Category Archives: Super Heroes

Forgotten Heroes Redux: The Hypno-Hustler

Last year, one of my submissions for Forgotten Heroes was the Disco Superfly himself, The Hypno-Hustler. He’s been sitting in my display case since last June, and every time I looked at him, I wasn’t happy. Although I think I did a pretty decent job of converting a Booster Gold miniature into the Hustler, two things in particular bothered me: his base and his bass.

I sculpted his bass guitar from green stuff, and like most things I sculpt, it looks mediocre at best. I searched for a suitable guitar bit first, but the best one I could find came from a British company called Zealot miniatures, and it didn’t make sense to buy it just to pay twice as much shipping it to me. Now, though, through my shadowy network of global operatives, I’ve been able to procure one at last! (OK, it was through the kindness of Dave Stone, a shadowy, international man of mystery if ever there was one.)

With that out of the way, I set about fixing the Hustler. The other thing that bothered me was his base. I wasn’t going to put the Hustler on regular ground, so I attempted to make it look like a spotlight on stage. It didn’t really do the trick. So, I added another base and repainted it a simple white, so he looks like he’s on a 1970’s disco round.

Because this base obviously looks like shit, I will remove the Hustler and use spray paint instead to cover up the brush strokes. Then I will re-mount him. I didn’t have time to do this before the end of the month, but rest assured, it will happen. And that’s about it. By giving him a new bass and a new base, I think he’s now done for real, and a fitting end to Forgotten Heroes this year.

My Top 10 RPGs of All Time

I just listened to the latest episode of The MIskatonic University Podcast, wherein the hosts rank their top 10 RPGs. It’s due to be a two-part episode, and they are including games they may or may not have actually played. I thought I’d do my own RPG GOAT lists, also in two parts…but this first post will be solely games I’ve played, while the next one will be for games I have yet to play, or haven’t played enough. If RPGs aren’t your thing, feel free to come back and look at the pretty miniatures, which will return soon.

I own many roleplaying games and game supplements for dozens of systems. The above picture represents about half of my overall collection, and it was taken back in 2021. (This is the chain I have forged in life, and like Jacob Marley, I have labored on it since.) But which ones are my favorites? Without further preamble, I give you The Angry Piper’s Top 10 RPGs of All Time, ranked in descending order.

10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (Palladium, 1985) My freshman year in high school, I met two brothers who are still two of my best friends to this day. One of them introduced me to the TMNT comic. I collected Marvel and DC comics and had no idea about independent publishers like Mirage. I immediately was hooked on the black & white, irregularly-published TMNT comic. These turtles were still a long way from the pizza-loving pop culture juggernauts they would become. These turtles were badass.

It was TMNT and Other Strangeness that introduced us to the Palladium system. I have many fond memories of the games we played, most of which degenerated into complete silliness. The character creation system is point-buy: each animal type (and there are many included) has a certain amount of Bio(logical) -E(nergy) points to spend. These points determine things like overall size, stance (biped/qudruped), hand type (partial, like paws, or full), speech and special “Powers” based on the animal type (like the Turtles’ shell). It was a very well-constructed character generation system and we never tired of making up new mutated animal characters.

The system…well, let’s just say I’m not a fan of Palladium’s system for many reasons. We played RIFTS and Heroes Unlimited a few times, but our interest waned pretty quickly and we were on to other games within a couple of years. Still, this quirky game provided us with a lot of fun times, and for that alone, it makes it into the top 10.

9. Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn (TSR, 1983) I have spoken of my love for the classic Star Frontiers RPG in a series of recent posts. As I stated previously, for me, the real draw of this game is the setting. I cover that, as well as several “problems” with the game extensively here.

We played a lot of Star Frontiers in the 80’s and I’ve revisited the game a couple of times since then. One of my friends even converted it to GURPS, which made the game more complicated and challenging (in a good way). Sadly, I’m the only one among my friends who seems to miss this game nowadays, so if I ever get to play it again I will likely have to run it online.

8. Shadowrun (FASA, 1989) Where man meets Magic and Machine. In 2050, the world is a Gibson-esque cyberpunk dystopia ruled by mega-corporations, connected in virtual reality through a worldwide computer network called the Matrix. In the midst of this futuristic, capitalist nightmare, magic returns to the world and metahumans and creatures from myth and folklore once again walk among us. You play a shadowrunner–someone with a unique set of skills (magic, thievery, computer hacking, combat) who lives on the fringes of regular society. Oh, and there are dragons, too; and one of them becomes President.

Shadowrun, like so many other games that came out last century, has gone through several revisions and updates. I’m only familiar with 1st and 2nd Edition. 2E was better, and we played it most. The game has a timeline and metaplot that has kept continuity throughout all its editions. When the game debuted in 1989, the year in-game was 2050. Now, the current 6th edition of the game is set in the 2080s.

Shadowrun is one of those RPGs that’s immensely fun to play, but just as much fun to read. The sourcebooks are annotated as if they were documents posted to online hacker forums, so there is tons of commentary from the shadow community regarding the veracity of some of the information presented in the supplement. I haven’t played Shadowrun since pre-2000, but I still sometimes break out my old Shadowrun supplements just to read them.

7. Star Trek Adventures (Modiphius, 2017) No big surprise to anyone who visits this blog: I’m a huge Star Trek fan, and I went all in on the Modiphius 2d20 system. It’s a bit more complicated than I like in a system nowadays, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty awesome. There’s a lot you can do and a lot of different ways to do it. It really captures the feel of the Star Trek Universe better than any previous Star Trek RPG, and it covers all eras of Trek from Enterprise through Discovery.

I first ran this game by converting an old FASA Star Trek module, The Vanished, to this version of the rules. Rather than make their own characters, my friends played Kirk, Spock and the bridge crew of the Enterprise. You can read about it here. Since then I’ve run several one-shots and even a brief campaign set in the Next Generation/DS9/Voyager era. You can find the first post of that campaign here. I’ve had a lot of fun every time, and I definitely will be running more Star Trek adventures in the future.

6. Star Wars (West End Games, 1987) With the ubiquity of everything Star Wars nowadays, it’s tough to remember that after Return of the Jedi was released in 1983, we didn’t have another Star Wars movie (for better or worse) until The Phantom Menace in 1999. Sure, there were novels and comics in between, but when Lucasfilm licensed Star Wars to West End Games to develop a roleplaying game, it was a license to print money, even if the game was shit, which this most definitely was not.

Arguably, the Star Wars RPG did more to keep Star Wars alive than anything else; but more than that, it built upon Lucas’s creation and added so much more to the lore and setting than anything we could ever see on film. Lucas approved all of it, and much of it became and remains canon. The system is D6-based and it works well. There aren’t too many rules to slog through and the action moves quickly. The D6 system is now open license for anyone to use.

I played a lot of this in the 80’s and a fair bit in the 90’s. About 10 years ago, I wrote a quick, one-shot with some pregenerated characters and ran a game for my friends. It was like riding a bike.

There have been 3 companies to publish Star Wars rpgs: West End Games, Wizards of the Coast and Fantasy Flight Games. The current FFG line is expansive (and expensive) and pulls from all eras of Star Wars, something the original WEG version couldn’t do, because none of it was written yet. It’s supposedly quite good; however it’s a testament to the popularity of the original game that Fantasy Flight Games published a 30th anniversary edition of the WEG Star Wars RPG in 2018. (No one talks about the WotC game nowadays.)

5. Vampire: The Masquerade (White Wolf, 1991) Ah, the angst-ridden, tragically hip 90’s, when you couldn’t swing a dead bat and not hit a Siouxsie Sioux, Peter Murphy or Robert Smith lookalike on any college campus in the country. Good times. I played a lot of the first and second editions of this game (as well as Werewolf: The Apocalypse and a little Mage: The Ascension) , and it’s one of the best, most memorable RPG campaigns I’ve ever been involved in. My interest in vampires has pretty much dwindled to nothing at this point in my life; but Vampire: The Masquerade is the game where I created one of my favorite RPG characters of all time: Lucas, a Nosferatu: a beast trying desperately to hold onto his humanity in the brutal and unforgiving Gothic-Punk Chicago of the 1990’s.

The World of Darkness Storyteller system is what really drives this game (aside from, you know, vampires), focusing primarily on roleplaying the trials and tribulations (or perhaps exultations) of being a monster. It’s billed as “a Storytelling game of personal horror,” and although pathos more than orror was the theme of the game in which I played, it is seen as a horror game. VtM has gone through several editions and publishers since the last time I played it, circa 1998 or so; and from what I can determine, it’s quite different nowadays. I’m not particularly interested in playing it again; but it’s definitely a game I played a lot of during my college years, and one I recall fondly.

4. GURPS (Steve Jackson Games, 1986) My regular high school gaming group split up after graduation as we all went to different schools. I was invited to a game in college, and that game turned out to be run by a guy I still game with today. That game was GURPS (3rd edition) Fantasy.

The Generic Universal Roleplaying System is exactly that. Although it’s great for Fantasy gaming, I’ve played and run horror, sci-fi, superhero, kung-fu, espionage and pulp cliffhangers games using GURPS. One of my favorites is GURPS Old West, which is my favorite Western RPG. GURPS has licensed such RPG properties as Traveller, Vampire: the Masquerade, Deadlands and Discworld; and, over the years, has released some of the best, most informative supplements for roleplaying games ever written. The GURPS Vikings, Martial Arts, Japan and WWII supplements really stand out, but there are so many more. My friend converted Star Frontiers to GURPS, and I even once attempted to run a Chronicles of Amber game using GURPS (but that didn’t work).

There’s a reason it’s been around for so long. There are rules for everything, but you’re free to use whatever you want and make it as simple or complex as you desire. It’s still my go-to generic system for most things.

3. Marvel Super Heroes (TSR, 1984) One of my all-time favorite roleplaying games is free for all at Classic Marvel Forever. I’ve always loved this game. It’s simple and captures the feel of a comic book perfectly. We played a lot of MSH back in high school. It still has a devoted fanbase today, and the innovative FASERIP system has been updated and streamlined by various publishers. (My favorite is Astonishing Super Heroes, by Let’s Start Over, Shall We?-a MSH actual play podcast). I brought this game out of retirement a couple of years ago to run a one-shot for my friends. The first of that four-post writeup is here. Although most of us had fun, a couple of my friends think games of the past should stay there. Undeterred, I ran it again on Discord as recently as March for a group of Instagram friends, and everyone seemed to really like it.

The published adventures are particularly bad; but the rules are simple and easy to learn. This is the only game that I can think of where I never want to make my own character. Although there are detailed character creation rules, I’ve always preferred running games for established heroes like Spider-Man and The X-Men rather than having the players create their own characters, and likewise, I prefer playing as established heroes as well. Sadly, no one I know seems keen on running this game but me. I haven’t been a player in a game of MSH since the mid-90’s, but I remain hopeful.

2. Call of Cthulhu (Chaosium, 1981) I discovered H.P. Lovecraft in 1987 when I was 15 years old, and although I had previously seen ads for the Call of Cthulhu RPG in the pages of Dragon Magazine, I never made the connection until later. Once I did, I knew it was a game I needed to play. A horror roleplaying game? How cool!

My first edition of the game was the 4th Edition, published in 1989. I still remember the first adventure I ran for my friends. It was one of my own scenarios involving a vampire who made his lair in an abandoned watermill. Being a vampire, he had no need to breathe and so he hid from the sun and rested underwater during the day. The group of investigators finally tracked the vampire to the mill, but of course, by then it was night and it was dark. They entered the watermill and found the floor had collapsed, so they waded through the waist-deep water, shining their flashlights around. One of the investigators suddenly realized the vampire could be under the water, and so I called for a Sanity check. He failed. I can still see the look on my friend’s face when I told him he dropped his flashlight into the water.

Call of Cthulhu is now in its 7th and, in my opinion, best edition of the game. I’ve played and enjoyed other horror games (like GURPS), but this is the best fit, both for Lovecraftian horror and horror storytelling that has nothing to do with the Cthulhu Mythos. I love to play this game and I especially love to run it. I always have more ideas for Call of Cthulhu scenarios running around in my head than any other game.

And finally, at #1: Dungeons & Dragons (TSR, 1974) Of course D&D will be my number one. Like so many people, it’s the first RPG I ever played, way back in 1983. It was the Tom Moldvay Red Box B/X system with the great Erol Otus cover art shown above. My aunt, who is only 9 years older than me, gifted me the game on my 10th birthday, pre-Satanic panic. I say this because she has since become an ultra-right wing conservative and staunch religious fanatic (yeah, we have lots in common nowadays), so I guess timing is everything. Anyway, thanks, Auntie Marie.

I’ve played almost every edition of D&D starting with the Moldvay B/X set. in high school, I played lots of AD&D before moving to AD&D 2E, which came out in 1989. I think I probably played 2E the most, though, being involved in several campaigns both as player and DM throughout the 90’s. I took a little break for a while, but came back to D&D with the 3rd edition. I ran a 3.5 campaign from 2011-2014 or so before it eventually broke down. You can read about that here. I skipped 4th Ed. entirely, which is by all reports what I should have done. No regrets.

Which brings us to 5th Edition, which is by far the biggest and most popular edition of the game to date, responsible for millions of dollars in sales and a huge influx of new blood to the roleplaying hobby. Thanks to Critical Role and Stranger Things, D&D is now super-cool; something I and most of my geek generation find amusing, as it certainly was not always so. I am all in favor of bringing new folks into the hobby, although I personally hate 5th edition because it is fundamentally different than the experience I know and love. I do not think the differences are beneficial to the game, but that is my opinion. I could write a whole blog post about why I hate it, but what’s the point? (I might do it anyway.) It’s not my game, but I certainly don’t begrudge others who love it (and they are many).

Dungeons & Dragons stirred my creativity, increased my vocabulary, raised my reading comprehension and fired my imagination. It made me a better speaker, a better writer and a voracious reader. It set me on the road to being the wise and erudite Renaissance man that I am today. It also taught me to be humble and not use words like erudite. But more than that, it gave me strong friendships that endure to this day.

I may play a thousand different games in my life, but I will always return to Dungeons & Dragons…just not any edition after 3.5.

Honorable Mentions

Picking a Top 10 was pretty hard, considering how many games I’ve played in my life. The following to games deserve special notice.

Middle-Earth Roleplaying (Iron Crown Enterprises, 1984) MERP has a special place in my heart, and always will. We played a fair amount of MERP in high school and college, and although I couldn’t tell you anything about the adventures and scenarios we played, I do know we had a lot of fun.

MERP is based on the Rolemaster system, which is not particularly suited for the setting, especially where magic is concerned. The spells and spell lists don’t really align with Tolkien’s portrayal of magic and wizards, for one thing; and the combat system is kind of clunky. MERP is justly famous, however, for the critical hit and critical fumble tables, which are absolutely hilarious and can instantly kill or maim anything, including the acting player character. It was worth it for that alone.

The supplements for MERP are exceptionally well-done, and like the WEG Star Wars RPG, much of the lore was created by the RPG company, not the original source. For example, prior to the release of the RPG, most of the Nazgul did not have names. In fact, Tolkien only named one of the Nazgul, Khamul the Easterling. Iron Crown named all Nine, and gave them backstories, too. They expanded and expounded upon Tolkien’s history and lore of Middle-Earth, and they did it with respect.

Bottom line: great setting and supplemental material. Not-so-great system for the game. Rolemaster may work well for fantasy RPGs, but it’s not a good fit for Middle Earth. Still, this was one we played often. Most MERP books fetch a hefty price on the secondary market nowadays, with good reason.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess (Lamentations of the Flame Princess, 2009) Lamentations of the Flame Princess is basically an OSR clone of Moldvay B/X D&D, although with a lot of updates (ascending Armor Class! Yaaay!) and changes that make the game much, much darker in tone. Whereas D&D is Tolkien-inspired high fantasy, LotFP is more grimdark and low-magic. It’s billed as Weird Fantasy, and it lives up to the name. There are no Fireballs or Lightning Bolts here; but Summoning is only a 1st-level spell, meaning it’s available to Magic-Users from the jump. Just because you can summon something, though, doesn’t mean you’ll summon what you want to, or that you can control it when it arrives, so beware.

Although LotFP has rules for demi-humans like Elves, Dwarves and Halflings (and, like B/X D&D, these races double as classes), much of the published material is designed without these fantasy races in mind, more of a late 16th/17th century European setting. In the words of James Edward Raggi IV, the game’s creator, this period of human civilization was hands-down the most miserable time to be alive in history. As a result, character survivability is low in LotFP. The published content is, without question, adult in nature; and has been the target of pearl-clutchers everywhere since the beginning. This only increased over the years when the cancel culture mob got the company in its sights. Sadly, that hasn’t gone away; but Raggi is well and truly done apologizing for anything at this point, and I, for one, am glad of that. Fuck that noise. Censorship is bullshit.

In March, I wrapped up a year-long Witch Hunter (i.e. Solomon Kane) campaign I ran for some folks on my Discord server. It was dark and grim and demonic, as it should be. We all had a great time, and I will likely use LotFP for my fantasy rules of choice going forward, unless of course I’m looking for something more forgiving and high fantasy.

That about does it for this post. Coming soon: my top 10 RPGS that I have yet to play (enough).

Forgotten Heroes: Whisper

For my second Forgotten Hero of 2023, I present another First Comics character: Steven Grant’s Whisper. Along with Nexus and Badger, Whisper actually started out in Capital Comics before being published by First after Capital’s demise. Whisper last showed up in a one-shot in 2006. I own exactly one Whisper comic, and it’s not even an issue of her own series. It’s this Crossroads comic, featuring a team-up between Whisper and Jon Sable, Freelance. Despite having a cool cover, it’s bad.

As a result, I knew next to nothing about Whisper before I decided to make this conversion, so I looked up her story. She’s Alexis Devin, an American, but trained in ninjutsu by her Japanese Yakuza stepfather. As a child she had polio and this training helped her overcome it. Alexis was working as an architect and wanted nothing to do with ninjas when she was drawn back into the conflicts of the Yakuza against her will. I guess there’s more to the story, but that’s the gist of it. She’s a ninja, and it was the 80’s. The world was ninja crazy back then.

To make Whisper, I started with these two Heroclix miniatures: The Punisher and Elektra. I’ve always hated this Elektra miniature because it looks stupid, and like many Heroclix, the factory paint job is abysmal. The Punisher sculpt is pretty bad-ass. Unfortunately, I needed that wall he’s standing on, because I have no ability to sculpt one myself. (The Punisher plays no further role in this tale.)

I started by cutting the spear apart and repositioning her arms. I removed the sashes from the spear, but kept some of the handle for each hand. Then I chopped off her hair and her skirt and filled the gaps left behind.

I spent a lot of time filing down her head. Like many conversions, this one looked horrible during the process. I couldn’t get the image of Elektra with a massive head bandage out of my mind. I reattached the sashes as a belt and some flowing wrist wraps. I shaved down the spear shafts to look more like swords.

I wasn’t about to keep that stupid pose, so here’s where I used the wall. Now she’s leaping from a high ledge, ninja-style.

Once primed black, she immediately looked better.

Turns out Whisper doesn’t have flowing wrist wraps, but I like the look of it as it gives the character an illusion of motion. I didn’t do much to the wall other than weather it a little and give it a slight highlight.

And there she is: Whisper. Overall, I think she looks pretty good. She looks a lot better than that Elektra miniature, anyway…

Forgotten Heroes: Dreadstar

For my first Forgotten Heroes post of 2023, I decided to do Jim Starlin’s iconic hero: Vanth Dreadstar.

Dreadstar started out in Marvel’s Epic Illustrated, before getting his own Epic Comics series that lasted for 26 issues. Then Starlin took it to First Comics, where it was published until they went out of business in 1991. Dreadstar briefly returned for a limited series published by Malibu in 1995. As far as I know, that was the last appearance of Dreadstar in comics, although there is supposedly a TV series in the works. Guess time will tell.

I have a confession to make: despite having almost all the Dreadstar comics, I could never get into the character. Maybe I should try again. Still, I was a huge fan of First Comics, who published some really groundbreaking stuff back in the 80’s; including my favorite comic of all time, Grimjack. First Comics heroes have been my go-to for Forgotten Heroes challenges in the past. I’ve done Badger, Nexus and Jon Sable, Freelance in previous years, and if all goes well, I’l be doing another First Comics hero by the end of the month.

But on to Dreadstar. To make this miniature, I used two old Heroclix models: Captain America, from the original Marvel Infinity Challenge set, and Aquaman, from the original DC Hypertime set. I removed Cap’s shield (cool objective marker!) and his head, and also beheaded Aquaman. Then I chopped off some of Aquaman’s hair and swapped the heads. Finally, I repositioned Cap’s arm. The end result was this:

I’m saying something really important!

I made his sword from a toothpick and green stuff, and I sculpted his belt and hood. As anyone with eyes can see, I’m a shitty sculptor. Sadly, I forgot to take any pictures of this miniature covered in green stuff, It was too depressing. Anyway, here he is.

I added an old Space Marine bolt pistol to his hip.

Up close, you can see how shitty my sculpting is. Try as I might, I can’t make that green stuff behave.

Dreadstar’s history is long and convoluted, and like i said, I could never get into it. According to the Fandom page, most of his powers are derived from his sword. It can be absorbed and extruded from his body at will (gross), allows him to speak and understand any language, acts as a shield, and gives Dreadstar enhanced reflexes, rapid healing and the strength of twenty men. It’s also a sword, so I guess it can cut stuff, too.

Despite the sculpting flaws, I’m happy with how he turned out. Like I said, I’m hoping to get another First Comics character done by the end of the month. It’s a very obscure character. Want to know who it is? I’ll Whisper it to you….

Feel the Magic, Hear the Roar!

Thundercats are loose!

As a kid growing up in the 80’s I had my pick of cool cartoons: G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Dungeons & Dragons, and Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Nothing was cooler than Thundercats, though. A couple of weeks ago I splurged and bought myself the complete, original Thundercats series on DVD. I’ve been watching it ever since, and I found out I still love it.

Despite having many miniatures in their 7TV line that I salivate over, I’ve only ever placed one order to Crooked Dice, because shipping is absolutely insane between Britain and the US. As a result, I couldn’t get everything I wanted all at once, but I made sure these awesome “Beastman Heroes” were in the order. They were supposed to be painted as part of the Year of Pop Culture; but like so many of my painting projects last year, I didn’t get to them.

This set contains Panthro, Lion-o, Tygra and Cheetara. Crooked Dice also makes miniatures of Wilykit and Wilykat; and they make a Snarf miniature. They didn’t make the cut on this order. I can do without Kit and Kat, and Snarf is more annoying than any other cartoon character I can think of, with the possible exception of Gleek, the Wonder-Twins’ pet space monkey on Super Friends. No big loss there. (Come to think of it, that unicorn on the D&D cartoon was pretty fucking annoying, too.)

So let’s talk about the sculpts. They’re pretty good, with the exception of Panthro, who happens to be my favorite Thundercat. Panthro is smart enough to design and build the Thundertank, strong enough to LIFT and throw the Thundertank with a full load of passengers in it, and tough enough to kick the asses of all the other Thundercats one at a time or all at once. Plus, he uses nunchaku as his weapon, which automatically makes him cooler than anyone who doesn’t. And he’s voiced by the guy who played the grandfather on the Cosby Show. His sculpt is pretty meh, though, especially when compared to the others. He’s just standing there; and his weapon doesn’t have the telltale cat claw handles, nor does it have a chain connecting the sticks. He’s still a cool figure, he just could have been a lot better.

Up next is Tygra, hands-down my favorite sculpt in the set. Tygra is probably my second-favorite Thundercat next to Panthro. He’s the architect of the Cat’s Lair, he can turn invisible, and he uses a bolo-whip. He’s pretty cool. The miniature is fantastic.

Cheetara can run really fast, which is why I guess they sculpted her running. I find it an odd choice, considering all the other Thundercats are brandishing their weapons; but it’s a pretty good sculpt nonetheless. I would have been happier to see her posing with her staff, like in the intro.

Lion-o is also a wonderful miniature; although in the cartoon, he’s my least favorite Thundercat of the main four. Voiced by the great Larry Kenney, he probably has the most iconic and recognizable voice on the show (at least among the heroes). When they did a Thundercats revival on Cartoon Network a decade or so back, Larry provided the voice of Lion-o’s father. (I actually thought he was playing an elder version of Lion-o, which would have been fucking AWESOME; but I was wrong.) I didn’t watch much of it, because I wasn’t a fan of the art style.

The Mutants of Plun-Darr were the main antogonists for the Thundercats: Monkian, Vultureman, Slithe and Jackalman.

Monkian is my favorite mutant and my favorite sculpt.

Slithe comes in a close second, both for favorite mutant and favorite sculpt.

Jackalman’s sculpt is fine, I guess. Jackalman annoyed me a lot.

Vultureman’s sculpt is pretty lame, the worst of the bunch. Come to think of it, Vultureman is pretty lame. He wasn’t one of the original mutants. Vultureman just showed up one day, like he’d been there all along.

“Ancient Spirits of Evil…Transform this decayed form…to Mumm-Ra…the Ever-Living!” Of course, no set of Thundercats miniatures would be complete without Mumm-Ra, or as he’s called over on Crooked Dice’s store, “Abomination.” Crooked Dice makes a buff version of Mumm-Ra, too (i.e. the “transformed” version), but once again, I had to pick and choose. Maybe someday.

I thought I got that mold-line; but it sure shows up nice when it’s painted.

Since I’ve been re-watching Thundercats, I’ve found myself slipping into the voice of Mumm-Ra without warning.

“You dare ask Mumm-Ra to mow the lawn?! Your insolence tempts the wrath of Mumm-Ra, the All Powerful!!”

“This coffee has grown cold. Mumm-Ra is displeased! Bring forth a fresh cup, lest you be destroyed!”

“Your loyalty to Mumm-Ra has been rewarded. Your time-off request has been granted!”

Guess what? Turns out not everyone appreciates Mumm-Ra.

This project was originally intended for last year’s Year of Pop Culture. This is not a Monster May(hem) post. More monsters to come soon, but in the meantime, check out all the other participants this month at their respective blogs/Instagram accounts and show your support!

  • Simon, from Fantorical
  • Dave, from Wargames Terrain Workshop, has of course sculpted his own miniatures for the first two submissions: a Dragonkin warrior and a Clawed Fiend. Both look wonderful!. He’s also done some GW Dark Elf Khymera, some models I didn’t know existed!
  • Matt, from PM Painting has completed the creepy J├Âtunn Moder from The Ritual, and it looks better it does in the movie!
  • Jeremy, from Carrion Crow’s Buffet
  • Roger, from Rantings from Under the Wargames Table
  • Azazel, from Azazel’s Bitz Box
  • Jon, from Jon’s Hobby Desk
  • Snapfit, from Da Green Horde
  • Mark A. Morin, from the eponymous markamorin.com.
  • Tom, @The_Goodground has painted a creepy demon miniature, a storm elemental, a Rat Ogre and an objective marker so monstrous it counts as a monster! You can see them over on his Instagram!
  • Malcolm, @mdcampbell_dunwichcreatives has painted thee monsters so far, a Runequest Walktapus, a classic Grenadier Shadowrun miniature, the Feathered Serpent and a Reaper Carrion Crawler! So far, he’s posted the Walktapus on his Instagram account, but he’s posted all of them on Discord. You can see them in my #miniatures channel on the Discord server, if you have access. If you don’t, ask!
  • Mike, @sasquatchminis is still hard at work on a White Dragon. He has also posted some WIP shots to the Discord server.

I don’t want to point out the obvious to my regulars here, but the Instagram crowd is kicking our asses! It’s a challenge, not a competition….but still…

Let’s get painting!

Fantastic Four Job Interview: The Crimson Hound

Mr. Fantastic (MF): Hello there! Welcome. Thanks for coming in.

Crimson Hound (CH): Thanks. Glad to be here. I…uh…thought there were four of you.

MF: The Invisible Woman isn’t here at the moment.

Human Torch (HT): Or…IS SHE??? Ha ha ha!!!

MF: So…Crimson Hound. We’re looking for a fourth member, someone who can fill in for Ben here when he takes one of his sabbaticals.

HT: Like when he gets all whiny and leaves the group to sulk.

Thing (T): Whatever. It ain’t easy bein’ me.

HT: Or when he needs to go “find himself” on some alien planet.

T: That happened once. Sue me.

HT: Or when he wants to follow his dream and be a professional wrestler…

CH: Ha! You guys are cute together.

T: Whaddya mean, “together”?

HT: Yeah, what’s that supposed to mean?

CH: I only thought…

T: Think again, bozo!

HT: Yeah, think again!

CH: Look, there’s nothing wrong with–

T: Shuddup and get yer feet off the table! Ain’t ya got no manners?

CH: Oh. Sure. Sorry.

MF: Let’s focus on what’s important: Ben’s replacement.

T: REPLACEMENT?!

MF: Usually, we ask She-Hulk to step in, but…

T: She got too big fer us.

HT: Stopped answering her phone when she got a TV show.

CH: Huh. Right.

MF: So, assuming we get this vampire business cured, when can you start?

CH: Cured? You can cure me?!

MF: Undoubtedly. I’m pretty sure I have already figured out how. I am embarassingly intelligent.

CH: But the vampire thing is what gives me my powers!

MF: Oh. I see. Well, we can’t have you feeding on people’s blood. I own the patents on several dozen formulae for synthetic plasma, both terran and non-terran. I’m sure we can find something suitable.

T: Welcome to the team!

HT: Don’t touch my stuff.

CH: Wow! Thanks! I really need this job…

MF: We’ll get your hiring bonus, health and dental package squared away and show you to your luxury penthouse quarters here in the Baxter Building. There’s just one more restriction.

CH:…what’s that?

MF: You cannot, under any circumstances, make any jokes, implications or double-entendres about my powers and how far I can stretch my…well, I’m sure you know. Understood?

CH: Wait…not ever?

MF: Never.

CH:

CH:

MF: Well?

CH: Nah. This isn’t gonna work. Thanks for your time.

Bruno still hasn’t posted any new Crimson Hound content. He deserves this.

Avengers Job Interview: The Crimson Hound

Captain America (CA): Welcome! Come in! Sit down.

Crimson Hound (CH): Thanks. How ya’ doin’?

Iron Man (IM): We ask the questions here.

CA: Don’t mind him. I understand you interviewed with the Justice League recently?

CH: Yeah. No luck. They’re a bunch of dicks. No offense.

CA: Uh huh. None taken. So, we’ve been looking at your resume…

CH: I’ve been uh…on vacation, recently.

IM: Hey! Aren’t you the guy who killed Santa Claus?

CH: Well, not “officially”…that guy was kind of a dick, though.

Thor (T): Remove thy feet from yon table.

CH: Sorry.

CA: Vacation, you say…well, that explains the empty space on the page here. No problem. I believe it’s important to refresh and recharge from time to time.

Hulk (H): STUPID FLAG-MAN LIES! FLAG MAN NEVER APPROVE VACATION FOR HULK EVEN WHEN HULK REQUEST TWO MONTHS AHEAD PER EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK!

CA: Says here you’re a vampire. Is that true?

CH: Well, yeah…kinda. Technically. I guess.

IM: You “guess”? You either drink blood or you don’t drink blood. Do you drink blood or not?

CH: Uh…yes…

T: Vile monster! Begone! Thou art a fiend from the very depths of Niflheim!

CH: I’m from Cleveland.

CA: Look, I’m sure you’re a great guy, but this maybe isn’t the best fit.

CH: Really? You’re turning me down? This is the same team that took Starfox? That guy’s a fucking HR nightmare! And Dr. Druid? I rate lower than Dr. Fucking Druid??!

CA: Now see here, buster…there’s no need for profanity…

T: Methinks he doth make a compelling argument, though…

H: DON’T LOOK AT HULK. HULK NOT INVOLVED WITH THAT DECISION. HULK LEFT TEAM WAY BEFORE DR. DRUID JOIN.

CA: Well, let’s just put it to a vote, then.

IM: I like this guy!

T: I say thee nay!

H: HULK NOT CARE. HULK ABSTAIN.

CA: Well, I vote no. Sorry. But thanks for coming by.

CH: Whatever. Assholes.

I have a lot of Heroclix, Bruno. I can do this for a very long time.

Justice League Job Interview: The Crimson Hound

Superman (S): Hello, come in. Please, sit down. The Crimson Hound, is it?

The Crimson Hound (CH): Yep, that’s me.

Wonder Woman (WW): Greetings. Thank you for coming in.

CH: No problem.

S: So, er…uh…Mr. Hound…you’re applying for League membership.

CH: That’s right.

Batman (B): Take your feet off the table.

CH: Oh. Sorry.

S: We’ve reviewed your resume, and we have a few questions.

CH: Shoot, Supes. I’m an open book.

WW: Well, it seems as though you haven’t been active in some time. You last superhero job was…well, almost a full year ago.

CH: Yeah. Well, there was that stuff around Christmas, but that wasn’t “official”. Anyway, I’ve been taking it easy. You know, having a nice long soak in the bubble bath that is me.

B: “…What?”

CH: Yeah. A vacation. I mean, everyone needs a break now and then, Bats. You can’t expect to be a force of vengeance and justice every day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’d have to be batshit crazy–a really obsessive asshole– to do that. Am I right or what?

B:

WW: Um…anyway, what do you think you bring to the team? How do you usually deal with evildoers?

S: We encounter a lot of evildoers, you know. It’s important we can work as a team.

CH: Yeah, I assumed. Well, I usually strike terror in their hearts, then I beat the living shit out of them.

S: Right…ummm…ok…well…that’s great, but…

WW: It’s just that…uh…

B: That’s what I do. That’s my thing.

CH: Oh. Sorry. I should have explained better. By “beat the shit out of them”, I mean I rip off their heads with my bare hands, then I drink their blood.

S:

WW:

B:

CH: So, do I get the job?

It’s been a while since my buddy Bruno has published any new Crimson Hound content on YouTube. This is me, slapping him in the face with the metaphorical glove.

I love ya, Bruno.

Forgotten Heroes 2022: The Hypno-Hustler!

A couple of years back, Bill Maher had a segment on his show called “I don’t know it for a fact; I just know it’s true.” He would say amusing things like “I don’t know for a fact that Justin Trudeau moonlights as a tantric yoga instructor; I just know it’s true.” See? That’s a joke, because Justin Trudeau is a good-looking youngish guy who probably gets laid a lot; but he’s also the Prime Minister of Canada.

I don’t know for a fact that Jeremy, a.k.a. Carrion Crow, sounds exactly like Lenny Mclean, a.k.a. Barry the Baptist from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; I just know it’s true. That’s a joke, too, because lest there be any confusion, I’ve never actually heard Carrion Crow speak. Still, I find it amusing to imagine him saying things like “If you don’t wanna be countin’ the fingers you ‘aven’t got, I suggest you get those guns! Quick!”

I don’t know for a fact that Forgotten Heroes is the greatest painting challenge in the history of painting challenges, I just know it’s true; because this year it gave me the opportunity to create one of my favorite all-time villains: the Hypno-Hustler!

From Wikipedia: Antoine Desloin is the lead singer of the Mercy Killers, going by the name of Hypno-Hustler. He and his band were scheduled to perform at a nightclub called “Beyond Forever”. When the club’s manager catches Hypno-Hustler robbing his safe, Hypno-Hustler used his hypnotic equipment on the manager. When it came time to perform, Hypno-Hustler and his band used their hypnotizing equipment on the audience in a plan to rob them as well. Peter Parker was at the club at the time and changed into Spider-Man. During the fight, Spider-Man discovered that Hypno-Hustler’s headphones protected him from his own hypnotic music. Spider-Man managed to remove them from Hypno-Hustler causing him to become a victim of his own hypnosis. When the audience was free of the hypnosis, Hypno-Hustler and his Mercy Killers were webbed up and left for the police.

So: Hypno-Hustler can hypnotize people with his music; but, failing that, he can resort to the toe-spikes and knockout gas he has hidden in his big platform heels. He also plays the guitar.

Hypno-Hustler made his debut in November, 1978 in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #24; and then promptly vanished from comics for 24 years, until Spider-Man: Tangled Web #16 (released in November of 2002). He was created by the great Bill Mantlo; who sadly has been dealing with long-term injuries from a hit-and-run accident in the early 90’s. Bill Mantlo worked on a ton of incredible comics in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, and created some great characters; like Cloak and Dagger, Jack of Hearts, Rom: Spaceknight and (most famous nowadays) Rocket Raccoon; the royalties of which allowed him to finally leave the nursing facility he’d been living in for 25 years and return to home care.

Before we dive in to the miniature conversion process, please feel free to get in the mood with this sketch from Key and Peele, which still cracks me up every time I watch it.

To make Hypno-Hustler, I used this DC Hypertime Booster Gold Heroclix miniature as the base. I trimmed him off his flight disc, but kept the plastic under his feet to give him some height afforded by his KISS-esque boots.

From there it wasn’t too hard to add green stuff and Magic Sculpt to make his afro, chest speaker/amp, belt and shoulder trim. I also added his headphones and tried to define his goggles a bit. Then I gave him a microphone so he wasn’t empty-handed.

But something was conspicuously absent (and no, it wasn’t the Mercy Killers). Hypno-Hustler needed a guitar, and, not surprisingly, Booster Gold didn’t come with one. I looked for a suitable guitar I could cannibalize amongst my many miniatures and bitz. No luck.

My next step was to find a 28mm scale guitar bit somewhere else. I looked at silver charms (for charm bracelets), and found something perfect, except that it was just too big enough to look wrong. I finally looked for manufacturers that make musical instrument conversion bits. I thought for sure Reaper did, but nope. All Fantasy themed instruments, no electric guitars. Eventually, PaulCollins at The Miniatures Page pointed me to two British companies: Spellcrow and Zealot miniatures, respectively.

Although available in the USA through Amazon and Noble Knight, the Spellcrow guitars are a bit too Slaanesh Noise Marine for me (and certainly for the Hypno-Hustler). They weren’t the right shape, either.

In contrast, the Zealot miniatures guitars were awesome. Just what I needed. Unfortunately, they are only available from the company in the UK, and I’m not going to pay that much shipping for one little guitar sprue.

Which means I had to make my own. I know it sucks, but it’s for the Hypno-Hustler; so who cares? I put it on his back, anyway. I was going to sculpt the guitar strap, but it would clutter up the front of the miniature if I did, so I left it out.

And here he is, ready to funk up the place: The Hypno-Hustler! Painting him was pretty easy, as Hypno-Hustler has a limited color palette: white with purple acoutrements. I listened to a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire and Parliament-Funkadelic while I did.

I’m least happy with his base. I didn’t know what to do, so I just painted it like a spotlight. I considered adding glitter to it; but as anyone who’s ever been to a strip club knows (so I hear), glitter gets everywhere.

With Spider-man’s greatest (I said greatest, damn you!) nemesis now complete, I have no excuse not to break out the Super Mission Force any longer. It’s been way too long!

Thanks as always to Carrion Crow for hosting Forgotten Heroes. He did a member of Spidey’s Rogues Gallery himself this year: The Spot! Go check it out, along with a link to everyone else’s fun contributions!

Make Mine Forgotten Heroes!

Forgotten Heroes 2022: Rainbow Boy

For my first submission to Forgotten Heroes 2022, I present: Rainbow Boy!

Before anyone calls bullshit on me, Rainbow Boy is a REAL character, and he certainly fits the designation of “Forgotten Hero”. He only appeared a total of nine times in comics. I’m a lifelong comic fan, and I’d never heard of him in my life, until @howardswinford, a guy on Instagram, posted a picture of him. Then I found this book: The League of Regrettable Super Heroes, which contains an entry for Rainbow Boy (and a plethora of inspiration for future Forgotten Heroes submissions). Since then, I’ve been utterly fascinated by him.

Rainbow Boy, real name Jack Walton, gained the superpower of “rainbow control” through unknown means. He can fly (or perhaps “cavort merrily”) at the speed of light; and when he does, he leaves a rainbow trail in his wake that he can shape into various forms. Those are his powers.

He needs nothing else. Rainbow Boy is FUCKING AWESOME.

June, the month of Forgotten Heroes, happens to be Pride month here in the USA. Now I know what you’re all thinking, but you’d be wrong. I did not choose Rainbow Boy in celebration of Pride Month. Rainbow Boy debuted in 1942. Like all men who wore tights back then, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that Rainbow Boy is anything but a heterosexual, cisgender white male.

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Of course, it was the 40’s, and gay people didn’t exist back then. Rainbow Boy is in the public domain now; and the times, they are a-changin’; so nowadays he should feel free to be whoever he wants, be it breakfast cereal mascot (as suggested in his entry) or LGBTQ+ icon. After all, he just turned 80. If not now, when? (Edit: I feel the need to specifically qualify the blatantly ignorant first sentence of this paragraph as sarcasm. I shouldn’t have to, as it takes away somewhat from the humor intended; but it’s possible I will be misunderstood as homophobic and uninformed. Lest anyone think I am homophobic, uninformed, or in any way serious when I write that gay people didn’t exist in the 40’s, I am not. I am aware that gay people existed in the 1940s; also prior to the 40’s throughout history, and every day since.)

To make Rainbow Boy, I used two miniatures: a Heroclix Aquaman, and a Heroclix Rogue; Aquaman for Rainbow Boy himself, and Rogue’s weird air contrail for Rainbow Boy’s eponymous rainbow. With my meager sculpting skills, I was able to form Rainbow Boy’s cowl and Spartan-like mohawk, his bracers, and his circular belt buckle from green stuff and Magic Sculpt.

You would think painting Rainbow Boy would be easy; after all his costume is mostly white and red. Not so much, though. As is common with many Clix models, Aquaman was caked with paint that is so difficult to remove I didn’t even try; I just painted over it. The result is a little heavy-handed, as you can see.

I primed him white and gave him a good wash of Nuln OIl before highlighting up. His odd, pastel rainbow was more of a challenge, as it appears on his chest, cowl plume and wristbands. I did my best; but freehanding something so small and lightly-colored was tough.

Finding free time has once again proven to be a challenge for me this month. I had hoped to have Rainbow Boy done earlier than this, because I have one more miniature I really want to get to by month’s end…someone I’ve been dying to make for a long time. A return to Star Trek is also planned as Lieutenant Barclay has been patiently waiting to learn his fate for over a month, now! Just gotta find the time somewhere…