Sunday, 1 March 2015

Hero Forge Product Review

Just over a year ago, a Kickstarter for 3D printed custom miniatures was successfully funded. I was one of the backers, mainly motivated to see the dream become a reality, since me and my fellows don't get much miniature gaming done these days, though the possibility of owning miniatures tricked out to look specifically like characters I had created was a chance I couldn't pass up. A few days ago, said tricked out miniatures arrived, so it's time to air my thoughts on the final outcome.

Before we do though, I want to talk a little about Hero Forge's character creator and the customisations on offer. First of all, it is easy to use. If you have a character in mind then there's a few pre-made templates that you can use as a starting point. Armour and weapons from all ranges can be mixed and matched accordingly, and the range of stances, as well as both the facial and anatomical sliders means you're hard pressed not to come out with something unique. There are however, a few improvements I'd like to see, namely a wider range of poses and the ability to tweak the positioning of shoulder pads and pouches and the like.

One other issue I have with the character creator is the options available. Now don't get me wrong, there's a wide range so you're never stuck for archetypal designs, but if you have a specific design in mind you might be surprised at what's not an option. The character designer does not include options for any of the list below.

Medium length hair
Short, messy hair
An M-16 Assault rifle
A back mounted quiver
A classic shaped medium shield
A texture-less shield (so no decals 4 u!)
Kevlar vest over shirt/jumper
Any Native American stuff (despite there being a western range)

And there's probably a few more I haven't thought of, the list isn't exhaustive. Now I'm pretty sure we'll probably see some of these added in the future, but conspicuous in their absence and it's probably a bummer if you have a specific character in mind that you want a beret on, for example. All things considered, it's pretty adaptable, but like I said, also exhaustive.

Anyway, time to move onto the product itself. I designed two characters, based on two that have been rolling around for a long time, Jocasta, and Katie. I've designed both of them with Fantasy and Contemporary looks in the past, but due to the aforementioned limitations, had to compromise with going with Jocasta's fantasy design and Katie's contemporary one. Still, they came out pretty close to how I imagined them to, and soon enough the crate landed in the mail.

I was a little nervous that the miniatures would be damaged, they were after all made of resin and coming from overseas. I was convinced Katie's rifle would have snapped off when they arrived, but I needn’t have worried. The package was carefully packed, and they arrived safe and sound.

The miniatures are of a more accurate anatomical scale than the common 'Heroic Scale' a lot of companies go by. To be honest, I'm more of a fan of Heroic scale because it helps the miniatures stand out more on the table, but I know a lot of people, especially those more into the painting side of things, prefer a more detailed look, so that's what you get here. Think more Forge World than Games Workshop classic.

The models come complete, so there's no gluing required, though that might present it's own problems depending on how you've designed your characters. There doesn't seem to be any flash at all to deal with, so you can probably jump right into painting, though some surfaces that should be smooth do appear a little bumpy, so some preparation might be required before you start. Also, parts of the model can feel a little 'sweaty' when it arrives as a side affect of the 3D printing process.

They are extremely detailed, and will come as designed. They are also extremely delicate, I honestly don't expect I'll be using them for gaming since I'd worry about how to transport them. Your average foam packed case doesn't strike me as safe enough, so I wouldn't take any chances. The service does offer a more sturdier form of resin, but is more difficult to paint, so it depends on where your priorities lie.

So as for the models themselves, I am extremely satisfied, though woefully protective of them. I'll probably paint them up and get a little display case sorted out. If Hero Forge does add more options it's likely they might be joined by even more characters.

Katie and Jocasta MK1 vs Katie and Jocasta MK2. You have no idea how hard it is to find a girl with a mohawk and a rife. And in miniautre form too.

The ultimate question you have to ask yourself before purchasing is if Hero Forge is right for you. The miniatures themselves are more expensive than any of their competitors, so if you're trying to run a campaign on a budget it's a definite no no. Likewise, the options themselves are not infinite, so it might turn out that you have a better chance of finding something close to your character at Reaper. Also consider how delicate the models are. If you are the type of gamer who travels around a lot, you might be better off going with something more durable.

On a final note, I'd say that it's best to go with Hero Forge if, like me, you want something special for yourself. It's a real thrill to see a character you've designed be brought to life, rather than have to compromise on a miniature that just sort of looks like what you want them to look like. Ultimately the price ain't cheap, so you've got to really want to see your character immortalised in resin before you purchase.

Final Judgement: A highly detailed but expensive product. Recommended for vanity projects, miniature enthusiasts and gamers with a lot of clout to throw around. Wouldn't recommend for those on a budget and gamers who play fast and often.

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