- Miniatures games have always been reserved for lifers. Lifers who spend hundreds of dollars on bags of disassembled pewter sculptures, put them together, and paint them in colors like "fuegan orange" and "leadbelcher." It's a hobby made by the deeply invested, for the deeply invested. Games Workshop manufactures the Warhammer series—one of the most popular names in miniatures gaming—and they happily charge $150 for a starter set. If you're looking for hyperrealistic orc figurines, you'll have to pay a premium—and, no, Wal-Mart can't save you.
This is how things have always been—if you want in, you have to respect the monopoly. That is, unless you own a 3D printer, like Chuck Thier, a Texas-based software developer. "I'm not an avid Warhammer player, but I've always been a fan of the lore," Thier says. He'd seen a couple of models someone made for printing and thought it would be interesting to play around with. So he began making his own. "The models turned out to be a really good way to test the quality of my printer," he says. The detail of his models didn't possess the fidelity of the original miniatures, but they're still pretty convincing and impressive, especially considering he's eschewing a giant price tag.