28MM PULP EGYPTIAN DIG/THE TOMB OF MEN-HER-RA

This is my third 25mm/28mm project and my first involving the Pulp Era if that is defined as being the period between the wars. The Mummy with Brendan Fraser is probably the film that had the greatest influence on this project. I love the look of that film. I’m sure the Indiana Jones movies (Lost Ark and Last Crusade), Alien (probably less obvious), The English Patient and Legend of the Lost (The Duke and Sophia) also had some influence though less direct in nature. I like the idea that my archaeological group has found an ancient Egyptian site that has previously gone undiscovered. The idea that something as large as this could have gone undiscovered until the first half of the 20th Century despite the fact that it is within reasonably short driving distance of modern civilization hinges on the vast emptiness of the desert. I remember that during the First Gulf War Saddam Hussein ignored the fact that the Coalition massed huge forces along his desert flank because he believed that to move an army through that desert was folly since it would simply get lost in the desert’s vastness. He had no concept of GPS. The 1920’s/1930’s equivalent of GPS is the post-WWI airplane. In the years following WWI it seems reasonable that a plane flying over the desert could accident upon an unknown ancient Egyptian complex that had gone undiscovered simply because there had been no modern reason for traveling by land out into that part of the desert, but from the platform of an airplane that which was unknown to those bound to the earth could be seen by those with the freedom to fly. In fact, that is actually taking place in Egypt today. A year or so ago I watched a cable show that centered on an archaeologist (Sarah Parcak) whose area of interest is ancient Egypt but whose search tool is satellite imaging of areas of the desert that had not been investigated previously. From the platform of space she has been able to find topographical evidence of 1250 ancient Egyptian sites including 17 possible pyramids (two of which have been researched in the field and confirmed) unknown until now even though they are only short distances from the Nile.

This gallery is set on two 5 ft. x 7 ft. tables. This is the first time I’ve used two tables for a gallery. One table has an Egyptian town (22 buildings and an independent minaret) and my Nile. That table is really about the fact that I love buildings, boats and people going about their daily lives. The other table has the large temple complex (2 ft. x 4 ft.) and two Playmobil pyramids (each 20” at the base and about 15’ tall). That table also includes the encampment of the archeological team from the Gordon Institute for Archaeology and Paranormal Study. It is on this second table where the Pulp action will take place.

As is my practice, this collection was put together over several years before I began any painting or building. In fact, I have probably been collecting the pieces for this project for about eight years. Early on in the collection process I made a conscious decision not to take the historical/technical side of Egypt or archeology too seriously. In fact, a simple look at the entrance to my temple complex with its smiling sphinx head will tell anyone that my tongue was in my cheek when putting this together. In keeping with this I decided that most of the wheeled vehicles used in this gallery would be toys marketed with the release of the Disney film Atlantis the Lost Empire. I love those vehicles, but I acknowledge there is a cartoon quality about them. In putting together my two Playmobil pyramids, I added a fourth side wall to both (the Playmobil toy comes with only three walls so that the kids can play inside through the open fourth side). I was able to get the two additional walls on ebay for $24 which included shipping. I’ve been looking for the Playmobil pyramids at the swap meet since 2009, but as yet no part of one has shown up. Consequently, both of my pyramids were purchase at Toys R Us. I left one of the pyramids with the look that Playmobil gave it (again not historically correct, but fun), but I think that despite the fact that it doesn’t have the look of a traditional pyramid, it painted up great and is a nice addition to the look of the table. The second Playmobil pyramid is significantly modified to give it a more traditional pyramid appearance. That was a little risky because it is an expensive piece, and I wasn’t sure how it would come out, but I’m very pleased with the finished product. I added to that pyramid a removable section that gives the appearance (I hope) of an opening in the pyramid complete with scaffolding. That was done with Evergreen plastic and yellow grey Milliput. It is through that opening that the archeological adventurers join the world of the undead and perhaps find themselves in a breeding chamber for alien baby pods (the influence of Alien now evidences itself). There are several interior layouts most of which are based on five PetCo fish tank rooms/décor pieces I picked up during a going-out-of-business sale at one of their shops… they were cheap ($1.98 each). Each of those rooms is 7” W x 8” L x 9” T, and they have a very ancient Egyptian ruins look to them/perhaps more in flavor than in fact. I modified them so that two can be put together to form a larger room. They thus form the sarcophagus room, the treasure room and a space where the confrontation between the archeologists and the mummy forces takes place. For that space I have included some victims bound as mummies. I took that idea from Hammers of LAF who took it from the Tin Tin adventure Cigars of the Pharaoh. Hammers consistently produces absolutely wonderful vignettes, and I have borrowed ideas from him before.  

The temple complex walls and the inner temple are from the Great Adventure of Lost Kingdom Playset. Over the years I have been able to pick up three of them… two from the swap meet and one from a fellow I know who had lost interest in it and just wanted his money back. In all three cases I got them cheap, and they proved to be outstanding additions to my collection. The entrance to my temple complex is a Fisher Price toy entitled Great Adventures Hidden Treasure Pyramid. I tend to think of it as the smiling sphinx, and while it will never be thought of as having an authentic look, it fit perfectly over one of the large wall sections of the Great Adventure of Lost Kingdom and after some modification and paint, I think it is a great addition to the temple complex. I modified the inner temple by covering its original entrance and adding a modified Egyptian Gate by Scotia Grendel as the new entrance. I also attached plastic backing to the columns that surround its entrance area. It was intended as a toy and as such the manufacturer left the backside unfinished. I also sanded off the figures molded on the front of those columns because they didn’t work well with the look of the complex. The “doorways” (openings without doors) throughout the temple complex were more finished on one side than the other so I used pieces by Scotia Grendel (3 more modified Egyptian Gates and the Pharraoh’s Tomb). The two obelisks in the temple complex are by Summit Collection. The two large seated pharaoh statues are resin bookends I bought at the swap meet… lucky finds. The large columns in the first courtyard of the temple complex are fish tank décor from PetCo. They are beautiful pieces… not cheap but beautiful. Between two of them I added a connecting cap piece using Duplos covered with Milliput and then scribed with lines and symbols and painted to match the columns. Because of the size of these columns, I had to widen the complex, and I did that by making several inserts out of Duplos covered with cut pieces of Evergreen plastic. In front of the entrance to the temple complex are two sphinx statues that I bought at Pet Smart. They are fish tank décor that I modified with Milliput in order to close some of the holes in each piece; holes that existed as swimming passages for fish that I didn’t need for this project. Once the holes were filled and the Milliput hardened, I touched up the figures by adding paint to match the original coloring of the pieces. I liked the original paint work on those and decided to retain it. The third large sphinx on the table is also a piece of fish tank décor; it looks like something that PetCo would sell, but I’m not sure. I picked it up at the swap meet. The treasure came from several sources including Reaper, Toobes, Crocodile Games and an Egyptian chariot by Hinchcliff that I bought more than 30 years ago.

My “modern” Egyptian town is made up of 22 buildings with one separate minaret, some random connecting walls, a well, a couple fountains, some palms, several market stalls, two wharves and a treadmill crane. Eight of the buildings are by Kobblestone Miniatures, seven are by Architects of War, a mosque and separate minaret are by Miniature Building Authority as are the two arcades, the merchant’s house and the fountain in the town’s center. Two buildings and a patio are by JR Miniatures, and one small domed building is by Monolith Designs. The walls, wharves, and treadmill crane are all scratch built using Evergreen and JTT plastic. The wharves are built around Duplos to give them both strength and uniform structure. The market stalls are by Kobblestone Minaitures and Miniature Building Authority. Most of the merchandise in the shops (not the market stalls) is modifications of the pieces found in Mega Minis’ Bazaar (#21001). The well and small fountain are by Kobblestone Miniatures. Most of the palm trees are from the Lemax spooky town collection and two are from Kobblestone Miniatures. 

The dhows or sambuk are from the Old Glory 25s Shipyard collection (Colonial and Sudan MCL10) and the colonial river steamer is by Miniature Building Authority. I couldn’t decide on an alternative color scheme for the river steamer so I left it as it came from Miniature Building Authority. Normally I paint everything to provide a uniform affect but in this case all I painted on the river steamer was the stern awning because the original paint job on that awning was poor. The hippos and crocodiles are toys I picked up at the swap meet for 25 to 50 cents each and modified and painted… the water surrounding the hippos and crocs is Milliput. I used Milliput and floral wire to make the reefed sails on the dhows as well.  

As stated above, most of the wheeled vehicles are toys that were marketed by Disney when Disney released the film Atlantis the Lost Empire. As you might expect based on their origin, they have a cartoon look to them but the moment I saw them I knew I had to find a place for them in at least one of my galleries and this seemed the perfect place. I have six of them. Actually I purchased a seventh Atlantis truck at the swap meet the morning we took the pictures for this gallery, but it needed modification and paint so it will have to wait for another day before making its gallery appearance. The two 1911 Model T Fords are Entex 1:43 scale models I picked up off the bargain table at Arnie’s Trains for $1.99 each. The drivers are the Eureka hansom cab drivers. I replaced the head on one to give it a different look. The 1923 Fordor Sedan is by ERTL, and I got it at the swap meet for a couple dollars. The truck used by my Paragon Studios film crew is another piece I got for about 50 cents at the swap meet. I purchased another broken car that offered better wheels and added those wheels to the Paragon Studios truck to give it a better look. All-in-all, that truck probably cost me about $3.

The archeologists’ camp is composed of tents and work awnings, many of which are by Miniature Building Authority although I added a few more tents that I had sitting around doing nothing and needed the opportunity to be part of some gallery. The baggage is made up of odds and ends I’ve picked up over the years. A couple of the suitcases are scratch built from Evergreen plastic and the hat boxes and two of the suitcases are from the Foundry Darkest Africa line of figures. When Eureka came out with its line of 1920’s jazz dancers, I loved them immediately and decided to include them in this collection as well… all work and no play must apply to archeologists as well as the rest of us. The victrola is by Scale Structures Ltd. It’s HO scale and a bit expensive, but it was the only one I could find and though a little small I’m pleased with the way it looks.

Last but not least is a review of the figures used. I’ll try to be thorough, but I am sure I will leave something out because there are about 300 figures involved in this collection. When I put this collection together I decided I wanted it to have a two period option: Victorian and Pulp Eras. In terms of the mummies and Egyptian civilians this was no problem. Those figures work in both periods, but the Europeans were not as flexible. The big problem was with the females. Their outfits simply didn’t transfer neatly from one period to the other. Although I painted figures for both periods, I had just completed a huge Victorian gallery so my focus for this gallery was the Pulp Era. Thus most of the Victorians remained in the box… painted but largely unused. For the record most of the Victorian figures are from the Foundry and most of those are from their Darkest Africa line… wonderful figures. I also have some nice Hinterland pieces as well. For the Pulp Era figures I used some of the Foundry (males), as well as figures from Copplestone Castings, Pulp Figures, Old Glory 25s, Artizan Designs, and Blue Moon. The diggers are from West Wind, Blue Moon and Askari. The Pulp Era Egyptians and mummies are largely by Reaper, Crocodile Games, Eureka, Blue Moon, and Mega Minis (their now oop Arabian Nights pack). The figure being carried in the sedan chair is by RAFM (Wizard in Sedan Chair, Fantasy 3750). The Alien mother, birthing sack, columns and pods are by Horrorclix. I got them at a website that appears to do close-outs of Horrorclix figures. I picked up two of the Alien vs. Predator packs for $13 each. They are really nice pieces. I repainted and rebased the pods but I left the Alien mother and the birthing sack as it came.

I began the actual work on this project the first week of November 2013 and finished all the building and painting in the middle of May 2014. It’s been a great project that offered me a wonderful six months of fun. As always my daughter is the principal photographer but my wife brought her photographic talents to this gallery as well. We took the pictures in the garage with the doors open to allow as much natural light as possible. We used the garage instead of the backyard because I wanted to set both tables up the day before shooting the pictures and living as I do in a beach community, the sea air can get a little damp so it doesn’t lend itself leaving buildings and figures out overnight. As previously stated, this project provided me with years of enjoyment through the planning and production stages… really a wonderful experience. I hope you enjoy it too.

28MM PULP EGYPTIAN DIG/THE TOMB OF MEN-HER-RA