Friday, December 4, 2020

Wasteland Wear

Nuclear Snail Studios returns to our pages with this wonderful wasteland vest.  I love trying to identify how each piece was made and then built up to create the finished product.  Dimitri Zaitsev is a master at taking a pile of junk and turning it into amazing pieces like this.


 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Vampire Bat Specimen

Patrick Magee brings us this intriguing vampire bat specimen.  But what exactly is it?  A mundane vampire bat would, scientifically, be Desmodus rotundus.  Based solely on appearance this one is likely to be a transformed humanoid vampire, or Homo sapiens homovorus.  

Such are the questions faced every day by cryptozoological collectors.


 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

High Shamaness

This tribal high shamaness costume comes to us from Russian cosplayer and LARPer Fel0ra.  Photography by Daria Smirnova.


 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Keisuke Edition.

This insanely detailed Cthulhu sculpt comes to us from Japanese artist Yoneyama Keisuke.  Click through to see a full gallery of shots that show off the incredible texture work.


 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Fiat Lux

This cool crystal LARP lamp comes to us from Spanish propmakers Creadores a sueldo.   I can't wait until life gets back to normal and live action games can resume.

 


 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Celestial Devourer

 This hand-carved ring of the Celestial Devourer comes to us from artist Vincent DeVille.


 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Blade of the Secret Eye

 Ugrik brings us the Blade of the Secret Eye, featuring a hand forged steel blade, cast brass hardware, and a resin and linden grip.  


 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

It's Turkey Time!

It looks like I'll be having ham for Thanksgiving dinner.

Just in time for the holiday, Patrick Magee brings us this undead Turkey creature.  Mmmm...giblets.


 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Viking Dragon Armor

I'm no expert, but I think this set of Viking Dragon Armor from Schmiede Traum takes some historical liberties.  That said, it's absolutely beautiful.  The color scheme brings the whole thing to life.

 



 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Grimoire Weiss

The Grimoire Weiss is a tome/enslaved magical construct from the Nier:Automata video game.  Aldantler brings us this work-in-progress shot of his prop version, featuring the cast resin front cover embossment.  I can't wait to see the finished product.

 


 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tome of the Eye

This beautiful example of tomecraft comes to us from the gifted Mille Cuirs.  Featuring a hand-tooled leather cover with inset glass eye and marbled text block.


 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Vendor Warning

I absolutely hate when a vendor I recommended flakes out on a customer.  Meliadhor left this comment on my Treasure! post from last month.  It recounts a very disturbing experience with Alpha Officium, a boutique coin maker I've previously had very good experiences with.

Hi! Does anyone know if the AlphaOfficium store is still properly active and not a scam? We've emailed them earlier last month about coins purchase, and my friend bought about 100$ worth of coins, and so far its been over 12 days, a couple emails, and an FB message since their last reply. The owner appears to be active & posting new coins on their FB group but no replies since.
...which is kinda e-scary as my friend already paid for a larger set of coins, including the VikingMix featured here, and all we asked for was a postal tracker code. The owner (the same person as on FB) sent us a wrong one first, for a different person from a previous month, and when we asked for the one for our purchase all contact broke off :C

[update since I prepared this message]
My friends' FB has been reported for the PM asking for the tracker code & suspended, no email replies received to my friends' account, BUT my email asking about another of their coin sets received an instant reply that "yes this expensive set is available" and that they can ship them ASAP. We got all the emails copied & screencapped, gonna give the guy one last chance before opening a PayPal dispute for refund. Friend sent one last email asking about the tracker code via the same store-contact form just earlier after I got my reply just to give them one more chance but this is feeling super nasty now.

I apologize for dropping this on you like that, but we did decide on that replica coin store because we saw your recommendation here (I adore your blog and you featured some of my works here as well, and the coins appear lovely, and a lot of people online seem to have gotten theirs OK, at least in the States).

Do you have any ideas what else to do? If you need us to show screencaps of the store messages or copies of emails and such, please tell, my friend kept them all for possible PayPal dispute/claim if nothing arrives in the next two weeks. If needed we can contact you via email I believe. :C

 Hopefully this is a situation that will be quickly resolved.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Anatomical Study of the Common Fairy

From the private collection of Octavius Rookwood (August 16, 1853 – July 17, 1936), American British pharmaceutical entrepreneur, explorer and occult researcher.

This specimen was acquired by Rookwood during a stay with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire at their home, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, UK. A farmer from the village of Allestree, situated approximately 30 miles to the south of the Chatsworth estate, discovered the small fairy body when his faithful rat catcher left the limp remains on his kitchen floor. The cat normally left daily 'glory gifts' for the farmer which comprised of mice, rats and small birds but during the spring of 1902 it started to leave dead fairies. Rumours spread throughout the local villages and the farmer began to exhibit them at the pubs and cattle shows for a small fee. Rookwood got wind of the story and promised the farmer a handsome reward if he could supply him with a fresh specimen. The farmer promptly delivered two fairy corpses to Rookwood; one complete and another partially devoured by the farm cat.

Dan Baines returns to our pages with this mounted mummified fairy specimen. It defies belief that scientists continue to deny the existence of the fae despite incontrovertible physical evidence like this. 



 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Book of Nightmares

 The talented Jason Soles returns to our pages with this creeptastic "Nightmare Sketchbook".  I love the organic embellishments.


 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Building the Bomb

The Continuum blog over at Propology has some great behind the scene looks at the company's prop builds.  One of the best entries is covers the creation of a massive "thermobaric bomb" for the television show Arrow.  It was originally supposed to be a cheap one-off prop, so the build budget was extremely limited.  The whole story is worth reading, but I don't think I'm spoiling anything major by saying it's actually an off-the-shelf septic tank.

 



 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

From the Hive

This gruesome insect creature comes to us from artist William Nezme Zardain.  It would make an awesome design for the martian insects in a modern remake of Quartermass and the Pit/Five Million Years to Earth.



 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Winged Warrior

This over the top set of winged armor comes to us from Arthammer LARP Workshop.  Photography by Frederic Baclet.


 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Dawnbringer Helmet

 Prince Armory brings us this ornate "Dawnbringer" helmet


 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

The White Tome

This beautiful leather journal comes to us from the talented Alex Libris.  Hand-tooled leather with custom brass hardware and embossment.


 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Of Unknown Origin

 I'm not sure if this creature from Fabelrot is a example of an insectile fae or a demonic manifistation.  Either way, I definitely wouldn't want it buzzing around my house.  


 

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Burdy Edition.

This tabletop Cthulhu idol comes to us from Director and CG artist Fred Burdy.  It's a background easter egg in his current film project. 


 

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Dark Portal

The Wicked Makers YouTube channel has a great tutorial on creating a massive inter-dimensional gate prop.  Well, it's great right up until the end, when you're directed to their Patreon to find out how the projected video effect was actually done. That said, the construction details alone are worth a watch.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Fairie Under Glass

 This artfully preserved fae specimen comes to us from E.J. Shindler. 


 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Skull of Cthulhu

I know this Cthulhu skull makes no anatomical sense, but it's still hella cool.  Sculpted by artist James Ryman for giftware manufacturer Nemesis Now.


 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Dem Bones

 These creepy bone reliquaries come to us from artist Ugo Serrano.


 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

ATMOM Package Update

It's dim, plain, and grainy, but I was overjoyed to find this picture in my email today.  These are the 4" laptop stickers for the ATMOM package.  The company has a "Shipping Cam" that takes a shot of every order before it's posted off.

Everything is now in transit.  I'll have more stuff to show off soon.

 


 

Three Heads Are Better Than One

This trio of traditional sideshow-style shrunken heads come to us from Umbratheca.  I was surprised to learn these gaffs have become a controversial example of colonialist cultural appropriation.  I can see that argument in reference to actual human heads, but I'm not convinced it applies to fakes.


 

Monday, October 26, 2020

A Bevy of Blades

Sander Propworx returns to our pages with this collection of LARP weaponry.  It's amazing how far we've come from the days of boffer blades.


 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Treasure! Part II

Full Disclosure: I'm using Amazon affiliate links in this post.  It doesn't cost you anything, and I get a commission from any sale.  So buy lots and lots of stuff so I can get some more loot for the treasure chest.

I've picked up some more gold coins for my prop treasure stash

The latest addition is a set of 100 replica Spanish doubloons from Leib Games.  It retails for $38.98 on Amazon, but the listing has a perpetual 15% off coupon that brings the final price down to $33.14.  I'm pretty sure Leib Games aren't the actual manufacturer, since they appear to be a game distributor. 


The coins are brass plated, die-struck zinc and 1.18" in diameter, just a smidge smaller than a US fifty cent piece.  The set includes a faux-suede pouch with a sateen drawstring.  Nothing fancy, but it does the job.


The coins are great.  They have a good heft, one of the main attractions of metal over plastic coins.  As you can see below, they're appreciably larger than the Beverly Oaks replica doubloons, which are around the size of a quarter.  The detail of the die struck design is notably cruder on the larger coins.


All and all, I prefer the Leib Games coins to the Beverly Oaks doubloons.  Weirdly, the larger coins are actually slightly cheaper on a per piece basis.  That said, they're still expensive.  Even at a discounted $33 a pop you're laying out some significant scratch to get a few hundred coins.

To be honest, I bought this set because I had a $10 Amazon Gift Card burning a hole in my pocket.  As nice as these coins are I don't see myself buying more without another gift card to defray the cost.

 Up next, we'll go beyond replica doubloons to a set of surprisingly affordable fantasy coins.


Cthulhu Fhtagn! Whistlecraft Edition.

This wonderfully stylized Cthulhu idol comes to us from artist Bruce Whistlecraft.  I'm not quite sure how to describe its aesthetic.  Art Nouveau?  Mythos Modernist?


 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Cyclopean Beast

 The talented Karen Main returns to our pages with this cyclopean beast.


 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Leather Grimoire

This well done grimoire comes to us from Velimira Designs.  Featuring a hand tooled leather cover and bird skull embossment.


 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Fus Ro Dah!

This awesome recreation of the Nordic Carved Armor from Skyrim comes to us from Talon's Cosplay Crusade.


 

Friday, October 16, 2020

A Mysterious Package

Marc Hunter brings us a look at the contents of the "Crate of Cthulhu" offering from the Mysterious Package Company.  What a wonderful collection of artifacts and ephemera.


 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

American Made

In the wizarding world European wand makers like Olivander's have traditionally dominated the market.  But times are changing, as Rushing's Rarities demonstrates with his display of American made wands.  It features this apple wood wand with a core of jackalope antler, a magical material only found in North America.


 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Viking Shield

 This beautiful hand-carved viking shield, complete with a custom etched boss, comes to us from Kanut Wood Creations. 


 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Horde

The appropriately named Russian LARP account brings us this horde of giant chaos creatures.  Just look at those costumes.

Update:  A commenter pointed out these are actually undead creatures, not chaos spawn.




 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Tome of the Pentacle

The gifted Alex Libris returns to our pages with his latest work.  This pentacle journal features a hand-tooled leather cover, brass hardware, and a custom embossment.


 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Treasure!

After a long absence, I've slowly been getting back into traditional fantasy tabletop roleplaying.  And by "long", I mean it's been decades.  The last time I delved a dungeon Ronald Reagan was still president and 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons was just a rumor.

It should come as no surprise that I like to run a prop-heavy game.  Part of that includes having actual treasure to hand out.  I could wax poetic about using a multi-sensory approach to encourage immersiveness at the gaming table, but the truth is I love loot.  Gold!  Silver!  Jewels!  Sign me up.

The explosion in the number of companies offering fantasy coin sets demonstrates I'm not alone in that feeling.  Unfortunately, those coins have some problems.

The first is their astronomical price.  If you want a real hoard filled with piles of gleaming coins it's going to cost you hundreds of dollars.  That's just the nature of the beast.  Fantasy coins are a luxury product, and custom metal casting isn't cheap.

The second is aesthetic.  Most of the coins currently on the market have modern design sensibilities, with clean lines, neat layouts, and, worst of all, contemporary fonts and numbers.  They can be beautiful pieces of art, but they're essentially gaming tokens. 

That's not what I'm looking for.  I want loot that could actually pass as something found inside a long-mouldering dungeon.   In a perfect world I win the lottery and could buy up actual hoards of ancient coins.  Sadly, that day has not arrived.  In the meantime, this is what I've been using.

For the stuff available from Amazon I've included affiliate links.  Click through and I get a commission to help fund my prop-buying at no cost to you.

The treasure chest where I stash my loot.  I picked this up a couple of years ago on Amazon for a pirate-themed birthday party.  At the time I think I payed around $25 for it.  Unfortunately, the box doesn't seem to be available anymore, which is a damn shame.  It's 8" wide by 6" tall and 6" deep, made of stained rubberwood, and adorned with stamped steel pressings.  The chest is solidly made, and came with the padlock and two keys.

The lock looks the part and the mechanism works. It's cheap steel, so as soon as the paint rubs away it's going to start rusting.  Not necessarily a bad thing if you like that look.

Keys are awesome plot drivers.  For every key, there is a lock, and something valuable enough to need protection.  Give players a key and they won't quit poking around until they find the lock it fits.  That admittedly manipulative approach engages players even more when you're using physical props.  

Just look at that sweet loot!  Gold, silver, rings, and jewels.

For gold coins I'm using these Spanish doubloon replicas from Beverly Oaks.  They're made from brass plated zinc, around 3/4" in diameter (the size of a quarter), and and have the rough, hand-struck look I like.  At $18.95 for 50 each coin costs around 38 cents.  That's about the best price you can find for metal coins.  If you don't mind plastic you can spend a whole lot less.  These "Ancient Pirate Coins" look decent, measure a hefty 1 1/2' in size, and are a steal at just 8 cents apiece.

I like metal coins for two reasons.  One is the sound.  There's nothing like the clink of metal coins running through your fingers, or the distinctive thump of a leather money pouch dropping onto a tabletop.  The second is weight.  You don't really appreciate just how much treasure weighs until you're carrying a pouch filled with 300 "gold" coins.  And that's fake gold made of zinc.  The real stuff would weigh over 2.5 times as much.  

For silver coins I'm using the Viking Mix from Alpha Officium that I picked up years ago for the Viking Mythos Project.  They specialize in hand-struck pewter reproductions of historic coins for the reenactor/historian/SCA crowd.  The Viking Mix reproduces the coins found in documented hoards and includes 25 Omayyad Dynasty Dirhems, 25 Viking York coins, 25 Cnut Coins, 25 Eric Blood Axe coins, and 25 Tenth Century Saxon coins.  

If I was starting from scratch I would pick up the mix of gold and silver doubloons from Beverly Oaks.  It's the exact same die they use for the gold coins above, but with a mix of pure and "aged" gold and silver coins.  The per coin cost is around 26 cents, significantly cheaper than the all gold set they sell.  Based on the reviews there's a reason for that- a preponderance of the tarnished coins, which I suspect are seconds.

Ah, the simple joys of looting bodies.  I wanted rings for treasure stashes, both as magic items and sellable spoils.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn buying dozens of them at once is perfectly normal.  Amazon is filled with sets of "stackable" or "bohemian" rings, because wearing multiple bands on every finger is actually a thing.

I picked up a "Vintage Knuckle Ring Set" and this is less than half of what was included.  Fine jewelry?  Not at this price.  The rings are pot metal and faux stones.  That said, you get close to fifty of them and their designs, particularly things like the curling tentacle, lend themselves to repurposing as magical rings.

Finally, we come to the jewels.  Acrylic gems are dirt cheap thanks to their popularity as table decorations for wedding receptions.  Unfortunately, they don't clink. That seems like a small thing, but it's the reason I wanted cut glass or crystal gems.  Little did I know how aggravating that desire would become.

Cut glass gems are almost impossible to find.  A few Chinese companies have them, but you have to order pallet sized loads.  Nearly all the worlds production of three dimensional cut or cast glass stones ends up as decorative rhinestones.  The problem there is the reflective metal layer added by manufacturers so the stones will sparkle.

I can hear you asking the obvious question.  Why not just remove the backing?

Exactly my thinking, friends.  That's why I ordered these Glass Diamante Faceted Rhinestones from Amazon.  I was overjoyed when they arrived.  They look absolutely perfect, and all I had to do was strip off the metal.  Easy, right?  I Googled "removing metal backing from rhinestones" and had plenty of helpful answers.

Except none of them worked.

Vinegar and salt?  Nope.

Alcohol?  Nope.

Acetone?  Nope.

Brake fluid?  Nope.

PineSol?  Nope.

It turns out all of those techniques only work on rhinestones with a thin layer of metal foil glued to the back of the stone.   My stones had a layer of vacuum deposited aluminum.  The stones were put into a vacuum chamber, given an electric charge, and then a cloud of vaporized aluminum was released, electrostatically attaching itself to the glass. It's the same technique used to produce most mirrors.

The only way to get rid of the backing would be to dissolve the aluminum.

Before I tell you how to do that I want to emphasize something:

IF YOU DO THIS YOU WILL KILL EVERYONE IN YOUR HOME.  THE FUMES ARE TOXIC AND CORROSIVE.

Make sure the area is well ventilated and away from people and pets. Put the rhinestones in a non-reactive plastic container with a lid.  I used a recycled cold-cut tub.

Using a measuring cup, make a solution of 50% warm water and 50% household bleach by volume.  Make sure there's enough to totally cover the stones.  Pour the solution into the container and loosely place the lid on top.  Do not seal the container.  

Stay away for 24 hours.  Once that time has elapsed, check to see if the aluminum has dissolved.  If there's still metal clinging to the glass carefully pour the liquid out into a sink and use copious amounts of water to wash it away.  Add another batch of the 50/50 water/bleach solution to the container, stir with a non-reactive or disposable stick, put the lid on loosely, and leave it alone for another 24 hours.

Repeat until the metal is gone.  Dump out the final batch of solution into the sink, wash it way with lots of warm water, and then thoroughly rinse the container and gems with warm water.

Enjoy your beautiful, sparkly, glass jewels.