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Everything posted by Dr.Bedlam

  1. We were all in college in San Marcos at the time. But I grew up watching Popeye cartoons on Cap'n Gus's Sunday morning show on KENS-TV, so naturally, I decided to kill him. Chill is the game that taught me the importance of genre in roleplaying and the power of setting a mood, as opposed to simply describing what you see when you kick in a door. To this day, the Troll does NOT like Go-Bots or Transformers. I have heard that Chill's in a new edition. I have a Second Edition copy around here somewhere, but I find that Cryptworld, from Goblinoid Games, does a better job of capturing the feel of the old eighties Pacesetter edition. I miss boxed games. I've had a happy ever since they started remaking the "Boxed Set Starter Version" of a number of games. Why should someone have to drop fifty bucks or more to find out if they enjoy a game or not?
  2. Chill (Pacesetter Games, 1984) was a boxed roleplaying game of the 1980s style. Instead of elves or dwarves, the players are paranormal investigators, locked in a never ending battle against the forces of the Unknown, set in whatever time frame (Victorian, 1920s, or modern day) that they find appropriate and enjoyable. I played this game in the eighties. Still have my copy. And I have told this story enough times that I think the time has come to write it down. ************************************************************************************** I can’t remember the name of the long ago comic shop. It went out of business after a couple of years, which was a shame because I loved the place; in addition to comics, they sold games and gaming stuff and science fiction paperbacks and collectibles and ephemera and cool stuff of all sorts; the manager was a charming and pleasant lady, and her husband used to hang out in the place and follow you around and make unsolicited comments about whatever you were looking at, which might have been a factor in the place going out of business, but I digress. They had a “Used Game Box.” They’d buy your old gaming stuff for store credit, and then you could buy stuff out of the box at a discount. I found a LOT of fun stuff in that magical box (still have the copy of Metamorphosis Alpha I found in there)... but I remember the box mainly for the boxed copy of Chill I found in it. I walked in one morning to see if the latest Crisis On Infinite Earths was in yet (it wasn’t), and the manager’s husband immediately began trying to steer me towards the PROPER comics, and I was NOT in the mood that day, and I turned and walked away from him (prompting a snort of derision for my rudeness). The new item in the box was Chill. I think they were asking four dollars, and I paid it and walked out with the box in hand that day. And that weekend, me and the boys decided to give it a spin. My roommate Bobo had seen me perusing it, and had generated a character, and by the weekend, the Troll had generated a Cherokee special forces veteran, a crack shot with his twin automatic pistols, and Rocket Boy had created an erudite college professor from Louisiana, steeped in arcane lore, and together with Bobo’s psychic insurance salesman, they were ready to go tackle a monster. The boxed set, like I mentioned, was in the Eighties style, and came with a referee book and a monster guide and tokens and so forth. Regrettably, the introductory adventure, “Terror In Warwick House,” was pretty lame, with clues that were practically spoon fed to the adventurers, and I knew this group would not be impressed... so I decided to wing it. Reading the monster guide, I decided on a Doll Master, a sort of vengeful ghost who interacts with the real world by possessing dolls and stuffed animals, to inflict his rage upon the living! The gamemaster guide suggested building the story first, and launching the adventure from there. I came up with a tale of a puppeteer who once worked for the local TV station, making and working puppets for the kid show host, and who had lost his job and fallen on ruin when the Cap’n Gus show was cancelled! Having got drunk and drowned himself in the San Antonio River, his evil ghost had possessed his puppets and murdered the kid show host, his director and producer, and was now merrily murdering anyone who happened to be within the radius of where his bones lay unburied, between the hours of sunset and sunrise... in modern San Antonio, Texas! (Now, at this point, I’m gonna take a chance. Y’see, STORIES about RPG sessions are usually BORING. If you weren’t THERE, it’s just TALKING, and it’s DULL. Who wants to hear about your tenth level barbarian, anyway? So if you want to skim or skip the next part, I wouldn’t blame you. But I’ll hit the high points and try to keep it zingy, okay?) The heroic S.A.V.E organization, alerted of possible supernatural activity, had dispatched our heroes to investigate the murders, and perhaps deal with the spooky threat. The game, unlike Dungeons And Dragons, prioritizes investigation, and the first hour that evening involved no fighting, but some sleuth work at the local paper and the police station. The boys quickly determined that there had been six murders, noteworthy due to cause of death being knife wounds and pre-mortem bite marks... although the bite marks seemed VERY small, and didn’t match the dentition of any known critter. They seemed human, but ranged from baby sized (assuming the baby had very sharp teeth) down to what seemed like a human bite from a head the size of a ... golf ball? Furthermore, the first three victims had been associated with the local TV station, and all had worked on “The Cap’n Gus Show,” whereas the other three had been unrelated to television or each other. And one of them had worked at the toy store at the mall... across the highway from the TV station... The guys were stumped. They’d been expecting vampires or werewolves, and they hadn’t read the monster guide. Still, this was obviously supernatural, and bore further investigating, and they decided to break into the mall after closing, and look at the toy store for clues. The Troll, aka Captain Standing Deer, put his espionage skills to work, and circumvented the mall’s security system, and they were able to get into the back passageways of the mall, and into the Kay Bee Toy Store. Outside, thunder could be heard. A storm was brewing. “All right,” said the Troll. “We go in the back door. What do we see?” “Nothing.” I said. “It’s dark.” “Come on, no lights at ALL?” said Bobo, aka Bob From Prudential Insurance. “Stores leave SOME lights on.” “Dude, you’re in a mall, after dark.” I said. “Place is closed. No windows. No lights. Dark. There MIGHT be a night watchman or security guard. It IS a mall, after all. But it’s black in there.” “I get out my flashlight and turn it on,” sighed Rocket Boy, aka Professor Boudreaux. “What do I see?” “Ahead, there are long shelf racks of toys,” I said. “To your left, the back wall is full of doll accessories. To your right, the back wall is full of stuffed toys, teddy bears, and like that. What do you do? Note that with the three of you flashing lights around, if there IS a security guard in the mall, you guys are going to be as obvious in here as a roach on a wedding cake.” The guys agreed to keep lookout, and to avoid flashing their lights out the front of the store, and moved into the darkened toy store. Bobo headed for the front register, to look for employee records and perhaps an office. Troll and Rocket Boy stood there, not sure what to do. “Outside, you hear thunder, and there’s a flash of light from the front of the store,” I said. “There’s a big skylight in the main concourse, and when the lightning flashes, you get a big flash throughout the store. Rocket, make a Perception roll.” Dice roll. “I make it,” said Rocket. “You realize in the light from the flash of lightning? All the teddy bears and stuffed animals have their heads turned, like they’re all looking at you.” LONG pause. “Were they like that before?” “You didn’t notice.” Pause. “Okay,” said Rocket. “I... walk over to the OTHER side of the display.” “Can I get to the front counter? Is there a manager’s office?” said Bobo. “I go to the other side of the store from where Rocket is,” said the Troll. “What do I see?” “All right,” I said. “Rocket, you walk to the other side of the display. All the teddy bears are looking away from you, towards the back door. Bobo, you get to the front of the store. You notice that the roll cage at the main entrance is about halfway up; that shouldn’t be, since the store is closed. All the OTHER stores outside have their roll cages closed. There is a door behind the counter, possibly a manager’s office. Oh, and make a Perception roll. Meanwhile, Troll, you go to the left back corner and look down the far wall. You see racks and racks of Masters Of The Universe, GI Joes, Go-Bots, and stuff hanging on the wall. Down at the far end of the aisle, you see Bobo standing near the counter. There is another bright flash of lightning, and a KRAKABOOM of thunder! Rocket, make another Perception roll.” “WOO!” said Bobo. “Oh-nine on MY perception! What do I see?” “Thirty-two,” said Rocket. “What do I see?” Portentious pause. “Bobo, from where you’re standing, you realize there is a dark colored puddle spreading out on the far side of the counter from where you’re standing. You see a pair of feet wearing work shoes sticking out from behind the counter. Lying in the puddle.” “I head up to the counter, NOW,” interrupted the Troll. “Rocket,” I said, “You see the Troll suddenly head up to the front of the store; your view of him and the front is blocked by all the shelves. You realize that you are now alone in the back of the store. And in the flash of lightning... you see that all the stuffed animals’ heads are now pointed at YOU. Again.” “DID I SEE THEM MOVE?” “You didn’t notice. You just saw, in the brief flash, that all the animals are looking in YOUR direction now.” “Um... guys....” said Rocket nervously. “I look around the counter,” said the Troll. “What’s the puddle, and what do I see?” “Blood, of course,” I said. “Man in a security guard uniform, slashed all to hell. A box cutter lies next to him in the puddle. You also notice that his keys are hanging from the key thingy that raises the roll cage of the store entrance; someone must have taken his keys and opened the gate, partly.” “I check him. Dead?” said the Troll. “Does he have a gun?” asked Bobo.” “Quite dead. Still warm, not long ago at all. He has an empty holster,” I grinned. “I get my shotgun out,” said Rocket. “Everyone make a perception roll,” I said. Dice were grabbed, and rolled, and numbers were shouted out. “You all hear it,” I said. “Hear WHAT?” interrupted Rocket, a tad on the shrill side. “A popping, crackling noise, with some tearing sounds,” I said. “Coming from the aisle the Troll just ran down.” “Someone is in here with us making popcorn?” frowned Bobo. “The sound is more like.... THIS,” I said. I reached under the table, and where they couldn’t see my hand, I began squeezing and releasing a plastic blister pack from a figurine. Crackle krinkle POPPLE crackle.... The Troll tumbled to it first. “I look at the wall racks where the Go-Bots and GI Joes were!” he snapped. “Perception roll,” I said. He rolled. We both saw his roll. “Good enough, At first everything looks the way it did before. But then you realize that a lot of the little blisters the figurines were in? They’re torn open. Looks almost like they were burst open from the inside. And on the floor, you see a scattering of tiny rifles and machine guns and little toy weapons... left behind when they fell from the open blisters. The figures themselves are nowhere to be seen....” “Um,” said Bobo. “I keep an eye on those stuffy toys,” said Rocket, “And I also look around for GI Joes and Go-Bots.... ahhh.....” he trailed off, realizing that this would require him to be looking in two directions at once. “You hear a sort of clattering sound,” I said to Rocket. “Did I mention that you’re all alone in the back of the store?” “What kind of clattering sound?” said Rocket. “I move up the central aisle, towards the back door,” said Bobo. “About how many figures would you say there were, with their packages torn open...?” “I look around for the security guard’s gun,” said the Troll. “Is it near him? Behind the counter, maybe?” “The gun is nowhere to be seen,” I said. “Bobo, you can’t see the wall rack from where you are, but there were hundreds of figures hanging on it last you saw. Flash of lightning. KRAAACKABOOOOOOM! Rocket? That last one was loud enough to make your ears ring... but you still hear the clattering sound. Clack, clack clack.... almost.... like little tiny hard plastic boots. A LOT of them. Marching.” Pause. “Okay, I head for the back door,” said the Troll. “I think we’ve done all we can do here.” “Yeah, me too,” said Bobo nervously. “Do I see any of those figures between us and the door?” “I go back around the stuffy toys to the back door,” said Rocket. “I keep at LEAST THREE FEET between me and the stuffy toys. And I open the back door, and if you tell me it’s locked, I’m GOING to PUNCH you.” “Troll did not say that he relocked the door, therefore the door is unlocked,” I said. “You open the door.” As our heroes slipped into the back access corridor, I said, “Oh... just as you get out into the access corridor? You hear someone yelling near the front of the store... do you stop to investigate?” “We kill the flashlights!” said Bobo. “Fine. The access corridor is black as a coal mine at midnight. You are now standing in total darkness. But do you investigate?” Pause. “We stop a moment and listen,” said the Troll. “You hear yelling. Light flashes under the door in the total darkness where you’re standing. KRACKABOOOOOM! And then... gunshots! One, two, three shots... and then a scream. A LOUD scream, someone screaming in... agony! He screams again. And AGAIN.... and then... silence. All you can hear now.... is the distant roar of the rain on the roof.....” Pause. “It occurs to you that a mall might have more than one security guard... and that he might get suspicious if he saw the half open gate at Kay Bee Toys.” The guys all looked at each other. And at me. “Well,” I said. “It’s eleven o’clock. Wanna shut ‘er down, pick up next time?” The guys all looked at me like I was insane. “HELL, NO!” yelled the Troll. “Tomorrow’s Saturday,” growled Bobo. “Where do YOU have to be? I’m gonna order a pizza.” “I’m gonna go get the beer out of the car,” said Rocket, rising from his seat. “Been on ice, should be cold now,” He walked over to the front door, and opened it. After a pause, he flicked on the porch light. And then stood there a moment, making no move to step outside. “Everything okay out there?” grinned Bobo. Rocket grinned back at him. It was a real grin, albeit with a flicker of nervousness. “Yeah,” said Rocket. “It’s just... my car. The headlights. It’s like.... it’s looking at me.” The Troll burst out laughing. Eleven o’clock. We’d been playing for hours. Not a shot fired, not a blow struck. But no one was bored, and no one wanted to quit NOW! And Rocket was antsy about stepping out into the dark front yard. And that’s where I knew that this new Chill game was gonna be a hit. Now, some of you might say, "That's a mighty pretty description of a roleplaying game session," and you'd be right. I'm describing a thing that happened in 1985, from memory, and I am certainly filling in some details that I don't recall perfectly. But I do remember Rocket Boy hesitating and laughing nervously at the front door because he wanted beer, and his car was STAAARING at him. We kept going that night, and I believe we wrapped it up in the wee hours of the morning. We did finish the adventure; the only way to put a Doll Master to rest (according to Dr. Boudreaux's research) was to find his grave and put a doll in it. They had to go find the guy's bones, DIG a grave, and put a doll in it, and the final battle was epic; thunder, lightning, and sheets of rain, our heroes sneaking into a graveyard with the bones (consecrated ground!) and fighting a horde of angry sharp-toothed dolls, GI Joes, and Go-Bots, to protect Bobo while he frantically dug a hole and put the bones in it, only to realize that the teddy bear he'd meant to bury with the bones had suddenly sprouted a mouth full of sharp teeth and sunk them into the flesh of his arm! Rocket Boy blasted away with his shotgun, frantically jacking shells into the chamber! Each blast vaporized a stuffed toy, a Barbie, or a Chatty Cathy, but he only had so many shells... and the DOLLS KEPT COMING! How the hell many of them WERE there...? The Troll was stymied; he had plenty of bullets for his twin automatics, but a GI Joe is a tricky shot to hit even at point blank range! They were tiny enough that one couldn't do a lot of damage with its little teeth... but there were DOZENS of Joes and He-Mans and Go-Bots, and at one point, he was reduced to standing there struggling with them, outlined against the lighting, clawing the tiny assassins away from him and flinging them into the darkness, but they climbed up his legs in WAVES... .... and the climax came with a GUNSHOT, and an EXPLOSION of PAIN in Standing Deer's shoulder! "You take a Medium Wound," I said. "In the flash of lightning, you see, about forty feet away, four Go-Bots in a sort of Iwo Jima Flagraising pose... but instead of raising a flag... they're raising the SECURITY GUARD'S STOLEN REVOLVER, from the TOY STORE...." "I GRAB A GI JOE OFF MY &@#$% CHEST AND THROW THE $&#^$%@ GI JOE INTO THE GRAVE! BURY THE @%#$& THING, BOBO!!!" roared the Troll. "Um, your right arm doesn't work," I said. "It has a bullet in it. And the Go-Bots are cocking the revolver...." "THEN I USE MY LEFT HAND!!!" "I THROW A SPADE OF DIRT ONTO THE GI JOE!" screamed Bobo. The teddy bear was on his back, teeth bared, climbing up his soaked shirt and trying to get to his neck. Lightning flashed! "You're kind of distracted. Roll to see if you can shovel a spadeful of dirt. Don't roll higher than a ninety," I advised Bobo. He rolled.... a 56, as I recall. The dirt fell on the tiny figurine. ....and just like that.... the dolls all fell, like puppets with their strings cut. And our heroes stood there, bleeding and wounded, in the falling rain. Pause. "Okay, I push DOWN on the dirt with the shovel," said Bobo. "I am careful NOT to uncover the GI Joe. In fact, I shovel MORE dirt into the hole, on top of the GI Joe. And when ALL the dirt is shoveled into the hole, I dig ANOTHER hole, and shovel THAT dirt onto the GI Joe. And I'm not gonna stop until the mound is TEN FEET HIGH!" Not every RPG session is a success. But the ones that are have a sort of narrative energy to them that reverberates LONG after you put the dice back in the bag. You REMEMBER those sessions, and those are the sessions that you want to TELL people about afterwards, and far too often, you just bore them. I hope I ain't bored anybody with this one.
  3. I was working on two 7TV teams from Crooked Dice: "Terry Tonker and the Tiny Terrors" and "The Friendsies." Finished Gene Wilder days ago, but spent this morning finishing the Loompas and the Droogs... and I saw them all standing there on my workbench, waiting to be taken out and clear coated... and a horrible idea bubbled forth. Took maybe ten minutes to glue a top hat to a base and add paint, and suddenly, we had a story....
  4. I warned him. I WARNED him. "Wonka," I said, "you have GOT to cool it with those Golden Tickets and factory tours. One of these days, you're going to pull that 'cute little boat ride' nonsense once too often, or on the wrong person, and when that happens, it WILL NOT END WELL! And when the poop hits the rotary attachment, all the fine print on all the nondisclosure agreements between here and Harvard Law School are NOT going to save you. Cut your losses while you CAN! Hell, the Loompas don't like that boat ride any more than I do, and you'd KNOW it if you ever TALKED to them! I'm telling you, stop while you're ahead! Or at LEAST vet your guests better! You don't want a repeat of that blueberry incident, do you? Or worse?" And he just gave me that cute little smirk that says, I know something you don't know. Yeah, well, I KNEW those four English kids were trouble... and apparently, he did not.... ....sometimes I have really bad ideas, and no one STOPS me....
  5. And, at last, the concluding post: He-Man and Skeletor. Frankly, I always thought "He-Man" was about the dumbest name for a toy... or a cartoon hero... that you could get while actually trying. I mean, seriously, "He-Man?" Watching The Toys That Made us, though, the reasoning becomes obvious. In the early eighties, the first generation of toy designers who ever thought to make dolls for boys were STILL IN THEIR JOBS. One of the guys who claims to have invented the Masters Of The Universe line did so by modifying some old Mattel Big Jim toys to be even MORE muscular than their predecessors (and the Big Jim action figures were pretty studly guys, following in the footsteps of being An Action Figure For Boys That Spouts Testosterone When You Turn His Arm Clockwise). That, and as previously mentioned, Mattel made extensive use of focus groups to see what their customers wanted. Masters of the Universe was as cynical a money grab as any legal enterprise in history: a story and toy line assembled entirely out of checkboxes on a survey. Boys wanted POWER, they wanted to be IN CHARGE, and what better appeal to that than "Masters Of The Universe! With HE-MAN, the most POWERFUL MAN IN THE UUUUNIVERRRRSE?" Crazy thing? It worked. Mattel dominated the toy markets of the eighties, with Hasbro's Transformers and GI Joes a close second. The cartoons are still around, and the toyline's been rebooted TWICE, though with nowhere near the success of the original iteration. And, of course, there are collectors. More than one antique store I've seen has a Castle Greyskull for sale, minus the box, accessories, and everything else, for prices it would not occur to me to pay. ...and resulting in a line of miniatures, nearly forty years after the toys and TV show first launched. .... hmm... now that I think about it, Hasbro currently makes the licensed minis for the D&D line, and has produced several figures from the Transformers G1 line (the ones from the old eighties cartoon show). Wonder what kind of diorama I could make out of THAT...?
  6. This is a Gorn. The Gorn appeared in two episodes of Star Trek; one Original Series, and one Enterprise. Weirdly enough, the Gorn has also appeared in two episodes of The Big Bang Theory, both times in dream sequences in which Sheldon is feeling guilty about something. While the Gorn has absolutely nothing to do with Masters Of The Uni... wait, what am I talking about? What am I DOING? Good lord, what TIME is it? I'm going to go to bed, now. Happy Fourth, everyone...
  7. 5. TEELA "Teela, Warrior Goddess." Another example of how the creatives at Mattel apparently were just throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck, and wound up keeping the placeholder names. Teela was, in all incarnations of MOTU, a capable and competent warrior, but never a goddess, or even a princess. Teela was also an example of the Short Packed Chick, the female action figure in the set who's shortpacked in the box because they figure she won't sell as well because she's a GURR-ul. If they're going to take that attitude about it, I dunno why they'd put her in the set at ALL, except that her presence sort of cuts the homoeroticism of a big studly mostly naked guy and his big studly mustache friend battling a blue skullfaced .... studly ...seminaked guy.... and.... um.... his beasty orange... studly.... monster.... minion... in the blue eyeshadow and lipstick. Yeah, okay, maybe Teela and Evil-Lyn were in there for a good reason. Which sort of got blown out of the water by Prince Adam's daily wear of white shirt with pink vest, and purple tights. Yeah. But I digress. Little in the way of resources was spent on the women. They both used the same body model, albeit with a palette swap, and different heads and accessories; Teela's original model sort of tried to hide this by including a sort of serpent headdress/armor thing, which was later discarded for later releases. Strangely enough, Teela wound up being in great demand because several years in, Mattel realized that GIRLS were buying MOTU toys, a thing which caused them to release the She-Ra, Princess of Power line, and its accompanying cartoon show... a thing which continues to reverberate, even now. Teela was a bit of a disappointment. Loads of flash, and her arms were awkwardly posed; other figures came in multiple parts, but Teela, it looks like her arms were molded separately, and then glued on awkwardly before the figures shipped. But they're integral to the figure, so rather than remove and repose them, I left them be. Again, the sculptor seems to feel that women either have little teeny eyes or are constantly squinting. Her shield DID come as a separate piece, and had to be glued onto her hand. Not the best of the included figures. But still, a worthwhile experience.
  8. 4. EVIL-LYN By the time Evil-Lyn came along, the Lords of the Butler Dormitory Third Floor TV Room, of whom I was a member, decided, "Man, they just put NO effort into coming up with names for these guys, did they? I'm surprised they gave Man At Arms a real name at all." Skeletor, for example; he's NOT a SKELETON! Jeez, I should be so ripped! If anything, his name should be SKULLITOR, because of the skull! But I digress. I watched "The Toys That Made Us," on Netflix, pulled up the episode on the genesis of Masters Of The Universe (yes, I did way more research for this project than I really should have, but I'm on summer vacation AND quarantine, and I needed something to do, y'know?) Viewing this documentary reinforces the idea that Success Has Many Fathers, But Failure Is An Orphan, as three different Mattel guys claim credit for inventing the Masters of the Universe. One of them explains: We researched the concept. Boys wanted to have power, to be powerful, and these toys were a way to do that by proxy. That's why their names were so simple; the kids who bought the toys would give the figures their own names. Another one explains: Mainly we couldn't be bothered. The names were placeholders. He-Man in particular never had any other name, and when we went into production, we just said the heck with it. "Prince Adam" was invented by the Filmation people for the cartoon. So. Evil-Lyn. Another thing about research? There is Rule 34 for Masters of the Universe, and roughly 70% of it features Evil-Lyn. Google carefully, ye who would follow me. And even when it's G rated, her artwork tends to vary; there's a LOT of fan art out there, and while I never actually owned any of the original action figures, I am confident that Evil-Lyn never wore a thong. Lyn was hasslesome to prepare, as she was another one who had enough flash on her, you could durn near mold another figure out of the scrap when you're done. That, and she suffered from the not infrequent problem of "Let's mold this figure with a mold line right down the side of her face." Bleh. There was much prep work to be done. And when I finished with that, there was the question of skin tone. The action figure's flesh was a sort of cross between oil drop yellow and a sort of off-banana-peel. It remains unclear whether Evil-Lyn was intended to be cartoonishly Asian, or whether all those magical Smurf snacks that powered her magic was starting to cause jaundice, or what. Fortunately, the Filmation people solved the issue by simply making her a very pale Caucasian. In the interests of avoiding offense or political weirdness, I went with that as well. Her eyes needed enlarging, as the sculptor seemed to think she should be squinting; with paint, I cheated the eyes bigger. I was surprised to find in the course of my research that when she takes her hat off, she has white hair underneath. I just took it for granted that in Eternia, no one ever took their hat off; part of the same dress code that mandates fur briefs for all male citizens except King Randor. This was another piece where I had to sorta resist the urge to shade and highlight. The look we're going for here is a Filmation cartoon or action figure, and too much detail SPOILS that, which makes these a great little side project, but maybe not so much for serious art.
  9. I had no idea they existed until I read that just now and googled it. Grenadier DID do MOTU figurines, albeit about as well as they were doing all their figures back circa 1983. Huh. Well, you learn something new every day... and speaking of learning: 2. MAN AT ARMS Man At Arms, He-Man's faithful sorta sidekick, master of all weapons, and possessor of his own dental spit sink, which he has cleverly incorporated into his armor. I don't know why he needs a spit sink, or what advantage there is in armor that won't let you look down and see what you're stepping into, but, well, that's why he's Man At Arms, and I am not. I was surprised, when I was looking up pictures for color research, to find that Man At Arms' original action figure incarnation wasn't what I remembered; he was shorter, squatter, meaner looking, like a sort of angry construction worker wearing armor made from leftover plumbing and props from the last Flash Gordon movie. And a pair of fur briefs. Can't forget those. I also noted that his original action figure had said briefs and shoes molded in PURPLE plastic. A PURPLE fur loincloth. What sort of technicolor wildlife do they HAVE running around the forests and plains of Eternia, for potato's sake? Fortunately, Filmation decided to make his briefs and shoes brown, a decision I went along with when choosing the colors. The metal figurine looked less like the action figure and more like the character from the cartoon, whose name was Duncan, because apparently the writers wanted to have something to call him other than the name on his package. They also gave him a mustache and aged him up a decade or two, to make him more sympathetic, as well as a believable stepfather to Teela and a mentor figure for He-Man. This is good, because I preferred the look of the Filmation character to the action figure. The lesson here: Go with a gold that contrasts as much as possible with the brown loincloth, and DON'T be subtle. Cartoons aren't subtle. Although weirdly, it makes me want to buy a second set of these minis, and redo them in such a way where I make all the color choices, instead of going with Filmation's story bibles and screen clips. 3. ORKO Orko was the single cartooniest figure on the TV show. Not remotely human, with big cartoon eyes and a knack for bungling magic spells. Orko wasn't one of the first wave of action figures, or even the second or third. He wasn't supposed to be there at ALL; Filmation added him to the TV cartoon as comic relief, and to be the character that everyone else explains things to, in terms of exposition. This was necessary, because he wasn't from Eternia; he was a troll, from the planet Trollia, where the laws of physics work differently, hence his inability to use his magic properly. He was popular enough with the kids that he did eventually wind up getting an action figure of his own. And Orko was a bear and a half. While other figures had issues with flash, Orko had issues with MOLDING, as he had no recesses in the ends of his sleeves or the bottom of his hem. This is an issue, because his hands were separate from his arms; you get to cut those off the slot sprue and glue them on the ends of his arms. The sleeve cuffs you see? Those are in fact crazy glue; I put enough coats on there that there eventually WERE recesses to plug his wrists into! Had a tougher time with Orko than with any of the other figures. Art references couldn't seem to agree as to whether his robe was rose colored or the same red as his hat; I decided to go with rose. In the course of researching this, I also learned of a fan theory in which MOTU is set in the same universe as The Smurfs, but two thousand years in the future; Orko is, in fact, a disguised Papa Smurf, the last of his kind since Gargamel unlocked the secret of turning Smurfs into potent magical energies. The years have not been kind to Papa Smurf, bringing senility and magical impotence, far down from his powers at their height. These same fans differ on whether or not Gargamel destroyed himself with unlimited Smurf magic, or whether it addicted, corrupted, and mutated him into Skeletor. Abs for days, sure, but a whole dairy's wortha Butter Face. Me? I think some people just don't have enough to do to occupy their minds properly. Learn to paint, fanboys! THAT will teach you FOCUS!
  10. They have those, too. I am currently pondering whether or not to buy more, and which ones. I had wondered; Mattel's a pretty big outfit, and they tend not to notice little garage casters .... until they do. I had a hard time envisioning this one little business even getting their attention, much less making them an attractive offer. There was once a Masters of the Universe boxed RPG, back in the eighties; released by FASA, an outfit that did very well with Battletech, Star Trek: the RPG, and Doctor Who: The RPG, among others. It seems to have been originally envisioned as a boardgame, and then they tried to tack on RPG rules, and didn't do a great job; the game's durn near unplayable unless you make some judgment calls as far as the rules go, and are infamous for the fact that they seem to have FORGOTTEN to put the list of spells in (they did stick an errata card in explaining that the spells would be along in "MOTU: The Advanced Game" which, of course, never came out. These figures would be great for this game, assuming I had a copy, and could dope out how to play it. I rather liked the idea that the basic rules were explained in comic book format.
  11. Next: Man At Arms, and the importance of high contrast when dealing in cartoon circus colors.
  12. Nobody likes being told that they are incorrectly using their own written language. Particularly when you're right about it.
  13. By the time the Masters Of The Universe toys and TV series debuted in 1983, I was in college, and too old for them. This did not stop me; I recall a number of hungover Saturday mornings in which I would take a bowl of cereal down to the Day Room in the dormitory, wrapped in a blanket, and soothe my tortured body with mindless cartoons and Captain Crunch. And it seemed like Masters Of The Universe was being shown on some channel or other about every DAY throughout much of the eighties. I don't remember it WELL, but remember it I do. Back in the days of the eighties, when beer was one of the Seven Basic Food Groups, and it was all right to have twenty minute toy commercials masquerading as educational programming, I whiled away a number of pleasant half hours wondering why He-Man, a buff guy with sword, shield, and a giant green tiger for a mount, spent so much time seeking peaceful solutions to his problems. It sure didn't seem to go with his wardrobe. Fast forward to the year 2020, and there's this company making pewter MOTU figures. Not even knockoffs; they sell their stuff with the actual MOTU logo from the old TV show, which means they are either officially licensed, or a remarkably brassy pirate outfit. And I began to think of these figures, because if they are indeed a remarkably brassy pirate project, they could, suddenly, stop being made and sold at any time, pending their discovery by the Mattel Corporation and a flurry of legal paperwork. And so, I bought seven of them, thinking "This will be a fun little side project." I did not realize that there were lessons to be learned here, and that once you acquire a given set of rules for art? Breaking them feels WEIRD. This will be a continuing series as I complete each figure and natter pointlessly about whatever random thoughts crawled sluggishly through my head as I worked. 1. BEAST MAN Beast-Man, evil henchman of Skeletor, and dimwitted comic relief on the TV show, was one of the original seven figures released for the toy line, and one of the major regulars on the TV cartoon. I vaguely remembered him looking sort of like an orange werewolf, and upon checking Google Image, determined that I was right. Upon noting Beast-Man's color palette, though, I realized that I had apparently never noticed his fondness for blue eye shadow. Furthermore, the figurine apparently wore blue lipstick as well. I did remember that the dress code on the planet Eternia called for all males not of royal blood to wear fur briefs. This was apparently a LAW, because durn near everyone seemed to wear a sort of barbaric fur kilt, and given these figures' impossibly small pelvises, they looked for all the world like fur Fruit Of The Looms. And in painting the figure, I idly wondered what sort of Eternian mammal one had to hunt down to get one's fur briefs in ... blue. Blue fur. Blue fur briefs. Funny thing? The sculpt isn't bad at all. The molding process used to make the figures produced a LOT of flash on several of them; the figures needed considerable prep work. But Beast-Man, given what I would call a good paint job, could make a very passable sort of feral barbarian monster. But given the color palette of the toy, I found myself thinking, "Werewolf circus clown." The blue lips didn't help. But upon completion, I did concede that I had successfully matched the color palette of toy and cartoon. More on this as the figures are completed.
  14. Jim Holloway was EVERYWHERE in gaming products in the eighties. The original Pacesetter "Chill" game and the original "Paranoia" used his artwork, I believe, to the exclusion of all other artists, at least in the main basic sets. And I remember his work in the FASA Doctor Who supplement, "The Daleks." The guy was a part of it all. I wish his family the very best.
  15. I am faintly irritated that everyone else's first minis are better than MY first mini was.
  16. I quit giving a rat what those around me thought when I was around thirteen or so. Where I grew up, there was tremendous pressure to be one thing or another, and I never fit into any of the offered slots. By the time I reached my rebellious teen phase, I KNEW there were others like me out there, but it took years to get out there and find them. It wasn't until I was grown and married that I realized, for example, that Thanksgiving wasn't an ordeal. It was, in fact, a heck of a lot of fun. I realized it the first year I spent it somewhere other than with my relatives. That year, I spent it with friends and THEIR families, and that was the year I realized this: Real families, often as not, don't grow up under the same roof. Would have saved me a lot of pain and trouble if someone had told me that twenty years previous to the learning. If you're not hurting anyone else, be what you are.
  17. This little guy was my first miniature. This picture is not mine; I still have the mini, but I've stripped and repainted him easily half a dozen times since 1978, and if I recall correctly, his first paint job was with Testors Enamels before I learned about acrylics. The picture is of someone else's Grenadier Halfling Torchbearer that I found on Google. In '78, I knew that there were miniatures, but I lived out in the sticks and had no idea where to get them. In the Basic D&D set I bought in Laredo, Texas, though, there was a blow in card for TSR Hobbies, and I sent off for their catalog, and received a terrible photocopied thing whose pictures left a lot to be desired. I ordered a couple of the official AD&D boxed sets from Grenadier Miniatures via the Dungeon Hobby Shop out of Lake Geneva. Back then, when you ordered a thing, it took WEEKS to travel. I believe it was a month before the package arrived, and then I agonized for a weekend before I finally put brush to paint. This little guy was the first one in a long, LONG line of miniatures. I did get better.
  18. How did I miss this? Happy birthday!!!
  19. The book's current guts are the printed out PDF from the recent "Monsters! Monsters!" 2nd edition Kickstarter. I have considered pulling them out and replacing them with a printout of the PDF "Busty Barbarian Bimbos: The RPG." At least the cover and interior art would somewhat match the cover.
  20. There's a gameplay video on YouTube for the Commodore version; I will not link to it for fear Ladystorm would take me to task for linking to exposed highly pixellated boobies. It does stand as a rather amusing example of what our ancient forebears of the mid eighties thought of as entertainment. I am a member of a Facebook group, Fans Of The Dead Games Society. It's a discussion group for people who enjoy older RPGs that are no longer in print or supported. Great place for hearing about obscure old games and discussing them. I ran across a photoshopped picture of "The Samantha Fox Role Playing Game" in my archives, and for a lark, created a front and back cover in MS Paint, printed them, and glued them to an old children's book I bought at a used bookstore for a buck. Then I posted some pics on the Facebook group. I figured anyone who was interested would Google it, and figure out I was joking. Turns out that if you Google it properly, you are led back to the Reaper Forums, where I posted the original photoshopped picture and an extensive review of the game two years ago, and promptly forgot about...... HERE, where everyone KNOWS not to take me too seriously. Several people assumed the game existed (not noticing that Tom O. Bedlam was talking about a game reviewed here two years ago by one Dr. Bedlam) and started scouring eBay for copies. I've spent a couple days now PMing people and apologizing and hoping they weren't too irate or frustrated about the joke....
  21. I'm interested, but when I hear "Starter Set," I tend to think "Everything you need to play right out of the box." This starter set does not include everything you need to play. It also does not include a box, far as I can tell. When you hang a little disclaimer on there saying, "Core rulebook required to actually PLAY," I am not enthused. $85 USD for eight minis, a deck of cards, some tokens, and no rulebook?
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