Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

Inspire Your Heart With Art Day

Nobody seems to know why January 31st is designated 'Inspire Your Heart With Art Day' by all the online calendars. All we know is that it is.

Today is the day for visiting an art gallery, enjoying the artwork around you, or even busting out the supplies and getting creative.

I'm celebrating the day by posting some scanned doodles from my old school sketchbook... All of my 15 year old self's interests gathered into one place, really!

Pokemon
Anime Sketches Old Sketches
Cross Necklace
Drawings Doodles




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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Hair by Kiaya

Launch of Hair by Kiaya

On Friday 19th I attended the business launch of Hair by Kiaya, a new mobile hairdressing business based in Two Locks. I've attended a few launches with the Communities First and Communities for Work teams, and I've always been so impressed with all the work that goes into getting something from the drawing board to a viable business idea.

I wish Kiaya lots of luck and, if you're looking for a hairdresser, check out her business Facebook page. I mean, just see how glam she is in that picture - you can trust that your hair is in safe hands! :)

The South Wales Argus covered the event in their January 29th edition:

A CWMBRAN hair stylist has put her dreams of self-employment into motion by setting up a mobile hairdressing business. Kiaya Watkins of Two Locks. has launched 'Hair by Kiaya' after receiving support from Communities First and Communities for Work programmes, with the 24-year-old launching her business at Cwmbran's Power Station on Friday, January 19. 

Miss Watkins said: “The help and support I have received has been very much welcomed and I go forward with great optimism in this venture. Thank you to all concerned.” 

Cllr Jessica Powell , the Mayor of Torfaen, said: “I attended several business launches last year, all of which had received tremendous support through Torfaen Communities First employability projects. The programme has helped so many Torfaen residents achieve a lifelong dream of starting their own business. I would like to wish Kiaya all the best with her mobile business and I would encourage anyone who has business idea to come forward and receive support through one of our employability programmes.” 

Richard Murphy, the business development officer for Torfaen council said: “It’s been great working with Kiaya and her family to get this venture off the ground. Self-employment in Torfaen has become a tremendous option for people out of work and to see this sector grow and grow is great for the local economy and peoples futures." 

In a period of three years, the Communities First business development project has supported 35 business start-ups, with 12 new businesses established in the past year. The project has recorded an 80 per cent retention rate for businesses that are still active during this time. For details, call Richard Murphy on 01633 647455 or email richard.murphy@torfaen.gov.uk.





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15 Seconds of Fame - find me in the press


Monday, 29 January 2018

Fire Fighting in 1/6 Scale

Fire Fighting in Miniature

May 4th is International Firefighters' Day, the same date as the feast day of Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters. JJ Edmondson was inspired to create the recognition day in 1998 after the tragic deaths of five firefighters working to contain a bushfire in Austrialia. Today it is a time of both remembrance for those who have lost their lives in service to their community, and celebration of the work done by firefighters and other personnel.

Following on from the recent series I did on 1/6 scale police officers and miniatures, this post looks at what's available in terms of firefighters. I've used promo pics wherever possible, but some of these pics came from ebay / pinterest - I claim no ownership.



Hot Toys Firefighter LieutenantHot Toys Firefighter Trainee

Hot Toys

Hot Toys released two Modern American Firefighter figures in 2002 - there's a review over on Toyhaven with lots of detail. Then in 2006 they released version 2.0 - there's a great review of the Lieutenant figure over at MWCToys. For a more fantasy take on fire fighting, Hot Toys also did a cool FireSpecter figure in 2007.



Action Man Fireman

Action Man

1978 saw Action Man take up firefighting - you could get a uniform set, fireman backpack, fire tender, and fireman equipment set (the bulk of which was also available on the equipment centre workshop accessories card).

Knock-off competitor, Adventure Man, also had a firefighter outfit in the mid 1970s.



Geyper Man Firefighter

Geyper Man Cuerpo de Bomberos (firefighter) from 2003. My Spanish is sucky but I think these were available as limited editions too - read more HERE.



Enterbay Firefighter

Enterbay

Enterbay released three firefighter figures based on the movie As The Light Goes Out - Station Officer (pictured), Senior Station Officer Ho Wing-Sam, and Principal Fireman Lee Pui-To.



Barbie Firefighter

Barbie

Barbie first became a firefighter in 1995 - in AA and Caucasian versions - and it remains by far the best offering. There is a really cheap and nasty looking uniform with a pink hat and high heeled boots from 2014, and then a better looking doll with red jacket from 2016. Ken has also been a firefighter, as part of a 2012 double pack with Barbie as a police officer (see HERE), and even young Tommy had a little fireman's outfit!



Real Heroes Firefighter

ERTL Collectibles Real American Heroes Top Jake Fireman

Originally released in 1998, then re-released in 2001 in commemoration of the FDNY firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.



Virtual Toys The Dark Zone Agent Renegade

Virtual Toys

This 2016 figure is based on the computer game The Division, set in a dystopian future New York. The jacket is marked FDNY on the back, so if you're in need of a heavily armed firefighter for some reason, this could be your guy.



World Peacekeepers Search and Rescue FirefighterWorld Peacekeepers Urban Firefighter

World Peacekeepers

In addition to the Search and Rescue and Urban Fire Fighting figures, there was also a 1/18 scale range.



GI Joe First Responder Firefighter

GI Joe

GI Joe has been a firefighter a few times - pictured above is the First Responder Firefighter figure from the 2011 Real American Hero range. There is also Peril of the Raging Inferno (1999) [White / AA], Power Saw Firefighter (2002) / Saw Rescue FirefighterRed Alert Rescue, Rope Rescue Firefighter, and Search & Rescue Firefighter.

Other relevant releases include Emergency Crash Rescue (Blond, Brunette, African American), Search & Rescue Team, Smoke Jumper, Smoke Jumper 2Smoke Jumper Set, and the 1960s Crash Crew range - figure, outfit, and the crash crew fire truck. The figure and outfit were later re-released as part of the 40th anniversary range - see HERE - in addition to being reimagined as the Navy Crash Crew figure.

Action Jackson, a rival 8" offering from Mego, had his own version of the Crash Crew outfit, and a Fire Rescue Pack which squirted water.



Gay Billy FirefighterCarlos Firefighter

Billy

Billy was marketed as 'The World's First Out and Proud Gay Doll' on the line's release in 1997 - it wasn't, but who's gonna let facts get in the way of a tagline? All the dolls in the line had a go at firefighting - Billy (brunette and blond), Carlos, and Tyson.



America's Finest Fire Rescue Helicopter

21st Century Toys - America's Finest

They released a variety of fire personnel and vehicles in the early 2000s. In addition to the fire rescue helicopter pictured above there was a Fire Command Vehicle, a Fireman, Urban Firefighter (a cheaper figure with the same name was also released on card), Commemorative FDNY Firefighter (online exclusive - read more HERE), Fire Rescue Helicopter Pilot, and Bush Crew Firefighter.

Then there was a two pack police and fire rescue set, Fireman Uniform, and an Urban Firefighter Uniform.



OTHER

Some other random bits and bobs I came across while searching for figures:

 AvaStars, a short lived venture offering customisable 1/6 playline figures, offered a firefighter outfit as pictured HERE.

 Kenner's Steve Scout, possibly the uncoolest action hero ever, had a Fire Fighter accessory pack in 1973. If you wanted to dress your Steve Scout - or other 1/6 scale kid as a firefighter - Madelman has been a firefighter in the 2000s (and as a shiny silver jumpsuited type) with an awesome fire engine, as well as back in the 1970s.

 Asia Scale Store do a 1/6 scale fire hydrant.

Toys City did a 1/6 figure called Vulcan Dark at the Weekend. He's not a firefighter, but he does have a flamethrower and a spare head shaped like a fire hydrant...

☆ Masterpiece Collectables do a range of 1/6 scale firefighter helmets, styled after those of the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force).



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International Firefighters DayPolicing in Miniature






Saturday, 27 January 2018

1/6 Scale USA Cops - LAPD

LAPD Uniforms on ADAM-12
LAPD patrol officers in Adam-12, c. 1970.

The LAPD is the third largest police department in the States, and is also one of the most familiar in the world thanks to its ubiquitous appearance in TV, film, and crime (non)fiction. The great thing about LAPD uniforms from a modelling point of view is that they haven't really changed since the 1940s. You might need a few extra bits and pieces on the duty belt but, essentially, pick up any figure and you're good to go for whatever character you're looking to create.

Ben McKenzie in Southland Southland LAPD Uniforms
LAPD patrol officers in Southland, 2010.

This post looks at the figures, uniforms and accessories available in 1/6 scale. The focus is chiefly LAPD patrol officers, but there is also info on SWAT, LASD and California Highway Patrol merch. I'll be talking about all the generic US police stuff in a post on NYPD miniatures.



ZC World LAPD Tiger and Jack

ZC World LAPD 'Tiger' and 'Jack' (2012)

LAPD patrol officers, sold seperately. Check out the really comprehensive review over at onesixthscale.



Angie Dickinson Police Woman Doll

Police Woman was a NBC police procedural which ran for four seasons between 1974 and 1978, starring Angie Dickinson as an undercover officer working with the LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Unit. Horsman produced a 9" tie-in figure in 1976 along with five outfit sets to collect - read more at PlaidStallions.



Redman Toys Lethal Weapon

The Lethal Weapon films star Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as LAPD Detectives Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh respectively. Redman Toys did two outfit sets in 2016, Lethal Weapon A and B, which come with little police badges and obligatory cigarette. In 2015 Crozz Design released two 'Midnight Cops' figures - Martin and Roger. In 2018 Wild Work also released a Sergeant Martin figure of their own.

Other figures based on LAPD detectives include:
 - CRAFTONE #008 Bank Robbers Series: Detective (2015). aka Al Pacino in Heat.
 - CRAFTONE Crimes Senior Detective. aka Morgan Freeman in Se7en.
 - CRAFTONE Crimes Detective. aka Brad Pitt in Se7en.
 - Toy Syndicate Android Hunter. aka Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.
 - Brother Production Blade Hunter (2009). aka Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.
 - Redman Toys Blade Rick (2017). aka Harrison Ford in Blade Runner.



BBI LAPD Officer WestBBI LAPD Officer Sommers

BBI Elite Force LAPD Officers West and Sommers (2001)

These were actually licensed by the LAPD and sold between $24.99 and $39.95 on release. Good luck finding them for that now... While the figures aren't particularly great - those arms! - the accessories more than make up for it. They sold the male uniform and accessories separately as LAPD Gear too.

(BBI also did an Elite Force LAPD SWAT Urban Assault Team 'Sergeant Mendez' figure - pic HERE - along with a figure of Colin Farrell as Officer Jim Street.)



DiD LAPD Patrol Austin

Dragon in Dream LAPD Patrol 'Austin' (2018)

Nice quality figure in LAPD patrol uniform - I especially like that you can remove the tie and have the so-called 'Triangle of Death' showing. Attention to detail and all that!



Hot Toys Terminator T-1000 LAPD PatrolHot Toys Terminator T-1000

Hot Toys Terminator 2: Judgement Day T-1000 Figure (2010)

The great thing about Hot Toys figures is that they always come with loads of extras. This one came with the basic patrol uniform, magnetic bullet wounds, split head, and - coolest of all in my humble opinion - a Motor Unit uniform. Read a full review of the figure over at mwctoys.



Toys City LA Cops Set

Toys City LA Cop's Uniform Set TC - 68011 (2016)

Uniform set for 1/6 scale figures - see the individual pieces HERE.



DiD LAPD SWAT Assaulter Driver

Dragon in Dream LAPD SWAT Assaulter - 'Driver'

DiD have done a whole bunch of LAPD SWAT figures:
 - LAPD SWAT 90s - i.e. Keanu Reeves in Speed.
 - LAPD SWAT Point-Man 'Denver'. (Review over at Toy Haven.)
 - LAPD SWAT 3 'Takeshi Yamada' (2018).



BBI Elite Force LASD Officer Burns

LASD - Los Angeles Sheriff Department

To be honest, I'm still not entirely clear on the difference between PDs and SDs. What I do know is that they have different uniforms and, really, that's all that matters when it comes to collecting miniatures. BBI did a LASD Los Angeles County Sheriff Officer Burns figure (pictured); Toy Haven has a good review of the figure and accessories. BBI also did an Elite Force SWAT Team Sheriff Charles 'Chuck' Morris figure, again check out Toy Haven for a full review.


Combat Joe California Highway Patrol

CHP - California Highway Patrol

Made famous by the TV show CHiPs, there is a fair bit of merchandise associated with the California Highway Patrol, although little of it is 1/6 scale. Exceptions include the playline America's Finest double set CHP Officer and EMT (2002), and the Son Ai Toys Motorcycle Police Jumbo Cycle (c. 1984). In 1984 Takara released a CHP uniform for Combat Joe - see HERE - and there are two GI Joe convention exclusives from 2000 depicting CHP officers from 1940 and 1970.

Tamiya do a beautiful 1/6 scale police bike which may also be relevant to your interests...

Tamiya Harley-Davidson Police Bike





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Policing in Miniature






Friday, 26 January 2018

Full Council Meetings

Torfaen County Borough Council Full Council Meeting Overviews

'Full Council' is the big formal meeting held each month, with the Mayor presiding and - hopefully - the full set of councillors attending. TCBC webcasts all their meetings, but I sometimes write up an overview of the meeting too.

For the most part full council is a show piece, given formal ratification to decisions which have already been hashed out in committee or political meetings. Sometimes they can inspire genuine and vocal debate however, which is when the Chair needs to keep things on track. I've been chairing full council since May 2017 and it has given me a whole new appreciation for the work chairs do!


December 2016.
 October 2016.
 July 2015.
 June 2015.







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Council Business Explained




Thursday, 25 January 2018

Council Business Explained

Council Business Explained

I've been an elected Labour councillor for Torfaen County Borough Council since 2012 now, and I've also served as Mayor of the borough and a term as a community councillor on Cwmbran Community Council. The aim of this series is to bust some of the myths surrounding how councils operate, and demystify some of the committee work and suchlike done by councillors.


ELECTIONS


LIFE AS A COUNCILLOR

The most visible aspects of a councillor's work are the monthly full council meetings. Torfaen's are webcast, along with all other main committee meetings, and you can read my overviews of various full council meetings HERE.

In addition to full council, you will sit on a range of committees - both statutory and scrutiny. Read more about them by clicking the links below:

Licensing Committee.


CIVIC LIFE

I've written a separate series on civic life, explaining who's who in the civic hierarchy and what they do.






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Politics and Opinion




Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Wedding Invites

wedding invitation

We're getting married in less than a month now! Anthony is organising it all - thankfully he did spot that typo before he actually printed them ;) - so fingers crossed everything goes to plan...



Tuesday, 23 January 2018

1/6 Scale UK Police Figures

Constable Knapweed

There is no shortage of police figures in the 1/6 scale world, it's true, but the vast majority are based on NYPD or LAPD officers - complete with shades and firearms! The British bobby has a much tougher time of it when it comes to plastic representation, particularly as figures aimed for the UK play market still tend to be dressed in USA style uniforms. (For more on the differences between UK and USA policing, check out the post on Law and Order in the UK I wrote last year.)

Anyway, here is everything relevant I know of in 1/6 scale. Please let me know in the comments about any I've missed - especially female figures / uniforms!



Modelingtoys Metropolitan Police Service

Modeling Toys Metropolitan Police Service Constable

For reasons best known to Modeling Toys this Metropolitan Police Service figure has a Wayne Rooney head sculpt. But it also has a very cool custodian helmet, duty belt, radios, and hi-vis jacket. (See more pics over at Toy Haven.) The most obvious problem is that side handled baton - some forces gave them a go in the 90s but even if the Met was one of them they've been using the ol' expandable 'asp' style baton for a long time now.

Modeling Toys MPS Accessories



The Bill Police Action Figures

When it comes to playline, it really doesn't get any better than the 2003 'The Bill' collection by M&C Toys, licensed by Scotland Yard. The range consisted of 'Police Helicopter and Police Air Observer', 'Male PC', 'Public Order PC', 'Traffic Sergeant', 'Female Sergeant' (blonde and brunette versions), and the police van. It's one of the very few options for UK female police officers, and there's a nice variety of accessories from hi-vis jackets to speedcuffs.

The Bill Police Van



Action Man Police Motorcyclist

Action Man typically stuck with sports and the military, but he did make a few forays into the police service. Between 1978 and 1984 he was a police motorcyclist with the bike and doll to be purchased separately. At various times the uniform came on a locker box card, book card, and regular outfit box. In 1993 Hasbro relaunched Action Man and fixed him up with a number of American looking S.W.A.T outfits. E.g. the 1999 X-Catcher figure, S.W.A.T Kit, and a S.W.A.T uniform card.

Also I kept coming across the below image from ebay - seller matwild does a range of original accessory sculpts for Action Man. This set includes the helmet, truncheon, radio and whistle chain to transform the police motorcyclist into a regular police constable.

matwild at ebay


Modelingtoys Metropolitan Armed Police Officer

Modeling Toys Metropolitan Armed Police Officer (2017)

Another offering from Modeling Toys, this one uses a head sculpt based on the infamous '#HipsterCop' - PC Peter Swinger of the MPS who was snapped policing an EDL protest in 2015. The uniform and accessories are mostly based on those of a Diplomatic Protection Group officer:

MPS armed police officer accessories



Soldier Story Specialist Firearms Officer

Soldier Story SCO19 - SFO (2015)

SC&O19 is the Met's Specialist Firearms Command, providing full time firearms support to the MPS. This was an expo exclusive rather than a general release but you can read a fuller review of the figure over at Toy Haven.



Easy and Simple SC019 Figure

Easy & Simple MPS Specialist Firearms Command CTSFO (2017)

Accurate looking MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Officer.



Big Chief Studios TARDIS

Big Chief Studios actually do two versions of the TARDIS - a police call box based on the 1929 Gilbert MacKenzie Trench design, produced for the Met and phased out in the 1970s - in 1/6 scale: the 11th doctor's, and the 10th doctor's. You can also get plans on the net to build your own, and all kinds of money boxes and things which might work as diorama pieces if you're not too fussy about the sci-fi details.



Little Big Man Motorway Patrol

In the mid 1970s Palitoy reinvented Madelman for the UK market as 'Little Big Man' - check out the Plaid Stallions page on him for more info on that Motorway Patrol set. The doll was available separately or with the very cool police range rover. LBM was only 1/10 scale but I've included him because options are kind of thin on the ground, and it would be kid sized in 1/6 scale so might still be useful.

Other kid sized options include the roughly 1/12 scaled Sylvanian Families 'Bobby' Badger who has been available with a bike or in a set with a police box.





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Policing in Miniature






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