Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Around 1982, model manufacturer MPC produced a series of boxed "action scene kits" under license from TSR. These kits -- there were three of them, as I recall -- consisted of molded plastic terrain and a handful of plastic miniatures based on Grenadier's official AD&D miniatures. The miniatures generally consisted of two halves that snapped together without the need for glue, though some of them required a bit of filing down before they worked properly. Once assembled, they could then be painted, though I don't think I ever got around to doing so. Painting miniatures, even plastic ones, has long been my downfall.
The set I owned was called "Dungeon Invaders" and depicted a raid on a dragon-inhabited dungeon by a party of adventurers. There were other monsters in addition to the dragon, but I can't for the life of me remember which ones they were. I think there were some skeletons and a carrion crawler, but I may well be mistaken. In principle, this was a model kit, intended for display no different than, say, a WW II battle scene, but I never used it that way. Instead, my friends and I take the molded terrain and used it as an adjunct to our cardboard dungeon tiles. For us, it became another way to help us visualize our dungeon adventures.
Truth be told, these action scene kits weren't very well made, either as models or as gaming miniatures, but we didn't care. For us, they were a comparatively cheap way to acquire a lot more minis to use in our sessions and the idea of three-dimensional terrain, even if it was only a single piece, excited us beyond all measure. It's funny how anti-miniatures a lot of old schoolers are these days and I share their belief that RPGs shouldn't require their use. But I also remember well that, when I entered the hobby, miniatures and dungeon tiles were a big part of its attraction to me. I doubt I am alone in that regard.