(sorry about the delay. You do NOT want to know what the last couple of weeks have been like!)
Giants have been a part of Dungeons & Dragons since the very beginning. This isn’t anything special, any fantasy mishmash needs Big People(tm). D&D has, however, thrown in multiple varieties of giant from the beginning. Although the number of variants is different in each edition (the longer an edition lasts, the more random stuff gets piled on), the core six types are Hill Giants (classic big cavemen giants), Fire Giants (ash-dark skin, fire-orange hair, proportioned like Dwarves, do a lot of forging), Frost Giants (gigantic blue Vikings), Stone Giants (skinny, but made of rock), Cloud Giants (extremely large, pale skin, live in the clouds), and Storm Giants (basically Zeus).
Cloud Giants are based on, well, giants who live in the clouds. Like that guy Jack killed. Seriously, that’s it. Take the idea of a giant who lives in a castle in the clouds, and… end with the idea. Cloud Giants have always been around, but they’ve kind of been ignored in D&D, mostly. They exist, they show up in some plots, but even when changed a bit from edition to edition, they feel a little neglected. It’s not a complaint, just a preview to get you ready for what’s coming.
Cloud Giants live in rich, extravagant opulence, in their castles that float high in the sky. Depending on the depiction, they can fly or control wind and clouds to some extent, at least enough to build those castles. As of 5th Edition, they have gained an added quirk, wearing masks to denote their mood – how theatrical! Cloud Giants have an equal chance of being good or evil, and honestly seem to have a surprisingly complex, fairly realistic society when compared to other “always good” or “always evil” Giant types. Cloud Giants have always been “Huge” size, though their specific height has changed a little bit between editions as the second-tallest type of ordinary giant behind Storm Giants, they tower above most others. And, when Giants in general got a size increase in 5th Edition, they grew to keep their height superiority. D&D has never been consistent on whether Cloud Giants are ugly or beautiful, usually showing one while actually depicting the other. The imagined contrast between ugly, tusked giants wearing extravagant, opulent clothing and appreciating art is an interesting angle, though. Pathfinder makes them beautiful by default, but since there are no Pathfinder Cloud Giant miniatures, nobody has to pay them any mind (so sad). Anyway, let’s take a look at how Cloud Giants have changed through the editions, and then get into the figures!
1st Edition went with the idea of making Cloud Giants physically ugly, but giving them extravagant tastes – note how his clothing is not in the least “savage,” an interesting contrast to his face.
2nd Edition takes the basic idea from 1st Edition, and then cleans it up a bit. Aside from the tusks, this guy isn’t all that “ugly.” He’s also so well-proportioned that you would need to be told that he’s a giant. His clothing is also surprisingly Greek in design, although with about 30% superhero added. Just look at that belt!
3rd Edition eschewed tusks entirely in favor of a cool mustache and… a golden harp? Oh, right, Jack and the Beanstalk. Note ho the Cloud Giant gets kind of a portrait in a group shot – I mean, so did the other Giants, but this kind of prefigures the fact that…
…this isn’t 4th Edition. This is PAthfinder, which turns all Cloud Giants into sexy, sexy alabaster people. You see, Cloud Giants are not in 4th Edition D&D. Let me repeat: CLOUD GIANTS ARE NOT IN 4TH EDITION D&D. No Cloud Giants, no Cloud Titans, nuthin’! They were kinda replaced by Death Giants, but their element never got anybody. So yeah, that’s weird.
5th Edition Cloud Giants are less white and more gray, but definitely have tusks! Ordning-wise, their love of money and extravagance has gone from “Cloud Giants are rich” to, “Richness is a Cloud Giant’s socio-religious imperative.” Ordning gets weird sometimes. Now, here’s the thing. They did bring back the tusks, but don’t get used to them just yet!
This is Countess Sansuri, a character from Storm King’s Thunder. See what she’s missing? Tusks. She’s got one of those Cloud Giant masks, though, which is pretty cool. There is also an elite Cloud Giant type, the Smiling One, just like with the other Giant types – but the Smiling One doesn’t have a miniature, so it’s totally irrelevant to our discussion today! Anyway, there are very few minis of Cloud Giants. Four, to be exact. Kindasorta three. So uh, let’s take a look!
2004’s Giants of Legend set (big surprise here) gave us a Cloud Giant! He’s so ’70stastic. I mean, just look at that glorious mustache! Or headband! or the mace that he holds up so high that it ruins any attempt to photo it! But yeah, nobody ever called this a fantastic mini, but it’s serviceable. He’s about a head or two shorter than the accompanying Storm Giant.
And then we had nothing. For years. Not even Pathfinder.
5th Edition gave us a few Storm Giants in 2016’s Storm King’s Thunder set. In fact, all of the remaining ones. So, here’s this ninja. I have no idea if he has tusks or not, for obvious reasons. His mask isn’t exactly a Cloud Giant-standard mask, it’s just… ninja garb? Desert gear? I dunno, but he’s armed with a cool-looking shotel. He’s also bigger than the previous Cloud Giant, despite being in the same size category.
Same set, now he just has a spear. Yup! It’s a cool spear, though. Okay so like, there’s only one other Cloud Giant miniature after this. They only ever made four. And the last one is in the same set!
It’s Countess Sansuri! Although she does not have her mask, she’s a dead-ringer for the art otherwise. Sansuri is honestly one of the best-looking minis… ever. Seriously, she’s elegant, extravagant, mystical… and looks absolutely nothing like any other Cloud Giant, not even the two in the same set. That’s kinda weird.
The height difference between editions is pretty stark when you line them up. To be honest, things have gotten flexible enough that the Cloud Giant is ALMOST short enough to fit on a large base (some of those “large” figures really, really stretch how big they can be). But yeah, the old guy looks kinda puny now, like hes holding up his mace to make up for missing height.
That said, the older one isn’t really that small – look at him compared to a human being!
Of course, the newer Cloud Giants just tower over anything human. It’s kind of funny how we imagine Jack’s beanstalk giant to be like five times this height, but this size works kinda, too.
Well, there you go! Criminally underrepresented, Cloud Giants are actually pretty unique and cool! And Countess Sansuri is one of the nicest-looking miniatures made.