Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Wicker Man

The nation of all the Gauls is extremely devoted to superstitious rites; and on that account they who are troubled with unusually severe diseases and they who are engaged in battles and dangers, either sacrifice men as victims, or vow that they will sacrifice them, and employ the Druids as the performers of those sacrifices; because they think that unless the life of a man be offered for the life of a man, the mind of the immortal gods cannot be rendered propitious, and they have sacrifices of that kind ordained for national purposes. Others have figures of vast size, the limbs of which formed of osiers they fill with living men, which being set on fire, the men perish enveloped in the flames. They consider that the oblation of such as have been taken in theft, or in robbery, or any other offence, is more acceptable to the immortal gods; but when a supply of that class is wanting, they have recourse to the oblation of even the innocent.

– Commentaries on the Gallic War

Aylett Wicker Man, 1676

The Wicker Man was a large wicker effigy mentioned by Julius Caesar, in which human sacrifices were offered by the Gauls to the Celtic gods.

Pennant Wicker Man, 1781

Many scholars say that Caesar (and presumably Strabo) was an unreliable source who merely repeated earlier accounts made by Posidonius. Many writers also caution that the Wicker Man was likely a fabrication used to impugn the reputation of the Celts, but I get the feeling that this assertion similarly comes from a single source, since every article making this declaration also repeats the phrase "bizarre and negative information" in regard to Caesar's remarks.

Wicker giants are also associated with later traditions related to Gog Magog, while the bearded mask depicted in some engravings of the effigy is sometimes seen as being the face of a Green Man.

Unknown origin, 1832

Neo-pagans are less skeptical about the Wicker Man, and many groups burn wicker effigies (minus the live humans) during some of their fire festivals. The most important festivals are held at the Spring Equinox, Midsummer, the Autumn Equinox, and the Winter Solstice. Sir James Frazer states that the fire festivals are rites of purification and renewal, while neo-pagans view the purpose of the ritual as a way to create a spirit messenger to commune with supernatural powers (though they do not discount Frazer's definition either).

The Wicker Man entered popular culture due to the 1973 cult film The Wicker Man directed by Robin Hardy. A companion film called The Wicker Tree was released decades later in 2011.

People have drawn parallels between The Wicker Man and the Burning Man event, but Larry Harvey stated that he was was unaware of the film prior to the founding of Burning Man.

There is also a roller coaster at Alton Towers Resort in Staffordshire, England which is said to have been drawn from local legend by the design team, but I have been unable to find any legends related to the Wicker Man originating from the region.

Wicker Men have appeared in a number of fantasy media franchises as sacrificial effigies.

In the Assassin's Creed video game, the human sacrifices are portrayed as [somewhat] voluntary.

A Wicker (or rather, Straw) Man appears during a Halloween event in the World of Warcraft game.

Crashing the Wickerman Festival

They also make appearances in the Sláine comic book.

A number of Wicker Men are also portrayed as magically animated constructs as in the Berserk manga.

In the Fate/Grand Order mobile game, the Wicker Man appears as the Noble Phantasm invoked by Cú Chulainn in his Caster incarnation.

The Grand Order Wicker Man is also known as the Cage of Scorching, Consuming Flames, and it scoops up its own human sacrifices to imprison and immolate within its torso.

As far as miniatures of the Wicker Man go, there are a couple of 3D printed versions available which I won't go into, but the field is relatively sparse.

Alan the Wicker Man is made by Ainsty Castings as part of their Trader Town line.

The 10" tall figure comes with two head variants (plain and Iron Maiden versions), and a Green Man mask which fits on the resin head. It also has a compartment in the torso with a separate door that can be used to imprison a 28mm figure.

Artwork for The Wicker Man 12" picture disk

Another 10" Wicker Man that I particularly like is made by Wailing Dip, but it is actually a candle made of pure beeswax (No, not the bees!).

Wailing Dip candle also available on Etsy

I think the candle really captures the look of the effigy from the film, and I like the idea that you can set it on fire, though I guess that would be the end of your miniature at that point.

The downside of these large figures however, is that they are too big for 1/72 scale.

For various reasons, there is confusion regarding the actual height of the Wicker Man effigies from the movie, with estimates ranging from 22 to 60 feet tall.

I get the impression that the height is under 30 feet tall, which would call for a figure that might be anywhere from 4" to 5" tall.

Wailing Dip makes a Wee Wicker Man candle that falls exactly into this size range, and I am extremely tempted to get it. However, it's not as detailed as the large candle, so I'm really on the fence about it.

Wailing Dip Wee Wicker Man

The figure I did end up getting is Nicolas The Strawman, from Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. It is part of the Children of the Fields faction for the 2nd edition of their 7TV game.

The figure comes in three pieces made of a hard resin, and stands 80mm tall. It is not a proper Wicker Man, but I thought it was a well executed sculpt.

Nuada, mighty god of the sun, accept our sacrifice and be appeased.
Avellenau, bountiful goddess of our orchards, accept our sacrifice and make our blossoms fruit.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Boggles and other Wizkids miniatures

This post will show some recent miniatures that I bought, and consists of various non-related things that I found interesting.

The first groups of figures are Boggles. D&D Boggles take their name from the folkloric bogle. They made their first appearance in AD&D Module A2 – Secret of the Slavers Stockade.

The two painted Boggles are from the Icons of the Realm line (Fangs & Talons #05, Wild Beyond the Witchlight #06), while the unpainted figures are from the Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures line.

The figures are based on the 5th edition depiction of the creatures, with enormous heads, and scale out almost exactly to their stated 3' height in 1/72.

The next figures are the Brigganock Miner (Wild Beyond the Witchlight #01), Ija, Human Summoner (Advanced Iconic Heroes 20F8), and a Sewer Ooze (Bestiary Unleashed #23).

The Brigganock comes from the Icons of the Realm line, and remind me of Kobolds from World of Warcraft (except for being lime green).

I was more interested in the Soul Light that is part of the figure, which I will use as a standalone hitodama miniature.

Ija is a Pathfinder miniature representing one of their so-called iconic characters from the Mwangi Expanse. She is the perfect size to use alongside 1/72 scale figures, but I don't know why her right arm was sculpted so short. In any event, I went and lengthened her arm with a metal staple, and Kneadatite.

I don't have too much to say about the Sewer Ooze other than the fact that I got it because it reminded me of the riding beasts from Ralph Bakshi's Wizards.

The next miniature is an Icons of the Realm Amber Monolith (Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft #28).

I'm not sure if an Amber Monolith is the same as the Amber Sarcophagus also mentioned in Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, but it is described as the vestige of some powerful dead entity that is trapped in a gigantic block of amber.

The final miniature is an Icons of the Realm Zombie Clot (Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft #27). Not much information is given about the creature, and it is merely described as being formed by "crushing an entire horde into a single, rotting titan".

When I first saw this figure, I thought of the Brian McNaughton story The Return of the Colossus from the anthology The Averoigne Legacy (which I read not too long ago).

However upon re-reading the original Clark Ashton Smith story The Colossus of Ylourgne, I realized that the McNaughton version of the Colossus was quite different from the one described by Smith.

In the McNaughton story, the Colossus is made up of fused cadavers, while in the Smith story, the flesh of the cadavers was rendered down, before being used to construct a giant zombie (something that somehow slipped my mind despite being shown on the cover of one of my favorite D&D modules).

In any event, the Zombie Clot (despite its massive size) is too small to represent the Colossus, and in hindsight is more like The Rotten from Dark Souls II.

Sunday, January 30, 2022


The froghemoth’s 18‘ long, 10’ wide body is yellow-orange on the belly, shading to a medium green on its back and thick, bowed rear legs. From its shoulder area sprout four tentacles, two from each shoulder, which are green on top and yellowish underneath. The creature’s nostrils are stalk-like, and its three eyes are housed on a retractable protruding appendage which is withdrawn when danger threatens the optics. The froghemoth will often submerge its body several feet beneath the water, trail its tentacles ashore, and watch with its eye appendage at water level - this, along with the nostril stalks, appears to be a plant growth of some sort.

The frog-thing is also able to capture prey with its long, barbed tongue. This member can be flicked out to a distance of 10’. Unless the creature caught by the tongue is able to hold fast to something quickly - such as a tree, rope, etc. — it will be drawn that very round to the froghemoth’s gaping jaws and torn to shreds. It will swallow prey whole on a “to hit” roll of 19 or 20.

The froghemoth made it's first appearance in AD&D Module S3 – Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, and was fittingly illustrated by Erol Otus.

I don't know if anyone has ever commented on how the froghemoth resembles the monster on the cover of Planet Comics 42, but somehow I don't think it's a coincidence.

Planet Comics, May 1946

The tadhemoth is described in the AD&D Monster Manual II as the juvenile form of the froghemoth, and it is possible there are other growth stages of the monster if these models created by David S. Sutherland are any indication of things.

The creature has been updated in the latest edition of D&D, but there is only cursory information about the life cycle for this new version.

5th Edition Froghemoth

The first froghemoth miniature that I bought was the pre-painted Froghemoth from the DDM Icons of the Realms line (Dungeon of the Mad Mage #25).

The model was much larger than I expected, measuring almost 90mm tall to the top of the eyes. It does not have the nostril stalks from the original description, and looks a bit like the 5th edition version of the monster. As such, I would have liked it better if it was sculpted standing upright like in the artwork.

An unpainted version of this model is available from Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures, but seems to cost twice as much as the painted version. Some larger models from Reaper and Pacesetter Games & Simulations are also available, but they're not particularly useful for 1/72 scale gaming.

The most faithful rendition of the froghemoth in my opinion, is the resin model from Gale Force 9.

I was originally hesitant about buying the model because of the price, but I changed my mind because the DDM model was so underwhelming.

The kit is cast in light gray resin, and consists of 12 parts.

The model goes together fairly easily, but there is definitely work to be done with respect to cleaning mold lines and filling seams. In addition, the two lower tentacles do not align well with the base, and will need to be adjusted using heat to get the ends to line up.

The GF9 model measures 70mm to the top of the eyes, and is fairly close to the dimensions of the froghemoth in 1/72 scale.

A comparison of the two froghemoths.

For some 360º views of the models, visit 72chan. If you like the content, I would be very grateful if you like the video and subscribe to the channel.