Saturday, May 30, 2015

El Chupacabra

Sideshow banner at the 2005 Erie County Fair (New York)

The first reported sighting of the chupacabra came from the town of Canóvanas, Puerto Rico in 1995.

The original depictions of the creature is akin to that of a typical "grey alien", but with claws and spines running down its back. According to Benjamin Radford, this version of the chupacabra is a result of the eyewitness confabulating Sil from the film Species with reality.

Other illustrations show the creature as being more dog-like, due to the attribution of chupacabra attacks to wild dogs or coyotes.

These types of attacks have been reported since the 19th century, but I don't think that there was ever an eyewitness account of what the creature perpetrating the attack looked like until 1995.

In any event, Rebel Minis makes some 15mm Cabras (RMPC1) that are perfect for use as 1/72 chupacabra.

These chupacabra scale out to about 3½' tall, and are very reminiscent of the canine-headed chupacabra depicted on the Erie County Fair banner at the top of this post. Another similarity to the banner is that the spines along the back are not quills as seen with most chupacabra depictions.

I modified some of them by removing their daggers, to make them appear more like the typical chupacabra. Most were painted green, with a couple in gray, and one in blue.

One explanation that both skeptics and believers seem to have missed is that chupacabra are actually kobold vampires. How else do you explain blood-sucking dog-headed humanoids that sometimes have bat-like wings?

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gelatinous Cube

I've always thought of gelatinous cubes as having smooth, regular surfaces like Jell-o cubes, as opposed to the partially-melted appearance that they are given with most manufactured and homemade miniatures.

At one time, I created a model that I was going to cast in clear resin, but I never got around to getting new casting materials after my last batch went bad.

One of these days I'll have enough sculpts built up to make it worth my while to create molds again, but in the mean time, I found a nice proxy for gelatinous cube miniatures: clear acrylic ice cubes.

These cubes are not an exact match for what I had in mind for gelatinous cubes, but I like them because they are optically clear.

The 4cm x 4cm cubes are roughly equivalent to 10' x 10' gelatinous cubes. The 2cm x 2 cm and 1cm x 1cm cubes represent gelatinous cubes that have been broken into smaller pieces.

These acrylic ice cubes are readily available on eBay, and are pretty inexpensive. The large cubes work out to be about US$1.75 each (though the problem is that I had to buy 16 of them), the medium ones about 53¢ each, and the small ones about 17¢ each.

One issue with the cubes, is that there is always one corner that is rough and unfinished. It looks like that corner is where the pour for the acrylic ended during the manufacturing process.

I tried to polish the corner with a flame, but it created a ripple effect on the surface. I also tried filing the corner down and coating it with Future floor wax, but some of the gouges were too deep to fill.

Still, the cubes are serviceable without having to do anything if you are not obsessive about perfection.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Rabbit of Caerbannog

Killer rabbits have been part of popular culture since the Rabbit of Caerbannog was introduced to audiences in the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. However, long before the film, foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodents were illustrated in the marginalia of medieval manuscripts as a darkly amusing inversion of roles between the hunter and the hunted.

Look... that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!

For gaming, the Rabbit of Caerbannog led to the creation of the Vorpal Bunny in Wizardry, and has been statted up by countless DMs for use in D&D.

The first place I checked for 1/72 compatible rabbits, was with manufacturers of HO scale model train accessories. I found a rabbit hutch made by Preiser (28099) that included several rabbits in brown and white plastic.

I broke open the hutch to get the rabbits out, but they actually turned out to be accurately scaled at 1/87, so appear very small next to 1/72 scale figures. Next, I decided to search OO scale accessories, and found candidates from Dart Castings and Langley.

The Preiser rabbits come in three poses. The ones in white plastic are hard to see in the picture, but they are about half the size of the OO scale rabbits. The next three rabbits come from the Langley Wild Animals set (F146), and the final two rabbits (or rabbit and hare) are from the Dart Wildlife Selection set (A31). Dart also has a standalone set of rabbits (A6), but the image on the website is not particularly clear, so I could not determine if the pose matches either of the ones in the comparison photo, or if it is something entirely different.

None of the rabbits were in the particular pose I wanted, I so decided to just sculpt one on my own. The ears were made with flattened staples that were shaped with a file and then attached to the head. The head is a separate piece since I was thinking about casting some more of them up.

With the left over Kneadatite, I decided to sculpt one more rabbit that would fit with the killer rabbit theme. Or more explicitly, I decided to sculpt the mask/head of Frank the Rabbit from the film Donnie Darko.

The original sculpt came out too much like a human skull, so I built up the maxilla to protrude out  a bit more. New teeth will be added at a later time.

Richard Kelly (the film's writer/director) says that Frank was influenced by the rabbits of Watership Down. Personally, outside of the Black Rabbit of Inlé or perhaps General Woundwort, Frank's image is about the last one I would come up with with respect to envisioning the rabbits of Watership Down.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Firmament

Mole people seem to have been fairly popular in the media of the 1950s (maybe due to the widespread belief that people would be living in underground bunkers in the aftermath of an atomic war).

In more recent times, the term has been applied to the semi-urban myth of underground tunnel dwellers beneath places like Manhattan and Las Vegas.

I envision mole people as being bipedal moles, along the lines of the talking moles of Narnia, or the Diggeries of Amagi Brilliant Park. As such, the perfect representation of these creatures are available from Microworld Games.

There is no particular background given to the Firmament on the Microworld site, but the army consists of molemen and their stoneman allies/minions. The typical pack consists of ~40 figures for US$10, which gives a per figure cost that is probably a bit more than that of a box of 1/72 plastics.

The molemen shown below (from left to right) consist of a mole commander, two geomancers, two moleman drillspears (FIRM01), two moleman delvers (FIRM02), and two moleman scrappers (FIRM03).

When used with 1/72 scale figures, the molemen would be even smaller than hobbits, which is just as I imagine them to be.

The stonemen are what I would term [Paracelsian] gnomes. They come in three sizes: stonemen, greater stonemen, and earth giants. Below are the earth giant (FIRM10), and two poses from the stonemen warriors pack (FIRM05).

The stonemen warriors are too small to be useful combatants in my opinion, so I modified them to be foundry and metal workers by cutting off the shields, and resculpting the left arm. Additional tools and sundries will be added as required. I will order some of the greater stonemen at a later date to serve as auxiliary warriors.