Hero Forge produces customizable miniatures used in tabletop role-playing games. They built a flexible, user-friendly online interface. It allows you to design digital characters for your games. Once you finished crafting your character, you can have them made in a 3-D printer. Alternatively, you can download a digital version of your creation to use on a virtual tabletop.
You can order miniatures in a variety of different materials. Normal plastic, a high quality-high detail plastic, colored plastic, and even metal. They also offer a subscription service which is useful if you’re producing a lot of designs.
But is the product worth the cost?
Disclaimer: I’m an affiliate of Hero Forge. The following article details the facts about Hero Forge as well as my opinions. I offer the pros and cons, but I enjoy the product this company produces. I published dozens of articles about these miniatures before establishing an affiliate relationship with the company, but I do want to be transparent. If you click on a Hero Forge link and purchase one of their products, I will get 5% of the sale. I wouldn’t sign up for an affiliate program if I did not actually like the product, but I wanted to be upfront about the situation.
Who is Hero Forge?
The company launched a successful Kickstarter to raise funds for its custom miniature creation services in 2014. Hero Forge not only surpassed its funding goals; it also surpassed expectations by providing unique custom miniature creation software. RPG enthusiasts saw their characters come to life in a way previously only accessible by those with specialized training. The Hero Forge platform provided the average gamer with intuitive tools for designing three-dimensional sculptures.
The launch couldn’t have happened at a better time. Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition was also launched in 2014. 5e’s explosive popularity brought a host of new gamers to the table. Of course, these gamers would need accessories to help fuel their passion. Fortunately for Hero Forge, they launched at the very beginning of this sudden boom in TTRPG popularity.
How does Hero Forge work?
As I stated before, the platform offers an extremely intuitive interface. You begin with a simple template of a nondescript figure. You are first prompted to select the character’s species. Elves, gnomes, dwarves, and orcs are first among the options, but scrolling down reveals a whole host of various fantasy and sci-fi creatures. You can create anything from a Minotaur to an extraterrestrial insectoid.
After selecting the genus of the character, you find a series of options on the left side of their interface. From there, you simply move down the list selecting features for customization. You can change the hairstyle, shape, and structure of the face, clothing, weapons and armor, and more. Each of these fields offers a wide variety of templates to choose from. It’s easy to mix and match thousands of different options to create a whole host of unique builds.
How do I get miniatures printed?
After you feel satisfied with your design, you add them to the shopping cart. There you’ll find a variety of materials and options. Most printing options produce a 30 mm-to-scale mini standing on a 1-inch base. This is perfect for the classic tabletop dungeon map because the grids employed on those maps are typically a 1” x 1” square.
Basic & Premium Plastic
The mini’s come in a variety of materials. The basic plastic produces a miniature with a 100-micron layer resolution, while the premium plastic offers a 50-micron layer resolution. It’s a little counterintuitive, but the smaller the microns, the more details you get. It’s a smaller tighter surface, so 50 microns surface essentially renders double the details found in the basic 100-micron plastic.
You can also get your miniature printed in color! The detail is still high quality, though there is a disclaimer. The digital rendering found in the online platform is not going to be exactly what you see when it’s printed. This may seem obvious, but it is still worth saying. Digital pixels on your screen are going to look different than 3-D rendered colored plastic.
Did you just finish a campaign? Did you score the final blow against the BBEG? Or did your character tragically perish in a TPK? Perhaps you should consider immortalizing your beloved character. You can get them printed in bronze and show the world how much you truly loved your creation. Though I will note, bronze printing does not offer nearly the same degree of detail as plastic products. Purchasing bronze should be more about the shine and prestige of the material than the intricate detail rendered by a 3-D printer.
Virtual Tabletop Miniatures
Finally, you can create tokens and even purchase high-resolution three-dimensional figures for VTT maps and systems. Platforms like Harpy.gg., Dungeon Alchemist, and Berserk Game Tabletop Simulator provide a three-dimensional virtual tabletop for your three-dimensional virtual miniature to run through. If you’re playing online, these platforms can be a lot of fun and the virtual minis you build and Hero Forge only serve to elevate the experience.
Pros and Cons
Every beloved platform offers quality to its customers, but nothing is perfect. There will always be little holes in need of filling. Hero Forge is no exception to this rule, but before we jump into the cons, let’s take a look at the pros.
- Hero Forge provides an extremely easy-to-learn, easy-to-use interface. Anyone can teach themselves how to navigate these tools in 20 minutes or less.
- Players and GMs can create personalized unique characters for their games.
- The 3-D printing process employed in creating these miniatures renders highly detailed figurines. You get a quality product.
- The variety of options is huge. Between the races, assets that can be held or worn by the miniatures, color configurations, and poses, the variety offered by hero forage is staggering.
- Quality doesn’t come cheap. 3-D figures printed with basic plastic cost around $19.99. Premium plastic costs $29.99. Printing in color cost nearly $50, and bronze prints will set you back about $100.
- There aren’t any physical locations for printing Hero Forge minis. Which means you can’t see the physical product in person before you make a purchase. Unless you have a friend that has already made a Hero Forge miniature, you’ll just have to trust the photos online.
- Waiting for delivery is also an unfortunate drawback. Again, because they don’t have physical stores with 3-D printers readily available, you have to wait for snail mail to deliver your creation.
I’ve been a fan of Hero Forge well before I started The Wizard’s Respite. As a GM and player, I find that the process of creating a character on the platform helps my writing. Tinkering with the clothing, weapons, faces, and poses ignites my imagination. I can see my character or NPCs come to life as I tweak the details.
I also found a huge community centered around Hero Forge miniatures. The flexibility of the platform allows for truly unique and creative designs. People are proud and passionate about what they’ve made and are eager to chat about their creations. And these designs can get pretty wild.
In fact, I write a series spotlighting some of the most creative Hero Forge designs found in the public library. My Hero Forge Miniature Masterpiece looks at three principles when determining what makes a quality mini.
- Technical skill: were the tools on the platform used to their full potential?
- Innovation: how did the designer push boundaries when crafting their miniature?
- Thematic expression: did the designer try to inject an artistic motif in their design?
In my opinion, Hero Forge offers a lot of value to its customers. I’ve been a subscriber for years, and I’m not looking at giving up that subscription anytime soon. Designing these creations is a hobby in itself. I recommend this platform for a simple reason, I use it and love it.
Until next time, keep designing, keep crafting, and keep the hobby alive!
If you enjoy creating miniatures on the Hero Forge platform, check out my take a look at how you can bend the rules to your will. Get assets to float out of your mini’s hands.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at some of the other supplementary accessories designed for TTRPG enthusiasts. I wrote a post listing 5 of my favorite. Read it over and see if you can’t find a way to enhance your game day.