Troggs

Back in the early 1970s when Gygax and his buddies were improvising fantasy miniatures for their wargames and proto-D&D, plastic caveman figures stood in for ogres. Various toy companies had sets of prehistoric animals like saber-tooth tigers and mammoths that came with a handful of cavemen figures (to be their hunters, or prey, I guess). I remember my brother & I having a few cavemen that came in a set with dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals when we were kids, so it was a kick to find, among the DFC minis and knock-offs, several knock-offs of (I believe) the old Marx cavemen figures — including several I recognized from my childhood.

They are pretty similar in height the TOYCO “barbarians” or “giants” or whatever they are (like some of the other TOYCO figures, they are not really knock-offs of the DFC line at all).

Toyco-giants

So I thought they should all get a similar paint job to form a small clan.

not-marx-cavemen

None appeared to be female, although the stout one with a spear might be a child. In fact I may use more for juvenile giants than as ogres, since ogres in D&D have been getting steadily larger and broader. Really with scale creep these guys are only 7-9 feet tall at the most, compared to other figures. Interestingly they are almost exactly the size of the Grenadier AD&D hill giants that came in a blister pack. I have an extra rock-lobber from that set so I painted him in the same group too.

hill-giant-and-cavemen

Here are all four of my Grenadier “Giants” (I just realized they never actually said they were Hill Giants on the packaging. Still they are small and cave-man like, so Hill Giants seem to be the intent.)

hill-giantsI’ll probably re-base the ones on square grassy bases like the newer guy.

The Marx knock-offs were made in a waxy plastic of various colors — including orange, silver, and black — which reminds me off some plastic figures made in former Soviet republics that flooded the 1/72 scale market a few years back.  A few had bases but some did not, so I had to plant them in epoxy putty to get them to stand. All are on bases about an inch across. Larger sized bases, like the ones most of my giants and ogres are on, seemed too big.

cave-man-clan

Anyway, when my thoughts turned to what they’d be in AD&D terms, I looked through the monster manuals and noticed a relative dearth of 8 foot cavemen. The closest thing seemed to be Verbeegs, though by second edition they approach 10 feet tall. However they are barbaric and described as “unusually thin” for their height. The cavemen certainly are thin compared to regular D&D minis, since these guys use human proportions rather than the cartoony proportions that most D&D and fantasy figures have. (Even Tom Meier’s sculpts for Ral Partha, which are unusually realistic, have noticeably over-sized hands and heads; most other sculptors have totally given up on realism in favor of the convention that features be exaggerated to make up for the small scale.) The illustrations for Verbeegs are barrel-chested, though some descriptions of Vergbeegs in later editions of D&D modify the descriptions to either downplay their thinness or explain the look by saying they wear multiple layers of furs and clothes, perhaps to hide their slimness.

Cyclopskin would be another reasonable option, but I have other small cyclopes and didn’t want to alter these guys too much. So under-dressed Verbeegs they will be. Or I’ll just stat them up as oversized Neanderthals, or “Troggs”:

Troggs

Mv: 12″; AC: as leather + shield; HD: 4+4; Dam: d10 or by weapon; Save: as F5

Troggs are large cave dwellers, perhaps distantly related to humans. Their material culture is very primitive, and they wear only furs and skins. Some wear decorations like animal teeth or other trophies strung on sinew. They make crude weapons, such as clubs, axes, and spears. These generally do d6 damage, plus 4 for their great strength.  Alternatively they throw rocks for d10 damage at a range of up to 120 feet. They live in clans of 2d6 members; d8x10% will be juveniles (2 HD). The womenfolk usually are armed with flint knives which cause d4 damage, plus 4 for their great strength. Each clan has a leader with 7 HD and who saves as 7th level fighter. One clan in four will have a shaman who casts spells as 5th level druid and saves as 5th level cleric. One clan in six will also have a champion who has maximum HP and fights and saves as a 7th level fighter. They are not necessarily man-eaters but tend to be surly and easily provoked to fight or flight. They fear elves and will attempt to flee from them, but if forced to fight will focus their attacks on them if there are non-elves also fighting. They hate ogres and attack them on sight. Their treasure is usually negligible but some clans  will have a magic item or book that they consider a sacred talisman (50& chance of each). They will not willing part with such a talisman unless offered something spectacular (to their primitive minds) in trade.

troggs

Published in: on May 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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Quick minis update

I took the day off to see an assembly at my kid’s school and get some chores done, and while I was waiting on the laundry I painted a Reaper Bones mini, probably as quickly as I’ve painted a mini (well not counting assembly-line painting of armies or 1/72 plastics which I mostly don’t shade or highlight). The mini has pretty shoddy detail, really, and I decided to cut off the goatee on the sculpt and paint him as a half-orc, as I’m playing a half-orc ranger in a very occasional 3.5e game with my brother-in-law and his friends. I also finished up a mage, which I’d been meaning to use for a PC in a now-defunct campaign.

wr-fronts

The ranger’s mail was just a plain undergarment with no texture, but I used some of the Heritage “Chainmail” paint I acquired a while back and the little flakes of metallic whatever made even the plain surface look reasonably close to mail. I really need to try it more. The milky stuff on the ranger’s base is varnish which isn’t quite dry. I’m hoping it will eventually dry clear.

And from behind:

wr-backs

The keys to making this one a super-fast paint job were: 1) not priming at all (Reaper claims you don’t need to prime Bones plastic minis; I found that the paint rubbed off pretty easily before sealing); 2) keeping the color scheme simple; 3) combining shading and lining by using a thick black wash to line the boundary areas and pulling it into the deeper crevices for shadow; 4) just adding white to the base colors and highlighting very heavily, since I wanted a weather-beaten look anyway for the ranger. The mage has more traditionally subtle shades and highlights but at arm’s length the ranger looks more striking to me. The mage is a Ral Partha; I’m not sure which line or date but he was definitely in lead, not zinc (er, “Ralidium”). I think he is probably a Julie Guthrie sculpt.

Also, I finished painting Orcus some time ago and forgot to photograph him:

Orcus

He’s a late Grenadier sculpt, but still in line with the 1e version as opposed to the muscle-bound 3e/4e version. I’m still not sure about the eyes, but the sculpt has really deep pupil slits and showing whites made him look bug-eyed, so I guess this will be it.

Published in: on March 27, 2015 at 7:19 pm  Comments (1)  
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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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Morlocks and more

I already use some classic wight minis and some plastic “beastmen” from Descent as morlocks, but when I was in the Columbus convention center for something work-related, I noticed a small games & comics shop nestled among the shops near the food court.  Inside I found a box of clearanced HeroClix figures, and I couldn’t rest getting a few.  A couple (Ulik, and The Abomination) I’m leaving as they were, but the rest looked like they could be pressed in D&D duty. The first batch are small horde of morlocks made from the Marvel Comics “Morlock” and “Moloids“.  The moloids were a little more suited to conversion, so I added weapons to them in place of the stalagmites they were holding. Then I repainted them all. These guys all have very good detail for plastics, and washes and drybrushing really bring them out.

Morlocks (which could equally serve as ghouls, wights, or morlocks)

Morlocks (which could equally serve as ghouls, wights, or morlocks). I don’t think he represented a particular Marvel character, just a generic trooper for the “Morlocks” — underground-dwelling mutants occasionally featured in the X-Men comics back in the 80s.

 

Morlocks-1-molemen

Moloids repurposed as small morlocks. The bugged eyes are a little goofy (the minis have goggles or visors) but what the hell.

A molid would also stand in pretty well for Gollum.

Morlocks-comp

Side-by-side, the moloids are about goblin-sized and the morlocks slightly taller than the typical 28mm human.

One other item I painted about the same time is this Reaper Bones gravestone with a swarm of bats:

Reaper Nones bats

Reaper Bones bats

I was tempted to take them off the gravestone and just put them on a more generic base, suspended on a piece of wire. Still might.

Published in: on December 14, 2014 at 7:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Romani ite domum!

 

Click to embiggen!

Click to embiggen!

One of my first armies in 1/72 was Imperial Romans.  Like most new wargamers, I went with something familiar, impressive, and badass.  Since then I’ve come to like more of the underdogs of history, but if you’re going to go with a winner, you might as well pick one of the winningest armies in history.*

I began with some recasts of the Airfix Romans set, made by HäT, and later added ESCI, Revell, and HäT originals.

roman-testudoFront line, Airfix recasts; behind them, ESCI, trying to form a Testudo or “tortoise” formation.  Third line, in blue, Italieri Republican-era Romans; fourth line, barely visible, Revell.  The blue uniformed troops I gave a dark wash.  Usually I avoid any shading on my wargaming 1/72s both to speed things up and to keep a cleaner, toy-soldier look.  The only exception is that I usually shade steel with black and flesh with a darker tone.

roman-legions-2Some stands with command elements.  Center, all Airfix; right, all ESCI; left, ESCI troopers but I think Italieri command.  Behind them a Revell tribune standing over a fallen Airfix trooper and an ESCI Caesar standing over a fallen Airfix Briton.  (They don’t serve any role in a DBA army; I had originally planned to use Might of Arms as my war game rules but found it a little too complex for what I was after, and I really the simplicity of DBx type rules.)   You can also see some cavalry (HäT Republican Romans) and a ballista in the background.

roman-legionsMore legions.

roman-auxilia-revellRevell auxilia — in this case, lightly armed recruits, probably Gauls in Roman gear.

roman-batavi-hatHäT auxilia — in this case Batavi, some Germanic tribesmen famous for using their traditional clubs in battle and for being excellent amphibious troops — or at least able to swim across rivers that gave the legionaries pause.  Behind them are some auxiliary archers.  Both the Airfix and ESCI sets had what looked like legionaries with bows, so I painted them in legionary colors, but really they would probably be archers from subject lands in more native dress — Syrian archers are often mentioned.  The second line of archers are Britons from the Airfix Briton set.  I’m not sure if any Britons served as archers for Rome but I didn’t need many missile troops for my Ancient British army so the Romans took them.

Some miscellaneous stands of troops did not get close-ups.  Those are more auxilia in Roman dress, camp followrs, and some skirmishers.  The army is far larger than I need for DBA and could probably form several Early Imperial Armies — perfect for a civil war.  I also made some Roman camps, as DBA armies usually need one unless there is a settlement on the battlefield.  I have couple of simple, generic palisades, but I also did a funner one, which I always get out for Good Friday:

camp-romanThree religious-supply store crucifixes and a pair of Airfix legionaries.

With any luck I’ll find some time to photograph some more stuff this weekend — my Roman mile fort, and the Republican Romans, as well as some Etruscans & Italian Hill Tribes, Thracians, Carthage, and so on….

========================================================

*Well, that’s their reputation anyway.  They certainly conquered a big area and held it a long time.  Superior numbers, technology, logistics, and training seems to do that.

Published in: on April 5, 2014 at 2:32 pm  Comments (5)  
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men o bronze

The release of a new edition of De Bellis Antiquitatis, along with my hiatus from having to DM, and having just read a book on hoplite warfare, all converged to reignite my interest in ancients war gaming.  Or at least in building armies and painting them.

So this is the group shot of most of my Greeks (I have another dozen or so stands of Thracians, as well as some mercenary Greeks in my Persian and Carthaginian armies, and some unpainted hoplites probably).

greeks-panorama

Click to embiggen!

A lot of my Greeks are Spartans, naturally.  The lambda is really easy to paint onto a shield, and the red tunics look pretty awesome against the bronze everything else.

Come and take them.

Come and take them.

The general and piper are Zvedza; the rest are Nexxus recasts of the old Atlantic set.  The second line in the background is all Zvedza too.

greek-thracians-hatThese are the Thracians that I keep with the Greek army.  Like I said I have a whole army of them, I should post them next.  These three guys are HäT Industries minis.

greek-macedonainsMost ancient Greek city-states did not use a lot of cavalry (well Thessaly would be the big exception), but the Macedonians famously did.  Since my pikemen are actually hoplites with extra long spears, I use them interchangeably and the Macedonians are stored with my Greeks too.  Above we have mostly Zvedza cavalry (the guys way in the back are Nexxus/Atlantic) and some HäT hoplites/pikemen.

greek-pikes-hatHere’s another view of the HäT “pikemen”.  I think the shields are all off to the side because of the limitations of injection-molding plastics.  I wish they’d opted for separate shields instead but back when I was collecting plastics, I just bought whatever was available.  Nowadays there are so many sets available you could pick and choose.  Still, these figures are pretty solid and look OK.

Published in: on April 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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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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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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Turd polishing I: Dollar Tree dragons

I picked up a pair of plastic dragons at a “Dollar Tree” store several years ago.  They were packaged in a small plastic tower about the size of a small thermos mug, and there were also knights in the same sort of towers, but I passed on them as they were six inches or so tall and didn’t seem useful in the scales I model.  The dragons and knights came disassembled; in the case of the dragons each leg, the tail, wings, and head were all separate pieces that fit together with pegs and holes.  The joints were pretty loose and I filled them in with liquid nails, but couldn’t get them to look very good.  I later tried spackling the joints with some epoxy putty (the blue and grey kind plumbers use; that did not work out too well either because it sets very fast.  I need to find some of the green stuff.

Anyway I primed them with Rustolem plastic primer and went to work with a few coats of watered down craft paints, and then did some detailing with full-strength paint.  Both dragons were done in about and hour and a half of painting, total.  They were black and green originally but I figured red and green would be more useful, since I already have dragons of similar size from Descent that I painted black and blue, and I have metal white dragon.  I based them on plain old matte board, some 60 x 80 mm rectangles I probably cut for chariots or elephants for wargaming.

They still look kind of unfinished, but they are good enough for now.  I’ll seal them and add more details, and maybe paint their bellies another color, later.  but for now with so much unpainted lead, I’m willing to let the plastics slide.

The neck joint looks a little better from this side, but it’s still visible, between the seventh and eighth ventral scale:

I suppose painting up cheap plastic dragons like this qualifies as polishing turds, but I don’t care.  They have a fairly classic design, even if they are not very “animated,” and just the right size at mini scale to inspire fear but not hopelessness!

Published in: on April 7, 2012 at 8:00 am  Comments (2)  
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