So we've been getting in a TON of stuff lately from Kickstarters, deals, and amazing publishers giving us products and decided it was high time we started posting reviews.
"But wait, wasn't Retro Roleplaying supposed to be a way to review games?"
Yes. Yes, it is. However, we only review games on R&R, and don't really get a chance to talk about other things for your game table. Additionally, Those videos generally end up being three hours of struggling through games only to get to a more comprehensive review at the end. While we still feel this format is beneficial, as viewers are able to see the system in action as well as where there may be hang ups during play, we recognize its hard to sit through a whole session.
Okay, in order not to completely bog down scrolling and the review process, we'll toss all the gold, that is, pictures of the product, in a slideshow with explanatory captions at the end of the review. It'll be easier that way.
In the meantime, let's talk about these figures. First impression: when I first saw them, I wasn't all that impressed, I won't lie. The sculpts were pretty enough, but they look a lot like previous entries. Wizkids hasn't classically been my "Go-to" minis manufacturer...ever. Sorry guys. Though their Clicks games are solid attempts at making more streamlined tabletop games aimed at younger crowds, their pieces have not been very well produced. Prepainted products in general tend to have a sloppy paint job and, more often than not, are made out of cheap plastic or PVC that doesn't hold its shape. The older Wizards of the Coast plastic minis that came out around 2002 had the same issues, but were a slightly better quality, which they carried over to the Star Wars line.
The first time I went to the hobby store to look at the minis, I picked up a pack of bugbears and did what any well meaning person does: compare it to something else. I walked straight over to the juggernaut that is Reaper Bones and looked at the quality.
Forgive me a quick aside to address Bones for those who may be new to the hobby: Reaper minis have been a company for quite some time and were well known for producing a wide range of quality, white metal miniatures at cheap prices. Unfortunately, the price of tin kept going up and their manufacturing prices increased. In an effort to relieve this burden of cost from the shoulders of the consumers, of which I'm endlessly grateful, they started searching for a viable alternative material. The Bones, so named because of the white plastic (or is it PVC?) the pieces are cast, are pretty well done. The molds they used for their metals translated fairly well without much loss of detail, and the newer molds they made with the funds from three Kickstarter campaigns have only been getting better. They maintain a wide range of products, and the prices remain fairly cheap. However, the plastic can be kind of flimsy and some warp pretty terribly (usually, a small application of heat in a bath of warm, hot but not scalding, water will help set that right). Aside ended.
On comparing the bugbears between Wizkids and Reaper, the differences were pretty apparent. The Reaper figure was definitely a beef cake; for me, I liked the design of the Reaper figure better. It had a higher level of detail, and seemed more fitting. Some of the details on the Wizkids figure were definitely more pronounced, as in, the actual sculpting lines were deeper, but the figures weren't all that impressive, otherwise.
With some disappointment, I put the figures back and went on my less-than-merry way.
Enter Facebook. Since the figures are new, Facebook is awash with chatter about the pros and cons of the figures. Some people love them, others don't, both fanpersons (hey, we're nondiscriminatory here) and rager trolls. However, I entered into a fairly pleasant discussion with several members of the community and decided to give the pieces another chance.
I'm happy I did.
The pieces for the adventurers are wonderful, and some of the monsters are quite fantastic. I LOVE the displacer beast and will be picking one up as soon as I can. The Mind Flayers, unfortunately, look a little goofy, like walking noodles -- can't win them all -- but they'll hopefully produce some others that actually look scary in the future. The first wave has some pretty solid entries and covers many of the basics for monsters.
But let's get back to the character pieces. Wizkids produced lines for both Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder, and they're all pretty slick. The figures come pre-primed in a grey tinted Vallejo paint. Vallejo has been making quality acrylic miniature paints for quite a long time. I have yet to try painting a figure (haven't had the time, you saw that pile of stuff at the top of this article, right?), but have heard the paint can be a bit streaky on it, which is unfortunate if true. That aside, the sculpts for player characters are quite well done and cover a nice range. You have humans, halflings, dwarves and elves. Rangers, fighters, barbarians, clerics, paladins, wizards, sorcerers, rogues, and monks. Male AND female for most of those, as well. The representation is nice. One thing I especially love about these figures is the clear plastic parts integrated into the spell casters. Some adept painting with inks can give you some pretty slick spell effects directly on your figure! The plastic the figures are cast in was the most surprising to me. Wizkids really stepped up their game here. It's nice and rigid, but not too much so that snapping is an issue - problems some resin-cast figures have. That doesn't mean there isn't warping, though, so be careful when you pick some up (but the hottish water trick will work here, too -- for those of you ordering online), but it isn't a deal breaker. To be honest, I like the quality of this plastic better than that of Bones, which can be pretty wobbly. Another con of these figures is the tendency for casting lines. I found quite a few pretty glaring ones on many of the figures, so watch out for those, too.
The pieces come packaged in pairs, so you have some options for your $3.99 USD, which is an excellent price. Monster packs are a little different, smalls (not including characters) usually run three figures a pack, mediums two, larges one -- but they're all the same price. For me, those smalls aren't priced all that well, Reaper's familiar packs are a better deal (most of the time), but the sculpts are good enough that it isn't necessarily not worth it. But I'm a bit of a cheapskate. The figures are packaged off their bases, which are a harder plastic and a little thinner than I'd appreciate. Still, those bases are rigid enough to do the job. If I'm too displeased with them in the future, I have a silicon mold of Games Workshop rounds and a healthy supply of dental plaster.
Overall, I've revised the majority of my first impression: these figures are quite nice and I'd definitely recommend them to anyone looking to get into the miniature side of things. They're cheap, well cast, pre-primed, and generally look quite nice on the table. They have their issues, like anything, but are definitely are very fantastic step forward in the history of tabletop miniatures. They'll absolutely give Bones a run for their money, which is ultimately good for us.
Well done, Wizkids. I'll definitely be keeping an eye open for more pieces to add to my collection.
Hope this little review helps those who may be sitting on the fence, or just not interested. Take another look, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Have you picked some up already? Let us know what you think in the comments below!