Author Topic: Monster Quest!  (Read 174 times)

Jubal

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Monster Quest!
« on: November 04, 2017, 11:36:58 PM »
So, I've recently been listening to James Holloway's podcast Monster Man (which is great and you should check it out if you haven't done so yet).

The podcast has, ironically enough, turned for me into one of those NPCs that bowls you a sidequest far more interesting than the main plot so you wander off and do it... in other words, I've decided I'd like to have a go at the podcast's competition, which to sum up is "find a cheap plastic toy, maybe lightly convert/modify/use as base, and then write up the toy-inspired monster". This sounds like excellent fund & I'm looking forward to doing it! There's just one problem: I'm in a city where I don't speak the primary language, don't know where or what the relevant shops are likely to be, don't have any paints/basecoats either, and so on...

As such, this is more than merely a competition entry waiting to be done - there will be exploration, purchases of goods, terrifying (maybe) monsters, possibly even some folklore, who knows? This is... monster quest!

Anyone else doing James' competition, do feel free to also comment here and discuss entries :)



03 Nov: Went and hunted round cheaper shops on the other side of the main ring road. It's an interesting area - one suddenly dives into a much more multicultural side of Vienna, which feels (as a former Birmingham resident) somehow more homely, if less tidy, than the more central districts. There are plenty of discount shops around there, so I dipped into four of them in order to see what was around. The results were, alas, grimly disappointing. Vehicles outnumbered animals among plastic toys 3:1, and a lot of the animal or dinosaur toys that were there a) would be mountainous on any normal gaming scale and b) were very clear, crisp representation of their subject matter which didn't really shout much except "yes, it's a dinosaur" or similar. I feel like there must be places that will have ye olde classic buckets of smaller, cheaper plastics, but I still don't know where to look. The hunt continues...
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...

Pentagathus

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Re: Monster Quest!
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 11:28:17 AM »
What a coincidence, I hear yo mumma is also on a quest for a monstrous plastic toy...

Jubal

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Re: Monster Quest!
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 10:00:24 PM »
*audible sigh*  ::)


Monster Quest, part two - the Ebay Dungeon!

So, having not had much luck in the vehicle-dominated bargain shops of Vienna, my next option was the bargain basement of the internet - that is to say, ebay. I discovered a LOT of things about plastic toys that I didn't know previously.

Firstly, volume and type. Lego was considerably more dominant than I expected - some relevant searches were up to 80% lego items at the small end. Playmobil was also very common, though a bit less so. Unless you want that lego-specific look, this rather cuts down on options; it's pretty hard to make anything lego look like it might be a generic gaming miniature. The range of lego and knockoff variants thereof was vastly larger than I'd ever realised, too, with huge ranges of aliens, goblins, and other fantastical things, so that even on searches where I had zero expectation of seeing much lego, there was a lot of the stuff cropping up.

Second, cost. I wanted to try doing this competition without spending too much on it - that being kind of the point of a "take a cheap toy, make a monster" contest, I guess. The trouble is that once you take into account P&P, Ebay sellers (many of whom are actually medium sized companies from China) aren't actually a dead cheap option. The cost difference between plastic toys of the sort of scale I was after and actual literal gaming miniatures was pretty minimal. This probably again speaks to the different world we're in now compared to when Gygax found his owlbear; gaming minis have been produced enough that you do get some cheap plastic/metal turning up (even if only from folk who don't have a good handle on the price inflation miniatures have undergone), whereas generic toys, unless you have a collection of them already, are probably less common and tend to be more equivalent in cost.

Most of what I was finding related to large, well-known franchises, too, which makes it rather hard to find inspiration. Writing gaming rules for a renamed blastoise is fine, but... it's still a blastoise, at the end of the day, everyone recognises it, nothing to see here. Outside Pokemon, searching for monsters got a lot of Monsters, Inc., a lot of Monster High (which seemed to be some toy about accessorising dolls  in fashionable clothing), and a lot of "moshi monsters" which I hadn't come across before but which turned out to be a popular UK-based franchise in their own right:



I found a few individual odds and ends which were definitely *different* - I've no idea what this slightly terrifying thing is meant to be, for example. It appears to be from a playmobil or similar type system, with clip-hands, except that it looks rather like tie-in toy for the villain of a c-list horror movie:



And then there were things that just appeared to have happened after a toy designer had a nightmare and decided to inflict it on the world - I'm not even going to speculate on this creature, other than to note that I decided not to write rules for it mainly because true horror isn't really my ideal genre:



Eventually, I started getting closer to what I wanted - in general, it seemed, looking for actual animals made badly was more promising than monsters made well. Dinosaurs definitely seemed a more promising starting point, and there are certainly a range of options there, though most of them are reasonable attempts at the creatures rather than anything truly strange.

Something like this could certainly be the basis for an idea though...



The best thing I found were from Chinese companies doing large bags of assorted plastics. As well as dinosaurs, they had some nicely woeful attempts at real-world animals, including a zodiac set (good for creating chimera-like mixes of the familiar and unfamiliar) and several sea-life sets (tentacles!). There was even this set of bizarre dragon variants which included some really rather fun options, though it was by far the most expensive of their offerings at well over a tenner for the set:



But, once again, there was a problem - most of the cheaper/quirkier plastics I'd found were shipping from China only, meaning there was no way I could be sure of getting them in time for the end of the contest. I decided to give myself a little while to mull it over rather than racing to get something that I wasn't sure would come anyway, and decided that if I was going to get something, I'd need to get it from a European supplier. Those would get things on time, but I'd be restricted to much more realistic dinosaurids. I'm not sure where to go now, though I do have an idea with a very significant change of tack involved forming in my head...
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Jubal

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Re: Monster Quest!
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2017, 04:51:36 PM »
Monster Quest, part three - A Monster Appears!

So, I was pretty stumped for ideas after our last update. I was wondering if I was going to have to write rules for a model I didn't own... as a last ditch thought process, I started wondering how one should define "toy" to start with. I hadn't had many plastic toys myself when young

...so I came across this thing, because I had a bunch of them lying around from when my parents had visited (send my mother and I out into any wild area and coming back with pockets full of oddments is near-guaranteed.) It's the acorn cup from a Turkey Oak, and they're rather pretty things:


They also look like they could well be the starting point for a whole bunch of monsters, and are about the right scale for a roughly human-sized being! I had various thoughts and options at this point - my favourites being a googly-eyed monster, a being that was just a multicoloured tentacle mass, or something more like a walking bush. The latter idea appealed to me most, and I didn't have any paint to hand, so I decided to see what it would look like if I tried to turn it into a walking dead bush creature with a head and arms sticking out. This was the result:



It was at this point that I designed the actual folklore behind the creature - naming it as the Afelyn, and deciding on its particular characteristics (which I'll detail more in the main thread for it, here).

And then I finished the sculpting: here are front, scale, and back views of the final result! It's not super great but given I haven't sculpted in years it could certainly be worse...





« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 09:36:53 PM by Jubal »
The duke, the wanderer, the philosopher, the mariner, the warrior, the strategist, the storyteller, the wizard, the wayfarer...