Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dungeon! - Fantasy Boardgame: an old-school vet vs a 5 y.o. newb

The time had come to introduce my boy to the wonderful world of Dungeon! the boardgame. He had been eyeing the box and he's been progressing nicely through many of my other old D&D related games and toys, so why not Dungeon!... the uhm ... fantasy boardgame.

So after taking a little time to review the rules (hey! it's been a long frakkin' time since I saddled up to this one), and taking a long walk down memory lane with the artwork on the board, the cards, and in the rules, I did my best to explain these rules to a boy who anxiously looked ready to solo The Temple of Elemental Evil itself:

Don't ask about the yellow duck hand-puppet...I guess it's part of some bizarre dice-rolling ritual.

One quick shot of some pure Erol Otus coolness in the pages of those rules:

We chose to play the Basic version of the game for now. Once he gets the hang of it, he'll no doubt wish to play one of the additional classes in the Expert version. Heck, he was thumbing through the Spell cards (expert version, Wizard class) while I was wasting our precious playing time reading rules. My fellow old-school gamers would have my head for that diversion. Rules-shmules! Oh the humanity!

Anyway, going the basic route, I let him pick his class. He liked the sound of being "better at killing crap" much more than he did being an "improved secret door finder." Silly boy.

So he took the Hero (blue pawn), and I chose the Elf (green pawn) and we were off to the Main Staircase/Start. Oh he also said that he'd take the blue one, because blue is his favorite color. In reality, red and brown (but mostly red) are his favorite colors. But I willingly suspended my disbelief. After all, we were playing Dungeon!... the "Fantasy" Boardgame, right?

Actually about half way through the game, I thought we needed a prop upgrade. So I snagged the two Reaper minis I've been using a lot lately in some 4e sessions (one of them for my current 5th level Cleric of Kord, and the other for my current 8th level Ranger). These two fig actually made perfect sense for use in place of the blue Hero pawn and the green Elf pawn. Bam! Cool game just got cooler.

At any rate, we took turns taking the lead, piling up our gp total with sweet treasure, while beating the smack out of the baddies. He luckily looted a "Secret Door" card, so he basically instantly became my Elf...just better. Bah!

Fate certainly didn't help me out either vs some Green Slime, as captured here with a pair of 1's:

I must say once he started to pile up the treasure, and we both were about to the midpoint of the 10,000 gp required to win, he developed a pretty brash strategy of dropping his buffing loot (+1 sword, secret door card, etc), in favor of keeping the highest gp worth loot. He took some major risks in doing so, and several times felt the pain of the monsters' attacks. However, we both passed 10k gold and beat-feet back to the beginning - with the 10k gold, whomever got back first would win.

Well, he had a clear shot back, all except for a secret door blocking his way. Without his cool "Secret Door" card, which fell victim to his boldness, he sat there for quite some time failing his rolls, and thus not being able to progress.

I on the other hand was a master secret door finder but I had to get past a few baddies on my way back to start. This was mainly due to being "slid" to a different level as part of a trap that tripped in one of the rooms. It turns out my Elf wasn't very skilled at taking on either of these two dorks, the Evil Wizard and the Black Pudding:

See that tiny little dash "-" there after the word Elf on those cards? Yeah that means I can't kill them. WTF?!?!?!?

I had no other way I could go to make it back to the beginning, so it was just a matter of time before my son put the final smackdown on me. And that he most surely and most triumphantly did, taking all of the glory and all of the loot!:

Guess who's lined up to beat sorry ol' Daddy next? You guessed it...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Erol Otus -ish plastic/rubber figures

For whatever reason when I saw these things in a local Toy/Hobby/Pools store (pools? you say?...yeah, me too...dunno but they sell outdoor pool supplies there too), the first word that popped into my head was Otus.

They aren't really that close to these incredible Erol Otus illustrations referenced in this post, but at least to me, they remind me of his organic which I absolutely love. IMO, he's one of the reasons that so many young kids were able to let loose the binds of reality while playing D&D, and allow their minds to so easily conjure up such vivid imagery.

Some people (as wrong as they may be) don't care very much for Otus' art. I (displaying a much improved opinion...hehe) disagree with them. Erol Otus plain rocks! Always has - always will. Obviously I jest on the opinion labeling, as everyone is entitled to their own. Heck I dig Erol Otus and Jeff Dee. It seems a lot of folks like one but not the other. To me, they are both amazing different stylists, each with his own flavor and strengths. I just like it all, I guess.

At any rate, here are few more shots of these kooky looking beasts, doing battle with a couple of my Reaper figs, and some Erol Otus art that I think they imitate to some degree. BTW, I posed them and snapped the pics without any particular drawing/painting in mind. With a little better forethought on my part, I might have tried to mimic the actual artwork for better comparisons. Ah well, maybe next time.

Anyway, as a wise little old dude once said...
"Fear not, Ranger..."


It may seem kinda silly (in fact it may actually *be* kinda silly) for a grown man to buy, yet alone pose, some crazy looking, distorted, almost mutated plastic and rubber dinosaur-ish toys, not to mention the fact that I ... err... *he* would then take pictures of these scenes. However, I think they're pretty sweet, and they definitely remind me of some of Mr. Otus' amazing work. I actually hope to put these things into play someday soon, populating some old-school flavored dungeon crawl with them.

Oh, and they were less than a buck a could I say no?

And I almost forgot this one, from Target's $1 bins in the front of the store. Not necessarily Erol Otus inspired, but a nice huge spider for our hero to smite:

"Taste my holy steel, fowl arachnid!"

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Willingham's "Dragon vs Party" scene: reenacted with lead minis and a plastic dragon

One of my all-time favorite D&D illustrations...I absolutely love that drawing by Bill Willingham.

Anyway, a little back story: A little over a week ago, we took an extended weekend up to Frankemuth ("Michigan's Little Bavaria") for a little family getaway. During our stay, one of the many fun little downtown and/or River Place shops we checked out was the Frankenmuth Toy Company. My son and I checked out the Papo figurines, of which they had plenty.

After an initial "pass" on a purchase of any of these very nice figs, some uncannily coincidental blog posting/replying over at Grognardia (awesome blog BTW, but ya'll already know that), and finally an early morning revalation by my son and I, we headed back to the toy shop to snag a fig or two.

For reference and just plain fun, I'll quote myself, quoting my son, along with quoting myself some more:

"My son awoke this morn and the first words out of his mouth were "Daddy, I was just dreaming about those figures and stuff at that toy store!". I said, "Hey, me too!"

Anyway, my son had his eyes on their Battering Ram prop for some future improvised employment in our Crossbow & Catapults sessions:

...while I spied their Red Dragon fig:

That is one smooth looking Red Dragon, right? I mean, sure it may not be the $80 "Colossal" version from WotC, but I actually like this guy better. He (or she) just has that cool old-school look, that screams "Use me with your old lead minis, you scrawny human!"

So I did.

Here's a little reenactment of that Willingham scene, using some of my old TSR lead minis and this cool ass Papo Red Dragon:

First the awesome Willingham work:

And my simple rendition:

Dorky, yet fun!

As it turns out, I very likely totally stole this idea from Christopher B and his very cool blog A Rust Monster Ate My Sword. He saw a similar cheap-yet-cool plastic dragon fig and thought he'd like to bust out some old lead figs and recreate the Willingham scene. He just never really got around to it...ha! At any rate, here I thought I had some great original idea, and as it turns out, I probably just read his post a while back and then forgot all about it. So, props to Christopher B for a great idea! Of course I do claim some small thread of originality in the actual composition of the figs...hehe. I think I got them pretty darn close to the original. So props to me too....hahahaha!

BTW, if you haven't already, go visit A Rust Monster Ate My Sword. It is a rockin' blog, filled with great ideas you can plunder for your own posts. (just kidding, bud. ;>])

I do totally dig his blog, though. Check it out fo' sho'!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Gonna paint me some old lead minis...pig-faced Orcs to be exact.

So, in the midst of some recent plastic minis vs lead figs comparison, I got a hankerin' to paint me some minis again. Now it's been a looooooonnnnnnnggggg time since I've done this (like 1983 or so), so I have a feeling the (re)learning curve could be mighty steep. Those brain cells are just a (non)memory now.

I have tons of these bad boys from "back in..." err.... yeah. In the heaping pile of lead that used to rule the kitchen table, I must admit that only a small percentage of my old lead minis are actually painted. I've shown a couple of them here in some previous posts, but I have tons of others, many that never got any paint slapped on 'em. As witnessed recently in the case of the burgular here.

At any rate, I think I'm gonna bust out some acrylics and see if I enjoy this long lost hobby as much as I hope I will. Maybe this crotchety old timer doesn't have the patience to pull this off - maybe he does. We'll see.

I'm think I'm gonna start with some pig-faced Orcs from the TSR AD&D line of 1983, in this wonderful box set named "Monster Tribes":

Here's the back, showing all the included figs:

The Orcs are the best of this bunch, IMO. They are the perfect pig-nosed variety we all loved back then. They're pretty similar to the ones available from Otherworld Miniatures, which are freakin' awesome, and I want some...NOW! Their Orc collection is here. And here's some shots of the Otherworld figs, from their gallery, painted very nicely by various skilled folks:

O1c - Pig-faced Orc with Bardiche, painted by Richard Scott

O4 - Pig-faced Orc Warband, painted by Kep Pump

and Pig-faced Orcwife, painted by Chris FitzPatrick:
Nice rack(s)! WTF?!?!?

Anyway, before I drop some major cash and impulse-buy nearly everything Otherworld makes (OMG! their stuff is nice), I figured I better just try painting some of the figs I already have... make sure I can even pull this off, ya'know?

So along with the TSR Monster Tribes box pictured up above, I still have many figs in the following sets that need paint too.

Some of those figs in my recent comparison were from this Fighter, Rangers & Paladins set:

This Specialists set here is the origin of my favorite Pally fig. I know many other folks dug that Paladin fig too.

Here's the Thieves set from which that bag-toting-burgular fig hails.... err sneaks. The sheet names him "Thief-sack"...ha!

Dig the paint jobs on this "Fighting Men" set (3rd pic here)....very nice! I believe those are painted by someone at His/her site is freakin awesome! Check it out, and maybe buy some minis, too. According to the site, he/she sells some of them. Regardless there are some great info and pics there (these pics here all came from that site, BTW - I hope that's not an issue to show them here), as well as some great advice on painting minis. I'm printing that info out as we speak, to use when I crack open the paint jars for my own figs. Sadly, I will not be able to reproduce those kinds of results, but I'll give it the ol' college try.

I also have numerous loose lead minis, from various sets, including these two (from a duo blister pack back then). I've posted pics of my unpainted Umberhulk fig, but I never even attached the 3rd arm to my Xorn fig. Gotta do that too sometime soon I guess...26 years later...ha!

And here's a duo I just have to get my hands on. I only have one Grenadier Lizardman fig, and I would love to get some more.

I think my lizard-dude came out of this "Denizens of the Swamp" set, which me and my buddies back then split up between us:

I think we also shared this "Dwellers Below" set too, as I think I have the Doppleganger somewhere. Man, I used to love that fig...hope I can find him:

Anyway, time to paint! Wish me luck...

* BTW, hats off to the folks at again, for some awesome pics of some sweet old lead minis!