Reaper Bones review
Reaper is putting out another Kickstarter! That boggles my mind - has anyone really finished painting all the miniatures from the first batch already?!
Anyway, with that, i wanted to rush out my thoughts on the Bones that i've painted so far. You can see my work on them here, here, here, and here. Note that not all of the figures in those pictures are Bones; i've also had a backlog of other minis that i've been including with this past month's painting project.
I also ought to mention my bona fides. My skills, such as they are, are on display in the posts i've linked to. I've been painting since i was in fifth grade, but i learned to do it on my own, and i've seen much much better painting jobs online. It took me a long time to figure out dry brushing and i'm only recently getting into using a wash. The approach i learned was just very precisely painting each part with undiluted paint, and i'm really just now weaning myself away from that. I also take a quick and dirty assembly line approach; i use these in an active D&D session that i run, so the minis are for actual use and not necessarily for display. "Good enough" is what i'm going for.
I also confess that i never prime. I always felt guilty about that, like i was doing something wrong, but my miniatures always came out well enough that i didn't see a need to change that.
However, one of the huge selling points for the Bones was that they did not require priming. Hooray! Now i wouldn't be cheating anymore.
So with the first Bones kickstarter, where i'd be getting an overwhelming number of miniatures, my goal was to crank through them. No priming needed, let's just crank them out.
Unfortunately... not so easy.
The big problem is that the plastic the Bones are made of is hydrophobic, which means it repels water. And acrylic paint is made of water. So when you apply paint to the Bones, it just beads and pools and drips. Does that mean you have to prime? Well actually, you really can't: people are reporting that most primers stay sticky and do not dry.
So without internet, i'd be ready to just throw these things away. But thanks to the Reaper's forums, there is a solution. And it's to cover the entire miniature with an undiluted coat of paint. Basically base coating the entire figure.
So that's essentially the same thing as priming except with more expensive paint that is thicker and therefore covers up more of the miniature's detail. So i never used to prime, but now i'm sort of mega-priming.
So that's a huge detriment to just cranking these out. The paint that Reaper recommends to use with this (their own, ofc) is also slow drying compared to the Citadel paints that i'm used to. So you basically have to
The other problem is the level of detail. Covering your minis with a thick glob of undiluted paint is generally considered a no-no. Most people prime with a thinner material. And as i mentioned, my bad habit is just to apply the detail paint directly to the minis. Compared to either approach, with this method, you are covering up more of the nuances of the miniature with paint.
On top of that, the miniatures have detail problems to begin with. Metal miniatures are obviously superior to plastic ones in terms of the detail that they can contain. If you look through even these recent pictures i've taken, in addition to the Bones i've painted some metal miniatures (the Robin Hood figures, the barbarian with the golden axe, and the lady on the horse) and some non-Bones plastic miniatures (the blue orc, the skeleton with the scythe, the old school looking troll, the gorilla). Most of the other plastic miniatures i've painted don't have much detail by design. They are simple. They have a few basic parts, you paint them, and you are done. Bones to their credit are more ambitious. They attempt to have as much detail as a metal miniature. Unfortunately, that detail doesn't always transfer very well. Especially when your paint is either beading or when you're painting over a thicker base coat. There are also a lot of cases where, say, a quiver meets the edge of a cloak and they just kind of blend into each other and it's up to you to decide where to paint a straight line. The worst example in every miniature is where the feet meets the base. They just kind of mush together.
There are also very ambitious miniatures like those piles of spiders in my most recent picture where a) it requires more drybushing and washing skills than i have to really pull off but also b) each individual spider is actually just a kind of blob when you look at it closely, so drawing out the spiders by touching them with a fine tipped detail brush is not rewarding.
And it's worth repeating that while i've been doing this a long while i don't consider myself an expert. I am sure that people with more skill than me are able to create great looking minis out of all of these, even the ones i've had trouble with. But the appeal here was getting a HUGE box of miniatures to paint through and if i want them all available for use in my D&D sessions during my lifetime i can't be devoting the necessary time and effort to each one, even if i had the right skills.
Another thing about the plastic minis is that they tend to get bent out of shape. Long spears, swords, sometimes entire bodies tend to get permanently stuck at 45 degree angles. Another trick from the forums is to put them in a pot of boiling water (something min isn't too happy about; we eat out of those pots!) and then reshape and quickly put into a bowl of icewater. That works, but a) not 100% - you can see a lot of the minis i've painted still have bent bits even after i've applied that trick and b) it's another time delay.
All that said, i want to be clear that the figures are really nice. Really cool designs. Even some of the ones that seem kind of generic at first often have some little detail that adds to them when you look in closer. Like that gladiator looking guy in the front of my second post. His axe has a face etched into it (which i painted in a dark red). It's very cool. And many of the figures are just really cool all around.
So i'm not regretting backing the first Kickstarter. Definitely got a lot of good minis out of it. But it's taking longer than i hoped to get through them and they aren't holding the detail as much as i'd like. So anyone considering buying these figures individually might first want to look and see if a metal sculpt is available or just look for a different metal figure. And there's no way i'd consider a second Kickstarter. I'm winding the painting down because i'm starting my Marvel timeline project back up. And i've still got a ton of unpainted Bones already.
By fnord12 | October 1, 2013, 1:44 PM | D&D