Fantasy Toy Soldiers…who knew?

If you’re an aging Gen-X geek with a few hours to kill, head on over to Fantasy Toy Soldiers right now and indulge in one man’s obsessive quest to document off-brand (and often wacky) toys along the lines of plastic army men or dinosaurs.  I can’t count how many of these things (or ones like them) I lost at the beach, in the back yard, or under the bed…

I love this blog!  I came to it after finding some ebay sales on old Arco The Other World figures, which I had as a kid…I especially liked the phoenix with antennae and the two-headed dragon.  Check out the zany box art!

castle2bzendo

Enough digging around on FTS will turn up all kinds of craziness. I love how this set (also from Arco, it seems) rips off classic D&D lead sculpts from Grenadier, Heritage, AND Ral Partha, all in one go!

dsc_0051

I wish I could get my hands on some of these things, given my latest obsession with all things plastic.  I’ve been painting the recently canceled Handful of Heroes figures again, and have approximately 1,000,000 Reaper Bones minis awaiting paint…

In the meantime, check out Fantasy Toy Soldiers.

 

Ecce oculus: Behold the Eye

I don’t know what specific circle of Dork Nirvana I entered today.  As my friend Doug would say, “you’re embarrassing yourself.”  But here goes…

Confession:  I built a beholder out of my kids’ Legos.  (Sorry, Lego Bricks.)

"Hello there!"

It’s a first version, but after seemingly countless hours of trying to figure out how to do it, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

I’m especially proud of the eyestalks–I was stuck on a way to attach them, and figured out the Technics clips trick combined with the old Space laser guns.  I wish they’d all been white instead of gray, but I didn’t have ten white ones.  Each eye is a different color, though, which makes me very happy.  In a geeky sort of way.  Mayzie and Charlie spent dinner discussing which color went with which magic power.  Yes!

It's his good side.

So I’ll likely build another one, as I’m not especially pleased with the mouth or the back of the sphere.   But if I’m inspired, I’ll be trying a roper next, or a carrion crawler, or a rust monster.  I don’t have enough clear blocks for a big gelatinous cube, but I could make a mini-scale one.

All this came about because Charlie’s favorite new book is A Practical Guide to Monsters by Nina Hess.  (He’s got several of the Practical Guides, but this one’s his favorite. He calls it his “Chimera Book.”)

I do so love this book–it’s all the flavor of an old Monster Manual without all the stats and rules.  I remember when my best friend’s older brother got a copy of blue book Basic Dungeons & Dragons way back in ’81 or ’82.  I used to pore over the monster section for what seemed like hours.  The first hardback I got for AD&D was, of course, the Monster Manual, and I came to adore all the old first edition books–Fiend Folio  and Monster Manual II were also required reading.

What I love about Nina Hess’ Practical Guide is that it takes me back to those days, when I spent more time studying the manuals than I did playing the game.  In fact, the books seem intended to make the act of studying the monster lore central to the game (though I understand these are companion volumes to a series of YA novels).

I know it’s a gateway drug so my kid can want to learn about D&D.  I also got him a bunch of Super Hero Squad figures for Christmas, so I could induct him into the Marvel Universe as well…

The best thing, though, about the Hess book is undoubtedly the art.  It’s all full color, distinctive, and memorable.

Here's a killer rakshasa from Nina Hess' Practical Guide to Monsters.

This is the beholder image that Charlie obsesses over.

The cool thing is that as we began sorting our Legos after Christmas (yes, we sorted them by color…I know this is even worse on the geek-meter.  Hey, the Lego Ideas Book suggested we sort them!) Charlie said, “Let’s build a beholder.”  Coming from my four-year-old’s mouth, this was geeky music to my ears…

Charlie Approved: Safari Ltd. Mythical Realms Toys

So I’m back at the ranch here, after a long summer of travel. I’m back to work, too, and during my Creative Writing class I was reminiscing about “Ghostly Sounds” and played the track from this here blog. Which reminded me that I needed to, you know, actually write it if I were to call it a blog and not just and abandoned project.

In order to make my kid more like me (I know, a cruel project at best), I’ve been filling his toy box with cool fantasy creatures from various sources.  I started with a few from ELC’s “Tower of Doom” line, which, admittedly, is geared toward real little kids–but hey, Charlie’s three, ok?  These are not too impressive (except the two-headed wolf, which kind of rocks), with very cartoony poses and sculpts.

Early Learning Centre

A toy store here in Singapore, though, started carrying some great creatures from the French company Papo. Their “Fantastiques” line has some great beast-man figs, my favorites being the creatively named “Rhino Man” and “Crocodile Man.”

Papo Toys

We made some great acquisitions for the collection this summer from an excellent book/toy store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware called Browseabout Books.

Browseabout Books

They carry the whole range of Safari Ltd. toys. We already know and love the dinosaur models, but now they’re making “Mythical Realms” figures, which are of fantastic quality–rivaling Papo’s “Fantastiques” in their detail and design.

Charlie especially loves their Chimera, and so do I…

He carries it around all the time, and I have to admit, had I access to something this cool as a kid, I would have carried it around all the time too.  I also dig the Cyclops and the Griffin figures.   Looks like I’ll have to order a Medusa for Christmas…I really like the Burmese pythons for hair and in the body design.

Safari Ltd.