Friday 16 December 2022

Product Review: D&D Frameworks Mind Flayer

I wanted to look into the new Dungeons & Dragons "Frameworks" line and picked the Mind Flayer as my review / test model. My logic was that my picking an iconic D&D monster, rather than one that was a bit more generic, I was giving the Frameworks line its best chance by picking part of the D&D IP rather than a generic monster like an Ogre or Orc, or a common adventurer.

The models come with some "rocky" bases, which I am unsure if they are intended to cleverly match with the bottom of the models. I was trying to match them up and at times it felt like there was something clever going on, and at other times they didn't. I decided to glue them onto some of my own bases because I'm not a fan of the thin plastic discs Wizkids use for bases (and they don't match anything else I have).

The plastic is board game style, has some notable mould lines and some pretty chunky connection points into really obvious spots, detail, and fragile details. Managing all three of this trifecta of sins is disappointing, but perhaps its because of my experience with more experienced companies in the field doing much better in this regard.

The Mind Flayer did have alternative arms and a head, giving an option of a more open tentacle mouth, and letting him hold a brain instead of a staff. The other arms had less flappy bits hanging off them as well. I was sure I took a photo of that, but now can't find it. Whoops!

The Intellect Devourer wasn't heavily advertised on the box (the front says "1 miniature"), but a second free "themed" monster was a nice addition that isn't a complaint. The two halves of the brain did not connect at all well, leaving a really quite significant gap between the two sides. Do real brains have that? I don't want to google it, I'm squeamish.

Some of the connections were also quite dubious. The arm connectors were tiny and flat, meaning there was nothing to make sure they properly lined up. I'm used to this, but if these models are being picked up by a "new" hobbyist, it isn't the most user friendly.

I added some basing paste around the sides of the rock bases to create a more realistic basing set up. I then spray undercoated them with an off white, with the intention of painting them with contrast.

The Intellect Devourer was a nice quick job - I used a flesh tone for the legs and a light purple for the brain meats. The large gap / line in the middle of the brain looks fine, I guess. The forward foot has a bit of a mould line still visible on it if you look closely, and feels a bit blobbier  and less defined than the foot that's resting on the floor.

The Mind Flayer was painted with contrast then a little drybrushing and washing. The detail was unfortunately a little shallow and inconsistent. The head was lovely, but then loads of the layers of the cloak were soft and blended into each other. This meant that Contrast didn't do as good a job as it could have, and the drybrush wasn't enough to really save it. The paint job is OK, but I've painted minis that took contrast, drybrushes and washes much better.

So, would I recommend Frameworks?

That's not an easy question. I'm definitely not singing their praises and buying all the kits. For character kits for D&D, these kits are pricey. This character cost me £13.49 from a bulk retailer - I think he's £15 RRP. The higher prices really impact boxes like Kobolds or Orcs, where you need a bunch - so that will add up fast!

As an example the Frameworks Kobolds are £50 RRP for seven models. But you can get nine painted minis through the Icons of the Realms Kobold Warband for £45, or twenty unpainted with nine unique sculpts from the Epic Encounters Shrine of the Dragon Queen box.

For the Mind Flayer, the quality is only a small step up from the Wizkids Nolzur's line, and you can get two Mind Flayers for £5. There's a massive range of 3D printed miniatures you can have printed for you on Etsy for well under £15, though that's likely less accessible to someone starting out. Reaper do a wide range of metal options in the £7-9, and some Bones options for under £5 to compete with the Nolzur's line.

In short, my experience with this Frameworks model is disappointment. It's marketed as a premium option for hobbyists without having the quality of sculpt to merit the cost. They paid attention in getting the detail of the IP specific head right and really quite nice, but then much of the rest of the model seems to have been phoned in, both in terms of the detail on the miniature, but also the attention to detail that leads to the quality of life you expect around ease of assembly and choice of material on a premium product.

I would have been fine with this model if I'd paid half the price for it, but when you compare it to the older Games Workshop character figures you can pick up for the same money, it's a disappointment that doesn't compare. I drafted and deleted a longer rant about this, but I think it better to simply finish with "Hasbro could and should do much better".


  1. That pricing is _insane_. I don't know how they could expect it to compete with Bones, and it looks like the material isn't dramatically better than Bones.

    1. It's much better than the original Bones material, but I think I'd take a good Reaper Dungeon Dwellers Siocast sculpt over this stuff. And Siocast isn't great, either.