Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Un-Wounding Blades

These primitive-style knives from Sander Propworx are gorgeous.  What makes them even more impressive is that they're LARP-safe cast foam. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Masks of Nyartathotep" Meltdown, Part Deux

Over the Christmas holiday I had a chance to get together with some old gaming friends and the subject of the disastrous "Masks of Nyarlathotep" prop set came up.   Just out of curiosity, has anyone actually run the numbers for the project?  As in taken a crack at figuring out just how much it would have cost to do everything that was promised?  I've Googled around a bit, but couldn't find anything along those lines.

I know that of the $74,000 total 8%, $5920, went to Kickstarter and Amazon for their fees.  An additional .20 is charged for each pledge.  With 507 backers that's $101.  The total loss to processing is $6021.  That leaves $67,979.

Casually comparing the packages that were promised with what it would cost to print those items, as well as ship them from the printers, seems to show there was going to be trouble from the start.  From personal experience I can say that print shipping charges can be a huge hidden expense.  All those nifty little items have to be packed in reinforced cardboard printer's boxes to prevent damage, and that extra weight adds up fast. 

Another thing working against the project was the number of backers.  500 is one of the break points for most discount printers, with 1000 the next tier.  With 500 backers you have to make allowances for losses and damage, forcing you to go with 1000.

Two of the extras caught my eye as being unrealistic to produce.  The "Fog Spawn Larvae" would have been a huge undertaking, requiring a major effort for a garage caster.  The custom slides would also have been a huge expense.

The more I look at it the more it appears Mr. Patey was caught in a trap of promising too much without taking into account actual production costs and the ever escalating shipping cost of all those goodies.

Glowing Eyes

Propmaker Bill Doran has a great video tutorial on creating glowing eyes.  The effect is extremely creepy and would be a great edition to all kinds of costumes.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Worm Ouroboros

Artist Lucia Žilíková brings us this carved wooden Ouroboros figure.  It measures roughly a foot and a half in diameter.  Just the kind of discrete decor a Yig worshipper would love.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Penhew Foundation Business Card

An upgraded version of the Penhew Foundation business card from Chaosium's "Masks of Nyarlathotep".  Right click and "Open Link in New Tab" to download the full sized version, print on cardstock, and trim to size following the cropping guides.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Aging Bottles

Elsbeth Lair brings us this well done video on various bottle aging techniques.  It covers  scoring the glass with sandpaper, translucent wear washes, using paint to age corks, and corroding metal hardware with vinegar and salt.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hail Cthulhu!

This nicely done Cthulhu plaque adorns the walls of the Stormcrow Tavern in Vancouver.  It's a great gamer-friendly bar with some outstanding Mythos decor.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tribal Cthulhu

Fox Henderson brings us this nifty tribal Cthulhu.  One of the glorious things about the Mythos is how syncretic it is.  Not matter what the culture or where in the world you are there are Cthulhu worshippers nearby.

What Happens in Vegas....

 A year ago I was browsing the Steam Winter Sale and found "Fallout: New Vegas" on sale for the price of a cup of coffee.

As you may have noticed, that was the beginning of my obsession with the post-apocalyptic Mojave.  It's easily one of the best games I've ever played, with strong storytelling, compelling characters, biting humor, and well thought out world building.  If you want to see why I love it so much now's the time- it's on sale once again.  The base game is just $2.49, while the deluxe package with every DLC package is $6.79.  I'd strongly suggest getting the deluxe package.  The additional content adds a huge amount of material to the game.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Masks of Nyarlathotep Meltdown

$74,000.  That's how much money was pledged during last year's incredibly successful Kickstarter for the "Masks of Nyarlathotep" prop set.  Ben Patey was the artist behind the project, which featured upgraded props for Chaosium's classic pen and paper RPG adventure.

After months of silence from Mr. Patey it's become obvious that the project has imploded in truly epic fashion.  If you read some of the extensive comments on the Kickstarter page you'll see hundreds of very upset supporters, some of them out hundreds of dollars.

I have no idea what happened, but I'd like to apologize for my small part in this fiasco.  Mr. Patey advertised the Kickstarter here and I was an enthusiastic supporter of what appeared to be a dream project.  A collection of dozens of high end props in support of a Call of Cthulhu classic?  Page after page of documents, maps, and photographs?  Incredibly well done physical props?  This is exactly the kind of thing Propnomicon has always been about.  Sadly, it turned into a massive cluster****.

I'm at a loss for how this happened.  In all my communication with Mr. Patey he was extremely professional and enthusiastic.  Every prop had already been designed and prototyped, all the documents were ready for printing, and independent artists were already lined up to produce the physical items.

The only possible explanation I can think of is that the Kickstarter was too successful and Mr. Patey was overwhelmed.  I can imagine it was pretty daunting when the fund drive ended and he found himself responsible for over 500 premium packets for sponsors around the world.  That said, his failure to follow through is unforgivable.

I think there's a lesson here.  Time and time again we've seen overly ambitious Mythos-related projects melt down.  Whenever you see one with dozens of custom items, seemingly endless pledge options, and too good to be true shipping charges, be wary.  

Dragon Embryo

This preserved dragon embryo comes to us from Russian artist Dalia Art.  There's an amazing amount of detail for something around the size of a quarter.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crass Commercialism

You know how Santa travels to millions of homes in a single night?  He travels in the space between.  That's why leaving cookies is so important.  They're what he uses to distract the Hounds of Tindalos.

If you've been naughty, there's still hope.  Santa may not bring you what you want, but I have some Mythos swag up on Ebay that you may enjoy.

Light My Fire

Burn, baby, burn.  Magpie Bones brings us this nifty LARP safe fire effect.  The flames are shaped organza or tulle around an LED core. It's amazing how LED and battery technology have made portable lighting effects like this so easy and effective. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Voodoo Heart

A little preview of a project for the New Year.  This black magic talisman is used to bind a soul to a spirit vessel, usually a doll of some type.  The donor is rarely a willing participant.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ancient Hylian Font

Sarinilli brings us a conjectural font based on the Hylian runes used in the "Legend of Zelda" games.  They're obscure enough to be ripe for re-purposing.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Wizard Eibon

Joe Broers returns with this statuette of the wizard Eibon, author of the infamous "Book of Eibon".  The patinated bronze finish looks fantastic.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bringing Dinotopia to Life

Mike Jenkins has a great series of posts looking at the props created by author James Gurney for his "Dinotopia" series.
The frame for these books are the ‘found’ 19th century journals of shipwreck survivor Arthur Denison and his son. Gurney mocked-up the first journal, though whether this was simply for himself or for inspiration or as a model for an illustration I don’t know:

That initial mockup would eventually be developed into a full prop version.

I was surprised to learn I actually have at least one Dinotopia prop.  Mr. Gurney based the "sunstones" that power the technology of his world...

...on the deck prisms used to light enclosed spaces in sailing ships.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Home Stretch

The Cthulhu Project's Kickstarter for their commemorative Cthulhu idol and "The Writer" board game is entering it's final phase.  Keeping your New Year's resolution will be much easier with this staring at you from the shelf.

Malformed Fetus

Artist François-Xavier brings us this very nice malformed fetus. And by "very nice" I mean horrific.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Runic Translator

This brass runic translator comes to us from Finnish artist Janne Aaltonen.  The rotating central cylinder allows the user to transliterate one alphabet to another.  It also happens to be a USB drive.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dwarven Lexicon

Tim Nelson brings us this recreation of the Dwarven Lexicon from Skyrim.  The 3D printed body is painted in a metallic finish and the runic inserts can be freely rotated. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Louis Wu, Spacer

 Oh, how I love obscure science fiction projects.

Louis Wu is the protagonist of Larry Niven's "Ringworld" novels and...a few other stories.  To say more would spoil some of the increasingly complicated internal history of his Known Space books.  This take on a vac suited Wu comes to us from Slawek Narwid.  I think Louis would go for the more technicolor look of a Belter-style suit, but he absolutely nailed his physical appearance.

The Devouring Beast

I've received a goodly amount of feedback about not shipping anything I currently have on Ebay outside of the United States and Canada.  And by "feedback" I mean a lot of folks don't like it.  All of those comments and emails, without exception, have been unfailingly polite.  That's something I really appreciate.

What it really comes down to is dealing with the outrageous shipping, customs hassles, and potential VAT levies of the EU.  Half of my audience for Mythos and horror-related props resides there.  Believe me, I hate cutting everyone in Europe off, but I don't think there's another alternative.  In the past I've been more than willing to deal with shipping and customs problems, but I'm extremely leery of  the VAT rules.

As I understand it, and I welcome correction, I'm responsible for filling out an accurate customs declaration for any packages mailed to the EU.  That's not a problem.  The receiver is then responsible for paying any duties and/or VAT based on the declared value of the goods.  That varies based on their country of residence.  Here's where the issue arises.  Those fees can add up quickly, and if the recipient doesn't pay the item is sent to impound.  To both Ebay and Paypal that counts as non-delivery and entitles the purchaser to a full refund.

That's...less than optimal, particularly for the OOAK or short-run items I do. 

If anyone can suggest a better alternative I'm open to ideas.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

When Good Gnomes Go Bad

Artist Jacob Petersson brings us the mummified remains of four house gnomes.  The unfortunate fae reportedly turned against their homeowner and had to be put down by a witch.  It wasn't until 1960 that their bodies were discovered in the back room of a Stockholm tobacconist.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Sardinha Edition.

A thwarted theft attempt at the Mausonion Museum has brought this curious African artifact to light.  Rick Sardinha has the details:

Earlier this spring, the museum security patrol surprised an intruder in the basement storage area.  A number of large crates had been opened but the thief fled empty handed. The broken crates were all from a shipment from Nairobi dated 1893.  Shattered pots, masks and ancient weapons lay scattered across the floor.  The items were collected, assessed, cataloged and put back into storage. Of the many invaluable artifacts and cultural fetishes, one item stood out from the rest.

It was a statue depicting Cthulhu. The overwhelming stylization of various African cultures fixed its origin and created a mystery to the presence of this Polynesian demigod on the African continent. Obviously, a connection between cultures, unknown and unexplored. Initial assessment of the item describes a deity artifact, approximately seven inches high, four inches deep, and nearly 12 pounds in weight. Created from a lump of raw iron and wire,  it is riven by twenty two old nails. Age of the figure has not been determined though the nails are common construction items from the late eighteenth century. I found the piece to be a truly brutish vision and repellent to the touch.

Mr. Sardinha has done an outstanding job of interpreting the Mythos through the lens of African tribal traditions.  On its own this is a fantastic piece, but it would make an killer prop for anyone running Chaosium's  "Masks of Nyarlathotep".

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Miskatonic Railroad

Nick Storm just sent over a link to this amazing Miskatonic Railroad model train layout by John Ott.  It's easily the best Mythos miniature work I've ever seen. 

Click through.  Now.  You won't be disappointed.

The Arkham train station, re-purposed from Salem's old station.  Great minds think alike.  Heh.

Downtown Arkham.  Just look at the sheer variety of buildings.

One of the shops along the street.  The interior is fully detailed and lighted.

One of the Miskatonic Railroad passenger cars.  Mr. Ott has created multiple versions from throughout the conjectural railroad's lifespan.

Accursed Commerce

I've tossed some more swag up on Ebay you may be interested in.  Offerings include a few of the patches and pins that have been unavailable for a while.

Update:  Unfortunately, if you live outside North America the listings won't appear.  Believe me, I wish that wasn't necessary, but the hassles of VAT and customs just aren't worth dealing with.  I had a nightmarish experience on a private commission for a vampire heart and never, ever want to deal with the EU's customs agents again.

The Great Old One

The Great Pumpkin Toad brings us this WIP shot of his outstanding Cthulhu pendant.  Mirrored symmetry like this takes a huge amount of talent to pull off.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fallout 4 Power Fist

Eric Matos brings us this recreation of the Fallout 4 power fist.  It's a great prop, but I like the clean industrial look of the Fallout 3 and New Vegas versions better.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Commemorative Cthulhu Idol

The Cthulhu Project returns to our pages with their latest Kickstarter effort.  In addition to their already successful Lovecraftian card game "The Writer" they're offering up a very nice premium- copies of a Cthulhu idol sculpted by Marty of Monster Box.

The card game is a series completion variant where up to eight players vie to be the first to put together their own collection of Mythos stories.  

One of the biggest issues that repeatedly comes up with Mythos Kickstarters is shipping.  It can be an absolute killer, particularly when you're not really sure just how much it's going to add to your pledge.  Thankfully, the Cthulhu Project has avoided that by offering flat rates to both the EU and US.

Their are ten days left in the campaign and it's already hit it's funding target.  New stretch goals are likely to make it an even more attractive project.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hellraiser Schematics

The "Cleaning Out the Closet" sale has begun.  I've posted a selection of pages from the Hellraiser inspired LeMarchand folio up on Ebay

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Broers Edition.

The gifted Joe Broers returns to our pages with this very nice iron Cthulhu idol.  It really looks like something discovered at an archaeological dig.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Gabriel Marquez brings us this disturbing piece, the head of a ghoul.  The blood matted hair is horrifically effective.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Pip-Boy is Back

Much to everyone's surprise, the Fallout 4 - Pip-Boy Edition is back in stock at Amazon for every system, PS4, XBone, and PC. I have to admit to a certain schadenfreude watching the prices on Ebay collapse as the scalpers desperately try to unload their stock.

That said, I really wish Bethesda would release both the Pip-Boy and the case separately. They're fun little props, but I just can't bring myself to buy another copy of the game to get my hands on them. I'm also...horrors...a bit disappointed in "Fallout 4". I fell in love with "Fallout: New Vegas" because of the strong story, characters, and, most importantly, the worldbuilding. Ultimately, very little of the main plot in "Fallout 4" makes any sense. They spent years iterating concept artwork to create a world that looked unique and believable, and it looks great. Sadly, Bethesda didn't spend nearly enough time conceptualizing the world itself. I'm still holding out hope that next year's DLC can salvage the game, much as "Broken Steel" fixed the bizarre storyline of "Fallout 3".