A few years ago when I was just getting back into miniatures, models, and wargaming, I stumbled upon Hero Forge.
At the time, they had a handful of options for customization, and the prices were a bit much, but I picked up a couple anyway. I was impressed by their Miniature Designer which felt a lot like an MMO character creation screen and I loved the way you could alter facial expressions and poses. It was a stunning idea, utilizing 3D printing technology to take the designs you create and literally form them in plastic.
But back then in 2016, the only plastic options available were relatively terrible. When the miniatures arrived I found them wanting. Well… see for yourself.
Now if the above picture doesn’t leave you impressed, imagine how I felt after paying $25 for it. The details were basically obscured by the very rough texture of the printing process and some of the folds of the clothing had been removed when the sprue from printing the miniature had been shaved away at the place where they process them. I was so annoyed by the product that I actually called and got my money back for them.
But that was then. This is now.
In the world of computer technology, two years might as well be twenty years. When I started seeing brand new images on the Hero Forge Facebook page showcasing miniatures that looked really fricken’ good, it piqued my curiosity. So I went back on their website.
Lo and behold! They had a new plastic option: Premium Plastic. Hmmm. It was about $10 more expensive but boasted smooth printed lines and no defects. Judging from the pictures of the painted models on their Facebook feed, I was seduced into picking up a new model to see just how far along they’d come.
So as I was just getting into Test of Honour and Feudal Japan wargaming, I created an anime-inspired samurai as a heroic character. The options had increased a lot, so I went ahead and gave him a huge sword (totally not historical or practical, but definitely anime), long cape, and a smirking expression.
Folks, I was not disappointed a second time.
I got exactly what I ordered and the details were amazing. There were a few stray pieces of flash from the sprue that had to be sanded away, but otherwise the miniature was crisp, clean, and spot-on. No rough texture, no obscured details.
Here are some more shots after I finished painting him:
Holy details, Batman! I was so impressed with this miniature that I actually ordered several more (not all at once though; I’m not made of money).
The last miniature I was particularly happy with; admittedly I stole the look and color scheme from an original on the Hero Forge Facebook group, but when I saw it, I wanted to have one exactly like it for DnD. Here are the rest of the images of this model:
You can tell this isn’t my best work–I wasn’t trying to win any awards with this model, I just wanted it to look decent for the game. But I really, really like how it turned out. And honestly I couldn’t be more impressed with the miniatures.
Now the biggest sticking point for this material is the cost. At $30 + shipping, it can be a little steep for most wallets. But if you can manage to put some away, purchasing your own custom-designed miniature at this quality is dream made real.
One caveat emptor: You will need to be a little careful with the Premium Plastic models. The thin bits are fragile and if handled roughly they will snap off. Currently this is just the nature of the plastic. They are beautiful, but not as flexible as your standard plastic miniature.
I have to say that my first impressions of Hero Forge were unflattering to say the least. But they really stepped up their game and now I eagerly anticipate their new content (which they put up at the beginning of each month). Last month it was new bows and arrows and quivers!
As it stands right now, given the current process in place, I give Hero Forge 4.5 out of 5 stars for this review, deducting half a point for cost.