Wednesday, January 20, 2016


The Githyanki are a race of evil humanoids that dwell in the Astral Plane. They were created by Charles Stross who borrowed the name from George R. R. Martin's Dying of the Light, and are considered by many as being among the best monsters from the Fiend Folio.

I've always liked the original design by Russ Nicholson, but then I like his artwork in general. Nicholson's Githyanki are emaciated mummy-monkeys with a mean look. Tony DiTerlizzi criticizes the design because of the scowling expression, but I find the Fiend Folio version preferable to any of the later versions of the Githyanki.

Russ Nicholson vs Michael Komarck

The 4th edition Githyanki are too fleshy, and their spotted skin gives them an amphibian-like appearance. They look more like space aliens – which I guess may be appropriate, given their origins. To me, they have no visual impact, but maybe I'm just being too old-school.

Despite the popularity of Githyanki as villains, not very many figures of these creatures were made. Both Citadel and Ral Partha made licensed miniatures, while Dark Horse launched a very short-lived line of "not-Githyanki" known as the "Unholy".

Apparently the Dark Horse miniatures sold pretty well, and advertisements for the figures even appeared in the pages of the Dragon. Of course TSR responded with a cease-and-desist letter, and figure production was discontinued after a few months.

Below are Dark Horse Unholy (U-001, U-002, U-003, U-005, and U-006).

There seems to be some sort of discrepancy between the numbering on the header cards and the advertisement, since I have the Unholy Warrior/Advancing listed as being U-005 rather than U-004.

I believe that at some time, the figures were resculpted for whatever reason. Below are examples of U-1, U-2, U-4 (listed as 151 Unholy Warrior/Advancing on the blister pack), and U-9.

The figures can be distinguished by the markings on the base, with the first set bearing the imprint "Dark Horse Designs" and a rosette, while the later is marked "Unholy Dark Horse".

The Unholy are true 25mm figures, and work well as 1/72 Githyanki (who stand at 6' 3" in height) – the only exception being the Royal Warrior, who scales out to 7' 6" or so in height. The heads are a little on the large side and the limbs (for the later sculpts) are too chunky, but I think that the look of the Nicholson illustrations is captured by and large.

Next up are three Ral Partha Githyanki (AD&D Monsters 11-490), and the Quarrl from Grenadier (Monster Manuscript Vol.VIII 1508, MM70).

The Ral Partha miniatures are all very tall. The detailing is nice, but the faces have the Grinch-like appearance of the Planescape Githyanki which is a minus.

The Quarrl is also on the tall side, but not by too much. One thing that I find rather funny about the Quarrl is that whoever created the entry for it in the Monster Manuscript did not think through the alignment to make it correspond with the flavor text.

Lawful Evil that promotes the triumph of Chaos

In closing, a comparison of the various miniatures.

I suppose that the Ral Partha Githyanki can be used as Royal Warriors, but I'm not really sure that Royal Githyanki are even considered canon.


Sean said...

Cool figures. I didn't even know these existed. The Fiend Folio was too new school for me, I was playing less and less by the time it came out.

EY said...

Hi Sean,

Thanks for reading and commenting. The Dark Horse Fantasy figures do tend to be more obscure. I think that they were more famous for their TMNT and Groo miniatures.

The Fiend Folio does grow on you with time. I don't think I ever used the monsters that weren't already published in other modules from it either, when it first came out.