Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Painted: Grenadier Giant (Verbeeg)

Here's another of the monsters I started off the blog with given its own little showcase. I'm quite fond of this giant sculpted by Grenadier boss man Andrew Chernak in 1984. Chernak had been sculpting for a number of years at this point and though his figs had always had a lot of character, I feel in his post-AD&D-contract Fantasy Lords series, for which this giant was sculpted, shows new-found technical skill. Faces are a real sticking point with me and Chernak not only gets the emotion right but the facial anatomy is bang on in a way few others can claim. The only critical comment I have for this figure is with regard to the underdeveloped upper body, but that's a very common trait amongst figures from this age. Not sure why no barrel-chested giants as it's not like material cost was a factor back in the day.

I have a number of these Chernak giants and was going to use them as hill giants, which is what Grenadier calls them. But I've since gone with the Otherworld hill giant for full-blood Hill Giants (how can one say no to such a figure as that OW hill giant, who looks to have just strode of the page of the Monster Manual), and the Chernak ones are now Verbeegs (see Monster Manual II). This is a brilliant solution in my opinion. The name verbeeg is a crappy one, imo, and I really hope they aren't called verbeeg as in "very big," but once you see the verbeeg is simply a smarter, more human-proportioned giant somewhere between hill giant and ogre in stature, you'll probably agree it fits a great purpose, even if only to the miniatures collector divvying out which miniature to which particular species. But they also have some utility game-wise as I can use them with ogres or hill giants to modulate those encounters as well as by themselves. PCs can also face off against verbeegs earlier in the campaign than hill giants, which is a bigger advantage than it may seem given how many sessions are spent attaining each level. And this way I can have giants running around and then still scare the pants of the party by dropping the full blooded hill giant.

Oh, and I asked last post whether it would be better to use the catalog title or the monster type I plan to use figures for as the post title when the two differ. It seems to me that as I work through the Monster Manual in attempts to paint them all it's more helpful in the long run for me and you if I use the role I'm using the figs for in the game as the title.

Get the flash player here:

Manufacturer: Grenadier
Line: Fantasy Lords, first series
Catalog title: Hill Giant
Catalog #: 119
Base marking: M49 1984
Release date: 1984
Sculptor: Andrew Chernak
Date painted: 2009

Just a very brief word on painting the figure. Normally I prime black or prime black and mist gray or tan. Every now and then I try white again and generally regret it as it's almost always a lot more work. This figure was a rare case where I primed white and everything went right. I did it white to help get a richness to the fleshtones, and I'm very happy with the result. A pretty old school technique was used here starting with a light base (GW Elf Flesh), shading to brown, and glazing (not washing) with GW Flesh Wash. Then ruddy cheeks, nose and knees to really sell it.

Btw, if you want to see another painter's take on this fig check out this version shown on the Old School Miniatures Bulletin blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Painted: Ral Partha Orc Warchief

Get the flash player here:
Generally I like the figure but it would be a lot better if it had a neck. While he hasn't shown up in a game yet, this fig will serve as a half-orc (either a pc or a leader for a band of orcs), though Ral Partha intended him to be a full blooded orc. Btw, where I intend to use the fig for a slightly different purpose than intended, as here, do you think it's better to use the catalog title as the post title as I've done here (in order to be easier to find in case someone's looking for pics of this fig) or use the role I've chosen? I ask because I've got several other cases like this coming down the pipe.

Manufacturer: Ral Partha
Line: Personalities
Catalog title: Orc War Chieftain
Catalog #: 01-160
Release date: 198?
Sculptor: Tom Meier
Date painted: 2010

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Portrait of an Adventuring Party

Getting ready for session 6 of my Borderlands & Beyond AD&D 1e campaign today. Here's a portrait of the group as it was in the last session. This time out they will be without a thief, due to an untimely death, but will be plus one fighter. L-R Dynis Pofokes (cleric), Aureo (half-elf cleric), Ott Gravelspit (dwarf fighter), Choderick Argenhelm (paladin), Leofwin (half-elf ranger), Twiss (magic-user), and Dendron (elf thief). All were done by me save Twiss. Have passed the painting bug to one of my players and this is his third fig (all painted in the same couple weeks)!

Adventuring Party

Figures by Ral Partha, Grenadier, Custom Cast, Citadel and Superior.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Unearthed internets: The Mourners

The Mourners is a traveling exhibit of small-scale, alabaster statues of robed mourners from the tomb of Duke of Burgundy Philip the Bold, 1342-1404, that I visited recently at the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco. Those in the SF Bay Area or those near Richmond, VA (the last stop on the tour) may want to consider seeing it in person as well, but for everyone else the exhibit is also online at and the online presentation is generous and skillfully done.

In addition to viewing full screen rotating models online you can save hi-res stills of the images. Hopefully the exhibit will remain online after the tour ends (April 15, 2012), but in the meantime I think I’ll take the precaution and save some pics for reference. Can’t say enough how cool it is to be able to do that (and not have it all baked in Flash). There's also quite a bit of contextual material for those interested in delving into the art and the history.

While there is a lot to appreciate about the figures in terms these aspects, the art and the relation to history, this being a game blog I’ll let you explore those at the exhibit site if you’re interested and keep the commentary here along games and miniatures lines—along the lines of, for instance, how they would make a fantastic line of miniatures or at the very least great reference material for cloaks, cowls and drapery in general, and how a tomb with diminutive free standing statues is surely going to wind up in my D&D campaign in one form or another.

As to the first idea,the obvious place to take this is a range of cultists or clerics. Time being what it is, with my list of open projects a scroll reaching the floor and rolling along it some ways, I probably won't be the one to take up that challenge, so if any others want to, by all means. Meanwhile I would settle for the chance to incorporate some aspect of these figures in any one sculpture of my own.

And as for details of how to use the tomb in your game, I won't reveal any details just yet as I flatter myself to think some of my players read this blog but DM's should have a look at the tomb setup on the exhibit site and you shouldn't have to think too hard for a devious trap or puzzle idea to step forward. And if I do put it in the campaign I may come back after the party encounters it.

Btw, the tag "Unearthed Internets" is simply me linking you to something cool that isn't breaking news or part of the blogosphere and giving you a means to see a list of those links. Like nearly all bloggers I'll link you to cool news too but as the name suggests this feature is (mostly) about digging up gems that may have gotten buried, such as forum threads or sites off the beaten path.