Ice trolls

Dennis Mize did some amazing sculpts back in the later 70s/early 80s. These trolls are from the Children of the night line.  I have to admit I’m not a fan of Mize’s later work, especially for the Personalities line in the 1990s and the AD&D line.  Those monsters are still nice but the humans look awful, IMO.  Big stupid hair and stiff poses.

Anyway my original two trolls were supplemented by several donations to the Galloway Memorial Home (thanks Khazan!), and I decided to strip them all and repaint them as ice trolls.

Ice trolls

I think the simple layers of drybrushing show off the excellent detail of these rangey ape-like trolls.  The next picture with the flash turned on gives a better sense of their blue & white coloring.

Published in: on December 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (7)  
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Call him MISTER Daggins!

Jeff Rients mentioned a halfling NPC he made up, named Mr. Daggins, and who got really angry when asked what his first was.

I have a lot of halfling minis and have not been very avid about painting them, mainly because they mostly look like thieves or archers and if you have a mini with a short sword, a bow, and a sling you have covered ever halfling PC your likely to see in any D&D game, at least from AD&D onward.

But in my Basic D&D game, there have been two halfling PCs who are decked out in plate armor and kick butt in hand to hand as well as shooting.  Time to dig out the old Grenadier halfling set, which had one with mail, shield, and a sword.  Sure he looked like a Time Bandits midget more than a halfling, like all of Andy Chernak’s early halfling sculpts, but he’s ok.

In fact the Grenadier halfling has been sitting next to the gnome on my work desk, next to a Ral Partha gnome someone gave me last summer.  They have been waiting to be finished over a year!  Well, at least the gnome is done, and his full helm makes him suitable for a B/X halfling.  Behold, MR. DAGGINS –(actually, I guess he’ll most likely be Quinly in my game).

His sheild has a badger or fox face on it (I painted it as a fox, but could have done better if I took my time).

The base he’s on is 20mm wide, so this mini is about 16 mm tall — barely up to most minis’ waists.  But he looks like a badass, doesn’t he?

It took me almost a year to get him done, just because I have been painting so infrequently until the last couple weeks.

Here’s a few gargoyles (from the TSR Dragonstrike! game) I did the other night too.

Can’t wait to use them as scenery, over and over, until the players stop noticing them, then…BAM!

Published in: on July 11, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (6)  
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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.



*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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The ones that got away

The only pic I could find of the original Mithril Beorn (center)

Having, as I do, more minis than I can really finish painting in the foreseeable future (especially at my current rate of zero per month), it’s pretty stupid that I still think wistfully, once in a while, of the minis I’ve lost, traded away, or had stolen over the years. (All pictures from the interwebs, obviously.  Re-posted after much crap from WordPress, which prefers to merge all the pictures for some reason)

Lost: This was the largest loss, although it must have been a good dozen, maybe 14 years ago!  We were playing a GURPS campaign set in Norman England, which was a fairly long and involved game.  We usually played at a friend’s house as my brother & I were living in a crummy apartment.  I knew a large battle was imminent, so I brought a large number of Vikings and knights (mostly Ral Partha, Grenadier, and Citadel mins, several Mithril LotR figures, plus some plastics from HeroQuest and a Battlemasters set) as well the minis we’d been using for the PCs.  We used them to play out a skirmish-sized portion of the larger battle, and another battle next time seemed likely, so I put them back into a pair of tackle boxes and then into the paper grocery bag I’d brought them in.  The ‘gaming room’ was a finished attic our friend used mostly for gaming, and which was usually undisturbed from one game night to the next.  Not this time.  The best I can guess, another player had placed some garbage from the game (pretzel bags, etc.) in the same bag, on top of my minis boxes, and then he or the homeowner’s wife threw the lot out in the trash.  I was really bummed by the fact that the minis I’d brought had been carefully selected to represent some of my better paint jobs and also by the lack of remorse on the part of the player and his wife.  Even a simple “I’m sorry about that” would have been nice.  I know now I shouldn’t leave stuff at other people’s houses, but I think they can’t possibly have realized how much work went into those forty or so minis.

A Citadel berserker. I painted tattoos on mine.

A (very small) barbarian from an early Ral Partha boxed set.

The barbarian from HeroQuest — the second best mini in the game after the dwarf

The Mithril figures were from their first Middle Earth line, and I can’t even find good pictures of them now online.  There was “Woodman” and a Beorn for sure, and maybe a few others.

Another smaller loss occurred when I was carrying a box of minis home from a game at my brother’s house a few years later, and dropped them on the sidewalk in front of my apartment.  They were mostly giants and trolls and several broke into pieces. It was dark and I figured I’d find the remaining loose bits and pieces in the morning.  But it snowed that morning (a good several inches) and there was off and on snow for several weeks before I saw the pavement again, and who knows what got shoveled away then.

Thirdly there are a number of individual minis I remember owning but just can’t find anywhere.  Maybe they broke at some point and I tossed them, or perhaps a few were melted down in my brief frenzy of home-casting with Prince August molds?  A Heritage Black pudding, several Grenadier skeletons, and a few TSR fighters fall into this category.  (I’m sure I didn’t melt down any monsters though… but I do remember melting down some of the TSR minis.)

Traded: I feel much less bad about giving up some of my minis in trades with friends, way back in the mid-1980s when I was still a kid.  I know I traded away a Grenadier beholder, but that is the only one that really stands out.  I know I reasoned at the time that I wouldn’t encounter one in D&D and whatever I traded it for must have been cool!

Picture from the Lost Minis Wiki

Stolen: These are the ones that really hurt, and actually happened way back in 1982 or 3, before I was even painting and when I had only begun collecting minis.  Some of my brother’s friends had come over and looked over my figures — I am sure we didn’t actually play D&D that day — and several figures were mysteriously gone.  The one I missed the most was a lich blowing a ram’s horn from the Grenadier “Monsters” box.  Man, that one was awesome.

Image from the Lost Minis Wiki

Published in: on July 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm  Comments (10)  
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In the Telengard setting, “monsters” generally belong to none of the natural animal types.  A Greek chimera is neither mammal nor reptile, and a Cockatrice is neither bird nor reptile, and an owlbear is neither mammal nor bird.  I try to conceive of other monsters breaking biological “rules.”

For example, there are green skinned orcs.  They are green because of chlorophyll.  You’d think a creature hat can make its own food from the sunlight would be peaceful and live in the sun.  But orcs shun sunlight and are warlike.  Why?  Because they glut themselves on flesh and blood for food.  Exposure to sunlight in the typical orc’s normal state (with a belly full of indeterminate meat) can cause acute hyperglycemia.  They suffer in sunlight and seek dark places.  Blood is an intoxicating beverage to orcs, exactly as mead is to Vikings.  (In fact there are said to be peaceful green orcs on the steppes to the southeast, who live on photosynthesis.  Scholars dispute this.)  Not all orcs are green, though.  There are many colors of orcs.

Another example of a monster in Telengard is the Grue.  They are like amphibians in some ways, but can actually absorb nutrients from damp soil and rocks.  This feeding by osmosis is very unsatisfactory for them, though, and a Grue that feeds exclusively in this manner will grow emaciated.  They much prefer the flesh of intelligent creatures, especially adventurers and hirelings.  They are killed by sunlight and injured by starlight and moonlight.  Torches and light spells annoy them but do no harm.  I use a Ral Partha “Well drakken” to represent a grue (image from Lost Minis Wiki; mine is painted dark brown with grey hair and white claws, but I intend to repaint him.)

Because he was sold as a “well drakken,” I always imagined this guy hiding inside a well.  I imagined him waiting for years for victims to stumble near enough to snatch in his huge claws.  The sad Muppet face only adds to the horror.  I love this mini.

Anyway grues can live indefinitely in a hermetically sealed dungeon, and fill this niche of “no-maintenance monsters”  as well as undead creatures,  living statues, and other D&D standards do.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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Trolls three

Some time ago I was going to repaint a few old troll figures.  On my vacation a couple of weeks ago to Pennsylvania, I took along a toolbox of paints of figs and got them done, along with some henchmen.  Before I stripped them, they looked like this. (The Minifigs troll was finished much sooner and posted here.)

Here are the Citadel, Ral Partha, and Grenadier trolls as I re-painted them:

The Citadel figure on the left was sold as “Ral Partha Import” back when RP was importing Citadel figures.  (I didn’t realize these were Citadel figures until quite a bit later, and had been shocked that the Warhammer Fantasy Battles 3rd edition book had so many “Ral Partha” figures in it!  I thought, “Wow, they are showing other companies’ minis!  Maybe they are aren’t a soulless machine.”  But of course even though they had Tom Meier sculpt a number of trolls for them — not including this one — Citadel would never show another manufacturer’s minis. ) (more…)

Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 10:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Flesh for the OSR

Ok, just following this from March, what I notice is:

“Zak got a web show about an old school game played by porn stars; throw him under the bus!”

“Raggi says we’re OSR; throw him under the bus!”

“Kuntz says he’s not OSR; throw him under the bus!”

“That Invidious module looks a little iffy; throw them under the bus!”

Swords & Wizardy got a bigish publisher; throw it under the bus!” (more…)

Published in: on August 26, 2010 at 1:56 am  Comments (6)  
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The undead pirates I scored a while back at my FLGS remind me that I have a huge backlog of swashbuckler figures to paint. Huge. But here are some finished pirate and swashbuckler figures. Most are pretty old, and nowadays they market is lousy with pirates, but back in the late 1980s/early 1990s when most of these were made, there was not a lot of selection.

Here’s a scurvy crew indeed, sons of guns all.

Three Grenadier pirates, from the mid-1980s.

A Grenadier (Julie Guthrie, I think) rogue and a bard, most likely Rafm. The skull & crossbones on the hat turns a bard into a pirate, despite the little mandolin on his belt.

The guy on the left is a Castle Creations superhero figure (my brother got a set of two dozen super hero figures that were advertised in a Dragon Magazine some time around 1983, when we were playing Villains & Vigilantes). The guy on the right is Rafm, I think, and was sold as an elf marine in a set with several others I still need to paint.

Two landlubber orcs (a Nick Lund sculpt, Grenadier, sold as a war ogre, and a Citadel crossboworc).  I need to rebase these, and probably repaint the Lund orc.  My brother ran a “fantasy” pirates campaigns in GURPS (basically the historical Caribbean but with fantasy races, monsters, and a little magic added), which must be the best game I ever played in. This inspired me to adapt as many fantasy figures as possible to be pirates. I should post the naval rules we cobbled together using GURPS and the Games Workshop game Man o War. We had some great fun. The game had up to nine players at a time, plus the GM.

Two Dwarfs. I think the one on the left is by Marauder (an offshoot of Citadel) but the other one is a classic Citadel dwarf lord. He has a powder keg (or beer keg?) strapped to his back.

Two later Ral Partha figures, a pirate and a musketeer (D’Artagnan, no doubt).

A Reaper skeleton pirate and a cheap dollar store toy. The toy represents a half-ogre pirate.

Scale creep on the high seas. The Grenadier figure is a short 25mm and the Reaper stands almost 40mm!

Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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More ogres and trolls

A while back I posted some pics to illustrate how you might convert the crummy Dragonstrike! game trolls into slightly better models, which is worth doing if you pick pu the cheap remainders of the green and gray sprues from here. They paint up ok too.(Far left, a rare Minifigs troll)  They are clearly Poul Anderson style “true trolls.”

Here are some Ral Partha trolls:

Ral Partha trolls, until they got the D&D liscence, were always very Tolkien-style to me, and would also make good ogres.  I painted these guys all a long time ago.

And a “Ral Partha Import,” cast by Citadel, but I think he may also be a Tom Meier sculpt:

(Reminds me of those Otherworld Bugbears for some reason)

And some more recent Citadel trolls:

That’s a blurry picture, sorry.  Citadel used to make their trolls very comical; these guys are slightly less comical than usual.  You can just make out a bit of a jawbone on the base of the one on the left.  That is a real bone from an “owl pellet” I found in the yard.  I used other parts on the bases of other figures, like this Citadel troll that I painted non-green, hoping to get a more ogrish effect:

The stones are bits of dried sap, and the femur must be from a mouse or mole.  Seeing this figure in such good light (from the camera’s flash), I think I probably should have done some black lining to emphasize the borders of the hands vs. stone etc.  Oh well.  I entered this guy in a painting competition about sixteen years ago (‘monster’ category; I lost to some far superior paint jobs) and the judge mentioned she had no idea what it was supposed to be.  Seriously?  That doesn’t look like it might be an ogre or troll or something? Sheesh.

Here are a couple of Grenadier trolls in armor:

The shorter guy has a katar! How awesome is that?

And an old Castle Creations ogre that I think my brother bought in Baltimore:

And a Nick Lund-sculpted Grenadier ogre:

If ogres were a playable race, this guy could be a PC.  He looks just barely smart enough to wipe properly, for example.

And a Ral Partha hill giant:

He must be a Tom Meier sculpt too.  He looks about ready to go berserk.

Lastly, a Ral Partha ettin:

I never really liked the Ral Partha D&D line of figures, although this is one of the better ones.  I’d like to convert a few figures to have four, ten, or more heads some time.  I wish I had bought the 1979 Ral Partha “three headed troll” when it was available.

(Image from the Lost Minis Wiki, nyuk nyuk nyuk.)

Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 10:33 am  Comments (3)  
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A ghastly trio:

A Ral Partha witch-king (flame is just some Liquid Nails I added later. The sword was rather thin and beginning to break from repeated bends); a Reaper ghost, and a Ral Partha wraith (he would have had a sickle in his hand originally but it was broken off when I got him second hand).

I got the Witch-king at a BASHCon, where I had won a few vouchers for RP stuff in a painting contest.  I also won some of their weird “Fantasy coins” but gave them away.  I only remember the orc coins were “shekels” and the dwarf coins were square.

Stangely, I painted the mounted witch king (he came mounted and on foot) with a red cape.  I think I just thought all-black was too boring.

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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