Monthly Archives: February 2016


I was sad to hear of Frank Kelly’s death yesterday. While a veteran actor of many stage and screen roles, to me he will always be Father Jack Hackett, the outrageous, foul-mouthed, drunken priest of the sublime Father Ted. Perfect casting. Indeed, I’d long been considering sketching the characters of the show – a shame it is that Jack comes under these circumstances.

Drink, feck, arse, girls.

Frank Kelly

1938 – 2016

My intrepid blogging expedition, whose aim is to shoehorn The Crystal Maze into as many of our exchanges as possible, continues this evening, with another three-dimensional homage to the show – this time, the iconic Crystal Dome itself. The shadows are a bit intense, but the deflector and emitter animation is a lot of fun and working better than I’d have expected. The geodesic structure of the Dome was created simply by altering my previous time crystal and making a second Atom Array for the framework.

crysDOME-94For the circa 100 per cent of you reading who haven’t ever seen the programme – or were quickly bored by my essay and didn’t read it, not that I could blame you – a team of six journey through the maze, pitting themselves against fiendish and frustrating mental and physical challenges. For each of these games that they beat, the team receive a time crystal. Each crystal wrested from the maze is worth five seconds inside the Crystal Dome, a glorified wind tunnel full of gold and silver tokens.


The crystals bagged by the team were placed on a podium and ‘went out’ in five-second intervals. For the record, no team ever came close to that many crystals – I believe ten was the max. Some even got to the Dome with just one!

Inside the Dome, the team must collect and post one hundred gold tokens into the letterbox (or ‘cosmic pyramid’ as Ed Tudor-Pole labelled it). For every silver token that inadvertently slips through, one gold is taken away. Really it was just blind luck – there was no time to sort them, so stuff stuff stuff the letterbox was the general plan of attack. Sadly it was a plan of attack which led to many teams posting a sub-zero tally of what they were after, and that wonderful water sports day out in Hay-on-Wye passed them by.

DOME-11_0236I’ve said before, it’s by far the weakest section of The Crystal Maze in terms of the mechanic, but it’s unquestionably memorable and I’d still rather like a go. It’s a good job there’s that live theatre experience thing starting up in London soon!

Here is a rare occasion – a team who actually won! It’s the full episode, but on playing it should start immediately before the Dome:

Start the fans, please!

edtudorpole-1…but you can call him Ed! I wanted desperately to draw something, somebody, and a frantic search pulling up a promotional shot for The Crystal Maze that I’d not seen before seemed to be some kind of sign. Who knows what the giant sword has to do with the maze, though. Could it be a reference to this, do you think?

Hoo-rah, Hoo-rah, Hoo-rah, Yea.

For some reason all the Tudor-Pole clips on YouTube seem to be made up of four pixels, with a video recording from the original transmission apparently being in the best nick. So let’s enjoy that.


It’s been quite some time since I spun the wheel and went shopping for inspiration at Reddit Gets Drawn. For those newer readers that might not know: I have a colourful, uber-glamorous Wheel of Fortune-esque spinner, adorned with various time limits. I spin it, and it gives me the time limit for a drawing. Simples. I used to do it as a weekly thing on Saturdays, but after completing the first wheel, Christmas came and went and my routine was knocked about. Now I’ve settled on it just being a sporadic, whenever-I-darn-well-feel-like-it kind of thing, which will do me just fine.

Anyway shut up Jacob and get to the point. After a dusting off and a fresh coat of glitter, the wheel played ball, and gave me 130 MINUTES to work with my latest subject.

What an absolutely adorable photograph! I couldn’t resist. This time limit was generous, and thank goodness too – I must have abandoned and restarted shading the face five or six times in the first forty or fifty minutes. The shading just wasn’t working, there was either not enough contrast or far too much. Needless to say, this stumble worried me somewhat, ever more mindful of the ticking clock, but thankfully I managed to get something sweet out of it in the end. I focused heavily on the cheeks and chin, trying to really bring out that grin.

I’m happy to devote more time to the face than the clothing, it was well worth it, but the issues encountered meant there wasn’t perhaps as much time on the outfit as I’d have wanted. I think that’s clear looking at his trousers, and something about the truck doesn’t sit right to me – I think its too clear that I just did it on another Photoshop layer, thrown on… perhaps more shading on/around it would have helped. There was a lot more charming decoration to his tanktop too, but I left that out in the interest of time.

Much as I am picking holes in it, I am chuffed with the result. I think I captured some of the sweet little boy in my drawing. And now I find myself wanting a child of my own.

Here is the Reddit post and comment thread – keep an eye on it as others might upload their own efforts.

AF-hhhWith nostalgia overflowing from my previous visit to the squared circle, the only way to overcome it was to indulge it. Thankfully the process worked in that regard, and so I’m still unsure how much further I’m going to take this, if at all.

This Triple H was the first ever figure I bought. He came with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, under a ‘Famous Scenes’ umbrella as a nod to a ladder match they had in 1998. No ladder was included.

This was back in the days when Helmsley was just another superstar trapped in gaudy purple tights, not running the show like he is now.

AF-hhh01Having two pose-able figures meant I could throw them at one another for a bit of rough and tumble. I’m sure that’s what every wrestling fan called it. That’s gotta hurt! Who the heck’s going to win this thing!?!?



AF-kane-01About fifteen or sixteen years ago, I got pretty heavily into the circus of the WWF. My father was, my brother was, my best friend was, so it seemed the natural progression from whatever else I was into at the time (genuinely can’t remember).

Being under the age of ten, this meant a steady swarm of WWF merchandise was to follow. Videos, PlayStation games, CDs, masks… the usual stuff. But the stream that drained the pocket of my mother and I the most, was that of the action figures. They came in at around seven pounds a pop, and I must have bought about seventy of the things. There were so many different types. Ones that talked. Ones that performed their own moves. There was even one series called I believe ‘Maximum Sweat’, which did what it said on the tin. I think that came just before I broke in, though, so I didn’t have those.

I can remember being so excited to get my first ones, and the boxes teased you by showing you all the others you just had to buy. Looking back, I’m not really sure why I wanted them so badly – I would easily tire of them and scarcely touch them again, rendering them even more a waste of money than anybody commented at the time. Curiously enough, my brother says similar about his over-expansive collection of Batman toys; the only recollection I have of him playing with those is with me on a couple of Saturday mornings. I daresay he spent far less on those, though! I guess it’s just the boy and his toys.

Inexplicably, I found myself becoming bored of WWF (by then WWE) when I noticed I was paying more attention to those tight trunks than I was the ‘story’ being told. This being said, these chaps were still turning up for years after at Christmas and birthdays. The last one I ever got, for my fourteenth birthday, André the Giant, stands on my bookshelf waving at me… well, I would say every morning, but these days it’s rarely morning when I get up. André’s comrades are hidden under my bed in a crate. I’ve thought about it many times, but I’ve never been able to get rid of them.

There was one figure I remember searching high and low for, and never finding: Kane. He was a masked, seven-foot beast and the storyline brother to The Undertaker. I was largely indifferent toward the character, but he was a big star and it seemed that I owned the figure of virtually every other wrestler ever to compete; this was for the sake of completion. After waxing nostalgic on these bad boys, some doodling spiralled into this – essentially making my own Kane… in Photoshop, of course. This is a relatively new model but is based on his 2000 look, so precisely my era. I painted rather than sketched in my usual fashion, to try and give a smoother, more plasticky finish, then broke the figure up into its joints. It was sweet to have a pose-able Kane at long last; below are some of the results.

Kiddy me is smiling. I might do some more of these using my own collection, we’ll see.


pancakes-0Another (quickish – just under an hour) experiment with Corel’s pastels, with some follow-up Photoshop tweaks. Pancakes! To be honest, I only knew it was Shrove Tuesday when Nick Hewer told me in opening today’s Countdown. I’ll have to get some ingredients and have a good toss some other day of the week… I look forward to that.

ejectorseat0021The wild ride in store for this edition is another at the scary end of the park, and surely one of the most ominous of all – Ejection Seat, Slingshot, reverse bungee, whatever you want to call it, it’s evil. Or at least it looks evil to me… I’ve never been on it, don’t be ridiculous.

We had one called Ejector Seat that appeared at the Pleasure Beach in the late 90s – it wasn’t this colourful, mind… in fact it looked old from the get-go and I’m sure had never even seen a lick of paint – but they’ve been around since the mid 70s. It’s an intimate ride, with only two seats in a rather modest gondola. This is attached to two giant arms by elastic cord. When the riders are in place, the gondola is raised by a crane into position, and there’s terrible suspense as the elastic cord strengthens down from the top. Then, the operator would typically yell “HEADS BACK!!!” as if your life depended on it – it probably did, to be fair – and seconds later, you are released and off you go, ejected at horrifying speed into space, and essentially flung around freely until the cords relax and you are lowered back down, very much a changed person. Much like the bungee jumping it tried to compete with, it was not without dangers; I’m sure I heard that passengers had to sign a contract beforehand, saying they know of the risks involved.


The main reason for picking this ride was to experiment with some more of Cinema 4D’s dynamics – I searched for tutorials on actual slingshots as I thought I could then transplant it into the ride. This led me to the Cloth tool, which, it turns out, is excellent! So very simple to achieve results with. The ‘Cloth Belt’ tool is another wonder, and did exactly what I wanted; it allows an object to hold onto a point of a Cloth object, essentially letting it hang. It’d be good for clothes on a washing line…


…or indeed good for our ride. There was a lot of fumbling around with various forces and air resistance and flexibility and too many to name, but it was exciting to see it gradually come together. I made two cords, one for each side – they are ‘belted’ onto the top of the tower and a notch of the gondola. By just moving the gondola around, the cords react dynamically in real-time, which is most enjoyable!



Stills don’t do the dynamics justice, so I rendered a quick video of it bouncing around:

Not the most artistically beautiful of my fairground beasts to date, but surely the most valuable exercise, delving beyond the modelling and starting to look at some of the enviable powers afforded to this program. More soon.

…Blobby Blobby Blobby! I don’t know whether to apologise to those outside the UK for introducing you to Mr. Blobby, or to those inside the UK for reintroducing you to Mr. Blobby. Perhaps both would be wise.

Mr. Blobby was a fixture of Saturday night TV in the 90s, the sidekick to Noel Edmonds on the hugely popular Noel’s House Party. He was created as part of the ‘Gotcha’ segment – an elaborate prank played on various celebrities, captured for our amusement – but apparently became so popular with the audience that he not only earned his spot on the program as a recurring character, but also spilled out into other avenues.

Like the 1993 Christmas Number One. Yes, that song.

Wikipedia says there was a follow-up in 1995, Christmas in Blobbyland, which bombed in comparison. I genuinely had no idea.

I shouldn’t really criticise the character, though, for I loved Blobby at the time, and seemed to fall for a lot of the merchandise. I had Blobby toys and always used to get cans of Blobby pink lemonade from Woolworths (that’s going back, too). For my second birthday, which would have been just a month after that wonderful song topped the chart, I had a Blobby birthday cake – it was quite a marvel, and it’s lucky I wasn’t older as I probably wouldn’t have let it be eaten otherwise.


Don’t I look impressed?

Blobby’s repertoire of waddling about and saying nothing but “Blobby Blobby Blobby!” did, surprisingly, get stale after a while – eventually the character faded away, much like House Party itself. By the end, the only real enduring feature for me was the Gotcha. The one they played on Richard Whiteley was and remains excellent; on a scale of its own, they rigged and recorded a whole brilliantly nightmarish episode of Countdown with the most troublesome (and flatulent) contestants ever. Astonishingly, only a few minutes ever made it to air, but the uncut recording session is on YouTube. Highly recommended.

How hilarious it is to see Whiteley trying so hard (and failing) to keep patient and salvage the programme right to the end. Mr Blobby didn’t feature – that might have given the game away, even to Richard. But, while most younger than me will likely have very little idea of what on earth this thing is, Blobby continues to crop up here and there, and, for all the foibles I can now observe, the memories of coming together as a family to watch Noel’s House Party on a Saturday evening are, collectively, very fond ones.