Hero Forge is a service that has allowed players to create and order custom miniature figures for tabletop gaming. Now, Hero Forge has massively expanded their lineup of products to accommodate every type of tabletop roleplaying gamer. Whether you like painting your own minis, buying pre-colored minis, playing through platforms like Tabletop Simulator, or you want options that pack away so you can carry huge numbers of figures for your games, Hero Forge’s lineup will give you all the flexibility you can desire. We were able to review several of their new products and were pretty impressed with the latest options.
The classic plastic figurines have been updated with more body shapes, items, clothes, wings, weapons, and countless other options to customize your base character. You can still get these with different qualities of plastic or metal if you prefer to paint your own miniatures. The expanded options for bodies include centaur and naga options, along with oversized weapons and spell effects, but buyers should keep in mind that XL options can increase the cost of the mini.
One of the figures I ordered is designed after a friend (Ginvilas) who passed away several years ago. In his memory, I made a human with a beer stein, a deck of cards, a D20, a shield, a sword, and a turkey leg with a bottle of hot sauce. My IRL friend Ginvilas was a hot wing-eating champion who played D&D and Magic: The Gathering, and participated in the SCA as a swordfighter. I cannot overstate how happy I am to have a mini to remind me of my friend. The color of the mini is a slate gray, however. It photographs as blue but is, in fact, gray.
Adventure Girl was designed by my wife to be her mini persona. She was able to include some of her favorite things in her figurine, including a book, a telescope, a bird, acorns, and even a cat. I’ve shared the picture above to highlight how well the various fine details came through, including the wing of the bird, the acorns on the stones, and the accents on the shirt and skirt. We were both pleased at how well subtle detail translated from the designer tool to the printed reality.
The first new option I want to talk about is their 3D-printed minis that are printed in colors you choose through the painting interface. Simply design your base character, including gear, spell effects, bases, and more. Then you can go to the Color tab and choose a theme if you like, or dive into the hundreds of color options to customize the color of every aspect of your mini yourself. When you select the Buy tab, simply choose the “Color Plastic” option to have your mini 3D-printed in the colors you chose.
As you can see from the image above, the broad strokes are pretty spot on. I was unable to recreate the lighting, but the elements matched well in color for the most part.
The only element that really didn’t turn out to my liking was the bronzing on the shield. As you can see in the picture above, I had chosen a metallic bronze for the cross-supports behind the red cross. On the print, however, the right side is printed a matte bronze and the left side is white with a bronze border. Since this is not noteworthy in most lighting, I’d say it’s a nit-pick. Also, keen-eyed readers will notice that the metallic paints were rendered in non-metallic options since the print isn’t painted. All colors are extruded directly to color the piece, so the chemistry of metallic paints isn’t something that made it into the end result.
In this shot, you can see that there are normal 3D printing artifacts that look like fuzzy parts of the plastic. I will likely sand these into a smoother finish, but no amount of sanding will improve the detail on the eyes, which are nearly invisible. Likely, this is a result of including too many fine details in a small space. The shading on the robe, however, was very well done, and I’m still pleased with the overall effect since I was mostly interested in having a beanie+mask combo, which was my favorite customization I found. I’d personally rather lose detail on eyes that are recessed than on the prominent parts like the mask and eyebrows.
In this shot, you can see that parts of the robe printed much smoother than others, but the details of the cuffs on the shirt/robe came through well. Also, you can see that the book, its banding, and its pages are all the correct colors.
Overall, I am very pleased with my color mini, despite some minor quibbles, because the quality is still above and beyond what I could do as a painter myself. Because I don’t have normal use of my hands, painting minis is not something I’ve ever tried, and I am glad to have a mini in the correct colors for the first time.
3D Printer Files
Another option for designers who have their own 3D printers is to purchase STL files to print themselves. Simply design your model in Hero Forge and select the STL option and you will have a competitively priced model to print. Just like the models above, design the character of your dreams. You don’t need to color the model, however, as your home 3D printer is likely not able to print the colors, and you’ll still need to paint your mini.
3D Environment Files
If you prefer to play your tabletop games in a digital interface, such as Tabletop Simulator, you can even design your model, paint it, and import it into your own environment. An advantage of this method is primarily cost, as these are much more affordable than the printed color models, and you can always download them again from the Hero Forge Purchases menu.
Wanna Try Digital Assets Before Buying?
You can download 3d printer models and/or sample Tabletop Simulator models to test with your own setup before you purchase anything. These no-risk options let you learn the ins and outs of using Hero Forge files before committing money to the purchases you have in mind.
The last option I want to discuss is the Color Standee purchase option. Standees are customized models of your characters flattened into a 2D image (front and back), which is printed on a 1/8″ sheet of acrylic which snaps into a base. Standees are a stable and safer option, especially if you carry your figures around a lot or have small people/animals who may be a danger to your figurines. The extra bonus is the quality of the prints is much higher, so if you really want to capture fine details or elaborate poses, standees could very well be your best bet. They’re also more affordable and require no painting whatsoever.
The best part is that the base is detachable, so you can fold down your entire collection for storage, something that isn’t at all possible with regular 3D minis.
So, How Do You Tabletop?
In the end, what makes Hero Forge an outlier as a service is the massive array of options that allow you to expand your own tabletop experience. While I think they have really pushed the envelope of what it means to offer miniatures, there may yet be more room to grow. If there’s something you’d like to see, let us know in the comments. After all, there is no wrong way to tabletop. Happy gaming.
Disclaimer: Hero Forge provided a store credit for use in reviewing their services. This is not a sponsored post, and opinions and recommendations belong to the author of the post.