Game Spotlights

Published: April 23, 2024

Adam Knight

Reaper Miniatures: A Painter’s Paradise

Reaper Miniatures is a bespoke miniatures crafter, perfect for adding color and character to your RPGs, board games, and hobby life. Their creations aren’t tied to any one title, but can put a perfect twist on game night, bringing immersion and entertainment above and beyond stock standard cubes, discs, or just some imagination. Reaper also offers a standout line of paints and hobby tools to turn those minis (and all the others sitting in their gray skivvies, stuffed away in their board game boxes) into something beautiful, hilarious, or . . . both?

Paints, Minis, and More

Since its inception in 1992, Reaper Miniatures has been sculpting awesome figures for your adventures. Just look at this dragon turtle! How satisfying would it be, as a DM, to drop this beautiful beastie on your hapless adventurers?

Because that’s the point. The moment a figure appears, drawing in the players with the claws, the eyes, the nasty tentacles, the adventure really gets going. Or it’s your players, wanting to bring their fever dream bird bard to life, or have an avatar for their more standard, but no less awesome, ax-wieldingReaper Miniatures barbarian. They’ll have a physical representation of their character, something that isn’t necessary to enjoy an RPG, but, particularly if you like rules-as-written tactical combat, keeps things visual.

Beyond generic miniatures, Reaper also makes specific lines for Pathfinder and Savage Worlds, so if you play in those universes, you’ll be able to find specific heroes, creatures, and everything in between.

Once you have the models, painting follows, and Reaper onboards you into the most meditative of hobbies with some excellent learn-to-paint kits, which come with some sample miniatures to practice with. You can keep those samples and pull them out routinely for a laugh (and to get summarily slaughtered by adventuring parties). Mini-painting should not be intimidating, and is immensely rewarding, not only because it’s fun in the act, but because the end result, even if it’s globs of color and little else, shines on the table. The paint kits also include brushes and clear instructions to get you going. If you’ve never tried this part of the hobby, this is as easy an entry as you could want.

And, with seemingly every game adding miniatures these days, you’re doubtless going to find some gray to garnish in your collection.


Metal, Plastic, and Everything In Between

Dig a little into Reaper’s catalog and you’ll notice they produce both hard plastic (the more common sort of mini seen in tabletop gaming) and metal (pewter) miniatures. Both have advantages, and if you’re planning on venturing into more bespoke miniature collecting / painting / playing, it’s worth looking at their respective qualities:

Metal miniatures are, first and foremost, metal (shocker, I know). They’re heavier, a weight that can make them more fun to handle on the table. That weight can make them more prone to chipping or breaking if dropped, so I wouldn’t give them to any nearby toddlers and trust they’ll make it back intact. Metal miniatures, though, tend to be more detailed than their hard plastic counterparts (though this gap is closing), so you might look at them for the most intricate designs.

Hard plastic is what you’ll see in just about every board game box these days. Despite a higher upfront cost for a manufacturer to create the molds, hard plastic is cheaper on a per model basis than any other miniature, which makes it cost effective for those huge crowd-funding games or mass-produced titles. Hard plastic is easy to assemble, light-weight, and carries enough detail to look fantastic with a good paint job.

You might also run across resin miniatures. Resin is similar to plastic, but sacrifices durability for detail. More angled for collectors or particular showpieces 24120500008f.jpg (450×632)that won’t see much handling, resin does offer a cost-effective material for small numbers of miniatures, so you’ll often see these popping up for special sales or one-off model runs.

As to which type to buy, that really comes down to your goals. If you’re building minis and painting primarily for display, then going for resin or metal will maximize the detail of your figures. You’ll likely pay a little more, but you’ll love how they give you a chance to show off every lifelike touch.

If, though, you’re planning on having a figure for your wizard and running it through a thousand hour D&D campaign, hard plastic’s going to keep your spellcaster around long enough to get devoured by a dragon.

Start a Miniatures Collection With What You Already Have

So you’re looking at these figures and wondering hey, maybe my kitchen would look pretty cool with a dragon in the middle, or perhaps you’d like to spruce up your games with a selection of exquisite figures to bring game night new life. Where, though, to begin? Do you grab the biggest hunk of metal or plastic you can afford?

Nay, I say. Baby steps, taken with a tiny bit of strategy, can help keep you from getting overwhelmed while allowing you to grow your hobby skills organically.

First and foremost, make a decision as to whether you want to paint your minis. Leaving them gray (or pewter silver) is an option, sure, but a more appealing one, if the time, dexterity, or desire to paint your own figures isn’t there, is to find a friend or a local painter willing to do the job for you. Sure, you’ll pay them, but you’ll often get spectacular results. A quick Internet search will bring up a bunch of professional studios, and, on Reddit, the r/brushforhire subreddit is a great place to look for local options. You’ll decide on a price based on what you want painted, ship (or hand-deliver) the miniatures, and get them back when the magic’s done.

Should you prefer to wield the brush yourself, that then makes your first step into miniature collecting an easy one: Reaper’s Learn to Paint kits, as noted above, make an excellent start. Following the lessons therein will teach you how to pick colors, build layers, and, most crucially, develop brush habits that’ll stick with you the rest of your hobby life.

Once you’ve completed your learn to paint kit (or two – Reaper offers both a beginner and intermediate kit, and doing both is a good, inexpensive way toReaper Miniatures build skills), I’d take a look around your collection for any titles you own that already have gray minis hanging around. At the start, I’d pick games with, frankly, less difficult or ornate minis. Ones where you can practice without risking ruin, unlike my poor Red Queen from Wonderland’s War, who’s scarred with blotches from an exploding blue paint bottle after my ill-conceived attempts to dislodge dried paint failed in spectacular fashion.

The best games to choose are ones filled with character art for their minis, which can help you choose color schemes, and thus, which paints to buy. If you’re confident this is a hobby path you want to pursue, you can save some cash by grabbing one of Reaper’s Master Sets (or one from other suppliers, like Vallejo, Citadel, and Army Painter). These bundle a color armada together, making it easy to grab the next shade and keep on working. Wet palettes, dry brushes, primer and varnish round out the usual kit, with an airbrush a delightful accessory to add when you’re ready.

Whether you have your artist for hire or your brush at hand, building out your miniature collection can be an organic thing from then on. Grab specific models when your RPG campaigns call for them, or feel confident in snapping up expansion boxes with more figures knowing you’ll be able to make that gray something awesome.

Before you know it, you’ll be taking family photos off the shelves and replacing them with awesome ogres, terrifying trolls, and deadly dreadnaughts, just as Reaper, and life, intended.

Add A New Dimension To Your Favorite Hobby

Whether your board game collection already has a thousand unpainted minis or you’re looking to supplement RPGs with awesome figures, Reaper Miniatures is a great resource to jump start a rewarding hobby.

And their action-oriented RPG, Dungeon Dwellers, looks to be a streamlined blast when it comes out this summer. You know it’ll be good, because it has the best monster of all time: the ooze. Don’t believe me? Just rewatch Ghostbusters 2 and remind yourself how terrifying oozes can be. 

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah. Reaper Miniatures: they’re rad and worth your time.