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BoardGamesMaker (BGM) 3d Printed Miniatures

PostPosted: Wednesday December 9th, 2020 9:15am
by Kurgan
So I took a gamble and ordered some plastic minis from BGM (the board game equivalent of MPC), a print-to-order site. So here's a little review of my first experience with them...

I don't want this to sound like an ad for them, just sharing my experience. So the product took a long time to arrive, which is logical since there's more work involved than just printing up a batch of plastic coated playing cards. I was skeptical, especially in terms of getting the dimensions right. But the results... wow.

I printed up four figures based on STL files I grabbed off the internet (upload the file and upload a screenshot of the image as a guide). I saw that there was a minimum $25 charge for creating minis, and the more you get printed of a single one the cheaper they get per item. I did four minis about the size of your standard mercenaries. I wasn't expecting much but they turned out very well. The plastic feels almost as good as the original HQ plastics. They don't feel as fragile as the resin prints I've gotten from etsy, or the 3d printed PLA plastic furniture I got off ebay. I'm not enough of an expert on this stuff to know exactly. Yes, you can find some striation print lines on the base (near the feet of the figure) but other than that, it's a very smooth figure. If you're not holding it close you may not even notice the lines. The plastic has a slight give to it (like the originals) but not "rubbery" at all. When you plop it onto a wooden table it has that little "tink" sound, very similar to the originals. The base is perfectly smooth on the bottom. It feels solid, compared to the resin prints I've purchased from indie sellers.

As for the detail, I got a decent quality STL file so what I saw was what I got (other than some barely noticeable printer lines near the feet on the base). How did they minimize or hide the lines? It could be the scanner resolution or some kind of finishing technique... I have heard of chemicals to melt the figure slightly, paint layering or simply sanding. I can obviously tell it's printed, my eyesight into that bad yet!

They are brightly colored (you can pick some basic colors, and making it a different color counts as a different miniature, so if you wanted to print say, six skeletons in different colors, each one would start at about $12.80 apiece). It feels like they've been painted (expertly, possibly with an airbrush) with a very smooth satin finish. I really like how they turned out. Keep in mind these are solid color (as board games tend to be). I like that aesthetic and I haven't painted many of my miniatures in anything but solid colors. Perhaps if you were painting them yourself, you could hide the fact that they're 3d printed even better, but this is a finished piece, ready for the board. It's not perfect, and you could probably use a higher poly model for even better results, but I'm pretty impressed.

Anyway, the biggest downside, other than the wait time is the cost. These are very expensive! If you were buying a ton of them, the cost per unit would go down, which makes sense if you're creating a board game you plan to sell... vs. just some HQ geek trying to fill up the ranks of your army or add a few one off characters for fun.

Now it is cheaper than Hero Forge.. for reference, a single miniature that is just an STL file is like $7 there (a full color, unpainted figure will run you about $45). But even a $10 figure is pretty pricey. Consider Reaper miniatures sells metal (dark heaven legends) figures for about $10 (the plastic "bones" 28 mm scale single minis are typically $3-5 each). So unless some special project or deal comes along, I don't see myself using it again, though if I were starting from scratch and money was no object, maybe I would. Then again I'd probably just get my own setup and do it at home. For these prices, you could track down the few remaining rare figures just as well, if that was your goal.

HeroQuest doesn't need huge armies. At best you might want 12 of one for some big quest (ROTWL's skeleton armies comes to mind...). But still, I wanted to share. I don't own my own 3d Printer so I can't say how well I could do if it were me...

In the pics below I zoomed in and used a bright flash to really bring out the lines. In real life they're hardly visible. I've noticed that with resin prints, the way the lines are, sometimes from different angles you can see them, or it just looks like a "gleam" or "shine." Because of the satin finish, that effect isn't there. Put it side by side with an authentic HQ mini and you can tell the difference but it's not so striking as the others I've seen.

Re: BoardGamesMaker (BGM) 3d Printed Miniatures

PostPosted: Wednesday December 9th, 2020 11:20am
by Oftkilted
They look like an FDM print with a heavy base coat to cover the printing lines. An interesting option.

Re: BoardGamesMaker (BGM) 3d Printed Miniatures

PostPosted: Wednesday January 20th, 2021 12:44am
by Kurgan
Against my better judgment, I got a few more printed from the same site... they turned out slightly bigger (the bases are slightly too wide), but not bad overall. I think they look pretty good. These STL files were grabbed from the internet, and if I recall correctly, they are based on or inspired by Battlemasters Imperial troops.

In person they don't appear quite so violet (more bright red) so I blame the fluorescent lightning.