Saturday, 1 March 2014

Working with Reaper Bones

I just came into a box of Reaper's Bones from the first Kickstarter. This is thanks to James M. who is not just a great referee and font of game lore, but a generous one too. Here's what I know now.

1. The size of the box:
I don't know when I will ever have so many of one type of thing, which is a thing I like, and yet know that many of the individual examples of this thing are of no real interest to me. It's like halloween when you're nine.

2.The difference between the miniatures:
Big things hold detail much better than small things. The griffon and owlbear are crisp as could be. Among the smaller things, most of Bobby Jackson's sculptures have heft and lots of nice flat areas and they survive the transition to vinyl the best. The slender and detailed Klockes and Guthries don't translate nearly so well. 

3. Clean mold lines and burrs with sword and fire:
Buy a new box of exacto blades and change them often. Seriously. Cleaning mold lines is hell on these because you have to slice with a blade instead of scraping or filing. And when you clean the mold line off you still have to deal with the effect of your slice, which can be just as visible. For efficiency I'd say don't worry about this too much. Use a layer of PVA like weldbond or gel medium or a bit of epoxy putty to cover the messed up parts. If you put a big drop of cyanocrylate you can scrape and file this a bit.

Previously hard edges from sliced off mold-lines? Gone. You can see where they got scorched in places. 
Here's something that I haven't read elsewhere: on low-texture areas that trail, such as hanging cloth, the tips of organic material like horns, etc., you can use a lighter or a match to burn the burrs and hard angles away. This will turn the hard edges a bit blobby. The translucent ones take this better than the white vinyl ones for some reason. Be careful when you try this because you are lighting your miniatures on fire. 

4. Reshaping and washing:
Throw them into a bowl of just boiled water, and keep a bowl of ice water next to it. I'd throw all of them in this, even ones that look okay. In the hot water, most really badly bent things straightened themselves. Some things I didn't think were bent proved to be. Then put them in the cold. The extremity of temperatures makes a difference. For some Bones there is no help but most you can repose. The skeletons I painted are thin enough that their arms could be moved around making them a little more dynamic. Since they were wet anyway I washed them with some cool soapy water as a last step.

5: Using scissors:
On blades and thin pieces you want a crisp edge on, you can get a decent effect with a pair of sharp scissors. This works much better than a knife. Scissors can also be used on the integral bases if you want to remove them or reshape them.

6: Converting them:
This is the best: they're so easy to move around. I mixed a bunch of hard plastic GW skeleton bits into the Bob Ridolfi Bones skeletons. I pinned the skulls and weapon heads with a cut paper clip because I fully intend to throw these things around. The vinyl is a fine material for pinning.

7: Painting them: 
I used Krylon Fusion, Montana Gold and Army Painter sprays on these. No ill-effects. No tackiness. They got a good coat of Citadel matte varnish once they were done. I also used a lot of weird things to paint them like charcoal, pastel pencil and liquitex ink. I would have been a lot more cautious about doing this on old lead, for sure. 

8: Play with them:
The best thing about Bones is that you can store an entire dungeon's worth of them in a Crown Royal pouch or a cigar box for extra grognard points and never worry about them getting chipped or bent. You just quadrupled your storage efficiency and HG Wells' ghost is smiling down at you. 

Rise from your grave.

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