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A collection of characters from the margins of Hieronymus Bosch paintings, including a man with a tree on his head and a lizard/goose creature playing its beak like a horn. Phto: Andrew May

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Here’s those Hieronymus Bosch tabletop miniatures you were looking for

Turns out this is just the tip of the alt-minis iceberg

Conventional wisdom says that adding a few plastic miniatures to your board game Kickstarter can really help put it over the top. It’s certainly worked wonders for companies like CMON and Steamforged, with their licensed video game and Marvel tabletop crossovers. The same is true of Reaper Miniatures, which seems to have a sculpt for every occasion.

But a surge of interest in the hobby of painting miniatures means that as the market gets wider, it also gets deeper — and that’s allowing sculptor Andrew May to live out his dream of converting medieval art into miniature masterpieces.

A helmed lizard creature and a short, pot-shaped may with a flame on his head and a long, rat-like tail. Photo: Andrew May
A lizard/goose hybrid playing its own beak like a horn and a nun-inspired torso-less figure with an owl nesting on its head. Photo: Andrew May
A figure in a red cloak with a long beak and a funnel on its head. They are wearing wooden skates and holding a piece of paper on their beak. Photo: Andrew May
A man holding a bow and arrow with a whole tree on his head. He is accompanied by a dog wearing a barrel. Photo: Andrew May

May launched his 21st Kickstarter campaign in February. Titled Hieronymus Bosch Tabletop Miniatures, its a small range of characters based on the art of the classic Dutch painter. Bosch’s most famous works — including The Garden of Earthly Delights and The Last Judgment — include quite a few weird little medieval guys, and May has selected 10 of them to bring to life as delicate resin sculpts.

May has long been an admirer of Bosch’s work, even before he began a career as a freelance miniatures sculptor. In fact, they’ve become something of an obsession for him.

“Since I was 16 years old,” he told Polygon in a recent interview. “I was drawing them when I was at school. I’ve got [one] tattooed on me about 10 years ago.”

Key art showing the collection of miniatures in Medieval Marginalia Season Two. Photo: Andrew May
Key art showing a collection of figures from Medieval Marginalia’s first season. Photo: Andrew May

His previous projects include Medieval Marginalia Miniatures, Season One and Season Two, which also focus on similarly strange medieval miscreants. The draw for his customers, he says, is in pulling the hobby every so slightly away from its usual subjects — namely dragons, shiny golden knights, and brightly-colored Space Marines.

“It’s maybe an alternative to what you see every day from bigger firms,” May said. “I think people just really like weird shit, and it definitely is that.”

May says that his work has so far has appealed to artists and diorama builders. He’s also working on a ruleset of his own.

“It’s going to be set in that kind of Bosch, medieval’y world.” May said. “It’s going to be based around treasure hunting and magic, with all those strange medieval monsters that you see in manuscripts. [...] It’s not so much conflict driven, but with more board game-inspired elements. It’s more about building a cool tabletop of really fun figures. The game is almost secondary.”

Who else in the world of tabletop gaming inspires May? He pointed to a handful of like-minded creatives including Max FitzGerald and his wild Napoleonic-inspired Turnip28 setting; Westphalia Publishing’s line of Mörk Borg compatible miniatures, as well as the Forbidden Psalm skirmish game spin-off; and the community that surrounds Peter Vigors’ Necropolis 28. He also highly recommends Gardens of Hecate by Ana Polanšćak, a website which includes both a storefront and a wonderfully detailed blog that describes their work.

May’s crowdfunding campaign for Hieronymus Bosch Tabletop Miniatures, which is already fully funded, ends early on the morning of March 6.

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