After the typical Kickstarter delays, my rewards from the Bones 3 Kickstarter came in last week. This isn’t a knock on Reaper or any other Kickstarter creator, by the way — timelines for bringing new products to market are notoriously difficult to manage since any bump in the supply chain can have significant ramifications further down the line, regardless of who’s responsible for causing said bumps. And this doesn’t even take into account the added difficulty of not even knowing how much product is actually going to be needed at the time a delivery estimate is set. All in all, if a creator manages to fulfill shipment on a Kickstarter project of this magnitude within six months of their delivery estimate, I’d say they made a pretty good guess, and even being off by a year isn’t too unreasonable, frankly.
Now that I’ve had the chance to spend some time inspecting the goods and enjoying these new additions to my collection, I figured I’d share some of my thoughts on some of the minis that stood out to me. Note that none of the minis in my photos have been glued together, just dry-fitted. Some of them stay together well enough without glue to take photos, whereas other ones can’t be fully assembled without glue (looking at you, dragons). If you want more photos and preview pics, just check the Kickstarter page.
The usual mixed bag of exciting and mediocre, new sculpts and metal conversions. Of course, “exciting” to some people is often “mediocre” or “bland” to others, and vice-versa. I imagine it must be incredibly challenging trying to decide which minis to include in the Core Set for each Kickstarter. On the one hand, you want to have minis that have a broad appeal to bring in more backers, but you want to avoid making everything too generic for the exact same reason, and Reaper does a good job in this regard.
It could be due to me getting more into Games Workshop lately, or because of my changing interests since backing this Kickstarter nearly two years ago; or it could simply be that I’m pretty much glutted on minis in general. Whatever the reason, I’m less interested overall in the contents of this Core Set than I was in the previous two. There are a good number of minis in here that I like, just fewer of them on the whole. This is probably more an indicator of where I am currently because like I said, I think Reaper did a good job with the mix. Or, it could be that they were too spot-on with their choices because out of all of the ones that are conversions from metal sculpts, it turns out that I already own most of them.
For those times when your ordinary, garden-variety purple worm just won’t do, or for when even an already impressively huge one still isn’t enough; for those times when the DM wants to add a TPK to their list of accomplishments or wants to let their players know exactly how much they’ve pissed them off, there’s Goremaw. There isn’t much more that needs to be said about this beast. This is the purple worm cranked up to 11, the Shai-Hulud cross-bred with Satan. Keep him on your shelf where he’ll provide a menacing presence as he looks down on your players, but don’t actually plop him down on your table unless you’re willing to let them know just what a malicious SOB you are.
A great example of how much Reaper responds to their customers and fans. The Froghemoth is a classic D&D monster, dating back to nearly the earliest days of the game. While many of Reaper’s fans may have at least a passing familiarity with this beast’s pedigree, I’m sure that for a lot of them, it will simply be a bizarre, misshapen, vaguely reptilian, tentacled monster. Reaper could have chosen to fill this stretch goal with a mini that would have had broader appeal, but instead they chose to listen to their fans who were clamoring for them to make this classic monster instead. There’s also a great backstory about how this mini came to be (although I was, unfortunately, unable to find it to link to it).
We now have a complete set of the four classic golem types! Original sculpts of a flesh, clay, and stone golem debuted in the very first Bones Kickstarter. There was an iron golem included in that group, but it was a metal conversion, not an original sculpt, and, while acceptable, I always thought that it was a little too small for an iron golem, especially when compared to the other three. This new iron golem surpasses the old one in every way. It’s size, stance, and clenched fists in lieu of a weapon all make it much more imposing than its predecessor.
A Bones conversion from a sculpt originally done in metal, the Temple Dragon stands out to me as one of the cooler minis in this Kickstarter. The texture on his scales and other details hold a lot of visual appeal, but I particularly like its non-static pose and how it looks like it’s ready to pounce on unsuspecting adventurers/prey. It’s unfortunate that in a Kickstarter with so many dragons and other large minis, this one would have been even better had it been a little bigger.
In addition to golems, elementals have always been some of my favorite D&D monsters, and I’ve always collected complete sets of the four basic types when I could, dating back to my very first Ral Parthas. The first Bones Kickstarter gave us earth and fire elementals; Bones 2 gave us water; and now, we have Bones versions of all four basic types. Reaper’s take on the air elemental is an interesting hybrid between a vaguely humanoid form and the funnel-cloud design that’s often seen with air elemental minis, and I think they pulled it off well.
Before the rumors for Bones 3 even started, I had said that if Reaper did another Kickstarter for a single insanely-large, 5-headed dragon with only one $100 pledge level with no stretch goals, I’d back it for $300. Ma’al Drakar is the apotheosis of Bones miniatures, the epitome of what can be done with this type of plastic miniature. Other companies have released their own versions of enormous dragons, but I can’t think of any that combine sheer size with sculpt quality the way Ma’al Drakar does — and certainly not at this price point! For example, Wizard’s Colossal Red Dragon is at least as big, if not bigger, but it was crammed into somewhat of an awkward pose to get it to fit onto an 8″ x 8″ base for D&D. And while Magnificent Ego’s Viszeralyn may be twice as tall as Ma’al, much of that height is due to its abnormally long tail and torso and unnaturally proportioned wings. By comparison, Ma’al is posed in a way that’s much more visually appealing and is proportioned much better throughout. At an estimated $150 MSRP (or $60 if you got him during the Kickstarter!), I don’t think there’s anything else out there that’s comparable.
Bones 3 created about two hundred new miniatures, but to me, the true sole purpose of this Kickstarter was Ma’al Drakar. Despite all of the other great models to come out of this Kickstarter, if I had to pick just one as my absolute favorite, it would be him.
The hidden gem of Bones 3. There’s no denying the awesomeness that is Ma’al Drakar. However, the competition for the #1 spot in my book was closer than I had anticipated.
It was an open secret that Ma’al Drakar was coming before Bones 3 got underway, and there were plenty of preview pics going around before and after his official reveal (and rightfully so!). T’raukzul made her appearance unannounced as another stretch goal, a Bones version of an older dragon from Reaper’s catalog. However, unlike most of the other older dragons from Reaper’s catalog that were converted into Bones over the course of three Kickstarters, this one was a new sculpt — inspired by the original, but still a fresh, new design. Unboxing this dragon, I was blown away by her size and by what a great sculpt she is; I did not anticipate either of these things when I pledged for her.
I’m not sure, because I didn’t get all of the dragons from this Kickstarter, but I’m fairly certain that after big Ma’al himself, she’s the largest miniature from this Kickstarter. You can see that her body isn’t actually that much smaller than Ma’al’s, and her wings are nearly as big as his.
It took nearly two years, but it was worth the wait. Reaper once against delivered a great product at an incredible price. The minis themselves haven’t changed much (aside from some experimentation with more rigid plastic for certain ones), so if you’re already in one camp or the other regarding Bones minis, these new ones probably won’t do anything to change your mind. The soft details on smaller sculpts will still be an issue if you’re looking for a piece for competition or for display and want the highest quality possible.
Like many people, I still think the best use for Bones minis is creating large minis that would be too cost-prohibitive to do in metal. Reaper appears to have been thinking along these lines as well, as this Kickstarter seemed to place more of a focus on large and downright huge minis than the previous ones. If I had to find something to criticize, it would be that things went a bit too far in that direction. While the froghemoth, Goremaw, and the iron golem are among my favorite minis from this Kickstarter, they’re also examples of minis that are just a little too big.
Whatever your opinions about Bones or Reaper in general, it’s undeniable that Reaper’s projects are the perfect fit for Kickstarter: a product that has steep up-front manufacturing costs (the molds) with a very low material/manufacturing costs for the actual product. This is the key factor that allows them to offer such amazing rewards relative to the pledge amount required.
A Bones Kickstarter is more than just a transaction between a company and its customers. They’re funded in minutes, if not seconds, and early stretch goals are demolished in the early minutes and hours of the campaign. The excitement is palpable as new stretch goals are revealed and met in the early days, followed by the long lull in the middle, only to inevitably pick up intensity again in the last day or two. A Bones Kickstarter is a cultural experience for the gaming community, and a clear sign of how spoiled we are as gamers in this day and age.
I don’t need or even really want more miniatures at this point. But I’m eagerly looking forward to Bones 4.