The HeroForge Kickstarter just delivered two miniatures to my door and out of an arbitrary 10-star system, I would give them a solid six edging up to seven. I have been following and waiting patiently on the entire HeroForge idea since it was first announced. It is a system where you begin with a basic model (of which several are available) and customize it to your heart’s content. Male, female, robotic, halfling, human, dwarven and more… and then hundreds of options for equipment, poses, clothing, and sliding scales for things like musculature, height, curviness, expressions and so on. Hex bases, round bases, square bases. They have thought of everything and it’s really a lot of fun to make up different miniatures, and I highly suggest you go to the site and do so for yourself.
I think I was hoping for more from the miniatures themselves, especially for the price. At $25 a pop, they are expensive. Does the customization justify the cost? I’m really torn. When “acceptable” Bones miniatures are in at $3 and $4 and higher end miniatures from DarkSword are $10… I’m just not 100% sure based upon the quality I have seen so far. I opted for the “high quality” prints and I was impressed with the overall process. You get in hand what you see on-screen. Very fine details abound. The sneery little halfling thief I wanted for my 5e Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer’s League games has his little sneery face and top knot haircut, a murderous little gleam in his eye. My hands-up pacifist cleric for our new Temple of Elemental Evil game has the perfect pose, the chiseled jaw, the lack of weaponry and the open expression I wanted. The customization is not the issue.
I wonder that I personally may have had my bar set too high. While I was in on the Bones Kickstarters both times, I’m an old-fashioned kind of mini-painter. I like the metal. I think you get better overall miniatures and they paint up a lot nicer. In the photos, on the top you can see the HeroForge miniatures as they arrived. Oddly translucent (was not expecting that), they have a very ‘rough’ feel to them. I almost want to sand them all down, but then of course you’d lose all the details. That roughness is made very apparent in the bottom set of photos, where I have primed them. Metal miniatures (and even the Bones) are just plain smoother and seem like they will take paint better. On the HeroForge Facebook page there’s some definite “table-top” quality miniatures that have been painted. They look fine for using in a game… and isn’t that the purpose?
As a new and emerging technology, 3D printing like this is surely going through some growing pains. I can imagine that come two or three years, the quality will skyrocket. I’m also relatively certain most people would give them more stars. I am just honestly worried to put paint to them… it’s not like I can easily and cheaply order another if I muck them up somehow. My Kickstarter pledge comes with one more miniature and a mounted miniature (which are not available yet). Stay tuned and in a couple weeks (after we get back from GaryCon!) I’ll have them painted up and show off the “final” product.