Sunday, December 31, 2006

Umberhulk Bounty up to 125 Gold Pieces!

When WOTC took over TSR, they ended the long relationship TSR had with Ral Partha to produce official lines of miniatures for monsters and personalities. I've got an enormous amount of them, and because they are all based directly on the official TSR artwork from 2nd Edition, those are the minis I prefer to use. This guy is what I immediately recognize as an Umber Hulk. Wizards was going to be doing their own line of miniatures, and what I heard from an employee at Ral Partha at the time (who sounded really surprised, shocked, and distraught) was that not only had WOTC told Ral Partha to stop production of any D&D related miniatures to which WOTC now held the copyright, they were to stop selling any of the existing stock, destroy that stock, and destroy the molds.

Given that, the Official AD&D Umber Hulk from Ral Partha ought to be highly collectible and pretty valuable. Not so. The evil plan worked, and 3E gamers wouldn't be caught dead with an unofficial umberhulk, so nobody but old cranks like me ever buy them. When we do, we end up getting them for pennies over shipping cost, and so few people bother to sell them. Very frustrating.

The Miniature above is painted according to the description in the Monstrous Compendium. Now, as I've said before, if a miniature exists, and I own it, then I have to find a use for it. In the Monstrous Compendium under Umber Hulk it also discusses an aquatic version of the beast, called a Vodyanoi.

That is what I'm going to use my WOTC Umber Hulk for. It looks that different from the old 2E version. The old hulk's confusion power came from the fact that it had "four round eyes, spaced evenly across each umber hulk's forehead." It also said that the eyes were "mere blackened dots, each the size of a small coin." Nowhere did it say that these things were insectoid with two sets of eyes being giant compound eyes and the other two eyes being nearly unnoticeable green dots on its forhead. The only thing confusing about WOTC's umber hulk is why they didn't bother to read the monster description. But I digress.

Because the WOTC umber hulk looks like nothing if not Popeye the Sailor partially polymorphed into a crab, it really works pretty well as a Vodyanoi. I will just ignore the nearly invisible two green dots on its forehead and change the description in the Monstrous Manual I'm writing by inserting "compound" into the sentence that reads "have only two eyes and therefore lack the ability to confuse opponents." I'll also change the slimy green to slimy red to match the figure.

Good thing the Number Appearing for Vodyanoi is 1-3 and I already have this Harbinger mini and another WOTC Chainmail one, because when I checked eBay this morning the highest asking price for a Harbinger Umber Hulk was $124.95.

I think that is just a tad outrageous for a bit of molded plastic made in China for total cost per figure of less than a penny. I know the product is called Collectible Gaming Miniature, but don't you wish the emphasis were on gaming instead of collecting?

I like the idea that I've got something on my shelf that "supposedly" will continue to increase in value, but in my heart of hearts I know it would cause a drastic alignment shift if I ever took advantage of a gamer by charging that much money for a game piece when the game was invented for the purpose of having fun.

I remember when I worked in a comic book store in Chicago while everyone thought investing in comic books was a smart idea. My boss and us employees would laugh and laugh about the stock brokers rushing in at lunch time to buy collectible figures, trading card games, and back issues because we knew that all that crap only has value as long as people believe it does, and they'd stop believing as soon as they saw how much of the crap we had in the basement, but we only brought out a few items at at time to keep up the illuision.

I just can't get my head around $124.95 for a single Umber Hulk! And it is Out of Wrapper!

In what world does that make any sense?

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