Every year we create thousands of unique miniatures. Ancients Greeks, Vikings, Romans, Napoleonics. The list goes on. Although you probably own some of these plastic miniatures, it’s unlikely you know what goes into making them.
Creating that perfect figure is a complex and challenging process. From the sketch-board to the wargaming table, we’d like take you through the process of how your minis are made.
It all starts with deciding the historical period. There are so many different periods out there so the first challenge is finding one that Victrix community will enjoy. Through the community forum and the facebook page we can get an idea of what you guys are after.
Once the period has been decided, it’s down to research. This stage can be quite challenging as it involves gathering a comprehensive knowledge of the given period. Every tiny detail needs to be accounted for to make sure the figure is as historically accurate as possible. Armour, weapons, facial expressions, facial hair, haircuts, body shape (we all love a fat Viking), how they used their weapons, underhand or overhand grip, what kind of warriors were they etc.
After we’ve gathered as much information as possible, it’s time to decide the composition of the set. Specifically, how many figures will be in the set and what poses will they be doing. This stage involves sketching each figure and its separate parts. The body, the various arm positions, the face, weapons and so on. We also work out how all these parts can be used on as many figures as possible, so it becomes a bit of jigsaw puzzle.
These sketches are then sent off to our digital sculptures. They use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to turn these sketches into digital files. A file is created for each individual part of the figure (head, arm, body, weapon etc). This is a long and complex process with our sculptures taking 30-40 hours on each figure. The figure is then reviewed by our design team to ensure every detail has been refined.
After each figure of a given set has been digitally created, it’s time for moulding. We take each figure and determine the layout of the sprue (the plastic frames in which the figures are held). Once a digital file of the sprue has been created, this is then sent off to the toolroom.
A CNC milling machine scans this digital file in order to create a custom steel tool for that sprue. This involves cutting cavities in the steel to replicate the design of the sprue and all its components. As you can imagine, the tool needs to be incredibly fine to account for things such as faces, belt buckles and chainmail. As a result, a CNC machine can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to complete a tool.
Once the cutting of the figures is done then they have to cut the gates, which are the feeds that run into each figure from the sprue, working out how the plastic flows around the tool.
Test frames are moulded to see if there are any issues need resolving such as sink holes or too much flashing or parts not filling. Once this is resolved it goes into production.
Once the tool is created, it is moved to a moulding facility. Plastic is then injected into the tool and flows into the cavities. Here, we perform several test runs to iron out any issues with the tool. If any issues are found, the tool is taken away to be adjusted.
Finally, once we are happy with the tool, we produce product samples. The samples are then sent to our design team for inspection. Here we look out for sharpness, body proportionality and split lines. If any of the figures lack sharpness and detail, we go back and refine the tool. This stage is often repeated several times. It is only once we are completely satisfied with the figures that we start mass producing.
Bringing an idea to life is a long and arduous process. However, its all worth it when you see that figure on the battlefield.