Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Lost World Neanderthals

These Lucid Eye Neanderthals, which I have just completed, will be one of the many tribes living on the South American plateau explored by the Challenger expedition.  I envisage my plateau as being quite large (something like the size of the Isle of Wight) so I will locate the different tribes on different parts of the plateau, perhaps using Vectis as a guide.  These Neanderthals, being cave dwellers will be located on the Southern, rockier, side of the plateau.

I have all the Atlanteans, Jaguar people and Amazons at various stages of preparation so will maybe do some of them as the next tribe.  I have the Cro Magnon leader but not the other Cro Magnons yet. I may paint him next as he will need a similar palette to the Neanderthals and I have already got those paints out.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Scales of Anubis: Death in the Desert

“I’m sorry about your brother,” called out Granger Stewart from the bathroom of his suite at the Semiramis Hotel in Cairo. “I really am. He was a top fellow. Known him since fifteen. Got me out of many scrapes. Saved me life on more than one occasion! A damn shame, if you’ll excuse my language!”

“Do not worry about that, Granger. You must be distraught. I know you two were close,” replied Caroline Cooper. She stood on the balcony looking down at the funnel of a Thomas Cook steamer moored up below the hotel.  In the distance the Pyramids were visible beyond the tip of  Gezira Island; dark against the red and amber sunset.  She sighed.   The warm evening breeze caught the hem of her silk peignoire, revealing a pale, well-turned calf.  Her hair blew across her eyes briefly.  It was the same burnished copper colour as her brother's, hence his nickname.  She stepped back into the room and crossed the floor to the bathroom, kicking off her local, embroidered slippers as she did so. 

 “Closer, I am afraid to say, than I was with him. A fifteen year age gap, of course. He was always overseas, too. Still, Daddy will be heartbroken!” She smiled to herself. With her odious brother gone she should now inherit everything. When her brother had been born her family were not well off but after her mother died giving birth to Caroline her father had married an older, rich Canadian widow and they suddenly had money.  Her brother had joined the army almost immediately after his father's remarriage.  He did not like their stepmother.  Her stepmother had died ten years ago. All Caroline had to do was make sure her father didn’t leave everything to that appalling Italian soprano he had embarrassingly installed in his town house in Knightsbridge. She was the same age as her for heaven's sake! 

Stewart stretched his legs in the bath and winced. His whole body hurt where he had taken the impact of some falling stones on the recent mission. His legs hurt the most, however. If he had just been able to cross the ground more quickly he wondered if he might have got to that tomb first then ‘Copper’ Cooper, his former batman from the King’s African Rifles, would still be alive. But then, he reasoned, he might be dead in his place. At fifty he was getting too old for this sort of escapade. Next time it could be him struck down by some other-worldly horror. Caroline dropped her peignoire to the floor and stepped into the bathtub with him. Reluctantly, Granger pulled his feet up so that she could sit down at the other end of the bath.  “So what happened? How did it all go so wrong?” she asked him. 

Those were exactly the questions the Brigadier in charge of the Cairo Brigade had asked him earlier that day. He had been sat in the brigadier’s office in the Kasr-el-Nil barracks, just across the road from the Semiramis hotel, where he and Caroline were now. He recalled his conversation with the brigadier. “Well we had had a tip off from one of our local agents and so Copper and I had assembled the troops you had attached to us, in the desert. We took Professor Marx, one of our P.I.T.H. boffins. He is on loan from the Palestine Exploration Fund so knows his way about the desert,” said Stewart, gently agitating his whisky so that the ice swirled around the glass. 

“Never trusted anyone called Marx. Always associate the name with Bolsheviks, intellectuals and other undesirables!” said the Brigadier. “All this 'all men are equal' nonsense. It is patently absurd! Some people are just born stupid! Like my cousin James, for example. Went to Cambridge, which tells you everything about their standards! Thick as a plank! I’ve observed more intelligent monkeys at London Zoo!” 

“Well, this Marx is alright. We’re pleased to have him. Anyway we made our way to a small temple entrance and as we went inside we must have dislodged something as the head of one of the statues fell off and clipped me as I went in. Trap or accident I cannot tell. Fortunately, I recovered quickly and Professor Marx said the inscription we discovered inside was part of a direction to the location of the fulcrum of the Scales of Anubis we were after. It was after this that I sent poor old Copper off towards an archaeologists’ dig we could see through the ruins. The Prof and a couple of the soldiers went with him.  I shouldn't have split the team but we were in a race!" 

"Can't fault your tactics!  You did the right thing!" said the Brigadier.

"Meanwhile, I proceeded to another temple entrance that the prof had indicated. It was here that we came under fire from a bunch of ratty looking Bedouins. My chaps returned fire and we got into a right old scrap. The Arabs offered a truce and skulked off, enabling us to find another clue as to the whereabouts of the fulcrum. Anyway,” continued Stewart, “that’s when it all started going wrong. Firstly, as I later found out, Copper and Marx entered the archaeologists camp only to discover a putrid rotting sort of smell!” 

“Dead bodies? Had they been massacred?” asked the brigadier reaching for the whisky decanter again. 

“Lunch. They were cooking,” replied Stewart. “They were French!” 

“Good Lord! You don’t mean…?” The brigadier paused, appalled at the prospect. 

“Yes. Garlic! And lots of it!” said Stewart as the Brigadier wrinkled his nose in horror. 

 “Added to that, one of the archaeologists was an attractive woman and you know what old Copper was like with the ladies. Quite taken with her he was, according to the Prof, who was busily decoding the instructions he had obtained from the Frogs. The Prof said she reeked of cologne with that undercurrent of slightly stale scent of rancid, unwashed body that French women often have!” 

“Yes, indeed!” said the Brigadier remembering his escapades in Paris after the War. He smiled and then frowned. 

“Well, all in all that party were delayed by the Frogs for some time. In the meantime we were making our way through the ruins when the pesky Bedouins opened fire on us again!” said Stewart. 

“I thought you had a truce with them?” asked the brigadier.

 “So did I! Anyway, they held us up for some time. Meanwhile the Prof reckoned he now had enough information to locate the fulcrum, which was under a statue on the plain below.  So he and Copper headed towards the cliffs which enabled them to descend from the plateau. Unfortunately, at this point, a couple more Arabs appeared from below the cliffs and attacked our chaps. For some reason they thought Copper was a girl.” 

“What? With a moustache like that?” said the Brigadier, although an image of his great aunt Philomena, looming over him as a young boy at Christmas, came into his mind and he shuddered. 

"Anyway, Copper and Marx got past them and down the cliff but two of our troops were downed!” continued Stewart. 

“Those dastardly Arabs!” said the Brigadier. “Still miffed about Sykes-Picot I suppose!” 

“What we hadn’t appreciated up on the plateau was that a right old scrap had been going on down below between the Americans, the Huns and the Brotherhood, so our chaps scrambled down the cliffs into a hornet’s nest. As the Huns advanced on the Bedouin camp our local agent made a run for it towards Copper and the Prof but was brought down. His job was to try and collect the inscription the tribesmen were holding but I suspect he got wound up chatting with his cousins. When the bullets started flying he just kept his head down and did nothing! Still, Copper made it inside the tomb and was about to collect the fulcrum when something attacked him!” 

“Something?” asked the Brigadier. 

“Well, the Prof was standing in the doorway to the tomb and swore that something emerged from the sarcophagus and attacked poor old Copper. Something wearing wrappings!” 

“Good Lord, a mummy! Far too many of these dashed things have been popping up lately! We had reports of one elsewhere in the desert a few months ago!” said the Brigadier. 

“Then one of the Huns piled in too and poor old Copper went down. Marx was lucky to escape when he did, as by then the tomb was also infested with Arabs. 

Anyway, the. Germans made off with the artefact, leaving us with three casualties including poor old Copper!” 

“So what now? Your chaps at P.I.T.H aren’t going to be too happy!” 

“Yes. I hope they let me go after the Germans! Next time I’m going to suggest that I take Copper’s sister Caroline.” 

Well, I thought you already had, thought the Brigadier. According to the gossip in the bar at the Shepheard’s anyway. “She’s just a gel!” he said, recalling the tall redhead he had met at a dance in the Continental-Savoy a few weeks before.  Not his type at all.  Far too assertive for a woman.  And too tall.

“Yes, but she is a crack shot, fit as a fig and game as anything. Also, she will want to avenge her brother!” said Stewart, recalling watching her race up the Great Pyramid the previous week. She can certainly shoot better than the useless soldiers the brigadier had provided, he thought. He knew he should have held out for some Sikhs. 

“Well, we’ll support you, of course but the Nazis may have spirited the thing away! To Berlin!” said the Brigadier. "They seem damned good at spiriting artefacts out of Egypt!"

“Probably on its way to the Neues Museum as we speak!” agreed Stewart. 

He had left the barracks to meet up with Caroline and give her the bad news about her brother. He was surprised by her indifference as Copper always seemed to be very proud of his younger sister. There had been, however, some sort of incident between them at some point in the past, he gathered. “So, that’s the story!” he said. “I’m afraid we couldn’t recover his body. Hopefully the Germans will have seen him right.” 

“I would not bet on that!” said Caroline. She had had a poor opinion of Germans following a visit to Kiel two years ago to watch the Olympic sailing competition. They tried too hard to win, she decided. 

“So, are you going after the Germans? I’d like to help!” she said.

“As a member of the Palestine Exploration Fund yourself I can, of course recommend you to my masters in P.I.T.H.” he said. 

“Can or will?” she asked stroking his haunches with her toes. 

“Your abilities are not in question. Feminine wiles are unnecessary!” he smiled. 

“I thought you enjoyed my feminine wiles,” she said. 

“Well, it is not certain that P.I.T.H will use me on their next mission. The next part of the Scales of Anubis could be located anywhere on earth!” He had seen a report about South America. 

She frowned.  Was he putting her off?  Putting her off because she was a woman? She would not take that!  “Perhaps I need to go to London!” she said. She could take the Imperial Airways flying boat from Alexandria and be in London in two days. She could see her father and try to distract him from his Italian piece. 

 “Well I’ll miss you if you go!” said Stewart, relieved. 

“How sweet. Now why don’t you wash my front?” she said picking up the soap and handing it to him. 

“Don’t you mean your back?” he asked. 

“Well, that would be a lot less fun!” she declared.  

Monday, 2 March 2015

Rania Al-Ghais: Dancer, courtesan, assassin, mystic and spy.

Born in the first year of the twentieth century Rania Al-Ghais was brought up by her mother and sister in Cairo for the first eleven years of her life.  She would see her father, the famous painter Sir Lawrence Swann, only during his annual visits to Egypt from September to December, when he would sketch, paint and collect interesting oriental items for his studio in Chelsea.  Nevertheless, when he was in Egypt he would spend a great deal of time with the girl, teaching her English, German, Dutch, the piano and how to draw.

Rejecting the French and Italianate villas of the Garden City, Sir Lawrence had a traditional Egyptian house in the centre of Cairo and Rania delighted in frequenting the souks and coffee houses as much as the grand hotels.  She was equally at home in both environments without really belonging to either.  She loved watching the traditional Ghawazi dancers who would perform in the streets and at festivals and holidays.   Her mother taught her the dances, which she had embellished with some sensuous moves of her own, devised for the entertainment of Sir Lawrence.

As she grew up she watched her mother and aunt perform for her father in daring belly-baring costumes and, sometimes, much, much less.

At the age of eleven she made the long journey to England to study at Roedean School, on top of windswept cliffs near Brighton.  She soon became a proper young English lady and lost the Dutch accent she had acquired from her father.  She missed the heat and noise of Cairo and for the first term cried herself to sleep every night in her damp, miserable dormitory.  She never felt she entirely belonged in England and many of the other girls taunted her because of her mixed blood.  She learned to fit in with the English while secretly despising them.

At Christmas, following her first term at school, her father returned from Egypt with her mother and she went to stay in Sir Lawrence's London house and studio in Chelsea and at his country house in the Meon Valley.  She enjoyed the traditional English festivities down at Sir Lawrence's Hampshire home and her mother took her shopping in London's department stores: Selfridge's, Marshall and Snelgrove, Dickens and Jones and her favourite, Harrod's which was considerably more splendid than even the Orosadi Back store in Cairo.

She took up ballet but continued her oriental dancing as well.  In 1913 she posed naked for her father's painting The Young Dancer which depicted her dancing before pharaoh in an Ancient Egyptian court setting. It was reminiscent of a painting he had done of her mother before she was born.  Rania was proud of how her father had captured her sinuous looks but Sir Lawrence's paintings were now out of fashion and critics took issue with his depiction of her naked, pubescent form.  Stung by the painting's reception Sir Lawrenee never exhibited again.  Swann took Rania to the Twentieth Century Art show at the Whitechapel gallery in 1914 and was appalled by the "primitive daubs" on display.  

The Great War depressed him enormously, particularly as his mother had been German.  He would stride around his studio ranting that Britain was fighting the wrong country and that they should join forces to conquer the real enemy: France.  He confined his work to drawings and watercolours of Rania's mother, Zairah, and her aunt, Deena.  These pictures only saw the light of day after Ranias's death in 1985, when the archive she had kept of her father's work was catalogued.  The drawings and paintings shocked many who saw them, especially given the fact that they depicted two sisters, but they were eventually published in a book entitled Sir Lawrence Swann: Forbidden love. Studies of the Al-Ghais sisters 1914-1919.

After her father's death in 1919 Rania studied at Ruprecht-Karls-Universit├Ąt Heidelberg,  where she met the young men who saw the advantages of a fluent Arabic and English speaker in the post war turmoil of the Middle East.  Eventually, she came under the influence of the Tarnhelm family who were conducting mysterious excavations in Egypt, far from the usual archaeological sites.

Coached by family matriarch Eva von Tarnhelm, who seemed particularly delighted in Rania's ripe but unfashionable figure, young Rania became adept in many skills useful to an undercover operative in Egypt and the Levant.  She, like other groups in Egypt, will soon be embarking on the quest for the treasure house of Queen Weret-Imtes.  

Brother Vinni resin figure.  He's probably the best sculptor of women in this scale at present.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Lost World: Marguerite White and other Lost World heroines

"The plateau!  The plateau!" cried Marguerite White.  She drew her revolver to fire a celebratory shot into the air, turning back to look at the straggling crocodile of men laboring up the dusty path behind her. The lost plateau loomed over them at last.  They had spent weeks getting to this point and she had spent a considerable amount of money.  She would have expected rather more enthusiasm from her male companions at the first sight of their goal.  They trudged upwards, looking at their feet, as they approached her at the top of the ridge.  She could understand the professors not being in the best of shape but Malone was a disappointment.  And as for Lord Roxton!  "Do come along Roxton!  Stiffen up the sinews!  Summon up the blood!  If gossip is believed that seems to be your greatest talent, anyway!" she said.

Roxton muttered under his breath.  There she was, striking a pose as usual, flaunting her stomach like a Circassian dancing girl.  Most unladylike. He felt like putting her over his knee and spanking her.  Except, of course, she was his paymaster.  Or paymistress.  The latter epithet sounded a lot more entertaining, he thought, dropping his pack at the top of the ridge.

"You are a very fit young woman, Marguerite!" said Roxton, gazing at her abdomen.

"You are not the first man to say that!" she smiled.

"Will there really be prehistoric creatures on the plateau?" mused Malone.

"Of course!" cried Challenger.

"Of course not!" said Summerlee.

"More importantly will we find my dear cousin, Veronica?" asked Marguerite.  She gazed at the huge ascent ahead.  How could her cousin possibly have survived for two years up there?

Marguerite White, daughter of Maple White, is my non-literary nod to the various women who have appeared in various screen adaptions of The Lost World.  In Arthur Conan Doyle's original novel the only major female character was the perfidious Gladys Hungerton, who remained at home in England.  However, in every subsequent film or TV adaption an adventurous woman has been included alongside Malone, Challenger, Summerlee, Roxton and (sometimes) Zambo.  The idea being, no doubt, to add glamour (initially) or provide a free spirited female role model (latterly).  I have already painted my main characters but was struggling to find a suitable female to give my team more of a Hollywood, rather than literary feel. However thanks to Mr Gordon Richards, who pointed out that Steve Saleh's Lucid Eye miniatures are now being sold by Arcane Scenery and Models I now have my female explorer.  Properly equipped with various packs she daringly wears trousers but does not have the jodhpurs so many Pulp heroines are sculpted with, as they would not be worn by women until after Coco Chanel adopted them in 1920.  My adventuress is the daughter of Maple White, so she is likely to have picked up some of the appropriate survival skills and not just be a screaming liability.   Here we have a look at her equivalents from film and TV.


Just thirteen years after Conan Doyle's book was published, Hollywood made The Lost World (1925) which was a silent film, of course.  It did, however, feature stop motion dinosaurs by Willis O'Brien, eight years before his creatures in King Kong (1933), although the river scenes were shot in Los Angeles' open sewers. 

Bessie Love in The Lost World (1925)

In this version of the story our leading lady is Paula White who is none other than the daughter of the explorer Maple White, who originally discovered the dinosaur infested plateau.  Incidentally,  I always thought that Maple was an extraordinary choice for a character's first name.  Very curious indeed. Anyway, after their adventure, White's daughter ends up with Malone after he discovers that Gladys has got married in his absence. A common occurrence for the female characters in the screen adaptions.  Paula was played by actress Bessie Love (1898-1986) the daughter of a Texan cowboy who had been discovered by DW Griffith.  Due to her part in The King on Main Street (1925) she became the first woman to be filmed dancing the Charleston.  She set the standard for the masculine-clothed, jodhpurs-wearing, armed adventuress in subsequent films.

I could not call my heroine Paula, however, as I knew someone called Paula White and it would provoke all the wrong thoughts, so I chose Marguerite as her first name because the Steve Saleh figure has something about the character played by Rachel Blakely in the Canadian TV series (see below).


There were a couple of radio adaptions in the forties but the next film wasn't until 1960. When Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the TV series of which would star David Hedison who appears as Malone) creator Irwin Allen produced the next adaption.  Allen actually employed the 1925 production's Willis O'Brien to produce concept sketches of the dinosaurs but was unable to afford stop motion creatures in the end.  Instead, his team stuck fins on real reptiles and produced footage that appeared in many subsequent productions, including Hammer's cavegirl classic, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).  The film is set in Venezuela (rather than the book's Bolivia) but is set in the present day (as was the 1925 version) so the explorers arrive on the plateau by helicopter.

Jill St John

The gratuitous female explorer in this was Jennifer Holmes, who was the daughter of the newspaper owner financing the expedition.  Holmes was played by Jill St John (as annoying but picturesque as ever) dressed, for, much of the film, in very unexplorer like pink slacks.


It would be over thirty years until the next version and 1992's Canadian production of The Lost World, starring John Rhys-Davies as Challenger.  This was actually set in 1912 and was closer in plot to the novel.  Relocating the action from South America to Africa it was, at least, shot on location in Zimbabwe.  The film actually had a sequel made at the same time with the same cast, where devious Belgian and Portuguese oil drillers get their comeuppance for trying to ruin the plateau.

Tamara Gorski

Our female adventurer is this is Jenny Nielson a wildlife photographer (in 1912?) whose parents are rich arts benefactors so she funds the expedition herself.  Played by Canadian actress Tamara Gorski, she is an early animal rights activist.  Perhaps this is why she is dressed in white, like an escapee from a Ralph Lauren advert.


There was only a six year wait for the next version and it's another Canadian production. This one takes place in 1939 and is set in Mongolia (filmed in Quebec) with the tropical, Shangri-La like plateau being shot in British Colombia.

Jane Heitmeyer

We have another version of Maple White's daughter, this time named Amanda, who insists on travelling with the men.  She is played by another Canadian actress, Jane Heitmeyer who is best known for her appearance in three seasons of Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict.


Just a year later we were given The Lost World's first TV version which was actually entitled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and ran for three series and 66 episodes.  This was also set at the time of the novel and, at least initially, vaguely followed the original story before turning into "lost tribe of the week".  This was a Canadian (they love The Lost World in Canada)/Australian production filmed in the Gold Coast, Australia, close to where I'm a Celebrity get me Out of Here is shot.   Michael Sinelnikoff, who played Summerlee in the 1998 film, returns as Summerlee in this but the rest of the cast is different.

Rachel Blakely

Again our lady explorer, Marguerite Krux, is also the expedition's financier, in the really rather splendid form of Australian actress Rachel Blakely.


The next, and so far final, TV production was the BBC version from 2001, starring Bob Hoskins and filmed in New Zealand.  Also a period piece, it was produced by the team behind Walking with Dinosaurs, so the prehistoric creatures are excellent.

Elaine Cassidy

The obligatory woman in this is Agnes Kerr, the daughter of a priest.  Irish actress Elaine Cassidy portrays Agnes as another modern young lady.


The final version, to date, of the story, The King of the Lost World (2005) is set in the present day and bears very little resemblance to the original story and is more akin to King Kong, of which it was a (very) cheap rip-off, being released just before Peter Jackson's epic effort..

In this film our lady is actually Rita Summerlee a character who replaces the professor and is played by Sarah Lieving.  This is the only one of these films I do not own on DVD so I cannot tell you which one of these ladies is Sarah Lieving and as the reviews are so bad I don't think I will bother to buy it.

As a completist, I should point out the existence of the films Lust World (1999) and Lust World 2 (2001).  In the first, which I do confess to owning (thanks to Sophie!), three people are shipwrecked on an island and discover some of the worst stop-motion dinosaurs ever, cavegirls and primitive tribesmen.

Nikki Andersson

One of the three castaways is a rather well-fed lady called Jill, played by Nikki Andersson, who must be a geologist as she notes that the island is made from strange rock for the region.  However, it soon turns out that it is something else rhyming with rock that she is an expert in.

I do not own Lust World 2 so cannot comment on it but I am sure it is more of the same (albeit with a different cast).  I have seen a trailer and it features some amusing men in a rubber suit dinosaurs very similar to those from the Doug McLure epic The People that Time Forgot.  One key point to make as regards these two films is that they both feature cavegirls so I will have to have a cavegirl or two for my lost world scenarios. The appearance of these in The Lost World is a whole separate post, however.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Lost World Monster Hunters!

I finished another two figures today to complete my initial Lost World force.  From left to right we have Zambo, Edward Malone, Professor Challenger, Professor Summerlee and Lord John Roxton.  They are a mixture of Foundry Darkest Africa and Copplestone Castings High Adventure series.   Challenger was the one I was struggling with but I found I had a spare Foundry John Hanning Speke figure which had an appropriately large beard so after a bit of surgery and the addition of a Greenstuff jacket I had something usable and a little different from the original figure.

Now I may add a defiantly non-literary woman to the plateau-ascending group as a nod to all their cinematic incarnations.  However, finding a good adventuress for 1912 will be tricky.  By 1912 corsets were still worn (they would survive until just after WW1) giving a slimline look with long straight skirts and loose blouses.  Most of the female 28mm figures are either mid-Victorian (crinolines and full skirts), late Victorian, (small bustles, fitted bodices) or nineteen twenties and thirties (mid-calf skirts or jodphurs - first worn by women following Coco Chanel in 1921).  More research needed! 

Back from the Future: Lost World monster hunters for In Her Majesty's Name...

Lord John Roxton tracks something that has escaped the plateau

I've been wondering about putting together my own company for In Her Majesty's Name but every time I think of something someone else has already done it.  Now, however, I have an idea of something that might work and which will also help start me on another project I have had percolating away for some years now.

Neovenator: the Isle of Wight's very own dinosaur

I have been planning a Lost World project for some time and have been steadily collecting model dinosaurs from a variety of sources, including Copplestone Castings, the British Museum shop and various seaside shops on the Isle of Wight which is, of course, officially Dinosaur Island this year.

Copplestone Castings figure from the Dinosaur Hunter's pack

It was just a matter of finding the right figures for the Lost World characters.  Searching through the lead pile I found figures for most of the characters I need from Foundry's Darkest Africa and Copplestone's High Adventure ranges. So here is the first from my Lost World/Monster Hunters company, Lord John Roxton, who I painted over the weekend.  I really like this figure, with his backpack and blanket roll, but the shorts are really wrong for Victorian times.

Conan Doyle's version of the four adventurers

The Lost World project will look at the successor to the Professor Challenger expedition which, at the end of The Lost World novel, was going to include just Roxton and Malone.  I will have both Summerlee and Challenger join the expedition at the last minute.  I found figures for Malone and Summerlee quite quickly but Challenger was, er, a challenge.  I needed someone, ideally, with a very big beard! The problem is now solved and I hope to finish painting all three, plus the usually forgotten character of Zambo, in the next week.

Jill St John in The Lost World (1960)

This also gives me the opportunity to field a suitably feisty female character.  Every film or TV version has added a gratuitous female adventurer to the expedition: Paula White (Bessie Love) in the 1925 version,  Jennifer Holmes (Jill St John) in the 1960 version, Jennie Nielsen (Tamara Gorski) in the two John Rhys-Davies 1992 films, Amanda White (Jayne Heitmeyer) in the 1998 version, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely - rather splendid) in the 1999 Canadian TV series and Agnes Cluny (Elaine Cassidy) in the 2001 BBC version, which is probably my favourite dramatisation even if it does, as do all the versions, play fast and loose with the plot and characters.

A rather gratuitously wet Elaine Cassidy in the BBC's The Lost World from 2001

Conan Doyle was not always very internally consistent with his characters so, while she isn't mentioned in The Lost World, in The Land of Mists (1926) Challenger has an adult daughter, Enid, who Malone takes a shine to and eventually marries.  I have a few feisty females for my Darkest Africa Zambezi project and they would work for the late nineteenth Century setting of IHMN but not so well for the just pre-WW1 setting of The Lost World.  The Copplestone Female archaeologists pack has some good young ladies but the two best ones are wearing jodhpurs, which did not become fashionable wear for women until Coco Chanel wore them in 1921.

She designed her own costumes for the series, you know

I think there is also a place for a plateau-stranded wild beauty, like the potently named (for the Legatus, anyway) Veronica, as played by the lovely Jennifer O'Dell in the Canadian TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1999-2002).  One of the several not Jane figures will work for her, I think.

There is also the opportunity, as hinted at in some of the later Challenger books, of including German spies out to discover the diamonds of Maple White Land.

So, that's The Lost World project nearly sorted but how do I get characters from around 1910 back to the late nineteenth century?  The answer of course is a time portal.  I did toy with the idea of some kind of stargate but have settled instead on a sparkling anomaly.  This will transfer a plague of prehistoric creatures onto the streets of London followed, fortuitously by the group of experienced dinosaur hunters who ran into a similar anomaly up on the plateau.  It is a London slightly different from the one they experienced in their younger days, however.   In Conan Doyle's books Lord Roxton was a friend of Sherlock Holmes so there is no doubt who the consulting detective would call in to deal with the flocks of feral reptiles terrorising the East End as well as some of the other monstrous creatures abroad in the fog-bound alleys of Whitechapel.  Roxton was a great anti-slaver so it would be quite possible for him to appear in the Zambezi taking on the Arab slavers, who appear to have captured some form of monstrous creature: She-who-must-be fed.

The real problem will be working out statistics for the IHMN company but the authors of the rules have supplied (I think) the means to calculate these. Also others are creating their own, rather excellent, companies which can now be found on the In Her Majesty's Name site.

So, another project!  Hooray!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The Mummy!

I watch for Foundry things on eBay although so many come through its pretty much a matter of luck as to whether you spot anything interesting. A couple of months ago I was watching one of the Foundry mummies but missed it so was pleased to win this one last week. It wouldn't involve a great effort in the way of a paint job, especially as it had already been undercoated, so I sat down and did it in one sitting.

I now need to think of some way to use him. I have some pulp rules somewhere (.45 Adventure, I think) and also have a book of scenarios from TVAG, but can't find any of them at present!

Jane Webb wrote a story in 1827, The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, which was the first to feature the concept of a re-animated mummy. The mummy is brought back to life tjhrough the use of electricity as in film versions of Frankenstein. Although in Mary Shelley's original book the creature was animated through chemical means. Edgar Allen Poe's Some Words with a Mummy (1845), also has a electricity-revived mummy. There were other stories about mummies (not necessarily re-animated ones) during the latter half of the nineteenth century as discoveries by archaeologists in inspired more interest in the subject of Egyptology and Thos Cook's Nile cruises enabled ever greater numbers of tourists to see the sights themselves.

It was Arthur Conan-Doyle in his story Lot No 249 (1892) who introduced the concept of the re-animated, avenging mummy so popular in twentieth century films. The most influential being Universal's The Mummy (1940) starring Boris Karloff. Although it wasn't based on a book it used elements from many of the previous century's stories in its script. This was re-made, of course as The Mummy (1999) with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.

Rachel Weisz gets a nasty shock in The Mummy (1999)

In fact, the only mummy film to have actually been based directly on a novel is Hammer's Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971), re-made as The Awakening in 1980. Both these films were based on Bram Stoker's Jewel of the Seven Stars (1903).

The latter novel had such a gruesome ending that when a second edition was published in 1912 Stoker was told that he would have to write a different ending. This more upbeat final chapter was then used in all subsequent editions until Penguin restored it in their 2008 version.

The magnificent Valerie Leon in Hammer's Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)