Monday, February 3, 2014

My tour of Reaper Miniatures, Part 3: Minis galore

Part 1: Entering the Reaper's lair
Part 2: Casting & Paint

About 30 minutes into our visit of Reaper's warehouse in Denton, Tx. the tour was starting to wind down. We'd seen the molding process, casting, packaging, and paintmaking, but my favorite part was yet to come.

On our way out the warehouse our tour guide Matt shared an interesting anecdote. When Reaper was first attempting to make their way onto game-store shelves they were having difficulty because the industry standard (Ral Partha, Grenadier, etc) was 25mm minis. All the stores wanted them to be a similar scale. Reaper however make 28mm+ which made it tough to get their foot in the door.

Finally, after dealing with this issue long enough, the CEO, Ed Pugh, started saying they were 25mm "heroic scale" instead of giving their actual size. This satisfied the buyers, and got them onto the shelves. So the term "heroic scale" that I hear so often was *completely made up* by Ed as a way to sell his over large minis.

Finally, the second to last two stop was sculpting. We left the open warehouse and started walk down a few hallways in the vicinity of the storefront. After turning a few corners we entered a room with a small case of greens on the wall. They weren't minis I recognized, but seemed... old? several of them had a style similar to what you'd see in the late 80's early 90's. I didn't take any pictures of the case, but now wish that I had.

The next room was better anyways. It looked like a good old fashioned gaming workroom, complete with shelves of minis, and a sculptor hunched over his work at a table, fashioning his latest mini. That sculptor was Kevin Williams, and one of the minis he was working on was the (recently revealed) Kickstarter II Frog Demon.
Kevin was kind enough to give me a few pointers on modeling with green stuff. Namely he works on several sculpts simultaneously and uses excess greenstuff to build up the structure of the sculpt, only paying close attention to detail once you get to the final exterior layers.

He also suggested creating a hard putty base to keep from having to touch the soft greenstuff.

You can also see from the comparison of the concept art to the actual sculpt that they made a few changes. The CEO, Ed, wanted the demon to be looking down. This makes a good bit of sense to me since most adventurers are going to be smaller than the frog.

One of my favorite bits about being there is seeing the minis in a scale that I could grasp. "Sir Forscale" is nice & all, but I almost always think about minis based on how big they are in my hands.

Here you can see Matt holding Mashaaf, Great Old One. It's no Cthulu, but it's bigger than I expected.

The final stop was the gallery. Just a big room full of their finest painted minis. I could have spent forever looking at each individual mini, but at that point my wife & I were getting tired of holding the babies, and our family dinner was fast approaching, so I only spent a few short minutes.
There were so many great minis there. I was most excited to see Derek Schubert's Trista, the White Wolf. The photo doesn't really do it justice. There were a few neat surprises as well, like the Kraken.
and one of the Demon Lords, printed. Definitely not a Balor.
All it all, I had a really great tour thanks to Matt and the rest of the Reaper crew. Everyone was gracious and happy to answer any questions. If I could do it again I'd have plugged both kids were into strollers since our arms were getting pretty worn out from lugging the pair around by the end.
 My wife in particular, since I kept passing her a kid in order to take pictures.

Thanks again to the staff there, and I'd recommend a tour to any nerd that finds themselves in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas.