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Riftwalker
12-29-2008, 03:05 PM
So I'm thinking about running a game in-person eventually. That means getting a table set up and getting some miniatures. But buying miniatures is a daunting task for someone that's never bought any before. I'm hoping for some advice on how and what to buy miniatures-wise from some of the other DMs on these forums. If I'm going to drop a wad of cash on some, which should I get?

Here are my criteria:


I want miniatures that would be appropriate for a fantasy-themed adventure using D&D 3.5 and/or 4e.
I'd like all the minis to be already painted or otherwise colored. I don't feel like I have the patience, skill, time, or inclination to paint or color them myself.
I want them to all have the same look and feel--I would prefer to avoid wildly different styles, outfits, looks, level of detail, material, etc. That means that the pool of minis should probably come from the same company/manufacturer.
I want to have a good smattering of minis that would be useful with a number of campaign ideas. Having everything be a goblin wouldn't work--I'd rather have a little of this and a little of that. I prefer not to mix and match minis from multiple vendors but rather to acquire a bunch from one vendor with enough variety.
I prefer the minis to not be "collectible" because my perception is that with collectible minis, there are minis that are only valuable because they are scarce, and I don't care to pay more just because the company decided to not make a bunch of them. This is one reason why I'm turned off to WotC miniatures.
I generally prefer plastic minis over lead ones, but this isn't a firm requirement. I would prefer for all the minis to be made of the same thing though.

Thoughts? Advice?

Etarnon
12-29-2008, 04:21 PM
meh we use pennies or SJG cardboard heroes, but to each his own.

Webhead
12-29-2008, 05:53 PM
meh we use pennies or SJG cardboard heroes, but to each his own.

I'm also a fan of cardboard/paper minis for their inexpensivness, ease of transport and the ability to make custom minis on demand using MS Word, a printer and a pair of scissors. The only problem I run into there is that the game table we currently play at has a ceiling fan directly above it which the owner likes to keep on to keep the area cool. It tends to scatter paper minis to the four winds so it limits our current ability to use them (aka...we don't).

But then, I'm a minimalist when it comes to minis/tactical combat so not using them is just fine with me in most cases.

ignimbrite
12-29-2008, 08:05 PM
eBay has some painted miniatures
you can buy individual D&D miniatures from paizo - at least you know what you are getting

1958Fury
12-29-2008, 08:51 PM
I prefer the minis to not be "collectible" because my perception is that with collectible minis, there are minis that are only valuable because they are scarce, and I don't care to pay more just because the company decided to not make a bunch of them. This is one reason why I'm turned off to WotC miniatures.

I'm totally with you there. I love WOTC's minis, but I hate the way they're sold - treating them as collectors items, and randomly packing them. These are game pieces, not comic books! It's like having to buy the Thimble off E-bay to complete your Monopoly collection. It makes me so angry knowing that if I need a beholder for tonight's game, I have to either get very lucky with a random pack, pay $30+ from E-Bay, or use a saltshaker. And even if you knew which minis you were getting in a box, they're still overpriced.

However... in every other way, the WOTC miniatures fit your qualifications. They're prepainted, they look great, they're durable, they're uniform in size, and they obviously fit the D&D 3.5/4e theme. I personally collect them because I like them, not just for gaming. But they are spot-on perfect for gaming.

I won't defend WOTC's pricing - it stinks - but you can find deals if you look for them. Now and then someone will sell their entire collections on E-Bay for a good price, or lots of commons, etc. Also, some comic book stores sell loose ones for cheap. You can buy specific minis from many websites, and the prices can be good or bad, depending on what you need. I've seen commons for as low as 25 cents each, which is great when you consider that unpainted lead figures often go for $5 or more.

Otoh, some of the rare WOTC minis can go for $40 or more. I'm particularly bugged because there aren't any common Dragonborn minis yet. I was lucky to get one randomly packed, but I would have had to spend about $15 otherwise. Bad luck if you play a Dragonborn character. (Note to WOTC: Player races shouldn't be rares!)
In any event, you should check out some of the prices before you dismiss the idea. As ignimbrite suggests, check out Paizo (http://paizo.com/paizo), but also look at CoolStuffInc (http://www.coolstuffinc.com/), abPrices (http://abprices.com/), AlterReality (http://www.alterealitygames.com/d-d-miniatures.html), IconUSA (http://www.iconusa.com/online/D&D_index.htm#singles), and of course, E-Bay (http://shop.ebay.com/items/_W0QQ_nkwZdQ26dQ20miniaturesQQ_armrsZ1QQ_fromZR40Q Q_mdoZ).

Webhead
12-29-2008, 09:14 PM
...*snippity*...

Right there with you, except that I'm one of those who was completely turned off of them to the point that I have not purchased a single mini from WOTC. Overpriced, randomly assorted collectible card ga...excuse me, miniatures of pseudo-arbitrary rarity scale. Yes, there should be at least one mini for each available race/monster in "common" rarity to allow them to be more useful at the game table. Of course, then people wouldn't have to buy 30 boosters just to get that displacer beast that you needed...but I digress.

I had a fleeting moment where I was very tempted to pick up a few Star Wars minis boosters...I looked at the price tag and quickly came back to my senses.

Still, ebay is the best place to go for those. Often times, people will sell lots of a dozen or more figures for nickels and dimes (okay, not counting shipping) and at least you know what you're buying. Even so, you have to be diligent or else you'll be outbid on the best deals.

In short, if you want WOTC minis (which, admittedly, are very good for what they are) you either need A) wads of cash begging to be thrown away or B) the patience of a saint tracking and sniping Ebay auctions.

1958Fury
12-29-2008, 10:17 PM
In short, if you want WOTC minis (which, admittedly, are very good for what they are) you either need A) wads of cash begging to be thrown away or B) the patience of a saint tracking and sniping Ebay auctions.

I don't know; I haven't really spent what I'd call "wads of cash", and I have a fairly large collection (and a pretty low income). Mine just built up over time.

What you're saying mostly applies to the "rare" ones, and for those, E-bay sniping might be the only way (but check the links I posted first). Here's CoolStuffInc's current singles for Demonweb (http://www.coolstuffinc.com/main_miniatures.php?viewType=Dungeons%20and%20Drag ons&info1=Miniatures&info2=Dungeons%20and%20Dragons&info3=Demonweb&info4=Singles) - some of them are hideously expensive, but some of them are 49 cents. Riftwalker doesn't specifically say he's looking for rare ones, he says he wants "a little of this, a little of that" - the perfect candidate for random-packed boxes. It's fairly easy to build up a supply of common creatures. Alterreality (http://www.alterealitygames.com/d-d-miniatures-demonweb.html) lets you buy all the commons of a set for $10, or all the uncommons for $15. (Or, uh, *cough* a complete set for *cough* $300 *cough*:p)

Anyway, it all depends on what you're looking for. I personally have only used E-bay when I saw a good deal; I haven't had to use it to find a specific rare mini.

placebosonly
12-29-2008, 11:00 PM
i just use warhammer minis lol

Riftwalker
12-30-2008, 03:13 AM
Thanks for the input so far. I keep flipping back between trying to find some WotC minis and figuring something else out because I don't want to play into their pricing scheme. I may buy the commons and/or uncommons in a set like 1958Fury suggests, but I'm going to have to figure out precisely what minis (and how many) I want first. In some sets there are more uncommons than commons!

tesral
12-30-2008, 03:35 AM
I The only problem I run into there is that the game table we currently play at has a ceiling fan directly above it which the owner likes to keep on to keep the area cool. It tends to scatter paper minis to the four winds so it limits our current ability to use them (aka...we don't)..

Washers or pennies depending on the size glued to the bases.



I'm totally with you there. I love WOTC's minis, but I hate the way they're sold - treating them as collectors items, and randomly packing them..

The good thing that is changing. Lizards pricing I can bear, its the resellers that get you. From 15 to 20 dollars for 8 painted minis of that quality? Give me more. Take a look at Reapers pricing. Beautiful stuff, but you need to paint and protect it. I huck bags of the D&D minis around the room. For human sized what gets you 8 Lizards minis painted and near indestructable, gets you three pewter minis unpainted. Don't get me wrong, I like the pewter, but the D&D minis are cheaper.

Webhead
12-30-2008, 10:21 AM
Washers or pennies depending on the size glued to the bases...

The only problem with that is once you commit a penny or washer to the base with tape or glue, you lose the ability to fold the minis for ease of storage. Not that it makes a huge difference but it is something I take into consideration.

Then again, most times we just end up using spare dice as our minis, so it's not such a big deal.

tesral
12-30-2008, 11:33 AM
The only problem with that is once you commit a penny or washer to the base with tape or glue, you lose the ability to fold the minis for ease of storage. Not that it makes a huge difference but it is something I take into consideration.

Then again, most times we just end up using spare dice as our minis, so it's not such a big deal.

I have a bunch of Spelljammer ships of that type. I toss them in a router box. They keep nicely.

Webhead
12-30-2008, 12:12 PM
I really dug the old paper minis that came with a lot of the Marvel Super Heroes sets. They were three-sided standees which was cool not only for its novelty but for the enhanced visability on the table, sense of perspective and for determining facing (since one of the sides depicted the character's "back"). The only downside being that they had no bottom to attach a weight to, unless you added one.

You can still get them in PDF form, now the only issue is getting them printed in decent color and on cardstock, something that can probably be done well enough at your local print shop.

tesral
12-30-2008, 12:19 PM
Everyone needs a color laser printer. They as so cheap now it isn't funny.

mrken
12-30-2008, 02:10 PM
Hey Tesral, where do you buy replacement cartridges. I have heard there are places to buy them for $30 or $40 each, but I have yet to find one of those places. Mine are running about $130 each. :( Would be cheaper to buy a new printer for that price.

cplmac
12-30-2008, 06:28 PM
Riftwalker, you would need to talk with Aeval from our group. She and her husband Harley take care of the minis for use at our game. They are both members here on the PP&G site.

cplmac

Grimwell
12-31-2008, 12:57 AM
I'm tossing in with the Wizards mini's camp. Yes they are random but you can get around that. Only buy on the secondary market and don't buy the rares. This gives you a nice supply of cheap, pre-painted, plastic miniatures.

To be honest, the rares are typically monsters that you aren't going to be using all that often, or just completely cool and unique monsters that deserve a feature mini. Either way, the need for those sorts of figures is pretty limited, while the need for a bunch of orcs or goblins is quite consistent. The prices put themselves in your favor when you are just buying the simple guys.

The expensive ones? Use a proxy miniature item, or buy it only when you need it and agree with the price. I have picked up a few feature mini's over the years, but only when backed by a specific need that I felt was worth the extra cost.

I am tired and probably overly wordy, so I'll wrap up with a two word summary: Buy Bulk

1958Fury
12-31-2008, 09:09 AM
I generally go ahead and buy one or two random packs from each series, if I can find them cheap - sometimes Amazon has them for about $8, listed as "used" even though they're unopened. That way there's a chance I'll get a cool ultra-rare one. I'll do this before I even look to see what's in the series, because it's fun to be surprised. I don't buy more than two, because I might get duplicates I don't need. Once I see which ones I got, then I'll go online and buy the cheap ones that appeal to me.

mrken
12-31-2008, 10:49 AM
I too must say that the WotC DDM are a good way to go. I steal my son's sometimes and they work well when I need more muscle around the table.

Since the beginning I have bought metal minis and painted them up as I could afford the money and the time. Lately I have been buying the LotR minis by GW. They tend to be cheaper, less detailed minis that look ok when I need 24 orcs or goblins, woodsmen or armored figures to represent the Duke or Barons men. Not as good as the metal ones, but doable.

Then there is DDM. Not as good as the metal minis that I paint, but I don't have to paint them, they are in most cases painted ok, and they can be fairly cheap. I have yet to buy my own, but I am now open to the idea of buying a pile of commons used at the next con or if the game store puts them out for sale and I am around.

tesral
12-31-2008, 01:49 PM
I generally go ahead and buy one or two random packs from each series, if I can find them cheap - sometimes Amazon has them for about $8, listed as "used" even though they're unopened. That way there's a chance I'll get a cool ultra-rare one. I'll do this before I even look to see what's in the series, because it's fun to be surprised. I don't buy more than two, because I might get duplicates I don't need. Once I see which ones I got, then I'll go online and buy the cheap ones that appeal to me.

Duplicates in miniatures is not the problem it might be to other "collectibles" I can always use an extra [fill in the blank].

1958Fury
12-31-2008, 02:18 PM
Duplicates in miniatures is not the problem it might be to other "collectibles" I can always use an extra [fill in the blank].

Good point. I collect both D&D minis and Star Wars minis, and what I said about dupes probably applies more to the Star Wars ones. I can always use more orcs (or stormtroopers), but Star Wars also has name characters. I don't really need 3 Obi-Wans. There are some D&D minis that don't lend themselves well to multiples, but not many.

Still, if I pay $8-$15 for a pack of random minis, I would rather the money went towards ones I didn't already have.

placebosonly
12-31-2008, 02:38 PM
I too must say that the WotC DDM are a good way to go. I steal my son's sometimes and they work well when I need more muscle around the table.

Since the beginning I have bought metal minis and painted them up as I could afford the money and the time. Lately I have been buying the LotR minis by GW. They tend to be cheaper, less detailed minis that look ok when I need 24 orcs or goblins, woodsmen or armored figures to represent the Duke or Barons men. Not as good as the metal ones, but doable.

Then there is DDM. Not as good as the metal minis that I paint, but I don't have to paint them, they are in most cases painted ok, and they can be fairly cheap. I have yet to buy my own, but I am now open to the idea of buying a pile of commons used at the next con or if the game store puts them out for sale and I am around.
i agree about the GW point they do tend to be cheap and useful and the fact that they are also useful for another game gives you the ability to sell them down the road although if you went with warhammer GW minis you could prolly get more from my understanding LotRs minis are so cheap there is almost no point in buying used

Grimwell
12-31-2008, 03:26 PM
Another secret to try:

My son is now 12 and expressed interest in painting mini's. I bought him a nice starter set of paints for Christmas and have made my old and unpainted mini's available to him. If his interest sticks, I've got a good decade of painted mini's out of him that I can count on! Having kids provides some advantages. (and slave-paint labor it seems!) ;)

Riftwalker
12-31-2008, 05:28 PM
Thanks to everyone that's offered advice in this thread.

I think what I'm going to do is grab some of the common/uncommon sets of WotC Dungeons and Dragons Miniatures from Alterreality. That seems to be a really cheap way to get a good amount going (thanks for the idea 1958Fury). From a D&D standpoint, rare and larger minis seem too situational for me to do anything but pick one up when and if I need them. I'll also probably take your lead and buy a couple of random packs from a couple different series for the next wave of purchases when I need some specific critters.

kirksmithicus
01-06-2009, 12:31 AM
It occurs to me that in general the DM bears the brunt of the financial burden anyway when it comes to RPG's. So I was thinking that if I ever run or play another game, I would see if the players and DM would go for the following scheme. In order to help pay for game accessories such as mini's, adventures, dungeon tiles and whatnot, each player contributes a set amount (determined by the players as a group) each game session, with the DM matching the total contributed by the players. The DM then has the discretion to use the funds on whatever is needed for the game and in the end he keeps everything (hence the higher rate each session for him). Even if each player only contributes $5.00 it can add up pretty fast, and after all, what is 5.00 a week for anywhere from 3-10 hours of entertainment? if you had 5 players and a DM, that's 50.00 a game session! 10.00 = 100.00 and 20.00 = 200.00

*Disclaimer - I'm aware that we don't live in a perfect world and when money is involved a whole host of problems arise. What to do with players who are 6 sessions behind on their mini's mortage? How do we know the DM isn't spending half the cash on twinkies, ho-ho's and Mt. Dew? and how many Haflings can you really fit into a bag of holding?

As for which mini's to buy that fit your criteria, I can't help you much. I do agree with everyone that it sucks how WoTC markets the mini's as collectors items (really? 30.00 for a F*****g gelatinous cube!) and in random lots, but common and uncommon singles are fairly inexpensive. Anyway Reaper makes a few plastic painted mini's that aren't to expensive.

GoddessGood
01-07-2009, 11:18 AM
Speaking of painting minis ... I don't think anyone beats this guy (http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=50672)

tesral
01-07-2009, 11:35 AM
Speaking of painting minis ... I don't think anyone beats this guy (http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=50672)

Nope, nope, we are so owned.

Webhead
01-07-2009, 12:28 PM
:faint2:

akela122301
01-07-2009, 12:33 PM
Nope, nope, we are so owned.

Yep, definitely so far above my reach, it ain't funny.

Webhead
01-07-2009, 12:39 PM
Yep, definitely so far above my reach, it ain't funny.

Painting with a hair from a fly's back! Geez! :dance:

tesral
01-07-2009, 12:50 PM
Painting with a hair from a fly's back! Geez! :dance:

Selling the result for twenty million smackers. That dude need never work again.

Webhead
01-07-2009, 12:52 PM
Selling the result for twenty million smackers. That dude need never work again.

I wonder if he's been entered or considered for the Guiness Book of World Records. World's Smallest Sculpture or some such.

GoddessGood
01-07-2009, 02:57 PM
My favorite part has got to be when he says he breathed Alice in :violin::rip: Tragedy! Still, he doesn't get half the shading and detail in that you guys do :biggrin:

tesral
01-07-2009, 06:16 PM
my favorite part has got to be when he says he breathed alice in :violin::rip: Tragedy! Still, he doesn't get half the shading and detail in that you guys do :biggrin:

the fact he gets any!!!!

hueloovoo
01-07-2009, 07:35 PM
Wow... I am not big on minis, so I wasn't paying much attention, but I read "breathed in" and decided to take a look...

I am stunned. Just amazed. That's so far beyond my realm of understanding, it's magic to me.