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By now you’ve probably heard about Specimen, our board game which pits a space freighter crew against a genetically modified super-monster. If you haven’t: it’s a two-player game, and one of the twists is that the monster changes with each game because players can custom-build their “specimen” from over 20 different attributes.

As we were playtesting and demo-ing the game around the Midwest, people would ask if we were going to make Specimen into a movie. Never say never, we said, though it’s probably a long way off. But we got to thinking: how would such a movie play out? With so many different possible monsters, which one would we feature? Would the crew survive? How many? Would we follow the tried-and-true “final girl” model of so many horror films and watch Whitaker become the last person standing?

We decided that the way to find the answers to those questions was to let the game decide. So we assembled seven of the best Specimen players we know, ranked them and built brackets. We invited some of our cast members to participate, as well as some of our more outstanding playtesters. The last two players’ game would determine the official, canonical sequence of events in the world of Specimen. Whenever possible, we’ve been playing these games at Geek Bar Beta in Chicago.

Here are the brackets for the first round, which we played last week. Eric Van Tassell was given a bye in the first round, for no real reason other than an eighth player wasn’t available.



The first round is now complete. We had three really good games. Only one of the top seeds advanced. In the first game, Jodi Brown (playing the Specimen) narrowly defeated Alex Hunt. The second game saw Amy Hopkins (playing the Specimen) win on the fifteenth and final turn by blowing up the ship against Lonnie Harris. The last game had Ele Matelan (playing the Crew) defeating Alan Vuchichevich’s collapsible spine Specimen.

We’re now ready for Round Two. Here’s the bracket as it stands (and yes, we’re about a week behind):




What do you think will happen? Send your predictions to

Specimen Print on Demand Cards!

Steve with cards

The captain and his card.

We’re tremendously excited to announce that we’ve set up all 122 cards for the game as a Print-on-Demand product, available from Now instead of printing out, cutting out and pasting together all those cards, you can have a professionally printed deck delivered straight to your mailbox (You will still need to print out and assemble the map, counters and screen, but this does save you an awful lot of work).

The Print-on-Demand decks cost $9.99 + shipping. The Specimen print and play download costs $9.99 from Drivethru and $9.00 from


Attribute deck

25 attribute cards

Character cards

7 Character cards

Crew deck

45 Crew strategy cards

Monster deck

45 Monster strategy cards

Print-on-Demand card set from DriveThruRPG

Print-on-Demand card set from DriveThruRPG

More SPECIMEN: podcasts and videos

I may have mentioned it before, but we’ve started a monthly podcast to talk about sound effects stuff, genre stuff, movies, etc. And we also talk a lot about our new board game. This month we continue a conversation we started last month with Eric Van Tassell and Alan Vuchichevich, who are two of the actors in the game. They’ve also done loads of playtesting on Specimen and have some great insights on how to play the Specimen and how to play the crew. You can get all of our podcasts at or through iTunes.


We’ve also started putting up how-to strategy videos about Specimen at the Specimen page. The most recent addition deals with the Tracking units and can be seen here.

New Specimen website

We’ve created a site specifically for our new board game, Specimen. There you’ll find articles about how to play the game; good strategies for playing the crew or the monster; videos about different strategy cards and the development of the game; and selected game images. There are also some downloads of living rules and (soon) other goodies, as well as an exploration of the world in which Specimen takes place.

Visit the site at

Specimen update: Game Board art

We’re getting closer and closer to having a finished Print and Play version of Specimen for you, and here’s the latest piece of the puzzle. This is the new layout for the game board, based on Steve’s original prototype and the ship design by John Eiberger.

The Specimen Game Board, October 2013.

The Specimen Game Board, October 2013. Click for a larger view.

New Podcast: Zombies and more Zombies!

Be sure to check out our new podcast, where we talk about our new Zombie stuff, announce the new Specimen game board design, and discuss the new crop of horror TV shows for the fall.

Like the podcast and want to always be up to date? You can grab the RSS Feed here!

New Podcast: with guest star Ele Matelan

We’ve recently started a series of podcasts, which are available in audio form from and with video at our Vimeo channel. Our most recent podcast, episode 6, is available now at Drivethru and the video version will be up in a couple of days. This month we have a special guest, local Chicago actor Ele Matelan, who appears as Navigator Whitaker in the Specimen Board game and was also The Girl With the Dagon Tattoo. Ele joins us to talk about her time on board the TCS Brown , her new work with Wildclaw Theater and Factory Theater in Chicago, and what summer movies she still wants to see.

You can download the podcast here.

Ele Matelan

Ele Matelan

SPECIMEN Update: New Ship Map

If you’ve been following us through the development of the Specimen board game, you know that our original game board featured a map of the space freighter TCS Brown that was pretty basic. It worked fine for playtesting, but wasn’t very visually interesting. We actually did get some compliments on the utilitarian simplicity of the board, but we wanted something a wee bit more fancy. So we teamed up with Chicago area graphic designer John Eiberger, who created our new ship map. We still have to add all the game mechanics to it, but we feel like the new ship design looks fantastic!

Watch this space or the main Toxic Bag website for an announcement about our Print and Play version of Specimen, coming very soon!

Specimen Kickstarter

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve launched our Kickstarter campaign for Specimen. The campaign runs until October 9, 2012. We’re trying to raise $30,000, which will go toward finishing graphics and printing the game. We have a video on the Kickstarter page that tells a bit about the game, and we’ll soon be adding more content: examples of game play, interviews with the various designers and behind-the-scenes looks at some of the game cards.

You can check out the Kickstarter here
. Hopefully, you’ll dig what you see and make a pledge! Thanks!

DeLeo-Kaga Facebook page

DeLeo-Kaga, the company that employs the characters in our board game Specimen, has started a Facebook page.

You can read about the history of the company and get a look at the universe in which Specimen takes place.

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