Hero Forge: Your mini the way YOU want it
Posted by docbelmont
Imagine, if you will, a world in which you may have a unique custom-designed mini made to order, tailored to your every whim. Gone would be the days of digging through boxes of discount miniatures, scanning the racks of your FLGS, or endlessly poring over pages of miniature catalogs to find that mini that is just right for your hero. Gone would be the feeling of having “passable facsimile” for a figure, hoping often in vain that some company out there crafted the image you want to represent your gaming avatar.
That world is here. Now.
I am very pleased to introduce Hero Forge Miniatures!
Currently in it’s Kickstarter phase, Hero Forge is a custom miniatures order program, in which you may craft your very own unique custom miniature for your next game. Before Hero Forge, gamers who wanted custom miniatures would have to buy doll and mold kits, then spend HOURS with a needle molding that miniature to what was desired…and that required you to have some artistic talent to be any bit competent at it. Custom miniatures were the top on the gamer luxury list; only available to a few skilled enough at the craft, or well-off enough to pay someone else to do it.
Now, we have Hero Forge.
When completed, Hero Forge will be a web-based User Interface for making a 3D model of your desired mini. You choose your race, your gender, your build, and your facial expression. Then, you select individual armor pieces, weapons, accessories, hairstyles, and faces. Then, you choose your pose, scale of the mini, and the material it is printed in. After your perfect mini is crafted, it is sent off to Hero Forge‘s 3D printer, and the finished product is sent to your door! With the number of individual piece and pose permutations that Hero Forge has available, your miniature may very well be completely one-of-a-kind!
As an old-school gaming wizard m’self, I always balked at technology invading my hobby, with most books available as PDFs on iPads (I will never convert…I like physical books too much), smartphones distracting players, and what have you. I think many folks get so caught up on implementing the latest technology to a gaming table that most don’t realize that it may lose something in the end. Hero Forge represents new technology at it’s finest. It’s revolutionary tech takes nothing away from the gaming table. It doesn’t replace a book with an LCD, nor does it sever the interpersonal interaction through a cold Skype call or a virtual gaming table. Instead, it gives us a new medium to customize an already-existing element of gaming.
3D printing allows Hero Forge to fit ANY niche. Companies like Reaper or Games Workshop are limited to crafting miniatures to appeal to a broad audience, and must exclude certain elements because they are not able to be made with injection molds. Hero Forge allows more freedom of detail and also for independent elements, such as segmented chains on flails or swinging lanterns! Multiple miniature scales will be available as well, with the standard 28mm, all the way to a massive 6 inches!
There are only two drawbacks to such a fantastic service, however. First, is that such customization is not going to come cheap. Hero Forge has quoted between $15-$25 depending on materials, before shipping. Yes, that makes it more expensive than most single miniatures (or the average price of the ridiculous “Citadel Finecast” miniatures). All things considered, though, it’s a small price to pay for getting the exact miniature that you want.
The second drawback is the materials. It’s a bit of a balancing act between having sturdy materials and maintaining high-detail that is obligatory of custom miniatures. Having a high-detail mini means that it will be a bit more fragile, and having a mini that can tolerate being dropped from the gaming table means that the material is going to have a slightly rough look and texture that isn’t conducive to detailed painting.
As of the writing of this article, Hero Forge has long met it’s goal. We WILL have this awesome new service. However, it could always be better. There are many stretch goals that can be unlocked with additional funding. Right now, aside from funding the basic core fantasy, Hero Forge Minis has added the following:
*5 addtional races: Half-dragon, Half-demon, Half-elf, Gnome, and elemental humanoids.
*The Sci-Fi genre: New parts, weapons, armor, sci-fi ‘mounts’ and a new race: ‘robots.’
*Spell Effects: equippable magic effects, such as balls of fire or streams of energy
*The Wild West genre: New parts like cowboy hats & dusters.
*Familiars: animal companions
With more funding, we may see these at launch:
*The East Asian genre: Samurai, shugenja, and ninja, oh my!
*The Modern genre: tuxedos, motorcycle mounts, modern clothing, etc.
Post launch, Hero Forge will continue to add new content to it’s UI. Future genres will include things like Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Victorian era, military uniforms, pulp adventures, superheroes, and more! Hero Forge’s UI will make mixing and matching genres easy, giving users the ability to add things like cyberlimbs to their platemail-clad knight. This, of course, means FRAGGING SHADOWRUN MINIS! SHADOWRUN!!!
My hope for the future of Hero Forge is for user-submissions for new parts. Hero Forge has no launch plans for it, but they are keeping an open mind to implementing it post-launch. By God, I will have my Doctor Belmont figure yet!
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Twilight falls and the spell has been cast. My time is done for right now, and I hope you leave enchanted. I wish you many happy returns, and good gaming!