Tobold's Blog
Saturday, July 25, 2015

I originally wanted to write an article like this one about Heroforge, with photographs. But frankly I just don't have the photographic skills. And I still need to persuade one of my players to paint them. So I'll stick to my traditional medium of just the written word and refer you to the above linked article for photographic examples.

Heroforge is a service, launched via Kickstarter, that provides 3D printed figurines for tabletop roleplaying games. The website works a bit like a character generator from a MMORPG: You create a character in one of several different settings, choosing his race, gender, clothing/armor, weapon, and pose to create a 3D representation that corresponds to your character sheet. You can then have that character printed on standard 30 mm scale, or twice or four times as big. At the time I ordered my figurines a month ago, you could get them in either strong plastic or ultra-detail plastic for $15 and $25 per figurine. Now steel ($35) and bronze ($100) are also available as "beta materials".

On the website it said that 3D printing could take up to a month, and then I thought the figurines would get shipped from the USA to Europe, which could take some weeks as well. But instead of waiting 6 weeks I was positively surprised that I got the figurines just 6 days after ordering. Turns out they have manufacturing facilities in the Netherlands. I took the ultra-detail plastic ones, because they were said to be more suitable for painting. The figurines are very nicely detailed, in clear, frosty plastic. But I need to handle them with care, as apparently they are prone to breaking. And they are a lot lighter than the usual lead figurines.

I like Heroforge because getting commercial figurines that exactly fit your characters is difficult. For example I had a halfling ranger in my previous campaign, and could never find a fitting figurine in our local games store. My new campaign is even more difficult, because it uses traditional 4E D&D classes, but a Renaissance setting with some Steam Punk elements. The group is playing a squadron of musketeers, and where do you find a figurine of a wizard with a musket? Heroforge allowed me to switch between genres when making the figurines, so all the characters I made have a gun on their back. Okay, the gun looks more like a Winchester than a musket, but let's not be picky to that degree of detail. One character, who is playing a tank with a background of being second generation policeman, is even wearing a Victorian policeman's helmet. So I got myself some truly unique figurines for my campaign that exactly fit the character sheets.

6 figurines in ultra-detail plastic, plus shipping, isn't exactly cheap. But I think they are worth it. I'd love the bronze ones, but that would really get too expensive for the whole group. I could however imagine players wanting to print their favorite character like that. I'm looking forward to show the figurines to my group when we start the campaign (only did a warm-up session up to now). I think they will be thrilled!


Those are nice models. I've been waiting a decade and more for an MMO company to notice they're sitting on a goldmine and start producing physical models of player characters but so far it hasn't happened. I imagine it used to be prohibitively expensive (although I'd pay $50 for a good, recognizable 6" tall figure of one of my characters) but with 3D printing and other technological advances you'd think it might be economically viable by now.
@Bhagpuss: You can print your World of Warcraft characters at FigurePrints.
I'd say the choice would be tough for a good painter, because the ultra-detail ones really looked a lot better to me, but the fragility seems to be pretty severe.

I guess for non-painters, steel or bronze is likely the way to go.
This is so cool and clearly the future. I bet your group shall be thrilled.

As I can see the cloud in any sunny day, I do think when people start printing items that are considered the IP of WotC/GW/Disney/LA/ATVI, that it will spawn some rhetoric and lawyers.

Soon you may need to buy them all VR encumbrances:
Quite honestly, as a miniature painter, they look god awful. The grain is terrible, there doesn't seem to be a flat painting surface anywhere on the mini.

I'm sure the quality will get there eventually but that day is not today.
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