9 May 2022

3D printed miniatures - the future has arrived (in the post..)

 So... first off I'm nowhere near even thinking about getting a 3D printer. I have far too many armies already, and I have no inclination to pick up what I suspect would be an entirely new additional geeky OCD-generating hobby to complement those I already have! 

Having said that, I have bought a handful of printed 10mm vehicles in the past, some of decidedly "mixed" quality and I have also been watching with interest various discussions online (and even in our own Madaxeman Podcast) about when 3D printing will, seemingly inevitably, start to impact the traditional world of metal (and plastic) production casting of wargames figures.

It was with that investigative mindset that I recently bought a set of 3D printed figures from a seller on Etsy (Small Scale Prints), from the Hannibal vs Rome range designed by Warprinter from Germany. paying a rather remarkable £12 + P&P for some 60 figures.

The range was originally designed for printing at 10mm scale, but the helpful chap at Small Scale Prints was happy to scale them up and print them for me at 15mm size

And these are the models that arrived in the post - printed on strips of 5 in a grey plasticy and rigid material

I'd ordered a mix of the Etruscans and Samnites, planning to use them to bulk out some of my existing Early Roman armies into other Latin states of that era - armies that I was unlikely to use all that often, but which the completist in me fancied trying anyway a couple of times. 

For that sort of thing I wasn't ever going to spend a fortune on, say, Mirliton minis just to leave them in a drawer after a couple of outings, but the idea of having an excuse to take a look at what 3D printing could offer at the moment, and picking up a load of simple to paint minis to bang out quickly was exactly what I was needed to prompt me to buy on in there.    

I went for a white (Halfords spray) undercoat, which took really well - I didn't clean the minis before spraying at all, and then started blocking in the flesh areas, and also putting a black undercoat on the  spots which would end up as metallic.

The material (resin?) used really impressed me - it's light, but very robust, and has just a little flex in it without actually being bendy, and it seems to take paint really well as well.    

The "quick and easy" plan meant that my limited stock of Contrast Paints got the majority vote, so most of the chaps ended up in pastel colours from the GW range. 

The exceptions are the "grey" ones (2nd from right in the row nearest the camera and a fe win the 2nd row too) who are done in a Warlord Games Speedpaint called Holy White, that I quite like the effect of.

From the front they still look pretty chubby and cartoonish at this stage - sort of like Lamming figures of old, but scaled down to 15mm from 25's.

Adding a few more colours - and the inevitable shield transfers of course - has however really made a big difference, and they are really starting to develop some character at this stage. 

The close-up shows a little more shading is still needed

Here they are next to some 15mm Hoplites from Essex and Magister Militum, which I had swapped out the spears from and replaced by broom bristles. The contrast makes the 3D printed spears look huge (and to be fair they are over-sized), but the original Essex metal spears woudl have been much closer visually to the 3D ones. 

From the back they are still "different", but not as much as they looked when they started off. 

Here's the almost-finished guys next to some Old Glory Romans - their most likely allies and opponets on the tabletop. I still needed to do a few more think washes on the feathers and faces at this stage

And ta-dah - the finished article, fully based and painted up ready to go to war in ancient Italy! 

Yes, they do still have an air of “Lego” men about them for sure, but I think in some ways that also makes them kinda cute and gives them a real likability factor too (reminscent in some ways of the Lamming 25mm range from back in the day). Stood next to Old Glory 15mm Romans, and at wargaming distances they don't - to me - look all that out of place at all. 

Maybe the best summary is to say that "They are what they are" - simply-designed, low cost figures sculpted for 10mm and scaled up to 15mm, and on that basis I think they succeed admirably. 

I'm really happy with how they have come out, however almost the more interesting thing for me is that having these guys in-hand, I've begun to see just how easy it is soon going to be for gamers - even using fairly basic 3D design skills - to begin to start playing around in 3D, mixing and matching even simplistic "lego-style" body parts to suddenly cook up entirely new, bespoke, limited run armies and figures to add to their collections. 

And, I wil stress again, these guys are not trying or claiming to be anatomically accurate works of art - they are just cheap and cheerful "get em on the table" figures. Other 3D printed options out there, such as the March to Hell armies from 3D Breed , and the 28mm Caballero figures too (of which I have a few in the painting queue as well bought from Fenland Miniatures..) look to be a whole different kettle of fish 

Interesting times indeed!

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