Sunday, 29 April 2018

Games & Rulesets - He-Man's Challenge boardgame

Part of wargaming MOTU requires a set of rules. I will explore the options for both tabletop and boardgames, both created specifically for MOTU or adapted from a generic game. There actually seem to have been at least 4 MOTU boardgames that I know of, not counting the infamous RPG that is reputedly unplayable (I'll still try to get it for completeness' sake), but, mostly being aimed at kids, not all of those are of the kind that lend themselves to a proper miniatures game.

To kick this off , I will start with an original MOTU-themed boardgame from 1984 that landed on my doorstep this week, courtesy of ebay and my wallet. To the best of my knowledge, "Le défi de Musclor" (He-Man's challenge), produced by Nathan, was only ever available to the French speaking market. At least, I couldn't see any English language equivalents.

Box cover


At first glance, the premise and game components immediately look very promising, giving it the appearance of a simplified version of a MOTU-themed dungeon crawler. Productionwise it looks good. The game features some not quite but close Filmation style art throughout and the Castle Grayskull screen looks very cool.

Opening the box. The instructions booklet looks neat.
The game plays on a tiled gameboard, consisting of two parts, divided by a cardboard screen of Castle Grayskull, meaning you play part of the game outside the walls and part of it inside. The inside section is raised, so it's about level with the gate opening.

First section of the board

The Castle Grayskull cardboard screen. This reminds me of the gamemaster screen in the old Hero Quest. This is one of my favourite items in this set.

Inside the Castle, with a spot for the deck of cards (top left) and Skeletor's throne room where the final fight will occur (top right).
When it's all set up, it's quite a big layout.

The game uses 2D6, weapon- and combatcounters outside the castle, eventcards with traps and random encounters inside the castle and cardboard cutouts in plastic stands of the main characters, so on paper, that makes it perfect to use with miniatures.

The square tokens are used outside the castle, the round ones are used in the final confrontation with Skeletor

Interestingly, it is the Heroic Warriors who start outside the walls and the objective of the game is to get inside and defeat Skeletor. The 4 player characters are He-Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms and Stratos. Skeletor is represented by a card instead of a cutout figure. Beastman and Merman are present in the weapon counters.

During the first part of the game, each tile is covered with one of the square tokens, face down, and players move across the board outside of the castle (using the dice) and can collect weapons that will increase their chances to make it to Skeletor once inside the Castle. They will also need either a Battlecat or a Wind Raider to cross into the Castle more easily (instead of trusting on a lucky roll of the dice). If they encounter Merman or Beastman, they will lose one of their weapons.

Inside the Castle, the player has to make his way to Skeletor's throne room and the shortest route will be the most treacherous. Different weapons will help against different monsters/traps.

The event cards are used within the Castle walls and include traps and random encounters. The cardback is another great image of Castle Grayskull.
The final battle against Skeletor is decided with the dice, where any remaining weapons the player has will count as a +1 modifier to his advantage. You have to win three times in order to win the battle. If Skeletor wins three times, you are defeated and thrown out of the castle. The game then goes on until one of the players makes it to Skeletor and defeats him.

One thing that is a bit lacking for the discerning wargamer is the combat phase which is overly simplified. I might tack on something a bit more interesting to resolve combat with Skeletor. Likewise, I think I would make it so that when Beastman and Merman are introduced, they are added to the board and could engage players in combat instead of just stealing their weapons.

All-in-all I'm still pretty pleased with this purchase as the board looks fantastic for something that's 34 years old and after some tweaks to the rules, I look forward to giving it a spin, using my proper miniatures of course.

Monday, 2 April 2018

The Snake Men - Remcor, Snake Man Footsoldier

The next one is a bit of a departure from MOTU canon, as it's a generic Snake Man footsoldier that didn't appear in any of the media (though there have been generic Snake Men warriors in the later continuity), but being a mere footsoldier, he might have been there. The base model is a rather heavily converted Otherworld Miniatures lizardman, sculpted by the talented Paul Muller. The Otherworld lizardmen are very suitable as generic baddies for MOTU as is, but I wanted to go the extra mile to bring them more into the world. The head was flattened, cheeks were widened and a forked tong was added, while he was also dressed up to have the fur panties and belt, as well as shin and wrist guards. Base custom sculpted as usual.

A generic Snake Man footsoldier 

His colour scheme and name were borrowed from a knock-off figure from the '80s. Back during the original MOTU craze, several companies started making cheapish action figures in the same style and one of these brands was Remco, which, among other things, made this purple Snakeman. I slightly changed parts in my conversion to bring it closer to how he could have looked in Filmation style. I painted the flagstones on his base in a different colour, as I want each faction to have it's own colour code.

A better view using the lightbox

The Remco snakeman in his glorious beauty.

He-Man facing off against a Snake Man in front of Snake Mountain

Heroic Warriors - The Goddess

The Goddess is an Eternian deity tasked with maintaining the natural order and protecting Castle Grayskull from those would plunder it. Originally, it is she who provides He-Man with the armor and weapons he needs to fight Skeletor; later, she guards the Cavern of Power where Prince Adam and Cringer transform into He-Man and Battle Cat. This character appeared in the first minicomics and went through many changes. First her colouring was changed from the original green to match Teela's colours, then she went from a Goddess to being the Sorceress and was ultimately redesigned to be the Filmation Sorceress we know and love. Her journey didn't end though and a few years ago she got her own figure in the MOTU Classics action figure range and in more recent comic continuity, became Teela's evolved form as the Snake Goddess.

The Goddess, in all her serpentine glory.
The miniature is the old '80s Grenadier Miniatures Teela figure. Designed after the toy and not the Filmation series, she doesn't look much like the Teela we know, but she does look exactly like the original Goddess. Unlike the other figures from the '80s miniatures range, the women were sculpted by a different sculptor and were more tall and slim, making her a perfect fit for more modern miniature scale. I did convert her slightly to add a bit of meat to her thighs and hips. After all, those were a trademark of the MOTU female characters too and this made her fit in better with the Quest Miniatures sculpts. I also gave her slightly longer feet as the original figures came with these small stumps that were hardly there. The base was custom made by cutting a hole in a plastic base to insert the thick metal integral base of the mini and then covered over with putty to add the flagstone texture.

Paintwise, I tried to stay true to the source material but "Filmation her up" slightly. Hence the (non metallic) gold accents, which also appeared in some later incarnations. the vertical black lines under her eyes were also part of some later source material and I thought it would be interesting to incorporate those.

Some more angles... 

The original minicomic scene where she gives the savage He-Man his first weapons
Gosh, Goddess, thanks you so much for these, the girls will love them!

You and I, Teela, we are one of a kind.

Your power will be mine!

While she looks taller in some pictures, she is the same size, it's just that she's the only figure who's standing up straight.

A different look, using the new lightbox
That's the last of the additions to the Heroic Warriors for now, as some more baddies are long overdue to balance out the sides.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Heroic Warriors - Man-At-Arms

One of the original iconic characters, Man-At-Arms, real name Duncan, is an inventor, soldier and Teela's foster father, as well as a mentor to Prince Adam . The Sorceress of Castle Grayskull asked Man-At-Arms to adopt Teela because she felt she could not raise her daughter and protect Castle Grayskull at the same time. The figure is another excellent sculpt by Boris Woloszyn for Quest Miniatures. Again, I went for a more bright, Filmation style colour scheme. The base is, as with the others, sculpted directly over the plastic base.

Man-At-Arms, guarding the gates of Castle Grayskull

A different view of the figure, using the new lightbow my wonderful wife bought for me.

The Heroic Warriors... so far...

"Get away from here, you orange fiend!" - "... Seriously, you want to go there, dude?"