We started with this very helpful article which does a great job of breaking down the pros and cons including estimated costs of pewter, resin, and ‘board game plastic’. There are a few considerations when choosing material - the most important for us being cost because we are self-funded -but there is also ease of assembly, level of detail, and physical integrity. Our initial thought was pewter but we decided to weigh our options.
Bernie and I soon discovered that we represent the 2 extremes of our intended audience as far as what qualities are important in a miniature. Bernie wants to open the box and start playing, a lower level of detail is a fine trade-off for less work, his ideal model is a one piece of plastic. He enjoys the game and will do what it takes to play, I’ve even witnessed him enjoy bringing his models to life with paint but I’ve never seen him remove mold lines. I, on the other hand, cannot bring myself to paint until mold lines are gone and the surface is cleaned up. I have purchased and painted many miniatures that will never even see the table top. I got into Malifaux because I wanted to paint some of the models and ended up playing for a couple years. My ideal material is high quality resin or metal like the modern Infinity and Guild Ball figures or a high quality plastics like GW or Malifaux figures.
After much research and debate we ended up where we started.
Plastic - Ideal for our more casual audience but the high minimum orders make this totally impractical.
Resin - Super high detail but slightly more expensive than metal and more fragile. I have also seen more quality issues with resin like large air bubbles. This option is less beginner-friendly for those reasons.
Metal - High detail, durable, cheapest option for low quantities. It’s a good compromise.
This being a completely new space for us we ended up turning to Sean Sutter, maker of the fantastic miniature skirmish game Relicblade. He suggested we contact his manufacturer Fortress Figures. We got in touch immediately and they have been great to work with. Jeff at Fortress has helped us understand the process, been very transparent about cost, and proactively advised us on adjusting our sculpts so that they will cast in fewer pieces without compromising on the original intention of the sculpts.
Our First Model
Without further ado here is our first metal model, Pai
Here is a before & after of the sculpt, you can see that Pai has just been rotated a little bit at the hip and her arms are pointed more to one side than out in front of her. This is the difference between what you see above (one tab, only one piece to glue) and needing to separate both arms and cast the model on 2 tabs rather than one. This has 3 benefits for us:
Money. Each tab adds cost to the final mold so 1 is better than 2
We have one less part to pack when it comes time to ship
Most importantly our customers get their models on the table with less work
We’re so excited to be working with Fortress Figures and to have our first ever metal miniature in hand! I’ll be painting her up in the next few weeks, stay tuned. How do you like the sculpt?