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Cardboard Heroes

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue.

Cardboard Heroes Set 1: Soldiers of Fortune. Paul Jaquays.
Cardboard Heroes Set 2: Imperial Marines. Kevin Siembieda
Cardboard Heroes Set 3: Zhodani. Kevin Siembieda
Steve Jackson Games https://sjgames.com
3pp each, Tabloid cardboard or PDF
Price varies on secondhand market for printed, or included on Traveller Apocrypha 2 CD-ROM

So in my containing quest to use anything available to play Snapshot I looked at the Cardboard Heroes Sets from Steve Jackson Games. These were specifically painted for traveller, and there are three sets of them:

Each of them has 57 individual miniatures, and they are 15mm scale with -inch bases. Ideal for use with deckplans for roleplaying or skirmishing.

Set 1: Soldiers of Fortune provide heroes for character, NPC, patrons as well as some loose weapons you can place on the ground for people to pick-up etc. These 57 miniatures are all unique so you get 57 different ones. Sets 2 and 3 you get the same card three times, so you only get 19 different miniatures, and this is slightly disappointing.

From a “looks” point of view Set 1 by Paul Jaquays has lots of detail on them, and as black and white sketches, which you can see with the PDF on the Traveller Apocrypha 2 CD, they actually look really good, and on the sets themselves they are not too bad. My issue is that there is too much detail on them and when they are coloured you lose this detail when you’re playing with them and they just look like blobs of a figure. Sets 2 and 3 by Kevin Siembieda are much more stylised with less detail and you can still see the figures when you use them for play. So for me set 1 for variety by sets 2 and 3 for use in play. Now having said that I didn’t actually use the sets themselves I used a hi-res scan of the sets printed on paper, and the PDF from the Traveller Apocrypha 2 CD and printed them; both of which lose detail from the original which didn’t help at all, but the detail point still holds; less detail more stylised makes for a better 15mm miniature. You can see this when you compare them to a more contemporary cardboard hero such as those by the legendary Patrick Crusiau (as in the photo). Now I’m never likely ever to cut the originals up (although I have two sets of the Zhodani so you never know I may go crazy in my old age), so I’m just going to have to live with the lack of detail.

Just as an aside the PDF on the Traveller Apocrypha 2 CD if printed, as is, prints them out in about the right scale for 23 to 25mm so if you play on bigger deck plans go for these.

The point of the Cardboard Heroes sets was that all you needed was a pair of scissors and you could use them in play. They are printed on card and it’s quality card. The figures will likely last well even if used a lot. Now the thing for me about using them with just how they are supposed to be set-up is that the triangle fit the base together way as they are printed doesn’t make for a very stable or good miniature. They don’t sit well on the deckplan (they are always at a bit of an angle) and for me they don’t look right. It’s also hard to get the scoring exactly right so inevitably some of them are lop sided, and if you don’t glue them any type of pressure and the base comes apart. Now gluing them fixes the base problem but they are fiddly to glue. Now if you’re going to go to the trouble to glue them you might as well go to a bit more trouble and glue them together and put them on a base, which makes for a much more stable and easier to use miniature. Especially if you are using paper and not the original card (as I am). You could put them straight on the base as is, or as I prefer, you can cut the excess white space off, but that’s just me. One of the good points to these is that they don’t go over the -inch bases so you can put them easily together on a deckplan without any issues. It’s a minor plus, but it’s still a plus. It doesn’t beat the too detailed issue for me especially if you are only using 5 or 10 figures, but if there were twenty of the portraying a crowd in play then this would be something to consider.

As another aside, just so you know, I use the cardboard envelopes you get when purchasing thin things and have them delivered from a very well know online marketplace retailer, who started with books, and draw -inch squares on them and cut them up, then colour the base with a felt tip pen.

Are they worth investing your hard earned gaming cash in? … Nah … If you have the Traveller Apocrypha 2 CD already and you need some miniatures … crack on. If you see them in a car boot sale (if we ever get back to those) for a pound … by all means. But picking up the sets on the second-hand market on, say, a well know online auction site for the price they will be at, just don’t bother. I must have picked mine up for a few dollars back in the day when I was still collecting, but now their price will be 10 times or more that which they were originally. As you can see from the photo the miniatures that you can get free online, e.g., the ones by Patrick Crusiau, even scaled down as these ones are (Patrick drew them originally at 25mm and these in the photo are scaled down to 15mm), or the Traveller ones by Wayne Peters (or any of his other sets) are much better from a visual point of view. Completists only for these in my opinion.