Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Kitsune from Stonehaven Minis

I recently received my Elven Adventurers Kickstarter from Stonehaven miniatures.  In hindsight, I wish I went in for more than what I did...which is probably what every company should hope for if they really want to use Kickstarter to launch an ongoing operation.

The two I really wanted were these Kitsune (Japanese fox shapeshifters).  For the most part, I think Eastern fantasy creatures are really overlooked by most manufacturers.  

The sculpting and casting are both excellent - though a bit flat when viewed in profile.  It was either from production or shipping but both of their arms can be "pushed" a bit to remedy the situation.  From a design standpoint, I like the overall theme and detailing.  The male looked very much like a merchant and was painted accordingly.  The female kitsune did not go in the cheesecake direction that many sculptors of anthropomorphic characters follow but looked very much like an assassin or gladiator.

Stonehaven currently has a kickstarter running for fold flat paper terrain done in their distinctive sepia art style.  If paper terrain interests you, Stonehaven has a solid record of delivering on their previous projects.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dark Sun Elf

One of my favorite D&D settings is Dark Sun, although I have seldom had the opportunity to play a long campaign in that game world.  For those not familiar, imagine a typical D&D world of wizards, elves, dwarfs, humans and other monsters.  Then imagine a magical event on the order of a nuclear holocaust that has upended the usual fantasy tropes.  Halfings?  Happy but shy farmers and villagers have now become savage cannibals.  Dwarves?  Still industrious but now hairless surface dwellers.  And elves are no longer mystical and coolly serene but are wandering merchants and raiders not to be trusted.

Ral Partha miniatures made for Dark Sun pop up on ebay and other used dealer from time to time and are becoming fairly expensive.  Furthermore, their "true" 25mm scale doesn't match up well with the 28mm heroic style of modern miniatures.  Luckily, it is not to hard to adapt current minis into the Dark Sun world.  Athas is hot, arid and metal is very rare.  So lightly dressed character in leather or fabric, and weapons should appear to be bone or stone.  High ranking character would have metal weapons, but they are rarer than a +2 sword in a typical campaign world.

This figure instantly screamed Dark Sun to me. Athasian elves were speedy runners and the none too smooth finish on the weapons could pass for bone.  As part of the Reaper Bones line, I found some of the facial detail a little less distinct than on the original metal figure.  However, the weapons were well molded and straight, and did not require the boiling water dip to reset them.

Reaper Bones Iconic Elf Merisiel 

Reading Recommendation

Troy Denning's five book series about the world of Athas is a minor classic of world-building.  The Verdant Passage, The Crimson Legion, The Amber Enchantress, The Obsidian Oracle and The Cerulean Storm can be found on kindle or in used book stores where I found most of mine.

Also worth getting from a few years ago is the IDW graphic novel Ianto's Tomb.  It's less epic than the five book series but the artist does a great job in capturing the look of Athas as many imagined it. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Female Barbarians

This is a true throwback.  Not only is a pair of miniatures from the 1908s, the paint job is from that decade as well.  The figure on the right is a 1984 Ral Partha from the stamping on the bottom.  The other one's marking is unreadable, but I suspect it is of similar vintage.

I probably painted them around 1989/1990 when I was in high school.  Of course, I am a bit embarrassed by the quality. On the other hand I was using mostly Testor's paint because nice Citadel paint was hard to come by in the small town South 25 years ago.  I also had no magnifying lamp, but I did also have 20/20 vision so that's probably an even trade-off.  All in all, it's nice to hang on to them as a time capsule.

And obviously, it's babes in chainmail bikinis.  What 15 year old (or 40 year old) doesn't occasionally like to paint up a little cheesecake? If anything, the figures are a bit restrained by today's sculpting standards.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bushido - Temple of Ro Kan

I have to admit that despite all of these figures, I have yet to play Bushido.  I am not alone, I think, in letting a game's quality of figures drive my purchase rather than the game itself.  Monk characters have always been a weakness of mine in RPGs, so the Temple of Ro-Kan faction was a natural impulse buy for me.  

The quality of the figures is excellent.  The poses are dynamic.  As far as assembly, I cannot comment as I purchased the starter set off ebay, and the chap who sold them already assembled and mounted them on those really nice "ruined temple" bases.  I wish I had more info on the source for future purchases in this faction.

The peasant characters look very good, but their scale (32mm) precludes their use as extras/civilians in a historical wargame, which was one of my original thoughts justifying this purchase.  Oh well... 

Below, Aiko & her Gorilla.  These were my first purchases, when a friendly but not so local game store closed out their Bushido stock and sold them for half price.  Who couldn't turn down an awesome gorilla? 

The Kitsune in humanoid and fox forms.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hercules and Perseus

Greek Legends 

Two sons of Zeus are today's miniature posting. Hercules, Greek hero and warrior, was known for his tremendous strength (but not wisdom) and his Twelve Labors. Perseus is the founder of Mycenae and slayer of Medusa.  Both characters are a part of modern pop culture thanks to animated Disney films and the "Titans" film franchise.  None of these adaptions are terribly faithful to the myths, as entertaining as they might be.

Thankfully, both of these sculpts by Steve Saleh are based on ancient depictions of the two heroes. Hercules carries his club and wears the skin of the Nemedean Lion and nothing else.  Perseus carries sword and shield, and wears a tunic and robe, rather than the later Classical Greek hoplite armor that less accurate depictions have used. These two figures were released last year by Northstar Miniatures as part of the Greek faction for Osprey's Of Gods and Mortals mythological skirmish wargame.  Also included in the set was Medusa, oddly matched with her slayer.

The Hercules figure is excellent. He is powerful and massive, and the lion's skin looks as it should - both armor and trophy. For Perseus, the draping cloak and the helmet detailing are the highlights. Less impressive is the leaned back, slightly off balance pose. Also, Perseus' head is separately cast and must be glued to the body.  The fit is not precision cut, and some gap filling is necessary.

Overall, these are really nice figures that are a "heroic" 28mm.  Hercules is about 32mm from foot to eye, Perseus a little bit less.  If you have an interest in gaming with Greek mythology, these are worth getting, even apart from the Of Gods and Mortals game. They can be purchased direct from Northstar Miniatures, but for those of us in the States, Architects of War can special order them, which can save you a bit on shipping.

OGAM302 Greek Legends