Favorite monster full stop

Having mentioned a lot of monster I like, my favorite is probably the troll.

I do like the Poul Anderson rubbery regenerating trolls with long noses of D&D.  The empty, black eyes are a nice touch.

troll-nosed

true trolls2What’s not to like about them?  Mechanically, they are  very tough foe through the low and mid-levels, and until you have a flaming weapon, they are a logistical nightmare as you have to use fire or acid to make sure they stay down.

But my first exposure to trolls was in the D’Aulaires’ books, expecially the one all about them called “Trolls”.  It has a few stories, but is more of general survey of the types of trolls they found in folklore.

Another great children’s book on trolls was written by the son of the Berenstains (best known for their Berenstains’ Bears books).  I need to find a copy.  Here’s the cover, which looks like a ready-to-swipe dungeon:

I also stumbled across a short picture book with three relatively famous troll stories and art that is pretty awesome:

I’ll have to find or scan some of the inside picutures.  They are quite surreal.

Now that I’ve gotten totally sidetracked on troll books, another good one which collects folk tales and some of the illustrations from the late 19th/ early 20th century revival in interest in troll stories is this:

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 6:18 am  Comments (2)  
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More figures

Here are a few minis I got around to painting recently.  Two mummies, three wraiths, a couple of cauldrons, an intellect devourer, a templar, and an enhanced troll!

mummies

Left, a Reaper, right, Metal Magic, recast by MegaMinis … kind of a blurry picture.

A Reaper mini (swapped out the standard with a sword), a peice from Trivial Pursuit: LotR, and a Metal Magic figure recast by MegaMinis

A Reaper mini (swapped out the standard with a sword), a peice from Trivial Pursuit: LotR, and a Metal Magic figure recast by MegaMinis

wraiths-r

Same guys from behind

reaper-wraith

This Reaper figure was sold with a huge banner to hold, but I thought he’d see more use with just a sword. This sword is one of the extras I cast when I was making lots of Prince August castings from molds — I think the sword goes to an elf or barbarian; the molds might have the same sword actually.  I really like the little faces concealed in the folds and tears of the wraith’s cloak.  There’s one more on his back.

id-2

Grenadier intellect devourer. One of those minis they made WAY to big…the Monster Manual has them as very tiny; this guy is huge.

id-1

They made this guy way too big … he should be tiny, like 6″ long so in scale about 2 millimeters or less.

golem-f

A Ral Partha clay golem

golem-r

Lots of detail on the muscles, which doesn’t seem quite right to me, but very menacing!

templar-s

A Citadel knight or paladin. He’s kind of grubby so I’d say he’s a knight Templar.

templar-f

cauldrons

These are two wooden beads, which I think were meant to hold birthday cake-sized candles. The one of the right I tried to give a bigger mouth, but I’m not sure it was worth the effort.

troll-nosed

This is my favorite though — a Grenadier troll that I gave a nose-job to. How regal! How noble! All trolls need longer honkers.

My unmodified version of this figure is here.

Published in: on May 31, 2013 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
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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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Ulik

With the Thor movie out now (I hope to get a chance to see it in the theaters…), I am reminded of my own brief comic book craze, principally in the early to mid 1980s. My brother & I probably spent 90% of our paper route money on comics, and the comic book store in town had a huge collection of back issues. Although this was right around the time people started thinking comic books would all be collector’s items, the local shop had lots of back issues in fair condition that you could buy reasonably cheaply ($.50-1.50 mostly). Around that time the “Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe” was coming out in a comic book format, which was like a Monster Manual of heroes and villains. In there we discovered a lot of Marvel characters, and sought them out in the listing of appearances that accompanied each entry. (I don’t think we ever got the whole set of handbooks although I know that since then they’ve been reissued and rewritten many times.)

Anyway one of my favorite characters was Thor, largely because I’d already become a Norse mythology nerd via the D’Aulaires books on viking mythology and trolls. I was delighted to discover that the comic book Thor also fought trolls, and that the trolls had a champion just as strong and tough as Thor himself — Ulik.

His brass knuckles are made out the same stuff as Mjonlir! But he doesn’t always have them.

I was able to collect all of his appearances (I think including a few outside of the Thor comics — maybe the Avengers?) Ulik was always trying to invade “Midgard” with an army of trolls, and always getting foiled, but he never gave up or doubted his own abilities, despite the sound defeats he always had. In fact, once he was able to defeat Thor and take his hammer, but of course Thor ultimately triumphed.

Here’s Ulik’s first appearance:

Somehow the small collection of comic books my brother & I amassed has disappeared. I don’t think it was worth all that much, although I did manage to collect a pretty decent run of the X-men and Thor, and he had all the Secret Wars, many Avengers and Hercules comics, and the first years of Alpha Flight, among others.  We both fell for the 4-issue “limited series” thing a lot and also bought up a goodly number of first and/or final issues of various comics because we thought they’d be worth something some day (Doctor Who issues 1-4, various Dark Horse and other indie comics, etc.). Oh well.

Long after I’d stopped buying and reading comic books, I saw Thor issue #414, where Ulik appears to be killed by fall from a high building. WTF!?! He can take repeated hits from Mjolnir and a fall kills him?!?

But this just a comic book death, and he later would reappear, having only been KO’d by the fall. Wikipedia mentions that, even later, “during the World War Hulks storyline, Ulik resurfaces and is shown to have gone on a multi-state drinking binge.” Awesome.

So I guess Ulik is a permanent fixture in the Marvel Universe, and although he dies in Ragnarok like all the Asgardians, he also “reforms” after each cataclysm, just like the gods.

Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 9:06 am  Comments (2)  
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The pros & cons of undercooked troll steaks: Telengard session 20

I actually can’t believe I’ve run twenty sessions of Telengard already. The highest level characters are 6th level (Swinlow & Grumble), and the rest of the party is 5th level, except for Bob’s character who is 2nd level, and I think Adam’s Elf was only 2nd or 3rd. If/when Bob or Adam come back, they’ll have some catching up to do, and should any new players join, I’m going to have to decide whether they’ll start at the lowest PC’s level, or 1/2 the average XP, or just 1st level. I’m a little worried that starting at first level will make things a little boring (“You stand back here and shoot arrows/lob oil/cast your crappy 1st level spell while we kill these frost giants…”), but starting above 1st level kind of robs the player of the chance to claw their way to the top. I guess a few “newbie/low-level” sessions, maybe at the FLGS, would be a workaround, although a party of low-level PCs can easily be wiped out by Telengard. Hmm.

Anyway this time the party followed the one adventure hook I didn’t really prepare for. They could have returned to the “main” dungeon, where they still haven’t completely explored the second, let alone the third, level. They could have finally checked out the open pit mine. They could have followed up on the notice from the gnome village, asking to see the party. They could have started doing something — anything — about the impending pirate raid Swinlow heard about. But instead they decided to check out the dwarven ruins under Skara Brae.

Since they sold a couple of young trolls to the highest bidder a few sessions ago, and later saw a troll-steak vendor, I decided to continue that thread. When Matrim went to check in with his superiors, they mentioned that someone has been selling undercooked troll steaks and people have been reporting seeing trolls in and around the sewers. So, problems solved — there will be trolls in them thar ruins, possibly as a consequence of the party’s decision to cash in on the monsters they captured. 🙂

The party hired a torchbearer, since they know they need an open flame to make good use of their oil, and they hired Drogo the linkboy.

I was a little shocked at the party’s ability to shred 9 trolls (piecemeal, 2, then 4, then 3 in waves) and subdue nine ogres without breaking a sweat. However seven 3rd-level chaotic fighters, with two 4th level clerics and a 6th level fighter, were more of a workout, forcing the party to use up their growth potions in order to defeat them.

The trolls had no real treasure (treasure type D and highish rolls) but the chaos warriors had the ogre’s treasure plus their own. With the generous XP they get from trolls (I am still using the OD&D 100 XP/HD, x2 for significant powers) and the piles of coin, it was quite a haul.

One highlight for me as DM was that my lack of preparation was largely undetected. When an ogre prisoner said the boss’s name was “Drogo,” John was briefly trying to place where he’d heard that name before, and the rest of the players stared blankly until John gave up and muttered about keeping notes. Weirdly, even I forgot that Drogo was the linkboy’s name until I wrote up this report.

One last notable event was that the chaos warriors had an idol to Surt which, when touched, gave Matrim a mutation (a scorpion tale he could not really control). So both Zorro & Matrim had to pay for a lavish and time-consuming ceremony of atonement to cleanse themselves of the taint of chaos, and now the party is wondering what’s up with these chaotic mutation-causing objects suddenly cropping up everywhere. Heh heh.

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
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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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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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Some more figures

Here is a Grenadier Djinn from the Tomb of Spells, a very late model, with a headswap.  He has a head from one of the first Citadel plastic orcs. (I got two sets of the original plastic set that had 10 each of several Warhammer races.  This was their very first set, and it had optional heads and weapons but the body & liombs were one solid casting…anyway I had a lot of extra heads.)

The color is very washed out, he is fairly blue, like the Disney genie in Aladdin.

Here are a couple more.  The Ogre, left, is a Battle Masters figure, although I moved his left arm and added a katar (punch dagger).  The troll on the right is the first epoxy putty figure I ever made.  Crude but I like him.

Lastly, here is an ogre, a figure from a Dragon Riders of the Styx set.

I love the weapon combination — flail (or mace and chain) and kris (wavy sword).

The color is more accurate in the second shot.  If I ever find a complete  “Dragonriders of the Styx” figures playset, I’ll snap it up, but they were part of the whole fantasy fad of the late 70s/early 80s so I doubt many are left.

Published in: on December 5, 2009 at 5:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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More trolls!

OK, as promised here is the repainted Minifigs troll.  The others I decided to strip first, so the Grenadier is soaking in Brake Fluid and the Ral Partha will soak in Pine Sol.  I’ve been meaning to determine which works best.  I hope it is the Pine Sol, brake fluid is nasty carcinogenic stuff.

DSC03060 Looks a little like Richard Nixon, doesn’t he?  This model was produced around 1978, so I guess it could be intentional.   Apparently he’s actually very rare.  Score!

I also dug up a couple of Dragon Strike trolls.  Dragon Strike was a D&D board game that came out in 1993 and had some really horrible plastic figures, but an awesomely bad “introduction to roleplaying games” video.  I found a few sprues cheap at the same Origins, and the trolls were hunched over and looking perpendicular to where they are attacking, due no doubt to  the very limit possibilities for a one-piece hard plastic casting. Original on left.  I decided to turn their heads by sawing off the face and recreating the head with epoxy putty.  I used the blue+white plumber’s stuff and that dries a little too fast to get a lot of detail added, but these guys are already pretty blobby.

DSC03045The finished trolls looked like this:

DSC03055The poses aren’t too dissimilar, huh?

DSC03061

I couldn’t find the original Dragon Strike video, but it is featured (and ripped on) here.

Published in: on October 8, 2009 at 1:37 am  Comments (1)  
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Trolls!

Here are some old figures I’m going to repaint once I finish the gift figures…

All trolls.  The oldest is this Minifigs Troll, the first sold as a “D&D” figure back in the 70s, and which I chanced upon in a grab bag of junk at Origins a few years ago. Woot! Pretty beat up, and probably painted decades ago!

Troll-MinifigsThe next one is a Grenadier troll, also “official” for AD&D, circa 1981.  My brother painted him once, I touched him up, and soon he’ll get a serious paint job.

troll-GrenadierLastly two trolls by Ral Partha back in the 1980s.  The one with the bull-bog face is a sculpt by Tom Meier, Ral Partha’s wunderkind who started sculpting when he was 16 and completely revolutionized the level of detail and animation we would see in miniatures.  The the other one is actually a very early  Citadel sculpt, sold under license by Partha under the brand  “Ral Partha Imports”

Trolls-Ral Partha

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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