Introduction: Tiny Furniture is a one-woman resin miniature company based in Russia. If you're on the Lead Adventure or Reaper forums, you may already know of her miniature's popularity. Tiny Furniture has been around over four years, and has run two IndieGoGo campaigns. The first, Barran Lands, was fulfilled and the second, Tiny Market Square, funded at 280%. (Kickstarter does not currently allow projects from Russia.)
What's on the Table: The "Tavern tables with drinks" miniature set consists of two large tables with food, two small tables with food, four chairs, and sprues with additional dining ware. Each table has a half-barrel to support it underneath. One of the large tables has a stack of dishes and mugs, a "block" of cheese with cutting board and knife, a whole chicken, and three serving plates with meat, a leg of chicken, and a fish head. The other large table has another stack of dishes and mugs, a bowl of stew and spoon, an empty bowl, a loaf of bread, sausage served on a cutting board, a candle, and mugs and cups. One of the mugs is even filled with beer. If there's a criticism of the serving ware, it's that some of the designs are reused on different tables. This can be used to fill out a tavern, house, or other village building. Tiny Furniture also has other tavern-related sets, such as chairs, dining tables, food and drink, beds, kitchens, boxes, barrels, rats, etc.
Fantastic Price: Despite the number of pieces, the tavern tables miniature set comes at an affordable price. (The price is $13 for twelve resin pieces and two or so sprues, with ten or so pieces per sprue.) You do have to pay for shipping, so I recommend buying several Tiny Furniture models at once, or price check AQ Hobbies, a reseller. Note that if you already have tables, Tiny Furniture sells sprues of food and drink pieces separately, and these sets contain pieces not in the tavern set, such as the head of a roasted pig. As said, you can also purchase Tiny Furniture miniatures through AQ Hobbies, which also sells other miniature products. : https://www.ebay.com/str/aqhobbies
Intermediate level: While most terrain miniatures let you get away with slapping on the paint, a wash, and a drybrush, the Tiny Furniture details mean you will want to give them as much attention and work as any high-quality resin or metal figure. Make sure you take that into account before the day of the adventure!
Painted and Unpainted: Tiny Furniture also has a painting service, in case you don't have the time (or skill) to paint these miniatures. However, check the site to see how long it will take to paint the miniature set. A picture of the painted version is at the end of the WIP pictures.
To Sprue or Not to Sprue: As said, the miniature pieces come on a sprue as well as on the tables themselves. This has its pros and cons, and I have a slight preference for the the sprue over the table. With the sprue, you glue (or use Museum Wax) the individual food and drink pieces wherever you would like on the table (as well as any tables you may already own). On the other hand, with tiny furniture being tiny, it's easy to lose pieces and there's sometimes not enough room on the sprue to paint between two different ones. Also, removing the sprue from the small pieces requires some filing down, and you may need to touch up the piece if you detach it from the sprue after painting it. (Perhaps only prime and basecoat on the sprue, then remove it before highlight and details.) The table, meanwhile, has the convenience of not needing assembly (and you have more space to paint), but some painters may want to arrange the pieces as they wish on the tables. It's a trade-off of individual preference. I recommend a sprue cutter for these pieces if you do not have one already, as well as the previously mentioned Museum Wax, which is good for temporary invisible bonds for small objects.
Everyone Eats Standing Up: Tiny Furniture also sells a set of chairs separately, but painters may find it a little odd that, while each of the four tables is set for four people, the set only comes with four chairs. I find this actually practical. Pretty much all adventurer and hero miniatures on the market are posed standing up to fight something, and I've only found one manufacturer, Johnny Lauck (who is now since retired) who offered *sitting* patrons. The reality with four chairs is that you'll be moving them aside while Donan the Barbarian holds his two-handed broadsword at an attack position so he can eat his stew.
Upper-Middle Class Cheese: Something that may not be apparent before chosing a color scheme is what tavern you will be painting the miniatures for. In hindsight, I think I could have painted two tables for the Common Quarter of a city, or a village, and the other two for the Merchant's Quarter or other upper class district. I went with a tavern setup for the Common Quarter, which means I went with mostly brown. However, the set looks to be more suitable for the upper class, with its oval-shaped cheese, apples rather than medieval crabapples, and metal drinking containers. Your players probably won't notice, though, and I'll provide a painting tutorial to help lower the social standard of this detailed set.
Conclusion: Despite my nitpicks, this is one of the best tavern sets I've seen, either in my own collection or on the internet. The pieces aren't all that more expensive than other resin furniture sets, yet have an incredible level of detail far exceeding them. Like any detailed set of miniatures, expect to spend much more time than simple terrain sets. I highly recommend these miniatures for your tavern, as well as practice for your miniature painting skills.
Painting Guide: As said, I imagined I would be using this tavern set for the Common Quarter or the only inn at a small village, rather than a Merchant's Quarter. As a result, I leaned more towards wooden dining ware and simple color schemes. This meant that I had to use a variety of browns, and I found this challenging to provide sufficient contrast of, essentially, one brown object on top of another brown one. As said, compared to other terrain, I felt that this set, particularly the glass and even pitcher, used intermediate painting techniques. If you're not familiar with painting glass, this is a good set to learn from. Note that, because these pieces are based on real items that we have an unconscious idea of, I found painting the reflective ones particularly demanding since they would look unrealistic even the slightest bit off, something of an Uncanny Valley result.
Prime and Pre-Wash: Not surprisingly, with everything brown, I started by brush-priming the pieces in a brown primer, followed by the Army Painter's brown Strong Tone Ink. This ink is a good general purpose brown for monsters and wood. (The brown brush primer I used was on the dark side, and I recommend a light color if you can find one.)
Metal: Several of the pieces are metallic. I started with INSTAR paint's dark Dark Pewter paint. Then I held up the miniature with strong light coming from the side, and applied lighter metal colors where the light reflections appeared. You do need to "pick a side" when you use this technique. You can also highlight the metal lips of metal cups, as well as paint the inside of the cup a darker color for contrast, and paint some gloss varnish inside the metal cup to suggest wetness. I find that the same "hold it up to the light" technique you use with metal can be used with other realistic reflective and not-so-reflective surfaces like bottles and pitchers.
Tables and Chairs: After the prime and pre-wash, I lightly painted the tables and chairs with INSTAR paint's Mud Brown wherever I felt this medium brown was necessary. I then highlighted the table and chair edges with Army Painter's pale brown Monster Brown. Normally, I would highlight in a lighter color, but I've noticed that, with brown, manufacturers consider orange-brown to be a lighter brown. Personally, I find orange-brown better to contrast two different colors of wood (eg. tables vs. plates), while I preferred pale brown for highlighting. In any case, you can drybrush the table of the wood, emphasizing the space between the slats, then lightly drybrush the edges of the table with the pale brown to add contrast. I used Army Painter's Monster Brown. You may wish to emphasize the space between the boards with careful application of additional brown wash. The chairs were painted similarly. The top part of the chairs seemed to have wooden nails to hold in the possibly leather top, so I painted these nails ochre, with the Army Painter Skeleton Bone. (I experimented with using ochre as a highlighting and drybrush color, but the result was too "ghostly". But ochre makes a good highlighting underpaint, with a glaze of another color on top of it.)
Plates: Exaggerating contrast between the sides of the plate and its depression seemed important when painting the plates. I went with orange-browns for the edge of the plates, putting more of the color on the edges. After painting the food, I then carefully washed the depression of the plates with brown wash to exaggerate the depth of the indentation of the plate. After painting the food, I tried using gloss varnish (if you have it, Tamiya Clear would also work) to make the food and plates appear less dry. For more upscale taverns and inns, you can also paint the plates as different materials and thus colors, such as ceramic and metal (you can see this in the last picture, of the painted version of the set)
Wooden Steins and Wicker: For the wooden steins on the sprue, I went with a light brown and brown wash, followed by highlighting the twine around the stein and the lip of the steins with ochre. I forgot to do it, but you may want to paint the inside of the stein dark brown for contrast. The wicker was also dry-brushed with ochre. Army Painter's brown Soft Tone Ink might be worth washing the wicker to reduce the contrast of the ochre.
Candle: The candles even have flames and melted wax! For the candles, I painted them ochre, then lined them with brown wash to make the melted wax more apparent. Then I painted the melted wax white. The flame itself started brown, for the wick, then was painted similarly to painting a flame. Like any flame, paint the entire flame white, then yellow, orange, and finally red, with less coverage with each additional color. I actually used Prismacolor brush-tip pens to apply the red. It's the same technique as painting a torch or other flame, but much, much, smaller!
Crabapples: While apples were sometimes available in medieval times, the ancestor of the apple was the more shriveled crabapple. The medieval tavern set apples look more like apples than crabapples, although I doubt many players will care. Still, since crabapples are red, I went with red for the apples. Similarly to the reflection of metal, I used a little gloss varnish to add a reflection to the apples.
Cheese and Cutting Board: The cutting board and knife handles were painted orange-brown. The knife handles actually have tiny depressions to suggest nails, and you may wish to dot them with a little brown ink or paint to show them. I did research medieval cheeses, and found them more as cylindrical shaped, rather than oval in this miniature set. The rind of the cheese was painted ochre then glazed in brown ink, although I also had more contrast (maybe too much) by only painting ochre the top half of the rind, rather than the entire rind. (BTW, The round red rind in the painted version of the table may be Edam or Gouda cheese, which became commonplace in the 1600's (?) and 1184, respectively. The medieval ages were from 500AD to 1500 AD, so it's probably Gouda.)
Chicken and Food: The chicken skin was painted orange-brown, then gloss varnish was applied. Other foods were painted in various pale colors, to suggest over-cooking the vegetables, which would be safer to consume than raw. For a Merchant Inn, you might want to paint the food with more contrast to suggest more appetizing food. One of the plates has a fish head (!). You can paint the fish metallic, even if it's salted. (I kept it brown to suggest overcooking!)
Bottles: For the bottles, I first painted them in a base coat. Then, I found it useful to apply a coat of a Tamiya Clear paint (originally for transparent figures, and Tamiya Clear Red can be used for blood effects) to find the reflection of the bottle. Similarly to the metal reflection, I held up the bottle to light, and then painted highlight colors (for green and blue) or shade colors (for yellow and red) on the bottles, then applied another coat of gloss. Note that green and blue are much easier colors to work with than yellow and red, so I don't particularly recommend red and yellow bottles. (BTW, Tamiya Yellow Clear is on the orange side, so you might just use Tamiya Clear with yellow bottles, or Tamiya Yellow Clear to shade the bottle orange.)
Pitchers: While you may not expect the pitches to reflect light like you would metal or glass, just painting the pitches a base color made the pitcher pieces appear "flat". Again, holding the piece to strong light, I blended darker color into the base color for the shaded side of the pitcher (and underneath the lip and belly of the pitcher), and paler highlight color for the lip of the pitcher, handle, etc.
Conclusion: Hopefully, this painting tutorial will help you paint this set more quickly than I did. You can also use the Tiny Furniture painted version for ideas for a tavern from a better establishment, and you can also paint half the set in one style, and the other half another. Your adventurers and tavern patrons will enjoy their meals, even if they insist on standing up and posing heroically with their weapons!