PAUL BENJAMIN: Writer, Editor, Supermodel

Don’t Fear the Reaper (Minis)

I am loving Kickstarter! Two days ago, my ginormous box of Reaper minis arrived. I contributed to the crowdfunded project in August 2012, so I’ve been waiting almost a year for these. Yes, I’m a big gaming geek. By “big,” I mean I got up at 6 AM nearly every Saturday during two years of living in Uzbekistan so that I could play via Skype on my Austin gaming group’s Friday night.

My Kickstarter box finally arrived! Now all I have to do is get past the Phase Cat guardian to open it.

Nice package!


Reaper’s Kickstarter campaign was a canny one. They started with a goal of $30,000 to create new molds so that they could mass produce a bunch of minis for their new “Bones” line, replacing metal minis that had been a standard in the biz. Thirty days later, they had raised $3,429,235. One of Reaper’s most brilliant tactics was to tie their stretch goals to the “Vampire” pledge level at $100. The more people who pledged, the more minis you got if you pledged $100 or more (the final total was around 242 minis – approximately 41 cents per mini, which is uber cheap). Reaper got 16,475 contributors at the Vampire level. I was one of them.

Another feature was a great selection of add-ons. By adding piecemeal to your pledge, you could get other minis for a fraction of what they would end up costing in stores.

Reaper included a 4-page insert with painting instructions and an inventory of their paints. Smart.

You could also get paints, a carrying case and other goodies. The paints were a no-brainer. Normally a single bottle costs $3.29. For $18 on the Kickstarter, you could get twelve bottles. That’s more than 50% off. You were getting a pre-set palette of colors, but with over 200 minis, you’d likely need them all.

More paints than you can shake a brush at!

For paints, I ordered the Basic Set I and II. I got the Paint Set 2: Undead set in my shipment by mistake. I guess I’ll have to contact Reaper and see what to do about that. I also ordered the carrying case since I knew I’d need a way to lug around all my minis!

It’s a nice case with three tiers of foam padding, even if the slots are too small for bigger minis.

The case has foam padding with 150 slots. The slots are too small for many of the minis, so I’ll have to cut out some sections to expand them to make space for dudes (and ladies) with big swords or guns. I’ll definitely have to do that if I want to put any of the giants in the case.

Some assembly required.

Speaking of giants, I added on the Fire Giant King and Queen ($10) and a giant skeleton ($10). In retrospect, I really wish I’d added the Pathfinder Red Dragon for another $10, but I was already spending more than I’d spent on any other Kickstarter to date. I’ve contributed to plenty of video games, graphic novels and other such Kickstarter projects, but never at this high a price tag.

I was willing to spend more money because Reaper is a leader in the miniatures business and has a good reputation. I had confidence that my pledge was going to translate into exactly what I wanted within a reasonable time frame because Reaper is a solid company that does good work. Clearly the other 17,744 backers agreed. Even when there were some production and shipping delays, Reaper did a great job of keeping its backers updated and in the loop.


Many of the Bones minis are dupes of the metal ones, like this one that got a little beat up on the journey from Uzbekistan.

Dupes will give me a chance to try out different techniques and palettes or to have identical minis working together on the game table.

Just to be clear on my prodigious nerdosity (since it wasn’t already well established), I ordered these miniatures not only so that I could use them to play Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds and other role-playing games, I also plan to paint them. I used to paint lead D&D minis when I was a kid. I thought I was pretty good back then. I wasn’t. Then again, I didn’t have an Internet full of tutorials to help me learn to paint properly. While serving in Uzbekistan, I had plenty of time on my hands, so I took up the hobby again.

A random handful of the minis I painted in Uzbekistan.

Here’s a close up of a couple of wizardy types I painted.

This is what months of geek hobby time looks like.

Now I’ve progressed to a point where I’m pretty happy with most of the minis I’ve painted. Hopefully I’ll continue to improve now that I have an army of minis, readily available paints and brushes (without a need to wait three weeks for an Amazon or Reaper order to arrive via diplomatic pouch) and other geeks who can give me tips in person. Looks like there’s a minis painting party in my near future!

For more about the Reaper Bones Kickstarter and pictures of all the minis, click here:

2 Responses to Don’t Fear the Reaper (Minis)

  1. Kevin says:

    I had a friend in High School who was big into minis and we painted a few together. Good memories! Looks like you are making a few of those on your own.

    • Paul says:

      Actually, Kev, I got back into it because of painting with a friend. One of my Foreign Service officer friends is a model painter and we got together to paint some minis I’d had unpainted for years. He left me some of his paints when he moved to his next post (where he would have more access to goods than in Uzbekistan) and I’ve been at it ever since. Maybe I’ll find a good mini to represent your character from our DC game!

Leave a reply