Miniatures are one of the joys of playing Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, or any other tabletop roleplaying game. They bring player characters to life, make the monsters seem real, and help with in-game strategy. While multiple gaming stores offer pre-made minis to purchase, some websites, like Hero Forge, allow custom-made minis. While the price is decidedly higher (a mini that can be picked up at your local shop for $3 is $20) and there is a wait time for production and delivery, it can be worth it.
We have built our careers around Dungeons and Dragons, from coverings its news, reviewing its products, and interviewing its associates. We are even active on DM’s Guild and have published a fantasy book inspired by our five-year running D&D game. So when the time came to purchase miniatures for significant villain characters, we decided to give this Hero Forge thing a try.
And what followed was a 14-week frustrating experience that resulted in a game put on hold and a lost mini.
The Customization System
For this purchase, we decided to create 11 minis in total. Mostly villain characters, as well as updated looks for our hero characters. Once we really got into all the customization options, it was hard to stop! There is a wide variety of options, as well as a highly dynamic posing system. We did look into competitor websites, but this was by far the best options we’d come across. It made it very easy to design exactly what we had in mind for our Dungeons and Dragons game.
Delivery Times & Cost
Throughout this process, the website said they would be delivered in two to three weeks. There was nowhere that stated any delays for the amount of minis ordered, so we felt good about ordering all 11 at once. The resulting cost came to over $200, and we did not do anything to the minis that would have cost extra (such as a different material). If you intend to order from Hero Forge or an alternative for customized minis, keep in mind the cost difference.
Hero Forge has recently given the option of a digital download for those who have their own 3D printer. This gives instant access to the mini (apart from printing time) and costs much less.
We ordered on January 7th of 2020. These orders were timed to coincide with a certain point in our Dungeons and Dragons game given the three week production time. So we were quite surprised when the system showed an expected shipping date of February 13th. Still, we assumed the delay was due to the larger order, and we were alright with waiting for the high quality we expected.
But February 13th came and went, while the system did not update a shipping date. We reached out to customer service for answers. They were quite polite, stating they would ask their manufacturer about the delay. They also offered a $15 refund, along with the option for a full cancellation and a full refund. Of course, we were invested in these minis and didn’t want to cancel. We received an update the next day that the minis would ship before the end of February.
However, the system online still did not have an updated shipping date. It still said February 13th. But we accepted the delay, knowing things happen.
But the end of February also passed, and there was no shipping email or update to the date. We reached out once again. We thought it was fair, at this point, to let them know we had intended to review this process from the beginning. There was another $10 refund, a reach out to their manufacturer, and a response that said COVID-19 had impacted their operations, and our minis would ship before March 15th.
This pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives, and this was completely understandable. However, we were curious that this hadn’t been brought up in the first place, a note hadn’t been put on their website, and we had ordered these so early in the year we were surprised the pandemic had impacted production. To compare, we also had taken part in a Dwarven Forge Kickstarter, where the terrain was meant to arrive in April 2020. COVID-19 impacted this, and they have sent a handful of emails alerting backers to this delay as well as providing regular updates to estimated arrival times.
But, the middle of March also came and went. No updates. And no change to the estimated ship date on the website. It still said February 13th. We reached out again and were told one mini had a quality issue and needed to be reprinted. They also said they would inquire about the manufacturer shipping the others out immediately, which did happen. This email also came with this statement:
Again, we’re so sorry it’s taken so long to get you your minis. This is absolutely not a typical user experience, and does not represent the speed or quality of service we try to provide. This is the first time we have ever encountered a delay at this scale or duration. We are working on better responses for the future should something like this happen again.”
A Missing Miniature
On March 21st, the minis for our Dungeons and Dragons game had finally arrived! At this point, our game had been on hold, and we were excited to get going again. We opened the boxes to a surprise. One miniature was missing. And instead, there had been a double print of one. Even more frustrating was that it was a highly unique mini that would be very hard to overlook a second printing. And it had been given a different item number label than its twin, despite both being exactly the same. At some point, someone had not actually checked that the item number matched the correct order.
We reached out, quite frustrated at this point, and let them know what had happened. The response:
Unfortunately we are unable to expedite production of the minis, even for reprints, so it may take another 5-6 weeks before the reprint ships.”
We were given a full refund for the mini, which was $19.99. Luckily, it only took three additional weeks for the final miniature to arrive, ending up at our house on April 10th in excellent condition.
For Dungeons and Dragons and other TTPRG fans, Hero Forge offers excellent customization options. The quality of their miniatures is excellent, and with them recently offering hand-painted minis and digital files, they are definitely a trailblazer in the field.
Despite all this, we wouldn’t use them again. The lack of system updates resulted in us having to reach out to their support team ourselves. To this day, it still says an estimated ship date of February 13th. A duplicate mini with an incorrect item number is sloppy work, and the lack of a rush order for a missing item is inexcusable.
Instead, buying a 3D printer to control the process yourself is a better option. Or, making use of what is in local stores will at least save you time and money.