Coming out of a successful crowdfunding round at the beginning of 2020, HERO FORGE is a website for customizing and 3D printing tabletop miniatures and statuettes. Many have tried to build a business model around 3D printed figures before, but HERO FORGE may come at a time when the technology is finally ready to support adequately support it. I tested the website and it really does provide a seamless and fun, very much personalized, experience.
My attention was caught by a post on LinkedIn that showed a Mimaki 3DUJ-553 full-color 3D printer tray full of individually customized 3D printed figures, with the claim that the company was now printing thousands of them. I didn’t find the option for full-color prints on the HERO FORGE website but the editor for creating a customized miniature character and getting the print was fun nonetheless.
HERO FORGE allows you to create detailed characters in full 3D, right in any web browser, with an easy-to-use character customizer. The digital design – worthy the latest videogame character editor – can then be turned into a physical product using a selection of materials. Clearly designed with the tabletop gamer in mind, HERO FORGE lets you print figures in classic tabletop miniature scale, as well as 2x scale statuettes for collecting and commemorating favorite characters. Manufacturing and shipping are handled by Shapeways so that the website designers only had to create a great and intuitive interface for the Shapeways Developer API. Standard figures cost $29,99 (plus shipping), which is not an out-of-this-world price for a custom product. The price goes up to $59,99 for characters on a custom ride (such as the one I created, in the featured image at the top of this article). Users who own a desktop 3D printer (and don’t mind spending some time removing supports) also have the option of buying the 3D models for $7,99 (no shipping costs here).
Hero Forge is a product of Sky Castle Studios, LLC, a Santa Monica company devoted to creating unique, web-based design experiences for custom products. For tabletop game enthusiasts, gone are the days of rooting through poorly stocked shelves or browsing low-rez image galleries for something that vaguely resembles their ideal hero: with HERO FORGE gamers can now design their character from the ground up and see it in full 3D, and finally have a miniature that captures their vision.