Friday, September 15, 2017

Classic Monsters from Otherworld Miniatures





A couple weeks ago I discovered lead rot on some classic Citadel hobgoblins stored in my attic. I've euthanized pets with less emotion than the pain involved in throwing out these hideously maimed miniatures. Never again, I vowed to myself. As a result, my energies have lately been spent on prepping and priming all my really old miniatures in hopes of protecting them against corrosion. And it's not fun to share pictures of primed miniatures. So in the meantime, I dug out some Otherworld miniatures that I painted a few years ago but never got around to posting. I hope you enjoy them: while you browse, I've got some spray-painting to do.

First up, we have the magnificent Otyugh, which is described by Gary Gygax in the Monster Manual (1979) as a garbage dweller, "eating dung, offal and carrion, as well as fresh meat when it is available" and "living in their piles of rubbish and droppings." Sculptor John Pickford went beyond your run-of-the-mill abomination and gave us a true horror: an anus dentatus









Otherworld Miniatures is a direct spiritual heir to the Citadel Miniatures of the golden age in the mid-1980's. Indeed, Otherworld's founder, Richard Scott, is the proud owner of the definitive collection of Citadel's short-lived but opulent range of licensed AD&D miniatures. In starting Otherworld in 2006, he created a line of miniatures that is clearly inspired by that early Citadel aesthetic: simple designs, rounded features, expressive faces, and a emphasis on gesture and character rather than action or violence. 

You see all these wonderful traits on display in the Evil High Priest, sculpted by Citadel alumnus Kev "Goblin Master" Adams:



Richard Scott himself has pointed out that the original Citadel AD&D range had a "definite 'UK flavour', featuring creatures from TSR UK's Fiend Folio [1981] such as Githyanki, Norkers, Meazels and Xvarts." This British influence continues in Otherworld's own offerings. Here are the delightful Meazels sculpted by Kev Adams:





One of the other things I like about Otherworld is that it covers many basic monsters that unglamorously populate every low-level dungeon such as giant ticks, violet fungi and stirges. For instance, here are Kev Adams' Fire Beetles:



Of course, sometimes it's nice to colour outside the lines. When it came to that most classic of monsters, the Gargoyle, I decided to try something a little different... I wanted to create a molten monster of hot, cracking stone and seeping lava. So here is one of the Otherworld Gargoyles sculpted by Paul Muller:



Hmmm. Perhaps that's no so successful. So for the second Gargoyle, and my last Otherworld miniature, I went back to basics:



What a great pose!

Let me know in the comments if you've painted any Otherworld Miniatures and if you like them as much as I do. Cheers!



20 comments:

  1. Love the way you painted these, especially the fire beetles and the Otyugh. And sorry to hear about the lead rot. Cheers, Karl

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    1. Danke, Karl!
      I'm glad you like the beetles - I wasn't so sure about them, so your feedback is much appreciated.

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  2. Otherworld is fantastic. I got some pig faced Orcs and some adventurers and they are great. Your work here does justice to the sculpts, I love all of them. Don't be so hard on yourself, the lava gargoyle is a win, truly original and well executed. Thumbs up for all of them!

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    1. I really like the Otherworld Adventurers. Have you posted yours yet? I haven't painted any but I'd like to very much.

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  3. Oh sweet dark one! A lot of fantastic miniatures!

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    1. I'd like to see any Otherworld miniatures that you've painted, MK.

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  4. Sorry you had to trash your minis. :(....BUt that is some lovely paint work you've done there. THat first monster is truly terrifying. ;)

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  5. Thanks! I've been looking for the name of the company! Good painting!

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  6. Sorry to hear about the Hobgoblins. I love the paint job on anus dentatus - he's on my next shopping list. The fire beetles actually look hot.

    As for Otherworld miniatures - I've collected many, but only painted five for a D&D group I run in the school that I work at. I'll post them on my blog soon. I've mixed feelings about Otherworld stuff. I love the majority of the models that they produce however the sculpting of some ranges tends to leave me cold.
    I've collected almost all of their adventurers, undead, drow, duergar, berserkers, dungeon vermin, huge earth elemental and gnolls. I find, and this is purely personal preference, that their orcs, goblins and hobgoblins are too 'cartoony'. I know that this is probably heresy, because they are Kev Adams sculpts (and I'm generally a fan of Kev's work), but I feel that whilst they draw their inspiration from early D&D, the sculpting doesn't seem to have shifted from the eighties (I feel like I should hand in my 'older gamer' credentials now). If you compare those ranges to the gnolls or undead, they manage to keep an old school aesthetic whilst utilising a more modern (for want of a better word on a Saturday morning) sculpting style. Their wilderness ranges and creatures are beautiful for instance.

    I think it's because in my pre-teen years Larry Elmore's art had a seminal influence. His artwork seemed more realistic than illustrations used in earlier D&D works which I tend to find somewhat simplistic, almost crude (yes, I know - I'm definitely out of the club now). In creating a collection that evokes an Elmorian feel for my D&D games, I've brought together models across many ranges: Otherworld, Frostgrave, GW's LotR, Red Box Games, Hasslefree, Mierce Miniatures (for the big stuff), Forgeworld, Mantic (Zombies only), Nolzzur's Marvellous Miniatures (Kobolds mainly - Westfalen Fantasy Battle's Kobolds are out of stock) and Gale Force Nine (Giants and Red Dragon).

    Having said all that, I'm going to be putting in another large order with Otherworld when I get paid at the end of the month. There are a few odds and sods that I want (spider folk, Hook Horror, the new Brigands and stag beetles, etc). I've always found them to be really helpful as a company and generous. Once, due to a mix up with my order, they sent me two Hyenadons free to complement the Gnolls that I'd ordered. I look forward to many years of custom with them.

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    1. A fantastic and thought provoking comment, Steven!

      I think that you're quite right that the early fantasy artists had a profound impact on both our expectations about what miniatures should look like and an impact on the miniature sculptors themselves.

      For instance, last night in order to get myself to sleep, I was flipping through the pages of my 1st edition Monster Manual, and I was struck again and again by the contrast between the two principle artists, David C. Sutherland III and David Trampier. Sutherland's sketches are lighter and more cartooney and almost romantic, whereas Trampier's have a dramatic, forceful quality. I need to think about this further, but it seems to me that Ral Partha's early miniatures fit into the Sutherland style, and Citadel fit into the Trampier mold.

      Anyway, your comment has got me thinking. And I certainly agree that you have to look around widely to find the right miniatures for your own personal aesthetic.

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    2. Glad to hear my ramblings made some kind of sense. Another major influence in my early years as a gamer was the Fighting Fantasy books, for which Otherworld create models. I missed out on Zagor, the Warlock of Firetop mountain,and they've just released Balthus Dire who featured in the Citadel of Chaos. Paul Muller has done an amazing job. Both Zagor and Balthazar are models inspired by, and firmly rooted in, a sense of nostalgia, but bring a sensibility that successfully combines old and new.

      Having mentioned Elmore yesterday, I was looking online at his work (some of which takes a distinctly 80s approach to female representation) and found a picture of an adventuring party standing around a small, dead dragon which they've hung from a tree branch. Amongst the party is a female elf with a bow. Not so long ago, I bought a Red Box Games female elf with bow (can't remember her name) and on opening the envelope thought, 'She's tiny - I can't possibly mix her with my Otherworld figures.' In the Elmore picture the elf lady is childlike compared to her companions, one of whom is a veritable giant, however Elmore renders the size differential inconsequential by making the scene seem natural. It sounds strange, but I suddenly feel able to more freely mix my model ranges, and that consistency can be achieved by a particular painting/basing style being used throughout the entire collection.

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  7. Those are some nasty haemorrhoids you've got there ;)

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    1. Haha ew. I'm not likely to forget the term "anus dentatus" any time soon :P

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  8. Lovely. I've been wanting to get some of these Otherworld classic monsters for a while now, and go on a classic monster painting binge. But I always get caught up building a new army or new force and never get to it. I really should...

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  9. Great stuff, I love the Otyugh! I painted up the evil priest, in a very similar scheme to yours.I didn't want to do black robes. I also have the iconic Players Handbook Idol scene set from them. I've been too chicken/lazy to build and paint it.

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  10. You've done a terrific job on these, Matthew! I actually quite like your molten gargoyle - very evocative effect. I have a few of their pig-faced orcs that I need to get done sometime. As soon as I saw them I got very nostalgic and dug-up my old Ral Partha collection (which, while small, still hold up very well). I sooo want the Players Handbook vignette as well...

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