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Working with the Kickstarter Bones


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This could probably go in the WIP section, but it is really meant to be more of a preview/review of the new Bones models and what it is like to work with them.


While I was up at Reaper a little while ago, they were kind enough to let me have a small box of the test samples to play around with and report back on. Now, it's no secret that I rarely put paint to miniature, but I do have fairly regular commission work done, and a large part of it is work that is destined for the tabletop, especially the dungeon crawls I run at area conventions. To me, the Bones figures fit this use perfectly; while the majority of the people that come to play my game are respectful and handle my nicely painted figures with care, I have no age minimum on the game, so sometimes I get younger players that may not appreciate the damage that can be caused by improper handling. Plus, transporting some of the larger minis, like Cadirith and my dragons, gives me nightmares. Bones replacements for these will make convention games much less stressful.I contacted one of the painters that does regular work for me on models destined for the tabletop, Elaine, and asked her to take a whack at painting some of the new stuff, and provide her feedback on the process. She does not frequent the forum, nor have I given her much in the way of any sort of warnings about what does and doesn't work with Bones. I wanted her to have an unprejudiced experience with trying out different techniques, to see what solutions she came up with for some of the challenges of working with this material.


Please remember that everything in this thread refers to these sample test pieces, and may not apply 100% to the final product that comes in from the KS project.


First, however, I took a little time to play with them myself, as I still like to work on the modelling aspect of the hobby. Of the 5 larger models I received, 3 were either single piece or preassembled (Cloud Giantess, Large Fire Elemental, and Nightspecter), and 2 were multipart (the Griffon and Agramon). All of the smaller models were either single piece of preassembled, with the exception of the "wings" on the Medium Fire Elemetal. In assembling and basing Agramon, as well as basing the Large Fire Elemental and the Nightspecter, I found the bonding time for super glue on larger joints to be fairly long; IMO, longer than for metal versions. While not really an issue, it did mean that I had to wait a bit before I could move forward with assembly in multipart models. I used no pins whatsoever, and spent some time twisting and bending Agramon after assembly, just to see if I could make the glue joints break. While I didn't go all out, I gave it far more of a workout than it should ever receive during abuse at the gaming table, and it emerged intact.


I also spent some time de-basing several of the figures, including one of the black orcs and two of the dark elves. Anyone who has used snips to remove metal from a base knows how the snips can displace the material when cutting, especially in larger cuts, and ones between parts of the model (like removing material between the feet), where parts can end up being bent and deformed. Because of the elasticity of Bones, this displacement is not an issue, at least not in the same way, as the material snaps back into place. However, because the material is elastic, as you cut into it with snips, the material deforms under the pressure of the cut at the time of the cut, If you are not very careful with how you make your cuts, this can cause cupping in the cut, with one side being slightly convex, and the other being slightly concave. Once this happens, because filing and sand really aren't much of an option, it is difficult to easily return the surface to being smooth and flat. After realizing this happened with the bottom of the black orc's feet, I was especially careful to make all my cuts as close to being at perfect right angles to the plane of the material I wanted to remove. I also tried using smaller cuts, to remove less material at a time, resulting in less deformity during the cutting process. The results were significantly better for the dark elves, both of which were actually more difficult to remove from the bases because of the sculpts (only the black orc's feet touched the base, while both dark elves had cloak/skirt/cloth touching the base that were more difficult to cut around). Still, even with some of these challenges, the de-basing process was quick, and much easier on my hands than snipping through metal.


However, what turned out to be more of a challenge than expected was working on the bases of the mummies. In this case, I didn't want to rebase them entirely, but rather lower the profile of the integral base. Filing a metal base down for something like this is pretty easy, but due to the challenge mentioned above of the Bones material deforming during the cutting process (and how difficult it is to clean up the remain of a bad cut), trimming the bases down was very difficult. I eventually muddled through with a combination of cuts from the snips and using my hobby knife to trim off uneven parts, but it was definitely not pretty. I will try my hobby saw the next time I perform this kind of modification to see if works any better.


Where I found the super glue curing process for the larger models to be fairly slow, that did not seem to be the case for the smaller models. A little glue, set them aside for a few minutes, and that was all it needed.


From here out, the posts will largely be Elaine's feedback as she works on the models I sent off to her.



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The first email from Elaine (pictures are not posting; I will have to address this later when I can upload them to my site for hosting)


Initial reactions:

Pros: Large miniatures like the griffon, dragons, and huge demons are going to be a lot easier to glue together. Obviously the plastic is much lighter weight and I'm looking forward to not having the struggle with pins and pieces falling off even when using an accelerator.

The casting is very clean. I'm actually seeing less obvious mold lines than the metal versions and no air bubbles. I expect that out of a big company, but after dealing with some "garage resin kits" in the past, I appreciate such a perfect casting. The plastic feels a lot like a white resin, and a bit softer than the hard grey GW figures or the old Partha plastic.

If you're really short on time or can't paint, some of them are cast in color like flames, so you can use them right out of the box, or possibly with just a little bit of ink or something to make the details come out.


The difference between their plastic and metal figures is noticeable. I've only seen one of their prepainted and ready to go figures in the blister, and they do look more detailed than those. However, the plastics don't look like they're holding details as well as the metal. This could be because they're bright white, making the details harder to pick out with the naked eye and they'll paint up exactly the same. I'm reserving judgement until I can actually paint some of the more detailed skin, feather, textures, armor, and faces.

Painting the Large Fire Elemental:

I wasn't quite sure what to do with him. Normally, I prime figures, put a base coat on them and carry on like any other painter, but these miniatures begin in a transparent color. I didn't want to completely lose that because I like the effect. I began by trying some basic inks. I'm not sure what the brand, but they're probably Games Workshop, Partha, or similar brands all dumped into giant dropper bottles that I've been using for the last 9-10 years. They're gaming painters inks, but the brand (or mix) is unknown. Red ink didn't show up, so I mixed in some brown. It was much too runny and made a mess. I wiped it off and let it dry.

Next, I tried some ink mixed in with Clear Flat sealer from Model Master (Testor) mixed in with the ink. This was a little better, but too thin. It still ran and didn't cover. I finally settled with some clear sealer mixed 1 to 1 with Reaper Master Series paint. That worked and allowed me to put a glaze over the figure, giving it some easy shadows. For the highlights, I used Reaper Master Series Clear yellow. Once it was dry, I tossed in some straight paint here and there for visual variety and there he is. This was a quick and simple paint job once I got things to work properly.

Here he is:


The Green Spell Wall:

I had an idea of what I was doing by now, so I began with RMS Clear Green. It didn't work very well as shown here. The left side is plain and being done with the sealer mix, the left was Clear Green. The color was a little too bright for my taste and it ran too much.


I went back to the RMS paint and some clear sealer again. Here you can see half of it done for comparison.


I put a glaze on the entire mini then mixed my glaze with some yellow clear. I put in some very basic drybrush and highlights, let it dry, and hit it one last time with RMS Clear Yellow again. If you don't have any RMS clear, I'm sure the sealer and paint mix will also work.

Here it is:





[edited to include pictures]

Edited by Shakandara
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I appreciate the write up. I'd like to chime in as a non-Reaper person.


I've been painting and treating my Bones minis just like I treat the metal versions. I have an unpainted metal Bathalian and the Bones one side by side and there is NO difference in the sculpt quality. The minute details of the cloak appear just as prominently as on the metal version, and they are minute. The only difference I can tell is that the natural properties of metal make the unprimed version appear to have more details where it does not.


I have found that I really like painting these miniatures better than metal as they just seem to take the paint easier, are easier on my brushes and just easier to manipulate.


I'm about to complete and post pics of one of the newest releases and I'm hoping that it further shows off the capabilities of these figures.


Removing a Bones mini from a base, or making conversions is infinitely easier and the figures are vastly more forgiving of repair work.

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I have painted the minotaur and while it was white, I didn't see the mold lines, but after painting it, the mold lines are more visible.


I didn't prime him. Painting was no problem. In a few weeks I get a matte varnish.


I hope that the paint will not break in a few years. I don't like to put so much work on it and defects after a while...

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Also worth noting: I am not filtering or editing Elaine's comments at all, nor am I giving her any feedback on them. I have my own opinions about the Bones line; the posts that I indicate are from her are her opinions, and her notes are exactly as she sends them to me, complete and verbatim.



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thanks for this thread!!! I will be following to learn from Elaine! Also, to echo Adrift...


I've been trying to get used to painting the bones, so I bought and received some as a gift this year. I cut the mold lines off without any trouble, although if I wasn't careful, I cut off more than I meant to due to how soft the plastic is. It is harder to see the mold lines, which I learned after starting the worm. With Flit, I took extra time to look for mold lines, and that worked. Haven't had to go back and trim anything else. The detail is just fine. Thus far, I find I'm painting thicker than I normally would as a basecoat, and using a larger brush and not thinning my paint at all. I have not primed any of them. Washes just don't work until there is a good layer of paint on the miniature. However, I have had no trouble blending 2 or even 3 colors as a basecoat. At first I was frustrated with the bones because I had to learn to paint just a little bit differently than I was used to. They have definitely grown on me! The paint really does flow nicely onto the surface. Washes behave no differently once there is at least 1 layer of paint. I think they look the same once painted. The weight is fantastic, repositioning of limbs (working on trolls) is soooo easy. The worm I glued to a base and my bsi glue seemed to bond normally, but it is a smaller figure. So, overall very happy. Caveat would be just expect it to be a learning process and be patient with the bones. Once the painting style clicks, it's easy.


The first I finished was my ogre, the second my worm, although it's not quite done yet. Working on 3 trolls, spider and Flit right now, so I'll post as soon as I'm done.

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What I like about the post-KS Bones discussions is that the matter is examined thoroughly. It's not all praise or all bash. Where there are issues (and solutions) they're posted - and where the material excels with good technique or other benefits that's also noted. It's a pretty complete observational data set that's being built.


This is a rarity on the binary internet, where things tend to be either Awesome or Total Crap. Now that I've spent a goodly amount of time with Bones, I have to agree with Adrift that the painted results don't differ much in quality - a revision of my initial impression that the detail was soft.


Warping can still be a bit problematic, but personally I think it gives my Torg character. He's got a dynamically crazy look to him... almost as if Flit had him tied up and got a bathalian to work his mind over...

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hope it's not usurping the thread, but here is a Flit WIP with a basecoat of vallejo dark grey and blending of reaper sapphire blue, vallejo blue green and dark gray and reaper pure white- meant to look like a silver dragon. The flexibility of the wings makes it very easy to paint.


Even with the thicker paint, it holds detail very well. It's much easier to paint non-translucent, so I'm looking forward to seeing the new bones in March! I really like the almost jade-like look of that haunt!!! The fire it up turned out well!

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Report #2 from Elaine:


To be fair, I have heard of a few people who don't prime their metal miniatures, but that makes me cringe. When I painted my very first Ral Partha and Grenadier models back when I had to fight the sabertooth tiger for my brontoburger, I bought a bunch of those Testor's paints in the tiny bottles, purchased paint thinner, and proceeded to glob it on. For your amusement, here's one of my better ones.


Many years later, about the time Reaper was a fledgling company and minis were in that sad, intermediate place where they were almost forgotten, I purchased a Partha blister. On a whim, I asked the man behind the counter, "how do you paint these?" He handed me a can of Partha primer and told me to prime them first, then use whatever kind of paint I wanted. It sounded good to me, and he made a sale.

(Insert Disney music from Aladdin here) "A whole new world" opened up after that visit, and I began to prime all my miniatures. I switched paints, starting with cheap acrylic paints from Wal Mart which were 50 cents a bottle. I gradually progressed to better brushes, paints and techniques.

I was willing to put aside my primer prejudice to try painting straight onto the new Reaper plastics to see what it would do. It would save me a step and some money if I could put the primer back on the shelf with the 8 Track and Beta recording... nevermind.

My experiences with primers on plastic figures has been hit and miss. Back with the earlier Games Workshop grey plastic figures, a lot of the primers came out with a "fuzzy" finish to them. This happened because it was either too thick or the plastic had a reaction to it. I normally use Krylon white spray primer which I get at Wal Mart, Lowe's or just about anywhere you can buy spray paint. It's more convenient, dries in about 10 minutes, and I've never had any issues with it ruining in the can or messing up my figures. It doesn't have quite the same, solid coverage as GW brand, but I've used hundreds of cans and it works for what I do with it. It was also cheaper than GW when all I could do was mail order, but those are the only current types of spray primer I've used. For plastic miniatures, I normally use Reaper Master Series brush on primer from the squeeze bottles.

Unfortunately, my photos don't show very much, but in my defense there's not much to see.

Left: Scorpion - No primer at all
Middle: Beetle (not Ringo) - primed with Krylon
Right: Spider - primed with Brush on RMS white


It's not particularly easy to see what you primed because the figures and primer are both white. Be careful you don't overdo it or you'll lose details.

I began on the scorpion using a black acrylic paint designed for canvases and non-miniature artists. I use a lot of black so this is more economical. It normally has to be thinned down a little in a squeeze bottle with Medium, so I found that brand pulled away from itself to show the miniature underneath. It took more than one coat to cover. The flash gave me problems, but inside the red is where it "pulled" away from itself. The green is reflected highlights from the flash or my desk lamp.


I switched to a brown made by RMS and it covered as per normal, even without the primer.

When I went to paint the beetle, the black paint covered and went on smooth. I didn't get the "pulling" away. RMS paints behaved the same way and it didn't seem to matter. I didn't see any difference between the Krylon and RMS brush on except I can usually get the spray types on more easily with smoother coverage and speed.


Once the Scorpion was dried for a few hours, I rubbed my thumb over the top of it really hard several times, trying to get the paint to come off. It stayed put. I put the figure in a bag full of plastic and metal miniatures and proceeded to shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. That's some pretty serious abuse for an unsealed miniature. It had some very small chips in the paint, but showed some really impressive resilience. I don't actually play with my figures and seal with 3 coats of spray gloss. I finish with either one coat of either Testor's dull coat or Vallejo brush on matte for a truly flat finish.


In conclusion: Personally, I'm going to stubbornly sit in my "It must be primed!" camp because I have less hassles with the paint sticking every time and I use a variety of different paint brands. However, I think it's possible to paint straight on these figures and particularly if they're sealed (plus treated gently), have it work out just as well.

On the Haunted Wall, I added some straight paint to try and bring out the details a little more. It looks brighter in person to me than it does on my monitor.



[i asked Elaine to try punching up the highlights on this last one in my reply to her. I still wanted the transparency, but to try an emphasize the ghostly effect a little more. I'm pleased with the results. ~v]

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Did Elaine wash the scorpion? I get that issue if I don't, but dish soap and warm water makes Bones love the paint.


And of course old figures look like me. Why do you think I'm old school?


I think the issue happened with the black because of this statement:


"It normally has to be thinned down a little in a squeeze bottle with Medium, so I found that brand pulled away from itself to show the miniature underneath. It took more than one coat to cover."


However, I will ask if she washed any of the minis before painting. I know I didn't wash them before sending them.



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