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 Dark Young miniatures.
Yog-Sothoth’s wiki explains:
“The Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath are horrifying, pitch-black monstrosities, seemingly made of ropy tentacles. They stand as tall as a tree (perhaps between twelve and twenty feet tall) on a pair of stumpy, hooved legs. A mass of tentacles protudes from their trunks where a head would normally be, and puckered maws, dripping green goo, cover their flanks. The monsters roughly resemble trees in silhouette — the trunks being the short legs and the tops of the trees represented by the ropy, branching bodies.”
It’s likely Robert Bloch’s description was actually meant to be a shoggoth, but the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game formally made the distinction between the two species. The difference is particularly important when shopping for miniatures.
We’ll start off with the runt of the litter: the metal unpainted Dark Young from Grenadier/Mirliton that is just 1.7 inches tall. Call of Cthulhu gradually increased the lethality of Dark Young with each edition, so early adventures threw four or more of these things at investigators. Nowadays, one Dark Young is more than a match for a well-armed team. But this lil guy isn’t going to scare anybody. Long out of print, it retails for $9. 1 out of 5.
Blackball Games has an 8-inch tall unpainted, unassembled resin Dark Young that is gorgeous to behold. It’s in an action pose, stampeding forward with four mouth-tipped tentacles protruding from its largest maw, the head-tentacles flowing behind it. This isn’t really how Dark Young work in Call of Cthulhu however – the tentacles grapple opponents, then draws them in to be sucked on by multiple mouths – so this stylistic choice loses points. It’s also one of the larger Dark Young retailing at a whopping $60. 2 out of 5.
Freakland Scenics created their own unpainted Dark Young. This dynamic sculpt is big on mouths and, unlike the other relatively squat sculpts, looks lean and mean. It retails for $18. 3 out of 5.
RAFM created the de facto Dark Young and in this case they got it right. It’s an unpainted, unassembled metal monstrosity that’s huge-sized and retails for $13. You can bend the tentacles in any direction – mine was painted by Jeremy Robert Ortiz, my long time gaming friend and premiere sculptor. He did far more interesting things with it than the original picture accompanying the RAFM model. Still, this is a lot of work for one miniature. 4 out of 5.
Fantasy Flight Games’ Dark Young is a prepainted plastic miniature for use with Arkham Horror. Like the RAFM model, it’s a huge-sized creature. It has all the Dark Young prerequisites: multiple mouths, a crown of thick tentacles, and three hoofed feet. Its three detailed mouths are filled with pink gums, yellow teeth, and thick red tongues. An underbelly of pink growths only add to its grotesque appearance. At $10 this is the miniature to beat. 5 out of 5.
Fantasy Flight Games’ Dark Young is the clear winner here. The sculpt and paint job are excellent, it’s the right size for a 25mm game, and it’s less expensive than most other options out there. If you need to buy more than one, it’s an affordable price without a lot of effort. Just don’t expect your investigators to survive an encounter with it!