Top Gear must die

I’m still a fan of Top Gear, despite everything, but watching it is beginning to feel more and more like something I do out of duty than anything else. Another series came to an end last week and I’d be perfectly happy if it was the last one ever.

There are a number of things wrong with the show, which interlock to an extent and mean that it can’t just be tinkered with. Top Gear has to be put out of its misery and replaced by something different. I have some suggestions of what the replacement could be, but lets start with a list of the programme’s problems.

1. Its presenters

It’s too easy to dismiss Clarkson as an ignorant buffoon. I think he’s a very intelligent man who has found a persona which earns him a lot of money and then spent years honing it. It’s possible even he has begun to think the persona is the real him. Hammond seems to be setting himself up as a chirpy mini-me to the Clarkson character, which is a shame, because he’s capable of interesting stuff. May is the one of the three I have the most hope for away from Top Gear, but he should get out soon.

In a few years time, students will be writing theses on early twenty-first century man’s mid-life crises and citing the antics of the Top Gear presenters as examples. Their meltdowns have a bigger budget than most, so they actually get to do the sorts of things 40 and 50 somethings wish they could to reclaim their youth. However, it’s getting to the point where the antics are less cathartic and more embarrassing. There’s enough material available for dozens of doctorates, no need for more.

2. It’s got a small penis

The programme is obsessed with big expensive cars which go fast. It’s like it’s desperate to impress us and convince us it isn’t lacking in the trouser department.

3. It’s predictable

If a car is being reviewed it’s unlikely to have fewer than eight cylinders or cost less than six figures. There will be tyre smoke. The car will go sideways. They’ll lay that filter over the shots which darkens the top third of the screen and makes the sky appear grim and foreboding. Then they’ll give it to a man in white leather to record a lap time. (Has anyone else noticed that the times recorded by the tame racing driver in expensive compensation devices are, at best, about thirty seconds faster than those of untrained celebrities in the reasonably priced car. What’s the point of these stupid vehicles anyway?)

If the boys are doing a challenge in the UK they will be staggeringly incompetent. May will say “Cock”, Hammond will squeak and be useless, Clarkson will grump and be useless. A caravan will be destroyed, often by fire.

If the challenge is abroad then Hammond will complain about the food, Clarkson will be a bit racist, May will say “Cock” and they will do something culturally insensitive.

The script is no longer original. It’s really tatty. They should have admitted defeat when, in possibly the least artificial of their “car vs ….” races, they proved that bikes, buses and boats were all better suited to urban transport than cars.

4. It’s conservative

There are a huge number of motoring subcultures. Every weekend during the summer months there is at least one show dedicated to a particular marque or style of car. You wouldn’t know this from watching Top Gear. If it isn’t marketed to footballers then a car doesn’t exist in Top Gear’s world.

It would be neat to see, for instance, a piece about the ingenuity and obsession that goes into building a hot rod. Line up a bunch of Fords of the same vintage, one original and the others customised in different ways and tell the stories of how they were built. Or take a look at the update and upgrade ethic of my favourite car mag- Retro Cars. Or any number of other odd creations.

“Boring” old Top Gear could do the occasional piece on a unique and eccentric vehicle-

5. It’s propaganda

The defence that keeps getting rolled out is that Top Gear is an entertainment show. But it peppers the nonsense in amongst news items and the reviews, so the difference between information, taking the piss and telling people what you want them to hear gets a bit blurred. And some people want the bullshit to be true.

Earlier this year Clarkson came out with the old nonsense about cyclists not paying “Road Tax” so not deserving space on the road. The producer may tell us it’s entertainment, that Clarkson was just joking and everyone knows it. But cyclists are attacked by idiots who believe that they have paid to use the road whilst the two wheeled menaces haven’t. does a great job of rebutting the all too frequent examples of this meme and has its own response to Clarkson’s comment.

More recently, in the last episode of the most recent series, Clarkson and May did an allegedly sensible and serious piece about electric cars. To do this they didn’t drive the cars around town, simulating the sort of short trips electric cars are perfect for (and which constitute around a third of all car journeys). No, they took the sort of journey only an idiot would think was right for an electric car. And they let some fool run down the batteries before hand so they could conveniently run out of juice in a town with no recharging points. All so they could come to their pre-existing conclusion that electric cars aren’t any good.

There are numerous other examples. I’d be here for days if I tried to recount them all.

Top Gear promotes the message that only cars- preferably petrol powered ones with lots of cylinders- deserve to use the road. I don’t think the licence fee should be paying to spread that lie. (Full disclosure- I don’t have a television, so I don’t pay the licence fee. I watch what little TV I’m interested in on iPlayer and the other channels’ equivalents.)

6. It’s got no counterpoint

Channel Five has Fifth Gear, which is a bit more sensible as a car programme. However I can think of no programme on British television which could be considered an antidote to Top Gear and a dose of the Clarksons. I don’t mean some staid, stop-this-silliness sort of thing, but a show given just as much free rein to present an alternative view just as irreverently. Maybe if there was a programme which had segments where presenters mocked drivers for not knowing the Highway Code or that suggested that soft roaders are so useless they can’t even traverse speed bumps then TG’s fast and loose relationship to facts wouldn’t seem so bad.

So, what shoud we replace Top Gear with, seeing as we’re going to kill it?

As a cyclist I obviously have to suggest a show about bikes. I know that a show called Freewheel (or similar) wouldn’t be able to replace Top Gear or get the same sort of viewer numbers straight away. But, with bike use ramping up and more bikes than cars in the City, it’s time one of the TV channels looked at giving us more coverage. If any of the broadcasters want some ideas for how a bike show might look, I have a few.

Top Gear is a magazine show, it has regular features and special stories. We need to see some programmes with a similar format but a far wider remit. Get guests in to do features on stuff that interests them, give them some challenges (build a gravity racer, canoe from one side of the country to the other, get Danny MacAskill to ride across a city without touching tarmac, do a piece outside London without coming across as patronising and insular etc.) Top Gear needs to be replaced by a bigger, better, more inclusive version of Top Gear. I don’t think we’ll be able to call it Good Shit.

Castaway Tunes

So the BBC is asking members of the public to nominate their own 8 choices for Desert Island Discs, no doubt so they can see how the tastes of we plebs differ from those of the celebrity guests. It seems like the perfect excuse to list my choices here as well. In no particular order beyond as I think of them, here are mine-

1. Echobelly – I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me

1994 belonged to Oasis but, though I do have a soft spot for the mono-browed brothers, it should have been Echobelly’s year. Better songs, more interesting sound and vastly more attractive and interesting singer. I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me is a perfect piece of ego and joy, it can’t fail to make me happy.

2. Inspiral Carpets – Saturn 5

I could have chosen the raw blast of Joe, my introduction to the band, or Sackville, which has the added interest of being about the street I used to study on. But there’s a power to this one. And apart from Sleeping Satellite, how many other pop songs have been about the lapsed glories of the space race?

Bonus Sackville and Joe videos-

3. Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Say It With Flowers

I used to have After The Watershed as my Carter song because I pulled to it once and there’s something so wrong about the juxtaposition of the song’s subject and memories of getting laid. And Only Living Boy In New Cross was one of the songs which kept me going in 2001. But Say It With Flowers gave me the title to Sounds of Soldiers, and every radio show needs a plug.

Bonus videos-

4. James – Sit Down

James made many damn fine records. But, really, there was only ever going to be one choice from them wasn’t there? It’s an anthem and it’s beautiful.

5. Camper Van Beethoven – Life Is Grand

Because it is. If I ever make a film I want this song over the closing credits.

6. 10cc – I’m Not In Love

It gives you shivers. Glorious.

7. The Wonder Stuff – Ruby Horse

Another song that gave me a book title (Ruby Red, I’m not mercenary, it really is an excellent song.

8. Frank Sinatra – New York, New York

Many many great nights have wound down to Ol’ Blue Eyes’ anthem. It seems appropriate for it to be the last song on the list.

40 things to do now I’m 40

A few days before my birthday some of the tykes I know invited me to join a Facebook group called “40 things to do before I’m 40”. I thought they might be making fun, or looking for a long weekend, but it turned out to be something started by a friend pondering what he should do before entering his own fifth decade.

I’ve been thinking about it, and it seems like it’s time to draw up a list of things I ought to do . A few years ago I put together a 100 Things To Do Before I Die list. It’s still lurking in the bowels ofn the site, but I haven’t checked how I’m doing on it for a while. Reading it through, it’s obvious that some of it was dumb in a way something dreamt up over several sessions in the pub was bound to be. But other bits will make a good basis for the new list.

Working my way through the list, here are a few keepers-

Cycle the Coast to Coast.

Follow the route of the M60 by bike. (There were plans afoot late last year which would have made this happen. I’ll have to see what happened to them.)

Climb the highest peaks in each country of the United Kingdom.

Learn to juggle.

Build a model village.

Visit the beaches of D-Day, and the little town of Quenast my grandparents’ house was named after.

Visit Pearl Harbour.

Own a Land Rover.

Have a bike for every day of the week. (With access to a garage full of bikes you could argue I’ve achieved this one. Expect none of them are in full working order at the moment and as soon as any one is it gets sold.)

Give a grand to charity.

Do over a hundred miles on the Bogle Roll. (I’ve not started training for this year’s yet. Maybe next time.)

Fly in a hot air balloon.

Get a piece of art displayed in a gallery.

I may yet rescue some of the others from the original list, but these’ll do as place holders. Any suggestions?

25 Things about me

The other meme I’ve been tagged with. This one’s doing the rounds on Facebook. I initially had problems thinking of 25 people to send it to, then realised I’d missed a few off after I’d sent it. Oh well.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

1. The first time I was knocked off my bike by a driver I had a hard time getting angry because she was blonde and attractive. Should have exchanged insurance details though.

2. I once drank half a pint of bottle sterilising solution thinking it was water. Thankfully it wasn’t the concentrate.

3. I cried when I saw the Muppets’ tribute to Jim Henson.

4. I seem to be at my most creative when I’m a little sad/upset (but not depressed). Which worries me, because I’ve been having a lot of ideas in the last few weeks.

5. I once won £250 for a short sci-fi story I wrote inspired by my addiction to Command & Conquer.

6. I still want to write a story where one of the characters has the last words “What a stupid place to put a bus.”

7. From my parents’ house you can see Scotland. I once drove to that part of Scotland, but I couldn’t see my parents’ house.

8. When I was eight or nine I got locked in a suitcase whilst showing someone where I’d been hiding during our game of hide and seek. I don’t have claustrophobia as a result, but I occasionally get nervous in confined spaces, which has spoilt what little spelunking I’ve done.

9. I have a wierd sense of direction. I can still get confused connecting bits of Manchester, but a few years ago I went back to the town we left when I was 6 and found my way to the street we’d lived on first time, even though I hadn’t been back in over 20 years.

10. I once walked away from a car crash that wrote off and tipped over a Land Rover and destroyed twelve feet of dry stone walling, even though I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The other passenger’s advice to the driver had been “Follow that car, but don’t kill us.” One out of two will do.

11. Despite everything, I’m a hopeless romantic.

12. I can be quite shy and reserved. Most people who’ve known me for a while find this hard to believe.

13. I’m allergic to cat hair.

14. For all my years of cycling I still can’t ride no-handed.

15. When I was 1 my dad got a job in Brazil. We stayed there for a year. The Brazilians loved the little blue eyed blonde boy and my father was once stopped by the police, who thought he was kidnapping me. I can’t remember any of this, I’ve only got the photos and anecdotes to tell me about it.

16. I was on a hill above the Cornish town of Looe for the solar eclipse in 1998.

17. I used to buy 10 packs of Tesco doughnuts, brew a pot of strong tea and see how far through both I could get before becoming so wired I felt like I was being pushed back into the sofa and had pins and needles on my scalp.

18. I’ve never smoked a normal cigarette. When I told my mother this she understood just what I was implying. Her reply was “Good for you.”

19. Food poisoning once put me off port for a year, even though it was all the garlic sausage’s fault. I had a similar experience with pork scratchings as well.

20. The first time I encountered an escalator, on a school trip to Blackpool, I absolutely refused to get on it because I was certain the ground shouldn’t move like that.

21. I was being driven from Cambridge to a town called Royston, in a snow storm, when I found out that Kurt Cobain had died.

22. I’ve got a certificate saying I flew out of Liverpool John Lennon airport on its first day (or maybe week) under that name.

23. I’ve never had a proper job. I’ve always worked temp or contract and now I’m trying to make money running my own business.

24. Every few years I’ll get a big crush on someone and absolutely fail to do anything about it. It’s a combination of cowardice, stupidity and fear of rejection.

25. It’s been very, very hard to keep from talking about sex in any of these. If a question is phrased right I’ll give an honest answer to it, so lots of people know details others might have kept secret.

The Bucket List

I’ve been tagged with a few of those “about me” memes. I might as well post the answers here as well as emailing them. This one first, because I’ve been sitting on it for a few days and I can’t think of 25 things about myself.

( ) Gone on a blind date.
( ) Skipped school.
( ) Watched someone die
(x) Been to Canada
( ) Been to Mexico
( ) Been to Florida
(x) Been on a plane
(x) Been lost
(x) Been on the opposite side of the country.
( ) Gone to Washington, DC
(x) Swam in the ocean
(x) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers
( ) Recently colored with crayons
(x) Sang Karaoke
( ) Paid for a meal with coins only
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t
( ) Made prank phone calls
(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
( ) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Danced in the rain or run through summer puddles
( ) Held a baby long after it fell asleep because it felt so good
( ) Watched the sunrise with someone
(x) Blown bubbles
( ) Gone ice-skating
( ) Been skinny dipping outdoors
(x) Gone to the movies

Any nickname? Not in recent years

Favorite Drink? Tea

Body Piercings? None

How much do you love your job? Making a go of self employment. My boss is wonderful, but it’ll be a better experience when I find a reliable income generator.

Birthplace? Bridgend

Favorite vacation spot? Somewhere with a bit of history.

Ever been to Africa ? No

Ever eaten just cookies for dinner? Probably. I’ve definitely had kebab for breakfast.

Ever been on TV? Yes

Ever steal any traffic signs? no

Ever been in a car accident? Yes

Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? Don’t have a car

Favorite pie? Bacon and egg

Favourite number? i

Favorite movie? The Italian Job

Favorite dessert? Ice cream

Favorite food? Curry

Favorite day of the week? I don’t have enough of a routine for any one day to regularly be better, or worse, than the others.

Favorite brand of body wash? I just use whatever I’ve got.

Favorite toothpaste? No preference

Favorite smells? Fresh bread, coffee

How do you relax? Xbox, cycling, reading, watching films/TV

How do you see yourself in 10 yrs? Possibly abroad, hopefully working on a novel and/or graphic novel and other cool projects.

Furthest place you will send this message? I’m putting this on my blog and I have readers all over the world.

Who will respond to this the fastest? Haven’t a clue.

Model car and component manufacturers

A list of companies making model cars and car customising parts. Like the list of model figure manufacturers it’s not complete and will be updated as I find new companies.

ABC Brianza. High quality reproductions of exotics.

adp modelle

Athearn. Locomotive and truck models.

Atlas Model Railroad Co. HO, N and O railway and vehicle models.

Dennis Aust. Truck cabs and accessories.

AUTOart models. Diecast models, slot cars and accessories.

Automobilia. Incredibly detailed photo etched parts and transkits for 1:87th cars from Wiking and Herpa.

AWM automodelle. European lorries and cars, mostly HO.

Barnett scale model hot rods. Stylised hot rod models in large scales.

BBR Models. Large scale exotics.

Beetle shop in Paris. Models of Beetles, Porsches and tuners.

Beka. Eastern European manufacturer of buses, lorries and trams.


Brumm. Italian manufacturer of diecast models.

BS Design. Resin kits of mostly European cars.

BSR Replicas & Finishes. Brigman & Son Racing Replicas – NASCAR modelling supplies.

Busch. German manufacturer of small scale vehicles and accessories for model railways.

Classic Construction Models. Cranes, bulldozers etc.

Classic Metalworks. Diecast cars and trucks in 1:25th and 1:87th.

C & D Models. 1:64th scale farm machinery.

D & K Modellbau. 1:87th scale models of mining and other really big rigs.

Detail Master. Lots of hot rod and drag racing accessories, from full bodies to interior junk.

DHS Diecast. The world’s largest construction diecast dealer.

Diecast car collectors’ zone.

Faller. Model railway products, including vehicles.

Fisher Model & Pattern. Car and plane models.

Fred’s Model World. Obsolete car models.

Grand Prix Models.

GHQ Models. Wargaming vehicles and very detailed HO and N models.

Hapico. Japanese kits and magazines and resin kits available in the US. Includes a very nice belly tank racer.


High Tech models

Hobby-Carmodel. French site with lots of racing cars and accessories- rally, formula 1, Le Mans.

Horbra Modellautos. European and race and rally cars.

Icaro Hobbies. Stocks lots of kits, mostly exotics and race cars.

JAKS Industries HO models for railway modellers.

K and R Replicas. 1:43rd and 1:24th scale models of british road, rally and race cars.

Lineside Models N scale cars and trucks.

Lion Models. Limited run 1:87th scale models.

mafma. Various scales. Stocks a lot of manufacturers.

Lowrides hobby shop. Lowrider models and accessories.

Milestone Miniatures. 1:43rd scale models.

Mimic. Resin wheels, steering wheels and decals.

The Model Car Garage. Resin and photo etched detailing parts.

Model Express.

Model Roundup.

Precision Miniatures. Manufacturers of quality 1:18th scale car models.

Ridgway diecast collectables.

MotoMini. Toy and model motorbikes.

Oxford Diecast. 1:76th and 1:43rd scale diecast models suited to model railways.

TNT Hobbies/ Only Race Cars. Only race cars.

Perry’s Resin. High-quality resin-cast kits, conversions and accessories. Has recently stopped shipping small parts in internet orders as they’ve opened a hobby shop.

Pit Lane Models. Racing car models.

Racing 43. Race, rally and exotics models.

Satco. 1:24th/1:25th scale tyres.

Scale Productions. German site with lots of models and parts.

Thunder Valley F1.

R & D Unique. 1:24th/ 1:25th scale detail parts.

US Models

Venice Model Team.

Vintage Racing collectables.

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Model figure manufacturers

Update – October 2013 I am working my way through this list and updating, removing  and adding links where possible.

This site has a list of companies that manufacture model figures. However, a lot of the links go to dead sites, so I thought I’d work my way through and produce a more up to date collection. I have merely weeded out the dead links, and occasionally chased down new addresses. I’ve also added a couple of manufacturers I’ve found in my surfing. I cannot vouch for any of these companies except for Historex-Agents, who I have successfully ordered stuff from.

Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Space Figures
Alternative Images – USA Film and fantasy resin kit figures.

Andrea Miniatures – One of the world’s premier figure manufacturers. You can get Andrea figures on

Armorcast – USA Fantasy and Wargame figures

Artomic Studios

Bronze Age Miniatures. 28mm and 54mm figures, mostly for gaming.

Comet Miniatures Not a manufacturer, but they have an interesting range of kits in stock.

Creative Beast. Mostly dinosaurs, but some fantasy figures.


Custom Built Models

Devils Own Resin

Diceman Creations

Disturbed Earth Productions – USA Fantasy and Horror figures and Busts

Dragon Models – USA Home page of Dragon Models.

Dream Master Creations – USA Erotic resin figures

Dutkins’ Collectables – Among the many products sold by this company are figure models.

Dynasty Scale Models – Military figures and busts


Firing Line Miniatures.

Fontegris Miniatures. Spanish resin and white metal figure manufacturers.

Frontier Models – UK Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Model Specialists

G-Force Models

Geometric Design

Gremlins in the Garage! – USA Welcome to Gremlins in the Garage the first webzine dedicated to figure kit modeling

Ground Zero Games. Gaming miniatures and fantasy figures.

Wayne “The Dane” Hansen – Figure Kits and Sculpting Supplies

Hard Hero

Hassle Free miniatures Gaming figures and accessories.

Hobby Search – buy direct from Japan

The House of Anime – USA Anime figures and dolls

Image Anime – USA General Anime kits and figures

Jimmy Flintstone/ Dr Flintbone Primarily manufacturers of hot rod and custom car bodies in resin, Jimmy Flintstone also produce figures to complement the vehicles. Dr. Flintbone is the more adult arm.

Kaiyodo – Japan Star wars, Godzilla (original) and Anime figures.

K’resin kits – France Anime, Comics and Movies resin and vynl kits : Alien, Batman, City hunter, Cobra, Crow, Die hard,Frankenstein, etc

Legends – We carry products (kits, accessories, reference materials, Japanese si-fi & anime) from all over the world.

Magic Sculp

MBM Models – Holland Military, Sci-Fi and Fantasy fig specialists

Menagerie Productions – USA Fantasy and ‘Paleo’ kits and figures

Micro Mark – tools for the serious modeller

Moebius Models. Licenced re-releases of old Aurora kits.

Monsters Direct kits

Monsters In Motion: A Sci-Fi Gallery – Welcome to Monsters In Motion, the world’s greatest gallery of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Famous Movie Personalities as finished statues and model kits for the hobbyist and collector.

Mooncrest Models

Mr Dandy


New World Miniatures 1:35th and 1:16th scale military miniatures.

Paleocraft – models of extinct animals

Phebus Creations. French company producing sci-fi, fantasy, war and civilian figures in 1:43rd, 1:35th, 1:24th and larger.

Reaper Minis.

Resin Crypt

Resin Realities

Rising Sun Creations – USA Anime collectable superstore

Shiflett Brothers

Sideshow Inc – USA Site specializing in liscensed figurative vinyl/resin model kits and collectibles based on some of todays leading artists, including: Clive Barker, Bernie Wrightson, Tim Bradstreet, Frank Kelly Freas, Brom, and Bill Stout.

Solarwind Productions – Welcome to the fantasy figure world of Solarwind Productions.We design, develop and manufacture high quality, limited edition resin kits.

Spectral Motion Inc – This company sells some amazing horror figures!!

Styrene Studio – Excellent resin figures

Swede Creations – Manufacturer of Collectible Fantasy, Horror and Related Resin Sculptures.

Watson Sculptures and Models – Dinosaur, Ancient reptile and Prehistoric figures and models

Zotz – Mexico Glamour and Erotic figure specialists

Military Figures
Border Miniatures – UK High quality historical figures for collectors

W Britains – Military figure manufacturer

Le Cimier – France Military Figures, tools and reference books

Diecast Direct – UK Suppliers of Elite Command Diecast American Civil War, WWII, Napoleonic and Roman figures

The Dunken Company – figure casting supplies and moulds.

Miniaturas by F. M. Beneito – Spain Historical Miniature
s specialist

Elisena – Metal figures – Italy An Italian manufacturer with a lot of interesting products (figures, flats, bases etc.).

El Viejo Dragón Miniaturas – Spain Historical Figure specialists

Frontline Figures – Beautiful 54mm award winning collectible figures!!

Gene Gill Miniatures – Historical landmark miniatures are amazingly petite, with an average height of 3″ to 5″. Each replica is strictly one-of-a kind and the artist will not duplicate a piece nor will he mass-produce one.

HaT Industrie – HäT Industrie produces 1/72 and 1/32 scale soft plastic military miniatures or toy soldiers. Our goal is to produce a line of figures not produced by any of the past or present manufacturers.

Historex Agents – UK Historex Agents represents over 70 different companies, specialising in connoisseur model soldier kits and AFV conversion sets

Historical Miniatures – USA Custom made military figures for the collector

Imperial Gallery Military Model Figurines – UK Military figures through the ages

William King Military Miniatures – UK Wonderfully detailed Military figures

Kings X Toy Soldiers – Models from various toy soldier manufacturers, plus an exclusive range of Alamo figures

The Last Square – Historical Miniatures;| Military History Books; Limited Edition Art Prints; Painting Service

Metal Modeles – France Collectable model figurines

Miniature Alliance – USA Recreations of conflicts in miniature

Minutemen Toy Soldiers – USA Military figure kits and gaming specialists

Pegaso Models – Italy Manufacturers of 54mm, 75mm, and 90mm figures.

Prince August Factory Shop – Ireland Military figures for the collector, together with moulds and Chess sets

Quarter Kit – France White metal and diecast military miniatures

Saratoga Soldier Shop – USA Pewter Civil War and American revolution figures

Stockade Miniatures, Inc – USA “Soldiers of the World” figures, plus metal and plastic figures from a variety of manufacturers

S & S Models – UK 1:76 scale model figures, games and accessories

Tedtoy Miniatures Online – USA Civil War Military figure specialists

The Toy Soldier Company – The Toy Soldier Company featuring the sales of toy soldier figures, sets, books and accessories

Toy Soldiers of San Diego – USA We offer a wide variety of plastic figures from many periods to include Napoleonic, American Civil War, Alamo and World War II from a variety of manufacturers.

Collectable Figures
Dimensional Designs – USA Dimensional Designs is a company that specializes in Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy related collectibles. We are currently manufacturers of our own model figure kits.

DragonNet – UK This page is a showcase of Dragons and other Legendary creatures. All the figures are either white metal, pewter or resin and are mounted on rock or semi- precious stone.

Hard Hero Enterprises – USA Hard Hero Enterprises offers fine limited edition sculptures in bronze, porcelain, or resin.

King & Country – Design and manufacture the most amazing (and affordable) range of toy soldiers, miniature figures,military vehicles, model aircraft and buildings in the world today! All our products are hand-made and hand-painted to the highest professional standards.

Mithril Figures – Ireland Mithril was founded in 1987 and has been dedicated since then to the creation of miniature figures, inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s world of Middle-earth as portrayed in his famous works “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

Valiant Enterprises. Figures and wargaming miniatures.

Ron Wall Miniatures – USA Ron Wall Miniatures are the very finest in collectible toy soldiers. Currently featured are the American Civil War, Custer (Custer’s Last Stand at Little Big Horn), Sioux Indian War, The Gambler and The Wild West Series. Each 54 mm, pewter figure is hand painted and made in America.

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Coming Soon

I’ve just watched a bunch of movie trailers, courtesy of Timo’s Movie trailers. Here are a few that I like the look of-

Resident Evil: Extinction The original Resident Evil movie and Resident Evil: Apocalypse are simple pleasures, good looking, fast moving and featuring Milla Jovovich in a red dress. Sure the first one felt a lot like a video game (cut scen- fight- cut scene- fight etc. with ever tougher baddies), but it was far better than Doom. In this third part Alice, cloned and left for dead by the Umbrella Corporation must fight her way through a post apocalypse Las Vegas to find a cure for the zombie plague and get revenge.

Appleseed Ex Machina. I read the original manga years ago and have just added the first Appleseed movie to my Amazon rental list. This is obviously a cgi film, but it doesn’t make the mistake of trying for photo realism. Instead, the slightly flattened colours give each frame the look of having been painted. Absolutely stunning. The soundtrack to the trailer is annoying, but just ignore it and enjoy the pictures.

Beowulf Another cgi film based on the epic tale, co-scripted by Neil Gaiman. Buy Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf at Amazon.)

The Darjeeling Limited Typically oddball looking comedy from the guy who directed The Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums. Three dysfunctional brothers go on what should be a journey of discovery to India.

Right At Your Door. This is already available on DVD. I don’t know if it’s been re-released or just cropped up at random, but it’s been added to my rental list.

No End In Sight A documentary about the failed reconstruction of Iraq told through interviews with those involved.

The Last Legion This has the look of another King Arthur, right down to the British character actors and a sex bomb warrior played by Aishwarya Rai. The last emperor of Rome, a child who ruled for only a day, goes in search of Excalibur. High jinks ensue. (Alex and Damian have alerted me to the original novel the film is based on.)

Death at a Funeral Promising looking britcom.

2 Days in Paris American boyfriend and French girlfriend spend two days in Paris. The apartment looks a lot like the one from the end of Before Sunset, I swear.

Catching up on 100 Things

I’ve just been updating the 100 Things to do list and realised that I could cross a few off.

Producing Memory means that I’ve made a film. I’m doing pre-production (ie writing a script, mostly) on the next Spinneyhead production and looking for actors and others to help out.

I recently crossed the 100 Gbyte threshold of MP3s (though I’m nowhere near owning a thousand albums, that would require far more disk space).

I was an extra for a TV programme earlier this month, and I’ll be looking out for more opportunities to do it again.

I’ve also crossed off Go Guerilla Gardening, which I have done, even if the results haven’t been very successful.

Some of the Things in the hundreds have been drafted in to fill gaps in the list, for the sake of neatness. No new Things have been added, even though I am now below 100 total. However, I am open to suggestions, and offers of help with the remaining ones (particularly from cheerleaders) will be gratefully accepted.

Racing games- adding Dirt to the wishlist

I’ve just found an addition to the big list of driving games from last month.

DIRT is the latest Colin McRae racing game, and is available for PC, XBox 360 and PS3. It moves away from pure point to point rallying and incorporates dirt tracks, trucks and hill climbs- including the legendary Pikes Peak. (It was because I was looking for a game incorporating the Peak that I found the game.) The graphics look stunning and the review I read at GameTrailers is favourable.

Now, I could see if my pc’s up to the job, or someone could be lovely and buy me a 360. Go on, you know you want to.

60 things worth shortening your life for

I’ve started to do number 60.


A year ago, my twelve-year-old daughter, Chloe, was acting in my film RV. After a long day, I said, “You know, Chloe, you’re painfully opinionated and you boss everyone around. You should be a director.”

“No offense, Dad, but I’ll stick to being a movie star,” she said. “Directing looks too stressful.”

On the first movie I directed, The Addams Family, I ended up fainting when, after a sleepless night, I thought I could maintain some sense of awareness the next day by drinking nine straight espressos. When the head of Paramount Studios said that it was unreleasable, I spent the night weeping on Sweetie’s (the wife’s) lap. During Men in Black II, I was raced to the hospital with what I thought was a heart attack. After spending the night in the emergency room next to a woman whining, “I need quinine,” I was given an echocardiogram and told that I was simply suffering from stress and that I should get into a program of meditation. (I didn’t tell the doctor that I was meditating when the chest pain started.) On Wild Wild West, I broke my hand in five places when I punched Will Smith’s arm.

So why direct? It’s the closest a guy like me will ever come to being a general. I have a thought, and suddenly manly men are building gigantic sets. Plus, being forced to make thousands of decisions a week on topics that you didn’t know you were ever going to need to have an opinion about (Lara Flynn Boyle’s girdle comes to mind) is exhilarating. I also get to send back cappuccinos because the foam looks too much like a latte and work with people smarter than me, who make me look good. If every couple of years I have a psychological breakdown, well, at least I’ve got a thick head of foam on my cappuccino.

— Barry Sonnenfeld

Full list.

via BoingBoing

Songs to get buried to

Following on from Monday’s post about the top ten funeral songs, I thought it would be worth drawing up a list of alternative funeral songs. Leave your own suggestions in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me – Echobelly
The already mentioned brisk two fingers to death and a call to enjoy life.

Life is Grand – Camper Van Beethoven
After an album of songs about death and drugs the Beethovens turn around and say, “The hell with you miserable bastards, we quite enjoy life.”

The Only Living Boy in New Cross – Carter USM
You can never be sure with Carter, they hide some dark subjects under their pop-punk. This song seems to be about the pressures of touring and I adopted it as the theme tune to a hellish period on the road in 2001. In keeping with the memorial theme it does have a dedication-

Goodbye Rudy, David and Rosie
Abraham and Julianne
and everyone that knows me

The gypsies, the travellers and the thieves
The good, the bad, the average and unique
The grebos the crusties and you and I

Wonderstuff – Give, Give, Give, Me More, More, More

Well I hope I make more money than this in the next world.
I hope there’s a lot more in it there for me.
I’d like my trousers pressed and my shoes
shined up by a rich girl,
who’s only care in the world is me.

What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong or Joey Ramone
Because it is a wonderful world, and perhaps people need reminding.

Previous musical lists-
Music to get laid to


Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python
So obvious I’m surprised more people don’t choose it. Best if you can be sure a choir of friends and family will get up to perform it.

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