I don't want to plunk down 1000's of $ for minis, which I may or may not use in an RPG setting. I love the artistry, the visualization, and, when I have time, the painting, but I have so little time to devote to my RPG gaming, that paper minis are the way I went for.
I saw some stuff out of print, running at about $120 for the book on Amazon, but that's a bit much for throw-away minis.
I'm so glad Arion Games cranks out nice, inexpensive minis for the masses.
That being said, I would like to present to you a review of one of their sets, Fantasy Heroes II.
First off, WOW! The detail is stunning on these pieces. It is nice to see computer-generated characters put in a fantasy setting for miniature gaming. WIth computers the sky's the limit, because you can render with different lighting, poses, scenes, costumes, etc. and with photorealistic quality.
Secondly, Arion Games is very helpful in describing how these basic sets (Fantasy Heroes II included) can be set up to print multiples of the miniatures outside of the original setup. That way, whole regiments and armies of allies and baddies can be run off your printer to your heart's content!
I like the white background, because I can make some of the more mundane poses (more on that later) more interesting by placing a background behind the characters using copies of these minis edited in a paint program. That lets me print out minis with forest, dungeon, or even tavern environs to help set the gaming mood.
I've bought over a dozen of the different packages - monsters, heroes, giants, historical characters - all with a considerable amount of detail.
On the 'bad' side, the strengths for computer-generated miniatures can also be weaknesses/challenges.
Although the detail is quite nice, a higher resolution would be good, because the details are only really good for character cameos or monster illustrations in RPG games. You need higher resolution than just 1" scale. The resolution of the images pixel out over 200%.
Also, at 1" scale, those fantastic details and shadings, wispy, wind-blown hair, etc. get lost in the miniaturization. I would suggest a half-way point between realistic and 'toon' rendering. Some neat minis have the cartoon look, but lack the multiple views enjoyed by the heroes in Fantasy Heroes II. Maybe separate pages for big cameo shots, and higher-contrast, 'toony' rendered pages with less busy detail for 1-to-1.5" minis. Vectorized 'toon' versions would be great, because the prints could be scaled up or down in size without losing detail.
I've heard that there is an uprise of female RPG gamers out there. GOOD FOR YOU! Welcome to the game field, I say! But for them, I think that their female counterparts in the Fantasy Heroes II mini set could be disappointing, if not offensive. The female versions of, fighters, rogues wizards, etc. look more like strippers than adventurer-player-character-heroines. Ah well, more fun tinkering in the paint program.
The benefit of computerized minis could go further in the 'dynamic pose' range as well. There are a few poses in this set that look more like mannequins or characters with 'deer in the headlights' poses that look like they're saying, "Well, what should I do now?" A page of each character in all the cool poses shown once on some of these characters could be great for variation, making the characters more interesting.
All said, I still give Fantasy Heroes II a 4-out-of-5 stars vote. There is so much variability - different character/monster/villain sets, and the detail and colors are vibrant and awesome! Arion Games has been innovative in providing 3-view minis that give more of a 3d feel and options to their mini line.