Monday, August 31, 2015

Zelian Runestones

Chimera Dragonfang (which I somehow suspect is a nom de plume) brings us this set of Zelian runestones.  The metallic blue inking really brings out the interesting glyph designs.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Broers Edition.

This Piltdown Cthulhu from Joe Broers is an awesome piece of work.

Despite the hundreds of sculpts featured here on the blog only a handful try to recreate the look of a truly primitive Cthulhu idol.  To be honest, I didn't fully appreciate this one until I had it in my hands.   That's when you can see, and feel, the detail work that went into it.  The sculpt faithfully recreates the look of a stone idol scribed and pecked into shape with hand tools.  That's no small feat.  On top of that, the finish work is a perfect reproduction of the burial rime found on stone artifacts.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Innsmouth Look

Anthony Kosar brings us this beautiful Deep One bust.  His photo gallery includes detail shots of the original sculpt and the casting process.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Face Off

I don't throw around the word "disturbing" lightly, but these face masks from the Shoggoth Assembly definitely qualify.  It's the realistic skin tone that really cranks the creep factor up to "11".

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Roberts Edition.

This unusual Cthulhu sculpt is brought to us by Richard "Rikk" Roberts.  To be honest, I didn't like this piece when I first saw it because of the oversized head, but it's grown on me. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vintage Expedition Medicine Chest

The Science Museum of London brings us this Tabloid medicine chest from 1910.  It was provided to a failed Trans-Atlantic balloon attempt as a promotional item.  

It's interesting how sophisticated expedition gear was.  Even in the very early 20th century there's a move away from the wooden apothecary boxes I thought were typical of the period to more rugged metal and composite construction.

Another intriguing change is how bottle closures were handled.  I had a mental picture of glass bottles sealed with wax or pitch, but that's really more appropriate for 18th and early 19th century naval chests.  Before the switch to screw top bottles zinc oxide plasters like the ones pictured above were the sealant of choice for bottles.  In many ways they're comparable to modern duct tape- cloth backed up with zinc oxide impregnated adhesive.  The result was a strong, flexible waterproof seal that was somewhat re-usable. 

Crystals...From Spaaaaace!

Copper Centipede is branching out from his Mythos pieces with these cool little meteorite crystals

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fallout: New Vegas Rocket Toy

Antagonizer has posted an instructable for recreating the Repconn rocket toy from "Fallout: New Vegas".

What's interesting about this particular video game prop is that it's based on an existing vintage rocket toy.  I was surprised to find no mention of the connection in any of the "Fallout" game communities.  Here's the game version:

And here's the toy it's based on, a limited edition collectible from Jeff Brewer's "Cool Rockets" line:

As far as I can tell there wasn't a licensing agreement between the video game studio and Mr. Brewer.  That seems odd, considering the game version is essentially identical to the collectible toy.  Unfortunately, the desktop rocket line from "Cool Rockets" is long dead. The high cost of manufacturing made it prohibitive to keep up production, and now the company specializes in huge fiberglass display rockets.

I'd love to see Mr. Brewer resume production, since the exact same rocket is returning in Fallout 4:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Qwek Edition.

This amazing Cthulhu bust comes to us from artist Dominic Qwek.  It's a wonderfully alien sculpt.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Great Grimoire

Alex Libris brings us the Great Grimoire, another beautifully handcrafted tome.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Not-Quite Dragons of Pern

It's safe to say that every science fiction and fantasy fan has at least a brief flirtation with Anne McCaffrey's "Dragonriders of Pern" novels.  It's one of the longest running genre series, with just under two dozen books, and features some interesting worldbuilding.  That includes the titular "dragons" and the related species of Rukbat III.

Inspired by the books, Emily Holland sculpted this recreation of a wherry, the Rukbat-analogue of Earth's crows and their relatives.  She does a great job of capturing the alien nature of the creatures while drawing on terrestrial anatomical forms.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pros and Cons

NecronomiCon Providence is currently underway, and I'm looking forward to seeing some reports from the convention. Sadly, I'm unable to attend because because, well, I'm loony and have panic attacks any time I'm in a crowd. Heh.

If you are attending, be sure to say hello to Jason McKittrick at Table 15. Pay no attention to the tentacles waving around under the skirt of the table.

Cthulhu Amulet

This nicely done Cthulhu necklace comes to us from Polish artist Robwzor.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

They Say It's Your Birthday

Today marks the 125th anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft's birth.  You'll undoubtedly see a lot of articles marking the occasion, but I think the biggest testament to his influence is that he's still inspiring people.  Close to eighty years after his death artists and writers are still building on his legacy.  Very few people can lay claim to that kind of influence.

To commemorate the Old Gent's birthday Cryptocurium is offering it's entire series of Lovecraftian plaques.  Jason McKittrick has justifiably become one of the premiere Mythos artists, and these pieces are a good example why.

Mike Jenkins celebrates the occasion with a very nice limited edition T-Shirt. You'll find it, along with his other cool designs, in the Ekliptic Zazzle shop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Rasputin's Gauntlets

Rasputin's summoning gauntlet from "Hellboy" is one of the greatest props ever featured in a genre film, but the comic version it's based on had a considerably different design.  Metaweta went back to the source material, the "Seeds of Destruction" storyline, to recreate the original gauntlets (plural).  He's posted a detailed build log at the Replica Prop Forum.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Innsmouth Look

Marc Opdycke brings us Barnabas Marsh, a Deep One hybrid well on his way to Y'ha-nthlei.

Monday, August 17, 2015

It's a Pulverized Meat Miracle!

Pemmican came up in Saturday's post about the classic Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Despite it being a mainstay of emergency rations well into the 1980s there didn't seem to be a single company offering it today. There are some "pemmican bars" that mix meat with dried fruit, but they're missing the tallow or suet characteristic of classic-era pemmican.

I spent about twenty minutes Googling the subject on Saturday and wrote it off as a product with too little demand to justify production. Imagine my surprise when I ran the exact same search today and discovered completely new results. US Wellness Meats is producing genuine pemmican made from beef, tallow, and dried fruit for the keto market.  According to their company blog it's available in both bars and tubs.  The tub looks like it would be perfect for recreating period pemmican rations.  According to the blog keto users use the bulk material to form up their own pemmican bars, which is exactly what you want for making Antarctic expedition rations.

I can't attest to how palatable the product is, but I did order a few bars to give it a try. This wanders into true geek territory, but it looks like you could put together a pretty accurate expedition ration pack with off-the-shelf products and some custom labels.

Update:  So much for that idea.   The pemmican is a frozen product and there's a minimum order of $75.  That's a bit beyond my experimentation budget.

Up From the Depths

Simon Lee returns to our pages with the Gillman, yet another of his incredible creature sculpts.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mystery Tome

I recently received an email concerning a mystery tome purchased on Ebay.

I found a very intriguing iteration of The Necronomicon on eBay that I bought for $30. The seller had zero information concerning it's origins. I checked your blog and I do not think it is on there. I've taken two crappy pictures, and I would be very grateful if you could look at them and tell me if they seem familiar. If it helps, the strap seems like it was replaced, and it has around 100 pages of Latin-y text and a few images inside, seems to have been created in Microsoft Word or something.

That was a heck of a deal.  That tome in question is the work of the infamous Richard Poppe, a very talented sculptor and propmaker.  Sadly, his business acumen, not to mention his sense of ethics, wasn't nearly as developed as his artistic skills.   According to multiple former clients he ripped them off for thousands of dollars selling items he didn't actually have.  No one has heard from him in years, and his current whereabouts are unknown.

Book of the Black Skull

Mille Cuirs returns with another fantastic tome, the Book of the Black Skull.  As always, it's a work of impeccable craftsmanship.  This is what a "tome with a face on the cover" should look like.  As much as I like the "Evil Dead" films their depiction of the Necronomicon is just ridiculous.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Classic Era Camping and Expedition Gear

The decline and fall of Abercrombie and Fitch is one of the great tragedies of Western culture.  Today it's a purveyor of casual clothing for teens and young adults that cultivate an insipid air of hipness, but it was once the premier provider of camping and expedition gear in the United States.  For over a century its name denoted quality and reliability in the field.  That all came to an end in 1976 when the outfitter declared bankruptcy.  The name and mailing list would live on, but the company known for providing the best in outdoor gear was gone forever.

Luckily for us, the Internet Archive has preserved a small part of the company's history with a digitized copy of their 1916 catalog.  As a resource for gamers this is priceless.  The catalog provides a comprehensive listing of guns, ammunition, camping gear, and expedition supplies complete with period prices.  To adjust the 1916 cost to the 1920s/1930s equivalent this inflation calculator should come in handy.

Beyond it's utility as an equipment handbook, the catalog is filled with the most seductive kind of gear porn.  One of the traps classic-era gamers fall into repeatedly is underestimating the technological sophistication of the period.  Flip through the pages and you'll see some amazingly well designed kit that wouldn't be out of place on store shelves today.

As an example, take a look at that "Shattuck Steamer and Camp Roll", a bedroll that doubles as luggage.  It carries your clothing rolled and wrinkle-free (well, relatively) in a waterproof shell, unrolls into a complete bedroll suitable for inclement weather, and includes a removable hanging shelf for toiletries.

The listing of dehydrated foods gives you an appreciation for how much variety was available.  Every one of these is still available today, with the notable exception of canned pemmican.  That's one item I'd really like to get my hands on, thanks to it's prominent place in both Chaosium's "Beyond the Mountains of Madness" and actual Antarctic expeditions.  

 As an aside, I'm in the process of getting some malt tablets, in particular Horlick's Malted Milk Tablets.  The tablets are vanishingly rare here in the United States despite the number of companies offering malted milk powder.  They were a go-to expedition and emergency ration for decades, but now they're a niche candy product that only appears to be produced under license in a few Asian countries.  Imported boxes are available on Amazon, but $8.50 for two snack packages is a bit steep for anything other than curiosity.

One other thing I wanted to draw attention to are fibre boxes.  The Abercrombie and Fitch catalog includes them with their packing supplies.  Based on the two examples I have on hand they were made from a mix of vulcanized rubber and wood fibers compressed under extreme pressure and heat.  The sheets of composite material were then riveted together to create a light, waterproof, and incredibly tough storage container.  They were used by multiple expeditions for storing equipment and supplies, the vintage equivalent of our modern Hardigg or Pelican boxes.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Son of the Beholder

This Cthulhu-inspired piece comes to us from artist Christopher Soprano.  The way the sculpt shadows the eye sockets is a really nice effect.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Midna Helmet

This recreation of the Midna Helmet from "Legend of Zelda" comes to us from Nerfenstein.  It's amazing how she was able to get such a spot on stone finish out of EVA foam.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Mounted Fae

Artist Johnathan Rode brings us this excellent mounted fairy.  The sculpt is fantastically alien, but it's the paintjob that really shines.  Click  through to the full sized picture so you can take a close look at.  There's some very subtle anatomical detail complimenting the lionfish-style skin coloration.

Halloween FX Props

Please join me in welcoming our newest sponsor, Halloween FX Props. In addition to carrying a huge variety of off-the-shelf props they have a nice selection of propmaking materials, including some attractively priced moldmaking and casting supplies. They're also running a Halloween prop building contest with a grand prize of a complete pneumatics package for animated props. The deadline for entry is September 15th.

Halloween props and decorations

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Reid Edition.

Carter Reid brings us some work in progress shots (1,2,3) of this Cthulhu embossment.  The finished resin castings will adorn the covers of some hand-bound journals.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


 Contrarian that I am, I held off on having my mid-life crisis until well after all my peers went through the sportscar/motorcycle phase.  Now that I've embraced it, I find myself torn between trying to meet the sartorial standards of being a biker and being keenly aware of the absurdity of same.  This t-shirt design is the result.  The standard iconography of biker gear combined with a cool Lovecraft quote!  Heh.

If you like it, it's available in my Zazzle shop.  The base design is set up for a short sleeved black t-shirt, but you can customize it on a long-sleeve or hoodie.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Creatures of the Dark Crystal

Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal" is a landmark in the history of creature design.   When it was released in 1982 it marked the first time in history that filmmakers created an entire world from the ground up.  Never before, and rarely since, have artists and designers had an opportunity to build not only alien cultures, but an entire ecology.

Hundreds of people helped bring the world of the Dark Crystal to life, but it was Brian Froud who provided the over-arching vision.   He produced thousands of designs for the film, from plant life and insects to the incredibly detailed costumes and artifacts of the world's intelligent races.  That artwork, and the creative process behind its creation, would form the basis of The World of the Dark Crystal, a massive coffee table book collecting his designs.

I fell in love with the book the first time I flipped through it at WaldenBooks.  The sheer depth of thought that went into the film was mind blowing.  It was a revelation to see how the orbital mechanics of an alien star system influenced everything, from the spiraling iconography of the Skeksis and Mystics to the anatomy of the world's creatures.  It was the first example of fictional worldbuilding I ever encountered, and to this day it stands as one of the best.

Over thirty years later the film is still inspiring fans.  Last year the Henson Company sponsored a creature design contest, with a trip to a special commemorative screening of the film as the grand prize.  The entries are pretty amazing.  I'm not a fan of "cute" creature depictions, but even the ones that veer into that territory show real craftsmanship.   Follow the link to take a look at over a dozen entries, each with it's own gallery.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

A kind reader asked if I was involved with an "interactive e-book" version of "At the Mountains of Madness".  Much to my surprise, I am.  The creators have lifted both my Miskatonic University seal and Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition logo.  I'm not sure if they're actually used in the book, but they're definitely offering premiums using both.

What I really dislike about situations like this is the pointlessness of the theft.  Non-commercial projects are free to use anything here for a simple credit.  I'm also extremely loose with commercial licensing.  I think I've only "charged" for use twice, and in both cases I just wanted a copy of the finished project. 

Update: My thanks for all the kind words.  The creators of the Ebook have removed all the infringing material from their Kickstarter page.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Golden Tome

Aegeri brings us the Golden Book.  The beautiful tome features a hand-crafted cover, leather bindings, and hand illuminated interior pages.  Check out the full gallery for a closer look at the details. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

September "Parcel of Terror"

The latest "Parcel of Terror" from Cryptocurium is now available.  The September package includes an anti-werewolf charm and wolfsbane vial, a classic "Phantom of the Opera" sticker, the latest slasher-series magnet featuring "Sam", and a wonderful print of Count Orlock from "Nosferatu".

The highlight is the latest in the Lovecraftian wall plaque series.  This time it's Yog-Sothoth in the spotlight.

You can subscribe to the "Parcel of Terror" for just $35 a month at Cryptocurium's website.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fallout Water Conservation Poster

This is a work-in-progress shot of a water conservation poster from a "Fallout" vault.  It's based on a WW II original, keeping with the retro approach of the game.  Water, and the lack thereof, is one of the ongoing themes of the franchise.

I've digitized all the design elements of the original, including the wonderful hand lettering.  With the initial layout complete I'll now take a pass at adding tone and weathering effects.