Friday, January 27, 2023

Frogs and Fairies

Ida Rentoul Outhwaite is a 20th C. Australian artist who drew fairies as one of her main subjects. Among her illustrations are many that depict frogs alongside fairies.

I am Kexy, Friend of Fairies.
from The Little Green Road to Fairyland

They Stood in Front of Her.
from Fairyland

A less amicable relationship between frogs and fairies is found in Touhou Project, with the ice fairy Cirno who has the rather cruel hobby of freezing frogs.

The fairy had this to say about
playing by freezing frogs:

Interview from「東方文花帖」


With the introduction out of the way, I'll segue to the miniatures for this post, which include new grung miniatures and various fairy (pixie) miniatures.

The prepainted grung miniatures are from D&D Icons of the Realms. The Grung Warband (WZK96123) consists of six figures. The first image shows a Blue Grung, an Orange Grung Elite Warrior, a Purple Grung, and a Green Grung.


The second image shows the remaining two members of the warband, a Red Grung Wildling and a Gold Grung Elite Warrior. The final figure is Chief Yorb (Tomb of Annihilation Set 1 #7).


The unpainted Grungs (WZK90415) are from Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures.


I really like the series of grung miniatures produced for D&D, but the prepainted miniatures are definitely on the expensive side.

For the fairies, I'll start with four figures from Critical Role Miniatures. On the left are three unpainted Wisher Pixies (WZK90558), followed by their prepainted leader, Mystic Iotha (Monsters of Exandria Set 1).


I apologize for the quality of the image, but the clear wings and light primer just made them really hard to photograph.

The assembly of the unpainted miniatures was rather sloppy, with dried glue caking the joins, so a bit of clean up is required before painting. The middle unpainted figure stands higher than the others because I stepped on the figure by accident, breaking it from its base. I reattached the figure by gluing the stand to her coattails instead of her leg, since I felt they should hover near human eye level.

Iotha is painted messily, and looks as if she regularly visits spray tan salons. I don't care for her purple outfit either, so a repaint will be in order.

The next two fairies come from D&D Icons of the Realms. The first figure is a Pixie (Wild Beyond the Witchlight #24), followed by a Healing Spirit (Fey) Spell Effect (Mighty Conjurations #4).


The paint job on the Icons Pixie is better than that of the Critical Role Pixie, but the eyes are out of register, so the face needs touch up.

All of the figures are roughly 13-15mm in height, with wings that resemble those of butterflies.

I'll be looking to see if I can reproduce the wings so I can create additional fairies using some N scale figures that I have as a starting point.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Snowman

Evil snowmen have been a staple of pop culture horror for a long time. Most people are probably familiar with them through the direct-to-video movie Jack Frost, or from Dr. Who, or even from Scooby Doo cartoons.

The Snowmen (2012 Christmas Special)

Scooby-Doo! Haunted Holidays, 2012

A Scooby-Doo! Christmas, 2002

Jack Frost, 1997

One of the earliest depictions of the evil snowman however, is in the cartoon The Snowman from Ted Eshbaugh Studios.


Atlas Obscura hosts an interesting article on the history of snowmen (which may provide some insight to the source of the resentment motivating these snowmen).

I don't think there was ever an official snowman monster in D&D, but a snow golem first appeared in Ship of Horrors for 2nd ed. AD&D.


The 2nd ed. version of the snow golem is described as an 11' tall armored figure sculpted from snow, which seems like something requiring the skills of a trained sculptor to create.

Giorgio Vasari writes in Lives of the Artists
(Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori,
ed architettori
) that after an unusual
snowstorm descended upon Florence in
January 1494, Michelangelo was tasked
by Piero de' Medici (his patron) to create
a statue made of snow in the courtyard
of his palace.

By 5th ed. however, artistry seems to have gone by the wayside, and snow golems became crude anthropoid figures.


It is this version of the snow golem, that appears from D&D Icons of the Realms (Snowbound #28), and Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures (WZK90417).


I don't really care for the use of blue and silver to represent snow on prepainted miniatures, so I will repaint the Icons Snow Golem at a later date.

Some other figures that fit the snowy theme include a couple of chwinga miniatures from D&D Icons of the Realms (Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden #3, #16).


One chwinga is throwing a snowball, while the other holds an icicle (or rather, an "icicle staff"). I included a space chwinga from a previous post for comparison purposes.

Last up are a couple of frost salamanders from an older post with a pair of extra arms added on.


For the bases, I originally wanted to try some of the various commercial products described at Meandering Shade, but for expediency, I went with white glue and baking soda.

Generic brand sodium bicarbonate

Baking soda has small reflective crystals in it, unlike Woodland Scenics Scene-A-Rama Snow which is perfectly matte white, and requires the addition of some embossing powder, or extra fine glitter to give it that sparkly snow look.


Monday, January 9, 2023

CTN 0452-9

rawpixel.com

The previous year had a lot of coverage on artificial intelligence, including news of an AI win at the Colorado State Fair digital arts competition and the advent of ChatGPT.

I personally see a lot of potential in these developments, but in mainstream news media (particularly the large outlets) you will see headlines using words such as "cheating", "furious", "sinister", "panic", and the like.

In fiction however, there are many different portrayals of AI. There is the pervasive technophobic/dystopian view found in film (Frankenstein, The Terminator, I, Robot, The Matrix, etc.), which is little different from the sentiment found in mass media.

Then, there are more diverse portrayals, which include AI as willing servitors (e.g., in I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, droids from Star Wars, Joi from Blade Runner 2049), or as indulgent nursemaids to humanity (e.g., Minds from the Culture series by Iain M. Banks).

One AI that falls in between the spectrum of servitor and nursemaid (with a dash of technophobia thrown in at the end) is Cortana from the Halo franchise.


In game, she is portrayed as a holographic projection; purple in the original game, and blue in the sequels.


As a holographic projection, she could be of any size, but she is typically shown as being a small tabletop projection in the game.

Small scale Cortana figures were created for the Mega Bloks Halo sets that looked like they could be close to 1/72 scale.


I was able to find a couple of loose pieces on eBay, and bought them to use for size comparison.


The figures are not particularly detailed and very slender. I'd say they are probably closer to 1/76 in proportion, but the height might work for 1/72 scale.



There is also a Roland AI (clear yellow) from Halo Infinite, as well as some variant Cortana figures in clear orange, gold plate, or blue with white circuitry markings made by Mega Bloks, but they seem to be harder to find and more expensive (I didn't really look to see what Mega Bloks sets the different figures can be found in).