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Warploque Miniatures – A comparison between cast and printed miniatures.

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  • Warploque Miniatures – A comparison between cast and printed miniatures.

    Anyone that has received a resin miniature from Warploque Miniatures will know, from the title, that this is a very unfair comparison to put together. There are two casters that I would recommend above all others in the UK – BrokenToad, and Rob Huntley of Warploque Miniatures - I've never had a bad or mediocre cast from either. Nevertheless, I got my hands on my first 3D printed miniatures recently and as they’re from Warploque via their Digital Workshop, it’s a comparison I’m going to make.

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    Digital Workshop

    I don’t have a 3D printer. Despite the rise in the volume and quality of printers and then the sheer magnitude of the number of digital models available, until a few months ago I’d not felt the need to delve into this part of the miniatures world. During lockdown, Warploque started their Digital Workshop on Patreon – monthly pledges for multipart digital miniatures, predominantly characters and warriors that you could use to fill out your D&D NPCs, or to top up skirmish warbands. I kept my eye on the project and was weighing up getting a printer last year (Xbox Series X won that argument), but was rather happy to find out that Mr Lee’s Minis were starting a 3D Printing service, along with holding a Merchant Licence from the Warploque Patreon (instead of pledging for personal use of the files, they’re allowed to print them commercially).

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    The Lich Priest

    This printing service launch coincided with the second month of Skeletons arriving on the Patreon, so I dived in! I ordered a selection of models – a Lich Priest and 10 warriors from the first month, then some armoured warriors and cavalry from the second month. The first month’s minis were single part (the Priest from the sculpt, and the warriors thanks to a previous backer of the project who made multiple single piece minis from the multipart files) while the second month’s were all multipart. Kyle at Mr Lee’s is open to people messaging him with the order about any particular options that the models might have available – after all, they’re print to order, so if you want four armoured skeletons to have billhooks and one to have an axe, rather than a random mixture, send in a message and see what comes back!

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    Skeleton Warriors, including a misprint (bottom left, right leg) that was included as an extra).


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    Armoured Skeleton Warrior


    The Prints

    As a first foray into this world, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Everything arrived with 95% of the cleaning done – no bath time needed for these guys as they’d already had that done after curing, and almost all of the supports had been removed (just one or two bobbly bits or mid-sculpt sections needed sorting). There was a few print lines in various places, but those are mentioned on the site so I was happy to see how they would turn out after priming.

    Overall, the quality really impressed me. It was a quick turnaround for custom printed miniatures – roughly a week from the order going in to it arriving, which seems very fair for the clean up to also have been involved.

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    Print and Cast


    One comment I’ve heard frequently about 3D printed miniatures is that details can be “soft”, with hard edges and certain textures blunted and dulled by the printing. This is one reason why I chose skeletons as my test subjects. Sculpted as predominantly natural material (bones), having a soft edge or a clip mark from a support, or a little bit of texture from print lines can easily be written off down the painting line as aging, damaged bone, without many sharp edges to blunt. Some of the swords on the warriors did deform slightly in a couple of places but again – old, decrepit skeletons tend to have rusty, damaged weapons. While I didn’t know exactly what to expect, I did anticipate that this might be a possibility, so wanted to work with the prints, rather than fight against them.

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    Print lines prominent on the sword

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    So, how do the prints compare to lovely Warploque resin? Well, they do a decent job! The print resin is slightly more flexible, and both needed a little prep work – the prints as mentioned above, the cast models the odd mold line or bit of flash that had stuck in a groove. The cast resin I felt held more detail, but I think that’s mostly down to the sculpts rather than the physical creation process.

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    Printed and Cast respectively


    The Sculpts

    The miniatures I’m comparing the prints to are from the Undead Raiders faction in ArcWorlde. In particular, they’re Bjorn Whitewolf’s crew, sculpted in 2016 for the Troubles In The North expansion. I’d have liked to compare them to the Ancient Dead from the same project, as they’re closer in terms of looks (being all skeleton warriors rather than just being undead pirates) but all of mine that would compare closely are painted, and I wanted to give both sets of miniatures the same treatment, start to finish.

    I received my crew as part of one of the “Artisan” pledges in the Troubles Kickstarter, which I believe is the only time the crew has been cast in resin – they’re only available on the Warploque webstore in metal.

    The reason I mention that they’re 2016 is that it means that the raiders are close to 5 years old at this point, so Alex has another 5 years of knowledge and experience in sculpting by the time the digital skeletons came around. That’s not to say all that extra skill was transferrable – with a little help from Dan at Lion Tower Miniatures, Alex pretty much went from a standing start to full speed ahead on sculpting digitally in the last year, having previously only released hand sculpted miniatures, which is incredible to me, a person that can’t even greenstuff a gap properly on occasion.

    As you might expect, apparently, it’s a lot easier to sculpt a uniform bone structure that you can retain across all of the sculpts if you’re creating them digitally than starting again one by one physically sculpting them. The digital skeletons have a slightly wider rib cage and proportions than the Raiders skeletons, and if you were looking for a miniature of a cartoon skeleton, I think the regular warriors might be the guys you’d look for.

    The big difference across doing a small batch of each type is the level of character. All ArcWorlde models ooze character. It’s the selling point of the range in my book (and the dragons). Each of Whitewolf’s crew is a unique sculpt, a unique character. The digital skeletons were designed so you could print off as many as you wanted of them, from one or two, to ranked up legions of them, which would look really odd if you had 20 of the same skeleton halfling model, but less so if you have a poseable (or multipart) skeleton model that you can just print different weapons or heads for. As part of this, some little flourishes that might appear on the hand sculpted models might not make it on to the digital ones to make sure they don’t cause problems with printing, to give a better end result rather than getting failed prints.

    Working on the miniatures

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    In the interest of a fair test, both sets of miniatures got the same treatment. I gave each one a 30mm lipped base (standard for ArcWorlde infantry) and based them with Vallejo Sandy Paste before priming black. I then went through multiple layers of drybrushing, which did bring out some of the print lines in places, making them more prominent. After the drybrushing, I added some colour with contrast paints to make the most of the work already done with the light and dark. Quick metalwork followed, with a healthy layer of gloss varnish each to lock everything in.

    Once that was thoroughly dry, I mixed up some oil paints in my first experiment with them and slathered that all over, before going in with a cotton bud to bring some of the detail back out. This really helped age the models and made the most of both the print defects and the not entirely perfect sculpts on the cast skeletons – suddenly there was detail where there previously wasn’t. I added rust effect to everyone’s weapons and some Fluor pigments to the eyes of the non-skeleton members of Whitewolf’s crew to give a bright spot against the now pretty dingy skeletons. A matte varnish followed, to tie everything down.

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    As a hobby project, I didn’t notice any difference between working on the different models – they could have been some plastic skeletons from Games Workshop rather than 3D prints – I didn’t have to change any part of my routine to do anything different to them. It was a fun project, particularly trying out oils, which I think is definitely how all of my skeletons are getting painted going forwards.

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    Printed and Cast respectively

    Concluding thoughts

    I’m definitely happy with the 3D printed skeletons, and I’m even happier that I still have a pile more to work on, but I’ve had the nagging thought going through my head – if these weren’t skeletons, with all their old bobbly bits and textures that I can use to disguise print lines, would I have enjoyed painting them as much, or would I have spent time and effort fighting the print lines?

    As I’ve only worked on Skeletons so far, I can’t answer that question. Around the same time as Mr Lee’s put their print service live, Warploque ran a kickstarter to produce physical print files of their first 6 months of digital releases for people who don’t have printers, so I backed that and have some Goblins on their way to me in the not-too-distant future. Perhaps at that point I’ll be able to settle the internal argument in my head about the print lines.

    What I can say is that the Warploque sculpts are excellent fun to paint (on both sides of this) and I got exactly what I’ve come to expect from Mr Lee’s Minis – quick communication, a fair price for the product, and exactly what I asked for - I can't pick any faults there!

    Will I be investing in my own 3D printer to try this on my own? It’s not in my immediate plans – my backlog is far too extensive to add the possibility of a near infinite supply to that pile. If I find a digital model that I absolutely must have, will I get Mr Lee’s to give me a quote? Absolutely! Will some of those models be from Warploque Miniatures? There’s a very high chance of that if Alex keeps sculpting to his high standard and something catches my eye.

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    Skeleton Warriors

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    Bjorn Whitewolf's Raiders

    You can find the Warploque Miniatures Website here.

    You can find the Warploque Printing section of Mr Lee’s Minis here.

    I purchased all miniatures shown here in the article.

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