Friday, November 7, 2014

Toy Gaming

You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be.

Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but — the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realisation conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.

Little Wars
Although H.G. Wells notes that other wargames pre-dated his Little Wars, I think that most historical wargamers are willing to credit him with being one of the early founders of their hobby. Wells made no pretense that he was doing anything other than playing with toy soldiers, and to this day, there are wargamers who continue the tradition of unabashedly playing with toy figures.

Lego Minifigures are probably the most popular due to their versatility and customizability. Rules systems such as BrikWars, YALUGSand others have been specifically created for Lego wargaming.

Playmobil figures are also popular, but probably come in at a distant second place. These figures are the closest in appearance to classical toy soldiers, and are suitable for both historical and fantasy gaming. The only Playmobil specific system I've seen is Three Inch Glory.

Petite figures differ from Lego and Playmobil figures in that by their nature, the majority of them are personalities. This makes them more suited for skirmish level gaming, unless you ignore some of their unique characteristics and assign them generic roles in a large army.

In any event, two of the systems that I think would go well with petite figures would be SBH from Ganesha Games for skirmish level rules, and HOTT from Wargames Research Group for larger scale battles. Neither system has anime specific rules, but they are flexible enough to simulate the genre with a bit of work.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Fear Kubrick (フィア・キューブリック) is a character from the series C³ (Cube x Cursed x Curious). She is the personification of a fictional torture instrument of the Inquisition known as "Fear-in-Cube".

I don't think the anime was particularly popular, but it was not horrible. I liked it enough that Fear became the first Niitengo figure that I owned.

Fear is just a tiny bit shorter than Miku, and I kind of wish that she was even shorter, but that's just my scale OCD acting up.

She is a bit atypical for a Niitengo figure in that she is roughly the height of one of the more current figures (Maho), but has proportions of an early Niitengo figure (Mio). The difference in height between Mio and Fear is perfect for representing her loliness, but it is not particularly apparent that she is supposed to be a loli character when posed next to other 65mm figures.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hatsune Miku

The ever-popular virtual idol Hatsune Miku is probably the Nendoroid with the most incarnations in both regular and petite sizes. Because of this, I have selected Miku as a standard for comparison to other petite figures.

Most of the Miku Nendoroid Petits that I own seem to be roughly the same size. The figures in the following image include Saihate (サイハテ) Miku, and the 2009 Racing Miku.

Cheerful Miku is similar in size, though her body proportions are slightly different due to her pose. If she were in a standing position she would probably be at least 70mm tall because of the length of her legs.

Hachune Miku (はちゅねミク) is also the same size as the other Miku figures, but again her proportions are a bit different. Her head is smaller, her body more compact, and her legs are longer.

Hachune Miku is actually one of the nicest Nendoroid Petit figures available because she has so many points of articulation (knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, neck, and hair).

One of the exclusive Miku figures that I own is the Project DIVA Miku from the PSP game. The sculpt is slightly larger than other Miku petites, with head:body proportions that match those of a full sized Nendoroid more closely.

Another exclusive figure is the 2010 Snow Miku commemorating her hometown Sapporo Snow Festival.

As can be seen, Snow Miku is a re-paint of the Project DIVA Miku. They really need to do a Sakura Miku re-paint of this figure as well.

I really like this years Snow Miku design, but unfortunately, no petite version of the Nendoroid was made.

In closing, I present one of the videos I saw at the Vocaloid: Sound of the Future Panel during AX2009 that finally got me to take a closer look at Vocaloids, and made me a fan of Miku.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Super Dungeon Explore

I don't know why, but when I saw pictures of this display for Super Dungeon Explore, I imagined that the figures that were to be included in the game would be the size of Nendoroid Petits.

After buying the game I discovered that the figures were less than 1.5" tall, which caused a bit of disappointment :(

Undaunted, I created larger versions of the dungeon tiles with a 2" grid, and printed up some cards with pictures of the figures that I would use as proxies for the SDE characters.

The monsters proved to be a bit more problematic. I liked the SDE kobolds, but they just looked too small to use in conjunction with 65mm figures.

While I don't mind using smaller figures to represent kobolds, I wasn't keen on recreating this particular scene while playing SDE (though as far as actual outcome is concerned, it probably is more or less what really happens during gameplay).

Because I am typically the Consul, I decided that my forces would consist of maids. Almost every series of figures seems to have at least one maid in it, so I have a lot of them, and they are easily recognizable as a single "class" of opponent.

Maid café spawning points were made out of papercraft kits with signs scaled down from logos found online.

Anyway, using Nendoroid Petits saved me a lot of time with regard to painting and assembling figures. The larger dungeon tiles require a larger play area, but I think the larger figures are more appealing for this particular genre.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Strike Witches

Strike Witches was the creation of Shimada Fumikane (or is it Humikane?) who is probably the most well known artist associated with the mecha musume genre, and probably the military mo-e genre as well.

In roughly the same time period that Strike Witches came out, Wings of War: The Dawn of World War II was released. This tabletop game re-implemented the rules system popularized by Wings of War: Famous Aces for use with WWII era aircraft.

Combining Strike Witches and Wings of War seemed like such a logical step, that two doujin games were made in response. One being Wings of Witches (KASU ver.), and the other Wings of Witches (CUTE ver.).

I played a bit of Wings of War, and liked the system enough to consider making maneuver decks for use with 1/72 scale fighters and 65mm Strike Witches, but almost immediately gave up on the idea as being too time consuming. It was also a problem that there were no 65mm Strike Witch figures.

The first problem was addressed by Adorable Rocket, who introduced me to a homebrew version of the FlightPath system for use with petites. The D&D version of the original rules are available free from WizK!ds Games.

The second problem has yet to be adequately resolved. In fact, the only figure I own who wears a striker unit is not even an actual Strike Witch, but rather Konata Izumi cosplaying as Yoshika Miyafuji.

Like most Niitengo figures, the head and body are smaller than that of Nendoroid Petits (particularly early ones like Miku).

The only other SD Strike Witch figures that I could find that were close to being 65mm are Mame figures made by Liquid Stone.

The Mame figures stand about 70mm tall, and have proportions similar to early Niitengo figures. The most glaring difference between Mame figures and Nendoroid Petits is the length of their legs.

I purchased the figures individually, and am missing Eila (who seems to be rather difficult to find outside of the set). I believe there is also a secret figure, which is a witch Neuroi (the only figure in the set to be wearing striker units).

X-11 Witch-like Neuroi

In order to make an actual Strike Witch, I swapped Konata's head for Miyafuji's. Unfortunately there is no way to support the figure, since the socket for the stand was in Konata's hair.


Some other figures which I am interested in getting:

SD Sanya & Eila Set (Phat Company) which was a Chara-Ani and Comptiq exclusive. I'm not sure how big these figure are compared to other petites.

Nendoroid Petit (or at least that's what some vendors claim - looks more like Niitengo to me) version of Mio Sakamoto (12 yr ver.) that came with Strike Witches Zero 1937 Fuso Sea Incident Limited Edition (Kadokawa Comics Ace).

Good Smile (or Toy's Works) needs to make a complete set of petite witches in striker units!

Friday, August 15, 2014

65mm Gaming

As part of a new project I'm working on, I've decided to start cataloging my collection of Nendoroid Petits and other super deformed (SD) style character figures.

Most of my figures are Nendoroid Petits, so the typical figure is 65mm tall. Other brands of SD figures have different heights and proportions, however I am lumping all of what I consider to be roughly compatible figures under the category of 2.5" (or 65mm) "scale" :P.

I first became interested in these figures as references for sculpting because they had a minimalist level of detail that still managed to portray the character in a convincing manner. Later on, when Super Dungeon Explore was released, I started thinking about using these figures for gaming purposes.

After all, with millions of these figures sold throughout the world, what do people do with them? Can they be content with having the figures just sitting on shelves and taking part in the occasional photo shoot? Why not give them more purpose as gaming miniatures?

Anyway, I'll probably just start with posting comparison pictures of the various figures, and add material on my gaming system when I get them better developed.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tenra Bansho Zero

I never thought much about the motivation behind the work produced by a game designer or scenario writer because I always figured that people created games for the genres they loved. Why else would they do it? I have no problem with buying books made by creators who have a passion about their subject, because it (generally) comes out in the quality of the final product.

I could tell that Andy Kitkowski really believed in TBZ, but in the course of trying to find out more about this game, I got the distinct feeling that there was an underlying contempt for elements of the original work on the part of the developers (ostensibly because of cultural differences). I refer primarily to this post by wundergeek.

In the post, wundergeek claims that the cover is too graphic for "Western" audiences. Kitkowski seems to agree, but his comments are quoted without much context. I had to scroll up and down on the page to make sure that I didn't miss some other piece of artwork. Then I read the comments a little closer, and examined the area wundergeek was complaining about... Huh? There's no camel toe or anything... Frankly, what I see is a female character in what is typically considered a masculine pose.

In my opinion, someone must have a pretty skewed sense of perception to be solely focused on the character's crotch when there is so much else going on in the artwork. Below is a fairly typical depiction of Spider-Man. Is it significantly different? Is the pose acceptable because Spider-Man is male, or are people also offended because of the display of spider crotch?

Would the character on the TBZ cover be improved by having her assume a female pose that is more familiar to "Western" audiences?

Compare Superman's pose with that of Spider-Man.
Now compare their poses with that of Wonder Woman.

I'm a bit skeptical that such a pose is humanly possible.

The post then goes on to decry the evils of fanservice. A static panty shot of an animated sequence that probably lasted a fraction of a second is shown as evidence. So how long is an episode of Sailor Moon? About 20 minutes? I'm not sure how many times panty shots occur in an episode of Sailor Moon, but let's be generous, and say it happens half a dozen times. This still accounts for less than 0.5% of the content in an episode.

Again, the focus is on some minor element of the whole that wundergeek finds distasteful or whatever. I think that the majority of the time, these scenes happen so fast that you don't even notice them unless you are actively looking for panchira. The fanservice is there for a particular demographic. If someone doesn't belong to that demographic, but is still looking for panty shots, it seems like they're going out of their way to be offended. I'm sure that there are a lot of more productive things that they could be doing with their time.

I know I'm ranting too much regarding wundergeek's post, but I just find it annoying that she seems to think that her own views are equal to that of the entirety of "Western" culture. Wow!

Whatever. In the post, Kitkowski comes off as politic in his comments as ever, and I guess I can understand his stance regarding the perception of anime-based games given the amount of uninformed commentary received by Maid the RPG. Still, I find his response rather weak.

I guess his new project Ryuutama should be wholesome enough for "Western" audiences, so hopefully it will save him a lot of headaches in the future.

So why is any of this important? To me it's important because TBZ is a localized translation, as opposed to a direct translation, so I feel it is important to know where the people doing the work were coming from philosophically. I don't particularly like having someone sanitize or filter things so that they fit into some perceived world-view that may or may not be what was intended by the original creator without understanding how the sanitization was being done.

In the end, I did buy Tenra Basho Zero. It was only $14, but frankly, it is a game that I will probably never play, because nobody in my gaming circle (including myself) cares for storytelling type roleplaying.

My brief review of the game itself can be found here.

The offending cover which was not included in the pdf I purchased can be found here.