I’m always on the lookout for miniatures that accurately represent the Cthulhu mythos because I play a tile-based D20 Modern game. There’s an art to crafting a miniature that’s useful for this kind of gaming: in addition to an accurate representation, it should be the right size, have an interesting pose, and cost. In this installment I review Byakhee miniatures.
Nobody really knows what a Byakhee looks like. H.P. Lovecraft’s The Festival describes what the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game has decided is a Byakhee: “…flapped rhythmically a horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things … not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor decomposed human beings…”
As you can imagine, this makes the Byakhee rather diverse in appearance. RAFM’s unpainted metal Byakhee tries to have it all and, if it weren’t for RAFM’s problems with awkward postures and poor fittings, this sculpt would easily win this showdown. Unfortunately, the Byakhee is facing backwards and its two wings don’t glue together easily. I finally gave up on the two Byakhee I bought after their wings kept falling off. It retails for $6.95. 1 out of 5.
Fantasy Flight Games released a prepainted plastic Byakhee. There’s nothing extraordinary about this sculpt – it’s basically a gargoyle with bat wings. You can buy it for $3.99, the cheapest of the bunch…but the Byakhee’s just not particularly Lovecraftian. 2 out of 5.
Grenadier made an unpainted metal Byakhee figure that’s now long out of print. It’s one piece, the Byakhee looks suitably menacing – and it even faces forward! It retails for $9.99 on Ebay. 3 out of 5.
Em4 has two different sculpts of unpainted metal Byakhee that has them standing upright. They retail for about $4. These Byakhee look a lot like their depictions in the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. 4 out of 5.
A Google search of Byakhee images shows a distinct insectoid bias. The closest Dungeons & Dragons miniature is the prepainted plastic Chasme, which retails for $12.00 at Noble Knight Games but sells for as low as $6 on eBay. It’s one of the few winged humanoid insects. 5 out of 5.
Most Call of Cthulhu scenarios feature Byakhee in packs, so for a Keeper the challenge is collecting enough to suitably support an appearance by Hastur. If you want to get the appearance of a Byakhee just right without a lot of hassle, the Chasme is a good bet. If you need a lot of Byakhee however, Fantasy Flight Games’ option is probably the better choice.