Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Steam, You Steam, We All Steam For Elephants

So over on his Steelonsand Blog, Steelonsand has been working on a project to create the airship of Jules Verne's Robur. It's a pretty cool project and has gotten me looking for the books (Robur the Conqueror, Master of the World). Until I did some research I'd forgotten I'd seen the movie with Vincent Price, which was a mishmash of the two books.

I've also been on a Edgar Rice Burroughs kick, specifically around the Mars/Barsoom and Venus books, a result of a month or so of puttering around on VSF stuff.

So last weekend I decided to hit a used bookstore near me that I knew had a Burroughs' crate in the back, mainly hoping to find the first book in each of the Mars and Venus series, I have a bunch of the rest but haven't started either series since I couldn't start at the beginning..

So I did score Princes of Mars, and some Tarzans (the lost city type ones), but I hit a nice motherlode of Verne as well. Michael Strogoff, Up the Niger Bend, and Master of the World (so I'm still stuck looking for the beginning of a series!). Also there were two books, Demon of Cawnpore and Tigers & Traitors, which more in-depth reading of the back blurbs revealed to be the two parts of one novel, The Steam House.

This is a long-winded way of getting to the point: I now have a book about a steam elephant! Not just a steam elephant though, I was planning on doing some of those as Contraptions for Land Ironclads anyways, in fact someone on the Wessex Games VSF mailing list has already statted some up.

This is a steam elephant pulling a caravan of "steam houses".

This is steam-nerd heaven to the nth degree. And I never knew. Now I need a proper land ironclad version, or two in miniature.

So while I just got into a few pages last night, the internet has proved useful, and I now have some initial musings to post.

This is the edition I have:
Kind of small, I'll try to get a scan or photo of my book, but it shows an elephant-like elephant pulling an Indian-esque palace on wheels. The howdah is circular and has a couple of old school bombards sticking out the side. I'm liking this direction.

But not this one:
This looks like Mecha Godzilla or Robo-Kong, a 1930's or 1950's Art Deco steam elephant. No sense of Victorian style. So I ain't doing this version.

I'm back on track with this, from Wikipedia:
Gives a bit more detail, still a round howdah, but no signs of cannon. The trunk with steam coming out is awesome, and I found a perfect 6mm model with Irregular's MP22 Successor Elephant (top picture in the link). The rein thingy will either get cut or turned into a steering cable.

I'm going with 6mm since I want it to look behemoth-like (in the book apparently the beast is called Behemoth), and bigger than the steam elephant contraptions I'll do with Irregular's 2mm elephants. A 6mm elephant should be about 11-12mm tall, or about 3-4 stories in 2mm scale.

This also helps, although I'm not sure what happened to the rest of the caravan...
Or why it's surrounded by elephants! Maybe they're in rut and got confused.

As a backup elephant I might get a couple of Irregular's African elephants with howdahs, and I'm thinking 6mm Hussite wagons may be a starting point for the rest of the caravan, with findings etc. as decoration. I have some coupons for next week to see what I can find. I may just end up scratch-building the caravans.

I don't think I'll mess around trying to make the howdah circular though, unless I find something that's an easy fit. I'll probably just file down the figures sticking out from the top, put on a minaret-style roof, file off one shield hanging from the side and turn the other one into a gun mantlet.

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