Dimensions for Children: Demons

Last weekend I was mostly busy with yard work and cleaning my gutters (not a euphemism), but I managed to paint up a few plastic minis I’d gotten in trade from another blogger. The first batch includes:  four statues (pieces from the Risk “Godstorm” boardgame depicting gods), a TOYCO giant or ogre, and a some DFC demons/gargoyles, along with a couple of TOYCO DFC-knockoff demons.

DFC (Dimensions for Children) was a toy company that produced a lot different play sets but the one I am most familiar with was the “Dragonriders of Styx.” These came as action figures (which I’d never seen before researching DFC more recently) and a fantasy toy soldiers set I’d seen a coveted as a kid. Some of my friends — the same ones who introduced me & my brother to D&D — gave me one of the figures from that, or maybe I “borrowed” it. I eventually painted it and added it to my collection of D&D miniatures. Anyway when the opportunity to get some more of the DFC minis arose, I was pretty happy. The guy who sent me these also had some TOYCO models. TOYCO was (is?) a Canadian company that made knock-offs of the DFC playset. (In fact, they even filched the box art from DFC, right down to depicting DFC figures instead of the ones that TOYCO actually made for the set! That link also shows the full line of fantasy figures they made)  The knockoffs of the knights, wizards, and demons are all pretty recognizably based on the DFC figures, but TOYCO replaced the orcs, ogres and Viking giants with slightly smaller barbarians or cavemen, ogres with cat-like ears, and somewhat classical-styled giant. The giant reminded me of the Harryhausen bronze golem “Talos” in Jason & the Argonauts, so I painted him bronze with glowing eyes.

Toyco Giant

Bronze paint with a green wash.

Toyco Giant + viking

He’s about 2 1/2 inches tall. 28mm Viking for scale.

The demons from DFC came in two varieties — shaggy-legged demons with hooves and slimmer demons or gargoyles with skinny, almost bird-like legs.

DFCdemons

The TOYCO knockoff split the difference giving their demons shaggy legs and bird-like feet.

TOYCO demons

The two TOYCO knockoffs I got have pretty sharp detail — they seem to have been molded a lot more cleanly than the DFC pieces. In fact with the DFC guys, it is hard to tell if some of them have horns or all just have really long pointy ears. I gave it my best guess when painting them.

The faces on the TOYCO figures are very cleanly molded and quite different from each other and from the DFC figures. The axeman has a face that looks a lot like a Japanese oni mask to me. The swordsman’s face is eerily calm, and the only guy lacking fangs. He had a pronounced bump between his eyebrows which I decided to paint as a third eye. Since the TOYCO demons are a little taller and more muscular, they’ll be the leaders of this group.

demon figures again

DFC, TOYCO, DFC

Although I initially thought that the inconsistency of the DFC demons was just shoddy craftsmanship, once I painted these guys I kind of liked the variation it created. The two demons with scimitars are quite different looking even though they were presumably meant to be duplicates — the thick-necked guy looks brutish and bestial, while the thinner-necked one seems more human.

DFC demons

Left, the slim demon; right, the thick-necked version with a more upturned nose. He very strongly evokes a bat.

The demons are about 2 inches tall and mostly based on wooden dominoes (that’s how they came, and they actually make very good bases). So in D&D terms they are most like Type VI Demons or Horned Devils (except that they lack tails and horns, for the most part, so demons then.)

Lastly we have the Risk gods. I almost made the “wind” god into an elemental, but I already have several elementals I almost never use. Before looking it up I was thinking he was either a trident-less Poseidon, or the patron of pocket pool, based on his pose. Anyway they are all on short columns so making them statues was no-brainer.

statues

Risk Godstorm gods as statues

They’re about the size of 28mm figures, so they could just as well be cut from their bases and used characters or NPCs, though only the goddess with the orb has an active pose.

Published in: on April 28, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (5)  
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Treasure

treasures1

Treasure chest miniatures are usually worth using, but I am not so sure about loose piles of treasure.  The problem is that usually show some explicit items — swords, helmets, scrolls, whatever — and your literal-minded players (who have perhaps been conditioned/spoiled by the fact that I often can throw out a mini that exactly mirrors what I described) assume that they are there in the treasure.  Even so, I have acquired or made some loose piles for variety.

Here’s a pretty humble treasure pile, I think from Reaper:

reaper-treasure-pile

Here are a couple of loose piles of gold coins (in this case glitter) with some random objects.

glitter

On the left, a crude scroll made of paper, a buckler from a 1/72 Italieri Saracen, a sword from a Rafm customizable fighter kit, and a tiny twig standing in for a magic wand. On the right, a wooden bead “urn”, a plastic Skaven shield, the helm from an MPC AD&D orc, another wand, and a pebble. The coins are gold glitter.

Next up some gold bars.

bars

These came in a Grenadier Champions set, but the pile of gold bars mini was in production for a really long time — all the way back to their Wizzards & Warriors days, at least.

These chests see a fair amount of use. The one on the far right was the “open” chest from the Grenadier AD&D Thieves set, but for reasons I can barely fathom now, I closed the chest, filing off the treasure that was in it.  For a while the chest was part of a portable war altar for a Warhammer army. The other two chests are plastic pieces from a “Weapons & Warriors” game.

chests

The big hoard of gold is another plastic piece from the MPC AD&D set. It is a pretty accurate but scaled down copy of the treasure pile that the Grenadier dragon lair had.

hoard

Lastly, a pair of golden urns and a pretty bitchen dragon idol, both scratch built by a friend I haven’t heard from in a while. (I hope all is well, Scottsz!)

idol+urns

I dig the candles on the idol quite a bit. The urns are wooden beads, and the dragon idol appears to be some wooden blocks with a tiny metal dragon on it. I’m guessing he used Testors enamel paint to get that smooth, shiny gold effect.

Published in: on March 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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Miscellaneous dungeon dressing

At some point I really will finish painting up all the furniture and whatnot that I have for D&D. Most recently I did a weapons rack from the Heroquest boardgame and a small nautilus shell (or ram’s horn?) on a stand, which I am not sure the origins of — I think I got it from someone discarding their collection of lead? It is probably something that came in a Grenadier boxed set.  They often threw in interesting accessories like that.

weaponsrack-1

Nest to the Heroquest elf for scale — those are BIG weapons!

weaponsrack-2

A close-up of the horn or nautilus shell.  The stand is decorated with frog feet on the “legs” and clam shells holding the horn/shell in place.

magic-horn

Again for scale, here it is next to a Heritage knight.

magic-horn-2

Lastly here’s a bigger piece of scenery from a Warhammer Fantasy Battles boxed set.  It had a ton of goblins and dwarves, and some other nice scenery, so although I haven’t played WFB in years and years, it seemed like a good buy.  This is apparently some kind of fence or boundary marker made by dwarves.

 

dwarf-fence-1

One of the nice little touches is that someone left their stuff leaning against it, probably a sentry.  There is a pipe & pouch, stein, and an axe and shield — the last suggesting the sentry either left in haste or was killed unawares.

 

dwarf-fence-2

 

The same set came with a troll who is throwing a section of this boundary.  I should paint him some time too.

Published in: on September 29, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Them bones

Them bones…

warning-bonesThese are a bunch of random bits — the back row, far left, is from a Grenadier “Action Art” set, while the back row far right is an idol from the Grenadier AD&D blister “Hill giants”; the two smaller piles in the back row are troll bones from a Warhammer boxed set that included several really cool items of scenery.  The dragon skull is from a Grenadier box of swamp monsters, I believe it was the Fantasy Lords or Dragon Lords set that replaced the AD&D swamp monsters set.  These are all nice warnings that could be left out by monsters or cultists or whatever, warning adventurers to stay away (or more likely luring them in).

When I got a recast of the Minifigs skeleton cart, I was really conflicted about whether to use the bone pile or the coffin as the cargo, and hit on the idea of making an extra copy of each out of Sculpey.  In the end I made a lot of coffins loosely based on the original, both open and closed, and also some copies of the skeleton that goes in the coffin, as well as piles of bones.  The copies came out pretty poorly, which is fine, since my goal was just to get something useful for placing on a battlemat when the adventurers happen to be in a crypt, tomb, or catacomb.

coffins-closed

Closed coffins — the grey ones could be stone sarcophagi.

coffins-open

“Opened” coffins, with bones inside. The center one in the back row has his arms folded across his chest. I realized when I was almost finished painting them that I could repose the skeletons by selectively painting them.

skeletons

And some plain skeletons to lay about on the ground. The dark grey one is actually the first mini I ever bought. At one time he held a sword aloft, but his arm repeated broke, and his legs broke at the ankle, and now he is casualty marker for fire-ball victims or just a dusty skeleton. The guy next to him is from the Tomb of Spells, and also broke at the ankles many times so he’s now lying down. I added a few bits and bobs to the base so looks like a dead adventurer.

I already posted some completely scratch-built sarcophagi, but my favorite one is the plastic model from HeroQuest, which I painted to help bring out the details:

HQ-tombI made some copies of the top to use as effigies.  Here’s one more shot of the original:

HQ-tomb-2And the four copies I made out of Sculpey:

effigiesThey can lay on top of the stone coffins above, or sit on the floor as crypt-covers.  My duplication process (which is just pressing the object into one lump of Sculpey, then baking it, and then using that as a “press mold” for more copies) leaves some detail out, which gives a nice wear & tear effect.

Published in: on February 19, 2014 at 10:30 am  Comments (5)  
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Tables and chairs

tables-benches-chairsThese are some items from Citadel’s old “Fantasy Specials” line (which included townspeople, a large collection of torture/bondage stuff, and various bits of furniture and dungeon dressing).  I haven’t found all that many situations where I needed to put such things on a battlemat, but you never know.  FWIW, chairs were extremely rare in actual medieval times, as were proper tables.  It would be much more usual for everyone to sit at benches, and for the table to consist of a series of boards laid across the laps of the diners.  A really important or wealthy person might have an actual permanent table.  Chairs would be rare and prized possessions reserved for the head of a household and the nobility.

I picked them up a long time ago at a convention from a guy who was selling loose miniatures of all kinds — I am pretty sure it was a “Neovention” (in Akron, Ohio).  He had all sorts of cool stuff.  I also got this bed there:

bedThis too is a Citadel “Fantasy Special”.  Beds were pretty unusual in the middle ages as well, and remained symbols of status well into the early “modern” era.  In fact I understand that even in Shakespeare’s time, a bed was a status symbol and most people kept their “best” bed on the ground floor of their home, where visitors could see it, and used a second-best bed to sleep on.  (This makes the Bard’s oft-commented upon will, which left his “second-best bed” to his wife, more understandable — the second-best bed would have been the actual matrimonial bed.)

Lastly here are some chests, which might hold treasure, or just ordinary junk, or be mimics:

chestsThe two at the ends are plastic treasure chests from a “Weapons and Warriors” pirate playset.  The one in the middle is a Grenadier model, from the AD&D “Thieves” set.  It was originally open, but a long time ago I thought it made more sense to have a model of a closed chest (also, it tended to topple very easily).  In hindsight I wish I’d left it alone, and just scratch built some closed chests, but for whatever reason I did not trust myself to do much of that even while I was converting away like mad, altering existing figures.  As it is, I filed off the “treasure” and closed the lid.

The above trivia about furniture was gleaned from Bill Bryson’s At home, a book I can’t recommend too highly.

Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 8:42 am  Comments (7)  
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The torture chamber

I got these GFI recasts of Minifigs of some torture equipment a while ago and finally finished them.  I didn’t realize the rack was missing the spokes or handles that would turn the top roller until I began painting it.  I just added some with florist wire, so no problem.  (I never did check a reference photo to make sure this is what they’d look like; it’s possible there should just be one long arm rather than three short ones.)  Anyway they are the iron maiden I posted earlier; a rack; and a table with a cat-o-nine-tails, poker, and giant knife.

minifigs-torture-chamber

Here’s the denizens: an orc jailer by Ral Partha, a plastic WotC torturer, and an assortment of prisoners: two WotC prisoners, a Ral Partha victim from another set, and a plastic GW dwarf who has been securely bound by goblins.

torture-chamberThere are many more, much more lurid torture chamber furnishings and victims that Citadel sold back in the early 1980s.  [That link is NSFW, maybe!] I don’t know whether they were poor sellers or just garnered complaints but by the time the Armory (the major US distributor of fantasy miniatures) put out their big “Buyers Guide” catalog, they were listed as “out of production”.  Ral Partha had some similar stuff too — not quite as misogynist though.  As did Grenadier & Dragon Tooth.

So my question is: what’s up with this anyway?  Why were torture chambers such a big thing in early D&D figures?  Is it just the association of “dungeons” with imprisonment and medieval punishments, or something else?  Do you put torture chambers in your D&D dungeons?  I’m not sure if I ever have — if so it would have been in the context of some evil lord or mad scientist type wizard.  Do they have a place “random” dungeons or “mythic underworld” style megadungeons?

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Green devil face

 

I’ve been messing around with Sculpey for a while now, mostly making little animals and gnomes for kids, but I saw this and in the spirit of onedownsmanship decided to try my hand at a green devil face too. 

 

devilface1

The “wall” is a bit of matte board covered in balls of Sculpey, and the base is a big metal washer to keep it from falling over.  I had to add a mound of Sculpey to hold the wall on it, but it is reasonably inconspicuous painted black.  The whole thing is a little big, but still within reason.

devilface2

For Egg’s sake, don’t touch it!

Then I saw another great idea here.  My version is definitely a lot cruder, but was fun.

owlbear-skin-rug

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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An elf and I don’t know what

So here’s the elf from the Milton Bradley/GW Heroquest game.  I originally painted him a god ten or twelve years ago, but did his hair grey, which ended up looking very blue.  All that timehe’s been a bench-warmer.  No-one wanted use a blue haired elf as thier PC, and I really can’t blame them.  so finally I repainted his hair as blonde, and maybe someone will put him in, coach!

heroquest-elfIf I had another copy of this figure, I’d definitely give him a pointed cap, like Zelda.

The other thing I photographed is a column I made out of Sculpy a while back.  I keep buying bricks of Sculpy and thinking I’ll do a bunch of cool terrain or monsters and instead I let my daughter make koalas and stuff out of it.   But one time we both worked on projects and I decided to make a sun and moon idol.  I think I was definitely plagarizing John Blanche’s moon faces from his GW work.  I’m not quie sure what I’ll do with this; it could be an idol used by humanoids, or the ancients; it could equally well be some sort of magical trick or trap.

The sunny side

The sunny side

An angry moon

An angry moon

pillar-sideThe nice thing about stuff like this is takes almost no time to paint.  Just a bunch of dry-brushing over black paint.

 

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Fire burn and cauldron bubble

This is the cauldron from the old Grenadier set “The wizard’s room.”  I got this ages ago, and have painted and stripped figures from it many times, but I think this is the last paint job for this one.  Before I repainted it, it was pretty silly — I did the face in natural flesh tones, with dark grey smoke and a black cauldron.  I think it looks better now.

cauldron2 cauldron1

The level of detail on the face, and the natural look of the smoke, is still really impressive to me, especially considering that it is 32 years old.  I can’t think of anyone other than Tom Meier who was doing work this nice, but I’m pretty sure this was done by Andy Chernak, who did some great stuff … and some terrible stuff.  Put this one in the great column.

The set came with a circle that you might set the cauldron in, but I like to keep it separate as a magic circle.  In hindsight a heat source could be added, like some logs or coals.

Published in: on February 4, 2013 at 1:00 am  Comments (4)  
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Mind flayers & Iron maiden

Grenadier Models had one mind flayer sculpt back when they had the AD&D liscense and it is not great.  It always looked like it was trying to do the robot or the safety dance.

Mind flayer from the Tomb of Spells

This might have been the first mind flayer miniature ever made; it is certainly the first and only mind flayer model I ever owned.  When I went to paint mine, I had to look up ‘mauve’ (the color of mind flayers per the Monster Manual) and eventually decided to paint it in a mix of purple and silver, with a red robe.  That paint job did not hold up well (it was one of my experiments with Testors enamels but for some reason the paint did not adhere well — maybe I didn’t wash or prime the figure?

Anyway when I was given a second mind flayer (again a Grenadier), I decided to repaint my first one too and do something about the pose.  In the end they sat in a box for months before I used a mind flayer in my D&D campaign and I realized I still hadn’t painted either.  I did not manage to finish painting them before the mind flayer menace was dealt with, but better late than never.

flairs2

Click to embiggen

The one on left had his hand opened up to receive a sword.  There was a mind flayer with a flaming sword in the campaign, Bobdobolina, that this figure would have represented.  The one in the middle just had his left arm rotated.  I think they look alright. The white skin on the first looks good to me.  Maybe mind flayers should have color-changing abilities like octopodes anyway, given their heads.

On the far right is a Minifigs iron maiden. Actually, it’s a recast of the Minifig design by GFI.  I am not sure if GFI is still casting Minifig sculpts.  My iron maiden had some defects (cracks and some details not filled completely) that suggest a lack of quality control.  Maybe the caster was in a hurry — a few other figures I bought around the same time from that line have problems too, but since I got them from a third party (Noble Knight) I didn’t bother trying to get replacements.  In the case of the iron maiden, the cracks and such actually don’t bother me anyway; it just makes the maiden look well-used.

Published in: on January 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm  Comments (7)  
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