Reaper Miniatures’ Kobolds

Posted on September 26, 2012

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Pack 1: “Bones” pack of six plastic minis, pack 77010

Pack 2: “Legends” pack of four metal minis, pack 03064

Artist: B Siens

These packs were kindly donated by Pukeko Games. (That’s pronounced “poo’ – keh – ko, or poo – kay – kaw for perfectionists.) On condition that I paint them, and preferably review them.

Initial impressions: Both are smart looking packs though in common with all Reaper packs the minis are allowed to jolt around. This is more of an issue for the metal minis, because the plastic minis take jolting and crushing far better. It is more obvious what the pack of four actually has in it, while the six plastic minis are still affixed to sprue.

Bones kobolds out of the pack

Inspection: Having opened the packs my initial impression is in favour of the Bones plastics. The plastic is white, of medium-hard consistency. Though there’s some distortion, there’s virtually no moulding marks and no flash at all. By contrast the Legends metal minis have some obvious issues: almost every weapon is bent and a spear has a severe mould deformity. Maybe it was intended to be a flaming pole?

Four metal kobolds fresh out of the pack

What’s in each pack: The pack of six is of two lots of three minis. In this particular pack, I get a sword-and-buckler kobold, a sword-and-spear kobold, and a spear-kobold. The two former are in-line, with shields and swords lifted high. The spear-kobold has a short two-hand grip on its spear. The pack of four is of four unique minis: a medium-shield-and-sword kobold, a two-sword kobold I have come to think of as a champion: he’s better armoured than the others; a spear-kobold (nearly the same master as the plastic version but with a much shorter grip and crumpled spear haft) and an archer kobold. All are posed very much in-line and all tails are tucked flat against legs for strength. Apart from the mould deformity mentioned above, there is some flash and some mould misalignment that will take some time to clean up. All ten minis have a lot of detail and some quite deep undercuts, which will make paint coverage a challenge.

Preparation: I cut the plastics away from their sprue and trim off the sprue stub. I decide to clean up the plastics by simply scraping along the mould lines with a reasonably sharp craft knife, the same knife in fact I intend to use for the metal minis. It works fine. As time goes on the mould these come from will deteriorate and much more detail work with a very sharp knife will be required but for now these Bones minis are very easy to clean up. With the Legends metal, quite a bit more time is required carefully bending extremities back into correct position, trimming off little strands of flash and scraping and excising mould-marks and misaligned edges. I scrub them all – plastics and metals – in hot water with a little detergent, and wash them off. (At the same time, I use very hot water to straighten the distorted spears and cold water to “set” the spears into their re-straightened lines. It works pretty well.)

All ten stuck onto paint stick and ready to paint

Base coating: I’ve read that you can just paint the plastics, but I am sceptical of this and in any case, intend to use colour over black undercoat. I fix all ten pieces to a hand-held base (with blu-tak) and splat black acrylic paint on by hand. Sadly the plastics do not take the paint well. Some paints will be better than the one I use as default but be warned. They require patience and a re-coat before all the paint has keyed in and no white plastic is exposed. For all ten, the undercuts mentioned previously make getting the base coat onto all areas a challenge and I do not believe spray paint would do the job at all. That’s not a criticism, it just means the minis are very three-dimensional.

Base coated in black

Painting: Everyone has their own favoured technique. I am going for “wargame basic” as the quality level to aim for. Now they are all base coated with black, I brush them over with white, with a fairly wet dry-brush. This means all raised edges are clearly visible and brighter colours won’t have to fight the base coat too much. It’s mainly to help me sight in on particular items and areas. Next, I use much the same technique with a rusty brown shade, mixed from burnt brown with a spot of red. This is the overwhelming main colour of the kobolds, both for skin and cloth. Next, I pick out the eyes (red) spears (nut brown) bow (yew brown) and leather (a variety of browns through plain leather to orange). I’m mainly picking out highlights, not attempting to block-paint anything save for definite “objects” such as spear shafts and the quiver’s turn-back. Now everything looks very brown, but not all dark rusty brown. Before I move onto non-brown, it’s time to dry-brush to pick out the highlights. I mix a pale buff colour and dry-brush everything. Now I can move onto metals. I mix a slightly rusty iron colour and block-paint swords, spear-heads, shield bosses and the chain corselet of the two-sword kobold “champion”. I pick out shield studs with just a touch. No highlights: these guys don’t polish their weapons. Next, it’s time to attempt the “bony head spikes” and teeth. There are also a few belt-ornaments in the shape of a skull. I go with a fairly heavy-handed dry brush of an old ivory shade for the spikes, but pick out fangs and belt ornaments individually as best I can then correct the over-paint with black. While I’m making corrections with black, which leaves each kobold’s muzzle nicely black, I whip a black line between ear and eye – this corrects any over-paint from picking the eyes with red. Finally I use burnt brown to erase little over-paints around the hands grasping spear hafts or shield straps.

Next, dry-brushed with white

Finally all painted and ready to put on bases

Basing: Plastic kobolds come moulded on a base embossed with crude flagstones, as though inside a dungeon. Metal kobold bases are similar but a little narrower. The main idea is to make sure they don’t fall over, so I use grey grouting latex to stick each to a small coin, build up the grouting around the base, then paint the embossed base with matching grey paint. Not wholly attractive, and a bit out of place in the types of terrain kobolds are supposed to inhabit, but a good contrast colour to the brown.

Varnishing: These wee lads have to be protected from tabletop rigours, so a coat of high-strength gloss stain (one of the darker shades, but watered down) is first. This “Miracle Wash” technique helps pick out detail, though it darkens the already-dark minis a little. Once that dries overnight, a final coat of matt acrylic varnish is applied.

The completed four “Legends” metal kobold minis

The completed six “Bones” plastic kobold minis

Summary of the experience: Reaper “Bones” are a great line of inexpensive minis. It was very interesting working on both metal and plastic versions at the same time. I have ended up liking three of the four “Legends” metal minis better than the plastics. In spite of the need to straighten and extra clean-up work, the detail on the metals came out a little sharper than the plastics. But I do like the plastics and they are very fit for purpose.

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Posted in: HoTT Armies