The War of the Dragon Queen is ready to begin. The prerelease tournaments are primed for this weekend, and by this time next week, you'll be able to get your own boosters at your preferred, nearby retail outlet.
Something that you may not notice in all the excitement is some of the behind-the-scenes action that occurred as the set was being packaged. Fresh off of the War Drums release, we spent time reviewing our production process to make sure that the minis in War of the Dragon Queen looked as cool as we could make them. And we noticed a problem -- one of the Rare miniatures from the set didn't have the level of detail we wanted. That mini was the Dragonborn Fighter, a mini inspired by the art on the front cover of Races of the Dragon.
|First Production Paint
|Final Production Paint
Allow me to provide a bit of insight into the production process. After we've agreed to a sculpt for a miniature, the molds are made and we get samples of the final sculpt. We make our minis from a black plastic, so when they come out of the mold, they look much like the dark image of the Dragonborn Fighter "black" shown here.
We send sample sculpts to talented minis painters, in many cases with references for how we'd like the final mini to look, though the painters sometimes have leeway in choosing colors or washes. Because the production minis are limited to a certain number of "paint steps," we encourage our master painters to create the best-looking paint job they can, within the constraints of the limited number of operations. The paint masters always come back looking awesome, and our painters get better and better at creating paint jobs that we can replicate on our production minis. The second image shows the Dragonborn Fighter's paint master.
Once we've evaluated the paint masters, each mini's paint job is broken down into its component steps, and each production miniature is each painted using that same process. Invariably, the paint masters are a little too detailed to replicate exactly, so the Art Director works with the production team to reduce steps and fit them into our paint budget. Rarity plays a part, because Rare minis can be more complex than Uncommons, which in turn are more complex than Commons. In most cases, these changes don't significantly impact the appeal of the miniature.
In the case of the Dragonborn Fighter, too many of the highlights and details were removed, producing the figure you see to the right. The resulting paint job didn't meet our expectations, but production and packaging of the set had begun by the time we noticed the issue. Instead of sending the set out with the underpainted Dragonborn Fighter, we instead stopped the presses and sent the Dragonborn Fighters back into the paint process, adding the detail that had been removed.
The result is the great-looking Dragonborn Fighter shown here, a mini that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, however, a small number of boosters had already been packed, and some of those included the mispainted Dragonborn Fighter. So here's the deal -- if you open a booster of War of the Dragon Queen and it includes a Dragonborn Fighter with only a few painted details (one that is primarily silver, with only its blue eyes and blue tabard), you can contact our Customer Service department, and they will replace it with a correctly painted figure.
That's it for this week and for the War of the Dragon Queen previews. I hope you've enjoyed the buildup to this set, and for those of you that are playing in prerelease or release events over the next week or two, I wish you luck and good pulls. The War of the Dragon Queen is on, but we have more war in store a few more months down the road.
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer with RPG/Minis R&D and is the lead developer for D&D Miniatures starting with next July's War of the Dragon Queen. He's also helped develop many exciting upcoming D&D products, including Player's Handbook II, Monster Manual IV, Tome of Magic, and Tome of Battle!