Thursday, October 24, 2013

Reaper Minis - Metal Versus Bones

I'm switching gears a bit, though still sticking with the post apocalypse theme, and looking at the "bones" minis from Reaper.  The Chronoscope line of figures from Reaper is an interesting and aclectic mix of characters from steam punk all the way through hard sci-fi.  There are also a nice selection of modern day, post apacalyptic types that fit in both thematically and scale wise with my other figures.  I think I have around ten in my collection, but I have shied away from them the last couple of years as I've been seeking out plastic figures where possible.  With the Reaper bones campaigns it has been possible to now get the other figures in plastic.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock you know that the second kickstarter campaign from Reaper Miniatures is going on.  They are again featuring a huge bucket of figures to be produced in the Reaper "Bones" plastic.  I didn't go in for the first campaign and I am wrestling with the decision on whether or not to go in on the second.

I passed on the first kickstarter for a few reasons, most important was that I wasn't sure how the conversion of metal miniatures to the bones plastic would shape up.  Reaper has done a few test figures in bones plastic for years but I never tried them out.  After the delivery of the first kickstarter rewards I've seen a number of reviews but I still have not decided if it's worth taking the plunge with the second campaign.

First thing to know is what the hell is bones plastic?  The short answer is that bones is soft plastic.  The long answer is that bones is some form of PVC (polyvinyl chloride).  In terms of details and stiffness the results are equivalent to average board gaming figures.  Think modern fantasy flight figures like those in Decent II.  I don't know if it is spin cast or injection molded, but I don't think that it really matter to me.  Commodity prices on the raw ingredients for metal figures have risen steadily for the past decade, so it certainly makes sense to me that Reaper would attempt to branch into plastic figures to help it's bottom line.  Given the overwhelming success of the first campaign and the generally positive reviews of the figures,  I have been considering jumping into the second campaign.

With the first campaign figures finally hitting retail shelves I decided to give one a whirl and see how it shapes up.  To really put this material to the test I decided to pick up a copy of a figure I already had in metal.  I settled on the "Rex, Dark Future Hero".  This is a metal figure and one of the first Chronoscope figures I picked up nearly five years ago.  This week I purchased his bones version and got to work.

I didn't bother to take any pictures of the figure out of the package.  The light color of the bones plastic, along with the low contrast makes the raw bones plastic hard to judge, so I dispensed with the before shots and got down to work.  Out of the package there were definitely mold lines, but they were relatively light and not much different from the metal figures.  The down side though is that with any other PVC figure (Mantic Restic for example) you can not scrape off mold lines, you need to remove them with a forward stroke.  This is a bit more time consuming than scraping metal, but not a serious chore.

One change from metal to bones is the base.  The metal figure came with a slot tab and included a slotted, round lip 30mm base.  The bones version comes with an integrated 23mm round base, but no separate plastic base.  This seems like a good idea in theory, but because the integrated base was kind of thin and flexible, I don't see any gamer using it on it's own.  It could be glued directly to a plastic base, but I didn't bother.  I just clipped it off and used a resin 30mm base from my bits box.

Here I've got the two painted figures side by side with the metal on the left and the bones plastic on the right.  Generally the figures match pretty well.  There is some obvious loss of detail, but nothing serious.  The beard has disappeared, holes in the shoulder pads are almost gone and the belt buckle is a little soft.  

The worst bit is the barrel of the sawed off shotgun.  It is not easy to see now, but out of the package the gun barrel was a mess.  There was a noticeable mold offset on the top, the ends of the barrels were wonky and worst of all the barrels themselves were cast out of round.   After some careful trimming and shaving I got it looking decent, but not as good as the original.  It is certainly a little disappointing.

For me the figure is an acceptable trade off of quality versus price.  While it's usually not a good idea to judge a whole line on one figure, the results on Rex seem to fall in line with what I've seen around the internet from other reviewers.  Bones figures about half the price of their metal equivalents, have less detail and the thin bits like spears, swords and gun barrels are often wonky.  For me it looks like a case of you get what you pay for.  Metal is nicer, but more expensive.

Unfortunately I think I'll pass on this kickstarter campaign as well.  The figures fall into line with what I'd consider "value" but the make up of the campaign itself is problematic for me.  Unlike the first campaign, Reaper has done away with small pledges and you now need to pledge for the "core" bundle ($100) to participate at all.  This bundle is unfortunately weighted very heavily to the fantasy side of Reaper's catalog.  There are a lot of great looking figures in the core set but I do so little fanasty gaming these days that I just don't need them and I fear they would just end up sitting in a box for years.  Oh well, I figure I'll do like the first campaign and just wait for the figures to hit retail.  I'll probably pay double the kickstarter price per figure, but at least I'll get to pick and choose what I want.


  1. I've been considering the Bones line on price, so I found this really helpful. I still might give it a try, but avoid the models with thin bits.


  2. Interesting to see the side by side comparisons. i've had a look and play with some but don't own any. I'd rather stick with metal and rigid plastic.

  3. Very useful to see the 2 figures together. I've been observing Reaper's kickstarters but, as you say, they are weighted towards fantasy and that's not so interesting to me.

  4. Great comparison and exactly what I was looking for..Thanks