Sunday, July 31, 2011

A cross between gnomes and trolls

The gnoll is one of the signature monsters of D&D. They were first mentioned in a short story by Lord Dunsany as gnoles. They were mentioned again about 40 years later in a parody or homage to Dunsany by Margaret St. Clair.

Then in 1974, they were described in the OD&D white box set by Gary Gygax as "A cross between gnomes and trolls (...perhaps, Lord Dunsany did not really make it all that clear) with +2 morale. Otherwise they are similar to hobgoblins". Gygax disavows this attribution in a later interview, but regardless of the origin of the name, I think that Gygax can take credit for giving us the hyena-like gnolls we are familiar with to this day.

While there are many great choices for gnolls in 28mm, the choices for 1/72 are a lot more limited. The following are the few miniatures that I found suitable for use as gnolls in this scale. From left to right: Mage Knight Gnoll Hunter, Gnoll Fletcher, and Gnoll Poacher; Grenadier Knoll (Monster Manuscript Vol.V 1505, MM42); and a gnoll game piece from the World of Warcraft boardgame.

Of this bunch, I like the Grenadier Knoll the best because it has the canine rear legs that I prefer my gnolls to have. The Mage Knight gnolls look good as well, but their legs are too human-like. The Hunter and Fletcher are originally from the Ral Partha All Things Dark and Dangerous line, and are still available from Iron Wind Metals, along with the other gnolls from the series. The Poacher is unique to Mage Knight, but is just an archer with a weapon swap (from bow to crossbow). The good thing about Mage Knight miniatures is that they are cheap, and their legs can always be modified with a little work.

The WoW gnoll has its good points; it has the proper hind legs, and I like the way it has the high hunched back. However, it is a bit too cartoony looking, and the arms appear oddly positioned on its body. If I ever pick up some more of these pieces, I may try some modifications by moving the arms higher, and replacing the head.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I received a package from the Ukraine today containing some diecast tanks from the Russian Tank Collection. The collection is marketed to collectors from the former Soviet Union, and consists of various vehicles that were previously released by Altaya, with other vehicles that appear to be unique to this collection.

Each tank comes with a 15 page magazine in Russian, with information on the type of vehicle included with the magazine, including the vehicle with the markings carried by the diecast model. The T-72 that came with this magazine is a parade vehicle with the characteristic whitewall tires.

The magazine provides a nice four-view diagram of the vehicle.

Various color profiles.

And a profile section on early tanks.

As for the diecast models themselves, I found them a bit basic, but still not too bad. In this post, I'm only going to cover the T-72, since I don't really have anything to compare the other Russian Tank diecast vehicles with on hand at the moment. I'm just going to refer to the Russian Tank diecast as De Agostini from now on, though I'm not sure about all the relationships between De Agostini, Altaya, and GE Fabbri, who all seem to have some links to these diecast models.

The De Agostini T-72 is not as detailed as the Unimax Forces of Valor T-72. The wheels of the De Agostini T-72 come as a single unit for each side, as opposed to the individual wheels of the Unimax tank. Construction seems to be of metal and plastic. The De Agostini tank is also about 2 mm shorter and 1 mm wider than the Unimax tank, but they do not look too different when viewed from the top.

From the side, the differences are a little more apparent. The De Agostini tank is actually 5 mm shorter than the Unimax tank. I think that this may actually be more accurate, since Russian tanks do have a very low profile. The paint job on the De Agostini T-72 is also very basic. For some reason, the Dushka was just left the same color as the rest of the vehicle, so it may need to be repainted. There is no weathering, but that's fine for a parade vehicle.

Overall, I approve of these vehicles. Some of the WWII era vehicles are a little too toy-like, but the modern vehicles are mostly decent. They also have a T-28 and T-35, as well as some armored cars that I hope to get in the future.

Hmmm... I think I meet those qualifications.