“Nothing but…STAR WARS!!!!”

Back in 2015, I started painting the miniatures that came with the Imperial Assault core rules. I was proud of myself when I finally got them all done and ready for the table a year later. Then I managed to play a total of TWO games with my friends, who can’t commit to a fucking ham sandwich without 8 weeks notice and an escape clause; so my Star Wars gaming came to an abrupt end and the miniatures have pretty much languished unused since then.

Last year, after six big box expansions and forty miniature expansions to the Core Set, Fantasy Flight Games ceased production of Imperial Assault; choosing to focus on Star Wars Legion instead (a game I don’t play). Now, if you want IA, you’re forced to find existing product; because ain’t no more being made by Fantasy Flight. You would think that because I only managed to play two games, I wouldn’t consider putting my money into this game any more. After all, I have a fully-painted Core Set and all the Wave One miniature expansions, which is enough to play plenty of games, especially at my current rate of gameplay.

You’d be wrong. Recently, for reasons I truly cannot articulate, I went ALL THE WAY IN on Imperial Assault. Well, almost. The later “expanded universe” expansions don’t really interest me all that much. (Although it would be cool to have a Thrawn miniature, especially since his name was dropped in The Mandalorian last season, I don’t need it. But I might pick it up anyway, for the right price.)

Normally, I take opportunities like this to blame Roger for my own shortcomings (and I encourage you all to do the same); but in this case, the blame falls squarely upon the brawny shoulders of Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop; who has been on a Star Wars project streak for what seems like forever, sculpting, building and painting some truly inspiring stuff. Because of Dave, I have now resolved to watch all things Star Wars in chronological order. Some will be re-watches, of course; but some I’ll be watching for the first time. (I seem to have missed out entirely on The Clone Wars and Rebels, for example.)

I’ve decided to get cracking on more Imperial Assault miniatures in between my other projects. I’m not going to commit to anything specific, but I will paint them according to expansion release. That way if I get bored or annoyed I can sell them off as complete lots. (It could happen.) I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: Mark Sorastro’s YouTube Channel is spectacular. I followed his tutorials for many of the Core Imperial Assault miniatures; I expect I’ll be doing the same going forward.

I’ll post my progress periodically. First up: The Twin Shadows expansion, which introduces the “OG” Mandalorian, Boba Fett, to Imperial Assault.

Berjotr Skaldisson, Monster Slayer

For June’s Character of the Month, I decided to do a Barbarian.

From the night Berjotr Skaldisson was born, it was assumed he would follow in the footsteps of his father Gilvi and become a skald; but by the time he reached his tenth winter, it became apparent that Berjotr had no skill for it. He could not sing, nor could he compose poetry. He could not remember the lineage of his own Jarl, never mind the lines of the Kings of Old. Berjotr could not so much as keep time with a drum while his father sang. He was a disappointment, that was certain; the son of a skald who had none of his father’s skill. But before long, Berjotr Skaldisson discovered where his true skills lay: he was very strong, and he was very good at killing things.

The Winter of Despair is remembered well by the people of Thord. Many died that year, not as warriors, but of starvation; for the summer raiding parties had not returned with plunder enough to last beyond the first snows. To make matters worse, that was the winter of Vargyr, the Great Bear; who devoured livestock and men equally and had no fear of Jarl Hranulf’s warriors.

One night, one of Hranulf’s thanes burst into the hall, bloodied and raving. He told of how Vargyr the Great Bear had devoured his family, after first crashing through the heavy oak door of his house. The warrior had no chance to even fetch his sword before the bear was upon them. He was lucky to escape at all. While the Jarl’s men listened to the thane’s tale in fear and awe, young Berjotr took up a greataxe and quietly left the mead hall. He set out into the cold darkness, pausing only long enough to retrieve two things from a nearby hut: a shovel and a young pig. When he judged himself far enough away from Hranulf’s hall, Berjotr used the shovel to dig a shallow ditch in the frozen ground, big enough for him to lie in. Then he used his greataxe to kill the pig, splitting its body in twain. He pulled the bloody corpse of the pig over him as he lay in the ditch and waited. Vargyr scented the kill and came before the pig’s blood had time to freeze. As the beast began to drag the pig’s corpse away, Berjotr sprang up and–in the time it takes for a man to draw a single breath–killed Vargyr, the Great Bear. The beast didn’t even have time to bellow in pain.

Thus Berjotr, son of Gilvi, decided that if he could not sing the songs of the skalds, he would instead give them songs to sing.

In his twelfth winter, already bigger and stronger than any of Hranulf’s warriors, Berjotr hunted and killed a pair of mated Thunderwyrms. The year after, he killed a snow spider that had built a nest too close to the settlement. Jarl Hranulf began to worry for his throne as Berjotr Skaldisson’s legend began to grow, so Hranulf sent the boy south with raiding parties for the next three years in the hopes he would not come back. Always Berjotr returned.

Unlike the others, Berjotr did not enjoy raiding. He felt always apart from his fellows and though he fought beside them, he called no man friend. He cared nothing for loot. He killed men easily enough, but his heart wasn’t in it. After three years of raiding, he decided he would go no more. He craved more of a challenge than plundering villages could provide, and besides, the longboats made him seasick.

The raiding party returned to Thord to find Hranulf’s mead hall destroyed, the Jarl dead, and most of the villagers gone; taken by trolls several weeks earlier. Berjotr followed the trolls’ trail into the mountains, entered their cave lair, rescued what remained of the villagers, and killed every male, female and young troll he found. Over several more years, he killed countless ogres, serpents, wolves, draugr, tree-men, cold ones, ice toads, and of course, men; for Berjotr Skaldisson’s legend had grown, and always there were those foolish enough to believe the legends untrue. There seemed to be nothing and no one Berjotr Skaldisson could not kill.

Berjotr was known throughout Thord by the time songs of his deeds finally reached the ears of the ice giant Brynnga, who flew to the settlement on his great frost dragon, Orl. From high above the mead hall, the enraged Brynnga bellowed his challenge to Berjotr Skaldisson: meet him in battle or he would lay waste to the hall and slay all the people within. So, Berjotr took up his greataxe once again and strode out to meet the giant, wearing the skin of Vargyr, the Great Bear he killed in the Winter of Despair.

Striding fearlessly into the plumes of Orl’s icy breath, Berjotr killed the dragon. Then, one arm frozen to his side and half his face burned black with frostbite, he killed the giant.

The people of Thord wanted Berjotr to be Jarl, but Berjotr had no interest in sitting in a mead hall while his warriors brought him treasure. Likewise he had no interest settling down and taking a wife. Although he swore he was finished with raiding, he did embark on a longboat once again, this time for lands unknown; for by the age of twenty-one, Berjotr Skaldisson had killed everything he could kill in Thord, and the skalds were hoarse from singing the songs of his deeds. It was time for him to move on.

Berjotr Skaldisson is Reaper’s “Barbarian Axeman of Icingstead” (14620), from their Warlord line. While the backstory is different and the miniature no doubt looks nothing like what he imagines, this Character of the Month is based loosely on my friend’s character in our current D&D 5E game.

Forgotten Heroes 2021: Jon Sable, Freelance

Jon Sable: Freelance was a comic book (and a comic book character) created by Mike Grell, the same guy who created DC’s Warlord. It was one of the First Comics flagship titles and ran from 1983-1988; with another series, simply titled Sable, following afterwards. (That series didn’t last very long.) Unusual for its time, Jon Sable: Freelance was wholly owned by Mike Grell; who presumably still owns the rights to this day.

Jon Sable has had a somewhat bumpy publication history. Once First Comics folded in 1991-1992, Jon Sable didn’t get another comic book series until 2005, when IDW published a six-issue miniseries. The character hasn’t been seen in a comic book since 2010.

Jon Sable was an Olympic athlete at the 1972 Munich games. After witnessing the massacre there he moved to Rhodesia where he used his training as a mercenary and bounty hunter to organize safari trips and become a game warden (because why not?). His family was murdered by poachers, so Sable killed the poachers and moved back to the US to resume work as a freelance mercenary. When he’s working, he paints his face, dresses in black and carries a 1917 Broomhandle Mauser, which he uses to shoot people. When not working, he hides in plain sight by masquerading as B.B. Flemm, an author of children’s books. Yes, he writes the books and supposedly, they’re pretty good, because his publisher is always on his ass about his deadlines, even though she knows he’s really a merc-for-hire and not a children’s book author.

There was a (mercifully) short-lived TV series, Sable, that ran for only seven episodes in the 80’s. It’s based on the comic, with some minor differences, like a character called Cheesecake who is a hacker who (wait for it) likes cheesecake; and the fact that Sable is the alter-ego of author NIcholas Fleming (not B.B. Flemm), not the other way around, as it is in the comic. The series starred Lewis Van Bergen as Sable, who you may remember from nothing you’ve ever even remotely given a shit about; and a young Renee Russo as Sable’s publisher, Eden Kendall. I remember watching it in high school as I knew about the comic, but I forgot about most of it until Tom found the pilot episode on YouTube and told me about it. I warn you…it’s a tough slog. Van Bergen’s 80’s mullet is truly extraordinary, however, and it may be worth the watch for that alone.

For my Jon Sable conversion, I was going to use these two Heroclix: Daredevil and Quicksilver. (Quicksilver has served me well in past Forgotten Heroes challenges; I used his head for Jack Frost and his body for Water Wizard before). I also needed to find a 28mm Broomhandle Mauser; which you think would be easy. It’s not. I had to buy this weapon pack from Pulp Alley to find one.

Before I got the Pulp Alley accessories, I noticed this Bullseye Heroclix. He’s carrying a submachine gun that could pretty easily be converted into a Mauser. D’oh! I decided not to use Daredevil or the Pulp Alley accessories after all.

One quick head-swap and some filing, and here’s the result. Kinda looks like Jon Sable already. I also cut off a bit of the back of his gun, so it looks more like a Mauser pistol.

Here’s the finished result. It wasn’t particularly difficult, considering Sable’s “costume” is a black outfit with a holster for his pistol and some face paint. Sometimes he uses a knife, too.

This close-up shows I wasn’t as thorough as I could have been when filing off bits of Bullseye’s costume. In my defense, I can’t see shit anymore. Now that I’m aware of it, I could fix it. Or not, considering I’ll never use Jon Sable for anything, ever.

Forgotten Heroes has provided me with a chance to make miniatures for several First Comics heroes: Badger, Nexus, and now Jon Sable. Add one of the Grimjack miniatures my friend Jeremy (Carrion Crow) gifted me with, and it’s almost the full roster! Still, I hesitate to really call this a submission, as it took almost no time to complete once I had the idea.

I have at least one more entry coming this month, possibly two. In the meantime I look forward to seeing what everyone else is doing!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

It’s June, and that means it’s time for my most favoritest, bestest painting challenge ever, Forgotten Heroes! I look forward to this every year, and I will always take part unless Carrion Crow says I can’t, or I’m dead.

What is Forgotten Heroes? Go here. The Crow will explain all.

So…what do I have planned for this year? Two submissions; one that’s going to be easy as pie (I hesitate to call it a proper submission); and another that may take a little more effort. Two submissions is not much for me, but I’m still trying to get through my Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps miniatures, and finish up my British Vospers for Cruel Seas; both of which were put on pause for Monster May(hem) last month. Plus, I will have June’s Character of the Month to do…

Still, a mere two submissions isn’t sitting well with me. This is Forgotten Heroes, man. It’s time to bring it, brah! (I call people “brah” now.)

So if YOU want to take part in Forgotten Heroes, drop by Carrion Crow’s Buffet if you haven’t already and let the man know. Bring something shiny (crows like shiny things) and/or something dead (crows like carrion) to improve your chances.

Just kidding. He lets everyone join. Even me.

Don’t bring him anything dead.

Monster May(hem) 2021: Blacksting, Wyvern

This is one of Owen’s miniatures: Blacksting, the Wyvern; from Reaper. It’s all metal and retails for $34.99 nowadays, but Owen bought it years ago when metal was much cheaper. It’s a very early Reaper miniature sculpted by Kevin Contos.

I don’t even like it, and I would never have purchased it myself. Not to shit all over Kevin Contos’s sculpting. It’s fine. It’s just a weird pose, and I hate miniatures with bases like this. They look stupid in my opinion, which means I have to change them, which means more work for me.

Of course, I’m not painting Blacksting for me. Not really. I’m painting it for Monster May(hem), and I’m painting it in my continued effort to entreat Owen into taking his pile of lead back and returning to the hobby. I’ve tried this before and met with failure; but since Owen had already assembled this beastie years ago, and it IS Monster May(hem), I decided to go ahead with it.

Fingers crossed.

The first thing was to do something about this stupid base, so I decided to go scenic and made it even bigger. I decided this wyvern was hanging out in a swamp, so I used most of what was left of the Model Magic and sculpted some pools, then I stuck some rocks into the Model Magic and let it dry. After that I primed the whole shebang with some Vallejo black surface primer.

I had some plastic foliage I use for big terrain pieces. I figured I could add some to the base after I primed it black and highlighted it with sickly green. Seems to have worked out ok (see below).

Here’s the finished product. I went with a fairly simple blue-black color scheme. The wings were a pain. They’re pretty flat and not very well textured, so highlighting them was not easy and I think it shows. (This is an early Reaper miniature, for better or worse.)

I wrapped the rock he’s squatting on in Army Painter Poison Ivy, and used the plastic foliage as swamp weeds. I used some Vallejo water effects mixed with craft paint for the pools of swamp water. This stuff is awesome! Roger introduced me to it, and I used it last year in Dave’s Summer of Scenery challenge when I did my Sludge Pool. I still had some left over so I used it!

I put a dab of model glue on his stinger, to make it look like it’s dripping venom.

The one thing I’m not wild about is the eyes. I wanted some colors to contrast sharply with the black-blue of Blacksting himself, but I’m not sure I got the effect I wanted. He has yellow orbs with orange irises and a black slit for a pupil. I considered painting them green. Maybe I’ll revisit the eyes at some point, but TBH I’m glad he’s done and I never really wanted to paint him anyway…so maybe not.

Monster Mayhem was amazing this year, with more participants and more submissions than ever before. Thanks so much to everyone who took part and who helped encourage other hobbyists in our community. You guys are an inspiration and I continue to be in awe of the talent and support you all exhibit. What started as a personal challenge several years ago has grown into something I hope to continue every year!

Once more, here is the blogroll:

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table returned and did some Prehistoric Cats, then sculpted a horrible Creeping Eye named S’eye’mon (in honor of Blax the Kleric)! It’s all painted now and I can think of a dozen uses for it for all kinds of games; including running a scenario based on the 1958 movie that inspired Roger: The Trollenberg Terror!

Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop went full-on “Galaxy Far, Far Away” this year and sculpted a Krayt Dragon, Joopa, some Denizens of Jabba’s Palace, and a Wort (that big Tatooine toad!). His sculpting and painting are truly awesome. Wonderful work, Dave!

Carrion Crow also came back this year and did a Wendigo miniature from ParagonStar, and it looks creepy as hell. Definitely not something you want to see in your headlights on a winter’s night…

Matt from PM Painting really went all-out this month, using Monster May(hem) as an excuse to crank out a ton of miniatures from the Cthulhu: Death May Die board game: an Elder Thing, a Shoggoth, a Byakhee, some Ghouls and Deep Ones, a Star-Spawn of Cthulhu , some Hunting Horrors, a CthonianYog-Sothoth, some Fire Vampires, Cthulhu and some Cultists, the Dunwich Horror himself, Wilbur Whately, and he even managed to get a start on the King in Yellow, Hastur! Sadly, Matt went incurably insane; but way to bring it, Matt!

In addition to the usual suspects above, it was great to welcome some new participants this year.

A newcomer to the Monster May(hem) challenge (but definitely not to the blogosphere), Azazel painted a Coral Golem, an Umber Hulk; a Sand Kraken, a Harbinger and some Void Hounds from Shadows of Brimstone; and his own Balor demon. Then went Mesozoic on us and did a Dire Crocodile, A Raptor Pack and two more dinosaurs: a Carnotaurus and a Hornslasher. Then, just to show us he could, he did a Carrion Crawler, some Goliaths, and to finish things up, a T-Rex! Talk about a debut! A truly astounding output for one month, and some marvelous painting!

Azazel and Matt, I can’t keep up! You guys put me to shame!

Another first-timer, Tom from The Good Ground painted a Red Slaad, a (new to me) creepy cryptid named Siren Head, and a Balor Demon! Not bad for your first painting challenge, Tom! I’ll warn you: it gets addictive!

The man, the myth, the legend! Mark A. Morin jumped in this year and promptly redefined the word “monster”. He painted two scary structures: an Aztec Temple Sacrificial Altar; and a High Throne! Welcome, Mark! Come back next year!

Mike, aka @sasquatchminis from Instagram, couldn’t make it this year after all; but his IG account is awesome and he’s a friend. So check out his stuff forthwith!

That’s an end to Monster May(hem) 2021 (unless Azazel or Matt has another submission I didn’t see yet). No time to rest! Tomorrow is June, and that means it’s all about Carrion Crow and his annual Forgotten Heroes challenge! I look forward to this challenge every year; and although I might not be as prolific this time around, I’ll have two submissions for sure. If you want to take part, just let the Crow know. He’s pretty cool about that!

Thanks once again to everyone who made Monster May(hem) so much fun this year!

Monster May(hem) 2021: The Baba Yaga

Lately I have become fascinated with the many tales of The Baba Yaga. I’m not sure why. I have no Slavic or Russian heritage of which I am aware; and I’m not particularly into folklore. In fact, the first I ever heard of the Baba Yaga was in the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide, by Gary Gygax; in which her Dancing Hut appeared as an artifact of great power. For many years, this was all I knew of her. She was a witch. She had a hut. It walked around on chicken legs, and it was much bigger on the inside than on the outside.

The Baba Yaga featured prominently in the backstory of last month’s Character of the Month, Doval Lakatos, right around the time I became aware that Reaper miniatures makes a Baba Yaga’s Hut kit in the Bones Black line. It retails for $60.00, which is pretty fucking steep considering it does not include the Baba Yaga herself. (She’s a metal miniature sold separately.) I did not pay the 60 bucks; I paid a third of that on eBay from a guy who must have bought it, assembled it and then decided it was too much of a pain in the ass to deal with. I sympathize. It IS a pain in the ass, that’s for sure. I have some significant problems with this model.

First, it doesn’t stand up straight. When assembled the house leans so far forward you can’t see the front, and the chicken legs don’t sit level. I assumed this was because the guy I bought it from assembled it incorrectly, but that’s not the case. A quick look online shows that that’s how it’s supposed to look. Well, I wasn’t having that. I figured I would sculpt a base so the hut could stand up. Normally I use Magic Sculpt for that, but on a base this size, that’s a lot of Magic Sculpt, and it’s not cheap. I needed another solution.

This is Crayola Model Magic. It’s kind of like clay, but it’s spongy and a little weird. It comes in different colors (which doesn’t matter since I was going to paint over it anyway) and dries without baking. I picked up this package at the dollar store for a dollar (surprise) and smeared it all over a square base big enough to fit the hut, let it dry partially; then stood the hut into the stuff, creating these footprints. Then I let it dry fully. It cracked a little, so I filled the crack with some Magic Sculpt.

As you can see, it stands up just fine now, and it fits so snugly I don’t even need to glue it down. Being able to remove it allowed me easy access to work on the base, so that’s what I did; coating it with craft paint and sand, adding a Nolzur’s wood pile, a campfire from Johnny Borg and a stump sculpted from leftover Magic Sculpt.

With the base out of the way, I was free to concentrate on the hut. I’ve seen some pretty amazing paintjobs on this kit over on Instagram; one in particular by @lyresforhire is really cool with the light streaming out from the windows and cracks in the door. But I wanted the hut to look abandoned and run-down; the kind of place a hag would live.

I decided on a pretty straightforward brownish-gray to represent the weathering of the wood slats and shingles. I used mostly craft paint. I added a little green here and there to represent the damp mold and fungus that has taken root in the wood. I painted the glass panes a few shades of gray before giving them a final highlight of white.

The chicken legs were based in GW’s XV-88, then highlighted with some Tau Light Ochre before a final highlight of Golden Yellow. Believe it or not, I had a hard time deciding how to paint the legs. I found out way more than I ever thought I would about chicken legs while researching this. Turns out they come in all kinds of colors.

So, what are my other problems with the hut? Well, I’m not an expert on her by any means, but I have read a fair bit about the Baba Yaga and her hut; and this doesn’t look like Baba Yaga’s hut. This looks more like Baba Yaga’s dilapidated condo. In traditional folkore, Baba Yaga’s hut is circular, about 10-15 feet in diameter (on the outside), and has no windows or doors (unless she wants it to). This thing here has eleven windows, two doors, a side porch with an enclosed balcony, a cupola and front steps. That’s some hut!

Finally, the kit comes with a skeleton in a cage that I didn’t use. I gather it’s supposed to hang from the eave to the right (our view) of the door. The problem is the scale. The skeleton in the cage is so big that if he was standing up straight he’d be significantly taller than the front door of the hut. I opted not to use it, and I forgot to take a picture. You can see it online if you care to look for it.

What about the hag herself? The Baba Yaga miniature is ok. Baba Yaga is often described as an ogress, so the miniature seems a bit small to me. When she’s not in her hut, she flies around in a magical mortar she steers with a pestle. It might have been nice to have that instead of a skull-headed broom and a bundle of sticks.

Anyway, now you can see why I couldn’t very well tell Mark A. Morin that his sacrificial temple didn’t count as a monster when I planned on submitting a house on chicken legs myself!

Monster May(hem) has been HUGE this year and there are still 9 days left! Here is the blogroll:

Matt from PM Painting continues to dominate the submission list. So far he’s done a ton of miniatures from the Cthulhu: Death May Die board game: an Elder Thing, a Shoggoth, a Byakhee, some Ghouls and Deep Ones, a Star-Spawn of Cthulhu , some Hunting Horrors, a Cthonian, Yog-Sothoth itself, and some Fire Vampires! The man is unstoppable!

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table did some Prehistoric Cats, then sculpted a horrible Creeping Eye from a 1958 horror film! If you want to see how to sculpt a monster from a ping-pong ball and Roger’s trademarked “support sausages”, check it out! Can’t wait to see it painted!

Carrion Crow has started his Wendigo miniature from ParagonStar, and he may just change my opinion of 3D printed models!

Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop sculpted a Krayt Dragon (seen on The Mandalorian) and a Joopa (from Star Wars: rebels) from scratch and painted them both. Guys like Roger and Dave who scratch-sculpt their own stuff really blow me away. Fantastic work!

Azazel painted a Coral Golem, an Umber Hulk, a Sand Kraken and a Harbinger (truly terrifying beasts from Shadows of Brimstone), and a Balor demon! Azazel’s painting is out of this world.

Tom from The Good Ground has jumped in this year and painted a Red Slaad and Siren Head, a cryptid I’d never heard of before! Tom’s just kicking his new blog off, so drop by if you haven’t done so already!

As stated before, Mark A. Morin painted this amazing Aztec Temple Sacrificial Altar; and now he’s added another terrible monstrous Aztec structure: the High Throne! Mark’s hobby project focus is the stuff of legend; the dude never seems to get distracted by anything else. Check out his current Aztec project on his blog!

I’m hoping to get one more miniature done before the end, but it’s also a big one with a lot of base work. At least I found a use for the rest of the Model Magic!

Darl Mandos, “Mandos the Magnificent”; and a Monster May(hem) Update!

Unlike most of those taking part (see below), I’ve been making slow progress on my Monster May(hem) projects this month. I recently hit a wall where I’m doing more staring than painting, so to give myself a kickstart I decided to crank out my Character of the Month for May. This month I decided to do a sorcerer.

(If you don’t care about my sorcerer and are just here for Monster May(hem), scroll down below.)

Even as a youth, Darl Mandos always stood out among the citizens of Snakehollow; renowned as the fattest and laziest halfling any of the village elders could recall. Darl’s appetite and corresponding gluttony was already legendary by the time he reached the age of 55, the so-called prime of his life. There seemed to be nothing he would not eat or drink if it was offered (and often when it was not); nor would he stop until every last morsel was gone. “Enough” was not a word that Darl Mandos ever understood.

When not eating, he was content to while away his days doing nothing, sleeping, or looking for more food. Although he was tolerated by the folk of Snakehollow he pushed the limits of their hospitality on more than one occasion. It turns out that there is such thing as a Halfling who eats too much and does too little, after all.

Put simply, Darl didn’t feel he should do anything he didn’t enjoy. He didn’t enjoy farming. He didn’t enjoy brewing. He didn’t enjoy baking. He DID enjoy meats and vegetables, good beer and fresh bread and pies, though; so he decided he would occupy his time with eating, along with his beloved companion and the one thing able to eat just as much as Darl Mandos: his goat, Mingo.

Darl would have lived a life remarkable only for its idleness had not Tom the Winker moved into a farm on the outskirst of Snakehollow. Tom the Winker was a miserable sort who rebuffed all attempts at friendship and good-neighborly-ness. He got his nickname among the halflings of Snakehollow because of his seemingly uncontrollable habit of winking, a tic he picked up, unbeknownst to them, because a mule he was beating decided to beat back. When Mingo wandered onto his land, Tom the Winker took that to mean Mingo was now his property. He threw the goat into a pen and promptly forgot all about it.

Mingo was likely to starve before he was butchered by Tom the Winker; but, much to the amazement of the people of Snakehollow, Darl Mandos decided to do something he had never even considered before in his life. He decided to act.

When Tom the Winker saw the obese halfling on his doorstep, he laughed aloud. When Darl asked politely for the return of his friend, Mingo, Tom the Winker grabbed a threshing flail and shook it in Darl’s face, threatening to use it on him if he didn’t leave immediately. That’s the last thing Tom the Winker remembers about the encounter. When he awoke from a peaceful slumber several hours later, he found Mingo gone. He also found the half-wheel of cheese that was in his sideboard missing, along with half a dozen eggs and a smoked ham.

The residents of Snakehollow expected Darl to return from Tom the Winker’s farm bruised, bloodied and without a goat. Instead, they discovered something about Darl that he already knew about himself. Darl Mandos was a sorcerer, born with an innate talent for magic. Through magic, he was able to put people to sleep and produce other effects as well, such as opening locked pantry doors and entrances to preserve cellars. While Darl found his abilities more convenient than, say, finding a key first; he didn’t like to use them overmuch because doing so required effort.

Since the folk of Snakehollow learned of Darl’s talents, he has become of service to his people, whether he likes it or not. In truth, he has warmed to his role a bit. He likes to yell things like “Presto!” and “Alakazam!” whenever he pulls off a big spell.

Darl’s familiar is the enormous goat named Mingo who is much like his master: fat, well-fed, good-natured and somewhat lazy. Mingo takes frequent naps.  Most afternoons, Darl joins Mingo if he has nothing else to do (and he rarely does). Darl accepts payment for his magical services in baked goods and beer. He doesn’t want to go adventuring (too much effort); but he does enjoy the feeling that he is contributing something to his community for a change.

The miniature I used for Darl Mandos is Reaper’s Del Brairberry, Halfling Wizard; sculpted by Glenn Harris. The Carrion Crawler is a previous Monster May(hem) submission by Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures, painted in 2019.

Just because I’m dragging ass this month doesn’t mean everyone else is. There are some truly awesome Monster May(hem) submissions already, with more to come. Here’s the blogroll!

And here are some links to the submissions so far!

Matt from PM Painting has outdone us all so far. He got his hands on Cthulhu: Death May Die and has used Monster May(hem) as an excuse to plow through the awesome miniatures in the game! Good on you, Matt! So far he’s done an Elder Thing, a Shoggoth, a Byakhee, some Ghouls and Deep Ones, and a Star-Spawn of Cthulhu! No way does Matt have all his Sanity anymore; you can paint that many blasphemous horrors and not expect a rubber room in your future!

Roger from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table has jumped in with two Prehistoric Cats, with a possible scratch-build to come! (I love that guy!)

The dread Carrion Crow has started his submission, and all I can say is…“WEN-DIIIIII-GOOOOO!” Happy to see the Crow is back!

Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop sculpted a Krayt Dragon (seen on The Mandalorian) from scratch and painted it, and man, does it look awesome! You continue to amaze me, Dave!

Azazel is KILLING IT!! He painted a Coral Golem, an Umber Hulk and a Sand Kraken (which is a truly terrifying beast from Shadows of Brimstone)!! HIs painting skills are insaaaane!!!

Tom (no relation to Tom the Winker; wink, wink) from The Good Ground has jumped in this year and painted a Red Slaad! Tom’s the only person I “met” on Instagram who already knew me from this blog, so I’m thrilled he’s on board this year! (To my knowledge, he has never beaten a mule.)

Mark A. Morin painted this amazing Aztec Temple Sacrificial Altar! I know, it’s not technically a monster; but Mark asked if he could include it and it looks so great I couldn’t say no! (Plus, I’d be a hypocrite if I said HIS building doesn’t count as a monster…stay tuned to see why…) Check out Mark’s Aztec project he’s been plugging away at; it’s truly inspiring!

You guys are putting me to shame with the quality and frequency of your submissions. I haven’t had a chance to swing by your respective blogs long enough to leave comments, but I’ll be there shortly! Thanks again for making this so much fun!

Monster May(hem) 2021: The Ripper Beast!

Not quite a week into Monster May(hem), and I have finally completed my first submission. I present: the Scourge of Planet X: The Ripper Beast!

This miniature from Rattrap Productions has been primed and sitting on my desk since last year’s Monster May(hem). I never got a chance to get to him and moved on to other projects; so I made him my first priority this year. Partially, this is because I’m sick of looking at him; but it’s also because he has been so patient and understanding; two traits not normally associated with Ripper Beasts of Planet X.

The Ripper Beast, as the lore goes, is the most feared predator on Planet X. It loves nothing more than to live up to its name by ripping things, usually into bloody chunks. The Ripper Beast is doubly feared because it seems to regenerate as soon as it is wounded, making it nigh-impossible to put down for good.

Despite its renowned savagery, this Ripper Beast seems to be wearing clothing. It has two spiked wristbands and no dangly unmentionables to speak of. This either makes it smarter than you would think, able to clothe itself and perhaps forge weapons; or just oddly modest. The only picture of the Ripper Beast I could find was the one on the cover, there; so I couldn’t verify this. The only example of a painted Ripper Beast miniature I was able to find was the one inside the book, which doesn’t help because it’s black and white.

So I went with the clothing look, and I tried to get it as close to the cover as possible. It’s a retro sci-fi creature, so perhaps some space-spandex is appropriate after all. While I may never use this miniature as intended, it can sure get some use as a super-villain for games of Super Mission Force!

I have at least two more projects for Monster May(hem) I’m trying to get done by month’s end. Both require a lot of base work, so they’re taking longer than usual. Check back soon, but in the meantime, be sure to stop by and see what everyone else has been up to!

Here’s the blogroll:

Don’t see your name here yet? No problem! Just email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com or drop a comment below and let me know you want to participate! It’s never too late to paint a monster!

More coming soon…

Monster May(hem) 2021 Begins!

It’s May 1st! Time for Monster May(hem), so get painting! Those monsters aren’t gonna paint themselves!

Here’s a list of all the current participants, along with links to their blogs (where applicable):

Don’t see your name here yet? No problem! Just email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com or drop a comment below and let me know you want to participate! It’s never too late to paint a monster!

(Unless it’s June; it which case it’s technically too late.)

Here’s what’s happening so far:

We have our first submission! Matt from PM Painting is Johnny-on-the-spot already! Check out his awesome-looking Lovecraftian Elder Thing!

Although technically not submissions for this year, Dave from Wargames Terrain Workshop is showcasing some amazing Dragons he sculpted AND painted (both masterfully) over on his site right now!

Tom from The Good Ground jumped into the pool with a very cool Red Slaad!

And Azazel painted this beautiful Coral Golem! I love it!

I’m running behind already; and I’m the guy hosting this challenge! It’s the same every year…

Gonna go start mine…

Doval Lakatos, The Silent Piper

For April’s Character of the Month, I decided to do a Bard. Naturally, being me, I chose a piper. I’ve had this particular miniature for at least ten years, sitting quietly in a box with far too many other miniatures that I may or may not ever get to. We only have so many heartbeats, after all…

This miniature is Rhupert Carvolo, Piper of Ord; a Warmachine miniature from Privateer Press. His bagpipes are truly legendary…they look more like a portable calliope or pipe organ than a traditional bagpipe set. In other words, they’re fucking awesome; so I needed a cool backstory. This is what I came up with:

Doval Lakatos was a man of celebration; a minstrel and dancer who could lift even the lowest spirits with just a few notes from his flute or thumps of his drum. As a troubadour, he travelled the roads and byways of Volskad with his people; singing, dancing, and selling the instruments of music he created as only a master craftsman could; often throwing in free lessons for pretty girls. In time, one of these girls, Karin, became his wife; and in time, she bore him a daughter, Mahala, who was his truest joy.

Many winters passed, as, sadly, did Karin; leaving Doval and Mahala to go on together. Mahala grew to be a lovely young woman; blessed with a voice like the sweetest birdsong and a laugh that could chase away storms. It was no surprise when she began to attract the attentions of men. Tragically, one of these men was Baron Drammen Stahl.

Doval Lakatos’s people knew that Stahlmark was a place to be traversed quickly, or better yet, avoided altogether. The people there did not laugh. They had no use for travelers and songs and music; as these were things for other places, places where the Baron did not rule. The Baron was not one to countenance joy in his subjects, only obedience and tribute. He took this tribute in the form of maiden girls, one each year; supposedly to be his brides, yet none were ever seen again. Although Doval Lakatos tried to attract as little attention as possible while travelling through Stahlmark, Mahala was seen by the Baron’s men, and she was taken to him.

Doval Lakatos tried to resist, but how could an old man fight so many of the Baron’s soldiers? Frantic, he cast about for men of courage, anyone who would go with him to bring Mahala back from the Baron. But men of courage were in short supply, especially where Baron Drammen Stahl was concerned. Doval Lakatos raged. He begged and pleaded. And finally, he despaired.

Only a fool or one with nothing to live for would willingly venture into the dark woods to seek The Baba Yaga; but that is what Doval Lakatos did. He found her easily. Why should she make it difficult? The hag always welcomed visitors. And so it was that in a dark clearing lit only by a weak fire, under the watchful, glittering eyes of The Baba Yaga, Doval Lakatos told the hag his story and made his plea. The hag listened while the flickering shadows cast by her obscene, dancing hut played across her hideous visage. The Baba Yaga listened, and she smiled. At the sight of those terrible iron fangs, Doval Lakatos knew real fear.

The Baba Yaga told him that Baron Drammen Stahl was more than a man; that he was a vorvalaka; one of the undead who reveled in cruelty and fed upon the blood of innocents. As such, Mahala was already dead; there was nothing to be done. The Baba Yaga laughed, then; her fetid breath stinking of decayed things and enveloping him like a wet blanket. She told him that she had eaten already this night; but that didn’t mean she was sated. She advised Doval Lakatos should leave her clearing while he still could, and turned her back on him.

But he did not leave. Mahala was all he cared for; all he would ever care for. He told the hag what she wanted to hear: that he would give anything to ensure Mahala lived and the Baron died. The Baba Yaga slowly turned. If he was willing to give that which he loved dearly, then the hag could help him. Doval said he loved nothing more than Mahala; the hag could have anything else. She smiled again, and agreed. And then she told him what he must do.

Doval Lakatos constructed a set of bagpipes according to The Baba Yaga’s instructions, using the finger bones of dead men that she gave him. Instead of dry cane, these hollow bones would serve as bagpipe reeds. She warned him not to play the pipes once they were complete. There could be no testing and tuning of this instrument. These pipes could be played only once, and only in the presence of the Baron. If done correctly, they would provide Doval Lakatos with the opportunity he would need to free Mahala from the Baron’s bondage. Once his daughter was freed, though, Doval Lakatos must present himself to The Baba Yaga so that she could collect payment for her services.

On the night he finished the bagpipes, Doval Lakatos took a pony and rode to the gates of the Baron’s castle in the rain. The Baron’s men mocked him and made to turn him away; until one of them recognized him as the father of the Baron’s newest plaything. Doval Lakatos begged the men to be allowed to perform for the Baron; to see his daughter one last time. Although they knew the Baron had no interest in music, these men were cruel; and thought the Baron would enjoy tormenting the old man for a while before killing him. They let Doval Lakatos into the main ballroom where a feast was laid in front of a roaring fire. The Baron sat upon his throne, and Mahala sat next to him, eyes wide with fear; for she knew that by coming here her father had sealed his own fate.

The Baron Drammen Stahl fixed his gaze upon him and demanded to know his business. Doval Lakatos returned the Baron’s stare without flinching, and asked if he could play his pipes for him and for his daughter one last time, before she ceased to be his daughter and became instead the Baron’s wife. The Baron agreed with a laugh. After all, he said, it would most certainly be the last time. At this, his men laughed, too; anticipating Doval Lakatos’s imminent imprisonment, torture and death.

Doval Lakatos placed the chanter to his lips and blew air into the bellows. It inflated slowly, and the drones began to hum. When all three were in unison, everyone in the Baron’s hall began to feel uneasy. Smiles vanished. Laughter died. Heads began to swim. Bones began to vibrate. Then Doval Lakatos began to play, and the screaming started.

The Baron could feel the power of the pipes. He realized too late that he made a huge mistake. He tried to move, but was powerless to lift even a finger. He could only stare in dawning horror at the old minstrel, the man whose hair was turning white before the Baron’s eyes as he continued to play his deadly tune. Everyone in the hall save Mahala and Doval Lakatos clapped their hands to their ears, desperately trying to drown out the sound. Like the Baron, they stood transfixed, rooted to the spot as blood began to seep from their ruined ears through their fingers and down their cheeks.

Beneath the discordant melody of the pipes other sounds could be heard: screaming, bestial snarls and mad laughter coming from deep below the castle, from the catacombs, where the Baron’s previous wives were interred; a fate surely intended for Mahala, once the Baron tired of her. They burst into the room a short time later; undead things, haggard, filthy and hungry for blood and vengeance. They fell upon the guards and the Baron’s guests, shrieking and tearing into them with ragged claws and broken teeth. The room was soon awash with blood. But they ignored Doval Lakatos and his daughter, who shut her eyes tightly and cowered beneath her chair.

When there were none but he and Mahala left alive in the room, Doval Lakatos finished his tune. He unhooked the pipes from their harness and let the instrument fall to the ground. Then he calmly picked up a fallen sword and approached the Baron, still rooted to his chair, unable to move. With a deft stroke, he cut the Baron’s head from his shoulders and tossed it into the roaring fireplace. Then, he took his daughter by the hand and led her from the castle, through the carnage and the cackling, feasting ghouls, to the pony that waited outside the gates. He kissed and embraced her, then sent her on her way with a heavy heart; for he had a meeting with The Baba Yaga he had to keep, and he did not think he would return.

Once again, the hag was not difficult to find. She was stirring her great mortar and pestle in the shadows of her dancing hut. At the sight of Doval Lakatos, she smiled her terrible grin and beckoned him close. She had felt the passing of the Baron and knew that her evil magic had worked. As such she had the right to claim payment, and claim it she would.

Briefly, The Baba Yaga considered simply swallowing Doval Lakatos whole, as she was hungry again; and he no doubt expected nothing less. But that was not the bargain that was made. No, Doval Lakatos had to lose that which he loved dearly. If not his precious daughter, it could be only one thing.

The Baba Yaga’s curse was powerful, and final. No more would Doval Lakatos compose melodies. No more would he perform with pipe, string or drum. No more could he dance or lift his voice in song; for the price of Mahala’s freedom was Doval Lakatos’s love of music. From that day until the day he died a bitter, miserable man, Doval Lakatos could no longer bear to hear music; every tune, reel, jig or dirge was torture to his ears. He could be a man of celebration no longer; the zils on his tambourine would be forever silent.

Doval Lakatos never regretted the bargain he made to save Mahala, for she was his truest joy; but there were many times he wished that The Baba Yaga had simply swallowed him whole.

Monster Month starts in five days, and there’s still time to get in on the fun! Just drop me a comment here or email me at angrypiper@angrypiper.com and let me know you want to participate! As of now, we have some of the usual suspects as well as some new faces! Check them out below:

I have a big project planned, and some stuff left over from last year that I need to get off my desk (yes, really!). Looking forward to seeing what everyone else does!