Posted on October 24, 2008 by Billzilla
Greetings! In the coming months I’ll be giving Flames Rising readers a look at some of the miniatures out there for horror-conscious consumers. For now I’ll be covering one company at a time, giving an overview of what they have to offer that falls within the category.
Our first contestant, by virtue of being the quickest to respond, is Reaper Miniatures. Reaper has been a mainstay in the gaming community since the early 1990s, really taking off with the closing of Ral Partha Miniatures only a few years later.
The miniatures we’ll be looking at come from several different product lines: Warlord, which supports Reaper’s fantasy miniatures rules; Chronoscope, giving Reaper greater license to explore historical and alternate historical periods; Reaper’s newest experiment – pre-painted plastic miniatures, and the Dark Heaven line, representing the jewel in Reaper’s crown.
Horror-themed figures within the Warlord line means pretty much one thing: the Razig faction of undead pirates. The samples I received are handsome and nicely detailed. First up is Clarissa Banshee, Razig Mage (Stock code: Reaper 14274).
Clarissa is a comely lass with long, luxurious-looking hair topped with what might be a flower, barnacles or a sea anemone. Her hands are bound behind her back with chains. She appears to be hovering over water, her presence causing the water to churn and foam beneath her – or perhaps she’s rising from a watery grave. Her mode of dress seems a cross between Victorian and post-modern gothic, and her face shows elfin-like characteristics. This would be an excellent figure to represent a ghost, spectre, or other non-corporeal entity. The figure is handsome enough to serve well (with a little bit of work) as a player character figure also, in the role of a mage or as some kind of water spirit or elementalist.
Sculpted by Gene Van Horne, the figure shows some excellent detail, particularly in her dress. Currently listed at a suggested retail price of $4.99, Clarissa Banshee would be a welcome addition to any figure collection or undead army. The Razig faction also features a broad assortment of tasty, piratey-looking skeletons, including Skeletal Crewman (Stock code: Reaper 14349) and Harpooner (Stock code: Reaper 14402).
Next we have figures from the Chonoscope line: Zombie German Soldiers (Stock code: Reaper 50020) The Chronoscope line start appearing a few months ago, and some truly creative stuff has come out of the line so far, including science fiction, fantasy and modern-era characters and encounter creatures.
The Zombie German Soldiers come three to a pack, each having a different pose: Rifleman aiming and firing, officer/NCO with pistol firing, and soldier firing machine gun. The machine gunner comes in two parts – the barrel for his weapon will need to be attached; otherwise, these are all single-part castings. The addition of the gun barrel gives the machine-gunner a more 3-D feel; his comrades, mostly by virtue of the pose they’ve adopted, come across as a bit less animated and flat-looking. All feature rather obvious bullet holes, indicating their undead status. Also sculpted by Gene Van Horne and sporting authentic-looking gear, these boys have the attitude and equipment to make somebody’s night very unpleasant.
Of significant interest at this time of year is Reaper’s Classic Horror line, including Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. These three figures have been around for just over a year. The Dracula (Stock code: Reaper 03248) figure, by Tom Mason, is perhaps the weakest of the three, with the famed Count holding his cape open to the sides, one foot in front of the other like he was walking a tightrope, or perhaps taking a field sobriety test. Very nice clothing detail but the wooden pose is distracting.
Frankenstein’s Monster, sculpted by Tre Manor (Stock code: Reaper 03249), is one ripped dude, showing arms and abs to die for. He is a more generic version of the character made famous by Boris Karloff, suitable for use as a Flesh Golem, perhaps, or even just a maniacal (and HUGE) peasant.
The Wolfman (Stock code: Reaper 03250) is my favourite of the three, and is possibly the most dynamic pose as well; standing menacingly, as if he jumped into the road ahead of you and is blocking the path. Another Gene Van Horne sculpt, he’s hunched over slightly, arms and legs spread wide and ready to pounce on the next person that moves. My only complaint here is that his clothing is very tidy for a man having gone through what seems, if modern films are to be believed, like a violent transformation. However, this figure is more true to the spirit of the original; okay, so I’m a big, fat whiner.
Reaper has been experimenting with plastic over the last year or so, and has basically made pre-painted, plastic versions of some of their classic figures to create their Legendary Encounters line. Perfect for Halloween-ish gaming are the Zombie (Stock code: Reaper 20019) by Stefan Niehues and Ghost (Stock code: Reaper 20017) by Julie Guthrie. The paint jobs are decent; sure you could do better if you had the time, but that’s the whole point — you don’t. Suck it up and buy these; they’re sharp and pretty cheap. Also available are generic skeleton packs; Skeleton w/sword & shield (Stock code: Reaper 20004), skeleton archer (Stock code: Reaper 20005) and skeleton w/spear & shield (Stock code: Reaper 20006), and all three are available in multi-packs (Stock codes: Reaper 20001, 20002, and 20003, respectively) at a slight bulk discount. Coming soon to this line are mummy, succubus and female demon figures that should set your world on fire.
Last but not least, we come to the Dark Heaven line. Reaper sent me a gorgeous Grave Wraith, (Stock code: Reaper 03274) sculpted by Bob Ridolfi, that coincidentally bears some resemblance to my favourite Lord of the Rings characters, the Ring wraiths. It’s mostly human-shaped, but the only actual body part you see on this menacing thing is its skeletal right hand clutching a nasty-looking rune sword. His head-to-toe robes look appropriately wind-swept, and the figure includes several grave stones for adding a scenic touch to the whole presentation. Detail of robes is sufficiently ragged to give the impression of great age (the undead tend to hang around for a good, long while, you know? Plus they’re kinda hard on clothing.) and the sword’s rune markings are just clear enough to give it the look of evil magic.
That’s only a small portion of the goodness Reaper has in store for us. Be sure to visit them at www.reapermini.com to check out their line of nifty products. While you’re there, check out Reaper’s limited edition Halloween figure pack, featuring a witchy-looking lady being visited by three trick-or-treaters. This figure pack will only be available from October 25 for about two weeks, so don’t wait if you want to purchase one. Be sure to tell ‘em Flames Rising sent you.
About Bill Bodden
Bill Bodden has been a freelance writer in the games industry for more than seven years. He regularly writes reviews for Scrye and Amrchairgeneral.com, and had an essay on finding out-of-print games included in the book Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Bill was nominated for an Origins Award in 2003 for short fiction published in Games Unplugged Magazine in 2002. Bill also works part-time for Green Ronin Publishing handling wholesale sales and marketing.