Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Progress (Undead and moai)

This is my final post of the year, and I want to thank everyone who has been reading my blog. 2011 started out slowly, but in the second half of the year I managed to build up some momentum, and get to my two entries/month goal. I hope to be able to continue at this pace, but who knows...

Some of the milestones of the year include finally reaching 100 posts, having 40+ people sign on as followers, and getting 60,000+ visits to the blog.

Anyway, as typical of how I pursue this hobby, this post isn't particularly cohesive, and is just a bunch of random stuff that I've been working on. Hopefully though, it will be able to give people ideas for things they would like to do for their own projects.

To start out, I want to report that I've completed magnetizing the heads for my SLM skeletal war mammoth.

Originally I wanted to have swappable heads for the mammoth and skeletal construct, but the small magnet I mounted in the cervical vertebrae of the construct proved to be too weak to support the metal head.

The head is so heavy, that now that it's glued in place, the construct cannot stand up without falling over (a bit of UHU tac is keeping the miniature upright).

From undead mammoths, we now proceed to undead dragons. After searching for a nice, cheap option for an undead dragon, I came upon the Heroscape Su-Bak-Na miniature (Orm's Return expansion). Su-Bak-Na is actually the rider of the unnamed skeletal dragon, but I chopped him off, and gave him the heave-ho.

The miniature is quite toy-like, with the claws and pelvic area in particular need of improvement.

Su-Bak-Na's legs were cut away, a little carving was done, and some kneadatite vertebral spines were added.

The claws were given more definition with a soldering iron hot knife, and I stuck some heated needles into the miniature to serve as anchor points for new pelvic bones created from plastic sprue (modeled loosely after T-rex).

Now the dragon serves as a mount for Maleficent.

A couple of recent purchases were a Blazing Skeleton from the Castle Ravenloft Board Game, and a HeroClix Blazing Skull (Avengers Marvel #018). I was interested in these miniatures because I wanted to have some translucent flaming skulls as spell effects.

Both miniatures were decapitated, and the skulls were mounted on clear plastic sprue. The flaming skulls are shown below with a DDM Flameskull (War Drums #29).

I don't know much about the Flameskull, other than it is a 2nd ed. monster. I added a little dilute blue paint to the Blazing Skeleton skull so that the details would be a bit more visible, and used acetone to remove the paint from Blazing Skull's skull.

Last is an ahu that I'm building from Styrofoam and cardboard. The ahu is a ceremonial platform that was used by the Rapanui on Easter Island.

The pieces were glued together with Hold the Foam! Moai from the Twilight Creations Easter Island game were then placed in the triangular slots.

I'm still trying to decide whether to use Styrofoam, plastic, or cardboard for the ramp of the platform.

In closing, I want to thank all my readers again, and wish you all a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


                           "And of the Cannibals that each other eat,
                           The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
                           Do grow beneath their shoulders."

                           – Othello

The Blemmyes were originally a sub-Saharan tribe from a region that is now part of modern Sudan. Somehow over the ages, they came to be known as a legendary race of headless people. In later accounts, such as in The Romance of Alexander, they are described as giants covered in golden hair.

Blemmyes are sometimes also confused with Anthropophagi, but this is due to improper parsing of a line from Shakespeare's Othello (see above). This is further confused because the description of Anthropophagi from The Histories of Herodotus is often ascribed to the Blemmyes, but in fact, Herodotus is referring to a Scythian tribe, and makes no mention of headlessness.

My pet theory is that stories of headless Blemmyes with faces on their torsos came from sightings of people wearing large ceremonial masks.

Below are some of the miniatures that I have of Blemmyes, though they are different in appearance from those shown in medieval illustrations.

The first miniature is of a Toadec Spawn (HOT62). I originally bought these for a frog warband, but upon receiving the miniatures, I realized that what was painted up as big protruding lips on the website was actually an eye. I figured that these miniatures must have originally been designed as Cyclops-Blemmyes. What really confirmed this for me was when I came across the East Riding Minatures Blemmyes (the next two miniatures), which are also described as Chest-Eyes. The ERM miniatures are clearly of the same origin as the Toadec Spawn. The first one is a Blemmye with spear FT-25, followed by a Blemmye leader armed with a khopesh from the ERM Fantasy Personalities set (FT-40). Anyway, they are too small to be used as Blemmyes in 1/72 scale, but can be repurposed as toadmen if you wanted to paint them up that way.

The final figure is a Grenadier Grunch (Fantasy Lords 031). The torso is spot on for a Blemmye, but its legs are digitigrade, which is not so typical. The Grunch is more suitable for use with 28mm figures, but I think I'm going to use it as a giant Blemmye.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Four Elements

Elementals were derived from the classical Greek elements of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire by the physician and alchemist Paracelsus back in the 16th century. He described them as beings that occupied a position somewhere between man and spirit, in that they were physical beings, but had the ability to translocate themselves in the manner of spirits.

In fantasy role-playing games, elementals are typically animate forms of their respective element, while the Paracelsian nomenclatures (pigmy/gnome, nymph/undine, sylph, salamander) are used for related, but completely different types of beings. In addition, fantasy gaming has many other classes of elementals, paraelementals, quasielementals, and such, that I won't get into.


The earth elemental is also known as the Gnome, or Pigmy. Paracelsus characterizes them as malevolent beings, but also as creatures who treat others as they themselves are treated. Most gamers of course, recognize them as humanoid piles of boulders.

"...the element of the Gnomes is the earth, and they pass through rocks and walls and stones like a thought; for such things are to them as no greater obstacles than the air is to us ... the Pigmies are of the length of about two spans, but then can extend or elongate their forms until they appear like giants."

The Life of Philippus Theophrastus Bombast of Hohenheim

The three earth elementals are (left to right) from Grenadier (Monster Manuscript Vol.III 1503, MM21), TSR (AD&D 5602), and Shadow Corp (3057).

I haven't accumulated many earth elementals because I still haven't made up my mind on how they should appear. I think the Grenadier miniature would make an outstanding mud elemental. The TSR elemental has a sculpted look to its face which seems more appropriate for a golem than an elemental, but I do like the look of the Shadow Corp elemental.

An option that can be used to represent Paracelsian Gnomes are the Reaper Stone Zealots (Warlord 14572).

My miniatures are slightly modified (chin spikes removed), but I'm using them as a type of kobold, rather than as earth elementals.


The water elemental is also known as the Nymph or Undine. In the typical game setting, they appear as ambulatory waves. Paracelsus had a different take, and describes them as spiritual gold diggers who lingered near bodies of water in order to snag themselves a human mate.

"...those belonging to the element of water resemble human beings of either sex..."

The Life of Philippus Theophrastus Bombast of Hohenheim

Below are two large water elementals. The first one is a WoW CMG Crashing Wave Spirit (Spoils of War expansion), while the other is a DDM Large Water Elemental (Blood War #38).

I removed a lot of the paint on the Large Water Elemental with acetone, and I will do the same with the Crashing Wave Spirit, since the paint is just too opaque for my tastes. The wave action on the left arm of the Crashing Wave Spirit looks nice, but for the raised right arm, the large sheet under the arm doesn't quite look right.

Next are two medium water elementals. The one on the left is from The Legend of Drizzt Board Game, while the one on the right is from Heroscape (Champions of the Forgotten Realms expansion). Both of these elementals are the same as the DDM Medium Water Elemental, except they are made of translucent plastic instead of opaque plastic.

The last four water elementals are metal miniatures. They are (left to right) from WotC (WOC40098), Ral Partha (AD&D Monsters 11-427), Grenadier (Monster Manuscript Vol.III 1503, MM23), and Shadow Corp (3057).

Frankly, I like the plastic elementals because they are translucent, which approaches the appearance of water better than metal. I'm sure that fantastic water effects can be achieved with painting, but I don't have those skills.

One other miniature that I thought would make a great Undine is the Ral Partha Zaftig Maiden (Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night 01-008).

I can see using the Dark Art to create one in transparent resin that would result in a great looking elemental. I have actually seen the Heritage Air Elemental (below) cast up in transparent turquoise resin, and it looked fantastic as well.


Air elementals are known as Sylphs or Sylvestres. The appearance of sylphs as slender female spirits comes from Alexander Pope, who characterizes them as an embodiment of post-mortem female vanity in his poem The Rape of the Lock.

                            "The light Coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,
                            And sport and flutter in the Fields of Air."

                            – The Rape of the Lock

The first group of air elemental miniatures are modeled as personifications of the wind. From left to right, they are from Heritage (Dungeon Dwellers 1283), Citadel (C34 Elementals and Demons), TSR (AD&D 5602), and Ral Partha (Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night 01-064).

The second group are more typical D&D style air elementals that appear as whirlwinds. From left to right, they are a Windfiend Fury (Savage Encounters #39), Shardstorm Vortex (Savage Encounters #32), and a Thunderblast Cyclone (Against the Giants #9).

Next are a mixed group of metal and plastic air elementals. From left to right, there are Ral Partha (AD&D Monsters 11-427) and Grenadier (Monster Manuscript Vol.III 1503, MM20) air elementals; Grenadier (Monsters 5002) and Shadow Corp (3057) wind elementals, and a DDM Air Mephit (Unhallowed #12).

To represent Paracelsian Sylphs, one option is to use Fenryll Fairies (FA14).

The fairies are not the best work coming from Fenryll, and the wings printed on acetate sheets had overly thick veins, but they are usable with 1/72 figures, so I can't complain too much.

Other miniatures that can be used as Sylphs include the Magister Militum Sprites (ELF07), and Foundry Fairies. These miniatures are smaller than the Fenryll Fairies, but will work quite well as delicate, airy creatures.

I think a neat effect could be achieved if one of the DDM air elementals were to be hollowed out, and a winged sprite was embedded in the center.

Other denizens of the Elemental Plane of Air include a pair of Ral Partha Djinn (Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night 01-069), and a Grenadier Djinni (Monster Manuscript Vol.II 1502, MM15).


Fire elementals are known as Salamanders or Vulcani. It is the only elemental that is based on an actual creature, though the nature of the mythical Salamander is very different from that of the actual amphibian. Of course it goes without saying, that Trampier's illustration of the Salamander is how I see these creatures as appearing.

"...the Salamanders are long, lean, and dry ... Salamanders have been seen in the shapes of fiery balls, or tongues of fire running over the fields or appearing in houses."

The Life of Philippus Theophrastus Bombast of Hohenheim

The three fire elementals are (left to right) the DDM Huge Fire Elemental (War of the Dragon Queen #20), a WoW CMG Enraged Fire Spirit (Core Set), and a DDM Small Fire Elemental (War of the Dragon Queen #54). I particularly like that the beast form of the DDM elementals. To me, these are how salamanders appear when they materialize on the Prime Material Plane.

The next three fire elementals are metal figures. They are (left to right) from Reaper (Dark Heaven Legends 02251), Grenadier (Monster Manuscript Vol.III 1503, MM22), and Shadow Corp (3057).

Next are some other denizens of the Elemental Plane of Fire. A DDM Phoera (Blood War #21) on the left, and a pair of salamanders on the right. The first salamander is the Ral Partha Firekin (AD&D Monsters 11-489), while the smaller salamander is from the Broadsword Serpent Creatures set (M-06).

And from the City of Brass we have a Ral Partha Efreet (AD&D Monsters 11-454), and a Grenadier Efreeti (Monster Manuscript Vol.III 1503, MM19).

Again, I prefer plastic to metal for elementals because some neat effects can be created with the plastic miniatures. Here is the DDM Huge Fire Elemental sitting on a lighted base.

Monday, December 26, 2011


The Necrophidius is one of those bogus pseudo-undead creatures that were so common in the Fiend Folio. The illustration shows it as a huge fanged skull mounted on a ribless vertebral column, but the text seemed to imply that the construct was a regular skull atop the skeleton of a large constrictor snake.

I always had the the impression that the Necrophidius moved about by means of levitation, rather than slithering along the ground because of these illustrations. Certainly no normal snake would be able to manage these postures, and levitation could also explain its ability to move about without making a sound.

Shown below are a selection of Necrophidius miniatures. The first miniature is the Citadel Death Worm (Fiend Factory FF7-1), followed by the Nekrophidian (Black Tree Design M161), and the Death Worm from the Lich Mage and Death Worm set (RAFM 3735).

The Citadel miniature is identical to the Fiend Folio illustration, while the RAFM miniature is probably closer to the written description of the Necrophidius (in that the vertebrae are not grossly over-sized). The BTD miniature differs because it has a serpentine skull instead of a humanoid one.

I use these miniatures as undead, since they are animated skeletal constructs, which in my game are created through necromancy. I do allow the possibility for magic users to animate skeletons without using necromancy, but why go through the trouble of digging up a bunch of old bones when you can animate material that is more easily obtainable?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

萱場 かつおどり

かつおどり by pixiv artist cana@非地デジ化

The Kayaba Katsuodori was a Japanese concept plane of WWII. It is usually described as a ramjet interceptor armed with two 30mm cannon. Fantastic Plastic translates katsuodori as "energy", but I personally think the name refers to Sula leucogaster. The Katsuodori was supposed to take off powered by four solid fuel booster rockets, accelerating until it achieved the necessary speed for the ramjet to function. Due to various technical issues the plane never got off the drawing board, and the project was shelved in 1943. More information about the Katsuodori can be found at Hikoki: 1946 (under "Other Aircraft").

There are two models of this airplane that I am aware of, both in resin. One is from ANiGRAND Craftswork in 1/144 scale, and the other is from Unicraft Models in 1/72 scale.

The Unicraft box art is very attractive, but I was totally disappointed by this kit. There are supposed to be 15 resin parts and a vacuform canopy, but I only received 13 parts (I'm missing a pair of wheels).

The parts are cast in a hard orangish resin with very rough and irregular surfaces. All the parts have air bubbles in them, and every piece is covered with flash, particularly the ill-defined cockpit opening which is practically sealed by the stuff.

I don't think I've ever encountered a resin kit as awful as this one. Unicraft bills their kits as "for experienced modelers", but I think they have "experienced modeler" confused with "miracle worker". It will probably take so much effort to make this kit into a decent looking model that I was wondering if it wouldn't be easier to learn how to use a CAD program to create a 3D model and just have it printed out at Shapeways... except now I find out that tomorrow (Dec. 14), Meng Models will be releasing a 1/72 injection plastic kit containing two Katsuodori for half the price of the Unicraft kit!

絶望した! Unicraft に絶望した!