Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Ropers

The roper is a classic D&D monsters that comes from the earliest incarnations of the game. It sits motionless, pretending to be a stalagmite until an unsuspecting adventurer passes by, whereupon it attacks with its six tentacles.

The cover of the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, and some early art shows the roper with two eyes, and the ability to cling to cave ceilings like a stalactite.

I'm sure that many DMs who noticed this eventually made some sort of connection between ropers and piercers, but it wasn't until 5th edition that piercers officially became juvenile ropers.

Another version of the roper was the storoper, which is described as looking like a small (5' tall) statue of a roper.

As far as miniatures go, the old Grenadier roper from the Dwellers Below box set was pretty spot on for a 1/72 roper in size, and resembled the description in the Monster Manual pretty well. I kind of wish that I hadn't traded the one I owned away, but oh well.

The first two miniatures I have are the Reaper Stone Lurker (Bones 77227; Dark Heaven Legends 03602) and a Grenadier Stone Tangler (Monster Manuscript Vol.IX 1509, MM79). The Stone Lurker is supposed to come with six tentacles (not attached for this picture), but I only received five with the figure. The Stone Tangler is a two-eyed roper, but unlike the early D&D ropers, the eyes are on stalks.

Both of these miniatures are larger than the stated size of a roper, but I don't see any reason why there can't be giant ropers.

I particularly like the tentacles of the stone tangler. I always thought that the generic tentacle used for the roper didn't really mesh with its appearance.

Another good source of ropers is Midlam Miniatures, who produce a whole line of creatures called Stalagbites.

Stalagbites do not have any tentacles, but I plan to drill holes in the figures so that they can be fitted with tentacles from the Reaper roper (hopefully Reaper will re-implement their Boneyard service in the near future so I can order up a bunch of these).

Roody, Bitey, Irky, and Lurky

Devilly, Wonky, Shelly, and Sleepy

Noody, Slurpy, Gnawy, and Chompy

Sneaky, Blanky, Skanky, and Spiky

The stalagbites average about 40mm in height, which makes them just a bit over 9' tall in 1/72 scale. Each figure is full of character, and getting them all has pretty much filled my quota of ropers and then some.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekend update (Windows and robots)

So I tried Windoze 10 for a couple of days, and while there were a few nice features, my overall feeling was that the new OS was half-baked shite. Actions were laggy, the ability to customize seemed very limited, and most importantly, trying to transfer to, or access files on external drives was severely impaired.

Long story short, I rolled Microsoft's unwanted install of Windoze 10 back to 7. Here are some more reasons why Windows 10 sucks.

Happily, restoring the old OS was painless so I was able to get quite a bit of modeling done on the weekend. The first thing I worked on was my Comanche Battle Suit with flamethrower. What I noticed about these models was that they seem to have high lead content, and they were slathered in mold release agent.

The softness of the metal made cutting the fuel tank off of the arm very easy. I mounted it to the hip girdle of the battle suit, and re-positioned the hoses. There was a smaller third hose from the center of the fuel tank to the arm, but I just removed it altogether because it would have been too much trouble to sculpt an additional length of hose to cover the increased distance between the two locations.

I thought about making the nozzle of the flamethrower smaller, but then figured why not have a giant over sized nozzle?

I'm going to have to rebuild the upper portion of the right arm, but after that the model will just need painting.

I was also able to complete my conversion of a Robot Soldier to a Robot Gardener. First, I used my heat gun to soften the arms and re-position them.

Then I cut off the spikes from the arms. The left hand was also cut off and then re-attached rotated 180°.

Finally, I used wood glue and Woodland Scenics Fine Turf to create the moss on the robot's shoulders.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Laputa Robot Soldier

The Robot Soldier (ロボット兵) from the film Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ) is an iconic mecha design, but it had an earlier incarnation as the [Armored] Robot Soldier Lambda Doll (ロボット兵 ラムダドール) in the final edpsode of the Lupin III TV series.

Lupin III second series (1977-1980), episode 155

In Laputa, the Robot Gardeners are gentle giants covered in moss, who tend the grounds of the castle.

There are also Robot Soliders that defend the castle. They differ from the gardeners in having spines protruding from their arms from which flying membranes can grow, and eye beams that can cut through stone like butter.

A 5m tall life-sized statue of a Robot Soldier stands on the roof of the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.

The dimensions of the statue were probably not used for the 1/20 scale models of the Robot Gardener and Robot Soldier manufactured by Fine Molds, since the completed model is supposed to stand at 7" tall, which scales out to just over 3.5m in height.

The size of the robot in the film is not always consistent either, but discrepancies like that are common in most forms of media.

The Robot Gardener seems undersized in this scene.

It was one of my wishes that someone would make a 1/72 scale version of the robot, but nothing I found was close in size. At one point, I purchased a very difficult to find key chain set made by Nibariki in the hopes that they would meet my expectations, but the figures turned out to be too small.

The robots in the Nibariki set are about 40mm tall, which would be a mere 2.75m in height in 1/72 scale.

Recently however, ensky has released a set of Robot Soldiers as part of their Tsumu-Tsumu Series (つむつむシリーズ). I'm guessing that tsumu-tsumu (つむつむ) is a diminutive or duplication form of the word 積む (tsumu; to stack), which is how these toys were designed to be played with.

The  Laputa Tsumu-Tsumu set (TMU-31; 天空の城ラピュタ つむつむ) consists of 10 pieces. A couple of single robot sets are also available. There are six robots in four different poses, and four levitation stones (飛行石); three in cube form, and one in crystal form.

The standing robot is about 52mm tall, which would make the model 1/69 scale if going by the dimensions of the Fine Molds kit. However, if the robot is considered 1/72 scale by default, it would be about 3.75m in height. In either case, I think it's the best one can hope for in our scale.

Cube form levitation stones.

Crystal form levitation stone.

I ended up ordering three of the sets so I would have some extras to do conversions on. If I have the energy after dealing with all the issues with the forced Windoze 10 install that Microsoft pushed onto my PC last night, I'll try to do a quick conversion of one of the Robot Soldiers to a Robot Gardener.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Comanche Battle Suit

The Comanche Battle Suit comes from the Secrets of the Third Reich wargame by West Wind Productions. I liked the look of the Comanche because of its diesel-punk aesthetic and also for its similarity to the Koubu from Sakura Wars.

The Comanche is described as a battle suit, but looking at it, I have a difficult time seeing how a 28mm figure is supposed to fit inside it. Then again, it is also described as a light mech, so maybe it is not operated by someone inside the armor. In any case, I believe that it fits much better with 1/72 scale figures than 28mm figures.

There are three different versions of the Comanche: the following models are the .50 HMG mounted version (US-SOTR14) and the flamethrower version (US-SOTR16). A bazooka and assault pod mounted version (US-SOTR15) also exists, but I don't own one.

The models come with the national identification symbol cast on the front of the hull, but I plan on removing it from the models. It just seems like kind of a bad place to have a big white star.

I don't particularly care for the layout of the flamethrower either, so I'll modify it so that all the weight is not distributed to the right side of the model. I'm thinking that the fuel tank would be better off fixed to the back.

For one of the suits, I hollowed out the interior so I could display it with an open hatch.

A comparison of a Koubu, a Comanche, and a Colossus.

The Comanche in the above picture is fitted with two arms, but they cannot rest at the sides of the suit. They need to be placed either to the front or the back of the body. To see if I had other options, I tested a pair of Chaos Space Marines Lightning Claws to see how they would look on the model.

I'm thinking that in general they look pretty good except for the spikes. For the actual finalized models, I'd probably attach some Power Fists instead of the Lightning Claws though.