Saturday, October 28, 2017


From Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

The scarecrow has been used since ancient times to prevent the depredation of fields by birds during planting season and harvest season. It's use during harvest in particular has led to the scarecrow becoming closely associated with Fall.

The animated scarecrow is of more recent origin, with the earliest example that I can find being Feathertop from the eponymous short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Some may argue that Kuebiko (久延毘古) qualifies as an animated scarecrow, but since he is described as being immobile (though capable of speech), the point is moot.

In any event, both Feathertop and Kuebiko were entirely benign, and it wasn't until recent times that more sinister scarecrows became prevalent. The TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow (which I vaguely recall seeing, back in the day) is credited with popularizing the "killer scarecrow".

The D&D scarecrow appeared in the Fiend Folio in the same year as Dark Night of the Scarecrow, but the two scarecrows were quite different in appearance.

Scarecrows seem to fall into two main categories as far as looks go. One type has a turnip or gourd for a head, while the other has a sack filled with rags or straw for a head.

Do not confuse the two.
One is a Bram Stoker Award winner,
the other has an audience score of
26% on Rotten Tomatoes.

There are several companies that make scarecrow miniatures, but finding figures that are close to 1/72 scale is more problematic.

The first miniatures I found were the lesser scarecrows from Monolith Designs. Their website hasn't been updated in over 10 years, but the last time I sent an e-mail, they were still in business, and I was able to order a couple of packs of their scarecrows.

From Beyond Crow021

From Beyond Crow022

The scarecrows have old world jack-o'-lantern heads with straw bodies, and are armed with various farm implements.

I modified some of the models to look like the 28mm scarecrows from their Crow011 and Crow012 sets, and replaced the head on one figure with a new world jack-o'-lantern head.

I really like the Monolith lesser scarecrows, although I have one nitpick with the way they painted their samples figures.

If the stem is at the top of the head, the purple color should probably be painted on the upper portion of the head, not the bottom.

Another figure that can be used as a scarecrow is available from North Star Military Figures. They produce a Small Construct (center), which can pass for a sack-headed scarecrow.

The Northstar figure is not as good a value as the Monolith Designs figures, but it is part of a set (Frostgrave Bestiary FGV303), and comes with a Medium Construct that can be used as a wood golem.

A gallery of scarecrows created by "Rot" that you can use to fuel your imagination can be found at Pumpkinrot Works.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


The paravane (aka water kite, sweep, tadpole) was developed during WWI as a countermeasure against underwater mines.

It had a secondary usage against submarines that was probably infrequently used, and even less often likely to be successful.

I became aware of this obscure piece of equipment because they were shown in the Haifuri anime from last year, so when I came across some 1/72 scale models while browsing through Shapeways, I decided to buy a couple of the more inexpensive models from the 3D Boats store.

Three sentence review of Haifuri from Himeuta Channel

The models I bought were described as early RN paravanes, but they also looked like certain types of USN and IJN paravanes as well. Unfortunately, I couldn't really find any references on the appearance and classification of WWII paravanes to verify any of this.

The models were printed with the Frosted Ultra Detail material, and require the addition of some bent wire to complete.

I believe this is a Type B Mk. IV paravane

The resin used for the print allows a good level of detail. but is still unable to achieve the perfectly smooth surfaces of traditional models. FUD seems to be somewhat brittle, so care is needed when handling models made with the material (particularly with very thin parts).

The translucent properties of the material looks like it might have potential applications as well.

The models are covered with a sticky layer of support wax, and dust will stick to the wax and form a gooey mess on the surface if they are left on the desktop for any period of time.

To remove the wax, I washed the models with dishwasher detergent, then swabbed them down with 95% isopropanol.

I sprayed one of the models with a couple of coats of gray primer, hoping that the paint was sufficient to hide the layer lines of the print.

The top of the model didn't look too bad, but the lines on the underside of the model became a lot more apparent after the primer (I think they were a lot deeper to begin with, but it was difficult to tell until the model was painted).

I guess I need to add some smoothing epoxy to my shopping list for next month in order to finish these models.