The Bonesylvanians

Publisher Reaper Miniatures
Art Credits Bob Ridolfi, Julie Guthrie
Guidelines Lighthearted Hallowe’en figurines
MSRP $7.99 each
Reviewer Andy Vetromile

Everyone likes a little levity in their Hallowe’en, right? From Abbott and Costello films to the Ghostbusters franchise, some deftly injected humor makes a nice contrast with the dire topic of pants-wetting fear. This year Reaper Miniatures has been releasing a special-edition trio of tiny metal terrors every week in October to celebrate the Eve of All Hallows. The Bonesylvanians all have precious names like Drak, Gil, and Lon, and are done in the “super deformed” big-head, small-body style so characteristic of anime and informing popular works like Skottie Young’s recent Marvel “babies” comic covers.

The tilt of Esme’s jaunty witch’s hat and the flowing drape of her Wonder-Womanesque cape and robes makes her the most adorable of the group, though any attempt to make these outright cute begins and ends with her. Jack looks cartoonishly tormented, and the detail extends right down to the fold of his tunic and the stem on his pumpkin “head,” if that’s the word that’s needed here. Patch the scarecrow isn’t tied to his crossbar any more so much as leaning over it with his elbows like a thug with a baseball bat, but if he’s meant to look menacing it’s undercut by a stance that suggests he’s still a slave to his former perch.

"Waaarriooors, come out to play-yayyy"

Bart – presumably a zombie, though “Eddie Munster lookalike” is just as plausible – is really top-heavy; he doesn’t fall over backwards, but his uneven weight distribution allows him to do so with little effort if bumped the right way. His wild hair and torn flesh give his pose an element of “flaring up” in . . . well, one would hope it’s confidence but zombies being zombies it’s probably hunger. Gus the ghost has the same stability problem except he can fall forward, and it’s made that much easier by an awfully small base. It’s sturdier with some polishing but the seesaw wiggling wasn’t completely corrected through a simple buff. Gus is an excellent example of the “less is more” school of thought. His vaporous form is smooth and highlighted by elegant facial features, and the only part of him in need of close detail work is his sharp, almost flawlessly executed chains. Sandy is a mummy with a playful twist to his lips (and an exaggerated protruding tongue to complete the effect) and a pair of peek-a-boo knees jutting out of his bandages. It’s a good sign when the character with the most material covering his face is still rendered with the best facial features. Like the rest of his week’s line he, too, has a small and potentially problematic stand but he’s more stable than the rest.

"...with his vocal group, the Crypt-Kicker Five"

Gil’s scales make him look more like a pangolin than an amphibian at first glance, but it’s clear someone studied their movie anatomy closely before executing the gill-man’s sculpt. The back ridge, the skeletal backs of the hands, the series of slits down the sides of the head, all recall evenings spent at the Black Lagoon huddled in the late-night glow of a TV. Morty may be the boldest of all the sculpts offered here. His bony frame, barely covered by a tattered, flowing, pockmarked robe, lets it all (tastefully) hang out. His scythe handle is simple but textured wood, in keeping with the smooth lines found elsewhere in this series. Perhaps the biggest and heaviest figurine, however, is Lon the werewolf. Crouched to spring, his is not only the most dynamic pose, it may be the only one that suggests real action. If his texturing is meant to convey a hairy chest it’s too subtle, giving the impression, at least in unpainted form, the lycanthrope’s chest is bare and only his extremities covered in telltale fur. Even so he looks positively feral. His solid base, detailed mane, and tortured snarl (once you look past the lolling, puppy-dog tongue) have him skirting that thin line between lunacy and light-hearted art.

Lon gives his pack the slip - bad dog - bad!

Though the themes presented aren’t hard and fast, Esme and friends seem like garden-patch pals while Bart and the boys look like preteen adolescents up to no good. Morty leads what is arguably the most exotic trio of the line, leaving Drak, Van, and Tish to complete the collection in week four with their vampire-themed motif. Early press releases show Van and Tish looking like twin siblings while the feral Drak suggests a small-bodied version of Man-Bat from the Batman comics.

Bob Ridolfi’s and Julie Guthrie’s artistry blends together almost seamlessly. Rather than coming across as disparate contributions to a mixed-and-matched pool, their pieces all look like they belong together. Ranging around 30-35 mm each (the figures, not the artists), they possess the same sensibilities and quirks, similarities of caricature that meld the entries into a cohesive line. The eyes are a blank canvas upon which the artist can paint – nothing but eyeballs provided – and the all-important facial features are the easiest thing to reach with a brush.

All the characters are sold separately in individual blister packs and the subject matter is kid-friendly, so under parental supervision they make good holiday gifts for the miniature miniature-lovers in your life. It’s only too bad there’s not a game to go with them, but the family can have fun working one out for themselves. Varied, clever, and stylish, they present a welcome deviation from Reaper’s standard RPG/wargame fare. The team sought to create something different yet worthy and managed just that. There’s plenty to look forward to at the holidays and Reaper’s Hallowe’en Bonesylvanians just set the bar higher, for this year and (hopefully) the next.

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