Monday, June 12, 2006

Dark Sword Miniatures and Magnificent Egos

While home for my 25th high school reunion, I took a tour of several local hobby stores in the Quad Cities and Iowa City with my friend Matt from Reaper. Out in Iowa City at The Hobby Corner, I discovered the Masterworks line of miniatures they are now putting out in individual blisters.

These minis are, if its possible, of even higher detail and quality than the old Ral Partha Official AD&D lines.

Only my budget and a healthy fear of my wife's reaction kept me from buying everything hanging on the three spinning racks.

On the back of the blisters is the website URL for Dark Sword Miniatures, the online store that carries all these minis. Even though I am a big advocate of the brick and mortar stores--and got an earful of how PDFs and online retailers are killing the traditional hobby store...take a look at the minis now available and then ask your brick and mortar dealer to carry them.

I also discovered the Magnificent Egos line of minis and purchased Oculous, the Rotten Eye (shown here as a green). It's a really good figure. I'd originally thought that I'd use it for a Doom Sphere, but it looks less like a ghost beholder and more like a zombie version. A zombie beholder had never occured to me before, but it might be interesting as a slightly less dangerous introduction to beholder-kin for my players.

Matt says that Magnificent Egos is an apt name for the company, but that's all I'll say about it...the minis are really nice so they have a right to a measure of pride. They have a really nice website and excellent online store. I still prefer Reaper's website and product line, but Magnificent Egos has some very interesting minis. Not sure why so many lizard-kin have breasts in mini-land, since they are sort of a mammillian province, but a big busted kobold does show a sense of whimsy.

At first I liked the ME pics of product that were painted...but then it began to annoy me that they were imposing their notion of how the mini should be painted on my subconcious and I started wondering if this was more a gallery showing off painting prowess of their artistis than offering me minis to express my own creativity with. I prefer the Reaper online catalogue where the minis are only base coated. I also like how at Reaper you can click on the thumb nail and see a much larger picture. Clicking on the ME thumbnail only takes you to the order page with no picture of the mini you are interested in and 6 thumbnails of other minis you might be interested in because of what other people who bought the fig you were looking at also bought. You know, the on-line version of peer pressure so popular with Netflix and Amazon.

I do have to take my hat off to the Artifacts and Dweaomers line. They are great...though it might be cheaper and easier to make my own Ghost Weapons from green stuff and the weapons packs I have from Reaper. I particularly like the walls (fire, ice, fog, etc.) but they are only one square wide. It might have been better to craft them so that they could interlock and then you could buy a bunch and make a wall of fire that stretched across a room as well as a corridor. Outside, this wall of ice would be pretty easy to walk around. A wall of thorns like that would have meant buying around 5 of the minis for running my Doom of Daggerdale module I'm in right now.

The one thing ME does better than Reaper (Sorry, Matt!) is the greens discussion board. This is an excellent feature to the site and is bound to generate a lot of enthusiasm for the mini before its release. At Reaper they have a greens page, but it isn't updated very often, doesn't cover large numbers of figs only featured ones, and you have to find the appropriate section of their forum to discuss them.

At ME on their Upcoming Minis page each pic link also has a discussion thread link. This is great marketing combined with great product research.

They are 35mm figs, which isn't great for me since I still have a largely 25mm collection...though since nobody does 25mm anymore I just have a lot of slender short people in my world, and a smaller percentage all the time. I guess more people are drinking Vitamin D fortified milk or something. Anyway, 35mm doesn't matter at all when it comes to monsters, which is what I'm probably going to be mostly buying from ME.

Ok, that's enough for this last day in the Quad Cities and I should spend some of it with my mom instead of typing on her computer.



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