The firm has been kicking me while I'm down lately. I thought that after the New Year I'd have more time to blog, game, write, etc. This last week is proving me wrong. I've left the office after longer-than-usual days with the best of intentions, only to fall asleep in my recliner.
Anyway, I had a little time to dig through some old boxes and guess what I found: my first beholder mini! (It sounds like it should be the new Fisher-Price release: My First Beholder!)
Twelve years ago, when I got back into gaming, there were few-to-no options on the market for gamers who wanted a beholder miniature. At least, no inexpensive options. But my group needed one and I devoted myself to finding one for the campaign.
So I did some searching.
I reached out to the few people I knew in my newly-rediscovered hobby. And lo! I lucked out. There used to be a "little" site up in Canada called Cyberdungeon.com. I'd had some quick e-bay interaction with the store and happened to ask a then-employee named Luc if he had any suggestions for a beholder.
He said that he'd heard of people using ping pong balls and making their own.
It was a revelation. I tried my hand at it. Using estimates from the 2nd Edition AD&D books, I roughed out a size-to-character ratio. A ping pong ball fit the bill perfectly. A bit of Green Stuff, some random beads and wire, and a little paint.
Say hello to my little friend.
So here it is; the pictures aren't that great, and he's got a bit of paint loss in spots, but all in all, I still love the little guy.It remains my only scratch-built/sculpted miniature, and was only my second "kit-bashed" miniature. But I think it worked. And I'm still danged proud of it.
Best of all: it scared the crap out of my fellow players and the DM loved it. I was named "propmaster" for the group and the rest is local miniature-collecting history. (grin) I only wish that I'd had a chance to show Luc what his innocent comment spawned. I promised him several times a photograph, but I never got around to it. Cyberdungeon.com closed their doors a year or so later, and I quickly lost touch with Luc. [By the way, if anyone out there knows Luc from Cyberdungeon.com or has any connections to the store (I believe he was in Quebec), I'd welcome any chance to get back in touch with him.]
Yeah, it's a bit cheesy. His secondary eyes make him look a bit like he's a crown rack of lamb; his eyes are not quite as wild as newer renditions seem to appear. And the guys can laugh at it now, years later. In fact, they call him "Ping." But I think they've forgotten that they all wet themselves--just a little--when the DM put this guy out on the board. (Here's a side view just to show that there is a bit of detail work; he isn't just a flat, painted ping pong ball.) I'm a bit proud of some of the details; for example, his pupil is a thrice-forked pupil. This came from an image from the Monstrous Manual; a picure by Tony DiTerlizzi of a group of beholder-kin showed several variations on the pupil shape. This was my take. I figured, "Hey, if they can have a pupil split into two, or stretched out, who's to say there's not a type out there with a thrice-forked pupil. Maybe it's a signal that the central eye just ain't what the characters expect it to be. Maybe THAT'S the disintegrating eye instead of an anti-magic field." I should note that this is the first time that theory/explanation has ever been used. No one's ever questioned the odd pupil. Who would have guessed? (And in truth, it makes me a bit sad that WotC decided to go with the plain, old single pupil with their beholders. Kinda boring, ain't it boys and girls?)
And just to show that my measurements were fairly accurate, all those years ago? Here he is next to one of Wizards of the Coast's DDM miniatures:
He flies a bit higher than WotC's mini. Attribute that to either higher buoyancy, a better attack angle, or the simple fact that I had never heard of a "flying base" for a mini before and I did the best I could with what I had. Size-wise, I think it matches up.
My buddies have always mocked the coloration of my beholder, too. Granted, it was an early paint job and he doesn't look slimy so much as metallic. But again, WotC validated my choice when they released their "ultimate" eye tyrant figure. Tell me what you think; I think the colors work JUST FINE.
Like I said, my buddies laugh about him now; in fact, they've nick-named him "Ping" (for obvious reasons). I don't take that as an insult, though. I take it as a badge of honor and a show of respect. Because all of them have admitted to me that I did something they could not do. And all of them have come to me at one point or another and paid their respect to Ping. Most--if not all, including the DM--have admitted being scared for their characters' lives, as well as the entire party, when Ping makes an appearance.
And something about him seems to demand a little respect. Maybe it's just the idea he's a beholder. Maybe it's something mystical; perhaps I instilled a bit of life to him with the care and patience with which I constructed him. I don't know what it is, but I do know that my kids shouted "NO!" in horror when I brought him out last night.
That makes me smile.