Friday, October 12, 2012

A review of Reaper's Bones miniatures

As a regular customer of Reaper Miniatures I've been keeping my eye on the development of their newest bid at breaking away from the high price of tin: Bones. A series of classic/popular miniatures cast in white plastic.  An interesting idea, but they hadn't produced anything in plastic that I'd want to buy, so I wasn't going to go out of my way to get it.

Then their Kickstarter happened. To make a long story short, if you gave them $100, they'd send you 221 plastic minis, and good sculpts to boot. That's about .45¢ a mini. It isn't a bad deal, it's an insane deal. When I think about how good a deal it is that crazy robot from Futurama blows up in my mind. Unfortunately I didn't buy into it for a few reasons (biggest being that my wife & I are expecting twins, and $100 literally buys a crapload of diapers).

Now if you are kicking yourself for not knowing about the kickstarter you can still buy into the deal for an increased price-tag of $150 (about .68¢ a mini).

I popped into one of my friendly local game stores yesterday and saw they happened to have a few Bones minis in stock, so I figured I'd see if they lived up to the hype, and take you through the pros & cons point by point. Here's the mini I bought, & painted up Thursday.

and my finished product:

The first thing you notice, aside from the fact looks like it's carved from prison soap, is the price. I paid $2.00 for it. In pewter this mini costs $6.50. Crazy kickstarter deal notwithstanding, that's still a fine price. I'm a firm believer in "You get what you pay for" though, so I've been unreasonably wary up to this point.

The mini comes entirely glued & built. I'm fine with this since all the mold lines were easily accessed, but it could get tricky if they have any that make it difficult to clean.

Once I got into the painting I also found that whoever assembled it got a little fast and loose with the glue. A bunch appeared to have run down & pooled a bit along the mini's side. It was mostly hidden behind the mini's beard though, so it was easy to cover up.

Looking at the mini itself it looks decent, but definitely not crisp like you'd expect to see from metal or resin. This didn't really surprise me, but it's still notable. A good paintjob can redeem a cruddy miniature anyhow, so I wasn't too worried.

Probably the most notable thing about the quality itself is the plastic. Once I got it home and opened it up I found that it was soft. Like, bendably soft. It was no problem to bend the hammer and have it spring back into place.

If I were to rank mini plastics from hardest to softest I'd say the hardest/most brittle is Privateer Press, then Games Workshop, then Bones, then plastic D&D minis. Although Bones might even be comparably soft to the D&D minis. I tried not to manhandle it too much.

This softness also made it far harder to clean the mold lines. Don't bother using files, just a fresh X-acto.

I'm curious about some of the other molds & weapons on their other minis. How bendy will thin blades, staves, or bows be? How easy will it be to readjust misshaped bits? (I imagine the hot water trick will work, but who knows?)

I didn't do any modifications to the dwarf I picked up, but I have a few thoughts on this subject.

First, make sure the bits are attached to something sturdy. Like I said, the plastic is soft, so a stable base is going to be idea. Second, I wouldn't do any weapon or hand swaps without pinning. On that note, I'm not so sure how easy it will be to drill the plastic. We'll have to see.

Reasonably paintable. I didn't put in too much effort and got a good quality looking mini out of it.

According to the Reaper website: "[The Bones miniatures] take paint without priming. Our Master Series Paints cover these models perfectly right out of the bottle, and the paint sticks -- standing up to most sorts of tabletop abuse your friday night group would be able to dish out."

I'm gonna call BS on that.

I figured I'd give it a shot, just to see how well it worked. The paint spread fine, and stuck reasonably well, but after drying the paint rubbed off with even gentle handling (the only caveat is that I use citadel paints, not their Master Series, which I don't care for). I'm definitely going to have to seal this guy before I let anyone touch him.

For a 70% drop in prices you get a pre-built white plastic mini. The details that aren't as sharp as metal, the plastic is soft, and while you don't technically have to prime it, you really should. The range is slim now, but if the Kickstarter is any indication they've got support, and a bunch of new minis coming out in the next year.

I can see myself buying one of these again.


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