by Ken Whitehurst
Hasslefree Miniatures are a small manufacturer based in Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. Hasslefree was founded by longtime miniature sculptor Kev White and his wife Sally, and specialises in being a small and customer-focused manufacturer with a loyal-following. In addition to his work at Hasslefree, Kev has sculpted for such games as Warmachine, Chronopia, Warzone, and Celtos. Known for their broad range of primarily 28mm fantasy and sci-fi white metal figures (including many inspired by films, television, video games and other popular culture), Hasslefree were kind enough to send me an assortment of their figures for review, along with a few fruit-flavored candies, which I understand they include in all orders.
HFA023 - Ken Price: £4.50 (GBP)
Unlike the other figures supplied for this review, Ken is a multipart sculpt, with two separate arm/weapon combinations. Ken can be assembled aiming a shotgun, or aiming a handgun and flashlight. Ken is a rather plain-looking bald man in contemporary clothes. On his belt he carries a pistol in its holster, a radio, and a number of small pouches. He could easily be painted to look like a policeman or security guard and would fit into almost any game set in the 20th-21st centuries.
Ken is a great example of Hasslefree's work. The figure is not flashy or extravagantly detailed, but perfectly detailed for what it is: a basic character for a contemporary bank robbery or zombie-hunt game. Where it shines is in its simplicity. The plain shirt and pants are wrinkled in exactly the right way. The details of the pose, musculature and overall anatomy of the figure are exactly right. Aside from a very slight mouldline, his guy looks like a real person. If you are accustomed to horse-faced superhumans with oversized arms and legs, Ken (and other Hasslefree figures) may be a bit of an adjustment for you. If, however, you want a more natural and organic look to your game, Hasslefree have you covered.
HFA063 - Sadie (C) Price: £4.00
Sadie is a another realistically proportioned adventurer, carrying a flashlight in one hand, and a suppressed MAC-10 in the other. Sadie has a satchel slung over her back, and pistol on her thigh. Hasslefree offer two other versions of Sadie, one wielding a stake and crossbow, and another with multiple arm options. It is clear that Sadie is inspired by a certain teenage vampire slayer. This single-piece figure is perfectly sculpted and cast with no mouldlines or flash to speak of.
HFA025 - Suzi (B) Price: £4.00
Judging from their anime, the Japanese love their schoolgirls. Judging from the excitement surrounding the recent big-budget hollywood movie "Sucker Punch," many gamers, too, have a thing for chicks in short skirts kicking ass. This figure is actually an alternate of an earlier sculpt (HFA014 Suzi) with the Mac-10 replaced with a classic Japanese katana. This single piece cast has only the slightest mouldline (easily filed off), and a unique pose. All of the details of the sculpting are excellent, though the face seems slightly less detailed than the rest of the figure. For more experienced painters, this won't be an issue, but newer painters may not get as much 'life' from Suzi's face.
HFZ203 - Zombie Suzi Price: £3.50
Not content to rest with only a human version of Suzi (two actually), Hasslefree also produce a zombi-fied version, who frankly reminds me of one of those "dead wet girls" that Japanese horror films seem so fond of. Unlike her living counterpart, Zombie Suzi's leg has been torn open (along with a part of her skirt), and she holds no weapons.
HFG007 - Inga (B) (heavy infantry) Price: £3.50
Inga is one of Hasslefree's entire line of sci-fi dwarves, known as the Grymn. Designed for use with 28mm figures, Inga measures a shade under 19 mm to where her eyes would be, and about 22 mm tall (bottom of feet to top of helmet). Hasslefree's Grymn are not squat, fat, bearded, beer-swilling, fantasy-dwarves-in-space. Like Hasslefree's other sculpts, they have realistically proportioned bodies, with larger hands and heads, only shorter. In other words, the Grymn more closely resemble very athletic real people with dwarfism ("little people"), than say, Gimli, for example. Inga is excellently sculpted, but this difference in proportions is worth noting for those of you looking to augment an old Games Workshop Squat force, or provide some colourful allies for your Imperial troops. If, however, you are starting from scratch, and scale compatibility is not an issue for you, the Grymn are an excellent choice for a "low-alititude" infantry force.
HFF007 - Summer Price: £3.50
Looking for a sexy cheerleader for your Blood Bowl or other fantasy football team? Maybe you need a victim for a zombie game. Look no further than Summer, who is part of Hasslefree's eight-figure fantasy football range (most of which are sexy girls playing football). Summer is a cleanly cast, shapely young lady with perfect, er, pom-poms. The single-piece figure has only the slightest of flash along the mould-line, which can be easily removed with a fine file. Fans of this figure, and particularly those with a zombie game in mind, should also take a look at Hasslefree's alternate version of Summer, (Summer (b) - HFA065), since she has traded her booty shorts and pom-poms for a pair of Mac-10s (seriously, what is it with the MAC-10s?) and military cargo-pants.
HFP014 - Megalynn Price: £3.50
Megalynn appears at first-sight to be a halfling/hobbit style character in a sci-fi environment suit. However, the pigtails flowing down her back from her helmet suggest that she is actually a young girl, in a sci-fi environment suit. Judging from the other figures in Hasslefree's "Pirates" range, Megalynn is actually a bit of fun by Kev White, sculpting his young daughter Meg as a figure for sci-fi games. If your game needs a little girl in an environment suit, this is your figure. Otherwise, it is probably of limited use.
HFL047 - Human faction little bits Price: £2.00
In addition to full miniatures, Hasslefree sell small casts of odds-n-ends, such as this item, which includes a pistol, an assault weapon, two helmets, a torso, and what appear to be knee- and elbow-joints from Hasslefree's human sci-fi armor, for use when cutting and re-posing figures, or making other conversions. The inclusion of this pack shows me that Hasslefree are committed first and foremost to the hobbyist. They know that, while many of us are content to glue a figure to its base and start painting, there are also those among us who cannot resist pulling out the dremel, greenstuff, pin vise, and other arcane instruments of torture, and cutting apart perfectly good miniature to re-make them to suit our needs. If you fall into that category, Hasslefree have you covered with a variety of packs featuring weapons and parts of other figures that you can use to seamlessly convert many of their more popular ranges. Clearly making these items was not a pure money-driven business choice (as their target audience is, literally, a sub-group of a very small sub-group), but one motivated by a love of the hobby and for their customers.
The first thing I notice about all of the figures from Hasslefree is that they are 'realistically' rather than 'heroically' proportioned. If you are used to Games Workshop's human figures, these will seem small and thin to you. Secondly, being more realistically proportioned, the female figures are more, well, realistic. In other words, they do not all appear to be right off a San Fernando Valley filmset. Things are generally where they are supposed to be, and in roughly the shape that nature made them. Hasslefree are clearly fans of the female form, as sexy women feature heavily in its inventory.
Additionally, the overall aesthetic of Hasslefree's sculpts reveal a clear design choice. Rather than focus on ultra-detailed fantastically proportioned and complex heroic figures, Hasslefree seem to have specialized in very cleanly sculpted, and accurately proportioned figures. The beauty of Hasslefree's sculpts is precisely in their simplicity. Ken, for example, is just a basic guy with a shotgun. That said, everything about him is exactly as it should be. We have all seen a guy like that, in that uniform (ok, maybe not pointing a gun at us, but you get the point). The creases in his pants, the wrinkles in his shirt, the proportions of his body, arms and legs: we know what that really looks like. The figure has it NAILED, without any excess or flourish. These figures excel at what they are: realistically scaled figures. If you are looking for over-the-top muscles and illogically proportioned armor and weapons, Hasslefree is not for you. If you prefer a more plausible scale and design aesthetic, you owe it to yourself to browse through their site.
- Most figures are single-piece with slotted base.
- Realistic scale and proportions.
- Good selection of novel figures, especially female characters.
- Figures ooze theme.
- Most of the figures have a very slight trace of flashing along mold-line.
- Some faces seem too plain.
- Realistic scale may not match your collection of heroic figures.
- Some figures are odd one-offs that may not be of use to most gamers.