This blog is about the world of gaming miniatures, as seen from my perspective. I've been collecting and painting for over 30 years now, and while my primary focus is miniatures for D&D, I also enjoy many other games that use minis, so we'll be covering those as well. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Lead Market Report - December 2011

Happy New Year! I hope 2011 was a good year for you and your collections, and may 2012 bring you yet more miniature metal goodness. To kick off the new year, we'll finish off withe December, which proved to be fairly brisk all things considered.

CITADEL: Those cool C28 giants always seem to pop up over in the UK. One seller sold a nice assortment of the big uglies, arranged highest to lowest price: this one looks familiar - I'm pretty sure it was also found in the Tragedy of McDeath scenario pack ($35); this one has the cool 'Darth Maul' head ($26); this one has the eyepatch & nose ring (?) head ($22); your basic cyclops giant ($22); oversized goblin head with leather cap ($22); topknot head giant ($20); and finally giant with massive hammer and head trophies ($20).

There was another run of AD&D loose minis: an Owlbear ($10), three Orcs ($4, $5, $5), four drow ($5, $5, $5, $6), a hobgoblin ($6), and a lone kobold ($6).

A couple of Star Trek ships appeared on the scope: a pair of Birds of Prey that sold for $52, and that Klingon workhorse, the D-7 Battlecruiser that went for $38. It isn't Citadel, but I'll lump this Romulan Bright One ($30) in with the previous two, just because I can.

DARK HORSE: The TMNT blisters continue to see action in the $20 to $40+ range of late. These Triceratons sold for $40, while The Foot and Mousers sold for $20 and $21. I have to imagine the Mousers would have fetched more if they had not been missing Splinter and Shredder!

DRAGONTOOTH: This lot of assorted pieces from Ye Blind Cyclops Inn seems like a relative bargain at $27 - you'll see what I mean next month! How about not one but two dragons for less than $20 each? $17 for D76, and $15 for D79. Those are the kind of bargains that make me smile, and I wasn't even the buyer! For you big spenders, there was a sealed DE5 Winged Snake Demon for $57.

GAMES WORKSHOP: This lot of 9 Inquisitor models sold for $78, which seems about right considering individual models like this Artemis sold for $10.

GRENADIER: I'll start off Grenadier with a truly massive and rare model: Wizzards & Warriors Special #2, the Giant Griffin. I don't know what the going rate on lead is, but this worked out to $52/pound for this particular model (4.5 pounds that sold for $234). A very cool piece of Grenadier workmanship!

For Boxed Sets, let's look at a purchase of my own: the massive Goblin War Giant that I snapped up for a $50 BIN. I've been after this big fella for awhile now, so to find one that was complete, in box, and with paperwork for only $50 was a no-brainer for me. The Gold Line boxes continue to hold value, like this Tomb of Spells for $46 (yes, the Umber Hulk comes with both mandibles!) and this Dungeon Explorers for $30. It might be a Feathered Serpent Dragon in Shadowrun, but that's a Coutl if I've ever seen one! And for only $5.50, who cares what it's called?

$28 earned you a complete Frost Giant set from the Giants Club line (sans box and paperwork). I have to imagine those wee little antlers for the female frost giant get lost on a fairly regular basis. The Juggernaut went for $37, speaking of giant (sized) models. The LOTR sets, especially in shiny and complete-looking sets, still can go for good amounts of cash: Sauron's Dark Ones for $53. And for sets in the $20 or less range, there was this trio - a sealed Black Dragon II for $21 (nice), Elves Sinister for $18, and Women of Adventure for less than $17. The bargain set has to be this CL Gwydion the Wizard for just under $6.

Orcus usually commands around $10-$20, so to see one that went for only $3.33 was a bit of an oddity. Then again, he has been broken and repaired, so I'm guessing that had a lot to do with the low price. I REALLY like this fire giant model, but did not spend the $13 to acquire this particular piece.

Gamma World minis continue to hold their value. This lot sold for $104, right around $5 per figure. Even more affordable was this lot of 24 minis that went for $68, or a bit less than $3 per mini.

Lots - this substantial lot sold for $194, pretty good for 8 boxed sets that are complete or mostly complete. The Gamma World set surely drove the price up on this lot.

Perhaps the most unusual Grenadier item in December was this dragon pin with the Grenadier G that sold for a modest $15.50.

HEARTBREAKER: The Warzone boxed sets seem to be fairly rare, or at least uncommon. This set of Capitol Orca Battlesuits was less than $17, which seems like a good buy if you dig the Mutant Chronicles universe.

HERITAGE: The 75mm Lord of The Rings miniatures did a great job of capturing the look and feel of the 1978 animated movie by Ralph Bakshi. Did you know that Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) was the voice of Legolas? Neither did I until now. Anyhow, this trio of Aragorn, Legolas, and Galadriel sold for $31, so at $10 per figure, not a bad deal at all.

The Crypt of the Sorcerer is still high on people's must-have list, as this good-looking $90 example will attest to. And don't forget Star Trek - this 4 blister lot sold for $23 - I guess you only pull down the big bucks if you are selling the human personalities?

LEADING EDGE GAMES: "I'm Hudson. He's Hicks." Or was it the other way around? This box of heartbreakers and lifetakes sold for $40. "God I LOVE The Corps!"

MITHRIL: Mithril makes an appearance this month, thanks to a pair of blisters that sold for $52 each: M20 Hithaeglir, Orc Chief and M4 Mounted Riders of Rohan. Wonderful stuff from Ireland!

RAL PARTHA: Need to repair, upgrade, or customize your Mech? Not a problem if you won any or all of these parts packs: Heavy & Assault Mech Arms ($19), Light & Medium Mech Arms ($26), Missiles ($16), Shoulder Socket Weapons ($22), and Jumps Jets & Fins ($17). And another seller sold their Heavy & Assault Mech Arms for $26, some Light & Medium Mech Arms for $16, and Missiles for $25. Don't trust those cheap knockoff parts! Use only the best OEM Mech parts your credits can buy.

Blisters - We have an orange-carded Wolverine that sold for $26, a blue-carded Marauder II for $33, and a Warhammer IIC for $51. I'll never own a Warhammer at these prices!

Lots - From lowest to highest, we have this lot of 8 (including two Warhammers) for $76. A lot of 24 Mechs plus a bunch of smaller units sold for $161. This lot of 27 Mechs tallied $177.50, with this lot of 28 Mechs bringing in $177.85.

To end big (as in Museum Scale), there was my fav, the Atlas. $16 is what it took to bring home some big & stompy Mech goodness.

Box Sets - $16 seems like a decent buy for an almost-complete Red Dragon of Krynn (just needs the top of the head and lance). A complete Imperial Dragon sold for $58. Just give it a bath in Super Clean and you are ready to start over! For $7 less, you could have picked up this Imperial Dragon that was missing the instructions and certificate. You needed $81 to pick up The Great Red Dragon this time around. This nice-looking still-in-shrink copy of Dragon Mountain went for $52, while T'Char, the dragon of Flame & Fury sold for $41. The giant collector in me would have liked to have picked up this copy of Biilidum and The Ogre Marauders for $40, but I didn't pull the trigger. And Lord Soth turned up again, albeit incomplete. This Lord Soth's Charge (missing two riders) sold for $46.

AD&D blisters - The market seems to have softened a bit on the Peryton, as evidenced by this $36 example. The Council of Wyrms dragons, on the other hand, show no signs of slacking off. This Gold Dragon sold for $65. And Molydeus is still large and in charge, like this one for $57.

Lots - This lot of 1,000+ sold for $1,440 - I hope there was some good stuff in there! I would not have paid that much because there weren't enough pics to satisfy me. I need to know a little more if I were to drop that much coin on some lead. And if you needed a Roman army, you could have picked up this one for $190.

REAPER: DOOM Cyber Demon. $47. Fear him.

WEST END GAMES: I really wanted to snap up this lot, because $80 for 12 Star Wars boxed sets is such a crazy good bargain! That's less than $7 per box - congrats to whoever picked this lot up. You done good. The vehicle blisters continue to sell well for the most part, as evidenced by this Storm Skimmer for just under $24.

WIZARDS OF THE COAST: Here's a nice lot of Chainmail minis that sold for $81. I've been on the hunt for some of WOTC's other metal minis, but I'll probably pick up the Chainmail bug one of these days soon enough.

THUNDERBOLT MOUNTAIN: I don't know if figures are from the pirated Thunderbolt castings or the real deal from Manzakk, but I have them listed under TM because that is how they were listed on eBay. In any event, this half set cost $25.50.

TELL 'EM GARY SENT YA: Some more goodies from EGG's estate went up for sale and found new homes. Gary's Gen Con 11 "game worn" t-shirt? $184. A 1982 TSR Annual Report? $225. Need to send a hand-written memo? Do it in style, using Gary's own "From the desk of Gary Gygax" memo pad. 20 sheets set someone back $317. And if you want to party, it's gonna cost you: this lot of D&D party goods sold for $437!!! Don't spill your Mountain Dew on the tablecloth ;)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fantasy Modeling magazine & other recent additions

Fantasy Modeling magazine was first published in the fall of 1980 by Fantasy Modeling Inc. and lasted just six issues. I'm pretty sure I saw ads for them in old issues of the Dragon magazine back in the day, and it was one of those things that caught my eye in a "gee I'd love to have a look at that!" sort of way. It appeared that all my favorite things were covered - miniatures, models, dioramas, and kitbashing - what's not to love about FM?

Fast-forward to today, where I finally have the first three issues in my hands! They are excellent reads, and chock full of pictures and ads too. The interview in Issue #3 with Tom Loback of DragonTooth Miniatures is great - Tom talks about his sculpting techniques, the miniatures industry, and even looks into the future when asked "What about the possibility of plastic figures?" Good stuff.

You can read the first four issues in PDF form over at Roebeast's Magical House of Sunshine. I have the PDFs (thanks Roebeast!), but I'm also a sucker for print copies, so that's why I snagged these three issues when I had the chance.

I also picked up some blue label Reaper miniatures. Four of them are mouslings (1371 Mousling Priest, 1376 Mousling Musketeer, 1277 Mousling Wench, and 1378 Mousling Mom), who must be the inspiration behind the current generation of Reaper Mouslings. So now I have some blue label Reaper minis to go along with my lone red label (baggied) mini, 1223 Hell Hound.

And finally, I added three new giants to the family! Two are from Grenadier's Fantasy Lords line (second series), the Titan (009) and the Battle Troll (062). The Titan set me back $2.02, and the Battle Troll was $1.25 - giants on the cheap, what could be better? The third giant was $12.99, but she's a shiny and pretty Reaper sculpt by Derek Schubert: 3431 Frost Giant Princess from the Dark Heaven Legends line.

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 009 Titan

Grenadier Fantasy Lords 062 Battle Troll

Reaper DHL 3431 Frost Giant Princess

I found it interesting she is cast in three pieces, with the bulk of her body and the front of her hair one piece, and the back of her hair and her fur cloak and right arm the other. The third piece is her massive spear, held by her left hand. Looking forward to adding all three to the finished pile this year.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Remorhaz by any other name...

The good peeps over at Center Stage Miniatures are now accepting pre-orders for the long-awaited Glacial Wyrm! According to the CSM store, it will be in stock on or around January 31st, so get those pre-orders in ASAP. This huge Jason Wiebe sculpt should look totally killer all painted up and eating characters on the gaming table. Pre-order price is $29.95 and the retail price is $39.95 (I had this incorrectly listed at $34.95).

For comparison, there is Reaper's Frost Wyrm and Ral Partha's 11-504 Remorhaz. The Frost Wyrm is readily available, and roughly the same price (if not slightly higher) through various sources. The RP Remorhaz is quite rare, and commands prices in the $75+ neighborhood.

What I'd really like to see is a side-by-side-by-side comparison of all three models listed above. Anyone?

Congrats to Matt and the CSM crew.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Many Faces of Drizzt Do'Urden

In just about every fantasy setting, you have your basic run-of-the-mill characters. Next we move up to iconic characters, and then finally at the very top of the pecking order are the titans of their respective domains. In D&D/AD&D, the list of famous names is long and star-studded: Bigby. Vecna. Tenser. Mordenkainen. Otiluke. Cuthbert. And I've always been fond of Emirikol the Chaotic, because without Trampier's illustration, he would be just another faceless evil mage, even though he doesn't have the same depth of background as the ones listed before him.

In the Forgotten Realms, you could field a couple of all-star football (soccer) squads with names of the rich, famous, and powerful. But for sheer star power, you pretty much have to give it up to the dark elf with a heart of gold, Mr. Drizzt Do'Urden. Books featuring Drizzt have been on the New York Times Best Seller list pretty much every time, I think. He's been featured in numerous AD&D, 3/3.5E, and 4th Edition products. His plastic minis appear to command above-average prices (in particular the one from Archfiends).

Will the real Drizzt Do'Urden please stand up?

Ral Partha has produced three different versions in metal: Forgotten Realms Heroes 10-550, Forgotten Realms Drow Elves of Menzoberranzan 10-551, and blister 11-068. Out of those three, I would pick the one from 11-068 as the one that best captures Drizzt in both look and spirit. The 10-551 version captures the look and feel from the books (at least when he was in the Underdark). I like how the 10-550 version depicts him when he is doing his ranger thing on the surface of Faerun, but his face and pose don't do it for me.

Ral Partha 11-068

Ral Partha 10-551

Ral Partha 10-550

If I was going to paint up a Drizzt to make an appearance in our FR campaign, I would choose Reaper's 2681 Half Elf Thief. Yes, I know he's 28mm, and not everyone out there is cool with mixing and matching 25/28mm minis. Except for not looking more elven (maybe a thinner face and slighter frame), I think this guy is a great choice for a metal Drizzt mini.

Reaper DHL 2681

Who would you choose to be your Drizzt? One of the four minis listed above, or something else? If you have other options, please share.

I'll be profiling more FR characters and personalities in the coming year, now that I've kicked things off with Drizzt.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Finieous Phigures

It's always fun when you complete a collection, isn't it? Back on Thanksgiving day, I won a small lot of older lead. The reason I was bidding on it was to FINALLY complete my set of Finieous Fingers miniatures. I had seven of the eight figures from the set, but that evil wizard Kask was proving to be a major pain in the butt to find. So now I'm the happy owner of one complete set, plus the almost-complete second set with a couple of duplicates for trade bait.

Finieous FingersFredCharly
Fin, Fred, and Charly

Back in the day, I saw an ad for the FF minis in The Dragon. While flipping through the November 1982 issue, I found the ad in question. The ad reads as follows (my kingdom for a scanner!):

Rephuge Required phor Phamous Phighting Phellowship
Special Collector's Item: "Finieous & Friends" Phigures Set
Top Quality Lead Miniatures (shown actual size) - Available
until Dec. 31, 1982 - $10.00 plus $1.25 p&h/set

Bored-Flak (front), A wizard with shades and a Thompson? Oh yes.Ranger Rupert (front), I have Kask in my sights...Mergatroid
Bored-Flak, Ranger Rupert, and Mergatroid

So for a mere $11.25, I could have bought my own set and saved myself a lot of searching through countless eBay listings! Heh. I wonder how long they were available for? I guess I'd have to scan through my Dragon Magazine Archives CDs to see if I can figure that out.

Kask and Grond

And there are also a small number of gold-plated sets out there too. I'm pretty sure these were mentioned in a similar ad, so I have some research to do. And as long as I'm being bookish, I would like to determine who actually designed, sculpted, and produced these bad boys. Wikipedia says they are a Thunderbolt Mountain product, and that there were 10 gold-plated sets produced. I want to say I've also read that they were cast by Ral Partha. So were they designed and sculpted by Tom Meier and produced by Thunderbolt Mountain, or designed and sculpted by Tom Meier and produced by Ral Partha? Or some other scenario? According to Mr. Meier's bio, he left Ral Partha and started Thunderbolt Mountain in 1988, which makes me lean towards the "designed & sculpted by Tom Meir and produced by Ral Partha" theory. Hopefully my research turns up a definitive answer.

UPDATE: Thanks to Grodog, I have my answers! If you read Tim Kask's reply on this thread at Dragonsfoot, he pretty much spells it out in detail. Here's the Reader's Digest condensed version:

The character sketches were done by J.D. Webster, and the sculpting done by Tom Meier (who at the time was at Ral Partha). Tim Kask personally poured the lead for each and every miniature, using the Ral Partha equipment. The production costs were paid for by Manzakk Publishing (of Adventure Gaming magazine fame).

The minis were sent out in a small box that looks like this:

(Photo credit: eBay seller jfavretto)

The hallmark on the bottom of the bases should show two names: Finieous and Manzakk. It appears as though someone associated with Thunderbolt made a few unauthorized sets, so just keep that in mind if you come across any in Thunderbolt packaging.

Obligatory group photo
The Apple Dumpling Gang these guys are not!

Hope you enjoy the pics of the set! You can also see some pics of a set painted up by Ed "Egg of Coot" Jendek of PrimEvil Studios on the Tome of Treasures forums, as well as a second set here on Dragonsfoot (also by Egg).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

No Rest For The Wicked

Back in mid-December, the gang rallied for yet another spirited romp through Faerun as part of our ongoing 3.5 FR campaign. Then I got caught up in the spirit of the holidays and set aside my recap duties, so without further ado, here we go!

There was scant little time for our intrepid band of adventurers to down a few cold beverages at The Blazing Hearth in Mulmaster before it was time to saddle up and gaze into the eye of the dragon once more. Last time, it was the sights and sounds (and smells) of Myth Drannor. This time, we strike out for the scenic Galena Mountains at the eastern end of the Moonsea.

Our contact in Mulmaster, a crusty Loremaster by the name of Jotim, tells us there is a cave in the mountains that contains the Pillar of Fire, which may or may not be able to sever bonds in attuned items – say, for example, the Red Sword – so we head there, in search of information. Well, it’s also likely that T’See Larak may be looking for it as well, so perhaps we can kill two birds with one stone. Jotim comes with good references, as we were sent to him by Shimanit of Shadowdale, a woodland guide we met in Myth Drannor. We feel fairly confident that we are on the right path at this point in time, so off we go!

We are able to find the cave with minimal fuss and without running into any undesirable elements, so we begin our exploring at full strength. This is a good thing, because we are tested by three brief but violent encounters. First is a massive fire elemental that attacks us as we attempt to bypass it. The creature must be some sort of guardian, or so we surmise. We extinguish the elemental threat and continue on. Next up is a quartet of massive ogres who set upon us with quite a bit of vigor. They are, however, no match for our ranger and his little friend the rogue.

As we plunge deeper and deeper into the complex, we discover several more chambers guarded by more fire elementals. Garrity recalls that the Sarrukh were followers of Kossuth, so he invokes the Lord of Flames name and what do you know, the elementals hold their ground but do not attack! The last encounter in the caves is with four chimeras (what do you call multiple chimeras? A flock? A pride? A gaggle?) that our party is able to deal with without too much drama.

Finally, we enter a cavernous room with a massive stone pillar jutting out of a pool of water. The pillar rises some two hundred feet into the air, with stairs carved into the exterior that allow access to the top. We climb the stairs without trouble, and discover to our relief that we have, in fact, found the legendary Pillar of Fire! It is a modest altar topped by a pair of interlocking arches. There are runes on each side of the altar, and after thorough examination and rumination, it is determined that there are four slots (one on each side) where a tile could be seated. Said tiles are of course nowhere to be found.

We head back to Mulmaster to consult with our contacts there and attempt to find out more information about the Pillar of Fire and the missing tiles. There is an active dig site at a set of old ruins a day or three away from the Pillar of Fire cave, so perhaps the tiles can be found there. Rested, we resume our adventuring. Five wyverns are unable to hinder us, and we reach the dig site. It is cold, windy, and there is snow on the ground. Even more hostile than the elements are the inhabitants of the dig site – hill giants and their ogre servitors! The ranger seems nonplussed by this revelation. Rangers.

After Palau scouts the ruins, he reports back that 3 hill giants and 4 ogres we are watching are only the tip of the iceberg. There are at least a dozen hill giants and close to two dozen ogres in and around the encampment! It’s going to take some planning to tackle this lot. Putting our heads together, this is what we come up with:

Posht will cast spell immunity (fireball) on Callum and Nikola. Garrity will cast greater invisibility on himself and Palau. We will engage the first set of giants & ogres and attempt to dispatch them as fast as possible. If all goes as planned, we will eliminate the first set of guards before reinforcements arrive. As always, the battle hinges on things going as planned…

The giants wade into the party...

Wonder of wonders, things pretty much DO unfold as planned! Garrity is able to safely immolate the giants with multiple empowered fireballs without harming his comrades. Palau unleashes his deadly sneak attacks with impunity. The paladin and ranger hew into the giants while the cleric keeps them healed. The giants arrive in waves from their various locations around the dig site, and we are just barely able to keep pace with the tempo of violence. It was especially hairy when about 6 hill giants and 8-10 ogres all showed up at once, but somehow we managed. I think it was due in no small part to Posht’s blade barrier and smite spells that really made the difference.

...Garrity unleashes one of his more potent empowered fireballs...

Perhaps the most troubling part of the fight was when some unseen enemies started casting charms or confusion-type spells on Nikola, Callum, and Posht. At one point, Nikola succumbed to one of the spells and began seeking out Garrity, providing some rather humorous in-game dialogue. After the battle, we found large snake-like slither marks in the snow. So it would seem the yuan-ti were involved, if not running the dig site. Hmmm…

...and the giants feel the burn!

15 hill giants and 20 ogres later, the battle was at last over. It was a rip-roaring affair, a good old-fashioned brawl that left the snow stained crimson and the battleground littered with the corpses of the oppressors. After healing up and gathering ourselves, we poked around the dig site and found what the yuan-ti were looking for: a buried cache of ancient coins, baubles, and 4 magic tiles. It pays to dig in the right location, and also to correctly answer three questions posed by a magic mouth.

Returning to the Pillar of Fire, we don’t even have time to reveal the secrets of the altar, for as soon as we place the magic tiles, we are greeted by the taunting voice of our old friend T’See Larak! He and his minions are levitating in the darkness above us, and orders us to back off from the altar. As this exchange is taking place, a third party arrives: a half-dozen Thayans, led by a pair of Red Wizards.

Holy dilemmas, Batman! What do we do? Stay and fight? If we fight, do the drow and Thayans gang up on us, or will it be a true free-for-all? If we win, there’s a good chance we could even recover the Red Sword! Or do we flee, and live to fight another day? We manage to surprise our DM by the swiftness of our choice: turn tail and run. Garrity teleports and Posht word of recalls the party to safety, but only after we take one of the four tiles from the Pillar’s altar for good measure.

Leaving the tile with Garrity’s father in Relkath’s Foot for safekeeping, the party teleports back to the cave to investigate. We find several bodies at the scene of the battle, and we surmise that the Thayans appear to have come up short. Their meat shields are all dead (3 or 4 of them), while only a couple of drow bodies are present. The damage indicates a pitched battle, and even the altar has been battered. I’m not sure who would benefit more from destroying the altar, the Thayans or the drow, but now it would appear that the only way to un-attune the Red Sword from Nikola is to kill him. And I’m pretty sure that T’See has no qualms about that particular scenario.

Whew! That was a busy 16 hours. Sure, we weren't gaming every minute, and our cleric was AWOL for a couple of hours, but we still managed to wring every ounce of fun out of the time spent around the gaming table. My friends are the best! Happy New Year one and all, and may 2012 be a peaceful and prosperous year for you and yours. Thanks for stopping by.