Friday, November 30, 2012

The Minotaur

Painted: Otherworld Minotaur

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We collectors are spoilt for choice when it comes to minotaurs, but this one here from Otherworld is a contender for my favorite. I have two more of these, one of the armored variant and another of this one I have a conversion in mind for. There is no question I am on the side of "feet" in the feet vs. hooves debate that has been raging since the dawn of fantasy miniatures and it's nice knowing a guy like this minotaur here is in your corner. And I'm just as strongly on the side of au naturel in that other debate, whether monsters should bother wearing clothes. Honestly, how many monsters that you know are going to give a rat's ass about clothes? Monsters have no shame, guys. No shame. They never had "the fall" in the garden of monsters and the thought, oh no, god (or some especially sensitive gamer) may be watching me and I better grab a fig leaf. Please believe me when I tell you that's not how monsters think. Their priorities are eating people, and more eating people, which are things they do equally well whether or not they are clothed.

Other Minotaurs

Anyway, as you may know, when I show off a monster I like to give honorable mentions to other contenders and/or pause wistfully and consider another group of the same monster I have buried under lead mountain and will probably never paint. As I said we are spoilt for choice, and a fully fleshed-out roundup wouldn't be a bad topic for a post, but for now I'll say the other contender is the set by Bob Olley currently produced by Cavalcade. (Edit: Awesome painted example over at Drums in the Deep.) Even though I'm probably not as big of an Olley fan as your typical old school lead freak this batch of minotaurs catches my eye every now and then for reasons that I hope are obvious. And, as is the case for many other encounter groups you'll see here, my other unpainted group is made up of crusty Citadel homeboys, lead by a couple multi-part lords.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Though, as I say, I prefer minotaurs with feet, generally, I have both Taurg the Axe and his little cousin, sculpted by Allan C. for the tragically defunct Ilyad Games. If you disagree with me on the feet issue and you could pick one hooved minotaur to put in your corner, you could do a lot worse than Taurg, that's for sure.

So I guess I can't call myself a hard-liner. And I guess there's no reason to draw a line in the sand, anyway. Minotaurs with feet and those with hooves got along just fine in the Warhammer world for generations, where the expression of hoof or foot is clearly due to the whim of this or that chaos god.


Manufacturer: Otherworld
Line: DM Series - Dungeon Monsters
Figure: DM6a - Minotaur I
Release date: 2008
Sculptor: Paul Muller
Date painted: 2011


I wanted to have the painting highlight the contrast between the human and the bull parts of the figure, and to this end I chose a very human flesh tone for the man parts and a a bullish black for the hair and head. This set up another challenge, however, because there are some parts that are sculpted to be hairy on the figure, and others that are more less bare, but even a hirsute man is going to have hair more or less all over—on his back, arms, chest, etc. I tried a very old school technique to get that hairy look, but feel it was only partially successful. I added graphite shavings from a pencil to some matte medium and daubed it on as I had done for a five o'clock shadow or two back in the day. The shavings more less dissolved, however, leaving a more uniform gray than I'd hoped for. I went back and forth with black and flesh paint to work the hair and flesh together to a point where it seemed natural, and am fairly happy with the result, but after the fact I think less gray and more finely drawn, individual, black hairs may have sold the effect better. My other thought was that as a creature spending most of his time wandering underground mazes I gave him too sunny a tan. Now if I make the others paler, however, I might draw undo attention to the fact.

Second to lastly, a shout out to Blackfly who posted up another fresh rendition of this minotaur over on his blog, MadPonies, which is what got me in gear to share my one version. Thought I had MadPonies on the blogroll already, but looks like no. Fixed that.

And lastly, this was birthday present so thanks OpForOverlord! Took me just one year to paint it, and just under another to post it. That's giving it the fast track in my world!

As always, the collection can be viewed in its entirety at flickr.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giant Weasels in AD&D

Spoiler Alert—My Players, skip this post to maintain maximum fun

The giant weasel is a mean 3+3 HD monster and with its special drain blood attack it should have a low or medium level party thinking twice about crossing them. That is, were it not for its pelt. The pelt, worth between 1000 and 6000 GP, is probably the most valuable treasure any 3HD monster will ever carry, and once your players find this out (and find a furrier who can pay what they're worth) they will be willing to lay a lot on the line for a chance at such booty, and as they advance they may hunt them to extinction as best they can.

The Monster Manual has weasels commonly (~20% likely) guard kobold layers, and, again, if the players catch wind, this fact may have them storming kobold layers long past second or third level. On the one hand this will increase the utility of your kobold miniatures a good measure. However, if you're the type who worries about "balance" and going "Monty Haul" then you need to make some considerations.

In my own game the Challengers faced off against several weasels and a pack of kobolds and pulled off the win without losing a man. And they were savvy enough to take the pelts to the nearby furrier they had heard a rumor about. Sure enough, they then put off long term goals in favor of a kobold hunt close to to home. They haven't managed to come to grips with any more weasels since that first encounter but any kobold gang around the corner means another chance of weasel guards. The question remains, though, whether, if and when they do clash, it will be the windfall the players are hoping for or more trouble (death) than the weasels' potential worth.

And on the question of balance, my approach is that if the players get too single-minded I'd be remiss not to leverage the concept of an upset equilibrium and introduce believable (and yet, hopefully, fun to play) challenges that would arise as a consequence. For example, other, likely more seasoned adventurers would catch wind of the opportunity and edge in on the PC's territory. Or the kobolds or another enterprising monster might exploit the PCs desire for weasels and use them as bait. Or they succeed despite these obstacles, hunt weasels to extinction. Again, problem solved. Overall I'm not too concerned about it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Giant Weasel Miniatures Roundup

You can see which weasels I went with, those by Splintered Light, sculpted by Bob Olley, but I thought I may as well round up what options you have in case you're in the market and want to consider your options. Essentially, Otherworld and Reaper make some, and there's one for the D&D Minis game in the Aberrations set.

giant weasels

The Otherworld ones are great but initially I thought they were way too big for a 3HD monster in 25mm (the pic above make them look bigger than a tiger, for example). Having seen pics of them painted up on other sites I think they may not be quite as big as this pic makes them out to to look (there is shrinkage between the sculpt and the casting to consider). But size aside, there is the price, which is 390% more than the Splintered Light ones. However, now that I think about it, what about a new breed of greater giant weasels, or should that be titan weasels.... ? (to give you a frightening, only slightly exaggerated demonstration of how my mind rationalizes new purchases even of things I've already checked off the wishlist)

Dire WeaselThe prepaint figure is wrapped around a stalagmite and therefore a group of them would look like crap. And then there's that unfortunately decision Wizards made back in 3ed to give dire creatures a more evil back story and have spikes and crap sticking out of the skin of all the dire creatures. So the weird spikes would need to be shaved off and smoothed over.

Reaper WeaselReaper FerretReaper makes both a "weasel" and a "ferret" and they sell them in variety packs of familiars. Thankfully, if you want a group of just the weasel or ferret you can get them from Hoard O Bits, who hopefully won't mind me nicking their pics in exchange for links back to the shop. These figures are much larger than a 25mm "normal" ferret or weasel would be, but are not quite big enough to warrant the "giant" appellation in 25mm.

The Splintered Light ones, meanwhile, have all the right attributes:

  • Good sculpting
  • More than one pose, and poses that look good in a group
  • Won't break the bank
  • Perfect size for 25mm or 28mm (despite being sold as 15/18mm)

Splintered Light Giant Weasels

I also hugely appreciate that either Splintered Light or Bob Olley had the foresight to a) makes the bases of these large enough that I don't have to base them but no so large as I have to have cut them off and b) add a little texture detail to the base. That's so much time saved.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Running with the Weasels

Painted: Giant Weasels

Along with some friends and foes:


Manufacturer: Splintered Light
Line: 15/18mm Animals and Creatures
Set: MISC09 Giant Weasels
Base markings: © SLM 07
Release date: 2007
Sculptor: Bob Olley
Date painted: 2011


Nothing tricky here. These were fun and quick. I primed in Dupli-color gray and after painting glazed their coats with inks to give them a rich, reddish sheen. The undersides are bright, warm white and I did their eyes basic black with a white glint for that sinister beady-eye look. You can see the legs that aren't touching the ground have some structural support sculpted to suggest grass, but I think it works fine painted gray in my case and can represent dust being thrown up from the dungeon floor.

Previously on BftD

In case you missed the koboldsor want to have a another look.

As always, the collection can be viewed in its entirety at flickr.

And stay tuned for more on giant weasels coming right up!