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.
Reaper Miniatures has just about finished releasing the second of it’s $3 Million dollar Kickstarters for the Bones line of plastic miniatures. Between these two Kickstarters, both of which I supported heavily, I’ve got probably a lifetime of painting before me, and most of my miniature needs addressed.
That said, not all Bones are created equal, and if you’ve gone through your figures, you’ve probably seen some that didn’t make it through the shipping process that well. So, here are some tips to get your Bones reset and back into shape before you set to painting.
First, there are a few things you need to know about your Reaper Bones:
1) Due to being packed in with a few hundred other guys, not to mention the imperfect nature of the universe, some of them are going to get bent, twisted, and generally frog-legged. This can be remedied, and should be addressed before you put any paint on them.
2) A lubricant used in removing them from the injection molding causes them to naturally resist water (and water based paint) so you’re going to need to scrub them or prime them, or both.
3) Just like metal miniatures, you’re going to have some oddities, including seams and sprue bits that you’re going to need to trim or shape. We’ll get into that as well.
4) Glue ’em.
First, reshaping your Bones. Some of your figures certainly have come out at least as imperfect as this:
That spear doesn’t look like it’s going to be impailing anyone any time soon, but a little boiling water, and it’ll be right as rain.
You’re going to need:
A large pot
A stove or hotplate
A bowl of cold water (or cold running water)
Bring your water to a rolling boil in the pot. You’ll need enough water for the largest figure you want to reshape to be fully submerged.
Take the defective figure and submerge it in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. I’ve accidently left mine in the pot for a few minutes and the figures were none
the worse for wear, but I’m sure too long will have them ending up as goo, so be mindful.
Using the tongs, remove the figure, careful not to burn yourself or mke unwanted impressions on the figure itself.
The figure will be noticeably more malleable than when first submerged. Typically, a figure placed at rest will return to it’s original intended shape. Sometimes, it may need a little help, however. I found my figures to become cool enough to touch after only a few seconds in the open air, however be careful and use your own judgment. You can use the tongs or two sets of tongs to manipulate the figure into your cold water, but as I said, I found it no problem to do it by hand.
Be sure to have the figure completely in the desired position before placing it under the water, because it’s going to hold its shape whenever it cools.
Remove from the water and voila! The spear looks a lot more deadly!
This can be taken a step farther. I found some very repetitive ghouls in my set that looked a litle silly, and all had the same very unnatural pose. So, snipping some flashing holding the figure’s arm to his leg, I decided to see how much flexibility I could get out of a few bones figures, hoping to make each one look a bit more unique.
Following the steps above, I was able to preposition these ghouls while still warm into a variety of postures, including turning the head of one to look in a different direction, another bent over, and a third with arms raised. Holding these new positions, I submerged each figure and made sure it had become good and cold before removing it from the cold water. The end result was a fairly diverse group:
Now that you’ve shaped your miniature, if you haven’t boiled the figures, you’ll want to give them a scrub. Dish soap and an old toothbrush should do the trick.
Note that submerging your reshaped Bones into hot water might cause them to revert to their original shape, but your boiling should have removed the chemicals anyway, so scrubbing is mostly for unshaped miniatures.
While Bones are ostensibly able to be painted without priming, I have never found them to be very receptive to paint without some sort of primer. Experiment with a few less favored figures to see how your preferred primer works on them. I found some spray primers to make figures a little more tacky than others, and who knows what chemical compounds might interact between plastic and aerosol spray. Use caution before you spray prime your favorite figure.
For figures with further defect, you’ll find that a good sharp hobby knife and a small set of files
will help to put them in better shape. Trim off any excess flashing, then gently file any seams or surplus rubber until it matches the surrounding textured surface.
For gluing remaining parts together, you’ll need to be careful using some form of superglue or zap-a-gap. You can use CA+ or regular superglue, but both will stick to your fingers together (painfully) if you’re not careful.
Good luck enjoying your new Bones! Let us know if you’ve discovered any other tricks, or shoot us some screen shots or links of your Bones masterpieces!
Today ended a successful Kickstarter campaign for Fat Dragon Games‘ medieval village of Ravenfell. The village of Ravenfell, and the products of the inevitable stretch goals, are paper modelling products: You print them, cut them, paste them, and viola! you’ve got as much scenery as you could possibly need (for that particular setting anyway).
I got into this many years ago, and spent a week toiling away cutting out bits and pieces for my planned game of Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords. That module (30 year old spoiler alert) takes part largely in the Slaver City of Suderham, and several bars come into play. I printed and prepped several key barroom items and I was able to mix and match my way into the appearance of several unique appearing locations.This is before I sank unmentionable sums on the last Dwarven Forge Kickstarter, (in fact, it predated kickstarter) but I think it added something, and could potentially be quite worthwhile to produce decent scenery on the cheap.
Paper Modelling is in some ways superior to your plaster and plastic backgrounds and scenery, in that they are objectively quite beautiful and not subject to your potentially substandard painting skills. You also have as much as you care to print, and could potentially manufacture an entire city for the price of the PDF and an ink cartridge (or two). I’ve been using Posterize to great effect to get the benefit of the beautiful maps from Paizo’s modules, as I stated a few blog posts ago, but this is a higher order entirely: Three dimensional, and now stacked in layers, if Fat Dragon’s Tom Tullis is to be believed. I clicked in at the “Beggar $1.00” level for a while before finally being sold to jump in at the Knight level at $50.00. It’s a lot for some PDF’s but I appreciate the effort and support the project. And what do kids really need with a college education anyway.
There are significant downsides, to be sure. Paper modelling takes time. Precise cutting and gluing can be tedious work, and sometimes things don’t seem to come out quite how you expected they would. Ink isn’t cheap, either, and depending on your printer, you might wonder if you’re really saving money or not. Traditionally, the items are not as durable as a resin or plaster product (though are infinitely more replaceable) and can be tricky to store without crushing. Fat Dragon has apparently attempted to address this with collapsible pieces, which I look forward to giving a try.
Should you choose to download a copy of their other products, I believe you’ll be pleased with the quality of the artwork, and you’ll find that your time invested can be richly rewarding. You’ll want to pick up a few items to complete your ‘kit’ for paper modelling.
1. “Self-healing” cutting mat – these come in various sizes and serve to protect your tabletop while allowing your blade to cut the template cleanly.
2. Exacto knife – You don’t want to try this with scissors…. you might have one of these already from your miniature modelling, which will save you a few bucks. A must for these sometimes complex templates.
3. Water based glue – a type of craft glue that is tough yet forgiving (you may want some super glue at some point for certain models, however).
4. Markers – You’ll find that darkening the edges of the scores and cuts that compose the corners of your models will drastically improve the quality of their appearance.
5. Metal Ruler – Typically with a cork back, this will avoid slipping while cutting and make sure your cuts are a little more clean.
Consider going out and buying a set or taking a shot with the various free samples out there on the internet. You may find that you’ve got a new hobby, or at the very least the perfect prop for that encounter makes a particular encounter special.
Thought it was about time for another pre-weekend Kickstarter update!
Deep Magic: A Tome of New Spells – This is a great project. The stretch goals are awesome and at certain pledge levels you are eligible to send in spells that could be included in the final book.
Deluxe W20 Changing Breeds – A very interesting project involving were-people.
Castles & Crusades Return to the Haunted Highlands – This looks very, very good!
Shaintar: Legends Unleashed – Nice looking project for a campaign setting for Savage Worlds.
Maelstrom Domesday RPG – A new edition!
1d100 A Book of Lists – The ultimate book of random encounters!
Cthulhu Wars – A horror-based board game.
Psionic Miniatures – This is the follow up to the successful Ultimate Psionics compilation.
WarGods of Olympus – A mythology-based miniature battle game.
PLAYING CARD DECKS
DELUXE KICKSTARTER PROJECT!
Dark Sword Miniatures Special Edition Elmore Dragons Diorama – This project is expensive but it is awesome. The dragon might be the largest ever!
Just in time for Free RPG Day, here are some great Kickstarter projects that I have been watching:
*** ENDING SOON ***
- Dogs Playing D&D Posters – This poster is a parody of Dogs Playing Poker and would make a great addition to your gaming space.
- OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game – This one ends soon and is going to be great. Get in on this one!
- Mekton Zero – I loved Mekton through Mekton Zeta by R. Talsorian Games, but this one is going to be less mecha mechanic wargaming and more role-playing. After Robotech, this was my mecha go-to RPG.
- Deep Magic: A Tome of New Spells – A supplement for Pathfinder made by Kobold Press. The stretch goals on this one are fantastic. I highly recommend this one!
- Kaosball – Arena sports boxed game!
- The Red Dragon Inn 4 – The fourth installment of this highly addictive card game.
- WarGods of Olympus – Mythological boxed game. It looks very cool. Stretch goals include additional game pieces!
- Whisper & Venom: RPG Adventure Boxed Set – An entire set of everything needed to play this multi-system adventure,
- Raging Girls – The Toughest Girls of the Galaxy – Lady miniatures! ‘Nuff said!
- Psionic Miniatures – New psionic miniatures by Dreamscarred Press as a complement to Ultimate Psionics.
- Dwarves, and Goblins, and Goblins Oh MY! – This project includes many different types of minis that could be used for any system.
- Crossover Miniatures – These look to be great for those super-hero type games.
- Giant Soft Polyhedral Dice – Nice looking foam dice! I am definitely in on this one!
- Dial Dice – Very interesting dice set about the size of a credit card. Very interesting!
- Darkraven Fantasy Soundscapes – Need background music and special effects? Get in on this one!
- Magnetic Status Markers – Different colors and sizes make these markers suitable for almost any purpose.
Check out Monday’s article: Eyes of Lamashtu – Cooperative Summoning
Next month, thousands of people around the world will be shipped their super deluxe Reaper Miniature kits from their massively successful Kickstarter of the “BONES” line of unpainted plastic miniatures. It was a phenomenal success for such a project, generating over $3.4 million for the company located in Denton, Texas.
I had the pleasure of attending the very first ReaperCon in 2004, where I got to tour the factory, meet the employees and take some classes with some masters of the craft including Marike Reimer, Jen Haley and Anne Foerster. A highlight of that weekend was getting some help with sculpting from Sandra Garrity and Julie Guthrie. ReaperCon has continued for the last several years. It’s being held April 18 – 21 this year and I’m sure it’s going to be a great time.
If you are a beginning painter, I suggest you read “The Craft” section of the Reaper Miniatures website in detail. Of particular interest is this article on setting up your workspace and a “shopping list” of things you will need before tackling the painting of your Bones. There’s also a ton of great sites that can give you some insight on how it’s done… but the best route for you to take is to just sit and paint. Don’t worry that your first miniatures might not be expert level, it takes a lot of practice to get everything just right and you have to train yourself when you do a new hobby.
In case you haven’t seen it, Reaper posted this “unboxing” video of their “Vampire Level” prototype last month. I keep watching it, hoping that soon my very own box will be winging it’s way to me! March can’t get here fast enough!