The Hippogryph

Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.
Nysa to Mopsus given! what may not then
We lovers look for? soon shall we see mate
Griffins with mares, and in the coming age
Shy deer and hounds together come to drink

Virgil, Eclogue VIII

With the head and wings of an eagle, forequarters of a lion, and hindquarters and tail of a horse, the hippogryph is (perhaps surprisingly) not a creature from myth or heraldry, but a somewhat more modern creation. Rather, the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto was the first to describe the hippogriff, in his 1516 epic poem Orlando Furioso.

Ariosto was also the first person to use the term “humanism”, or at least umanesimo, so the hippogryph is in very good company. I don’t have much more to say about 16th Century poetry so let’s jump straight into some pictures of what I think was the original Citadel hippogryph (griffins and their cousins have, of course, become a fairly common type of monstrous creature in the modern catalogue). I’ve slightly over-varnished it, but I was really rather pleased with the shading on the legs and torso, and feel like the bright yellow beak brings some interest.

And the left-facing profile and (very blurry) rear view, below, showing off a flash of colour on the wing. I seem to remember messing up some similar wings back in the ’90s, so I was a bit intimidated by this one – but they’ve been easy to paint, it’s basically just dry brushing, and I think overall very successful. There’s a better aerial shot towards the bottom of the post.

Unless I’m very much mistaken this was incorrectly labelled as a ‘griffin’ on both its Combat Card and in the 1991 Red Catalogue – was part of their ‘Giant Monsters’ (formerly C29 ‘Monsters’) range. I’ve previously painted a few of these; enough that it’s not unrealistic for me to hope to complete a set of giant monsters in the near future. At least, as long as eBay prices don’t spiral again – I’m still missing the Jabberwock (one of my all time favourite creatures) and coatl. I’ve got an undercoated chimaera and elsewhere on this blog you’ll find:

They’re not exactly a consistent set, given that I’m using the giant arthropods in my xenofauna project, but I’ve tried to use more-or-less the same approach to basing the hippogryph as I did for the manticore at least.

I think that’s all for this week, ‘cos I’m travelling back to London tomorrow, where normal (weekly, monthly, or annual) updates will resume. I do have a couple more posts in the pipeline at least, I just need to grab a couple of extra photos first.

3 Comments on “The Hippogryph

  1. The aerial shot is really nice. It shows off the wings and the shading on the horse parts pretty nicely. The blue in the feathers was also a nice touch. Did these minis come out when GW was working with TSR/D&D? I’ve never really known the full history there, mainly from being in the US.

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    • That’s a good question – I’m a couple of years too young to know the full history either – I ‘got into’ Citadel Miniatures a little before the standardised plastic kits of the ’90s but after the real experimental boom of the ’80s. One of the first miniatures I bought was an LotR ‘Gandalf’ (not the movie version, but part of an older set) so their licensing and partnerships were obviously still going strong at that point.

      I think the original work with TSR was very early – back in the ’70s when Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone got the rights to distribute D&D in Europe through Games Workshop. The original batch of C29 ‘Monsters’ comes out a few years later. It’s a pretty eclectic mix and doesn’t seem to include much that you’d recognise as an iconic D&D creature, then the hippogryph and some of what I’d think of as more ‘common’ giant monsters that you find in most fantasy settings – the hydra, manticore, etc. – came out in 1987. That’s the same year that Citadel released a whole host of dragon miniatures, including two explicitly D&D dragons. So I wouldn’t be surprised if these were expected to be used with D&D, even if they’re not part of an explicit range.

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