May 14, 2021

1171 words 6 mins read

Are Custom Heroforge Minis Worth It?

Are Custom Heroforge Minis Worth It?

The first thing you do when you play DnD is create your own unique character. Why not create your own mini to represent that unique character? Over the years, we at Loot & Liar have created a couple minis with HeroForge. We decided it was time to buckle in and do a review.

For this article, Annabelle and Matt teamed up. Annabelle created a miniature to represent her character, a dragonborn warlock named Scumrabbit. Matt then painted the miniature. In this article, they give their combined thoughts about HeroForge.

What Is HeroForge?

HeroForge provides a browswer-based designer in which you can create a custom miniature. You can then have HeroForge 3D-print the miniature for you, or you can buy a digital file and print it yourself.

We designed a custom mini, and then ordered a premium plastic version of the mini from HeroForge. When it arrived, we painted it up. Here are our thoughts on HeroForge.

Creating the Mini on

Annabelle wanted to design a mini that matched her dragonborn warlock, not just in physical appearance but in attitude.

My character, Scumrabbit, is a dragonborn with attitude. She’s chaotic in every sense of the word. Sometimes she makes impulsive decisions, putting her party at risk. But sometimes she’s in it for the long game. Sometimes she’s tender-hearted (and she has a band of loyal kobolds that worship here). Other times, she’s cold and ruthless. I wanted a mini that represented both her softer side and her harsher side.

I started with a half-dragon model.

Choosing a Half-dragon
I tried half-dragon and lizarperson to start the design. I settled on lizardperson

A half-dragon definitely represents the typical dragonborn in DnD. It has the right look and feel. But lizardperson had softer facial expressions, which was what I wanted. So I switched.

From there, I got to customize. Everything from eyes and hair to clothes and weapons is customizable. I was particularly pleased with the way the face and hair came out. “Feminine” and “dragon” are not words that seem to naturally combine.

When it came to clothing and weapons, there were several elements that I wanted on my mini:

  • My character has a few items that I really wanted to have on the mini:
    • A cursed sword, which is the bane of my character’s existence
    • A spell effect to represent her magical abilities
    • A necklace that my character wears (a forgery of a powerful magical item)
    • And some rats, because my character has a history with rats
  • I wanted her to have flowing robes or a gown, not armor

Walking through the dozens of options, I created a mini that matched my character. It took me about an hour, and I did the whole thing on my phone.

Selecting premium plastic
The premium plastic looked like the best option for painting.

I ordered the premium plastic so we had the best surface to paint on.

Unboxing the Mini

The 3D printed mini arrived in the mail a few weeks later in a clearly marked HeroForge box. My mini was wrapped in bubble wrap with a printed label that pictured my mini.

After picking it up from my mailbox, I immediately unwrapped it. It looked great, and the plastic felt nice and sturdy with a little bit of heft to it.

Front view of the mini
The mini, with a quarter for scale.

The premium plastic is black, which looked great even unpainted. I love the details–especially the spell effect in her hand and the little swarm of rats by her feet.

The outfit came out looking great, too. I love the tassels on the back of her dress.

Back view of the mini
And, yes, there's a skull on the base. Because skulls are always good.

In the sunlight, I could definitely see the band lines. But indoors I don’t think they would be visible except up close under bright light.

Painting the Mini

Matt painted the mini.

When Annabelle gave me her mini to paint, I asked her several questions about the colors she preferred. She pointed out some of the details of the mini. The necklace, for example, was intended to represent a necklace in our campaign. She also specifically requested a white shock of hair.

When I sat down to paint, I discovered that I was out of primer (and so was the local hobby store). So I tried laying down an undercoat with Army Painter black paint. It adhered great, and when I tested it later, I didn’t get any chipping. My conclusion is that it is possible to paint these without priming, provided you are using good quality paint.

Front view of the painted mini
The almost-finished mini, painted to Annabelle's specifications.

Many tabletop minis are 28mm scale. This is the default for Reaper and WizKids, for example. But HeroForge prints at a slightly larger 30mm scale. I compared it to a few minis I had ready at hand. I noticed the difference, but it was not disruptive. (We have since played a game with a mixture of 28mm and three HeroForge 30mm minis, and the scale mismatch is definitely not a big deal).

BackFront view of the painted mini
I love the way the spell effect came out. For the skull, I used my favorite sepia wash from Vallejo.

Painting was a pleasant experience. There were not a lot of hard-to-reach places, likely because the printing process would not support those flowing capes that you get on WizKids minis–you know, the ones where you can never manage to get a brush up between the cloak and the shoulder blades.

Importantly (in my mind), the eyes were slightly over scale, which made it possible to paint them well. That is a great feature. The eyes convey so much personality. If you’re going to get a custom mini, good eyes make a load of difference.

There were a few oddities in the print:

  • The sword’s sheath rendered so that it goes through the sleeve of the gown.
  • There were a few small imperfections on the back of the skirt that I removed with a razor.

Even with these small issues, though, the mini was a pleasure to paint.

Are HeroForge Minis Worth It?

All told, our mini (printed on premium plastic) ran just around $30 plus shipping. That is substantially more than the typical off-the-shelf mini. But getting a mini that matches your own vision of your character… that’s totally worth it.

You can save a bit by ordering the base level plastic. That shaves off about $10, and the mini also comes primed. But we haven’t tested this option.

HeroForge also has an option to print the minis in color. Then you do not have to paint them. These run about $25 more than base plastic.

And if you really want to go premium… you can have your mini printed with a bronze finish for around $100. Perhaps that would make a fine memorial to a hero fallen in battle with an ancient red dragon.

But the bottom line for us is that HeroForge created a fun experience for creating an extremely personalized mini, and then delivered the goods with a high-quality 3D print.