You guys know Hero Forge?
The service has been running for a few years now, one of the cheapest and easiest ways of getting hold of custom miniatures, 3D printed to order using a simple creator that grants a range of options in multiple genres. Without question their largest range of options has been in fantasy, but they’re far from lacking for those who want to make sci-fi, cyberpunk, modern, or eastern miniatures.
Between the multitudes of race, equipment, and pose options, and they regularly update with new stuff to improve the diversity and options because… well they’re a business, and why wouldn’t you? But so far that progress has been slow to moderate, with occasional surges in activity, until the start of this year.
Every Tuesday since January, new items and options have been added, and while you may be forgiven for thinking that they’ve just expanded the catalogue of handheld items and maybe added some hats or something… well some weeks you’re right, but the truth has actually been rather laudable. New races like goblins, goliaths (though they call them half-giant), firbolgs (forestguard), merfolk, and loxodons (elephant folk) have not only been welcome additions that owe some of their creation to Critical Role for demand, and the Ravnica guide, but they also add some new possibilities of their own.
For example, goblin heads look weird on human-height bodies, a little less so with smaller ears makes for a passable Gith, not a perfect one, but a surprisingly effective one. Fins, sails, and ear options for merfolk lend a lot of diversity to turtle and lizard folk figures.
And yes, there is a whole lot of clothing options, most of which have been released as “outfit” bundles to mix and match, and while they look great together they do also explode the options when you mix them with other gear. Weapons now include a basic wooden club! Sounds a little simple but it’s surprising the difference made by a lack of ornamentation sometimes. If you want a squirrel to leap boldly to your rescue, there are ways and means of adding squirrels to the mini or base.
Some days the update was as simple as adding a conch shell you can put on the base… hugely exciting. Then there are the days where they massively expand on the mechanics of the builder, like adding an extra four feet (to scale) of height to the extra tall minis, letting you manipulate the bulk of limbs, parts of the torso, and adjust the hunch of the back. The biggest new addition is in the posing menu, where before the options were restricted to a couple of dozen options, you can now refine the positioning of arms, hands, body, head, the orientation of items in-hand, items on base, and the much maligned shoulder-wear which often clips with large beards, hair, or hats. You can adjust tails and cloaks to add drama, flair, or just to stop them from interacting weirdly.
I don’t think I can exaggerate enough how cool Hero Forge is right now, and don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a wishlist of things I’d like to see, a few more beard and hair options, a few more axes and hammers, quills for duergar… and I may have a sudden and unexpected need for otters.
The option has been available for a while to order a 3D printable file, meaning that you can sidestep the material and delivery costs and the risks of damage in transit, at the cost of having to use another printing service or your own 3D printer, and not getting any guarantees on the quality of the print – unless you have access to a trustworthy source of course. You do also have the option to have your figures printed in bronze or steel if you really have cash to burn and a character that needs immortalising in fine metal.
If you didn’t know about Hero Forge, you’re welcome, although I may have also just cursed you to hours spent fiddling with sliders and menus like you’re in Skyrim, except that you’ll soon have a mini that’s more yours than any Breton, whose face you will never see again.