Saturday 6 June 2020

Retrospective: Gilliam's Folly

Long term readers of this blog will perhaps remember a little project I began thinking about all the way back in August of 2014. Those initial musings (and these later ones), in response to a game based on the Warhammer Ahoy rules and planned for BOYL 2015, would eventually turn in to fevered action in June 2015. In those few months there were a plethora of (well three!) posts charting the frenzied shipbuilding and shop mannequin abuse that ensued. And then nothing. Like a ship in the night, this Time Bandits inspired monstrosity just disappeared... 

As you can see from the picture (not one of my own but taken from Geoff's great rundown on the events of the game) the ship was completed on time and I was able to participate in the game on the Sunday of BOYL 2015. 

Now if the Rogue Trader game in my last post was one of the most entertaining games in that setting I've ever played, this game has to be one of the most entertaining EVER!

Sadly I never got round to either telling you chaps about it or giving you a closer look at the ship. 2015 was not a good year for the blog with a meagre 18 posts. Quitting my job as a teacher in York and uprooting the family to the wilds of the West coast of Cumbria did not do my post count any favours!

Mind you there's been leaner years since then, admittedly for happier reasons like spending more time outdoors, getting a permanent job with the Lake District National Park and embarking on extensive house renovations but still I should really pull thumb out bum and get on with things more often! Anyhow, I shall apologise to those of you who were perhaps waiting on tenterhooks to see the results of my shipbuilding back in 2015 and I hope this post goes some way in making up for my omission. 

So without further ado, I give you the good ship, Gilliam's Folly!

There was a bit of patching up to be done, a few spots to repaint and a lot of dusting! Other than that a house move and several years of glowering down at us from the top of a wardrobe haven't taken too much of a toll on the model.

I won't go too much in to how it was built as the several posts I linked to earlier will do that better. However, the main components are a polystyrene shop mannequin's head, the Playmobile galleon and loads of balsa wood! 

There's a bit of miliput sculpting on the mannequin's head to make it look at bit more like Ian Muir, who did such an admirable job of portraying the giant in the film. The brow and jowls were bulked up a bit and of course those lovely stretched ear lobes!

The ship had to be cut in half to give it proportions closer to the film prop - a ticklish operation indeed! Once done and the cut disguised with more miliput, it was further customised with balsa wood additions and a few pieces from the bitbox, such as the horned skull on the pole that came from one of the newer GW Ogre plastic sprues.

All in all I was rather pleased how close I got to the character in the film.

 Talking of the film, apparently the inspiration for this cinematic marvel came from a Brian Froud painting. My initial searches haven't come up with much but if anyone knows which painting that would be I'd very interested to know!

Another interesting bit of trivia is that the hut the Giant crushes as he makes landfall belongs to the Elephant Butler who appears in the Find the Fish section of Monty Python's Meaning of Life. Perhaps an instance of recycling costumes from the Flying Circus - as well as much of the cast!

 As a kid I remember being an avid watcher of British Wrestling on a Sunday afternoon. Like many, I was a big fan of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks although looking back, goodness knows why! Apparently I would have seen Ian Muir back then as well as he was a wrestler as well as giant - a fact I've only learnt today! 

In game terms, the Giant was very entertaining! I'm sure I must have taken photos during the game back in 2015 but I fear they have been mislaid on an old laptop. Added to that my memories of the game, apart from how much fun it was, are fogged with the mists of time! I do remember agreeing with Chris Cale that we should use artillery dice to determine movement for the Giant as the crew would have no control over him as per the film!

We also agreed that the Giant might become overcome with "hat envy" should he spy another ship he liked the look of - a game mechanic that led to much hilarity. Good job the top half of this model could be taken off to facilitate the Giant replacing his headgear as you'll see later on in this post!

Making sure there were plenty of options for game play within the model was an important consideration for me as well and as part of the build I wanted to make sure the interiors were accessible for miniatures. Here we have Mr and Mrs Ogre's boudoir! If you're not familiar with the characters have a look at this.

Perhaps Winston is a keen wargamer himself?

Below that we have Mrs Ogre's kitchen, well stocked with potions and ointments for Winston's many ailments - he grew too fast as a child don't you know! 

Also rather worryingly there is her large collection of kitchen knives, hatchets and other extremely sharp kitchen utensils!

Most of the furniture is made up of resin pieces from Scotia Grendel, although there are a few lead pieces from old Citadel ranges and other more modern ones.

Below that are the below deck storage areas - the top of the original Playmobil galleon could be removed which was also rather useful for my purposes!

The main deck ready for all kinds of swashbuckling action!

And finally the gun decks, if it had any! Now being used to store the rather unpleasant ingredients for Winston's medications...

I do hope to get this behemoth back on the table one day - especially after all the work that's gone in to it. I had been planning on a game for this year's BOYL based on the Time Bandits film. It was going to be some kind of variation of Talisman, with players teleporting to various time zones across the table, based on locations from the film. Ancient Greece, Sherwood Forest, 70's British suburbia and the Time of Legends, as represented by this Giant and his ship were going to be some of them. I was contemplating building a  space station as well (possibly from Hirst Arts Moulds!) and the centre of the table would be dominated by the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where players would have to face down Evil to win the game. 

Having the house rewired and the loft converted put the kibosh on any large scale scenery building projects and of course Covid 19 obviously didn't help either - perhaps a project for next year! I'm sure I'll work out a way of wangling the ship in to other games along the way as well.

Next post I'll be taking a look at the crew...


  1. One of my favourite all time wars games makes, great to see it and read about it once .

  2. What an absolute joy, thank you so much for posting these.

    1. My pleasure - great to finally give this piece some attention!

  3. I remember the original post, glad to see the update. The interior detail is very impressive.

    1. Cheers bud - it's going back a bit I know! Hopefully one day the interiors will be used in a game...

  4. Wonderful stuff, Thantsants! I remember when you started on this and its great to see it completed! Love the ship's interior!

    1. Thanks Mouse - nice to finally have it up on the blog! Those Scotia Grendel resin pieces are great for bringing the interior to life!

  5. I remember beaming from ear to ear when I saw this at BOYL. Fantastic stuff!!

    1. Cheers bud - always nice to raise a smile in folk!

  6. Thanks for going to the trouble of blogging about your creation....a few years after the fact. Not sure that I could be arsed myself, but I'm glad you did Steve :)

    I never realised how much interior work you had done on it and the split levels. It's got quite a bit of scope for use in game hasn't it!

    Well done!

    1. Thanks Mr P! Ha - yeah better late than never! Been bugging me for years that I never featured it properly on here. Then I got hold of the Time Robbers miniatures and figured I'd have to paint them before I did anything with the ship and of course they kept getting superseded by bigger projects...

      I'm really looking forward to gaming with it - it's almost a table-top in itself! All the furniture are removable resin pieces so they've come in handy with things like my Shrine of Rigg too.

  7. That's an astonishing piece of work. Absolutely stunning.

  8. Replies
    1. Thanks very much - it was loads of fun to work on!