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I "fake-joined" the "The Mermay, Unicorns, and Pals" Swap at Craftster, which simply means that, while you still have to follow the rules for said event, instead of actually exchanging the item(s) that you made with another member, you're creating them for yourself. The object of said swap was to craft one small item, focusing on mythological creatures/entities that incorporate/combine parts from multiple organisms, and to also include one inexpensive store-bought item that also follows that theme. At first, I was going to make another half-spider, half-woman Arachne, and even spent a fair amount of time capturing screenshots of her to use as a visual guide while I did the modeling, but, as I've already made three such spider women over the years, I reasoned that I'd drawn water from that well too often and decided that I should make a creature that I'd never done before instead and went with a Manticore.

The Manticore ("Mardyakhowr-", literally "man-eater" in early Middle Persian, and, later, "Mantikhoras" in Greek) is a mythological creature, similar to the Egyptian Sphinx, whose legend originated in ancient Persia. The Manticore was said to have the head of a man, three rows of teeth, the body of a lion, and a barbed tail (something like that of a porcupine or scorpion, depending on the source). Manticores were voracious predators of humankind and could also launch sharp spines from their deadly tails, much like arrows. As that wasn't nasty enough, nowadays, the Manticore is typically depicted as a bat-winged beast capable of flight as well (especially in tabletop and digital roleplaying games).

Even in ancient times, many were skeptical of the Manticore's existence and reasoned that it was likely just a mistaken interpretation of a tiger, lion, or other great cat. On that note, I like to imagine that someone observed a large feline get the tip of its tail covered in cockleburs, or a similar, sticky, spined plant, and whilst trying to remove the irritant, "launch" it through the air, giving rise to the myth. Speaking of which, when I was a tween, I stuck a single cocklebur on the tail of one of our cats to see what would happen. As I expected, the cat freaked out and soon dislodged the burr while it was running around like a lunatic. Unfortunately, our curious poodle found and devoured the dropped burr, which immediately made him sick, and he vomited it right back up again, leaving me a lovely mess to clean up (which served me right). I'd never do something like that to a cat as an adult, and I'm ashamed of it now, but at least no permanent harm was done to either animal.

As a child, my first exposure to the legendary Manticore was in the pages of one of Mattel's
1980s Masters of the Universe mini comic books that came packaged with the action figures.

To me at least, the Manticore is something of a mythical creature even in the Japanese Princess Minerva 1995 Nintendo Super Famicom video game that I based my figure upon. Years ago, I played through the entire adventure and never encountered a single one! Like the Unicorn figurine I made back in 2015, the Manticore is a Princess Minerva enemy that I've only ever seen on a monster sprite sheet that someone else put together.

Either the Manticore was cut from the final version of said game (but the sprite graphics for the creature were left in the software's code), or, I somehow missed them entirely while I was exploring that fictional world--which is certainly possible, as I'm not fluent in Japanese by any stretch of the imagination, so, I may have completely overlooked a villager or some other NPC (non-player character) mentioning where they could be found. I failed you, Minerva! I'll turn in my monster hunting license first thing tomorrow morning . . .

She died when I was a child, and I never got to meet her because she was already in a nursing home and nobody ever took me to visit her, but I actually had a Great Aunt named Minerva, which is a name you seldom see anymore outside of mythology. Minerva was the Roman equivalent of Athena, my favorite Greek goddess, and, as luck would have it, I used to have a coworker named Athena too. The goddesses still walk amongst us!

When my Great Aunt Minerva was a young woman, she didn't dress like that and go around smiting evil with a giant sword . . . I think.

Here are some progress shots of my Manticore figure over the first two days of work (June 10th & 11th). As the anatomy developed, the arms ended up being too short, so, I sheared the side fingers off of those, extended the limbs' length, re-bent the elbows at lower points, and then made hands again at the new ends. That was annoying and time-consuming to do, but the proportions of the figure looked a lot better afterwards.

And this is what I got done over the next two days (June 12th & 13th), namely the wings and developing the body some more. Looking at some photos of real scorpions, that I have saved on my computer, I also noticed that I had the stinger on my Manticore pointed the wrong way, so I cut around the base of that, down to the underlying wire, and spun it around so that it was facing in the right direction. Even though I wasn't done yet, I also applied the first coat of paint at this point to help me see problem areas better (the text/images on newsprint can make it difficult to see where things have gone awry).

After tinkering with the body for a couple more days and applying additional coats of paint, I did up her facial features, sealed the figure with white glue (which is why she's so shiny), permanently attached the wings, and, finally, using some embroidery floss, played monster hair stylist. Because I couldn't find my Ziploc bag of floss, I stole some from my Mother's stash. My Mother doesn't craft anything, and never has, so, she could care less, as she's never going to use it for anything anyway. Why does she even have a giant tin full of embroidery floss then, you ask? Someone she knew, that didn't want it anymore, just gave it to her, and, like me, she likes to hoard junk that she has no earthly use for. I kind of liked the Manticore with long, straight tresses, but, a more mane-like affair is a better fit for a creature that's part lion. Speaking of which, I made her fur brown, instead of a more accurate tan/yellow, because I felt that darker hue would contrast better with her human skin tone. And Manticores totally wear dark gray eye shadow.

All finished! There are areas that I could have done a better job on (the face, front paws, and rear legs), but, overall, I'm fairly happy with how my Manticore turned out. Because one of her forelegs is raised off of the ground, she doesn't balance terribly well, so, it can be difficult to keep her standing, as such, I may end up mounting her on a base eventually for better stability, but, she's okay for now.

Newsprint, tissue paper, white paper, white glue, acrylic paint, wire twist ties, embroidery floss (hair), ink (eyes/mouth), and graphite pencil (eye shadow).

6.0 cm (2.4") long x 6.4 cm (2.5") tall, with a 10.6 cm (4.2") wingspan.

One Week: June 10th-16th, 2018.
The year is almost half over and this is already my third art project for 2018, so, I obviously need to slow down, as I don't know how I can possibly continue to maintain such a high level of productivity!

And now, some store-bought mythical critter extra goodies:

"Don't you know how to take 'get lost' for an answer? Dash doesn't need to hang with a dweeb like you now that I'm around."

This is Gilda, a half-lion, half-eagle (and 100% awesome) griffon, who was Rainbow Dash's best friend when they were younger and both members of the Junior Speedsters group. Gilda is nice to her pal, Rainbow, but, when the pegasus isn't around to see it, Gilda is very arrogant and bullies everypony else (especially Pinkie Pie) whom she doesn't consider "cool enough" to hang with her and Rainbow. Much to Gilda's dismay, at a party, when Rainbow Dash finally sees the griffon for what she really is, and Gilda demands that Rainbow make a choice, the pegasus rejects her old pal and stands by her horse friends instead, which Gilda doesn't take very well at all, leaving in a huff.

Some months later, Gilda and Rainbow Dash, still resentful towards one another, meet again in the kingdom of Griffonstone. Despite her past cruelty towards her, ever-cheerful Pinkie Pie helps Gilda bake better griffon scones and gets Gilda to appreciate how important her relationship with Rainbow Dash really is. Shortly thereafter, Gilda chooses to save the lives of the endangered pony pair, instead of acquiring a valuable idol, and, finally, seeing the error of her ways, apologizes for her past misdeeds and becomes a better person, er, griffon.

Everypony lived happily ever after!

Gilda knows how to get a point across.

This My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Gilda the Griffon miniature figurine was first available in the 2012 Cloudsdale Set [along with Rainbow Dash (besties forever!) and a nameless Thunderbolts pegasus pony]; translucent/glittery versions of Gilda were also later available in Series VIII (2013) and X (2014) of the individually blind-bagged mystery pony assortments. I like griffons to begin with, but being Rainbow Dash's childhood chum sealed the deal for me!

Next, we have the Fandex - Mythology: Tales & Legends of the Gods, written by Kathryn & Ross Petras, and published by Workman Publishing in 1998.

Rather than the paper pages found in a typical book, these ones are cardstock that spread out like a fan (due to the irregularly cut shapes at their tops, they do tend to get caught and snagged on each other though, which gets annoying when you're trying to close everything up again when you're done looking at it--while it wouldn't have looked as cool, it really would have been better if they had kept the pages squared/rounded instead). It's also relatively thick/heavy, so, this volume would probably tire out your wrist pretty quickly if you tried to use it as an actual fan on a hot day. Speaking of which, Rainbow Dash is adamant that nobody has to actually read this thing, they can just, "Gently fan the wisdom towards their ears and straight into their brain--everypony knows that!"

As you'd expect, most of the pages are for the gods/goddesses and heroes of Greek mythology, but several creatures are also accounted for, including Cerberus, Medusa, and Pegasus. It's a good quick reference source, but, fair warning, if you're considering getting a copy of this for a child, there are a lot of uncensored photos of paintings/sculptures depicting nudity (of course, that's nothing different than you'd find in an encyclopedia or on Wikipedia when it comes to Greco-Roman mythology).

And, lastly, this is Island of the Aunts, written by Eva Ibbotson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. The book was originally published in Great Britain in 1999 by MacMillan and then made its way to the states in 2000/2001 courtesy of Puffin (Penguin Books). It's about a trio of aging sisters who look after a forgotten island where they tend to a variety of fantastic creatures like mermaids and selkies. Realizing that they're not getting any younger, and, being spinsters, needing to find some people to replace themselves when they're gone, they decide to kidnap some children from the mainland to train as their heirs and, naturally, trouble ensues.

Here's one of Hawkes' illustrations depicting the members of the mermaid family (grandmother Ursula, mother Loreen, her two twin daughters, Oona and Queenie, and baby son, Walter) that live on the island with the Aunts (they got caught in an oil spill, which is why they're so dirty, plus Loreen's husband used to hit her). Aunt Myrtle knitted the fish ladies tops for modesty purposes, so, she probably wouldn't tolerate Miss Manticore going around au natural either. On the other hand, Manticores find Aunts incredibly tasty, so, it wouldn't be wise for them to press the issue.

The book is for tweens/teens but pretty long (close to 300 pages) and similar to the works of Roald Dahl in tone/style, so, if you like his stuff (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, etc.), and fantasy in general, you'd probably enjoy this. I'd give it an 8 out of 10 stars. I was disappointed that the Aunts didn't have a larger selection of mythical creatures on their island though; I expected a much more diverse menagerie of critters. The Aunts don't have a single unicorn or pegasus, so, Rainbow Dash won't touch this book with a ten-foot pole.

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