Friday, August 21, 2009


A minor celebration of the raditude that is the Owlbear in miniature, art, and gaming.

OK, so the Owlbear is the just about the best D&D monster ever. Or at the very least you'll have to concede it's in the top 10. Made by a mad wizard for reasons unknown (like most of the old D&D critters) the initial experiment got loose, managed to breed, and now they spend their time ravaging farms and adventurers because cows and Dwarves are tasty. Here's a "real life" interpretation of the fearsome beast.

But, let's go back to where it all started. Here's the sweet 1st Ed D&D entry in the Monster Manual. Pretty hot stuff. Though often ridiculed because the concept is so absurd, folks stopped laughing when one of these guys chewed up your party's cleric, then shit his bones out in nice pellet form. Owlbears pretty much hate everything and attack everything with little to no provocation. They are a hateful beast. Except...wait...if you look, its special attack is to hug. Hug you to death! There's other olde timey Owlbear art of one fucking up a party of adventurers/getting zotted by a wizard but I couldn't dredge it up.

Instead I dug this one up from the ancient Rogue's Gallery supplement for D&D. It features a border line suicidal, stupid dude sporting mighty cloth armor, protected by a 2 cp wooden shield, and a stinkin' sword that isn't on fire or anything awesome. He is about to die a couple of times, easy. Unless those faggy boots teleport his ass miles away as an at will power once per day. But he probably already used that power to visit his gay half-orc bard lover earlier that day.

In the miniatures realm, the Owlbear has been represented many, many different ways, but never one as close to the original artwork as this one from Otherworld Miniatures. If your a fan of old D&D art, then this miniatures company is the one for you. They have piles of cool stuff based directly off the old art. The gnarled old Troll, Barbed Devils, Yellow Mold, Stirges, Violet Fungi, etc. Cool stuff. I plan to nab one when they release in a few weeks. If only they'd do a Juiblex or Rust Monster.

Here's an old Grenadier Owlbear. He's more adorable than anything. Though a deadly sort of adorable because it's probably pure lead. I don't have him, but I do want him. He's just sort of standing there, like he's waiting in line at the post office to mail a box full of Duergar heads to his friends back East.

Continuing the ancient, lead filled, deadly miniature thread, we come to the Ral Partha Owlbear. Probably the worst of them all. Ol' Owly is gettin' his Tai Chi on here. That or he's doing some sorta 60's dance craze. Either way, ass. I'd buy these all up just to bury them next to all those ET Atari carts in the desert so no one will remember it ever existed.

When D&D 3.0 hit, the Owlbear went through a transformation of mightiness. No longer could foks make fun of the Owlbear as a total goofball critter thta looks like it's sporting a wicket mullet. No sir, now he was looking righteous and full of furry. So, how did this translate to miniature?

Poorly. Up above you can see the mighty dumb Reaper version of the Owlbear. He's more owly than bear. And he's very shocked to see you. And he's yelling. Owlbears always yell, they can't help it. I imagine that they sleep screaming.

This is the alternate Reaper sculpt. More of the same goofiness. Wide open crotch area, budget biker tassels on the arms, and what looks to be a large, furry Phillip Drummond sweater vest. Yeah, I just name checked Phillip Drummond.

Whoa boy, look out for ass. Here's the Chainmail Owlbear from Wizards of the Coast's super fail of a miniatures game. I remember this game coming out and being minorly stoked. Then I saw the Owlbear. Why is this so hard? Just make a fierce looking Owlbear you bastards! Moving along.

Fast forward a bunch of years and D&D puts out a line of mostly terrible pre-painted plastic miniatures. The 1st set had an Owlbear up in it. He is dope. I still have him on a bookshelf somewheres.

Here's the later updated Owlbear that goes by the name "Furious Owlbear". Oh, he's a furious one. Less than stoked about this guy. He kinda totally sucks and is pouchy slouchy.

Not sucky enough in standard colors, Wizards went and released a Con only variant of the furious suckbear miniature in white. These were worth a few bucks and probably still are. I recall a fellow nerd at a D&D session during last year's Gencon getting excited and offering the DM 20 bucks (edit: it was only 10 bucks) at the table for one of these. I was excited too, until I saw that it was just the same shitty sculpt dipped in white. The DM caved and passed the suck on.

The final and most recent version would be this guy, the Owlbear Rager. He's ready to hit the rave scene in a big way. Actually, that would make for a great film. I'd watch 90 minutes of an Owlbear let loose in some crappy dance club, tearing kids in baggy pants assunder. Non-stop fun. But, I'd be worried about the Owlbear ingesting all those lightsticks and led blinky things. Probably how the movie should end - with a bloated, glowing/blinking Owlbear stumbling out of the club into the morning light, then keeling over into a pile of Red Bull cans.

The future? there is no future for the Owlbear. He's run his race. The only real glimmer of hope would be that they release on for the D&D Heroscape that just came out. Only time will tell. In the meantime, remember, if you run across a few adorable Owlbear cubs while camping, kill their ass. I don't care how much gp their worth to train up as exotic guards for you estate.


Murphy said...

Hells yeah Owlbears!

BTW, it was $10 for the Aryan Owlbear...worth every cent I says!

Wordo said...

Wow, I had never seen the 1st edition Owlbear. Looks familiar...

rick smith said...

how hard is it to get that damn model right?

kermmy said...

i have a grenadier owlbear 1983 just like the picture.