August 18th, 2010
In Focus Review/Interview - Reaper Miniatures, Inc.
What put this next company on the map is the ever growing, and extremely broad range of miniature models that they have to offer. There's also the fact that almost everyone who is anyone in miniature sculpting these days has created a miniature, or two, or a hundred for Reaper Miniatures.
There was a period of time when Reaper was primarily known for fantasy/medieval figures, Sophie the succubus, and the mechanized giant robot-bashing game CAV. Times have changed. One of the newest and most exciting lines they have to offer is Chronoscope. This range covers a wide variety of character types. There's everything from proxy pop culture icons, to various popular horror, sci-fi, western and even super hero stereotypes to be found in this range. There's a bunch of cool lighthearted and whimsical models to be found too. Here's a little rundown of the models I've reviewed from the Chronoscope range for this feature...
Miss Muffet and Spider
This model captures the moment little miss muffet discovers the spider. There's a spider at her feet trying to get at her curds and whey pot, as she scantly clad stands there trying to look surprised. Only this miss muffet has a spray pump full of insect killer behind her back ready to eliminate the spider. Sculpted by Bob Ridolfi this is a really fun piece. My 9 year old daughter claimed it the minute she saw it, and I let her paint it up, which is why Miss Muffet is very pink and purple. She comes with a round lipped 30mm display base.
Clean up and assembly wasn't much of an issue either. She is a single piece model, and the base insert is all metal and scenic, with the spider, pot of curds & whey and a spoon sculpted onto it. The scenic base insert also fits perfectly inside the 30mm base. All in all, it's a nice piece. At $4.99 I think she's reasonably priced too.
Decker Lugstampf, Steampunk Hero
This next guy is an ideal proxy for Warmachine, or the Iron Kingdoms RPG. If I didn't know any better and someone were to show me a photo of this piece, I'd guess that it was a new Cygnar Mechanic for Warmachine. Decker Lugstampf, Steampunk Hero is the name of the model. He retails for $6.99, and he is sculpted by Ben Siens.
I have to admit, I don't think I've seen a piece sculpted by Ben Siens yet that I didn't like either. This guy is really good with creating facial character, and heroic-proportioned pieces. I think he has a very comic-book-like sculpting style, where no one is ever anorexic, or too skinny either. He's good with anatomy and proper proportions all around. Decker is a 3-piece model, the right arm glues into place via a nicely designed socket, and there's a tiny steam boiler/backpack which requires gluing into place on his back.
While the arm fits like a glove, the steam boiler/backpack was a little tough finding the right angle to fit flush, even after filing. Clean up wasn't too involved. There were a few mold lines to clean up, but nothing out of the ordinary.
It's a really amazing model all around. He has a monocle over his right-eye, and it looks like the wrench he's carrying could be easily modified with very little effort, into a war-hammer or some other type of common melee weapon. He also comes on a round lipped 30mm display base.
Scale-wise I'd have to say he looks more in scale with 30mm figures, than 28mm. Then again that thick steam-punk armor makes it a little tough to judge 100% accurately too. He definitely looks perfectly at home in Warmachine, and it's clear that he was designed with that game in mind.
This next blister is unique. It's called XAIRobots. It comes with three figures inside, and they're all little robots. They're sculpted by Kevin Williams, and the blister retails for $9.99. My favorite model from this pack looks like something ripped out of CAV or BattleTech. He's also the largest of the three, and has rather long guns on his shoulders, with big round ammo canisters attached at the rear.
The other two robots don't really do much for me, as they're rather average. Although I have to admit, the little guy is growing on me. The two smaller ones would make nice little companion pieces in a sci-fi RPG. Also this entire pack would be perfect to use for the Robots class in Mutants and Death Ray Guns from Ganesha Games, or in Faction Wars. At $9.99 for 3 figures, it's a bargain too.
The smallest models are single piece castings, while the guns and one of the arms had to be glued in place on the largest piece. This set was a little tougher to work with when it came to the mold lines, mostly due to the size of the smaller models, because just getting in to where the lines were found was the problem. That aside, nothing out of the ordinary to report in the way of clean up and assembly.
Berkely Zombie Survivor
Berkeley is sculpted by Julie Guthrie, and is absolutely amazing. Julie Guthrie is a long time sculptor for Reaper, and she's really good with female figures. This girl looks like a more attractive female version of Ash from The Evil Dead trilogy, as she's wielding a chain-saw, has a shot-gun strapped to her back, and is outfitted in tattered clothes. If you look really close, you can see that there's a severed zombie hand holding on to the torn pant-leg of her jeans too.
There's also little rips and tears sculpted subtly onto the clothing, which I thought was a really nice touch. It's not a good day to be a zombie while within a 1 mile radius of this chick. Clean up and assembly wasn't an issue, there was only minor mold lines to clean up, and that was it. She comes with a 30mm round lipped display base too. At just $3.99, I think so far she's the best deal yet. This is another personal favorite.
Betty Space Heroine
Betty is sculpted by Gene Van Horne is another fun piece. It's clear she's a sci-fi pulp heroine. She's so retro, and has that Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers serials-like hottie appearance. She's a perfect addition to any sci-fi/pulp game system, and she even comes with a little alien fella that's a separate piece you can glue to the base. He's firing some wild laser cannon/rifle contraption.
Complete with a little retro raygun in-hand, she's got character too. There's not much work needed to prepare her either, and she's a single piece sculpt, with the separate alien fella for the base. At $3.99 she's another incredible value.
This model is sculpted by Matt Bickley, and is a really unique piece. I can't quite describe this fella. He reminds me of the overweight and utterly disgusting Harkonnen leader, who can't walk on his own and floats around mid-air from the movie Dune, only naked. That's really the only way to describe this piece. This piece has some cybernetic thing going on with the winged apparatus, and all the tubes attached to his body from it. A closer look reveals a lot of little detail sculpted into the wings and apparatus too.
This is a rather heavy piece. One of the biggest hoses needed glued on separately, but it's for the most part a single piece casting. The base by design is meant to accommodate the weight of the piece via an all metal stick molded into a slot at the bottom. Therefore this is a flying base essentially. I tossed some putty in to double make sure this fella wasn't going anywhere once the stick was in place.
The piece balances surprisingly well if you place him on the stick properly. It only takes a little fiddling to find that right sweet spot for the center of gravity. Clean up and assembly wasn't too bad, as I said you might want to use a little putty to secure the base optimally, otherwise the mold lines were minimal, and there was no flash to deal with. Considering the size and weight of this piece $11.99 is quite a reasonable price too. He would make a nice evil/mad doctor, or some overweight genius Stephen Hawking-type super villain.
Ape X Super Villan
Another model high up on the list of favorites from this line is Ape X Super Villain sculpted by Jason Wiebe. This piece is quite large, and comes on with appears to be a 50mm square slotted base.
I've always been a big fan of apes, and this guy really reminded me of a cooler and larger Gorilla Grod. He has a metal skull cap contraption on on his head, but this piece takes things a step further with a cybernetic fist for the left arm, and the option of a multi-barrel gun, a large drill bit or a large blunt beating instrument of some sort for the right arm. Options are always a good thing, and I couldn't resist using the multi-barrel machine gun. If had rare-earth magnets lying around, I'd have modded this guy to use all three options.
This fella is larger than a medium Warmachine Warjack, and is almost as big as a heavy Warjack. He's pretty much right between both of them both size-wise. Clean up and assembly wasn't a problem either. At $16.99 he's definitely worth the cost of admission too. If you wanted to save a few dollars, there's also a $12.99 version available in Reapers P-65 Heavy Metal line, that is if you don't mind a lead version.
That really just barely touches the surface of this amazing line of models. There's so many other impressive models worthy of mention. There's a few models that resemble the guys from Gears of War, and other pulp/movie icons, like knock-off Laura Croft, Indiana Jones, Alice from Resident Evil, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes even Dr Evil from Austin Powers and what looks like surfer Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
There's also a nice little variety of western, pirate and super-hero genre models to be found too in the Chronoscope line. This is truly the one line that has a little bit of everything, aside from medieval stuff. Some of the releases from this past week are really amazing too, like the two different scuba-divers (male and female), and their version of an underwater creature from the black lagoon, plus a really nice WWII pilot model. You really can't go wrong with the Chronoscope line.
This line is a collaboration between Reaper and Paizo Publishing. While this line doesn't have nearly as many models as other existing Reaper lines, it's growing at a fast pace, and features a really nice assortment of medieval/dungeon crawler types designed to compliment Paizo's Pathfinder line of RPG products. Like Chronoscope, these are also all lead free white metal models, in heroic 28mm scale.
Hook Mountain Ogre #2
This is a rather large piece, and it's sculpted by Dave Summers. Clean up and assembly wasn't too complex, a few mold lines were found, but no more than what one would expect. He also comes with a square slotted base. I like skull trophies hanging from his waist, and the massive scythe-like weapon. He also has some character, in a menacing, yet playful sort of way. I'm reminded of the old Rankin & Bass Hobbit and Lord of the Rings animated films every time I look at this guy too.
Considering how much metal is here, $16.99 is a reasonable price point too. There's also a Hook Mountain Orge #1 available too, which is a similar piece, but posed differently. So if he gets lonely, you can pick up his buddy to keep him company.
Pathfinder Red Dragon
This is one monster size piece. This Red Dragon is sculpted by Julie Guthrie. It's also a multiple piece model, and due to the size, I'd highly recommend either pinning, or using more than the average strength CA to assemble it. An epoxy might even be worth using on this thing, because almost all of the pieces are quite heavy. I'm impressed that the pieces do fit together rather well right out of the package. Therefore not a lot of modification is required to get this piece assembled.
Minor green stuff will be needed to cover the small gaps left over, but that's expected from a model as large as this. Very little flash, and a few mold lines exist that will require tending too. Otherwise it's a fairly clean model, and it's not hard to figure out how to assemble it.
My only problem with this piece is that you'll need to pickup a base for it, because the scenic integral base sculpted onto the piece doesn't do much to help it stand very well. What base is there looks nice enough, because this thing is standing on what appears to be a pile of gold and a rather large broken skull statue. That's the problem too, because the skull is hollow and halved, and the model needs more base underneath it in that region where there is none.
A separate base will be a must. Without one, this will look like a sleeping dragon, because it will be laying on its side more often than not. This Red Dragon will set you back $34.99, which is quite a bit less than most of the other Reaper dragon models, but this also isn't as large as the more expensive models either.
Here's another big fella. This Troll is sculpted by Jason Wiebe. Only a few pieces make up this model, so there's not a lot of assembly to speak off. Clean up also wasn't very involved. Outside of a couple model lines, and minor flash, it's a fairly clean model. He also comes with a large square slotted base like the Orge, and he's just about a hair smaller than the Ogre too.
This guy also looks like he'd fit right into a classic Rankin & Bass Hobbit or Lord of the Rings animated feature film. He's not really scary looking. I'd say he looks mischievous, with a hint of playfulness.
If you're looking for a traditional Troll, not the Peter Jackson LotR feature film type ones, then this is the guy you want to check out. Being a hair smaller than the Orge also makes him $1 less than the Orge at just $15.99.
Order of the Scourge Hellknight
This is probably my favorite model from the Pathfinder line so far. Order of the Scourge Hellknight is a fantastic Bobby Jackson sculpt. I can't say that I've ever seen a model sculpted by Bobby Jackson that I didn't like yet either. This Scourge fella looks like he means business, and is ready to really put a hurting on someone.
This was a multiple part model, as the shield and hand holding the whip/lash-like weapon are separate pieces. Not a lot of clean up was required, although one mold line did annoy me, as it was in a spot that was tough to get at. He also comes with a 25mm square slotted base.
My only real gripe about this model is that the chain part of the weapon is rather weak, and I get the feeling I'll end up breaking it eventually. Knowing what I know now, I'd have left it off the model until I was done painting the rest of it first. I've continually bumped and bent it more times than I can remember. Size-wise this is a medium sized model, as he's larger than most average 28mm scale models, but not quite as big as the Orge or Troll. Therefore I think his $10.99 pricetag is quite fair.
The Scarecrow, Flesh Golem
This is one of the creepiest models I've ever seen sculpted by Ben Siens. This is a flesh golem, dressed like a scarecrow, with a huge scythe drawn back over his head with both hands. There's even blood, flesh or something sculpted onto the very tip of the blade. Not only is the model a patchwork man since he's a flesh golem, but a scarecrow is made up of patchwork clothing, so there's stitches and patchwork everywhere that the eye can see on this model. The facial detail is pretty grim too, because it looks like if he can't cut you, he just might attempt to chew your face off with those teeth sticking out of the burlap sack over his head!
There's no clean up or assembly to speak of, since this is a single piece model, minus some basic mold line cleanup and gluing him to the large square slotted base. He's also a somewhat large piece. The model isn't as big as the troll or orge, but he's much larger than most of the other standard humanoid-size models. At $9.99 he's priced quite reasonably taking his size into consideration, plus it really is an exceptional sculpt.
Here's a sculptor I've never heard of before Derek Schubert, but if Reaper is using him, he has to be good, and this model called Gray Maiden shows he's quite a talented sculptor. This is a standard size female model, wearing some flashy, almost ornamental looking armor from head to toe. I like the almost Spartan-looking helmet. She's standing there posed as if she's waiting for someone to snap a photo, showing off her sword and shield.
This is another single piece model, so there's again next to no assembly to speak of. All I had to do was glue her to her 25mm square slotted base. Clean up was a little more involved. The problem is that the armor on the arms is ribbed-like, and there's a mold line right down the middle of the right arm. It's one huge pain in the butt to get rid of mold line, and it's hard to remove without hacking the ribbing to shreds in the process. This is also another one of the $3.99 price-point models.
Okay I know, pre-painted and plastic models both in the same sentence is somewhat of a taboo among many hobby enthusiasts. Personally I feel that if a model is nice, I could care less if it were plastic, resin or metal, even lead doesn't bother me much, because in most cases these days lead is cheaper than white metal. If given a first choice, I'll usually pick metal every time, but I really don't have a thing against plastic either.
Painted or Pre-Painted is another debate. I'd personally rather paint my own models. I was also a huge collector and fan of Mage Knight, HeroClix, Mechwarrior and all things Wizkids in the early 2000s, which was back when Wizkids ruled the Earth with their addictive boxes of plastic crack. I also loved Wizards D&D and Star Wars Minis. I played and enjoyed all of those games right along side my paint-your-own model games (40k, LotR, Warmachine, Dogs of War, etc) at the time. Therefore unlike most hobbyist gamers, I can appreciate pre-painted plastic models, without feeling like I'm cheating on my girlfriend. Others mileage may vary.
The Legendary Encounters line takes some of the existing 28mm heroic scale Reaper sculpts, and uses them to create plastic pre-painted models from. Therefore you're getting a Reaper-quality sculpt, pre-painted and ready to go right out of the package, only in plastic.
I was sent Werewolf (Ben Siens $3.99), Bugbear (Tre Manor $4.99), Gargoyle (Bob Ridolfi $4.99), Young Dragon ( Sandra Garrity $6.99) and Vampire (Bob Ridolfi $3.99) for review. It's clear that these will never be nicer looking than models I could have painted myself. That's a given. I also can't say these are any worse than current HeroClix or Wizards D&D Minis either. Some might even say they're better. I really like the Werewolf, Bugbear and Gargoyle a lot.
The plastic is that rubbery-like plastic, so it's flexible like HeroClix and D&D Minis as well. My only gripe about any of these models are the integral bases. The Werewolf is by far my favorite piece from this lot, but he doesn't stand very well on his own. I took a hair drier to him so I could bend the model a little to allow him to stand better. The Gargoyle also tends to topple over if you set him up on any terrain that isn't perfectly flat and level, because he's top heavy. A simple addition of a 30mm round lipped display base would remedy this.
I've used these models to play games of Fear and Faith with, and aside from the balance issues, I like them. What they're asking for these isn't breaking the bank either. For instance, the Gargoyle model in white metal form from Reaper cost $9.99, but this plastic pre-painted version is just $4.99. The Werewolf by Ben Siens in metal is $7.99, where as this pre-painted plastic version ready to play out of the package is just $3.99. Young Dragon is a copy of the all metal Young Ice Dragon model, which will cost you $16.99 in white metal, but this plastic pre-painted version is just $6.99, which is a whopping $10 less.
These certainly won't impress everyone. I do however think this line is a nice way to pick up a few single models, pre-painted and ready to play, at a reasonable cost. There's definitely a market for these. I like that they're not random booster packed crap, because you can see what you're buying ahead of time too. There's no wasting money on models you don't want or need at least with the Legendary Encounters line. Whats more, these plastic pre-painted versions are half the price of their all metal unpainted counterparts.
Reaper Paints and Brushes
There's two paint lines from Reaper, the Master Series and Pro Paints. The Master Series is the newer line of the two. Master Series colors comes in 1/2 oz dropper bottles just like Vallejo, only the difference is they include a tiny little pewter skull inside every bottle to help them mix better when you shake them. There's also the fact that Reaper offers colors and shades you just can't get anywhere else. I've been a fan of gunmetal blue and green from them for years, both of which you can't find anywhere else.
The brush on primer from the Master Series is also a must-have product, and it comes in both black and white. The Master Series primer is a life saver if you live in a high humidity region, and have nothing but problems with aerosol primer in the summer months. It goes on quite thin, therefore it doesn't obscure the tiny details, but still offers an ideal surface for paint to adhere to it. Therefore technically, I think it's better than spray on primer, because you have more control of how much goes on.
The Master Series paints come in single bottles, and in Triad packaging both. A typical Triad package will include a shadow shade, base shade and a highlight shade. These colors are specifically designed to work together to give you what you need to properly shadow and highlight a color. The Triads eliminate the guesswork of trying to mix paints to lighten a color for highlights, and to find a proper matching darker color to shade with.
There's also few Triad packages that include three different colors in a single package, which aren't meant to work together. However it's clear that idea behind the Triads concept is to make shading and highlighting easier. Examples of shading/highlighting Triads include Weathered Blues, Olive Skintones, Red Hair, Silver Toned Metals, Stone Colors, Sea Blues, and Ultramarine Blues just to name a few. The other Triad examples would include packs like Reaper Inks I and II, and Colored Metallics III. I counted about 74 Triads in all at the Reaper website.
The Pro Paints is their original paint line, and they come in pots with screw on lids, and they originated the inclusion of a pewter skull in the bottle to help mix the paint, so they include them as well. The Pro Paints are a little thicker too. Many of the colors you can find in the Pro Paints line can be found in the Master Series too. But in recent years the Master Series has really taken off, and there are shades to be found now that are exclusive to both series of paints, in addition to some shared colors.
Pro Paints and Master Series paints are $2.99 each direct from Reaper, and the Triads are $8.99 each direct from Reaper. That puts them in the very same price range as Vallejo, and quite a bit less than GW since GW jacked their prices up to $3.70 for their smaller 12ml pots back in June 2010. There's also hundreds of colors to choose from if you were to combine together all of the Pro Paint and Master Series colors currently available.
They're not done yet either, as they keep adding to the color pool. The consistency of this line is topnotch too. It offers great coverage, it thins quite nicely without loosing color, and is almost equal to Vallejo in viscosity. Anymore the gap between Vallejo and Reaper is so thin, that it's really hard to not say that my #1 choice out of my top 5 paint choices is almost a tie between Vallejo and Reaper now.
Reaper also sells some rather nice Kolinsky Sable paint brushes. After having seen the brushes from Winsor & Newton and da Vinci now, I can't say that Reaper brushes are better than those options, but they're certainly not worse. Reaper is also more readily available than those brands at most hobby shops I frequent, and online just the same. They're definitely not a bad option at all.
What I like most about the Reaper Kolinsky Sable brushes is that they're one of the few lines to offer the smaller micro-sizes like 20/0, 30/0 and even as small as 40/0. These brushes are designed specifically for master class painters, and I've always liked these brushes. Price-wise you're looking at about $8-$10 per brush, which puts them in the same price-range as Winsor & Newton and da Vinci as well, but none of those companies make brushes in sizes as small as Reaper. The Master Series brushes come in sizes #2-#40/0. So if you're looking for some micro-sizes, these are one of the only high quality options available in 20/0-40/0 sizes.
Reich of the Dead
Reich of the Dead is an upcoming game from Reaper. They've also re branded some of their existing Chronoscope models and repackaged them in Reich of the Dead packaging. However, there is models exclusive to the Reich of the Dead line as well. This looks like another Weird/Alternate WWII-style game. Only this time it's US Army soldiers playing the role of hunter/survivors, and WWII German/Nazis in zombie form playing out the role of the badguys.
Some of the models are really amazing. Sergeant Mack Torrey is by far my favorite. He's supposed to be the main hero from the game, and this guy looks like a grizzled Sgt Rock, or Nick Fury from Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos era. He's also sculpted by James Van Schaik. It's an absolutely an amazing model, best of all, he's only $3.99!
Pvt Time Hernandez ($4.99), Pvt Max Dansworth ($3.99) and Pvt Bob Hanks ($3.99) are the three other American GIs I was sent for review. All three are also sculpted by James Van Schaik. In all honesty, the other three seem like average models, because Sgt Mack Torrey is a hard act to follow, and after setting the bar with him, these guys really do end up looking fairly average in comparison. They're nice sculpts, don't get me wrong. I also like that they're all in a unique dramatic in-action-like pose, but they don't have the overall detail to come close to matching Sgt Mack Torrey.
The German/Nazis are called the Kroids in Reich of the Dead. Kroid Officer sculpted by Gen Van Horne looks to be the leader of the Kroids. This model, like Sgt Mack, is also a really nice piece. It's clear that the Kroids are inspired by the now classic German horror movie called Dead Snow, which included some rather tenacious Nazi Zombies. The Kroid Officer is standing there aiming his Luger, with a machinegun slung around his neck, while his body is decomposed, and all shot to hell. He's really creepy but quite cool, definitely an impressive model. Best of all, he too is just $3.99.
My only gripe about this guy is that he's really small in comparison to Sgt Mack, and the other GIs. Side by side, he looks frail and skinny. I know he's supposed to be a zombie and all, but the scale between these two appears to be a little off. Although he could just be a skinny shorter than average German officer, who has decomposed and lost a lot of weight I guess?
There's a variety of other named, and generic American GI models, and Kroid models available for Reich of the Dead at present. The game itself is still in development, but it's said to utilize tank models, and it will be based off the existing Reaper RAGE game engine. I'm really curious to see what the tank models look like now. This is a game I'll definitely be keeping an eye on as more information becomes available on it.
Dark Heaven Legends
This is their oldest and most respected line of models, which are designed with RPG gaming in mind. These too are 28mm heroic-scale designed models, cast in white metal. What also separates this from other lines is, that it's rare that any of these models come with separate square or round plastic bases. They stick with the integral bases. Actually this is how all metal models used to come, with integral bases alone. So one could say this line is a little retro.
Black Orc Warriors
This is a pack with two models in it, and they're both sculpted by Tre Manor. The level of detail is impressive on these two guys. I've always been a fan of Orcs done right, and these are definitely Orcs done right. They're big and they're armed with weapons and shields both.They just look like they're ready to pick a fight. At $14.99 for the set, I thought that was a bit much at first, but as nice as these are, and taking into account they're larger than average metal models, they're really not that overpriced after-all.
Since these include no bases, and are one piece models, there's no real assembly to speak of. Clean up wasn't too tough either, as there is a few mold lines to tend to, but that's about it. The only problem with these models is, that even on a flat surface, the integral base is useless, and they simply won't stand very well without toppling over after a few seconds.
As the name implies, this is a baby dragon model. Although most other Dark Heaven models include no separate bases, this one comes with a 25mm round base, because by design this thing is no way going to stand with an integral base alone. This little dragon is also sculpted by Kevin Williams.
A single mold line is all I had to tend with on this model, and assembly was as simple as gluing the slot into the included 25mm round slotted base. This isn't a terribly difficult model to paint either, and one of my twin girls claimed this little fella as well, which explains why it's now purple. It's detailed, but it's so small that there's really only so much you can do with it. I like it, this is a cute model, and at $5.99 it's not going to break the bank either.
Rumscratch, Dwarf Wereshark
This little fella is sculpted by Guy England. I can't say that's a name I'm familiar with, but one thing is for certain, this guy can sculpt. This is a really interesting model. I can't say that I've ever heard of a wereshark, but I think it's a cool idea. This one is quite short too, as he's a Dwarf Wereshark. He has a treasure chest tucked under his arm, with his sword raised and ready to fight.
He's the stereotypical pirate too, complete with a signature wooden leg, and hook hand, and if you look closely, he even has little ear rings punched through his tail fin. The only thing he's missing is a parrot. This little fella has character, and I like that. There looks like a hermit crab on his shoulder, and a tiny little clam molded onto the integral base. Surprisingly this little guy stands on his own quite well via the little integral base too.
The only thing I just don't understand is the $5.99 price-tag. He's so tiny, that you'd think he would be in the $3.99 price-range, but he's not. He was two pieces tho, as I had to glue the upper torso to the lower torso, so maybe being a multi-part model has something to do with the price. Either way, this is a really cool looking piece, one that I think I'll try and covert for use in Freebooter's Fate now.
Castrus Vile, Evil Warrior
This is another really impressive model sculpted by Guy England. I like that MR. Vile is wielding two axes, one in each hand. He's also wearing a mix of chain-mail and armor plates, with an animal fur/hide cape on his back. The dangling skulls is also a really nice touch, so is the round wooden shield on his back. This guy looks wild-eyed and crazy sporting a Mohawk and a rather large visible scar on his face. I like when models have character, and this one is oozing with it.
Clean up wasn't too bad. There was some flash to tend to, and minor mold lines. Although there's no assembly to speak of, as this is another single piece casting, and it comes only with its own integral base. There's a little bit of texture on the integral base too, making it a little nicer than most. He's also a fairly large warrior-looking piece, muscular and bulky, so the $6.29 price tag seems reasonable. My only gripe is that he has a hard time standing very well on his own.
Autumn Bronzeleaf, Female Elf Wizard
I'm not the biggest fan of female models personally. There's a few that really catch my eye though from time to time, but his isn't one of those models that I'd have went out of my way to obtain. However, my other 9 year-old daughter (I have twins) loved this piece, and claimed it the instant she saw it. She also begged to paint it up, so I let her.
This is a female Elf Wizard. It's a fairly average looking piece, sculpted by Jeff Grace, and she carries a $4.99 price-tag. Cleanup was simple as can be, there was only minor mold lines to tend to with this model, and it's a single piece casting, so there was no assembly to speak of either.
There's some nice ornate detail in the upper torso in the armor and jewelry, and the staff is rather nicely detailed too with visual wood-grain detailing, but as small as this piece is I'd think it would have been one of the $3.99 range models.
There's literally hundreds more where these came from, as the Dark Heaven Legends series is their longest running product line to date. Last weeks releases for this series really caught my eye, like Bobby Jackson's Evil Shrine & Pygmy Savages, and a Ranger model he also sculpted. I swear he has to be the busiest sculptor in the industry today, because he's everywhere lately.
My only gripe with this line is that the integral bases were a nice idea back in the early days of D&D, but they're not the ideal base for models now in 2010. Most models just won't stand with the integral bases alone. Therefore to get the most out of the Dark Heaven Legends models as a collector/painter, or to use them in other current game systems, you will probably need to pick up some square or round bases separately.
That pretty much covers Reaper in a nutshell. As hard to believe as it may be, I still didn't cover everything Reaper has to offer. I didn't forget about their Warlord game, but if all goes as planned I may be covering that in a separate stand alone review. I didn't want to drag this out into a 10,000+ word article, and that's what it would have been had I covered Warlord as well.
Chances are if there's a game you play, which requires miniature models, Reaper has a handful of models you can make use of. I also can't stress enough how fantastic the Chronoscope range is. The best part of all is that Reaper models aren't expensive. Reaper is able to put out models sculpted by the same talent who sculpt models for other companies that sell single figures for $10-$15+ each, and do it for a fraction of the cost. The fact is, Reaper always was one of the cheapest alternatives in metal miniature models, now they just so happen to be one of the most versatile as well!
Don't go anywhere yet! Below is an interview I conducted with Reaper covering various topics, and it includes lots of great info covering Reaper rather in-depth. A big thanks goes out to Ron Hawkins at Reaper for helping put this all together as well.
WarGameGuru - It seems like Reaper has been around forever now. Just how long has Reaper been around at this point, and could you give us the details about how it all began?
Ron - Reaper was founded on July 4, 1992 in Fort Worth, Texas by Ed Pugh, David Pugh, and Al Pare. Initially, Reaper produced the old Heritage Miniatures Dungeon Dwellers line of pewter miniatures as well as a few other miniatures. Then, Reaper started producing the Scrye Life Counter for card games. The success of that product led to the creation of the Dark Heaven miniatures line in 1995 and it’s still going strong today.
WarGameGuru - Almost everyone, who is anyone now in this industry as a sculptor seems to have at some point worked for Reaper by creating a mini, or two, or a hundred. Are you guys the proving grounds for sculpting talent or what?
Ron - We’ve certainly worked with lots of amazingly talented sculptors and artists over the years. I don’t really think of ourselves as a proving ground, per se, but I can see how we’ve raised the bar for other miniatures companies and sculptors. Every time I get on the internet I find another new miniatures company that has raised the bar again. We don’t rest on our laurels, that’s for sure!
WarGameGuru -I'd like educate readers on the topic of the process in general of creating a miniature model. Let’s start with the basics. Does Reaper come up with the idea of what miniature that you want created, and then pass off the task onto one of your sculptors, or do the sculptors come to you with the idea, or a green already done, and ask if you'll use it?
Ron - All of the above! We’ll analyze the gaming market and determine what holes need to be filled, miniatures wise, and schedule things around our analysis. Sometimes we’ll just schedule things that just sound cool and fun to paint. We also sculpt miniatures for specific game purposes, like armies for Warlord, Reich of the Dead, etc. And then you have the instances where a sculptor just sends something in to us and we just say, “Hey! That’s cool! Let’s put it out!”
WarGameGuru - From concept to final product, how long does the process take, and could you please walk us through it?
Ron - In a nutshell, we’ll take our market analysis (which I mentioned above) and come up with a list of miniatures ideas. Once that’s done, the list is broken down and placed into our release schedule, which we call “The Matrix”. The Matrix is an automated process which schedules concept art, sculpting assignments, master molding, painting, marketing, and production. This process is also built in with periodic email reminders to keep things going. There are a lot of moving parts, to be sure. The whole process, from the time a miniature is scheduled to the time it hits store shelves is about a year, more or less.
WarGameGuru - Many companies use foundries from overseas when it comes to metal miniatures. I noticed that all of the Reaper blister packs say Made in the USA. Does that mean you guys have your own foundry right there in Texas?
Ron - You got it! We produce all our metal miniatures right here in Denton, Texas. Mold making, casting, packaging, shipping – all done in-house. It's a huge place and we do tours all the time so stop by sometime.
WarGameGuru - You guys are offering some pre-painted plastic miniatures now. Quite a few I thought were very nice actually, but I was surprised to see plastic from Reaper at all. Will Reaper finally be moving towards more plastic miniatures, maybe unpainted ones eventually too?
Ron - Thank you! We hope to eventually produce many more plastic products. I don’t know about unpainted plastic though. Anything’s possible. However, Reaper is primarily a metal miniatures company. I don’t see that changing ever.
WarGameGuru - I read recently that CAV the game, in terms of the rules and what not was being handled by a new company now. What is going on with CAV, and what is Reapers involvement with CAV at this point?
Ron - Jon Walker is heading up the CAV line now. Not really a company, but he has been in the industry for quite a long time. He has a long history in mecha and a lot of new fresh ideas to spin out into the market.
WarGameGuru - How well did CAV do for Reaper while Reaper handled it?
Ron - It did very well for a very long time. For us, CAV was a dead end in as much as we released the books and the metal, and that was all we had planned to do. We expected it to quietly fade into the night. We were very wrong. The fan base for CAV is very loyal, vocal and much larger than we expected when we rolled 2nd Edition out as a PDF only product.
WarGameGuru - Personally, I think the reboot of BattleTech is the biggest challenge you guys ever had to face with CAV, as at one point right before the BattleTech reboot, it looked like CAV was doing really well and gaining ground when I saw it being demoed at Origins and Gen Con at the time. Back then even a few locals were getting into it. Do you think that the BattleTech reboot maybe stole some of your thunder away from CAV at that point?
Ron - What actually hurt CAV more than anything was the announcement of the cancellation of Battletech a few months after the launch of CAV. Instantly the world looked to CAV – which was a good thing, but in the CAV universe there were no computer games, novels, 400+ miniatures and countless game books to dive into. There was a core book and 16 CAV miniatures. CAV only disappointed Battletech fans looking for their Battletech universe.
WarGameGuru - The game I'm the most enthusiastic about seeing, and hearing more about is Reich of the Dead. The miniatures you've released so far are really nice. In the Reaper catalog I read that it mentioned the use of tanks for both sides too. Does this mean you guys will be putting out some 28mm scale Sherman and Panzers/Tigers models anytime soon?
Ron - In the last RotD meeting I attended, the game will launch with two starter sets. One for each side and there is a resin tank in that set. I hope they do well enough to justify expanding into that area a little more.
WarGameGuru - How about the game itself, how will it work, what will separate it from all of the other alternate WWII universe games already out there?
Ron - The game uses the RAGE engine, so if you are familiar with CAV or Warlord you will find it easy to understand and play. What makes it different, for me at least, is that it is a very gritty feeling game. Not a hero or pulp tech game.
WarGameGuru - I remember at one time all that Reaper was known for was primarily fantasy figures, scantly clad fantasy figures (including Sophie the Succubus), paints and CAV. Now you guys have so many different lines. One of my personal favorites is the Chronoscope line. How did that come about?
Ron - We thought about producing modern and sci-fi miniatures for years, but those types of miniatures were always considered to be very game-specific. Generic modern figures just didn’t seem to be such a good idea, unlike generic fantasy which sells so well. But, obviously things change. So, in 2006 we decided to push forward with the Chronoscope line and it’s done incredibly well for us.
WarGameGuru - How does the Pathfinder line work, as I see that's a joint effort between Paizo and Reaper?
Ron - The fine folks at Paizo have been really great to work with. They just sort of give us a list of suggestions to pick from and then we do the rest. Just from experience, we can tell which Pathfinder characters or monsters will do well, and Paizo recognizes this and lets us do what we do best. Working on the Pathfinder stuff is great, as Paizo has awesome art resources, which makes the sculpting side easier. The Pathfinder Miniatures line is doing very well for us, and we’re working very hard to keep the Paizo guys happy.
WarGameGuru - One of the things I noticed, which I'm a big fan of is the inclusion of the lipped round bases, versus the old flat round bases, which used to come with figures that utilized a round base. What prompted you guys to switch up, and are the lipped, more display quality round bases here to stay?
Ron - You nailed it:: display quality. Miniature painting has really evolved over the last decade and moved way beyond the game table. The lipped base allows the painter a little work room in creating an awesome base to compliment the miniature.
WarGameGuru - How well has the Master Series/Pro Paints line done for Reaper, and what's next for the paint lines, will we see more colors and shades any time soon, any new packaging bundles, etc?
Ron - The MSP line has been an incredible story, starting with the talented Anne Foerster. The idea to create the line had been bounced around for some time and when Anne joined our team we knew it was time to turn her loose. We've been releasing new colors for Master Series pretty steadily, and there are more coming up yet this year. Other than that, there are really too many new items and ideas on the slate to list.
WarGameGuru - I almost always have to buy Master Series/Pro Paints online, as most local retailers are stuck with the GW mindset, and only stock GW colors. Why is it so hard for the Reaper paint lines to more aggressively invade retail too?
Ron - I'm going to say it is because we haven't really pushed very hard yet. You really only get one chance in this industry and we want to get it right. Now that formulas and colors have settled in, customer acceptance is high and we have a newly designed paint rack, I'm going to say we will be in your local store sooner than you think.
WarGameGuru - Tell me more about the P-65 Heavy Metal line, and what separates it from the existing model ranges?
Ron - Cheaper retail price is what separates it from the rest of the lines. The metal used in the P-65 line is a lead based alloy. This reduces the cost of a model significantly.
WarGameGuru - How does a model end up being selected to get the P-65 Heavy Metal treatment?
Ron - There is no real formula for that just yet. Bigger models obviously are the trend, but a few smaller models have crept in as well.
WarGameGuru - I think we've covered a lot of ground. What can you tell us about Reaper that maybe we overlooked, and what's next for Reaper at this point?
Ron - Well, we’ve got lots of new stuff planned for that last half of 2010. At Gen Con, we completely sold out of our Mousling Heroes boxed set – that was a big surprise. The Mouslings should be invading retail stores in September. The next chapter in the Warlord tabletop miniatures game was released earlier this month.
It’s called Warlord: Savage North, and it’s set in the frigid north of Reaper’s campaign world of Adon. We’ve got a new resin dwarf bust model coming out this fall called The Grudge, sculpted by Jason Wiebe. This is all on top of the 20+ miniatures we regularly release every month. We never sleep around here.
Thank you for the opportunity to do this interview!