Painting my first Reaper Bones Miniature.

Painting my first Bones Miniature by Victoria Lamb.

As Reaper’s Bones II Kickstarter enters its final days I thought it would be a good time to share my  thoughts my Bones painting experience. In April 2013, while I was in the USA for Adepticon, I had the great pleasure of fulfilling a long standing invitation to visit the good folks at Reaper. I arrived at the tail end of Reapercon . Unfortunately Adepticon and Reapercon were the same weekend. But fortunately for me, many of the Reapercon guests were still there, and I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some true mini legends, and generally hang out with some awesome hobby people for a few days, while enjoying the extraordinary generosity of true Southern hospitality.

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Of course, I could not resist taking a close look at the famous “Bones” range of miniatures. To say the least, I was somewhat sceptical about this new-fangled material. My miniature painting has mostly been of old school metal minis and recently resin, but bendy white plastic?? Never!!

After checking out many of the unpainted models, and doing the obligatory bending, squishing and bouncing-off-the floor tests, I confidently pronounced that I doubted they could ever hold paint.  However, curiosity, and the persuasion of the awesome Anne Foerster, convinced me to give it a try.

I selected a very nice Bobby Jackson Orc warboss, ‘Kavorgh’. This came pre-assembled with an integral base and without the extra head option of the metal version, but at that price, who’s complaining. The detail was much better than I expected, with the chain mail and armor being suitably sharp, though the teeth needed a bit of greenstuffing. Painting without an undercoat went against all my instincts. Fortunately I usually use a white undercoat, so after giving the model a quick rinse in soapy water, I was away. I mostly have used Citadel paints in the past, so this was also my first time using the Reaper Master Series Paints. I will go into more depth on these another time, but the short version is ‘I’m impressed’.
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I went through my usual first steps of laying down blocks of base color before putting some washes over the top. The base color was mostly used straight from the pot and went on easier than I expected. Too much water and it beaded, a couple of coats and it was fine. Then I used black and brown washes liberally to work out where my details would be. These first stages went on the mini without any issues, in fact I was delighted with the even nature and lovely flat finish of the reaper Master Series Paints.

Then it was just a simple case of layering up my highlights and details, this being an earthy, and grimy looking Orc I went back to my black and brown washes frequently throughout the process. As advised, I did not seal the mini when finished. Now the real test; surely the paint would fall off, just as I had predicted. So the poor orc was bent, bounced and squished more then any average gaming mini deserves. To my surprise, the paint work survived! The result was a mini that would survive the rigors of gaming, transporting, dropping, treading-on and general abuse, far more better than any metal, resin or plastic mini I’d ever painted before.
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In conclusion, if I were painting this Orc for a top level contest, I would invest in the metal version and have the extra detail, but also be doomed to carry it around in cotton wool and live in fear of it ever being dropped or knocked over.  If I wanted this mini as something that would be satisfying for general painting and display as well as gaming and transporting, I really could not beat Bones. The price of course makes a very big difference. Oh, how I wish I had access to minis like these way back when I was teaching my young cousins to paint. They could have spent a whole afternoon, murdering a dozen figures with tentacle pink and bilious green without me cringing at the cost. I could also have used a whole set of painted Bones for games like Advanced Heroquest and simply thrown them in the box with the rest of the components when we were done. I look forward to seeing more Bones. It is great to see an independent company succeeding with an innovative product that brings fun and accessibility back to the miniature hobby.
Happy painting, V

10 thoughts on “Painting my first Reaper Bones Miniature.

    1. Hi, the folks at Reaper said the Bones minis could be painted using Reaper paints without using a sealer. It has held up fine so far. I have not experimented with sealers on Bones minis, I’m sure a suitable sealer could be used.

      1. Bones takes sealers fine, including sprays like Testors matte coat. It certainly doesn’t need to be sealed as badly as metal or resin figures do, partly because of the material’s high “grab factor” and partly because of light weight. OTOH, it doesn’t hurt any to do that final stage, and you can certainly produce paint rub-throughs and scuffs if you bash the figs around enough. Anyone used to handling minis will probably never be that rough, but let a little kid play with them as toys for an afternoon and you’ll have white showing through in spots.

  1. Just wanted to say that yes, Bones work very well without any sealer. The paint holds up remarkably well. It WILL start to rub off or chip on protruded edges and such that take a lot of abuse, but we are talking a lot of abuse and only a little damage.

    Bones will also work great with a number of different sealers as well. Reapers own brush on sealer works well, as does a host of other well known sealers. I personally use AP matte spray sealer over quickshade for a lot of quick painted (and amateurish) models and it works great and lasts even longer.

  2. I am guessing the reason why the paint won’t chip is due to the plasticity of the paint being used. But I agree that in time you would see rubbing. Applying a sealer usually makes the paint rigid, but also sturdier to general handling. A varnish that protects the paintjob and can still flex is probably ideal for Bones, I think plasti-coat might work? Though I havn’t tried it. Then again I like to pack my miniatures in foam carry bags rather than shoeboxes so I use a general purpose hardware sealant that is great for plastic miniatures.
    In the end I think plastic and some resin miniatures are ideal for gaming. The detail on metal is nice, but with game pieces after a while you have to touch up places where the paint has rubbed or chipped away.

  3. Hi Victoria, can you just clarify for me?

    “Painting without an undercoat went against all my instincts. Fortunately I usually use a white undercoat, so after giving the model a quick rinse in soapy water, I was away.”

    Does this mean you *did* prime the mini first, or you didn’t?


  4. Has anyone tried other paints (Citadel, Army Painter, etc.) w/ the Bones plastics? I’m sure the Reaper paints are formulated to work best on the Bones, so I’m wondering if other quality paints hold up the same as the Reaper brand. Thanks!

  5. Gary, I have used vallejo without any problem on bones, but I always used a vallejo primer underneath the paints as well.

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