"Mindgame" has been inspired by one of our backers, Rowena, known also as the official DPF German chocolate treats dealer (she sent me tons of amazing chocolate goodies, that I managed to make disappear in a few days!).
I like to interact with DPF customers (Durginians?) and over the years I met amazing people all around the world, establishing relationships that go far beyond the mere "I buy your products, you send me your products, thank you", which is absolutely fine but how cool is to chat with friends all around the world and be aware that in France or Australia there are people who care about you (and vice-versa, of course!)?
This is surely the most rewarding part of doing this job and, for an introverted individual like me who struggles to find any kind of friendship in real, it is a precious, priceless element to feed my need for human relationships.
Several months ago, during a brief chat on Instagram (I use to bother Ro to get a kind of external feed, from a customer point of view), I asked her to imagine a couple of subjects to her liking, promising to turn one of them into a proper resin kit.
As Galadriel, "she gave me three" and they all were so interesting that it has been so hard to pick only one. I was undecided whether to pick the "little Elf playing cards with Kodamas" option or "a Japanese style Elf tea ceremony" one (the third suggestion is a secret!)
In the end, I went for the card game option because I wanted something less complex and easier to produce, keeping the Tea Ceremony suggestion for a future 75 release because the "big and expensive" spot was already taken by Ryuko.
So I started to imagine how to turn the interesting idea of Ro, into reality.
The most difficult part of "Mindgame" was to narrate a funny scene with several elements, without having to explain it. I wanted a carefree vibe because Inneath is not "only war" and I want to portray my characters also in daily life and happy scenes, not only in dangerous and dramatic situations.
All of the "Mindgame" storytelling revolves around two main elements: the Elf expressiveness and the interaction between the Kodamas.
Being an anime (Japanese animation) fan, I wanted them to play that card game (whose name is unknown to me...) in which two or more players have to randomly draw a card from the opponent's hand, trying not to draw the Joker.
Of course, I adapted it to fit my Elves' aesthetic, and I designed a proper thematic deck!
The Elf deck has 4 suits: Suns, Oni's clubs, Dinosaur footprints, and Cherry Blossoms.
The Joker became the Oni.
This is probably my finest art achievement:
Being Italian, when I think about card games I can't help but think about cheating, so the whole scene is about a funny...mischievousness.
The Kodama is clearly about to draw the Oni card (Joker) from the Elf's hand, and the little Elf can't dissimulate his excitement (he surely must train a lot more on his poker face!).
However, the little Kodama on the Elf's shoulder is playing dirty, because it clearly warns its companion not to draw that card!
It's a simple scene, with classic humor: I didn't want to make the composition too complex, but I wanted to add a story to the scene, something more interesting than simply portraying an Elf who plays cards.
The scene is filled with cute and funny details: I love, for example, the Kodama that holds the cards. It's one of the cleanest sculpts we ever did, but I think it has some incredible stage presence: it reminds me of those old men who used to play cards in summer at the bar when my grandmother owned a bowls club. They used to arrive at 10:30/11 am, they started the day with their first (of many....) "bianchino" (literally "little white", a little glass of white wine). they kept drinking wine and playing cards 'till late afternoon when finally the cool of the evening allowed them to play bowls. I was a kid, I used to help my grandparents serve at the tables and during those summers I learned the most spectacular and colorful swearing (old men use to be extremely competitive and warring, when they play cards after 3-4 hours of white wine!).
I couldn't help but design yet another chubby cute bag: the Troll-bag!
I love to imagine bags shaped like animals or fantasy creatures: I started with the Female Adventurer's Bulldog-bag, then I designed the Young Adventurer's Dino-bag .
The Troll-bag is only the latest one, but for sure not the last one.
"Mindgame" is a heartwarming scene, I think that it may not be noticed at first sight among the more towering and complex kits, but I'm sure that will conquer many hearts the same. I mean: there is even a Kodama eating an onigiri, how not to be in love with this kit?!
I think that this scene can also be perfect to get your children interested in our hobby: it's simple to paint, it has nice "Studio Ghibli" vibes, and it is funny.
What about printing one of the Kodamas in an even bigger size, then just covering it with a coat that glows in the dark and using it to decorate your children's room?
Who doesn't want an Elves of Inneath thematic room?!