Sunday, 3 July 2016

Mini prehistoric Project 2: Cavegirls and cavemen, a dinosaur book and a flashing girl

The new pack of cavemen characters under way with the three unfinished cavemen from years ago

Well, I have managed quite a bit of painting over the last ten days or so.  Certainly, the most for around a year.  This was largely due to finishing off my Lucid Eye Neanderthals.  Putting them in one of my 'painted' file boxes I spotted some Copplestone cavegirls and cavemen which I had only just started so, feeling suitably prehistoric, I started to do some work on these.  Then I realised that there was a pack of cavemen characters I didn't have, so a quick order to North Star (and a very quick parcel almost by return) means I now have seven cavemen and five cavegirls under way.  So I see this as two mini prehistoric projects.

These are all probably destined for some Lost World type scenarios rather than actual prehistoric games.  I feel  the need to boost the cavegirls a bit more and I notice that Foundry have reintroduced their elf nymphs (at an eye watering £4 each) so I may get a few (I have some already) naked ones and dress them up a bit.  Have to chop their ears off, though!  I got some more done on the cavegirls today and hope to do a bit more tomorrow.

As regards things prehistoric I recently bought, for 99p, a copy of a book which was my absolute favourite when I was at junior school.  I can remember every illustration in it from a time when sauropods had to support their weight in water, dragged their tails along the ground and no-one even dreamed of warm blooded, feathered dinosaurs.  This is, of course how they will have evolved in my Lost World, which is just as well as no one makes 28mm sized feathered dinosaurs yet. 

My original copy was given to my younger cousins years ago so I was very pleased to pick this up and can remember great tranches of the text.  It was the wonderful illustrations by Rudolph F Zallinger (1919-1995) that really captivated me, however and have fixed the image of what dinosaurs should look like (even if they didn't) in my mind even now.  I particularly loved this picture of Ankylosaurus with a flowering shrub.  Back in the sixties, Ankylosaurus used to be one of the most popular dinosaurs; along with Triceratops, Brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex (I don't approve of the Jurassic Park 'T Rex' abbreviation -  it's sloppy Americanism and anyway Trex is a block of vegetable cooking fat.)  Sadly, Ankylosaurus seems to have fallen from favour these days.  No lovely Schleich model for him, as there seem to be far more Rococo armoured dinosaurs these days.

When I was about the same age as when I got Dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles I also had all the Pyro plastic dinosaur kits.  Some of these were terrible (like the Tyrannosaurus) but the Ankylosaurus was one of the better ones.  Based on the cover art I painted mine chocolate brown with a lovely metallic silver top part!

From the Age of Reptiles mural

Siberian born Zallinger is most famous for his giant mural The Age of Reptiles (1947) in Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History.  Two of his illustrations were used as part of a slide show given in the original Godzilla (1954) film 

New Zealand...I mean a Carboniferous woodland

It was his illustrations of prehistoric flora as much as the fauna that captivated me.  The ancient creatures were in fully realised environments that really acted as a portal into the past, for the eight year old Legatus.

I remember taking the book into junior school when I was eleven, in what wasn't called 'show and tell' at the time.  "Oh, poor baby!" said the pretty but stupid R in my class, looking at this picture.  It was pointless trying to explain that Tyrannosaurus and Pachycephalosaurus were both adults, I thought but I sat with her and we looked through the book together one lunchtime while all my male friends derided me for talking to a girl.  The Legatus was just starting to observe girls with rather more interest than he had before and the rather well developed for her age R was one of the girls at school he liked to observe, especially in her new Velcro fastening netball skirt. This led to some tentative, mutual first hormone-driven manouevering over my last summer term at junior school (and especially during country dancing classes - to the extent that R and I were banned by the teacher from being partners - too much hand holding after the music stopped).  This culminated, when we were both hidden behind the big tree in the school playing field, in R lifting her uniform summer dress and pulling down her navy blue knickers to give me a flash of her new blonde curls.  She then spoiled it all by demanding half a crown for another look.  Girls are stupid, I decided, you can get an Airfix kit for that!

You have to grab what you want!

Sadly, junior school finished before R and I had any more opportunities to discuss dinosaurs or anything else, for that matter.  I had completely forgotten about this incident until I looked at this book again but now I can clearly remember exactly where I was sitting in the school hall when she made her "poor baby" comment in the prehistoric summer of 1971.  Subsequently, I regretted not trying to give her a kiss and would have to wait another year for that from my next forward France.