The struggle of searching for that one perfect miniature for your tabletop roleplaying game character, or making do with the next best thing, is not nearly the problem it used to be. 3D printing means you can make your own if you have the right tech, and several options have popped up over the years for doing the design and printing work for you. Rising from the tentacled depths is Eldritch Foundry, a relative newcomer in the field, to share some of their arcane secrets with us – so let’s make some minis and see what prints out!
Poking around, you’ve got a decent spread of species to pick from – your humans, your standard fantasy races,
tieflings demon born, warforged warghast, firbolg. There’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to build, expression, that sort of deal. Later on I’ll find that there aren’t a lot of pre-made poses to put your character into – but there’s a function for custom posing that gives you a lot of different sliders to play with that many will find very useful for getting exactly the mini they want.
I’ve been given credits for two minis, and the only in-person gaming I’m doing these days is running one-on-one Curse of Strahd, so I decide I’m going to keep things simple and make two humans, Ismark and Ireena, the most common support characters for the poor paladin who’s having to muck through Barovia alone. I also like warforged, I cannot lie, so I decide my ‘for fun’ stress test of the system will be a ‘warghast’.
When it comes to clothing and items there’s a ton of variety. Daggers for days, armor for any occassion, gear galore. A stand-out option is the dynamic chain category, which has a real (plastic) chain for your flails and such – I’m not quite brave enough to give that a try, but the idea is awesome. Most of the items featured tend towards fantasy, but there are a few modern items of clothing like a duster, and some futuristic bits of gear, such as a shadowrunner’s hacking deck slung across a character’s back. Mr. Warghast grabs himself a pair of dwarven looking axes, a long coat with what looks like a fancy shirt and a cravat, and of course a third arm coming out the back.
However, it’s not all loot and ease-of-use. There are some odd gaps in the variety of options: there’s a category for back items, where the robo-arm comes from, but no actual backpacks. There are spell effects, but only four of them. There aren’t any ‘full’ outfits, what you might call armor sets with matching pieces, that you can drop a character into.
This leads into a second point. In terms of categories for things, EF is pretty well organized! As you can see above, as you click through things like weapons -> types of weapons -> individual weapons, you get scrolling lists that move quickly with a mouse wheel. I gave EF a try on mobile as well, and while turning the mini around and zooming in didn’t work too well, scrolling through options arguably worked even better – if I had a tablet instead of just a phone, I’d probably be even more effusive about the mobile performance.
But while the broad categories are well organized, once you get into the item lists they’re a little rough. Nothing is named – this makes it harder to find items that go together, compounding the issue with there not being any ‘sets’, and there’s something about knowing you’re picking a dwarven axe (as opposed to a dwarven-looking axe) that’s more evocative. The non-fantasy options are all just in the same bowl as the fantasy ones, as well, meaning you have to scroll through everything for a given category to find them. The interface doesn’t make this particularly onerous, but it is still something you have to do.
Summary? Eldritch Foundry’s user interface is pretty slick and broadly easy to use, but it could use some better organization in places – along genre lines, with ‘sets’, names for items, etc. In terms of options, there’s a lot – quite a lot – of them, although there’s a strange feast/famine vibe in some categories, something which will likely fade the longer EF sticks around and releases more options.
One last point, though, added as I went to post this article – I went back into EF to grab some screenshots of the process for Ismark and Ireena, and found this:
Because of an update, I can’t edit Ismark or Ireena anymore – and since I can’t get to the point where I can edit them, I can’t order them any more (or get those screenshots, alas, hence you’re getting shots of the three-armed two-axe warghast instead). That’s . . . a little irksome. These things happen, of course, but theoretically needing to recreate a character from scratch does highlight the organizational issues a bit more.
In a word: good. Two words: really good.
So, I get my package in the mail, pop it open, and find two lovely metal tins waiting within (along with a very nice EF d20 that I wasn’t expecting, although I couldn’t tell you if that was standard or not). Necessary? Not precisely, but who cares: with the foam inside it’s about as secure from harm as a mini bouncing through the mail system is likely to be, it automatically gives you someplace to keep the mini once you have it, and they do look really nice.
Inside each tin is one of my minis, nestled between two layers of foam. Point of order, Ireena’s thin rapier-like weapon comes out of the tin a little bendy, but I’m not sure that was ever going to be avoidable given the item. They’re a black plastic, which almost seems to glitter under enough light, and the detail level is high. Expressions, the folded cloth of a scarf, the fullers on Ismark’s blades, cracks in the ‘cobblestone’ base, they’re all very clear.
They feel ever so very slightly rough to the touch, more not-smooth than actually rough, so I’d say if you’re a mini painter (I am not, my toddler has more artistic talent) you’re going to want to prime them – but once you do you should have a very nice plastic canvas.
Overall? I’m impressed. Eldritch Foundry funded on Kickstarter just a little over a year ago and makes a very good product. I know I gave them some guff on the user interface side of things, and on the variety of some options, but for a comparative newcomer in the business they make a very strong showing, and inspire confidence that they’re just going to keep improving.
Maybe I’ll make an artificer next…
You can get digital downloads of your mini to print out yourself for a mere $2.95, and a mini like the ones seen above for $35 (plus shipping). Give Eldritch Foundry a try (nothing to stop you from just designing, after all) and make your dream miniature!
Big thanks to Gamerati’s Brenna Noonan for reaching out to us and setting us up with review minis!
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