When Kickstarter first emerged as a ‘thing’ for tabletop games a few years ago Reaper Miniatures launched their Bones range of miniatures on the crowdfunding platform. It’s fair to say that their campaign was a success raising nearly three and a half million dollars in 2012! Three additional Kickstarter campaigns have followed all raising huge amounts and following each the majority of the miniatures have found their way into retail.
In fact when I ran Twisted Pinnacle Games as a online retailer Reaper Bones was one of my core ranges. It was difficult to get hold of in the UK (Reaper have only within the last year opened a distribution centre over here) and offered a huge range of mainly fantasy miniatures. This appealed not only to the wargaming crowd who were my core customers but also role-players and collectors.
For those who don’t know, Reaper are a US miniatures company that started back in the 90s and are proudly based in Texas. Although they have dabbled in rules in the past they are primarily a miniatures company. The core of their range were 28mm scale metal fantasy miniatures in the classic high fantasy vein. Rather than rank and file troops the concentration is mainly on characterful individual figures which very much have that Dungeons and Dragons vibe. That said one of the fantastic things about Reaper is the sheer range of different sculpts, races and figure types in their catalogue and not just restricted to fantasy. Need a cat person, a brain in a jar, some Victorian civilians or even just some different looking Orcs then their are bound to have what you need.
So what about Bones? The Bones range which launched in 2012 were initially versions of their existing metal models recast in a white PVC style plastic. The selling point and marketing for these concentrated on their value and the ability to paint them straight out of the box without primer (more of which later). While the detail was slightly less crisp than their metal versions, you could not argue with the value.
In addition to standard sized figures Reaper were also able to tool and release a number of larger figures including a rather splendid Cthulhu and plenty of Dragons.
So needless to say I bought into the first couple of Kickstarters in quite a significant way (this we before I had children and before I dabbled in wargames retailing for a while – i.e. I had the disposable income). I never did that much with them (I hadn’t got a game in mind for using them with, but was really taken with just paining them up). I ended selling most of my collection alongside my bought in stock during my retailing years and when post trading and company wind up I was able to get back into the hobby more I often thought about revisiting the range for myself.
Roll on a few years and I happened across this guy on the new UK Reaper Miniatures web store. The Goremaw!
Now, I think this big worm-like fellow is based on some of the classic D&D style fantasy monsters, but I immediately thought – Tremors! And then of course I thought – 7TV Apocalypse. There just happens to be a ‘Death Worm’ profile in the game that this chap would be excellent for.
After a quick order to Reaper (it did feel strange not doing this in bulk as a trader), I received the Goremaw and set about putting him together. The Bones plastic has a tendency to be a bit soft on smaller models, bendy swords and legs can be a problem. This wasn’t however a problem with my work who was cast in a handful of mostly really chunky pieces of plastic which following a thorough wash in soapy water, I assembled using super glue (polystyrene cement / plastic glue does not work on this material).
Undercoating was achieved using an Army Painter primer spray can. As I mentioned earlier Bones have been pushed in the past as not needing a primer. In fact some primers have been noted to not work at all well with the material. Reaper provide guidance on their website on which primers are most effective and how to use them. I have never had any problem with Army Painter primer on Bones miniatures. Wanting to go with a subdued ‘desert type’ palette I put down a layer of ‘British Army Uniform’ brown from the old Bolt Action range which was produced under license by Army Painter.
I then applied a top down yellow highlight using a can of Games Workshop Averland Sunset.
The idea with this project was to keep things simple, so I used the highlighted brown undercoat as the base coat and blocked out using a limited palette the other base colours on the model. This really only amounted to a deep pink flesh colour within the maw, a light flesh up the exposed frontage of the model and an ochre/bone for the teeth and horns.
Then to the dip. I’ve never been much of a fan of dip in the conventional sense. I have tried in the past the full Army Painter method, actually submersing figures in Quickshade and shaking them off and always found that I ended up with just a dirty looking miniature. However I have had a lot of success (particularly when wanting to paint up large batches of figures) in brushing on the shade. I have found that you can control the flow and thickness of the dip much more effectively using a brush, and used sparingly it can produce an effective result. I have been using this method to paint up the Space Marines I have been collecting as part of the Warhammer 40k Conquest part work, and have also in the past done a relatively decent job on Star Wars Imperial Assault figures (including the Rancor who was a similar colour palette to my worm).
Long and the short of it was that the old tin of Quickshade Strong tone was dug out and following an argument with a screw driver was open, only to find a mess of thick gloop! I’d not put the top on properly last time and a thick skin had developed, which although was easy to remove meant the the small amount of shade I had left was thicker than I would have liked.
When using this method the next bit is always the worse bit. You go from a neatly painted model, albeit only in a limited set of colours with no shading, to a very shiny, dirty looking object. The key is to hold your nerve, it will get better.
As the dip dried I soaked up any excess pooling with a brush and then gave it a good day or so to drive thoroughly. Following this a combination of dry brushing and highlighting was used particularly on the belly and the teeth/horns. By this stage it is starting to look neater, but is still really shiny (Quickshade is both a shade and a protective varnish after all). Decent weather meant I was able to get outside and spray some Testers Dullcote and voila a nearly complete Goremaw. The base was finished off with some dry brushing followed by a green wash to give it a mossy look and the ‘Death Worm’ is ready for the wastelands of the post-apocalypse.
I’ve got some ideas about maybe using this as an AI or referee controlled model in a vehicle only multi-player destruction derby scenario. Having a giant worm burst out of the ground could really bend some fenders out of shape!
All in all I really enjoyed building and painting this model, and it reminded me of why I fell in love with the Bones range in the first place – lots of choice, inexpensive and fun to paint.