Sunday, August 19, 2012

Are Reaper Bones Any Good?

I came to wargaming via the fantasy and sci-fi miniatures expressway. I cut my teeth on Games Workshop, TSR, Grenadier and Ral Partha, and while my interest have veered towards historical wargames over the last few years, I still keep a foot in the non-historical side of gaming. A week or two ago I caught wind of Reaper's Kickstarter for their Bones line of 28mm fantasy miniatures. The Bones line is a series of inexpensive figures based on existing metal sculpts, but made from some sort of plastic.

Checking out the Kickstarter page my jaw dropped at the horde of figures they were making available to pledges, the gorgeous quality of the sculpts, and the incredible value (less than $1 per figure and dropping fast). This seemed like a deal too good to be true, but I wasn't sure about the Bones material. I'd heard it was "rubbery", that it didn't need to be primed, that it didn't have mold lines, but I was skeptical. I decided to pick up one of their existing Bones figures and put it to the test to see if it held up to the hype. All the details after the jump.

Reaper Bones and Reaper Metals: A Comparison

Looking through the Bones catalogue I noticed a monstrous troll that seemed to match a metal Reaper mini I had painted years ago.

The Bones material is indeed rubbery. I heard that someone did a chemical analysis of the Bones material and discovered it's PVC. Whatever it is, it is far more flexible than I had anticipated.

Pressing on the arm bends it up easily
Release and the arm bends back into position.

The detail of the figure seemed slightly softer than a metal figure, and while there was a mold line it was barely noticeable in the unpainted figure. Still, it was a good sculpt.

Painting Up The Reaper Cave Troll

I skipped the primer and painted directly on the figure with Vallejo and GW paints, just as the rumor suggested I could.  The paint adhered well, and a single coat of Vallejo + GW Foundation gray mix was enough to coat the troll. I gave it a wash of GW inks, and then a three shade highlight.

For the loin cloth I decided to see how the bare plastic held inks and gave it a wash of GW Gryphon Sepia. While highlighting the troll's teeth with Bone White, I gave the loin cloth a Bone White highlight on the ridges of fabric, but otherwise what you see is ink over bare white plastic.

The figure painted up well and when placed next to the metal version of another Reaper Cave Troll made a good match. I was really impressed. Visions of a 160mm x 80mm base of cave troll heavy infantry danced in my head, only feasible with these large troll figures running a meager $2.50 each.

How Flexible are Reaper Bones?

These figures are pretty darn flexible. Even though I was happy with the end result of the troll, the whole purpose of this exercise was to discover if these Reaper Bones could hold up the abuse of tabletop gaming. I bit the bullet and started pushing and stretching the troll to see if I could get his paint to crack.

Pushed his arm up, no sign of cracked paint.

Bent him forward to "kiss the floor", no sign of cracking at the heel.
I finally managed to find a a crack in the paint when I pushed the troll's body back, bending at the ankle. Problem is, I'm not sure it is actually cracked paint. It may have been a hidden crevice my paint brush never touched.

Finally, a bit of raw white plastic!

Bending the troll back into position and the "cracked" paint disappeared.

Aaaaand... it's gone.

Now this is without primer, without any sort of sealer or varnish, and bending this figure to the very extremes. I've seen more extensive chipped paint on metal figures with bent weapons or nicked surfaces from simple handling. In short I was very impressed by the durability of these figures! I've long held off on getting out my figures to play with my four year old son for fear that rough playing would damage their paint jobs. These Reaper Bones figures seem tough enough to be painted to high standard and given to a toddler to play with. And they are about 1/3 the cost of a metal figure.  Reaper Bones are awesome!

The kickstarter ends August 26, 2012. I'm in.


  1. I've got two of them, including the troll, and haven't had any problems with them. Plus they'd bounce when dropped, unlike the metal ones.

  2. Eventally plastics become brittle as the plasticizers percolate out of them. Keep them out of the sun, cool and in a sealed container for longer life. Even if you didn't put a sealer on them, it might help seal in the plasticizers.


  3. Very good advice Mike! This blog post was very helpful in finally cementing my resolve to dump most of my remaining WotC minis and get back into painting my own. The one thing I never really liked about metal was its tendency to break with rough handling. These Bones seem to give me the durability of the old WotC D&D minis while being about 10 times nicer looking and I can paint them how I like! Just awesome.

    (Psychotic Warrior)

  4. Thanks for the review. I'm in on the Reaper KS & I'm glad to hear that the figures will both take paint as advertised and stand up to what ever treatment my kids can dish out.

  5. Great review! Thanks for posting it. I hadn't considered playing tabletop games with children before, but these things might be perfect!

  6. Nice review. I am new to painting minis but I backed the KS, so I guess come March or so, I will have a new hobby. Glad to hear these are good products.

  7. Thanks Andy! Glad to hear if you've jumped into painting figures. It's fun, but it'll be a little daunting when several hundred figures show up in March.

    I'm planning on posting a series of "how-to" articles to help guide folks through painting up their figures once our packages arrive.