Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Shapeways review

Hi guys

I had a 15mm Dark Century, Shadow Rifts legion order from shapeways arrive today, (sorry for the poor pics, its night here and it's hard photographing white under poor lighting, I will take better pics next time I am home during daylight hours), these are pre heresy style space marine types, I won't go into the IP issues here, needless to say, there is an issue.
I bought these more to investigate the capabilities of shapeways then for the models, I new from the sample pics that the infantry would be a lot smaller than my own, although I was hoping the vehicles would be usable.
Weight and material - The first thing that surprised me was the weight, I thought these figures would be a more solid resin type consistency, however the material is an extremely light plastic, and the vehicles are hollow with thin walls, the models feel very fragile, however I have not broken any in my handling, I have no idea at this stage if they would stand up to gaming.
Detail - most of the models have three options of material, 1) white strong and flexible 2) ultra detail 3) ultra frosted detail, I chose the cheapest, white strong and flexible, because I knew they would be on the small size, I thought I would use the figures as armatures to build up detail with putty, I should have chosen the frosted ultra detail for the vehicles, the surface is quite rough, not sure how they will paint up, I might try sanding the surface back a little, there are some very bad sculpt lines on the underside of some of the figures, this is not a problem on the vehicles, the infantry have very delicate and detailed weapons, frosted ultra detail would have been better for the weapons etc.
Size - they are quite usable as 15mm power armour figures, standing 18-19mm tall, the main issue for me is the heft of the figures, they are thinner than what I would like, but would be usable for others, the vehicles are in scale with the figures, there are measurements for these on the shapeways shop.
Poses - the poses are all very usable, the jump pack troops are all standing on 1leg, I'm hoping they will be strong enough, they all look fairly natural.
Price - at the present time price will be a real issue with this type of miniature production, 10 figures were between $8.95-$17.50US depending on the material used, I would not buy more of these until the best detailed material was $8.95 instead of $17.50, and probably not even then due to the material used, you can get 10 good metal figures for $8, the drop ship was $31.50, again far to expensive for what you get, but I was happy to pay the price for a sample of this type of technology.
Conclusion - due to cost, and fragility, I don't see this type of production being any competition  for the current mini manufacturing, I would class them as an interesting but expensive oddity, however the technology has uses (as we have already seen) for making masters that will later be caste in a more appropriate material, if you do decide to buy something through shapeways, I would recommend using the better detailed frosted ultra detail, even if it will cost an arm and a leg, can not recommend minis through shapeways, terrain may be a different matter, I have seen 15mm furniture and what not on TMP that looked pretty good.


  1. I've gotten some 15mm scenery pieces of them, a mixed bag but sometimes you have to swallow some principles to get what you want, I did?

  2. Thanks for the review, I am interested in how 3D printed wargaming miniatures are progressing. I have three 1/144th Shapeways aeroplanes which I think are great!

  3. Good review.
    I have only ordered 1/300 scale stuff. I main beef (besides price) is the pebbly stuff that is on the surface of the model. It is really annoying and at 1/300 or smaller, I couldn't see sanding it without removing detail. I would think that issue also would exist with bigger scales where you have a lot of fine detail. I am also not too crazy about there web site. Its very hard to find specific vendors.

  4. It's a new technology and mini manufacturers are all racing to get away from metals. This is waaay too expensive though and for that kind of money, I'd buy resin. If they can use this to take the price down it, it might be worth it just for tabletop quality, but not for show pieces.

  5. A nice haul, the vehicles look very nice.

  6. Thanks for heads up on the models. I'll eye them from a distance until I hear a better review.