For the birds

For no particular reason, I decided to clear a few bird monsters off the painting table — in this case, three cockatrices.

cockatrices

They are two versions of the Grenadier cockatrice (the earlier one, I think, is the single-piece casting; it was later reworked to have one separate wing, which I guess enhances the three-dimensionality a little but it never fit quite right on the model.  In between them is a casting of the Metal Magic sculpt, produced by MegaMinis.

The cockatrice is one of the many mythical creatures attested to in the Bible, so I guess some sizable percentage of the US population is committed to believing in them, like unicorns, dragons, and so on. Cockatrices are often confused with basilisks, since in folkore the terms are equivalent but in D&D they are very distinct monsters. Apart from the Book of the Dun Cow, my favorite cockatrice story is probably the cockatrice of Warsaw, since it is presented as true account.

The other bird-monsters are a pair of TSR Broobies, and a cheap plastic pelican which I painted to look like them.  The shape of the head and body are pretty off, and I made a rather poor effort to reshape the bill, but for as often as I’ll use them I guess it’s good enough.  One of the Broobies I bought back when it was in production (I liked the firbolg that was packaged with it, probably) and since his legs broke repeatedly, he’s got a piece of paper clip holding him upright (you can see it pretty well in the first pic). I always think of them as axebeaks, rather than broobies, for some reason.

axe-beaks-2

ax-beaks-1

Published in: on September 23, 2014 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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C’mon, internet, show us yer owlbears!

I decided to paint this Reaper owlbear I picked up really cheaply a year or two ago (it is from their “PB” line of retro lead/tin castings, so it was cheaper than the modern lead-free metal version, and moreover the FLGS had it 50% off!).  I found some pictures of other people’s paint jobs which I used for ideas.  Once I was done with it, I thought I ‘d repaint my TSR owlbear.  Back in the early 1980s, TSR, in a fit of hubris, decided to tank the AD&D license from Grenadier, give it to Citadel (though I never saw any Citadel AD&D minis anywhere in the US, maybe it was a UK-only deal?), and finally in 1983-1984 they produced their own line of minis which were pretty uneven in terms of quality.  I only had a few of these, including an owlbear that came in a blister with a rolly-polly polar bear.

Anyway I looked, in vain, for a painted example of this guy and came up with nada.  I did my best to make him match the Reaper owlbear’s colors and markings, though really he looks a bit more like a vultureracoon than an owlbear.

tsrowlbearThere he is in all his glory.

Below, the Reaper owlbear, looking much more obviously owly and beary.

reaper-owlbear

Look at that glorious plumage!

owlbear-plumage

Even accounting for the puffed up plumage, the Reaper mini is a good deal bigger, so maybe these are a mated pair.

owlbear family

In which case that weird Grenadier hawk-goat thing would be a an owlbear cublet.

Sadly, owlbears are getting to be as rare as hen’s teeth due to the fad for owlbearskin rugs.

owlbear-extinction

My only regret is I forgot to put any feathers on the rug.  Maybe I’ll touch up that some time.

I did recall seeing a painted TSR owlbear in an ad once, in a Dragon magazine, and by chance I found it in the first issue I checked (#62).

owlbear ad Not a bad paint job at all.  I would like to point out that their painter noticed the racoonish features too and put bands on the tail.

The rest of the ad has some of the character minis and you can see that the hand on the right has a spiked leather bracer. \m/  I guess TSR was feeling threatened by the Grenadier ads of the same period which featured a dude in full armor sitting at a table with their competing line of minis.

Do you, or did you, own any owlbear minis? Leave a comment and/or post a link if you’ve got something to show off.  Or draw an owlbear.  C’mon, internet, show us yer owlbears!!!

 

Published in: on April 3, 2014 at 9:10 am  Comments (9)  
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The otyugh: what an offal monster

The otyugh is one of those D&D monsters that doesn’t come from folklore, literature, or any identifiable source other than Gary Gygax’s imagination.*  The Monster Manual doesn’t give any indication of their coloring, but given their habitat of offal, refuse, and dung, I’m thinking brown or red-brown.

So here’s a sort of step-by-step guide to how I painted mine.  The minis I had were two Grenadier Otyughs (one I’ve had since the 1980s and another Scottsz gave me); a TSR neo-otyugh (purchased very cheaply at Origins 2006); and a TSR Otyugh (also a gift from Scottsz).

1. Sprayed with grey primer.

2. Painted with somewhat thinned Burnt Umber craft paint (I use Ceramcoat mostly).

3. Dry brushed with a mix of white and burnt umber.

4. This is where I got sloppy and stopped photographing each step.  I painted their eyes, mouths, and bases black, and then dry-brushed their tentacles a mix of pink and (Caucasian) flesh.  Then I gave the tentacles a wash of thinned down Citadel red ink.  (I bought a set of their inks in about 1989 at NeoVention.  I don’t use them that often and still have them.  They never dried out!)

5. The finished minis.  I painted white eyes, spines, teeth, and claws, and inked the edges of the mouths red, and gave the neo-otyugh a pink tongue.  In hindsight maybe a little yellow would have enhanced the teeth.  I don’t think they actually brush or floss.

Having two Grenadier otyughs let me use one as a ‘rough draft’ while figuring out the paint scheme.


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*There was some speculation, maybe at Dragonsfoot or some blog, that the otyugh was partly inspired by the ‘garbage disposal monster’ in the first Star Wars movie.

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (6)  
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Finally painted some more minis

This weekend we got some “craft time” in, and I finally finished a few figures on my painting desk.  I am noticing that my eyesight is significantly worse than it used to be, and my ability to paint small details, especially eyes, is plummeting, although my ability to whip out a mini in about half an hour remains strong.  I think I spent four hours total painting this weekend, which accounts for the above five minis and work progressing on about a dozen others.  Of course some of the work on these guys was already done (the fighter had been started last August to give you an idea of how rarely I’ve been painting lately).

Anyway the first two are a satyr produced by Mega Minis from an older Metal Magic mold, and a TSR “korred” that I picked up at Origins about five years ago.

Black hair speeds things up immensely since I get to skip shading.  I sometimes highlight black hair but not on these two.  For a TSR mini, the korred is not bad.  He actually has a lot of character that was not evident before I painted him.

The next two are lamias.  Again there is a Mega Minis recast of a Metal Magic figure (on the right), and an older original — a Grenadier lamia that was very graciously sent to me by Scottsz.

Lamias are another monster from Greek myth, like the satyrs, but interestingly the Greek version was half woamn, half snake, while the D&D version is half woman, half mammal (I think the Grenadier one is supposed to have the lower half of a deer or elk, while the Mega Minis one is clearly half cat).

Lastly there is one of the Citadel “Fantasy Tribe Fighters” guys that was sent to me by Mike at Specter Studios.

I am not terribly satisfied by this one, but I know he’ll never be anyone’s first choice for a PC so I just did a ‘wargame’ standard paint job on him — he’s only ever going to be a NPC.  I like his pose but he’s not very inspiring for a ‘hero’.

Don’t ask me what that little maggot-looking thing on the ground next to him is.  I didn’t see it when I was photographing them.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (5)  
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Caverns of Doom figures, rebased etc.

I started this blog, lo these many weeks ago, to document a project of recreating the Caverns of Doom and the Sorcerer’s Crypt.  As I sought out information to fill in some gaps (Ihad lost some of the rules sheets and discarded the boxes, which had the character and monster stats in the case of the Sorcerer’s Crypt.  I found Scottsz’s Sorcerers of Doom project and was so impressed with what he was up to that I thought I’d start my own blog.  That’s when I put up most of the “static pages” too, as I was figuring out how blogs work.  The Caverns of Doom page just shows the map.  You can see some older, blurry pics on the Caverns of Doom post here.

So I touched up a few of these guys, and rebased them all on dungeon black.  I still have a few other original Heritage figures that came with the set to paint up, but in the meantime I’ve got similarly old-school stand-ins for the rest.

Left to right, a Grenadier wizard, a Prince August elf (cast from a mold), a Grenadier cleric, a TSR barbarian (the original figure in the set is a “barbarian woman”), a Heritage paladin, standing in for the knight, and the original thief figure, still one of the best D&D thieves I’ve seen.  They are standing on the map I made.

A slightly better shot of the wizard.  He is clearly using some sort of protection scroll, as it is pointed at his opponent!

Some of the monsters.  not pictured: the rats.  I have three of the original four rats, but usually use some plastic rats from the Heroquest game.  Back row, left to right, Grenadier vampire, original Heritage skeleton archer, Grenadier skeleton, original Heritage demon, a Standard Games mon-ogre standing in for the hobgoblin.  Front row, a Grenadeir slime and a spider made from a dollar store toy (you can get bags of dozens of these little glow-in-the dark spiders at Halloween…).

But the Caverns of Doom are deadly because of the Dragon most of all.  My Heritage dragon is mostly MIA (I still have the body section but not the head, wings, and tail!).  so I use a Grenadier that is the right size (3″ long) to fill the three squares.

Quite feline, actually.  This dragon is clearly the stalking kind.  I don’t like how the striped tail turned out but otherwise I’m happy with him.

Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 5:51 am  Comments (2)  
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TSR’s unloved figures: an occasional series

As I find/paint/photograph my small collection of TSR-produced minis, I’ll post them in this series. 

From what I can piece together, TSR was somewhat dastardly in its dealings with miniatures manufacturers.  First Minifigs got a brief deal (in 1977) to produce D&D and Greyhawk figures, but this was taken away and Heritage Models was offered a deal in 1979…only to have that fall apart after they’d designed a rather large line, which would become their Dungeon Dwellers.  (This is basically he said she said type stuff, though.  Apparently Heritage had terrible management too!)  Next Grenadier got the AD&D license in 1980, and this lasted only a few years.  Among the issues, apparently, was TSR’s unilateral decision to let MPC create plastic versions of many Grenadier without permission, attribution, or royalties.  But again this is partly hearsay.   In 1983 TSR started making their own line of D&D, AD&D, Gama World, Marvel Superheroes, and Star Frontiers figures. (Grenadier had also made figures for other TSR games like Gama World and Boot Hill, as well as other company’s games like Traveller, Champions, and Call of Cthulhu…I wonder if this antagonized TSR?)  TSR would give Citadel the D&D rights in 1985, but with limitations that made it impossible or at least impractical to sell their figures here in the US (that could have something to do with Citadel’s contracts with Ral Partha, though).  The legend is that TSR intentionally kept D&D figures off the market in this way to give Ral Partha a big advantage when they finally got the license to make to make AD&D figures in 1987, but that seems unlikely to me.  I am probably not in the minority when I say TSR’s line of D&D figures the worst of the lot, but they do deserve some credit for making some figures that painted up nicely and actually putting out some good sets.  The main problems were lack of skill and or experience on the aprt of their sculptors, too many boring characters and not enough interesting monsters.  Why did they release orcs, goblins, the elementals pictured below, and so on, when there were so many D&D critters that had never been made into figures?

Here’s a pair of elementals I picked up super cheap at Origins a few years back:

An earth elemental. (more…)

Published in: on April 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm  Comments (2)  
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Anglo-Saxons

The death of Harold Godwinson

Granted, the Vikings are more popular, and the Normans were the final victors, but the English army of 1066 had heart.   Harold and his men raced north to repel a massive Viking invasion, catching the enemy by surprise and massacring them.  Then they raced south to Hastings, shedding most of their (horseless) light troops and levies along the way.  There Normans won the day, but only after taking shocking casualties from the Huscarl’s axes.   The dismounted huscarls of Harold’s army turned back repeated charges by the Norman knights, which is pretty incredible really. (more…)

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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Bugbears for breakfast

Or, why was Trampier only allowed to draw bugbears from the waist up?

(more…)

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm  Comments (3)  
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Why did it have to be snakes!?!

Organizing my figures has been life-long struggle.   OK, not a particularly important struggle, but still, it’s been a pain.  Take monsters.  Do you just put them in boxes willy nilly where they fit most compactly (to minimize the total boxes needed), or do you put them in some sort of order — by name, by hit dice/level/challenge rating, by type, by locale (swamp vs underground vs arctic…), by theme, etc.?  If you are a collector, do you organize them by manufacturer?  There are lots of possibilities.  I finally settled on putting most them in “themed” boxes.  So lizardmen, troglodytes,  and kobolds all went in one box; ogres, trolls, & giants in another; etc.  The drow and spiders I posted earlier actually share a box with my snake-themed monsters (“spiders & snakes”).  These are the serpent folk:

These “giant” snakes (on a 1″ grid battlemat) are a Ral Partha cobra, and two Grenadier  figures.

(more…)

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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Army of the dwarfs

My brother has always loved dwarves, and built up quite an army. He was never as patient at painting as I am, and ultimately I finished a lot of these, or painted them start to finish in some cases, although back when we were building Warhammer armies there was a certain rivalry and I hated to waste time when I could be painting my own orcs…anyway since then I’ve rebased his dwarves for HOTT/DBx/etc. (more…)

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm  Comments (6)  
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