Friday, 29 June 2012

Beware the Hodag!


What on earth is a Hodag?  Well pour yourself a cup of tea, pull up a chair and let me tell you a story of what has been lurking in those woods.  In the autumn of 1893, Eugene Simeon Shepard made a startling discovery when he came face to face with a bizarre creature whilst out walking near his Rhinelander home.  Shepard had heard of the legend, often whispered in the lumber-camp bunkhouses of Wisconsin, but this was the first time that he had come face to face with a Hodag!




The creature was reputed to have weighed in excess of thirteen stone and been seven feet long.  It had a reptilian appearance yet was covered with short black fur and when alarmed its nostrils spouted flame and smoke, emitting a horrible odour, which Shepard described as,
“a combination of buzzard meat and skunk perfume".
Narrowly escaping with his life, Shepard gathered together a hunting party armed with,
 "heavy rifles and large bore squirt guns loaded with poison water." 
They came across the Hodag close to where Shepard had first sighted it; the hounds were released, but subsequently reduced to shreds by the creature!  The hunting party’s weapons proved to be just as ineffective; but the mighty Hodag had no answer to dynamite!  The charred remains were duly carried back and displayed, but three years later Shepard was handed the opportunity to capture one alive!  


taken in 1899, Shepard is on the far right of the photograph


Now the autumn of 1896, Shepard and a group of lumberjacks surprised a Hodag in its den and asphyxiated the monster with a heavy dose of chloroform – perhaps best not to ask why a group of lumberjacks were carrying around a dose of chloroform!  (Altogether now, ‘I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…’) In true entrepreneurial style Shepard announced that he would proudly exhibit his recently captured prize at Oneida County’s first fair; perhaps unsurprisingly the Hodag proved to be the event’s main attraction.  



As many of you will have no doubt have already realised this Hodag was an elaborate hoax; a carved tree stump covered with an ox hide and cattle horns.  Shepard’s own sons were said to have controlled the beast by wires whilst making appropriate growling noises, safely concealed behind the exhibit.   That said it didn't stop the public flocking to the area in their thousands.



Well I’m here to tell you that Shepard’s Hodag was not the only one!  In and around an area simply referred to as the‘secret project’ there have been more and more disturbing reports of sightings of a similar looking beast.  This coupled with the mysterious disappearance of several head of cattle and the unmistakeable odour of buzzard meat and skunk perfume can mean only one thing – the Hodag has returned!


Once again these strange creatures are part of the range released by Pontoonier Miniatures via ‘Newline Designs’. Curiously labelled ‘Old West Mythic Creatures’ they form part of a fantasy Wild West range and are responsible for sowing the seeds that have led to the ‘secret project’. Just as with the Bigfoot miniatures I began with a series of dry brushed colours and then some time spent picking out the details. The basing was to prove a little problematic in so much as I had hoped to keep all the creatures on a similar size, but one of the sculpts just didn’t fit. In a brief moment of insanity I decided to file back the metal base; a task that was to prove a lot harder than I could have imagined. 


original miniature
filed & primed

 They were given the now familiar ‘Autumnal’ detailing to tie them all together. Given my predilection for all things Victorian, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if a small town or outpost at the end of the 19th Century was susceptible to all manner of visitations from folklore, legend or popular culture. Well the ‘secret project’ is all about that very premise, not hugely original but should certainly prove to be fun!


For a full account of the tale and what the Hodag means to the area please visit 'the Hodag Press' who should take credit for much of the information posted here.




On a completely unrelated note I need to draw your attention to the wonderful 'giveaway' over at Ray's brilliant, 'Don't throw a 1' blog.  To celebrate reaching a quarter of a million page views (Really 250,000 hits, I kid you not!) Ray is offering his painting services to the lucky winner of a draw; go and give it a go, what have you got to lose?


'Don't throw a 1' amazing giveaway is here!

44 comments:

  1. Nice painting and story, soundslike a fun project

    Ian

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    1. Thank you Ian, I am a little worried where it all might lead!

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  2. Great figures and painting!!!!! What a handsome looking chap, kind of reminds me a little of Fran!!! Think its the teeth?????

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    1. You wicked man Raymond, but now you mention it...

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  3. Excellent work on the beasts Michael. Cool project too.

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  4. Great newspaper headline and story! Figures are very very nicely presented in the action shots. The bad breath sounds to me like rotten potatoes!

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    1. Thanks Jay, may have to pick your brains for some ideas at some point.

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    2. You are a brave man, Sir. But I relish the idea!

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    3. My email address is in profile.

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    4. Thanks Jay, I'll drop you a line in the near future.

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  5. Interesting story, and one I have never heard before. Will there be wendigo as well? Gotta have some wendigo if you are doing North American cryptozoology!

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    1. I've just been to look up why a wendigo is and oh my goodness we have to have one of them! Thanks for the tip off.

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  6. very interesting story and model. I think there's loads of milage in cryptozoology. Well done.

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    1. Thank you, so many bizarre ideas are starting to form now!

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  7. When I first saw that miniature I thought you'd been painting "Gruffalo" models – expecting to see a small mouse somewhere on the base! They look fab.

    On an unrelated note, I was wondering if you'd be interested in a collaborative project (nothing major, we all treasure our hobby time) – I've got an idea and thought you'd make a perfect guinea pig. Send me an email, there's a link on my blog profile.

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    1. Oh no, now you've mentioned the Guffalo it is all I can see! I'm sure I must be able to get a mouse from somewhere. :)

      As to the collaboration you certainly have my curiosity piqued!

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  8. Another great addition to your project. Painting and basing superb as always.

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    1. Thank you Pat, that is very kind of you.

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  9. It's the Gruffalo! But seriously, love the fine job you did on the painting and base of this mini.

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  10. This is fantastic lovely painting and the bases though hard work on the filing down is brilliant. I'm getting into a Victorian theme at the moment but there will be more on that hopefully next week :D

    Cracking stuff, I look forward to seeing what other fun creatures you come up with. Its nice to get some odd stuff that is such a break from the norm!

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    1. Thank you so much, very kind words indeed. Looking forward to seeing what you have hidden up your sleeve.

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  11. Excellent work as usual! I agree that cryptozoology is fertile ground for gaming ideas.

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    1. Thank you, certainly looking forward to seeing what else is out there.

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  12. scary stuff in them there woods. A wonderful read. Well done michael

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    1. Thanks Dave, once agin all sense of normality has gone out of the window!

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  14. That is a great tale and a wonderful painted creature there. Its a sort of Victorian X files

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  15. It really coming together and looks great and in particular the basing!

    Christopher

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  16. Lovely story and excellent painting as always my friend.

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  17. Fantastic work and write up! So it did exist - per the period photos! You done well to recreate this creature, once only thought of as a myth! Best, Dean

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  18. Great job and what a fun mini! I love it :)
    Motivated by a previous post of yours I did order a couple of the Bigfoot minis and a Great Ape that is really massive- I have to figure out a good base solution for him.

    Your Hodog is certainly bigger than the one in the 1899 photo, they must have cornered a runt ;)

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  19. Great stuff as usual Michael, but what happened to the "Pacific Northwest of America" setting. Wisconsin??!! Booooo! Those cheeseheads next door to the great state of Minnesota are about as interesting as... well, if you want tales of strange happenings and even stranger folks I'd travel north of the border to Canuckland. That's where it's truly OK to be a "lumberjack." :)

    Jason

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  20. I like the story, but most of all the painted creatures!

    Greetings
    Peter
    http://peterscave.blogspot.be/

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  21. Being a Canadian I think I saw one of these while walking the hound the other day. Then again perhaps it was the effects of the holiday weekend beer... Lovely work - I especially like the basework.

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  22. Great tale Michael and the painted models are absolutely fantastic!

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  23. This is sweet Michael. These guys are cute in an ugly way and the story makes it all so much better. Great brushwork again.

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  24. That's a LOT of quality posts since I visited two months or so ago. Don't know where to start to comment but the blog is a true inspiration as a whole..And the rioters are ordered, love them...Keep up the great work, Michael

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  25. bookmarked!!, I really like your blog!

    my site: frankrijk

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  26. Wonderful stuff! Great to look through past posts!

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  27. Did you know that you can create short links with Shortest and make money for every click on your shortened links.

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