Sunday, 22 November 2015


The funny thing about having a hobby that I call ‘extreme collecting’ - mainly diecast models of helicopters, aeroplanes, assorted NASA vehicles, and sci-fi/ fantasy related items - is that when looking out for new stuff on e-bay now, the problem is I’ve already got one (my list of rotorcraft is 29 pages, but I’ve actually lost count of how many models there are), or I am really not interested (WW2 bombers, numerous airliners, blah), or - in a few cases - I simply can’t afford one (seen the ridiculous prices for Product Enterprise’s Gerry Anderson range?).
I have also reached the stage where all the display space left in the house is down to just a couple of shelves.  

My recent bargain buys include four aircraft of types that can float in water (see also 'flying boats'). Two are imported part-works from the Russian/ USSR Legends magazine series:

#63, Beriev A-40 Albatross (NATO name: Mermaid), a rare a jet-engined amphibious aircraft. The diecast model is by DeAgostini - 1:350 scale.

#82, Shavrov Sh-2S (nicknamed ‘Rusalka’ in USSR) a small wooden aircraft, this was the first mass-produced Russian plane of its type in the 1930s. From DeAgostini, this small (wing-span only 12 cm) diecast model (scale - 1:111) is the ambulance version.

The third is an Italian military float-plane, the three-engined CANT Z.506B Airone (Italian for ‘Heron’). It’s a sturdy diecast model produced by Altaya in 1:144 scale. 

I also bought a Savoia-Marchetti S.55X. A twin-hulled flying boat, this was used by Italian air marshal Balbo in a V-formation flight of 24 planes for the historic Atlantic crossing to Chicago for the World’s Fair in 1933. Exquisitely detailed, this diecast and plastic model is produced by Italeri - 1:144 scale. 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

New mags

Due to the mystery of consciousness we apprehend our world via pattern recognition. Cloud shapes are signs from above. Untoward events are omens from beyond. Optical illusions defy our mental processing, attaining a form of modest perfection in cinema. Thinking one thing leads us to think of another thing but we often confuse connection with causality because everything is relative. Except for scientific evidence, objectivity is impossible, but well informed opinions are more useful than rushed judgements, or unconsidered viewpoints. Of course, when abandoning rationality and logic, in favour of the metaphorical and the poetic, there is a profound risk of creating art, or, at least, recognising it for purposes of media commentary. So, is realism in movies insufficient for artistic expression?

Meanwhile, the latest issues of TTA Press magazines are out now. Interzone #261 includes my 'Laser Fodder' column of blu-ray & DVD reviews. Here's the line-up + ratings:

The Dance Of Reality (7/10)
The Flash - season 1 (6/10)
Arrow - season 3 (5/10)
Iceman (6/10)
Infini (3/10)
Max Max: Fury Road (8/10)
Turbo Kid (6/10)
Dark Matter - season 1 (6/10)
Haven - season 5 (6/10)
Metal Hurlant Resurgence (4/10)
Terminator Genisys (4/10)
Technotise: Edit & I (7/10)
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! (3/10)

     Spec Ops: Retro
Eyes Without A Face (8/10)
Seconds (7/10)

     Skunky Chunks: Round-up
Tour Of Duty
Elimination Game
Alien Strain
Song Of The Sea

There's also Black Static #49 with my Blood Spectrum column about horror movies & TV.

The Canal (3/10)
Hard To Be A God (7/10)
John Wick (7/10)
The Man Who Could Cheat Death (6/10)
Gotham - season 1 (6/10)
Bones - season 10 (6/10)
Insidious - chapter 3 (3/10)
Wer (3/10)
The Naked Prey (5/10)
Pay The Ghost (5/10)
The Skull (6/10)

     Utter Matters: Round-up
Final Girl
Blood Moon
The Houses Of Halloween
The Passage
A Christmas Horror Story
Deadly Virtues
Knock Knock
Let Us Prey
The Messenger

Sunday, 18 October 2015


When it comes to helicopters used by the New York Police Department, some of my favourites were often seen in movies and TV shows, and I have collected five different diecast models, so far...

The Bell 47B (with floats for landing on water, and saddle fuel tanks) is made by Corgi in 1:48 scale. 

Adopting the classic blue and white livery, N.Y.P.D. helicopters upgraded with the Bell 206 JetRanger. My model of this is by New Ray in 1:34 scale. 

I have a smaller Bell 204 / Huey UH-1B from Corgi, that was made for their series of fit-the-box models. It’s approx. 1:100 scale. 

This Bell 412 (below) looks an impressive 14 inches long with over-hanging rotors. With opening sliding doors, it’s made by New Ray in 1:48 scale. 

Finally, I have two versions of the Agusta A-119 Koala - a larger New Ray model at 1:43 scale, and the detailed Amercom edition at 1:72. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015


The latest magazine issues from TTA Press have just been published. Interzone #260 includes my ‘Laser Fodder’ column of blu-ray & DVD reviews of recent SF and fantasy releases. Here’s the line-up:

Contamination (4/10)
A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence (3/10)
The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (9/10)
Metal Hurlant Chronicles (4/10)
Robot Overlords (6/10)
The Blacklist - seasons 1 & 2 (7/10)
The Hourglass Sanatorium (8/10)

            Gaze Control: round-up
Monsters: Dark Continent
Knights Of Sidonia - series 1
The Phoenix Incident
The Age Of Adaline

Also available, sister mag Black Static #48 has my ‘Blood Spectrum’ column about horror movies & TV on disc...

Housebound (4/10)
White God (6/10)
Jordskott (8/10)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (4/10)

            Grue Sums: zombies round-up
The Dead 2: India
Dead Rising: Watchtower
Dead Shadows
Fallen Soldiers
Zombie Fight Club
The Walking Dead - season 5 (6/10)

            Laborious: also received
Return To Sender
The Burning
Cottage Country
Into The Grizzly Maze
The Falling

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Flying wheelbarrows

There are several aircraft of a particular style or design, used for both turbo-prop and jet engine planes, with twin tail-booms in a basic fuselage shape that’s nicknamed the ‘wheelbarrow’, for obvious reasons.
The De Havilland FB.9 Vampire was an RAF fighter made in the 1950s. It name fits a plane that looks like a fang-tailed devil. The diecast and plastic model is by Amercom in scale 1:72.  

Nicknamed the ‘fork-tailed devil’, American fighter the Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a lovely silvery model (scale 1:72) with some neat detailing, but I dislike the stand (with a tilt), produced by Oxford Diecast. Most disappointing, in terms of build-quality, is that the propellers are fixed. Even far cheaper, and comparatively tiny, model planes by Corgi - and others - have turning props.  

Armstrong Whitworth AW660 Argosy - was used as an RAF support command plane. A cargo transporter with a rear ramp access, this is notable for perhaps the first of its kind to be nicknamed a ‘whistling wheelbarrow’. The Amercom model is 1:200 scale.  

French air force transport the Nord N2501 Noratlas had clam-shell doors at the back instead of just a ramp built into the fuselage. This diecast model is by Atlas Editions (at a scale of 1:144), and the detail is only basic with static propellers. 

American cargo plane the Fairchild C-119, nicknamed a ‘flying boxcar’, was also used by the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare). The diecast model that I have is from Italeri, in 1:200 scale. 

Disney’s animated movie Planes: Fire & Rescue has a Fairchild C-119 as the character named Cabbie. 

A Royal Navy jet-fighter, the De Havilland 110 Sea Vixen is a large (21cm wingspan) diecast model, of merely average mostly-plastic quality in 1:72 scale, from Altaya.

Italian bi-plane Caproni Ca.3 was a heavy bomber of WW1. Its three engines included a pusher situated behind the pilot, and combo of twin booms and three tail-fins make the aircraft seem like an oddly flimsy kite design by later standards.    

Still on my wants list is the WW2 night fighter, Northrop P-61 Black Widow, produced by Air Force 1 (scale 1:72), in top quality diecast but, so far, it’s hideously expensive.