Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Stalkers


Roadside Picnic is an influential Soviet Era science fiction novel that I had frankly never heard of until trying to determine the origins of the Stalkers figure sets from Dark Alliance.


My first thought was that Dark Alliance based the figures off of some sort of video game (which is largely correct). This line of inquiry lead me to the Shadow of Chernobyl FPS game, which had a connection to the 1979 film Stalker, and terminated with the book Roadside Picnic that influenced both of them.

The story seemed interesting, so I decided to look for a copy of the book, and strangely enough, I noticed a marketing blurb on the front cover of the 2012 edition stating that it was the inspiration for both the movie and the game.

I think the 2012 translation might be the version that most English readers would want if they are getting the book. The previous translation was done in 1977, but it's not clear to me what source material was used for the translation (the original uncensored version of the book was not published until 1990).

Anyway, on to the figures. I'm not sure if any of the figures represent specific characters from the book, film, or games, but maybe someone who is more familiar with the various media can tell.

The figure on the far left looks like he might have come from the STALKER: Clear Sky cover art, while the figure with the minigun is possibly based on Nikolai Fedorov from the 2010 movie Predators. The only character I can definitely identify is the peerless Lara Croft (next to George), but she is from a completely different franchise.


The rest of the Set 1 figures are either in paramilitary dress with gasmaks, or post-apocalyptic fashion with goggles.


Next up is Set 2. The first three figures wear outfits with some sort of fishnet pattern (the female sniper must be at least 7' tall standing up!), while the next two wear PNB-4UZ(?) Exoskeletons.


A mix of scruffy figures in goggles, including two armed with bows round out the rest of the set.


I think the look of the figures is largely influenced by the video game since a lot of the art specific to the book tends to show more futuristic kit like in the concept art from the stillborn WGN television adaptation.

For those into post-apocalyptic gaming, doing a search for the concept art from the game will turn up a lot of really nice work to fuel your imagination.





Monday, March 18, 2019

Hantu Penanggal


The Penanggalan is a type of vampire that originates from Southeast Asia, in particular from the Malay Archipelago. It was probably brought to the attention of most D&D players by the Fiend Folio, but in the same year the Fiend Folio came out, a film called Leák was released in Indonesia. This influential Indonesian horror film is considered a cult classic, and brought the Penanggalan into the world of cinema.

Thai version
UK version

The film was banned in its home country, but is still available from various sources. The 2007 Mondo Macabro DVD is considered the definitive version in English if you are interested in getting a copy.

There are a surprising number of Penanggalan miniatures available, but the only one that I think is not too big is the one from the Pathfinder Battles line (Maze of Death #024).


The miniature has lungs and entrails, but I'm unable to tell if the sculpt includes any other organs (in most descriptions of the Penanggalan, the lungs, stomach, and intestines are always mentioned). The miniature looks good alongside 1/72 figures, and in fact her organs are so dainty that I doubt it would be necessary for her to take a vinegar bath to fit into a 28mm body.



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Slaadi

The slaadi were monsters introduced in the Fiend Folio that are now considered part of D&D product identity.


The original creatures written up by Charles Stross and illustrated by Russ Nicholson included the red slaad, blue slaad, green slaad, gray slaad, and death slaad. In later editions, the white slaad and black slaad (among others) were added.

These creatures were never of particular interest to me, so I never used them in any adventures, but in reading up on the slaad, it looks like later editions introduced new material on slaad reproduction that was very similar to the G-virus life cycle from the Resident Evil franchise.


Red slaadi generate blue slaadi by injecting hosts with eggs that grow into blue slaad tadpoles, while blue slaadi generate red slaadi through infection with a chaos phage that mutates a host into a red slaad. These mechanisms are pretty much how the G-embryo and Golgotha virus from RE2 work.

The most common miniature of a slaad seems to be the Gray Slaad, of which I have three. Two come from the D&D Miniatures Icons of the Realms line (Monster Menagerie 3 #21A, #21B), while the third comes from the Nolzur's Marvelous Unpainted Miniatures line (WZK73353).


These models scale out to 7½ to 8 feet tall in 1/72, so they are perfect for use as the more common red slaad with just a little modification and the proper paint job.

The next miniatures are a Death Slaad (part of the Nolzur's set with the Gray Slaad) and a Slaad Spawn from the D&D Miniatures line (Legendary Evils #36). The Death Slaad can pass as another red slaad, while the Slaad Spawn can be used as a green slaad.


The Slaad Spawn is a bit on the short side, but I'm willing to let it slide since it is difficult to gauge whether a slaad is standing fully upright or not.

The final miniature is not a slaad, but rather a Nightmare Thing from the Massive Darkness game.


I've included it because the miniature looks almost exactly like one of the G-mutants encountered in the sewers of the RE:2 remake.


These mutants are created when a human host is rejected by a G-embryo, so instead of becoming a horrible inhuman monster, becomes an even more horrible inhuman monster. I'm thinking that the same could be true for when a host proves to be incompatible with a slaad tadpole.

I cut away the weird armpit fins from the gray slaad figures. I think the fins are supposed to represent the webbing seen between the arms and body in the original Nicholson illustrations, but they just look silly in this new form.


The blades on the backs of the hands were removed, as were any fireballs.


I slapped some red paint on a Gray Slaad, some green paint on the Slaad Spawn, and voilà.