now building in Shed No. 4, Portsmouth Dockyard.

"This boat would appear to me to be of about 700 tons displacement when complete, possibly rather over. She is, as far as I am able to measure, about 180 feet long with an extreme beam a little forward of amidships of 20 feet. She is fitted with three propeller shafts with three small four-bladed propellers on each. As she is provided with what appear to me to be some kind of turbine engines, I imagine that the centre shaft is for going astern only. The propellers on this shaft seem to be attached in such a way that they could be 'feathered' by suitable gearing on board so as not to retard the vessel's way when going ahead. The engines of this boat are of a type which I have never before seen. I imagine that they are a combination of the new 'gas-producer' engine and the turbine system, the explosion of[55] the combined gas and air being split up and passing into the turbine through a number of different channels simultaneously. This would be a very economical system if the necessary power can be obtained, and would be much safer for use below than petrol engines.

"The boat is evidently intended to operate a good deal in an 'awash' position, for there is fairly thick armour-plating over the greater part of the upper side of the bow, while the fore end of the superstructure is made of two 6-inch Krupp steel plates meeting at an acute angle, and so forming a kind of stem when the boat is moving in this way. The space enclosed between these two plates is evidently intended to be used as the conning-tower. Here there are a periscope, steering-wheel, voice-tubes, and everything necessary for the control of the vessel. There are two horizontal propellers or fans, which seem to be driven by electricity derived from an installation of accumulators, and which are certainly intended to secure horizontal immersion, so the vessel will not plunge or dive, but immerse herself horizontally by means of these propellers, which, by the way, work in vertical shafts running completely through the boat, one forward and the other aft, as was the case in the Nordenfeldt, Waddington, and other early submarines.

"Forward there is an air-lock and diving-chamber, as in the 'Lake' boats, so that divers can get in and out of the vessel whilst under water. It would also afford a means of escape for the crew in the case of accident. This is further provided for by a detachable boat or caisson at the after end of the superstructure capable of holding ten men, I should say, or[56] possibly a dozen. There are also appliances which I suppose are telephone buoys for communicating with the surface. There are six torpedo tubes fitted, one forward, one aft, and the others two on either broadside. And there seems to be provision for six other torpedoes of the 18-inch type.

"There is a long rudder for ordinary steering, and four horizontal ones or planes which are placed abreast the horizontal screws and which, I imagine, act automatically in conjunction with them, as they seem to gear up with the shafts for these propellers. There is a big safety detachable weight which fits loosely into a recess amidships, and four broad wheels with ball bearings which do not fold up as in the 'Lake' boats, but always protrude nearly half their diameter. After all they would not obstruct her way when water-borne more than a keel—or very little more. They are quite independent and unconnected with the interior of the vessel, which while resting on them would receive forward impetus from her propellers. In the 'awash' position she would offer a very small and almost invulnerable target."

Chapter 2 The Secret of the Silent Submarine, Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Spells of Summoning

Over the centuries in Merry Olde England there have been thousands of spells of summoning created, but few perfected. Paris Ormskirk a schoolmaster from the village of Clerkenwell wrote several expositions on magic. He may not have brought anything new to the profession, but he was very diligent and compiled a list of thousands of spells of summoning. These spells were, to the best of Ormskirk’s ability, shifted through and attempted to cast these spells. Eventually, a spell of summoning created by Ormskirk, became very popular. It was this spell that Jonathan Strange perfected and used to bring Maria Absalom into his dream.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Peril of England-A War of Words

"Who Is Right?

Sir Edward Grey

In the House of Commons, March 29, 1909.

'We have been informed verbally, but quite definitely, that Germany will not accelerate her naval programme of construction, and will not have thirteen ships of the Dreadnought type, including cruisers, till the end of 1912.'

Prince Buelow

In the Reichstag, March 29, 1909.

'Great Britain has never made any proposals which the German Government regarded as a suitable basis for negotiations. Germany regards the question of limitation of armaments as outside the range of practical politics.'

What The Kaiser Says:

His Imperial Majesty the German Emperor declared:—

'The prevailing sentiment among large sections of the middle and lower class of my own people is not friendly to England.—Daily Telegraph, October 28, 1908.'"

Spies of the Kaiser-Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Cryptic Memorandum

Chapter II: The Secret of The Silent Submarine, Spies of the Kaiser, Plotting the Downfall of England, William Le Queux

The story portrays an alternative history of England. The year is 1909. Authors like Le Queux were writing these pieces of fiction to try to get the public and government officials to see menace of Kaisers Germany. This story’s message is similar to a few others that I have read. One in particular, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers is of, about the same time period.

Other Titles by William Le Queux

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sierra West 1/87 (HO) Detail Parts

Sierra West is a maker of fine craftsmen style structures for model railroaders in HO and O gauges. It seems that I should have purchased more than three of these highly detailed castings. At one time, Sierra West used to sell a whole line of these resin detail parts. Although they still cast their own castings, these casting are only offered in their craftsmen kits.

Workbench with Shelves

1 inch wide by 7/8 inch tall

Shelves full of Stuff

1 by 1 inch

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Book Two: Jonathan Strange (preamble)

“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned, he seemed to dislike the question. ‘I suppose a magician might’, he admitted, ‘but a gentleman never wood.’ ”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

I have read the first part of this nine hundred plus page novel and have just started the second part or book two and what a glorious read it has been…

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Pineapple Ale-House-February 1808

“The Pineapple had once been the refuge and hiding place of thief’s and murderers. The current owner thought that its notorious past was somehow advantageous to his business and decorated the walls of his establishment with pictures of those criminals that had been hung and of those who had yet to be. You entered the establishment from a street door and then down three greasy steps. These steps led to a gloomy parlor decorated as previously mentioned.

The Pineapple had its own character and aroma. Its character from the assorted throng that frequented the place. Many were without scruples and notorious characters. The aroma was a combination of the smell of stale tobacco and spilt ale, the natural fragrance of its unwashed cliental, and from the unholy stink of the Fleet River, which had been used as a sewer for countless years. The Fleet ran beneath the Pineapple’s foundations and the Pineapple was generally supposed to be sinking into it.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Saturday, September 9, 2017

More of the Raven Kings Three Kingdoms

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell heading toward the castle “Last Hope” in the land of Faerie, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

It has previously been reported of the Raven Kings three kingdoms. I intend to expand on that theme. The Raven King did undeniably rule over three kingdoms. “Firstly, the Raven King ruled over the Kingdom of Northern England, which included Cumberland, Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and part of Nottinghamshire. The other two kingdoms were often referred to as the kings ‘Other Lands’, which included part of Faerie and a country on the far side of Hell, sometimes referred to as the ‘Bitter Lands’.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Friday, September 8, 2017

My Lament for Barcelona Universal Models

How often have I visited the Barcelona Universal Models blog to view their new offerings? How long have I searched for these offerings via my regular and un-regular channels all without the satisfaction of my being able to purchase a single set?

Recently I did find a few of these BUM models being offered online and ordered a copy of BUM’s 1/72 New Zealand army figure set w/tank and gun. There are forty-four pieces including twenty-eight figures, two razor-wire sections, a tank and a field gun of some sort. The figures are relatively flash free and I look forward to assembling the tank and gun and put these soldiers to task.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Ravings of Vinculus

Vinculus is the magician of Threadneedle Street, a theatrical magician. He has broken into Mr. Norrel’s home and has found his way to Mr. Norrel’s library. He startles Mr. Norrel with the following fragmented quote from the book of the Raven King.

“I reached out my hand, thought and memory flew out of my enemies heads like a flock of starlings; my enemies crumpled like empty sacks.

I came to them out of the mist and rain. I came to them in dreams at midnight; I came to them in a flock of ravens that filled a northern sky at dawn. When they thought themselves safe I came to them in a cry that broke the silence of a winter wood.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Three Kingdoms

A Glimpse of Fairyland

Mr. Norrell, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

“The rain made a door for me and I went through it;
The stones made a throne for me and I sat upon it;
Three kingdoms 1 were given to me to be mine forever;
England was given to me to be mine forever.
The nameless slave wore a silver crown;
The nameless slave was a king in a strange country.”

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

1“The Raven King is said to have had three kingdoms; one in England, one in Fairyland, and one in a strange country in the far side of hell.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Mr. Norrell, BBC’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, TV series.

"He hardly ever spoke of magic, and when he did it was like a history lesson and no one could bear to listen to him."

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

It is not often that I get to read a novel and watch the video adaptation at the same time. The book by Susanna Clarke is thick volume that depicts an alternative history of the English Napoleonic wars. It is a story of two magicians, one Mr. Norrell who reveals his powers by making the stone statues of the York cathedral speak and by reviving a young woman promised to be married to Sir Polk, from the dead. I have only read up to the end of the first book of this volume, so I will not introduce the other magician Jonathan Strange now.

So far in my reading Mr. Norrell, although a bit out of the ordinary, seems like a decent fellow, but in my viewing of the BBC TV series, Mr. Norrell, in his want of total control of his medium in England, and to see his plans come to fruition, has taken on some unscrupulous methods.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Language of Birds

“There is nothing else in magic but the wild thought of the bird as it casts itself into the void. There is no creature upon the earth with such potential for magic. Even the least of them may fly straight out of this world and come by chance to the Other Lands. Where does the wind come from that blows upon your face, that fans the pages of your book? Where the harum-scarum magic of the small wild creatures meets the magic of Man, where the language of the wind and rain and he trees can be understood, there will we find the Raven King.” 1

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

1Thomas Lanchester, Treatise concerning the Language of Birds, Chapter 6.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

In the Hall of the Dead

In that great emptiness the voice of the man beside the altar sounded hollow and ghostly:

'... And so the word came southward. The night wind whispered it, the ravens croaked of it as they flew, and the grim bats told it to the owls and the serpents that lurk in hoary ruins. Werewolf and vampire knew, and the ebon-bodied demons that prowl by night. The sleeping Night of the World stirred and shook its heavy mane, and there began a throbbing of drums in deep darkness, and the echoes of far weird cries frightened men who walked by dusk. For the Heart of Ahriman had come again into the world to fulfill its cryptic destiny.’

'Ask me not how I, Thutothmes of Khemi and the Night, heard the word before Thoth-Amon who calls himself prince of all wizards. There are secrets not meet for such ears even as yours, and Thoth-Amon is not the only lord of the Black Ring.’

'I knew, and I went to meet the Heart which came southward. It was like a magnet which drew me, unerringly. From death to death it came, riding on a river of human blood. Blood feeds it, blood draws it. Its power is greatest when there is blood on the hands that grasp it, when it is wrested by slaughter from its holder. Wherever it gleams, blood is spilt and kingdoms totter, and the forces of nature are put in turmoil.’

'And here I stand, the master of the Heart, and have summoned you to come secretly, who are faithful to me, to share in the black kingdom that shall be. Tonight you shall witness the breaking of Thoth-Amon's chains which enslave us, and the birth of empire.’”

Chapter 19: In the Hall of the Dead, The Hour of the Dragon, Robert E. Howard.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Risk 2210 AD Battle Report

My brother and I played our first game of Risk 2210 AD the other day. Although it is basically played like the classic Risk board game, Risk 2210 AD adds some complexity to the game play. In addition, the game board has been updated and there two other types of territories that players can strive for. One such includes its own game board. Like the main game board, the moon board is broken into sectors and territories.

What makes this edition unique is its inclusion of commanders and command cards. These cards, especially, add the complexity I had mentioned to the game; more about these cards in a later post.

Since I was the one who introduced the game and was the one who made sure that the rules were being followed, I did not have my whole focus on the goal of winning and my brother beat my soundly.

My brother quickly got the upper hand by establishing a presence on the moon and in the sea colonies, while I was strapped by the play of my brothers command cards which limited my actions

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Curious Footnote

“Three Perfectible States of Being”, William Pantler, Henry Lintot, London, 1735.

The three perfectible beings are angels, men, and fairies.

Footnote #2, page 210, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Princess Akivasha

"'You have heard of Princess Akivasha?' inquired the girl on the couch.

'Her only sin was that she loved life and all the meanings of life,' said the Stygian girl. 'To win life she courted death. She could not bear to think of growing old and shriveled and worn, and dying at last as hags die. She wooed Darkness like a lover and his gift was life—life that, not being life as mortals know it, can never grow old and fade. She went into the shadows to cheat age and death—'

Conan glared at her with eyes that were suddenly burning slits. And he wheeled and tore the lid from the sarcophagus. It was empty. Behind him the girl was laughing and the sound froze the blood in his veins. He whirled back to her, the short hairs on his neck bristling.

'You are Akivasha!' he grated.

She laughed and shook back her burnished locks, spread her arms sensuously.

'I am Akivasha! I am the woman who never died, who never grew old! Who fools say was lifted from the earth by the gods, in the full bloom of her youth and beauty, to queen it forever in some celestial clime! Nay, it is in the shadows that mortals find immortality! Ten thousand years ago, I died to live forever! Give me your lips, strong man!'

Rising lithely, she came to him, rose on tiptoe and flung her arms about his massive neck. Scowling down into her upturned, beautiful countenance he was aware of a fearful fascination and an icy fear.

'Love me!' she whispered, her head thrown back, eyes closed and lips parted. 'Give me of your blood to renew my youth and perpetuate my everlasting life! I will make you, too, immortal! I will teach you the wisdom of all the ages, all the secrets that have lasted out the eons in the blackness beneath these dark temples. I will make you king of that shadowy horde which revels among the tombs of the ancients when night veils the desert and bats flit across the moon. I am weary of priests and magicians, and captive girls dragged screaming through the portals of death. I desire a man. Love me, barbarian!'

She pressed her dark head down against his mighty breast, and he felt a sharp pang at the base of his throat. With a curse, he tore her away and flung her sprawling across the couch.

'Damned vampire!' Blood was trickling from a tiny wound in his throat.

She reared up on the couch like a serpent poised to strike, all the golden fires of hell blazing in her wide eyes. Her lips drew back, revealing white pointed teeth."

Chapter 18: 'I Am the Woman Who Never Died', The Hour of the Dragon, Robert E. Howard

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Narrow Gauge Two Ton Flat Wagon

This 7mm scale 0-16.5 narrow gauge 2 Ton Flat Wagon is manufactured by Peco who produces “Great Little Trains”.  As you can see by its design the flat wagon is built off a British prototype.  In the US this wagon would be designated as On30 and run on HO gauge track. The wagon is made from white metal and wheel sets of a non-conductive material.

Some of the other items in this series are:

Model #



Tram Locomotive


Fletcher Jennings Saddle Tank Locomotive


0-4-0 Hunslet Quarry Locomotive


4-Ton Mineral Wagon


2-Ton Bolster Wagon


1-Ton Slate Wagon


4-Wheel Open Wagon


4-Wheel Box Van


Side Tip Wagon


4-Wheel Coach/Brake-Maroon Livery


4-Wheel Coach/Brake-Green Livery

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Ghoul Attacks Conan!

"Conan lay and stared, half expecting it to vanish like a figure of a dream, and then a chill of recollection crept along his spine. Half-forgotten memories surged back, of grisly tales whispered of the shapes that haunted these uninhabited forests at the foot of the hills that mark the Zingaran-Argossean border. Ghouls, men called them, eaters of human flesh, spawn of darkness, children of unholy mating's of a lost and forgotten race with the demons of the underworld. Somewhere in these primitive forests were the ruins of an ancient, accursed city, men whispered, and among its tombs slunk gray, anthropomorphic shadows—Conan shuddered strongly.

He lay staring at the malformed head that rose dimly above him, and cautiously he extended a hand toward the sword at his hip. With a horrible cry that the man involuntarily echoed, the monster was at his throat.

Conan threw up his right arm, and the dog-like jaws closed on it, driving the mail links into the hard flesh. The misshapen yet man-like hands clutched for his throat, but he evaded them with a heave and roll of his whole body, at the same time drawing his dagger with his left hand.

They tumbled over and over on the grass, smiting and tearing. The muscles coiling under that gray corpse-like skin were stringy and hard as steel wires, exceeding the strength of a man. But Conan's thews were iron too, and his mail saved him from the gnashing fangs and ripping claws long enough for him to drive home his dagger, again and again and again. The horrible vitality of the semi-human monstrosity seemed inexhaustible, and the king's skin crawled at the feel of that slick, clammy flesh. He put all his loathing and savage revulsion behind the plunging blade, and suddenly the monster heaved up convulsively beneath him as the point found its grisly heart, and then lay still.

Conan rose, shaken with nausea. He stood in the center of the glade uncertainly, sword in one hand and dagger in the other. He had not lost his instinctive sense of direction, as far as the points of the compass were concerned, but he did not know in which direction the road lay. He had no way of knowing in which direction the ghoul had dragged him. Conan glared at the silent, black, moon-dappled woods which ringed him, and felt cold moisture bead his flesh. He was without a horse and lost in these haunted woods, and that staring deformed thing at his feet was a mute evidence of the horrors that lurked in the forest. He stood almost holding his breath in his painful intensity, straining his ears for some crack of twig or rustle of grass.

When a sound did come he started violently. Suddenly out on the night air broke the scream of a terrified horse. His stallion! There were panthers in the wood—or—ghouls ate beasts as well as men."

Chapter 12: The Fang of the Dragon, The Hour of the Dragon, Robert E. Howard

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lord Portishead’s Books on Magic-October 1807

The following is a small list of books purported to have been written by Lord Portishead, a fictional character found in Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell novel.

“By the time Lord Portishead had given up magic in 1808 he had written the following books:

  • The Life of Jacques Belasis, Longman, London, 1801
  • The Life of Nicholas Goubert, Longman, London, 1805
  • A Child's History of the Raven King, Longman, London, 1807 (this volume was illustrated by Thomas Bewick)”

A Gentleman with the Thistle-Down Hair, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Narrow Gauge Plymouth Locomotive

The first time that I saw this little locomotive it still held a pretty good coat of yellow paint. As it sits here it languishes and the rust has just about mastered it. The loco is a narrow gauge Plymouth Locomotive and in its day it might have been used at some foundry or mine. This is one of the last locomotive pictures I took at the event. It is a shame that this little loco is being neglected.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reading Line Diesels

I overlooked this picture when uploading the others.

Reading Railroad Heritage Museum Railfest

This year’s Reading Railroad Heritage Museum Railfest was held on August 11 through the 13 and in addition to the normal historic exhibitions and displays included many off site events. I didn’t attend or participate in any of these events, but I did get plenty of nice photos of the scale layouts and out door equipment displays.

Indoor HO Scale Layout

There were two HO gauge layouts displayed at this year’s show. These images were taken of the “smaller” of the two.

Large Scale Layout (Is it S or O gauge?)

Large (110 foot) Modular HO Gauge Layout

N-Gauge Layout

There were all types of Reading Railroad equipment on the grounds.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mr. Norrell Speaks and Brings a Young Woman Back to Life

O Lar! Magnum opus est mihi tuo auxilip. Haec virgo mortua est et familia eius eamad vitam radire vult.”

“O Fairy. I have great need of your help. This virgin is dead and her family wish her to be returned to life.”

The great magician, Mr. Norrell had made the stones of York Cathedral to speak and now through the help of a fairly, he brings Miss Wintertowns back to life.

Chapter 8, A Gentlemen with the Thistle Down Hair, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On Order from HistroFigs

Qty. Part Number Description Proposed
1 SS-7 Double turret monitor, 2" long Dirorama and war-gaming
1 SS13 Frigate Dirorama and war-gaming
2 SS11 Brigs Dirorama and war-gaming
2 F-10a Goblin, in Morion, with spear/short pike -  20mm tall Diorama
1 TI-01 Zombies (bag of 20, mixed poses) To replace carboard tokens that accompanied a board game
1 TI-02 Heroes / Survivors (bag of 6, mixed poses) To replace carboard tokens that accompanied a board game
1 20-CL 20mm Carden-Loyd Tankette - sculpt by Joe Morschauser Might be used to face off the above zombies
1 SS-6  Monitor, 1 3/8" long  War-gaming
1 SS-1  Small ironclad, 1 1/4" long  War-gaming

Friday, August 11, 2017

When the Stones of the York Cathedral Spoke

February 1807

If only these stones could speak; what stories would they tell? Mr. Norrell had done just that, he had made the stones of the York Cathedral speak and stories they had to tell were horrifying.

“Long, long ago (said the voice), five hundred years ago or more on a winter’s day at twilight, a young man entered the church with a young girl with ivy leaves in her hair. There was no one else there but the stones. No one saw him strangle her but the stones. He let her fall dead upon the stones and not one saw but the stones. He was never punished for his sin because there was no witness but the stones. The years went by and whenever the man entered the church and stood among the congregation the stones cried out that this was the man who had murdered the girl, but no one heard us…”

Chapter 3, The Stones of York, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Thursday, August 10, 2017

MVP Minis Plastic Emoji Characters Version 1

I have new mini goal. Collect all six of these emoji miniatures. They stand approximately 2-in. tall. There are size figures in all and future the following characters: ice cream cone, poop, puppy, love smiley, surf smiley, and see-no-evil monkey. Each figure comes with a card that identifies the character and relates their likes and dislikes. They are molded from what I believe is PVC.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Blog Posts and News

I was browsing Ebay the other day and found a metal HO gauge shack with a stove. I purchased the piece and will make my first post on a new series “Found, 10 Structures for Under $10 a piece”. I was surprised to find many of these economical priced models available. I am under no illusion; many of these structures will need some serious, kit-bashing, distressing and detailing to bring them up to par. It ought to be a fun exercise. Although finding structures in other scales and sizes for this price may be a bit of a stretch I may include structures of other scales and sizes.

I am getting bored with my current postings and I thought about getting back to some micro-miniatures posts.

I don’t really want to accumulate any more toys, but I did see two new play-sets recently at a local Dollar Tree. One of the play sets has a decent looking tank and the other with a very nice horse and covered wagon.

In addition, I still need small collection metal zombies to replace the card board ones that came with a board game that I purchased some time ago. These are on order along with a few micro-sized ships for war-gaming.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Raven King (a popular ballad)

“Not long, not long my father said
Not long shall you be ours
The Raven King knows all too well
Which are the fairest flowers

The priest was all to worldly
Though he prayed and rang his bell
The Raven King three candles lit
The priest said it was well

Her arms were all too feeble
Though she claimed to love me so
The Raven King stretched out his hand
She sighed and let me go

The land is all to shallow
It is painted on the sky
And trembles like the wind-shook rain
When the Raven King goes by

For always and for always
I pray remember me
Upon the moors, beneath the stars
With the King’s wild company”

Chapter 3, The Stones of York, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Rainbow Dino’s

Out of three packages of dinosaurs that I have reviewed this collection is my least favorite. They are not the best sculpts, a lot of them will not stand on their own, and their uni-color do them no justice. The fact that there are twenty-five in the bag is one saving grace.

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Host of Characters - The Tiger of San Pedro!

"The Tiger of San Pedro! The whole history of the man came back to Sherlock Holmes in a flash. He had made his name as the most lewd and bloodthirsty tyrant that had ever governed any country with a pretense to civilization. Strong, fearless, and energetic, he had sufficient virtue to enable him to impose his odious vices upon a cowering people for ten or twelve years.

His name was a terror through-all Central America. At the end of that time there was a universal rising against him. But he was as cunning as he was cruel, and at the first whisper of coming trouble he had secretly conveyed his treasures aboard a ship which was manned by devoted adherents. It was an empty palace which was stormed by the insurgents next day.

The dictator, his two children, his secretary, and his wealth had all escaped them. From that moment he had vanished from the world, and his identity had been a frequent subject for comment in the European press."

His Last Bow, Arthur Conan Doyle

Thursday, August 3, 2017

HO Gauge Trackside Shanty with Stove

Stewart is a line of products formally of Virnex Industries a division of Guess Enterprises. Virnex Industries was incorporated September 30, 1982 and has since been dissolved. What happened to its line of products is unknown.

Besides this all metal model number 116 there were, besides other trackside details, a few other structures manufactured by Virnex Industries. I might post the other parts that I am aware of at a later date.

Part Num



Diesel Oil Storage Tank
and Pump House


Watchman’s Shanty


Crew Shelter


Two Story Yard Tower


Oil Pumping Station & Shelter

This the first installment in a new series that I am calling ten structures for under ten dollars apiece. I thought I might make the rounds of different materials, sizes, and scales. This one cost me $5.99 and as you can plainly see it is made of white metal.

It looks like it will be fun to build, in that the door is engineered to open and close and I will need to drill a small hole for the stove pipe.

“#116 HO Trackside Shanty Assembly Instructions
Smooth and finish all casting to your satisfaction.

Drill a 3/32 hole, 1/8 deep in top of stove. Cement in place with stove door facing shanty door.

Stand wall and door on the floor, put roof in place and check door to see that it swings freely, filing if necessary. Insert smoke pipe thru roof into hole on top of stove, cementing in place.

Paint to suit color scene of your layout. Colors commonly used are brown, gray or white with black or brown roof, black stove.”

Stewart Products
P.O. Box 613
Lake Delton, WI 53940

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Dino World

This rack packaged collection includes nine different hand-painted, plastic, dinosaurs with a surprising amount of molded detail. Some of the included species are rarely seen in this type of packaging.

The largest in the package stands about 1-1/2 inches tall.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Professor Moriarty-A Host of Characters

“A touch! A distinct touch!” cried Holmes. “You are developing a certain unexpected vein of pawky humor, Watson, against which I must learn to guard myself. But in calling Moriarty a criminal you are uttering libel in the eyes of the law—and there lie the glory and the wonder of it! The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations—that’s the man! But so aloof is he from general suspicion, so immune from criticism, so admirable in his management and self-effacement, that for those very words that you have uttered he could hale you to a court and emerge with your year’s pension as a solarium for his wounded character. Is he not the celebrated author of The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a book which ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that it is said that there was no man in the scientific press capable of criticizing it? Is this a man to traduce? Foul-mouthed doctor and slandered professor—such would be your respective roles! That’s genius, Watson. But if I am spared by lesser men, our day will surely come.”

The Valley of Fear, Arthur Conan Doyle

Miniature Stegosaurus

Fossil Excavation Kit

The miniature Stegosaurus, made from a dense plastic, stands approximately one inch tall. It came encased in a plaster egg. The package included two excavation tools that were supposed to allow you to dig through the plaster. I resorted to using a knife. I found the three Stegosaurus bones and once I cleaned the three components, I could snap the Stegosaurus together. The package also came with a black display stand in which the specimen snaps into. I found that a drop or two of super glue kept the miniature in place on its platform.

Mini Stegosaurus Ready for Display

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Martin Pale/Cold Henry

The following excerpt was taken from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke. This is a paperback edition with close to thousand pages. This book looks like it might provide many extracts of text and hours of enjoyable reading.

Autumn 1806-January 1807

“Mr. Segundus took down ‘The Instructions’ of Jacques Belasis and read the following passage. The passage he read had to do with one of England’s greatest magicians, Martin Pale. The reading…’In Gregory Absalon’s ‘The Tree of Learning’, there is a famous passage which relates how, while journeying through Taerie, the last if the great Aureate magicians, Martin Pale paid a visit to a fairy-prince. Like most of his race the fairy had a great multitude of names, honorifics, titles, and pseudonyms, but usually he was known as Cold Henry. Cold Henry made a long and deferential speech to his guest. The speech was full of metaphors and obscure allusions, but what Cold Henry seemed to be saying was that fairies were naturally wicked creatures who did not always know when they were doing wrong. To this Martin Pale, briefly and somewhat enigmatically, replied that ‘not all Englishmen have the same size feet’. “

Chapter 1: The library at Hurtfew, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Hoonhors and Gviirl’s

The Hoonhors and the Gviirl were two other races that Simon Wagstaff encountered while on his 3000-year space odyssey.

“The Hoonhors were about eight feet tall, green-skinned, and shaped like saguaro cactus's. They had boney spines all over their body, long and sharp like cactus needles.”

“The Gviirl were as big as an African elephant. The had four legs as thick as an elephants to support their enormous weight. The arms, ending in six-fingered hands, must have been legs in an earlier stage of evolution. The Gviirl looked like giant cockroaches., but of a highly intelligent race.”

Venus on the Half-Shell, Philip Jose Farmer

Monday, July 24, 2017

Plants Verses Zombies Toy Miniatures


I am not sure who originally marketed these miniatures, but I have a hunch that these five zombie and plant miniatures are not some of those. These are cheap Chinese copies. They are molded from what looks like PVC plastic. These figures stand approximately three inches tall and come with a verity of weaponry.

Four Very Intimating Zombies

There is a saw, hatched, sword and shield, and a pirate flag that fit into the zombie’s hands. In addition, there is one plant-pea-shooter and a bag of peas. There are yet two other accessories that I am having a hard time making heads or tails of. There is that yellow item (see package shot) and what looks like a door of some sort.