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"Why no avian aliens?" Topic

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Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 3:36 p.m. PST

It occured to me today that I cannot recall many, if any, real instances of avian aliens being depicted in 15mm or any other scale.

I cannot imagine any particular reason why this is.



Chocolate Fezian13 Jul 2011 3:40 p.m. PST


Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 3:48 p.m. PST

Apologies to the Scifi Battle Reports board. Crossposted there by mistake.

As for Kroot. IMHO, the only thing that marks them as avian is their background. Looking at them they could just as easily be skinny, spikey trolls. I love the Kroot and I still say this.

I know they are avian in background, but that's like saying humans are a good example of a simian alien race.


Farstar13 Jul 2011 3:58 p.m. PST

There are few credible examples in SF to work with. If someone wants to do 15mm Ael Yael (from Traveller) or Skorr (Star Trek Animated) or Ythrii (Poul Anderson) or Angels (Vinge's Titan/Wizard/Demon trilogy), I'm all for it, but lets leave Flash Gordon's Hawkmen to the pulp and superhero folks.

Chocolate Fezian13 Jul 2011 4:07 p.m. PST

What do you want them to do?
If you want them to use weapons/tech they need hands, so they loose their wings, they won't grow an extra set of limbs.
If they don't use tech and fly then they are birds, you could give them psychic powers, magic birds if you like.

Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 4:17 p.m. PST


I knew they had to be out there in the source material. I know I've read a few examples.

So why no avian minis?


Farstar13 Jul 2011 4:27 p.m. PST

None of those are recent enough to catch the modern imagination. Old SF is being forgotten. Also, if a miniatures designer is looking for army fodder, winged races have trouble filling the bill. The feathers and/or wings are going be the dominant feature, making it difficult to invent a top-to-bottom military with all the fixins.

Flyers = skirmishers.

Battle Works Studios13 Jul 2011 4:31 p.m. PST

I'd rather see a truly alien flyer species than yet another Hollywood alien based off Terrestrial lifeforms. There's no good reason a xenoflyer couldn't have manipulators (need not be hands many real birds use their mouthparts quite well for handling objects) and wings, but flight in Earth-normal gravity and pressure would require some fancy biological explanations. Be nice if they weren't human-sized either, although I doubt there'd be much of a market for songbird-sized pseudo-avians in 15mm scale.

Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 4:44 p.m. PST


Not trying to be confrontational or anything, but feathers, a beak, something more obviously avian.

Amusingly enough, your assumptions completely assume earthly evolution. Though I would not expect them to grow new limbs, there is nothing to say that they didn't start out with six limbs and over time specialized their limbs for grasping and flying/gliding.

I don't expect them to have wings at all. they don't even need feathers. Heck, they could be bald as buzzards for all I care. What I would like to see is something I can look at and say, "Ah…that's a bird guy" and not have to squint to do it.


Skipper13 Jul 2011 4:57 p.m. PST

I can easily see some the the Khurasan insect aliens getting wings added to play the part. Think of the flyer in "Starship Troopers" the movie.


Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 5:02 p.m. PST


True enough but, no shortage of bug aliens though.


Garand13 Jul 2011 5:02 p.m. PST

From Poul Anderson's Polytechnic Civilization there were the Ythri: winged aliens with a reinforced "elbow" on the wing, that became a "foot" for land travel, but where the feet are in a conventional bird evolved into manipulators. So clumsy on land, but primarily in their element in the air.


Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 5:11 p.m. PST

Heh, ever notice how so many of the the cool aliens from scifi lit don't sound all that combat ready.


earthad13 Jul 2011 5:19 p.m. PST

not what you are looking for (wrong scale, only vehicles but still avian)

Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 5:22 p.m. PST

Always thought the Hell Bat looked like the owl from Clash of The Titans.


Cacique Caribe13 Jul 2011 5:43 p.m. PST

"Amusingly enough, your assumptions completely assume earthly evolution."

But birds are from Earth! :)

Anyway, do you like any elements from the following? bird&order=9&offset=72#/d1qo37c bird&order=9&offset=144#/d1zj400 bird&order=9&offset=192#/d3lhs0g bird&order=9&offset=216#/d2u0p6l


Dr Mathias Fezian13 Jul 2011 5:49 p.m. PST

I can't think of any bird aliens or birdman alien figs besides the Kroot, and they're a stretch.

There are certainly winged xenos out there-Brood from Heroclix, Mi-go and Old Ones from various manufacturers. If you want non-terrestrial flying weirdness, look no further than Lovecraft.

clkeagle13 Jul 2011 6:15 p.m. PST


I've been including an avian race for years in some of my personal writing. When I took up 15mm sci-fi, I began to adapt my old short fiction to those settings. I've been very disappointed that I still can't represent that particular race.

The fantasy Owlbears you sculpted are on the right track… I just pictured more of a bird-of-prey head than an owl. And maybe something more down-covered than feathered. But a basically humanoid shape… two arms, two legs, walking upright, clothed and armed.

A small force like that would be most welcome to me in 15mm sci fi.

Chris K.

Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 7:07 p.m. PST


The alien mercenary (last link) is where I'm going. I can look at him and he says, "bird" to me. Even though the rest of him is humanoid.


I'd love to hear more about how you envision your version of avian aliens. Oddly enough, my Uhul (owl men) started out as sketches of possible Talz from Star Wars that somebody misinterpreted as owl men. The rest they say…


28mmMan13 Jul 2011 8:06 p.m. PST

Emu…for a space opera game I can see no reason why not to have an avian alien.

There are issues with flight beyond the vulnerability and miniature issues…I would reserve some brain power and biological efforts towards a terrestrial bird type.

Starting with the familiar I would first consider cassowaries




As far as limbs and manipulators this is one of those cases where I would step out of the box…the bird form is tough, fast, etc…I would consider a symbiotic relationship creature, a clinger of some sort. A small monkey perhaps.

Light weight and could fit easily into the shoulder blade space behind the neck base.

Now why these two? Well because the real binder is the green-blue fungus that has tapped into the nervous systems of both species…all three live together as one.

CmdrKiley13 Jul 2011 8:12 p.m. PST

Well the Buck Rogers series had this guy


Then there are the Paravian Raiders from the Starfleet Universe.


28mmMan13 Jul 2011 8:17 p.m. PST

That guy is so butch that the headliner at the Las Vegas Drag show sent a note for Hawk to tone it down…tone it down…

Battle Miniatures Emporium13 Jul 2011 8:29 p.m. PST



Buzzards anyhow…

Ghostrunner13 Jul 2011 8:47 p.m. PST

How about the Droyne from Traveller, done in 15mm by Martian Metals (I think) in the early 1980s?

I think RAFM is producing them now under license.

Eli Arndt13 Jul 2011 8:48 p.m. PST

The subject is not the lack of bird races in sci-fi, but the lack of bird races in miniatures.

Can anyone thing of any reason why they have not been done? Generally speaking an almost complete void in the miniatures industry means there is either some real or imagined problem with the subject matter.


Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP13 Jul 2011 10:53 p.m. PST

It's SF, and what's more, it's space opera SF.

If we want avians with winged arms, we can do them.

There's no reason an alien bird-like creature couldn't have either six limbs (two wings, two arms and claw-like "hands", and two taloned feet). Or for that matter, the traditional wings with "hands" and two taloned feet.

(I seem to recall some art of a raptor-type birdman holding a futuristic laser rifle with his winged "arms." Wish I knew where I had seen it. Maybe an old Dragon mag? Or '80s SF/comics? I'm vaguely picturing an Egyptian motif, but that could just be faulty memories.)

For inspiration, I suggest the winged aliens from Walter Hunts The Dark Wing novel. They appear to be evolved sentient predator avians, complete with beak, etc..

abdul666lw13 Jul 2011 11:23 p.m. PST

Wings and free 'manipulating' limbs? For Vertebrate (-like) creatures, starting with 3 pairs of limbs *seems* to be the answer, re. angels, imps, succubi… *BUT* the 'prehensile' limbs are set in the middle of the strong 'fly' muscles, so that's not a credible solution (and I don't know of any representation of an angel or succubus with the huge breastbone required for the insertion of flying musculature frown).
Not same problem with creatures with an exoskeleton -but other difficulties appear, such as the requirement for bellows for active respiration.

Now bats, birds or pterosaurs-like creature having lost their flying ability can use their regressed wings as manipulating limbs, specially if the 'wings' left several fingers free, pterosaurs / archaeopteryx fashion. Indeed some bats walk on all four (a vampire bat crawling toward its prey is creepy) and many reconstructions show pterosaurs doing the same.

wolfgangbrooks13 Jul 2011 11:38 p.m. PST

emu2020: "Heh, ever notice how so many of the the cool aliens from scifi lit don't sound all that combat ready."

…And human beings do?

davebill14 Jul 2011 2:59 a.m. PST

@Ghostrunner – the RAFM Droyne were originally by Citadel Miniatures in the UK (who later morphed into Games Workshop and ate the world). They're much crisper than the few Martian Metals I've seen photos of.

@emu2020 – Eli, have you read "The Uplift War" by David Brin? The bad guys are an avian race, more like 28mm Man's Cassowaries. Evolved from large, flightless avianoids, they retain plummage while the vestigal wings (possibly with "fingers" like a bat's) have become proper manipulators.

As Whiffwaff has sculpted terror birds, perhaps he could be persuaded to "evolve them" into the avians you're interested in?

WarrenB14 Jul 2011 3:30 a.m. PST

Here's a set of links to browse through.


Warren B.

Dr Mathias Fezian14 Jul 2011 3:33 a.m. PST

I just remembered the Not-Yazirian figure. Too bad it is only one pose, head swaps could get you into interesting territory.


starkadder14 Jul 2011 5:12 a.m. PST

One of the simpler reasons may be that an avian model generally requires multiple parts and options. (flying, standing, wings out, wings furled etc). Plastic or resin manufacturers would find this unpleasant (wastage factors) and metal manufacturers would find it uneconomic.

I recall several flying reptiles back in the day ('70's) but they were all from now defunct manufacturers.

khurasanminiatures14 Jul 2011 5:28 a.m. PST

Don't see any problem with it myself, SF gaming is for gamer pleasure after all.

Have considered doing a race of Avians that evolved longer forelimbs from their secondarily flightless past. Haven't actually commissioned them yet as I've got too much other stuff in the queue, and then there's the inevitable "rubber suit alien" criticisms.

Have also seriously considered making Scottish pterodactyl men! wink

khurasanminiatures14 Jul 2011 5:39 a.m. PST

On further reflection, it might make sense to make sentient birdmen resemble parrots, as my recollection is that they are the smartest birds.

Can't work on it right away, as my main SF sculptor is making the Maggoton Main Force infantry now, and the Space Demon Shockforce (SDs with bio-rifles), then I need to make more poses for the Resistance and Control Battalions, and convert the utility droid to a few sentry poses with their arm lasers deployed. But perhaps after that … grin

Scorpio14 Jul 2011 6:03 a.m. PST

The Quar always had a bit of a bird-like look to me…

(I make fun of others)14 Jul 2011 7:21 a.m. PST

They remind me more of anteaters.

Eli Arndt14 Jul 2011 7:34 a.m. PST

The Quar to have an Ibis look about them, but they are anteaters.

There has been a lot of good input here on what an avian alien could look like. I've never doubted they were in the science fiction literature, but what struck me is their absence from the miniatures community.

Generally when there is an absolute or near absolute void in the miniatures industry there is a reason. Either the subject is impractical to mold/cast or has a perception as being unmarketable, a sometimes questionable determination.

Is there any reason why bird-like aliens might fall into either of these categories?

Feathers are not required and don't seem like they would be all that difficult to sculpt compared to something like chainmail or fur.

Birds don't seem to lack any "edge" that other animal types do.

Is it that people have a hard time taking birds seriously?


flooglestreet14 Jul 2011 8:26 a.m. PST

I would buy avian aliens in 28mm.

Eli Arndt14 Jul 2011 8:31 a.m. PST


I bet you could kick out some wicked bird men.

Though why go with terrestrial bird at all. You could use obvious avian features, mixed in a creative and alien way.


SheriffLee14 Jul 2011 12:14 p.m. PST

I have some RAFM 15mm Droyne. They are the Ancients from the Traveller universe. And your can still get them from RAFM in their 15mm Sci Fi line

Eli Arndt14 Jul 2011 12:25 p.m. PST

Droyne are cool, but are more dragon men than bird men.


Given up for good14 Jul 2011 1:00 p.m. PST

You do have the Uhul:



More fantasy but could fit.


Eli Arndt14 Jul 2011 1:19 p.m. PST

Throwing my own creations back at me, Andrew!?


Zephyr114 Jul 2011 7:37 p.m. PST

For a moment, I thought those were Ewoks! ;-)

Now that the idea has been brought up, I predict there will be more avian aliens minis than you can shake a cuttlebone at by this time next year….

Eli Arndt14 Jul 2011 8:11 p.m. PST

The Uhul actually make a good alternative to ewoks in 28mm. They stand about 20mm tall as they are supposed to be big in 15mm.

I am not so sure that we will suddenly see an influx of avian minis, but that is an interesting prediction.


Rogue Zoat15 Jul 2011 10:52 a.m. PST

??? Someone seems to have changed my post!

I had a big post about the possibility of basing the idea around a bird like the Hoatzin, which has claws on its wings. Then I got a "RAYyeah, google is your friend"… wth?

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2011 11:34 a.m. PST

The Bug is back! All hail the Bug!

Rogue Zoat15 Jul 2011 12:06 p.m. PST

What do you mean? Has that happened before?

SpaceJacker15 Jul 2011 1:38 p.m. PST

I like those winged guys from "Star Frontiers".

davebill15 Jul 2011 8:32 p.m. PST

Eli, is there a reason why some of the Uhul may not have ended up going off world and picking up modern weapons? Perhaps while working as sidekicks for certain space smugglers? ;)

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