When I first started into miniature painting, I had a small Prince August rubber mold and a spool of solder. I heated it on the stove in a little pan, poured the solder into the mold, and came out with a little viking. His axe looked more like a mace, and in retrospect the paintjob was absolutely terrible, but I was proud of it. Now we scroll forward through literal decades of modeling history and we have some ridiculously cutting edge sculpts out there, be they cast in metal, plastic or resin. The hobby has come an awfully long way, and with the rise in popularity of 3D printers, creative types can not only make amazing things for themselves but they can share them with a hungry audience through Patreon subscriptions and other services.
While many are quick to jump on STL files, though, some of us still prefer to have our models professionally produced (even if only because we don’t own high quality printers of our own). The latest Kickstarter by Broken Anvil is a good example, where the models are being made available both as physical models, or as STL files for those with printers.
This kickstarter also showcases another perk of the changing way we get miniatures. Traditionally, most miniature companies produced core models, common models, popular models. I can’t blame them at all – being companies and being dependent on sales to continue to exist – but the flipside is that some monsters, some character variants, even some models for major wargames never saw production, or if they did it was only in limited runs.
For example, how many models are out there for Dragonborn characters for Dungeons and Dragons? How many bugbears? Until recent years when GW started pumping out models for their Hobbit tabletop minis game, there was even a dearth of halfling models, especially when compared to the big three – humans, elves and dwarves.
For the monster side, until we started getting Reaper’s Bones lines and the deep cuts, how many Bullettes? How many Umber Hulks? Heck, R.A. Salvatore pumped up the popularity of the drow and the Underdark in a massive way, but if you wanted to get drow and drider miniatures you really had to go digging.
The Dungeon Delvers kickstarter presents gorgeously sculpted mousefolk perfect for a Mouse Guard RPG, a bunch of fungal fiends, dark dwarves, subterran monstrosities, and a bunch of frogfolk that will be perfect for Bullywugs in your next campaign.
Back when I started playing games there was pretty much no chance I’d be able to find a miniature suitable to use for a myconid, let alone attendants to Zuggtmoy as the party came up against her soporific majesty, but now we have a channel through with the most wonderfully bizarre and corner case concepts can be made real.
Don’t even get me started on the Geomancer they’ve got in their stretch goals, that’s an awesome looking piece.
This is such an awesome time to be a creative type in the tabletop gaming industry, and there are some wonderful opportunities for the rest of us to support those creative types, and benefit from their art. Follow your favorite sculptors on social media, and let them know when a project they’re working on tickles your fancy!