Saturday, October 15, 2011


The gnu is an African antelope, bulky but compact.

The gnu (or wildebeest), is an antelope that is the source of a number of monsters from the AD&D Monster Manual.

A. The gnu appears as its normal, everyday self under the entry of Herd Animal.

The only gnu in 25mm comes from the Veldt Animals set (Ral Partha 31-032). The miniatures are still available from Ral Partha Europe, and at one time, you could order single castings of the animals, but that may not be an option any more.

A Herd of One

B. The D&D catoblepas can trace its origin to Pliny, and it is now believed to have been derived from second-hand accounts of the gnu.

"...with a very heavy head which it carries with difficulty and it always hanging down to the ground. Otherwise it is deadly to humans, as all who see its eyes expire immediately."

Natural History

The only miniature of the catoblepas is from the Ral Partha AD&D line, but it is entirely too big (IMO), because the catoblepas is described as being the size of a bull.

However, I stumbled upon some Ral Partha Skull Pigs for Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Ral Partha 69-025), which I thought would make a good start as the basis to create a figure modeled after Trampier's catoblepas from the Monster Manual.

The Skull Pigs are roughly the size of a gnu, and the miniatures come in two poses, each composed of four pieces (body, head, and two tusks).

So far, I have drilled some holes in the neck of one of the Skull Pigs, and glued several pieces of floral wire in the holes.

I then bent the wires to form the neck.

J-B STIK was used to firm up the connection between the body and the wire neck, and a paper clip tail was glued in place.

The next step will be to modify the head, but just as a preview, I used some Elmer's-Tack to attach the Skull Pig head to the rest of the body.

Sculpting the head will be the hardest part, but hopefully I'll be able to get some time to work on this during the upcoming holidays.

C. The D&D gorgon is the final creature that originates from the gnu. Essentially it merges elements of Aelianus' decription of the catoblepas with elements of Phalaris' brazen bull.

" feeds upon poisonous roots. When it glares like a bull it immediately shudders and raises its mane, and when this has risen erect and the lips about its mouth are bared, it emits from its throat pungent and foul-smelling breath, so that the whole air overhead is infected, and any animals that approach and inhale it are grievously afflicted, lose their voice, and are seized with fatal convulsions."

On Animals

Two suitable old school gorgons for 25mm are the Ral Partha Gorgonian Brass Bull (02-410) and the Grenadier Iron Bull (Monster Manuscripts MM38). The brass bull has a mix of plates and scales, while the iron bull is completely covered in plates. Both miniatures are nice, but I'd like to get a model completely covered in scales like in the picture above. Reaper makes a miniature similar to this, but it is probably twice the size of either of my current gorgons, so it's way too big.

D. And lastly, so as not to seem biased towards the gnu, I present the yak.

When overloaded or exhausted, the yak will lie down,
hiss, spit and kick, and refuse to move.

I know of three companies that make yak miniatures. Two of these companies' yaks are 28mm, and the third is listed as 25/28mm. Taking a chance that their yak would not be too big, I ordered the 25/28mm yak from Irregular Miniatures (AN22).

Unfortunately, the Irregular yak is too big to use as a typical domestic yak (probably 1.6m or less at the shoulder). There are said to be wild yaks that are over 2m at the shoulder, so I suppose that the Irregular yak can be used as one of those.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


"Standing about 200 yards away is a large giant-type figure, bone white in color, about 30' tall...

The gigantic white creature is a bone colossus (AC 0, MV 12", HD 10, hp 45, #AT 1, D 4-14, regenerate 3 hp per round, immune to cold, sleep, charm, and hold spells, edged weapons do half damage), a being created from the joining of many skeletons. At closer inspection, many different types of bones may be seen jutting from the body. In one hand it holds a bone club. Total dismemberment will not destroy the colossus; the bones that form it will move back together and rejoin, creating it anew. Fire and acid damage are permanent. Once the colossus is reduced to 0 hit points, 10 rounds (1 turn) will be required before the creature is reformed. A cleric may turn the creature as if it were a "special" class of undead."

Queen of the Demonweb Pits

Gashadokuro (がしゃどくろ)/Odokuro (大髑髏) appears as a giant skeleton that can be more than fifteen times the height of an average person. It is typically described as a malevolent spirit that is created from the fused bones of people who have died of starvation. Other sources say that Gashadokuro can form anywhere there are large collections of unattended corpses.

Gashadokuro roams the countryside after midnight searching for victims. It's favorite method of attack is to grab a victim and bite off his head (and incorporate the skull into its body). Apparently some of the less wasteful Gashadokuro will strip the flesh from the bones of the victim's body and absorb those as well. Despite its fearsome nature, Gashadokuro can be easily avoided by those who are alert, because its approach can be sensed by people as a ringing in the ears.

Being October, there are a number of sources for Halloween decorations that can be converted into Gashadokuro. I picked up my skeletons at Michaels for under $2 each (after coupon discount).

The skeleton has a bit of flash on it, and suffers from a lack of scapulae and clavicles. The mandible is a separate piece that is attached to the skull by a couple of pegs to allow movement.

When the whole skeleton is depicted, Gashadokuro is often shown in a stooping, crouching, or crawling position, presumably to be closer to its victims. Most of the time however, Gashadokuro is depicted as a half skeleton.

For my first conversion, I decided to model Gashadokuro after the Creaking Skull from Castlevania.

I clipped the pelvic girdle from the skeleton, and used a heat gun to bend the lumbar and cervical regions to the positions that I needed for the Creaking Skull. I overdid the heat a little, so lost some detail at the neck, which I will have to restore later with epoxy.

I cut a hole in the underside of the skull so that it would fit on the spine, and repurposed the illiac bones as scapulae.

I used some Elmer's Tack to hold the skeleton together for the picture, but haven't figured out how to attach all the bones together yet. I'm thinking of using a combination of wire and epoxy, but am not altogether ruling out the use of some magnets in certain strategic locations.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Nuppeppō (ぬっぺっぽう)/Nuppefuhōfu (ぬっぺふほふ) is a huge flabby blob of [undead] flesh with the suggestion of a face in the folds of the fat. It reeks of body odor that stinks like rotting flesh.

The Nuppeppō is typically encountered at night toward years-end, and around graveyards or abandoned temples, but other than to give those who meet it a fright, the Nuppeppō seems fairly innocuous. In fact, I'd think it would actively try to avoid people, since there is a legend that those who eat the flesh of the Nuppeppō can have eternal youth.

To make the creature a little more fearsome, I'd give it the powers of the Nuppefuhōfu from episode 32 of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. It was known as the "face-stealer" in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers show. The Nuppefuhōfu appears on the 4th full moon of the year, and attacks people to rob them of their souls.

It does this by using its tongue to lick the face right off of its victims, leaving them an empty, faceless husk.

True character in a faceless world,
or just blind consumerism?

As far as miniatures go, there are a number of plastic and vinyl figures that have been made in Japan. The one I have is from the SAN-S Manga Heroes GeGeGe-no-Kitaro Mini Big Head Figure Collection. In this instance, the creature is known as Nuppehōfu (ぬっぺほふ).

I bought this figure because I imagined that Nuppeppō would be huge compared to a human, but upon doing some on-line research, I found that the de facto height seems to be closer to 1.5m.

Screencap from the The Great Yokai War (妖怪大戦争).
Nuppeppō is the short, blobby one looking in the wrong direction.

The SAN-S figure scales out to roughly 8' 9" (2.7m) in height in 1/72 scale. Nevertheless, I will still use the figure as a giant Nuppeppō. After all, since it is an imaginary creature, different takes on the size of Nuppeppō can exist.

ぬっぺっぽうの罠?by pixiv artist げげぼ

I will however, have to repaint the miniature, because the pink shading is just awful.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Willers Miniatures

I received a package today from Toys and More by Winterkamp in Germany. The package included two sets by Willers Miniatures, which I ordered to do a figure comparison with other 1/72 scale miniatures.

The first set is the Mongolen Köpfungsszene (Mongol beheading scene) set (WiFi-001) consisting of four foot, and two mounted figures. The figures display nice proportions, and are cast in a very soft metal. The thinner pieces like the spear shaft, and sword blade can be bent at the slightest touch, yet seem to be more resistant to snapping because of this. All the same, I think these figures are probably more suited for diorama purposes than wargaming. The last figure is of a prisoner being beheaded, and it seems to look rather familiar... I only took pictures of the foot figures for this post, but the mounted figures are of similar proportions.

In the next image are a pair of Willers Mongols, flanked by a Giant Mongol (in yellow) and a Zvezda mongol (in red-brown). As far as size is concerned, these figures are perfectly compatible with each other.

The set also comes with a camel, which is shown next to a camel from the Italeri Mongol Cavalry set. While I believe the Italeri camel is undersized, the Willers camel is probably very much over-sized. Various sources state that the Bactrian camel can reach the size of the one modeled by the Willers camel, but all of the actual photographs that I have seen of camels in the Gobi Desert show them the same as, or only slightly taller than a standing person.

The Song dynasty painting Along the River During the Qingming Festival shows the relative size of a Bactrian camel to a person. I would definitely say that these camels are nowhere as big as the Willers camel.

Detail from Along the River During the Qingming Festival
by Zhang Zeduan

The next set is the Samurai Kampfmönche (warrior monk) set (WiFi-002) consisting of five warrior monks and various bits and pieces (including separate arms for one of the figures). Most of the monks are dressed in heavy clothing, making them appear quite hefty. They are cast in the same soft metal as the Mongols, so again are probably better suited for diorama purposes. The set does not come with any instructions or images of the assembled figures, so it's up to the buyer to figure out how to put everything together.

Below, from left to right: Willers warrior monk, RedBox warrior monk, Zvezda samurai, and a Caesar samurai.

The RedBox monk looks undersized, but all the other figures are quite comparable.