Minion Miniatures started as an idea; to bring the twisting catacombs, endless caverns and darkest dungeons to life, in a way that had never been done before.
There have been many games over the years that focus on the heroics of human knights, elven rangers and dwarven warriors… But what about their enemies? My plan was to design a game system and a range of miniatures that has the denizens of the Underdeep at its heart. We also wanted a design philosophy grounded in reality. Each race has been re-thought from the ground up, often using generic fantasy lore as a baseline but using the real world to develop a creatures habits, physical appearance and even the equipment they would use. This design philosophy has led us to a complex and time consuming design phase with the artwork being changed until it matches our concepts perfectly. The best example of this process to date is the design evolution of the Goblin-kind.
The Goblins were the first creatures we designed as we intended to produce these vicious little blighters first. However, due to how our Kickstarter strategy evolved they will now be the focus of our next Kickstarter. I originally knew exactly how I wanted my Goblins to be; small, spiteful, lithe and mean. I also knew I wanted them to be different somehow… I like many of the old goblin stereotypes but I wanted to stay away from these and design something new, something that COULD exist in the cold depths of an ancient cavern network.
I worked with our art team to come up with a head design first as this would form the look of our creature. We wanted to make sure the main bases were covered. How would it see in the darkness. What would be its primary sense? What colour would they be? We knew for sure that they would need big ears like a bat to be able to navigate in the darkness. The thought of a goblin having some sense of eco-location was a chilling thought… a menace in the darkness occasionally clicking in the shadows trying to locate its quarry. We liked this idea and decided that our goblins would take huge inspiration from bats. We tried several designs of convoluted snout that didn’t work, however the flat nose of a vampire bat worked perfectly and this absorbed into our design. Along with huge ears our Goblins also have huge eyes. We have argued over whether these would be milky white or much like a cats… that is for you to decide when you paint our miniatures. The head design was finalised as follows:
We used the same methods to create the other members of the Goblin-Kind faction. The Hobgoblins are a more “human like” off shoot of the Goblin genus, They are are taller, broader, even more war-like. As these creatures have more experience of the surface world and often take the fight to their human enemies we took the decision to have the darkness have less of an impact on their physiology. We humanised the basic goblin structure and bulked them out somewhat to give a more “human” like appearance. The Hobgoblin ended up looking like this:
The final Goblin and Hobgoblin concepts ended looking like this:
As you can see the Hobgoblin is masked. We also liked the idea of Hobgoblins hating but revering humanity. Their animosity towards humanity has led them to wear, what they believe to be, hideous human masks in combat to fill their enemies with fear! We also liked the idea of Hobgoblin mothers telling stories of terrible humans to their children at night.
We have yet to many Goblin miniatures, but one miniature that has featured prominently in both Kickstarters is the huge Bugbear ironshield. Bugbears are the largest and least numerous castes of the Goblin genus. They are enormous lumbering beasts that are actually quite docile in their natural environment. it usually takes sever goading by a Goblin Chieftain to get one of these creatures prepared for war. When the goblins are successful it is almost always worth the investment in time and resources to make this happen as Bugbears can be monstrous combatants. We used a similar design method when putting together the concepts for these creatures. We thought they were more likely to have evolved from Hobgoblins than goblins themselves due to their size so we used the hobgoblin physiology as the baseline for the Bugbear. We also wanted them to appear more primitive and we designed them to have a more dim witted aura about them. The bugbear Ironshield is a heavily armoured Bugbear warrior that carries the enormous Ironshield into battle. These shields are technically doors that can be braced in a passage way by the gigantic bugbear creating a bulwark that the enemy cannot pass. The final concept artwork looked as follows:
From this artwork we worked very closely with our 3D digital artist to make sure that the essence of each drawing is captured in the rendered 3D sculpt. The final Bugbear Ironshield looks as follows:
From these final designs we have created alternative shields and heads that continue to capture the look, originality and realistic embodiment of our original artwork.