Wednesday, March 20, 2019


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.


Paul´s Bods said...

Great Review. I´m tempted to get some but what I could use them for I cannot think

Gowan James Ditchburn said...

Could certainly use them in my modern setting. Although still not got much of an impetus to go back there any time toon. Far too many contemporary wars for me to indulge in another fictional one. There's something about setting things in the past that makes things easier to deal with.

Otherwise I really like the whole aesthetic both of Stalker and the proposed TV series even though they are quite different. All very interesting stuff.

EY said...

The figures are great for survival horror and post-apocalypse gaming, but definitely not too useful if you are mostly into fantasy or historical gaming.

While I have great interest in historical settings, I actually find fiction easier to deal with for gaming. There's something about "what if" that appeals to me more than the immutable past.

The Angry Lurker said...

Those are very nice, nice sculpting!

Gowan James Ditchburn said...

Oh I too love fiction. Indeed whenever I do something fictional it is through the medium of fiction. I feel far too constrained by any bounds of history.

Kret said...

Great review.

The figures that bear any resemblance to "Stalker" video games characters are both exoskeletons' ones (PNB-4UZ was the name of that fictive equipment in the series) and the lonely shooting figure in gas mask, hood and with the backpack. The rest is just a set of generic, heroic-posed postapocalyptic figures that have little use except some guerilla warfare scenes perhaps.

And only one figure (the one with crossbow) is doing something remotely similar to stalking. All the rest are not even trying to hide (which is the main point of both games and the book - in the book nobody even had a gun).

Those would go well with (against?) Russian Federals from Orion or more modern Russian Federation soldiers from the ModellCollect set with BMP-3.

EY said...


Thanks for the additional information on the figures. If you recall however, there was one character who did bring a gun into the Zone - it just wasn't for offensive purposes.