Friday, October 9, 2015

Metal and Plastic Miniatures

As I've been getting back into collecting a small number of miniatures to use in (A)D&D, I've noticed my attitudes changing slightly about different types of miniatures.

First, I've basically abandoned the idea of purchasing pre-painted plastic miniatures, of the kind out for both Pathfinder and D&D now. They're too expensive, especially because the only way to acquire multiple miniatures at once from a local store is to buy the blind booster packs. What's preventing my $18 to $20 (USD) from getting me three to four miniatures I'll never have the desire to use? In addition, I find that super-detailed, full-color miniatures - even the cardstock pawns that Paizo sells - tend to distract my players too much. Of course, I might have a skewed sample, considering that three of my original four players (back when we started with the Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box) had either ADD or ADHD; but the other reason for not actively seeking these out is due to the fact that they won't mesh well with the single-colored plastic minis I have a lot of. Currently, the only pre-painted minis that I own are the ones from HeroScape (many of which are poorly suited to fantasy games), and the Lizardfolk Champion I bought back when I was bopping around Golarion as Sradan.

Speaking of unpainted plastic minis, I found myself with a large number of them after buying the Temple of Elemental Evil board game. Not only do I have a decent set of PC minis (even if the dark blue coloring makes the details hard to pick out; nobody realized that Barrowin the cleric was a woman until I called her "she"), I also have a few good generic monsters. The hobgoblins are basically indistinguishable from orcs, and the troglodytes would make suitable, if slightly short, lizardfolk. The bigger 'boss' monsters (a salamander, an ettin, some elementals, and a beautifully sculpted dragon) might come in handy for future adventures, too. Honestly, for about $60, I feel like I got my money's worth on minis alone, even if I may never play the board game again. (Plus, I kind of want to do a random dungeon crawl using the jigsaw Dungeon Tiles.)

Reaper also makes some very nice 'plastic' (10% recycled resin) monsters, many of which are available in three- to six-packs. So far, I have only one set of these, but I definitely plan to acquire more in the future from their "Bones" lines.

Now we move on to metal minis. One of the three FLGSs in my city caters mostly to wargamers (Warhammer, Hordes, etc.) and TCG players; they have the standard selection of D&D and Pathfinder books - including the OD&D wood box set! - but I imagine those aren't their biggest sellers. I went to this store in search of some minis to use for D&D. One that I found was excellent on all counts: 1" square base, no assembly required (beyond gluing the base on), and dirt cheap at a current list price of $6. High off of this success, I went looking for another, but I seemed to have bought the one miniature in the entire store that didn't have to have its arms glued into place. The level of detail on some of these is excellent (even if a lot of Warhammer and other minis have too many gears and guns for straight fantasy), but the prices vary widely, and the assembly is not something I'd like to have to do too often. EDIT: One that I bought had its arm knocked off, which was almost impossible to glue back on since it had been attached to its base (causing it to roll). Yeah, no more metal minis for me.

Nor do I have the desire to paint said miniatures; I don't have the money to buy the necessary tools, and even if I had unlimited money that could be spent only on painting minis, I wouldn't have the patience or free time to do more than a couple.

What ever happened to fantasy miniatures that had built-in bases? When I played in the short-lived D&D 3.5 campaign, the DM brought a bunch of relics he apparently borrowed from his dad. Besides the wonderfully thick and durable Chessex mat, he had a bag of old, probably lead-based minis which were in various conditions. Some had little bits of paint left on them (probably also lead-based; it might actually have been a blessing that we didn't spend more time touching these while eating pizza), and some were partly or completely broken... but overall, they were pretty cool. My half-orc bard even got a figure which vaguely resembled some kind of demi-human in light armor! Anyway, these figures had their own bases, and I wonder why more people don't make minis like this these days. Having a built-in base cuts down on the assembly and prep time needed, and means less gluing for the player. (Reaper's "Bones" resin miniatures boast on the package that they're ready-to-play as soon as you open them, which is definitely a selling point for me.)

P. S.  The plastic minis are one reason I would love to get a hold of a good-condition copy of DragonStrike; having a generic group of PCs and a good variety of monsters would be pretty cool. I'm also partial to square bases, too; for some reason, I feel like they're 'cooler' than the small round ones which accompany modern D&D and Pathfinder minis.

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