Roll The Bones Redux

I want to take a minute to point out why exactly I’m so stoked about the Reaper Bones Kickstarter (see last post), which has just cleared its $1,790,000 stretch goal. My hunch is that it’ll easily surpass two million, but I question if it’ll pass Wasteland II’s $2.8 million mark. I’d like to hope it will, but I’m also getting the idea that most people who were going to pledge have already pledged, and increased that pledge multiple times. We’ll see—an amazing stretch goal or two would be great motivation.

Plus, in case you missed it, you can swap out your limited metal Sophie-on-a-bike figure for $25 worth of product. Dracolich, here I come. Unless I go for the hydra and two extra swamp things packs. Or the demons and the colossal skeleton. Or the… sigh.

This fella is a purple worm—if you’re not up on your D&D, it’s a large subterranean sandworm/graboid/etc. that pops up and swallows people whole. Basically, a hundred feet of intestine crossed with a lamprey. Reaper currently has three versions up for sale. I have a Casketworks catalog from when I was last buying metal miniatures—2007—showing the metal version sold for $19.99; now it goes for $27.99, thanks to the rising cost of tin. The pre-painted plastic one (sans tail) sells for $6.99, which is about on par with the Pathfinder Battles large blind packs and non-awesome DDM large figures on the secondhand market.

The bones version (again, sans tail) sells for $2.99. And the detail quality is around 95% of the metal versions, or in other words, negligible for table use. That’s a fucking steal.

At that point, it’s an impulse buy. Not into minis? It’s a great place to start; you’re not out that much capital if you hate it, or screw up the paintjob. Into minis? You can afford to throw 2-3 on to every gaming purchase you make, getting several great figures for roughly the same cost as buying one metal figure. It’s a win/win for everyone, and will get a lot more people into minis since it overcomes to price barrier. No longer do you have to be the middle-aged old grognard to afford an army worth of little fantasy soldiers.

You can do all sorts of stuff new painters do: paint them out of the bottle without requiring primer, drop them, use the heck out of them, throw them across the table, and you know what? Most stress tests show they’ll survive a lot of punishment. And worst case scenario, you spend another three bucks and buy another one.

Because tin—core component of pewter—has increased in price faster than gasoline, thus spiking the price of miniatures, I dropped out of buying and painting them altogether. Not really something you can afford on a high-school/college student budget. Particularly for the big figures, which I’ve ALWAYS wanted to paint; the biggest I’ve done are some Chronoscape gugs, and those cost around $12 for a slightly-bigger-than-normal figure.

Even with a steady (if underwhelming) paycheck, metal minis require a lot more disposable capital than I can throw at them. When the choice is between a $50 book that will see hours of use, or a $50 figure that I’ll spend a few hours painting and use for one or two sessions, it’s pretty clear what I’m going to pick. Slashing the price-point drops “character” size figures down into impulse buy territory, and means that the big figures are priced reasonably enough that I could justify picking one up for a change. And makes me less concerned about spillage/usage from tabletop play since they’re only cheap plastic.

Another example. When I was running Legacy of Fire a few years ago, I really wanted three to five fire giants for the City of Brass, but just couldn’t afford them. This awesome Reaper fire giant king sells for $49.99 ($35 if you buy the lead alloy version), and his minions go for $24.99 a pop. Just for the warriors alone, $100 for four is something I’ll never be able to justify (short of attaining my dream job, managing an orchard of money trees). I don’t see the point in buying one figure if I’m going to proxy three more—may as well proxy all of them at that point. Like I did, using marids and crocagators in lieu of fire giants. But man, did I want to pick those suckers up and drop some painted versions down on the map.

The Kickstarter has options to pick those giants at the cost of $10 a pair. It’s been implied that the Bones will have MSRP about twice their Kickstarter option price, and if that’s true, the fire giants will go for ~$10 a pop. I can justify $40 for four figs; at my painting speed, I can set back $10 a week and be able to afford them without breaking my bank. $10 is an expensive impulse buy, but it’s within striking distance for pretty much anyone who can afford to be a gamer; if you can’t save up $10 a month to pick up a game-related item, you’re in the wrong hobby, friend.

I could go on and on, about the $60-80 dragons, the $50 demon, the $48 hydra, the $35 elementals, frost wyrm, and skeletal colossus. Heck, even the newest bonuses offered in the Vampire pledge level, a griffon and an owlbear, retail for $20 in metal form. From that implied price point, the Bones versions should retail around $8 and $6 each, which is pretty damn affordable.

And that’s why I’m glad the Kickstarter is going gangbusters: it means that next year, everyone can walk into a store and pick up an awesome mini without worrying about the cost. Every “optional” big critter is another monster I could justify buying in the future, because it’ll cost somewhere between $10-35 and not twice (or triple) that.

Though right now I can’t afford half of those awesome big options I want, I’m (mostly) okay with that. It’s comforting to know that I could walk into a store and pick them up later next year without spending an arm and a leg, if I really want a clockwork dragon or an elemental. Besides, it’s not like I won’t have ~200+ figures from the Vampire pledge to paint.

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