Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum

Giants are found in allegory, fairytales, and mythology. Their size can range from being in the upper ranges of human height, to being over 100 feet tall. In most portrayals from these sources, giants are big dumb brutes that are easily defeated by their smaller, more clever opponents.

In fantasy RPGs, giants came into prominence with the G series of modules for AD&D. They were fearsome in combat, and not to be trifled with. This series probably ranks high in most "top 10 lists of best modules ever".

I think the most terrifying depiction of giants I've come across is from the manga Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人). This manga was recently released in the US by Kodansha as Attack on Titan. Despite the awkward English title, I was completely engrossed by the series. In a nutshell, it's similar to a zombie apocalypse story, except the "zombies" are 3 meters tall to over 50 meters tall. More themes (and spoilers) can be found at tvtropes.

I read about six volumes in a single night, staying up into the wee hours, and it really made me want to run a grittier version of the G series modules.

To do so of course would require a lot of giants. Luckily, almost every manufacturer has probably made at least one giant. Below are some of the ones in my collection.

The largest giants I have come from the Heroscape game. They are Shurrak (Warriors of Eberron expansion), and a Jotun (Raknar's Vision expansion). Shurrak is also available from the D&D CMG as a Fire Giant Raider (except ususally at four or five times the cost of the Heroscape figure).

I really like the pose of the Fire Giant, because it is obvious that he is attacking a smaller opponent. The Jotun is also particularly nice for a CMG miniature. Unfortunately both of the figures have bent swords which will need to be straightened out.

The D&D CMG has a large number of giants, but I only have two figures. The first one is a Mountain Troll (War of the Dragon Queen #50). It's not really a giant, but I'd argue it's not really a troll either. The second figures is a Stone Giant (Lords of Madness #47). It's a decent figure, but I'm not entirely sold on the stone-like appearance of its skin.

The Dreamblade CMG gives us the Ogrol Ragelord (Baxar's War #57), which I think would make a good proxy for a Fomorian Giant. The axe is bent on this figure, and will need to be straightened out.

My metal giants are smaller than the CMG giants for the most part, as they are all older figures. I'm sure that there are many modern metal figures that rival the CMG giants in size, but I do not own any of them. I've arranged the giants so that they are grouped roughly by size and proportions.

My largest metal giants are both by Grenadier. On the left is a Storm Giant (Fantasy Lords 114), while on the right is the Chaos Giant (Dragon Lords 3506)

Next is a Frost Giant from the Heroes and Horrors line (Ral Partha 01-042). It is bent at the waist to menace a smaller victim, but unfortunately it makes the figure very prone to topple over.

Somewhat smaller, is a WoTC Fire Giant (WOC40022). Its crouching position makes it seem rather small, but the miniature is actually pretty hefty. On the right is Splintered Light Miniatures Mountain Giant (GIAN06). This giant was formerly a Hill Giant produced by Metal Magic.

On the left is a Frost Giant from the Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night line (Ral Partha 01-057). On the right is a Cloud Giant (Ral Partha 31-028). I think that this particular miniature was actually released by Citadel, but I'm not sure what line or code it was released under.

A pair of Grenadier Frost Giants (Dragon Lords 3503), and a Fire Giant (Grenadier 713) sculpted by Julie Guthrie. It looks like it was inspired by Trampier's illustration from the AD&D Monster Manual.

Three Grenadier figures. A Frost Giant (Fantasy Lords 103), Cloud Giant (Fantasy Lords 063), and a Battle Troll (Fantasy Lords 062). The Cloud Giant is cradling a pet lion in the crook of his arm, which I find rather amusing.

A pair of Grenadier figures. An Armored Ogre Giant (Fantasy Lords 174), and an Armored Norse Giant (Fantasy Lords 175). The Norse Giant is supposed to be holding an axe in his left hand, but it broke off.

A Heritage Hill Giant (Dungeon Dwellers 1299), and two Ral Partha giants — a Firbolg (AD&D Monsters 11-419) and a Fire Giant (AD&D Monsters 11-407).

A Giant Half-Troll Champion (Ral Partha 31-012) which actually may be a Citadel release, and a Citadel Stone Giant (C28) which was also released by Ral Partha as a Troll Giant.

Three figures from the Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night line. Two Hill Giants (Ral Partha 01-052 and 01-121), and a Storm Giant (Ral Partha 01-090).

Not giants, but I will be using them as such. These are a pair of Reaper Ogres. On the left is Garnuk (Dark Heaven Legends 02288), while on the right is Orankar (Dark Heaven Legends 02537).

A pair of Ral Partha figures — a Stone Giant (AD&D Monsters 11-403) and a Half Giant Warrior (AD&D Dark Sun 11-714). The Stone Giant should be carrying a stone axe in his hand, but it got lost. The Half Giant should be holding a club in his right hand, but it broke off. On the far right is a Grenadier Troll (Fantasy Lords 069). The receding hairline and visor always makes me think it looks like Hulk Hogan.

The smallest giants I have are a Grenadier Hill Giant (Fantasy Lords 119), the Fire Giant from the Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night line (Ral Partha 01-059), a Heritage Frost Giant (Fantasy 1306B), and a Citadel Hill Giant (Fiend Factory FF15-1). The Heritage giant is particularly small, and is not much larger than a modern 28mm figure.

To round out this post, I've included some Ettins. The word "ettin" is derived from "jötunn", which is translated from Norse (or Icelandic) as "giant", making their inclusion quite appropriate. The popular depiction of Ettins as two-headed giants comes from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis by way of the AD&D Monster Manual.

The first two figures are Two-Headed Ogres; one from the All Things Dark and Dangerous line (Ral Partha 02-907), the other from the Children of the Night line (Ral Partha 13-031). The last figure is an actual Ettin (AD&D Monsters 11-410), also made by Ral Partha.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hatsune Miku Jagdtiger

I normally don't have much desire to model late war German armor, but when I first saw pictures of the Miku ita-tank displayed in Volks Hobby Square Osaka, I knew that one day I would have to make my own version in 1/72 scale.

I ended up buying two Trumpeter Jagdtigers (07293 and 07273) for my build because I wanted the Henschel suspension, but not the Zimmerit. Trumpeter does produce a kit of the version I wanted, but because these two kits were on sale, it was actually cheaper to buy two models, as opposed to one.

Below is a picture of the infamous Trumpeter Jagdtiger rear deck with inverted grills, where the fine detail will never be seen again once the hull is closed up.

The instructions say that the tracks can be glued with normal model cement. I found this to be untrue for liquid cement and CA glue, so I used my hot-knife to melt the tracks together.

To create some track sag, I drilled holes through the lower hull and used some pins to depress the track.

If I thought about this earlier, I would have pre-drilled the holes and used a single length of metal across the hull, but because I did it after the wheels and tracks were assembled, the holes were a bit random and I had to adjust the angles of the pins to even out the sag. The pins were later embedded in epoxy to ensure that they wouldn't come loose after I closed up the hull.

Sourcing the decals was the hardest part of this build. The Volks model uses 1/24 decals from Good Smile Racing, but obviously they wouldn't work for my 1/72 tank (not to mention this particular set runs for more than US$100 on the secondary market nowadays). Luckily, I came into possession of a Nendoroid Petit: Vocaloid RQ Set a couple of years back, which included decals that I could use for the tank. Additional decals from Easy Decal were found on eBay.

The decals for the sides were smaller than I would have liked, but they went on easily. The Volks tank bears the number "39" on it in a bit of word play, as the individual numbers can be pronounced "Mi-Ku". I decided to go with "808" in reference to the GSR sponsored BMW Z4 E86s used by Studie for the 2008 and 2009 Super GT seasons. The numbers were from a Fujimi Hetzer kit, but they were pretty old, and fragmented around the edges when I applied them.

The black numbers just looked too plain, so I removed them with some Scotch tape. I'll probably replace them with red numbers with white outlines. The tank still looks a bit underdecorated for an itasha. I'm going to have to look into adding some more bits of art onto it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The LVT(A)-1 is the armored fire support version of the LVT-2 that developed out of lessons learned from the taking of Tarawa. I'm not sure why, but there's something about the sleek boat-like appearance that really appeals to me.

The first 1/72 version to come onto the market was the Altaya diecast model. The Dragon kit came out a bit later, and Hobby Master has recently released a version as well.

Below are the three LVTs that I currently own. The first one is by Dragon, while the other two are Altaya diecast models. All three are pretty much identical as far as dimensions go, but each model seems to have a different type of engine deck.

The Dragon LVT is very easy to put together. There are a lot of fragile cleats and handholds that can be left off if you want to make it into a more robust wargaming miniature. I'm taking a break in the build because I'm trying to figure out how the gunners were supposed to stand in the gunner's cockpit. Did they just stand on crates or whatever was handy like for the LVT-4, or was there some dedicated platform for them to stand on?

The two Altaya LVTs are completely different molds. The olive colored one is the older version, and the navy gray one is the newer version. Both have diecast upper hulls with the remaining parts in various types of plastic. The most obvious differences are that the older version has a front hull machine gun, and mesh grill floors in the gunner's cockpits (though they are not deep enough to accommodate a standing gunner). The newer version just seals over the gunner's cockpit entirely, and is missing the armored backrest. The 37mm gun differs between the two models as well.

The olive LVT represents a USMC vehicle used at Peleliu. The lettering scrawled on the side of the model is way oversized. In addition, the stars on the LVT are red. Makes me really wonder if this is a real Altaya LVT. I've seen similar models being sold from eastern Europe on eBay, so maybe not...

The LVT also seemed to have the tracks on in the wrong orientation. I was considering leaving them as they were, but because other Altaya tracks came off so easily, I succumbed to the compulsion to turn them around. Big mistake. The interior halves of the return idlers crumbled immediately, with one drive sprocket suffering a similar fate.

I managed to repair the drive sprocket, but could not do anything about the inner half of the idlers. I've only seen really old Airfix figures disintegrate like this, and it makes me very nervous about how all of my models are going to hold out over time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Halo Micro Ops Vehicles

I'm using this post to finish up my review of the Halo Micro Ops Series 1 USNC figures and vehicles that I started back in September. I can't say that I care much for the designs of the figures or vehicles of the Covenant side, so I'm going to ignore them.

First up are the figures, consisting of Sgt. Buck (the tallest figure from the ODST Drop Pods set from my September post), followed by Emile-A239 from the Ghost vs. Wolf Spider set; an anonymous marine and an anonymous Spartan from the High Ground Bunker set; and Carter-A259 and an anonymous kneeling marine from the Falcon set.

It seems to me that most of the new figures are bulkier than Sgt. Buck. They may not necessarily appear any taller in the picture due to their crouching poses, but I think the they are much closer to 1/72 figures than the figures from the ODST Drop Pods set.

Onto the vehicles:

The UH-144S Falcon is easily my most favorite vehicle of this series. It scales out exactly to 1/76 according to the dimensions given for it. The rotors tilt, the cockpit canopy can be opened up, and there are several points of articulation for the door guns.

Unfortunately, the set does not include any door gunners, however, the pilot figure is suitable for use in this role. It also happens to be the same figure that is used as the driver for the Warthog, so I bought two of the Warthog & Mongoose sets to get a pair of door gunners.

The two vehicles that come in the Warthog & Mongoose set are the M12 Force Application Vehicle, and the M274 Ultra-Light All-Terrain Vehicle. According to the vehicle specifications, the Warthog is 1/72 in width, but 1/78 in length. Even so, to my eye it is just looks too big.

Art for the Warthog is not consistent with regard to its size, and the best representations (to me) show the vehicle as being roughly the size of a HMMWV.

Dimensions for the Mongoose are not given, and artwork shows the vehicle ranging anywhere from the size of a standard ATV to the size of the Peugeot Quark that was displayed at the 2004 Paris Motor Show.

The mass of the Mongoose is listed as 406 kg which is somewhat less than that of the Quark, so I would hazard that the vehicle is roughly the same size as the Quark. With this interpretation, I would say that the model is not too far off from 1/72.

Halo vehicle comparison with a diecast HMMWV (CDC Armour 3117).

Note: I didn't mention much about the High Ground Bunker set, but more details can be found at HaloFanForLife.