Saturday, July 21, 2018

D&D Clubneks

Another D&D encounter group to add to the monster roster.

Rustic borderlanders provoke a group of clubneks

Clubneks are a monster found in the Fiend Folio, described as a mutated form of ostrich in varying shades of green with yellow beaks. I'm using Splintered Light 15mm "Terror Birds," sculpted by Sandra Garrity, to represent them. I get excited whenever I see figures available that are a match for a D&D monster not commonly represented in miniature and such was the case here. The figures match in every way to the Fiend Folio entry (save for the illustration erroneously depicts the creature as too large for the 2HD and "medium" size listed in the stat line), and as you can see, work very well in 25mm, towering over a man with neck extended to full height.

Clubnek illustration from the Fiend Folio

They are a common sight on the borderlands in my campaign and the thief and magic user in the party were reluctantly pulled into an encounter with a few of these as they were serving as guards for a merchant in exchange for river passage. Seeing several of these bright creatures hunting among reeds in a marshy passage of the river, the regular guards got permission to detour for some sport. One died and another was mortally wounded and rescued by the adventurers, who also recovered a slain bird or two and drove off the rest, and later sold the plumage and meat for a fair profit to the trader at the keep on the borderlands.

D&D Clubnek Miniatures

As usual, I collected photo reference of green birds as well as ugly, big-beaked birds. The resulting scheme was inspired by collected picture on the whole, but the brown-headed barbet in the former category and the yellow hornbill in the latter were foremost. I took a bit of artistic liberty with the creature's description to add the purplish contrasting touches and was pleased with the result; it seemed like just what the figures needed.

D&D Clubnek, Splintered Light Miniatures, Sculpted by Sandra Garrity

Saturday, July 14, 2018

D&D Stirges and Giant Fire Beetles

More finished encounter groups for D&D! Up today are scratch-sculpted and press-cast stirges and giant fire beetles.

Stirges! Bloodsucking fiends swarm the party

A desperate struggle against the stirges
At least they saw them coming! A fight against giant fire beetles
Scratch-sculpted and press-molded stirges

The stirges from overhead

Stirges Making-of

See my previous post for more on the making of the stirges. Making the stirthe hardest part about making of the stirges. The hardest part came at the end, with the making of the flight stands. After experimenting with drilling a hole in the base and keeping a pin at 90 degrees with greenstuff, I decided soldering was the way to go. I cut squares from steel shingle and rigged up a jig using a "helping hands" tool, a mechanics square and a magnet, holding a pin to the helping hands with a magnet and lining it up with the mechanics square. Even after watching a number of how-to videos and buying recommended solder and flux, I'm nowhere close to getting solder to cooperate. When it melts it seems to run to the spot I want it least to go.

A surprise bonus to this basing method is that I can store the stirges on a metal plate with each stirge atop a rare earth magnet. The intervening .04" black plasticard base perfectly lessens the hold of the magnet to where they nicely stay put without holding so fast there's danger of breakage when I slide them off.

The hardest part was soldering these flight stands

Stirges in AD&D

Stirges are vicious in the AD&D game as they are deadly accurate (attack as a higher HD monster) and suck HP until they are bloated full of blood or are killed. I painted them in the canonical colors, rust-brown with yellowish eyes and feet, and a pink proboscis fading to gray at the base. The size is not specified but I made them scale with the illustrations in the game. These may be the only scale stirge miniatures around, though I seem to recall an offering some years back that was pretty close.

Giant Fire Beetles Making-of

Scratch-made giant fire beetle miniatures
The fire beetles are cast flat in greenstuff in a one-piece mold (insta-mold material) but when I glued them to the base, I first glued a block (of off-cut lead) to the base and mounted the beetle on top of this, and then folded his legs down to glue them to the base. This way they are off the ground at a believable height, and I added a dimensionality to them that a flat casing can't provide. I used blocks made of lead to give them a little extra weight as well. The mandibles being off the ground and separate adds a lot, as does having the thorax.

Giant fire beetles in AD&D

Giant fire beetles are the least of the giant beetles at 2.5' long, but well-protected by their exoskeleton and stronger in a fight than their size implies and can cut deep with their great mandibles. They are so-called for their three red-glowing glands, two above the eyes and one near the back of their abdomen. These models are to-scale (length measured from tip of mandible to tip of abdomen).

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Heritage LotR Hobbits / D&D Halfings

Heritage LotR and Ral Partha Hobbits/Halflings

Halflings for RPGs

A friend of mine and I have been noting an unplanned synchronicity in recent projects for our respective RPG campaigns, my D&D Borderlands campaign and his WFRP. In response to my last post he mentioned his "bartenders, beggars, and drunk halflings."

Well, the synchronicity continues unabated. My campaign starting local is Gygax's Keep on the Borderlands. Well, many years after the original publication, Kenzer and Company published a return to the keep/ send-up for Hackmaster in their usual style, creatively titled, "Little Keep on the Borderlands," wherein are many new ideas and twists to the original, which I'm borrowing as fancy strikes me. One of these is a camp of squatter halflings which adventurers must pass through to reach the camp. So, have my players also been accosted by drunk halflings? The answer is a resounding yes.

That said, my halflings figures are of a more placid, hobbity sort and are only doubling as vagbonds and rascals when the need calls for it. These are actually Heritage Lord of the Rings figures. If I ever do a 25mm classic Tolkien collection, these will be used for the purpose for which they were intended.

Heritage Lord of the Rings Hobbits

For the purist collectors out there here's a pic of just the Heritage ones.

Heritage Lord of the Rings Hobbits
I refer those wishing to know more about these figures to their entry in Lost Minis Wiki. They are taken from the following sets:
  • 1750 The Fellowship
  • 1755 Hobbit Sheriff Command Set
  • 1752 Hobbit Townsfolk


Something about the figures inspired me to introduce yet another base effect to my repertoire. On the one hand, the oldest vein of retro old school miniatures, and on the other, the way outdoor nature scenes are often depicted in paintings and animation. The most representative example I have to hand are the paintings Eyvind Earle made for Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

Then I went and took the pics against a very yellow-green backdrop, making the intended effect an impossibility. I'll come back and take new pics, though, if/when I get a suitable backdrop, probably made of felt. I'm experimenting with simple, cloth ground coverings lately and having remarkable success. I have been shopping craft online shops and cataloging those I'm interested in for various purposes. I might make a post about this.

Not too much to say about the painting. I matched the colors of the Merry and Pippin figures with those used in the Bakshi films. The figures themselves are linked to the films and the designs from it. I like the scheme I came up with for the Ral Partha one, and am debating whether to continue it with other RP halflings I have.


I also can't go without comparing the sculpting of the Heritage figures with the lone Tom Meier Ral Partha one I also included. Both were made around the same time. I presume the Heritage ones were sculpted in Milliput, or something similar, and the comparatively rough, carved quality of the sculpts is indicative, as I think Meier himself has pointed out. The Meier figure, in contrast, is has a silky-smooth quality he achieved with the different sort of epoxy he pioneered, that became the ubiquitous green stuff we all know.

This is another good example to show all the people who buy into the myth of sculpting progress and the myth of casting progress. This figure sculpted in 1979 is a technical marvel, sculpted as well as anything since, and as well-cast as anything as well. The casting also puts 98% of figures cast today to shame, whether by large or small operations. I invite you to compare to the offerings you find in your local game store today. And this figure is 16mm to the eyes. It is literally 1/3 the mass or less of a halfling figure you might find today, if not 1/4 or 1/5.

Tom Meier Ral Partha Halfling, 1979

I thought I could bang out this hobbit/halfling post in no-time and that's why I chose to do this post over others, but it's taken me a good portion of the morning to make it. Such is blogging. After breakfast I hope to get back to painting peasants. Foundry Perry figures this time. I have 10+ here that need just 2-5 minutes each to polish off.

Oh, and last note, last night I just finished two Custom Cast hobbits/halfings that predate these, but haven't varnished or photographed them yet, so they will have to wait for another post.