Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DCSIII Customized Saurians

Dragontooth Saurian customized by David C Sutherland III. Source: Centurion13 at the Acaeum

This past May I wrote about a Dragontooth Saurian mini that resembles David Sutherland's "Lizard Rider" drawing from the Basic rulebook, the same one in my header. It's still inconclusive which came first, the mini or the drawing, but since then something more fantastic has turned up: Saurian minis customized by none other than Sutherland himself, including one with many details identical to the drawing. This is pictured above, and has several similarities to the drawing that are not found in the original mini: the sheath with javelins and skull, the crested helmet, the left hand holding a battle axe, the spots on the scales. The main difference is the large horn on the head - though note that the drawing has a small rounded bump, perhaps where a horn was removed? It's still unclear whether Sutherland used this as a model for the Basic rulebook drawing, or made the customized mini later based on his original drawing.

These minis were first shown in a thread on the Acaeum by Centurion13. Elsewhere, Centurion described how he met and bought material from David:

"I met David when he moved to an apartment down the street from me in mid-1996 [in the Seattle area]. I was producing a fanzine for the local gaming shops (the internet was still new) and commissioned six cover pieces from him, along with some other work.

He tried and tried to get his job back when TSR was purchased by WOTC.  Didn't pan out and so he packed everything he wanted to keep in his car and headed for Nebraska.

Before he left, he had to get rid of a lot of stuff.  Some of it went through the local shops, some of it he gave to me (a book case and a whole lot of books) and some of it I bought from him". 

More recently, the minis have been purchased by Topkat at the Lead Dragon blog, who put a great post with a plethora of photos of the minis. He writes that these minis will now be the centerpiece of his collection. Head on over there and check them out:

David Sutherland's DragonTooth Saurians


  1. Well, here's another example of what happened to this amazing man & his work... I wanted to offer quite a stronger view than the tepid description of DCS's final years "He tried and tried to get his job back when TSR was purchased by WOTC. Didn't pan out..." which we see above. The following quote is by Paul J. Stormberg, auction agent for the remains of Dave Sutherland's belongings.

    "Alas, TSR Hobbies was purchased in 1999 by Wizards of the Coast. Despite his unparalleled loyalty to TSR Hobbies the new company did not rehire Dave. In a particularly shameful moment for the roleplaying games industry, the company did not even give Dave so much as a single phone call.

    This was a particularly devastating, heartbreaking, blow to David, a person founded in loyalty. Those years were unkind to David and they took a terrible toll on him. Soon his health was in sharp decline. Doctors gave him a terminal prognosis.

    Work was sporadic for David during this time and he felt abandoned by the gaming industry. He was unhappy and unwell. He had given up wanting to live."

    My own loyalty is for the men and women who've produced this great work, such as Dave Sutherland, Jean Wells, Gary Gygax and a load of others who left under in auspicious circumstances, NOT mega game companies who don't care about real people or their inestimable talent.

    I've offered similar opinions here before and have appreciated being heard as most other blogs delete my comments.

    1. I agree. Sutherland's my favorite old school TSR artist, and I try to honor him here whenever I get a chance.

  2. Heh. Folks, I gave that synopsis just as it was because I didn't figure folks wanted to know any more about it than that. (BTW, the 1996 date is a typo - it was the summer of 1997). Dave went through a lotta shit while he camped out in that apartment - I didn't think foks were interested and since much of it was his own business, I decided that for the purposes of sketching an event already detailed elsewhere, y'all didn't NEED to know.

    I'm not going to trot out a juicy personal tidbit to 'establish my credentials' as a card-carrying true friend of David Sutherland III. I was an aquaintance of his - I don't think he had any friends up here. It was only six months. I kept his miniatures and books for over sixteen years and still have the lion's share in my possession. I kept his drafting table in a storage locker for ten years before finding a good home with a local artist. His bookcase, loaded with books bearing his signature, is the first thing you see when you come through the front door.

    I have sold off the stuff I know belongs in a collection somewhere. TopKat is probably the best guy on the planet to get this stuff, and he didn't quibble on paying me, either. As he will tell you (after a few hours looking over my miniatures), I don't collect these things - they accumulate while I pursue other goals. And I needed the money to fix my minivan.

    I don't have Dave's family's permission to discuss what he did and what he said and what he went through while up in Poulsbo. Not on a personal level, anyway. I've talked with TopKat about a few of the more personal incidents, but that was to establish a sort of provenance for the minis I was selling. Everyone likes 'the rest of the story'. But I am NOT putting it out on the web.

    God bless Dave. I hope he found happiness at last.

    1. Thanks for the comments, Steven. My apologies for any misunderstanding. I chose that quote from the Acaeum for the same reasons you give here. When I responded to Keena and said I agree, I was just referring to the comment about valuing the artists over the company. I should have been more clear about that.

  3. I am not upset, Zenopus Archives. But my description was 'tepid' for a reason - namely, that an in-depth description of any kind regarding Dave's anguish over six month's wait was not necessary. I wasn't trying to document his 'final years' and a gloss-over was just what was called for.