Sunday, April 11, 2021

Reaper Bones USA

Finally, I'm doing a post on something other than 3D printing. I've bought quite a few Reaper Bones plastic miniatures over the years, and I'm quite familiar with their advantages (cheap, light) and disadvantages (shallow detail, bendy). When I heard that Reaper came up with a new type of Bones miniature, called Bones USA, using a new production process, of course I had to order some and see for myself. The selection is not large yet, and I ordered a number of sci-fi miniatures and a fantasy wizard.


This is a "Death Marble", which is a large floating globe drone. As you can see from the shot, the details are very sharp, but some mold lines are visible.

When assembled (just pushed together and not properly glued yet), it looks quite nice, with well-defined panel lines. It looks close enough to my 3D printed drones that I can probably use it as a "boss" drone. It definitely shows sharper detail than typical Reaper Bones miniatures.


Here are a couple of "Viceroy Enforcers", humanoid robots with heavy guns. Again, sharp detail, but with some mold lines. Since these are much thinner than the "Death Marble", I tried bending them. There is some give, but the guns and legs are not nearly as bendy as the white plastic from older Bones material.

The next Enforcer is much smaller than the others, which is kind of strange. Nevertheless it has the same excellent detail.
As you can see with this size comparison, it actually fits more with 1/72 scale miniatures than with larger 28/32mm. With 28mm miniatures, it will be a very small robot. No matter what though, I think all of these will see service in Stargrave.

I also ordered a fantasy wizard ("Darius the Wizard") in the same material. The detail on this model actually makes it quite a bit better than other fantasy Bones miniatures I have, and I especially love the rat familiar which is tiny but characterful. However, in addition to mold lines, you can also see a bit of flash on the top of his hat.

Overall, the material reminds me of the "Ultracast" material from my Battlegroup Northag crowdfunding purchase. It might be the same technology that allows plastic injection into flexible molds designed for metal miniatures. The technology also ties into their name, with the "USA" bit meaning that they are produced at Reaper's home facility in Texas, which means it's something that doesn't require a factory like traditional soft plastic injection molding. This material seems to have somewhat sharper detail, but with the same issue with mold lines.

When I prep and paint these, I'll have to take note to see how easy it is to remove the mold lines, which is always tricky with soft plastic.

Don't worry, I'll be back with more painted 3D prints soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Few More Painted 3D Prints

To follow up on my previous post, I painted up some more items from my first batch of 3D printed small sci-fi miniatures.

These are the power armour troops from Titan Forge that I showed in a previous post. Because of the bulkiness of the miniatures, they painted up well while still retaining a decent amount of detail. The interesting thing is that the middle miniature with two pistols was primed without my varnish treatment! If you look very closely, it has more print lines visible than the other two, but not by much.

Here is a close-up of the right side of that miniature.

One problem I did have was with supports. Because of the amount of supports, the back of the miniature with two pistols had a "melted" look, as you can see on the left. For the other miniatures, I oriented them enough to minimize supports, and the details look quite a bit sharper, on the right.

Here is a size comparison with my previous cyberpunk character in regular clothes. The power armour is suitably imposing.

I also painted up a couple of spherical sentry drones, which are from the Novus Landing Kickstarter and came as a free addition. They are nice and quick to paint, and Stargrave apparently has rules and scenarios for drones.

Here is a size comparison with all of these side by side.

I still have quite a few more miniatures in the queue, including figures from the Novus Landing system that are designed to be support-free. I'll put them up as soon as I can manage.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Painted 3D Printed Sci-fi Miniatures (Small)

I've finally painted some of my smaller 3D printed miniatures that I had previously shown. They mostly turned out quite well.
The above are all printed on a Creality CR-6SE FDM (i.e. filament) printer, treated with a couple of coats of varnish before priming to reduce the visible print lines. The dog, the cyberpunk character, and the robot are all from the creator "Papsikels" on MyMiniFactory. The Ewok is a free file from Thingiverse.

I really like the cyberpunk character, since he has a lot of detail that showed up very well even on an FDM printer. Here he is compared with a GW Genestealer cultist and a Reaper Bones pulp miniature. This is definitely a tall 32mm scaled figure, although I can scale him down a bit to fit 28mm miniatures.

The back still has decent detail, even with supports making the surface more "melted" than the front.

The Ewok is a free miniature, but is actually very well-designed. However, due to the small size, there are some print lines visible if you look close enough. Good enough for a crew member in Stargrave though.

The battle droid miniature has some very thin parts. Because of that, I had a hard time printing it until I upscaled it by 120%. Now it's a fairly imposing thing. A robotic member for a Stargrave crew?

I have even more miniatures being painted right now. Here is an example of how I prepare and prime them.

I usually give them two coats of varnish, which will cover up most of the print lines. Then I prime them with black gesso, my preferred primer. The gesso dries very tight and smooth, and will reveal any details, including print lines, mercilessly. I've found that horizontal surfaces with the varnish treatment end up very smooth, but vertical surfaces still often have print lines showing. Maybe the varnish flows off too easily when it's not dry? Here you can see the effect, this heavy weapons robot has very smooth horizontal surfaces but some of the vertical surfaces, like the sides of the gun barrels and the legs, still show print lines.

Here it is compared to the cyberpunk character. I don't know if there are rules for larger crew members with heavy weapons in Stargrave?

Inspired by another hobbyist at our gaming group, I also quickly painted up some terminators from the Warlord Games Terminator Genisys game. The game was pretty forgettable, but the injection molded hard plastic miniatures are a joy to paint and are very easy to deal with.

I have quite a few of these. Maybe they can be used in Stargrave as "pirate" troops?

Stay tuned for more 3D printed items.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Some Painted 3D Printed Fantasy

I've painted up some of my bigger 3D printed miniatures, just to see how badly the infamous FDM print lines will show up. The results have been a lot better than I expected, especially when I did some surface preparation before painting.

On the left is one of my 3D printed earth elementals that I showcased in a previous post. On the right is a D&D pre-primed miniature I had painted some time ago. For this particular earth elemental, I used Future floor wax on the surface to "fill" the print lines, then used white gesso to prime. After that, it was painting as usual. I think it turned out very well, and the print lines are not visible to any table-top level scrutiny.

I've painted up all four of my 3D printed earth elementals, including the one from above. These are all free files from Thingiverse, and are ultimately the same design posed in different ways. This is one of the strengths of 3D printing, where you can design and alter models to customize them.
For the other three earth elementals, I used a technique described by a user on the Miniatures Page, where you use varnish to fill in the print lines before priming. I'm not sure I see that much difference in print lines compared to the Future method, but they did require fewer coats.

The backs of these miniatures are also quite free of print lines, after the pre-paint treatment.

I'll be using these earth elementals as a another horde in Kings of War, probably still for my dwarf army. They are definitely serviceable compared to my other earth elemental miniatures.

I also printed and painted a generic fantasy minotaur, also free from Thingiverse. The design is pretty no-frills, but good enough after the varnish surface treatment and a quick paintjob.

Here it is compared to a Warhammer Fantasy figure. He's a pretty big guy, and I'll probably use him in smaller scale fantasy games like Frostgrave.

Now that I'm more confident about the quality of these miniatures, I'll be getting onto some more complicated models and the smaller cyberpunk characters I displayed before.





Sunday, January 24, 2021

Getting Deeper into Cyberpunk

Encouraged by my previous successes printing 28mm characters, I've printed even more, mainly aimed at a sci-fi/cyberpunk setting for use in Hardwired or Stargrave (when that comes out).
Back over Christmas break and around New Years, I took advantage of some sales to buy more STL files. There are quite a few talented artists, both on the free Thingiverse, and on the (mostly) paid MyMiniFactory.
A good source of figures is Titan Forge Miniatures, a store on MyMiniFactory. They have a good range of science fiction, fantasy, and post-apocalyptic figures. The above are their Cyber Force Marines unit. These come with separate torsos, legs, etc., that can be combined into different poses. I have a couple with rifles and one with two pistols above, and there are a lot more possibilities. They are a bit bigger than the Papsikels demo mini from before, being all in power armour. Titan Forge figures also come with useful textured 25mm or 32mm round bases, which I'm using above.

The dog with VR goggles and the cyberpunk "witch hunter" (who may look familiar) are from Papsikel's store on MyMiniFactory. The kid with the boomerang on the right is from Titan Forge's post-apocalyptic range. The witch hunter figure didn't come out as clean as I would have liked, so maybe I'll try another one. The dog came out perfectly since it needed very little support. The kid and the dog can make great NPCs or objectives in games. After all, no adventure is complete without a kid and a dog!

The Titan Forge "wild child" figure seems to be based on the feral kid with a boomerang from "The Road Warrior", although the helmet and hair remind me more of Newt from "Aliens". This miniature was so small and thin that I didn't think it would print on an FDM printer, but it turned out to be serviceable, although not perfect.

For "bounty hunter" type figures, the "sheriff" on the left is from Papsikels, and the thin guy with the "commie alien" type helmet on the right is from Titan Forge. The "sheriff" suffered a bad sanding incident on the front, and I may have to do another print.

For more of a horror flavour, I also bought a "stitchwork golem" from the wonderfully named Rocket Pig Games, also on MyMiniFactory. This is printed at around half size to be more of a human-sized figure, but it can be a giant monster too. I like the design, and it reminds me of the "boogie man" from "A Nightmare Before Christmas".

Don't worry, I have actually been painting miniatures too. In fact, I'm waiting for some recently-sanded bases to dry right now, and I should be able to put up some painted 3D printed figures soon.

Friday, January 8, 2021

New Year and Some More 3D Printing

I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and hopefully this will be a better year than the last one.

I've been playing with my 3D printer some more, and despite my point before about avoiding miniatures with my CR-6SE FDM printer, I tried some Cyberpunk characters for my two favourite scales.

This is the same file from Thingiverse here, by a talented artist with the moniker "Papsikels". His miniatures are done in a very fitting style, bulky enough to print with an FDM printer while still retaining excellent amounts of detail and proper human proportions.

I printed this miniature in two scales, 28mm on the left, and 1/72 scale on the right. Once again, they turned out to be much better than I hoped for an FDM printer.

This is the 28mm miniature next to a Games Workshop model on the left and a Reaper Bones model on the right. It's a good fit for 32mm "heroic" miniatures, which I think I'll use for the soon to be released Stargrave game.

This is the 1/72 scale miniature with respectively, Caesar modern French, Elhiem sci-fi Fed trooper, and Caesar modern special forces (with some mods) miniatures. To be honest, I didn't think this one would come out at this scale, but it turned out fine, but with a lot of excess stringing that I'll have to clean off.
These miniatures have encouraged me to experiment even more. Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Even More 3D Printing

Sorry that I haven't been posting more on my blog, but I've been distracted by my new 3D printer. Earlier this year, there was a Kickstarter from the famous 3D printer manufacturer Creality for their new FDM (i.e. print by extruding plastic filament, rather than by UV-hardening resin) printer, the CR-6SE. Not having an FDM printer, which is suited for larger models and terrain, I bought into the Kickstarter and received my printer a couple of months ago. This is a good supplement to my current resin printer, which can't do any larger models and is rather messy and toxic. An FDM printer is much easier to use, and no cleaning is required.

Creality took some flak for this Kickstarter, since there were quality control problems. However, I think I was lucky, and I haven't had any issues yet.

Here's the printer in all its glory. It has a typical design for an FDM printer, with a print head moving on the X, Y, and Z axes.
I primarily got the machine to print terrain, for example this cobblestone street tile above for fantasy games. However, I did try to see how far I could push the resolution.


I started by comparing the same items being printed from both the CR-6SE and my Sparkmaker, the resin printer. As you can see above, the building tokens for Dropfleet commander provide a good comparison for the resolution and detail for each printer, with the white filament output on the left being from the FDM printer and the clear resin output on the right for the resin printer. I went in not expecting too much from the FDM printer, but it turned out quite good. Of course, the resolution is nowhere near the resin printer, but it's still good enough that I would use the prints as gaming tokens. They are also of course much sturdier than the resin prints.

For a sort of combination application, I also designed some movement trays for Kings of War. The one above is a 120 mm X 80 mm base for large infantry, taking in models with round 40 mm bases. I also printed some earth elementals from Thingiverse to fit in the tray, and they look decent.

Pushing things a bit further with larger models, I printed this cacodemon from the Doom video games, again from Thingiverse. Aside from the support not having dealt well with the thin arms, the print turned out pretty amazing. I think with some post-processing (i.e. sanding, etc.) this can work as a regular game miniature. There's more than enough detail to make it a success for tabletop use.

For my next Kings of War army, which is going to be either Kingdoms of Men or League of Rhordia, I came up with some combination ideas for miniatures, like the 3D printed riding bear above (again from Thingiverse) with a Perry historical knight miniature. Even for miniatures, I think the CR-6SE opens up quite a few possibilities.

With all this experimentation, I ran out of the original spool of white filament from Creality, and I bought some orange coloured filament (eSun PLA+) from Amazon. The new filament looks even better to my eyes for smaller miniatures, like this lizardman warrior from Fat Dragon Games' excellent range of 3D printable miniatures. It might also just be the colour making things look more defined. In general though, I'll leave smaller miniatures to resin for better detail. You can see the stringing in the photo above, which is just one of many issues when printing smaller items with a lot of detail.


In addition to miniatures, I also do more "useful" prints. For example, I've always needed a way to fix my joystick to my office chair to provide stability. Thanks again to Thingiverse, I found a set of support mounts for joysticks. These fix my joystick using plastic "thumb screws", which allow it to get put on and taken off my chair very easily, with good stability when playing games.

All in all, I think this printer was a great purchase and will provide a lot of fun and useful moments.