Sunday, January 31, 2016


The origins of various words and phrases can be very interesting because definitions are affected by usage and can stray from the original intended meaning.

This may occur when people either intentionally or inadvertently misuse a word in a context where it was not originally meant to be used, and the misuse gains traction and eventually becomes popularly accepted as truth — which is how this:


Became this:


Anyway, enough digression. The subject of this particular post is obviously the troll.

In Norse myth, trolls were closely related to giants (it is even believed that troll is just a negative synonym of jötunn), but the term was also used to describe various smaller mythological beings including huldra.

On to the miniatures (grouped roughly by size and proportions):

The largest trolls in this group are from RAFM, and include a Troll Warrior (Demons of Darkness RAF3723), and an Undead Troll (Demons of Darkness RAF3724).

The next pair is a Giant Troll attacking with Spiked Club (Fiend Factory FF16-1) and a Reaper Marsh Troll (Dark Heaven Legends 02609).

The Marsh Troll was sculpted by Bob Olley, and bears the characteristic facial features of all Olley trolls.

Two more Olley trolls, but this time they are older Ral Partha trolls that stand about 1cm shorter than the newer Reaper sculpt. On the left is one of the Troll Heavy Infantry figures (Fantasy Armies 02-143), while on the right is one of the Troll Rock Throwers (Fantasy Armies 02-142).

Some of these Ral Partha sculpts were used for Mage Knight, and include the Krugg Heaver (Whirlwind #040, #041,#042), Krugg Thug (Whirlwind #037, #038, #039), and the Krugg Headhunter (Minions #082, #083, #084/Nexus #102).

I repainted my figures to eliminate the awful yellow-blue-red colors originally used on them.

The Krugg heaver is one of the Troll Rock Throwers, while the Krugg thug is one of the Fantasy Armies Troll Light Infantry sculpts. The Krugg Headhunter is a modified version of the Fantasy Armies Troll Leader.

I cut off all of the trophies from one of the headhunters because I don't like figures that are covered with skulls or decapitated heads. It is a painstaking process, and will require additional work to make the figure presentable.

I really like these Olley trolls, as they remind me of the Fjeltroll from The Sundering Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey.

Next are a pair of Heritage trolls. The one on the left is a Troll of Moria (Lord of the Rings 1760), while the other one is a regular Troll (Dungeon Dwellers 1246).

A Grenadier War Troll (MM84) and Female Troll (MM86), both from the Monster Manuscript Vol.X box set.

Two Citadel C20 Trolls: Grog Stuntycrusher (left), and Hobol Firebreath (right).

Another Citadel troll (Marauder MM40) and a Reaper Cave Troll (Bones 77004).

Citadel Fantasy Tribe Trolls, sculpted by Tom Meier.

These are the early sculpts, and I believe there were later releases with their "naughty bits" covered up.

Next is a Large Troll with Club (minus the club) from Asgard (Fantasy Monsters FM66), a TSR troll (AD&D Monster Tribes 5305), and a very similarly posed Grenadier troll from the Horrors of the Marsh boxed set (Dragon Lords 2010).

A Ral Partha Troll (AD&D Monsters 11-408), and a pair of Grenadier Trolls (Julie Guthrie 706) are next.

The Ral Partha troll in particular bears the characteristics of the classic troll from the AD&D Monster Manual. The AD&D troll was obviously modeled after the troll from Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson (which may in turn have been influenced from elsewhere?).

I also have the Grenadier Denizens of the Swamp troll that is even closer in appearance to the Sutherland illustration from the Monster Manual, but unfortunately it suffered an accident while I was gathering up all my troll miniatures for photography.

More Ral Partha trolls include True Trolls (Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night 01-063), and a Hill Troll (Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night 01-010 v2).

Some unconventional trolls are the Archive Bridge Troll (Middle Earth 540), and the Ral Partha Draken (Personalities and Things that go Bump in the Night 01-123).

The figures are kind of similar, and remind me a bit of the Fremont Troll.

More unconventional trolls are the Uz of Glorantha. From left to right are a Trollkin with Spear, Trollkin with Sling, and Dark Troll with Large Axe from the Citadel Trolls and Trollkin box set (Runequest Box 3). The final figure is a Troll Adventurer from the Citadel Adventurers box set (Runequest Box 2).

The Runequest trolls seem a bit undersized for their intended scale, since Uz are supposed to be larger than humans, but they're just about right compared to 1/72 humans. The trollkin are okay, but having even smaller ones would be nice.

Additional candidates for trollkin are cave imps from Splintered Light Miniatures. The following miniatures were purchased as part of the Cave Imp Army (BOX21).

The figures look as if they may have been modeled after the Dam troll, and I'm going to paint them up as such. The product line has been sold to C-P Models, but a boxed set appears to still be sold by Splintered Light. I'm not sure if they actually come in a box though, since I received my figures in a single ziploc bag.

Last are my 15mm trolls, with figures from Chariot (GOB10) and Alternative Armies (HOT3) on the left, while to the right is a Splintered Light Troll Throwing Rock (ORC04) and a 25mm Heritage River Troll (Fantasy 1315).

These smaller trolls would be ideal for a low fantasy game in which monsters are not of gigantic proportions.

The Heritage troll is a 25mm figure, but it is barely taller than the SLM troll. The Chariot figure looks like a typical Warhammer troll, while the HOT troll would fit well stylistically with the Olley trolls (while still being unique). I just wish there was a 25mm version of the HOT figure so that it really could be used alongside the Olley trolls.

A nasty-looking troll, brandishing a bloody axe,
blocks all passages out of the room.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Black Destroyer

The displacer beast is considered a "product identity" of the Dungeons & Dragons game despite being an obvious expy of the Coeurl from A.E. Van Vogt's short story Black Destroyer.

The story was also adapted to comic book format by Marvel in 1974.

Despite being listed as a large sized creature in the AD&D Monster Manual, I've always considered the displacer beast to be roughly the size of a normal puma (like the comic book version of the coeurl as opposed to the short story version).

Because of this, 28mm miniatures like the Ral Partha Displacer Beast (AD&D Monsters 11-413) are just too big.

The Ral Partha displacer beast is the size of a large 28mm tiger or lion. It also bears the traits of the original coeurl in that it has four (rather than six) legs.

It is only with the 15mm Splintered Light Miniatures Chaos Panthers (MONS09) that I've found something that is close in size to what I'm looking for.

The SLM displacer beasts are pretty much the size of a typical puma in 1/72 scale. They're not as fear inducing as a creature the size of an elephant, but I don' think bread-and-butter type dungeon monsters need to be blown out of proportion.

With the displacer beast covered, I wanted a miniature of an actual coeurl as well. The coeurl has been used as a monster in the Final Fantasy video game series, and in the Dirty Pair light novel (and anime) series as well.

Yuri, Kei, and Mughi

Being lazy, I always like to see if there is a miniature that is already available that I can use as a starting point for my creations. For the coeurl, that base was the Pathfinder miniatures Shadow Hound (Shattered Star 08).

Even though the shadow hound is presumably a dog, the face is generic enough that could pass for a cat.

It has forelegs that are longer than its hind legs, which the coeurl is described as having. It is also relatively large and imposing compared to a man.

I removed the head, and reattached it so that it was facing forward. I drilled a couple of holes in the shoulders and glued some bent wire in place.

This is as far as I've gotten, and the next step will be to figure out how I want the 7-fingered "hands" at the end of each tentacle to look. I don't particularly care for the paw-like appearance of the ones in the illustration below, but I haven't come up with any alternatives yet.

Many coeurls are illustrated with multiple
tentacles sprouting from their shoulders.

I also need to come up with a way to make the ears, which I envision as being similar to Kzin ears.

Meow is just Me + Ow

A comparison of the various miniatures.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


The Githyanki are a race of evil humanoids that dwell in the Astral Plane. They were created by Charles Stross who borrowed the name from George R. R. Martin's Dying of the Light, and are considered by many as being among the best monsters from the Fiend Folio.

I've always liked the original design by Russ Nicholson, but then I like his artwork in general. Nicholson's Githyanki are emaciated mummy-monkeys with a mean look. Tony DiTerlizzi criticizes the design because of the scowling expression, but I find the Fiend Folio version preferable to any of the later versions of the Githyanki.

Russ Nicholson vs Michael Komarck

The 4th edition Githyanki are too fleshy, and their spotted skin gives them an amphibian-like appearance. They look more like space aliens – which I guess may be appropriate, given their origins. To me, they have no visual impact, but maybe I'm just being too old-school.

Despite the popularity of Githyanki as villains, not very many figures of these creatures were made. Both Citadel and Ral Partha made licensed miniatures, while Dark Horse launched a very short-lived line of "not-Githyanki" known as the "Unholy".

Apparently the Dark Horse miniatures sold pretty well, and advertisements for the figures even appeared in the pages of the Dragon. Of course TSR responded with a cease-and-desist letter, and figure production was discontinued after a few months.

Below are Dark Horse Unholy (U-001, U-002, U-003, U-005, and U-006).

There seems to be some sort of discrepancy between the numbering on the header cards and the advertisement, since I have the Unholy Warrior/Advancing listed as being U-005 rather than U-004.

I believe that at some time, the figures were resculpted for whatever reason. Below are examples of U-1, U-2, U-4 (listed as 151 Unholy Warrior/Advancing on the blister pack), and U-9.

The figures can be distinguished by the markings on the base, with the first set bearing the imprint "Dark Horse Designs" and a rosette, while the later is marked "Unholy Dark Horse".

The Unholy are true 25mm figures, and work well as 1/72 Githyanki (who stand at 6' 3" in height) – the only exception being the Royal Warrior, who scales out to 7' 6" or so in height. The heads are a little on the large side and the limbs (for the later sculpts) are too chunky, but I think that the look of the Nicholson illustrations is captured by and large.

Next up are three Ral Partha Githyanki (AD&D Monsters 11-490), and the Quarrl from Grenadier (Monster Manuscript Vol.VIII 1508, MM70).

The Ral Partha miniatures are all very tall. The detailing is nice, but the faces have the Grinch-like appearance of the Planescape Githyanki which is a minus.

The Quarrl is also on the tall side, but not by too much. One thing that I find rather funny about the Quarrl is that whoever created the entry for it in the Monster Manuscript did not think through the alignment to make it correspond with the flavor text.

Lawful Evil that promotes the triumph of Chaos

In closing, a comparison of the various miniatures.

I suppose that the Ral Partha Githyanki can be used as Royal Warriors, but I'm not really sure that Royal Githyanki are even considered canon.