Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Did I mention Herculoids will be on DVD June 14?

Perhaps you didn't see my post on Exonauts. Perhaps you thought I was kidding when I said I'd repost this on just about every blog I have. HERCULOIDS ON DVD PEOPLE! Laser dragons! Rock Apes! Rhinoceratopses! Slingshot wielding barbarians! Shape-shifting shmooes! Because the world needs more science fantasy cartoons filled with Alex Toth designed characters.

Pre-order the complete series or order on Tuesday, June 14!! Relevant promotional copy from Warner Bros.:
Somewhere out in deep space – and out of the creative imagination of the animation aces of Hanna-Barbera Studios – live the Herculoids. Humanoid Zandor, along with his wife Tara and son Dorno, lead a group of unique creatures: Zok the flying dragon, powerful simian Igoo (who possesses rock-like skin), rhinoceros hybrid Tundro and two protoplasmic wonders appropriately named Gloop and Gleep. Together, they use their diverse super strengths to defend their utopian planet against attack from such sinister invaders as the Pod Creatures, the Reptons and the Mutoids. For all-family entertainment, this 18-Episode, 2-Disc Collection of The Herculoid: The Complete Original Animated Series is out of this world, literally.
It's a "manufacture-on-demand" set from WB, which, kinda stinks because the price is set firmly at $29 without extras. The upside though is clean prints of the entire series. Frankly, this is the only way you're gonna get an official set. So don't go out for lunch this pay period and you can stop watching crappy Boomerang uploads on YouTube or (ahem) those other DVDs you came across....

Relevant Herculoids awesomeness:

/so awesome, it's getting re-posted on Gamma World War and Exonauts.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wizkids to produce Pathfinder pre-painted miniatures

Pathfinder's Kyra the Cleric done-up in plastic
And so it begins. Back in January D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro quietly announced that it was discontinuing it's popular pre-painted plastic miniatures, leaving the field wide open for new takers to pick up where Wizards left off.

Enter Wizkids Games: makers of the highly collectible and widely appealing Heroclix miniature games (and their parent company Neca Toys). Announced earlier this week, Wizkids will be launching a new line of pre-paints for Paizo's Pathfinder RPG.

The minis will be all new scuplts of Pathfinder RPG characters and monsters. Now I know what you're thinking, "What about Reaper? Don't they have the Pathfinder license to produce metal minis?"

Yup. And according to Paizo and Wizkids, that's not going to change. It seems there's a market for both metal and plastic minis. I'm inclined to agree since each seems to fit different gaming purposes and even different target audiences (though many gamers collect both).

I think this is a good thing, possibly a GREAT thing. In fact the first release is slated to be a box set (magic words!) in October. From the horse's mouth:
“WizKids essentially created the pre-painted plastic miniatures category, and they’ve only gotten better in the years since,” said Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens. “We are thrilled to work with WizKids to bring our iconic characters to tabletops all over the world.”

Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box pre-painted fantasy miniatures will be available at paizo.com and through WizKids distribution partners worldwide starting in the fourth quarter of 2011.

If anyone is set up to be the next Big Mini on Campus, it's Wizkids. First, they they've obviously got the manufacturing and distribution channels to make a stake a serious claim. Any toy/game company will tell you that having partnerships overseas with plastics companies is essential to keeping product affordable.You've got two indy toy companies who've had to be scrappy contenders in a very competitive field.

Second, they've improved their products over the years. If you look at their early minis from the Mage Knight line the paint apps were not great--passable in most cases--but more recent lines are much cleaner, sculpts are tighter, and consistently so.

Third, they're fighters. They survived a previous shutdown and not one but TWO bu- outs--one with Topps and the current one with Neca. Now with Neca's grounding they've re-emerged, released several lines--the most recent two of which have sold out to retailers. Plus they've diversified into new products with their original Quarriors game and now have licenses with Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. Keep an eye on those last two properties: ST2 and the Hobbit are gearing up in Hollywood and families will be looking for games that can extend the experience. 

In short, I think Wizkids is a great company and I'm glad to hear that they've thrown their hat into the ring with this new direction. With the makers of D&D now out of the mini gaming business, I'm curious to see how Wizkids will step up.

What's your take?

Official announcements:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Enter the Dragon: Mini Documentary on RPGers

Geek Ambassador and Grand Dungeon Master Wil Wheaton posted a short video documentary called Enter the Dragon by Roshan Murthy on RPGs and gamers. Have a look!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fantastic Masters of the Universe Art!

Monster Brains has posted a He-sized gallery of Masters of the Universe paintings from the "classic era" of He-man and co. that were used over the years to promote the toys and TV show. Here's a few of the more sword and sorcery-esque pieces (or just stuff I prefer out of the batch!). Click to embiggen.

Good inspiration for space wizards and far future barbarians!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Is this a new Dungeon! board game?

Heir to Dungeon!?
Now I'm not certain, but this sorta' looks like Wizards of the Coast is looking to release the heir-apparent of the old Dungeon! board game from way back when. In case you were living under a drawbridge, you likely already know that about a year ago Wizards launched a new series of board games based on the 4E D&D system: Castle Ravenloft, Wrath of Ashardalon, and the forthcoming Legend of Drizzt.

Full disclosure: I own the Ravenloft game and it's quite fun (once you mind-read your way through the obtusely written rulebook). The three games have compatible but different components (dungeon tiles, player and monster pieces) so that you can mix and match an adventure of your own creation.

Enter Dungeon of Dread, which seems to not be based on the RPG directly, but rather an even more basic set of rules. At least it appears that way at first glance (more on that in a second). I'm not yet sure how "Dread" fits into the whole Wizard's playbook. The old Dungeon! game was a way to get families to have fun playing a swords and sorcery adventure game without having to learn all those bothersome RPG rules. It was a quick and easy game to learn that was part entry-product to the world of TSR Hobbies, and part "yeah, we realize you may not like RPGs but would you play this?".

As I've said before, I'm a huge fan of the old Dungeon! game, it having performed exactly what its makers set out to do--to get me interested. The ancestral connection seems even more apparent with the artwork playing tacit homage to Jeff Roslof's wonderfully evocative cover art for the game:

This new entry seems to play that part, but it's not clear yet if it's meant to be compatible with the more expensive and expansive sets, or really is the "kiddie wheels" version. Here's a brief description from Wizard's site as it stands today*:
Dungeon of Dread
D&D Boardgame
RPG Staff

Fantastic treasure lies deep within the Dungeon of Dread, but to find it you must survive a deadly gauntlet. Heroes band together to form adventuring parties and face off against monsters and villains in the dungeon—but the adventure doesn't end there!

Dungeon of Dread is an exciting, cooperative board game experience in which heroes unite in battle to achieve a common goal and defeat the enemies standing in their way. If they succeed, glory and fortune will be theirs for the taking. If they fail, all could be lost!

This cooperative board game experience is designed for 2-5 players, ages 10 and up. One player is the Dungeon Master who runs the villains and monsters; the remaining players are the heroes. The game includes 4 adventures, each one featuring a unique villain.

This game includes the following components:
  • Game board
  • Pawns for heroes, villains, and monsters
  • Hero and villain character sheets
  • Deck of 100 cards
  • Dice

Now the original Dungeon! was a player-vs.-player game where you basically "cleared" rooms of monsters in an effort to accumulate a certain level of treasure (e.g., 30,000 gold pieces) and race back to the start to win the game. This version makes it clear that it's a cooperative game (much like the RPG) and that there are "adventures" (styled after modules with end-goals in mind).

This would make it appear to be more RPG focused, but just without the extra accessories. (Ravenloft, et al, has a TON of miniatures, game pieces, tiles, etc.).

Honestly, I'd rather have a new rendition of Dungeon! that played more like the original (an update would be fine by me too) than a Slim-fast version of the 4E games. Which, honestly, seems like an entirely disposable product. Is it really all about being able to offer a cheaper price point and shelf spot?

Here's another piece of evidence that the game is more 4E centric, as noted on Amazon's pre-order page:
Dungeon of Dread: A Dungeons & Dragons Board Game (4th Edition D&D)

(Red text is my emphasis.) It should be noted that this extended title is not on the WotC site, and perhaps it's a mistake anyway.

In any case, it's just interesting to see the past repeating itself. As to whether the game is any fun? Time will tell I suppose--it's set to release December 13, 2011.


*WotC has a way of revising their pages that sometimes makes it hard to track how a product has changed.