Friday, June 23, 2006

The Horgar--Acid Spitting Grub of Doom!

Well, it was a big hunk of green stuff, but I have another in the amorphous blob series of rudimentary sculpts. The Horgar is my most recent scupt, completed this morning.

Working my way backwards through my mini collection, creating a 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium sheet for each in Publisher 2000, and using an image of the miniature for each entry instead of the artwork from TSR, I am now up to the H's.

I saw the page for Horgar and knew that nobody but me was ever going to make a miniature of it, so I did. If you click on the link above for the image, you will see that the beastie itself is a blob of green stuff, etched with my sculpting tools to look like the broken rock that makes up its crusty skin. I hadn't intended to mount it on a base, but my 6 inch glob of greenstuff kept sticking to the table so I had to.

Fortunately I had a large metal base from one of the Reaper minis I have that stood well enough without a base...I think it might have been that huge hill giant with the tree trunk for a club. Anyway, it looked super dumb just sitting there on the metal base, so I got some brown stuff out and made some underdark terrain to dress it up a little. I think it looks pretty good. It will look even better when I paint it black with the hot red magma peeking out between rocky plates on its skin.

Who'd have thought I'd ever have a Horgar to throw at my PCs? Not them, I'll tell you that much for nothing.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Birthday Minis from Reaper

My friend at Reaper, Matt, sent me a nice box of minis for my birthday. I'll review a couple of them here.

Matt knows I have aspirations to sculpt, and I appreciate that he, too, honors my dreams...even though I harbor serious doubts that I have enough life span left to ever get close to being a sculptor. Still, I am grateful for the strips of scultping putty and the blister of the new weapons are truly great.

The Necropolis Weapons (14295) are really cool, especially the shield sticking out its tongue and the winged helm. Even if I can't create an original mini worthy of holding these fine weapons, they will be great dressing for my players to find in upcoming sessions.

The Reven Weapons (14293) are also great. I'm constantly amazed at the attention to detail in Reaper minis. These are wicked weapons but retaining a rough hewn quality, even in the clumsy stitching of the orc quiver. Perfect! I never believed orc raids were able to come up with all the perfectly crafted weapons and clothing those brutes seem to wear in figs from other companies.

Nefsokar Weapons (14294) include some artifacts and phylacteries. I especially liked the one with Anubis on the top. The dobule bladed battle axe with the scorpion motif is awesome.

You don't want Clarissa to explain it all when Clarissa is a banshee (14274). She's too cute to be a banshee, though, in my opinion. But, she clearly has a bitter heart beneath that sweet face. The qoute on her stat card is "Hate holds more power than love. Speak not of love to me." Ouch. Not the kind of screamer you fantasize about.

I have to admit that although there probably will be no call for them to ever appear in my world, I have a real obsession with the pirate skeletons of the Razig line in Reaper's Warlord. Matt sent me Blackknife Tom (14272), Jackie Jones (14275), Harpooners (14277), Mister Blood (14271), Grim Pete (14273), Bone Marines (14279), Zombie Recruits (14278), and the Chain Gang (14276) are all amazing in their detail and just a hoot. I don't think I'm allowing smoke powder in my Realms, but I do like the marines with their smoothbore muskets and bayonettes. I have to say, though, I am in love with Grim Pete and Mister Blood. They're too cool. I have a real soft spot for skeletal undead who are missing their lower jaw, and Mister Blood is a great example. I also love his wild hair.

For some reason, probably legal, WOTC no longer produces any halflings which have hairy bare feet (or gnomes with big noses, for that matter). For all my hairfoot needs, I turn to Reaper (and sometimes that very expensive line of minis with the official LOTR logo). Matt sent Hellakin, Halfling Thief (3071) and this is a great mini if you're looking for a good halfling PC (that would be player character, Halflings don't use computers).

You can never have enough kobolds, so I was grateful for the blister with four more (3064). I've got two varieties of kobold in my world, since I like both the old school humanoid kind with bug eyes, dog faces, and two little horns as well as the new dragon-kin version in the WOTC line. The reaper ones are closer to the the old school kind, and so I lump them in there.

I really like the new medusa figure (3050), and Matt must too, since this is the third one he's sent me!

The Gargoyle Champion figure is fantastic. It is also huge. Not every gargoyle miniature really caputres the stone-like quality of these creatures which can only add to the terror their impossible ability to fly must inpsire. This miniature does it perfectly.

I'm going to be working on a Darkspawn project for Reaper, so I was glad to get the new Soultender (14298). It has a spindly demonic quality which is really sinister. Can't wait to figure out how to use it in my campaign.

The Incarnation of Flame (14264) is another great mini...I'm really looking forward to painting it. The flames surrounding the weapon looks really impressive.

Mag Blackscar, half-orc (3070) looks like an assassin loaded for bear. He's going to be a really nice additon to my growing half-orc community.

I already had an Ibycus Satyr (3053) so I don't think I'll open this blister up. It is an excellent mini, though. I'm getting a lot of duplicates because Matt doesn't note what he's already sent...I'm not complaining! I asked him if he wanted me to send the duplicates back to him and he said to give them out as promos to get people thinking Reaper or offer them to hobby stores to use as prizes. I might include some as gifts when I'm auctioning my minis on ebay, or try to figure out how to use them for sculpted conversions. At any rate, it is nice to have my cup running over with such good figures.

Aviriel, Female Elf Paladin (3072) is just about perfect. I love the shield and the feather motif on her armor. She's like a Romulan Battle Goddess or something. That Werner Klocke sure can sculpt. I've got a new job, which might allow more flexibility in scheduling so that I can start going to Reapercon. It'd be cool to meet the guy who brings such wonder into the world.

Can't have enough Giant Spiders (3055) either, though my players might disagree. I've been quietly stockpiling giant spiders for Spiderhaunt Wood, and varieties of giant for the Against the Giants series of modules. (Don't tell my players!)

I'm also getting into the Nefsokar line from Warlord, so was very pleased to get the Chosen of Sokar, Nef Srgt (14280). Good looking figure...these will all go well with my pyramid complex.

Lastly, the new "Hooked Hulk" (3069) which is a combination of Hook Horror and Umber Hulk with a choice of heads. I really like this figure, and with the vulture head it is soo much closer to the original artwork for the Hook Horror than the current WOTC figure comes. I'll always prefer the Ral Partha mini, but there's no point in still weeping over the forced destruction of all the Ral Partha Official AD&D products and molds. I'll never forgive WOTC for doing that. Not that they need my forgiveness, since I'm still buying their products, but just the same, that was a crappy thing to do.

Speaking of WOTC, here is my updated needs list, just before the new War of the Dragon Queen boosters start coming out.


56 Ogre Ravager CE 38 R

5 Large Silver Dragon LG 122 R
25 Clay Golem CG/CE 56 R
28 Aspect of Bane LE 106 R
34 Gauth LE 39 R
46 Aspect of Lolth CE 75 R
58 Vrock CE 79 R

36 Lord Soth LE 98 R
44 Drider Sorcerer CE 30 R



06 Mounted Paladin 96 LG
14 Archmage 98 CG

01 Battle Plate Marshal 43 LG 12
25 Iron Golem 61 LG/LE 10

WAR DRUMS: Complete

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She honors my dreams....

Honoring each other's dreams was the compromise wording in the wedding vows my wife and I exchanged...Mom (who presided) slipped it in there in exchange for "obey."

For my birthday (in addition to the very fine steak dinner with megarita on the rocks) my wife gave me sculpting tools and one of those articulated lamps with a gigantic magnifying glass.

A very happy birthday indeed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Birthday to me...and my Lamprey

Today is my birthday, don't ask how old you 3.5 edition playing whippersnappers. I'm staying home in the basement doing nothing but working on organizing my D&D stuff, adding more pages to my comprehensive monstrology cyclopedia, and prepping for our session on Saturday.

This morning I came across the compendium page for Lamprey and didn't have a figure for I tried my hand at sculpting one.

I'm still lousy at sculpting, so I am learning the ropes by doing figures of creatures already described as amorphous blobs.

I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out, though green stuff is soooo hard to work with. I got something I sort of liked--though the feelers on the front were really hard to do because they kept drooping down and touching other tentacles and sticking.

I put it in front of a hot light to help dry it out and instead of drying faster, it melted and drooped more. I need to get some of those clamp/clips on an articulated frame so that figures can be held in sideways positions while they harden. That would keep them from drooping down to the table top.

This fig does have a wire skeleton, but the wire must habe been too thin, because the weight of the green stuff was heavy enough to make it droop. Can't imagine my troubles if there was no wire at all.

Anyway, let me know what you think--but don't be too harsh, I'm still learning!

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Crocodile Games

I didn't mention Crocodile Games in my last post, that was an oversight. I also picked up a few of their minis while home, this time at a store called The Dragon's Sanctum (3215 Avenue of the Cities Moline, IL 61265 This is the store where the guy dressed me down for saying I was buying PDFs of 2nd edition game materials instead of buying stuff from a brick and mortor store. I understand that brick and mortar stores are hurting because people are buying PDFs of game materials, but PDFs from places like RPG Now are the only way to get 2nd edition stuff because brick and mortar stores don't carry them any more (or when they do they are priced as "collector items"), and if you tell them you play 2nd edition they try to convert you to 3.5.

Honestly, I'd much rather be able to have a huge selection to choose from, be able to easily adapt the materials by text editing the PDF on my computer instead of scanning or re-typing or hand writing my notes on a "collectible" or having to defend my game system from a guy who sees dollar signs by convincing me I need to chuck 25 years of gaming history for thousands of dollars worth of a new system.

When the guy told me 3.5 offers so much more than 2nd edition, I replied with, "Like what, the chance to play with 15 year olds?" He kind of grimmaced, nodded, and said, "Well, yeah, there is that." I told him that I hated how 3.5 has such shallow descriptions of things because it is primarily designed for quick table top battles, and that I really loved the old Monstrous Compendiums and ecology sheet because of their detailed descriptions of habitat/society, diet, customs, etc. All you get with 3.5 is a thumbnail description and stats for battle. He said, "Well, they're changing that, they are getting more of the kind of detail that they used to have, you should check out the latest Monster Manuals." I said, "You aren't going to sell me on 3.5 by telling me it is becoming more like 2nd Edition."

He stopped, then, and I bought a couple of miniatures to show I really do support brick and mortar...even if they don't really support me most of the time. It really was a nice store, and the guy was very friendly and helpful, other than being upset about the very idea that I'd buy anything from an online store. I'd give you the Dragon's Sanctum website, but not suprisingly...they don't have one. If you are ever in Moline, Illinois, though, by all means get your butt and your wallet in there and help keep him open by buying lots of stuff. Support brick and mortar.

Get in the door, talk to a human, tell the human to stock Reaper miniatures, Crocodile Minis, Dark Sword Minis, and even Magnificent Egos. Tell them not to bother with Games Workshop. Their day has passed.

The figs I bought Dragon's Sanctum were some Reaper minis, and a Nekharu Coven Witches Booster. These are ugly but cool monsters. The booster only comes with 009 a and b, but I saw c on their website and it is really cool. Must have. I am pretty impressed with their entire minis line. I don't know what I'd ever use an Ark of the Covenant for, but it is nice to know it's out there in the world. I do have a rabbi miniature, though....hmmmmm.

Anyway--check out the website. I doubt I will ever learn to play their Wargods of Aegyptus game, but the figs are going to have prominent place as I build my Egypt style section of my world.

I'm going to get a few Anubi, but I might have to get all of the Basti figs. They are awesome. Likewise, I'll be getting a lot of the Icons and Artifacts, especially the gongs, books, and spectral hand. Be sure to check out their pre-painted terrain pieces. The $74 replica of the Sphinx is pretty cool.


Dark Sword Miniatures and Magnificent Egos

While home for my 25th high school reunion, I took a tour of several local hobby stores in the Quad Cities and Iowa City with my friend Matt from Reaper. Out in Iowa City at The Hobby Corner, I discovered the Masterworks line of miniatures they are now putting out in individual blisters.

These minis are, if its possible, of even higher detail and quality than the old Ral Partha Official AD&D lines.

Only my budget and a healthy fear of my wife's reaction kept me from buying everything hanging on the three spinning racks.

On the back of the blisters is the website URL for Dark Sword Miniatures, the online store that carries all these minis. Even though I am a big advocate of the brick and mortar stores--and got an earful of how PDFs and online retailers are killing the traditional hobby store...take a look at the minis now available and then ask your brick and mortar dealer to carry them.

I also discovered the Magnificent Egos line of minis and purchased Oculous, the Rotten Eye (shown here as a green). It's a really good figure. I'd originally thought that I'd use it for a Doom Sphere, but it looks less like a ghost beholder and more like a zombie version. A zombie beholder had never occured to me before, but it might be interesting as a slightly less dangerous introduction to beholder-kin for my players.

Matt says that Magnificent Egos is an apt name for the company, but that's all I'll say about it...the minis are really nice so they have a right to a measure of pride. They have a really nice website and excellent online store. I still prefer Reaper's website and product line, but Magnificent Egos has some very interesting minis. Not sure why so many lizard-kin have breasts in mini-land, since they are sort of a mammillian province, but a big busted kobold does show a sense of whimsy.

At first I liked the ME pics of product that were painted...but then it began to annoy me that they were imposing their notion of how the mini should be painted on my subconcious and I started wondering if this was more a gallery showing off painting prowess of their artistis than offering me minis to express my own creativity with. I prefer the Reaper online catalogue where the minis are only base coated. I also like how at Reaper you can click on the thumb nail and see a much larger picture. Clicking on the ME thumbnail only takes you to the order page with no picture of the mini you are interested in and 6 thumbnails of other minis you might be interested in because of what other people who bought the fig you were looking at also bought. You know, the on-line version of peer pressure so popular with Netflix and Amazon.

I do have to take my hat off to the Artifacts and Dweaomers line. They are great...though it might be cheaper and easier to make my own Ghost Weapons from green stuff and the weapons packs I have from Reaper. I particularly like the walls (fire, ice, fog, etc.) but they are only one square wide. It might have been better to craft them so that they could interlock and then you could buy a bunch and make a wall of fire that stretched across a room as well as a corridor. Outside, this wall of ice would be pretty easy to walk around. A wall of thorns like that would have meant buying around 5 of the minis for running my Doom of Daggerdale module I'm in right now.

The one thing ME does better than Reaper (Sorry, Matt!) is the greens discussion board. This is an excellent feature to the site and is bound to generate a lot of enthusiasm for the mini before its release. At Reaper they have a greens page, but it isn't updated very often, doesn't cover large numbers of figs only featured ones, and you have to find the appropriate section of their forum to discuss them.

At ME on their Upcoming Minis page each pic link also has a discussion thread link. This is great marketing combined with great product research.

They are 35mm figs, which isn't great for me since I still have a largely 25mm collection...though since nobody does 25mm anymore I just have a lot of slender short people in my world, and a smaller percentage all the time. I guess more people are drinking Vitamin D fortified milk or something. Anyway, 35mm doesn't matter at all when it comes to monsters, which is what I'm probably going to be mostly buying from ME.

Ok, that's enough for this last day in the Quad Cities and I should spend some of it with my mom instead of typing on her computer.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hirst Arts Fantasy Architecture Inc.

I think I'll give these guys a try as well. More work, but probably greater flexibility at less expense in the long run. And they look compatible with the castle kits stuff.

Actually, they look exactly like the castle kits stuff.

Maybe castle kits is Hirst stuff just pre-made and painted.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Castle Kits are freaking awesome

I haven't been posting much, very busy with the monstrology in the basement and working on a new project for Reaper Miniatures. I'm working on one of their sourcebooks.

Still, I saw an ad in this month's Dragon Magazine and was blown away by the modular dungeon pieces I saw there. When I was in high school we built 3d dungeons with foam core board and balas wood walls. Later I did my own laminated geomorphs--very similar to what WOTC would begin doing as dungeon tiles, but mine are infinitely cooler.

I tried that crappy magnetic dungon thing with the walls and archways. Nothing was close to the ideal modular dungeon I saw in my head...until this month when I saw the ad in Dragon.

Go to their website: Castle Kits and browse.

If you want to get old Shandar something for his birthday, I'd take anything from this website...especially the dungeon sets and accessories section.

Too cool.

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