Offhand, I can think of the following alternatives to metal miniatures: prepainted plastic D&D minis (plus Star Wars and Dreamblade figs), Fiery Dragon counters, Monster Tiles, wooden Dragonfire tiles and HeroClix (plus the older Mage Knight minis) — and I’m sure I’ve left some out.
Compare all of those ready-to-go, relatively inexpensive options to metal miniatures — which need to be prepped and painted (requiring time and a degree of skill), and generally aren’t cheap — and I have to wonder: How many gaming groups still use metal minis?
We use mostly metal minis. For us, painting and convertingthem is a fun part of the hobby.
When I know I’m going to be needing a mini that is not commercially made, I can start a conversion or sculpting from scratch months in advance.
Every Monday night, most of the group gathers to paint minis for a few hours and just hang out.
Prior to third edition of D&D, I went out of my way to use ANYTHING as a counter, rather than paint a metal mini.
With the release of third edition came the Chainmail miniatures game. Although I wasn’t interested in the wargame, I fell in love with the sculps. Then I discovered Reaper figs and I was in heaven.
My wife, who paints ceremic houses (such as for Christmas Villages, and the like), instructed me in the use of acrylics — and I was off to the races.
I soon discovered that painting metal figs was the part of the hobby that I enjoyed the most. I still feel that way. It’s a creative outlet that’s satisfying on many levels.
That said, I have nothing against other tools at the gaming table. I don’t care what players bring to the table to represent their PCs, although I find lego constructs just a little jarring.
I think what’s keeping me from embracing the collectible pre-painted minis fever is the whole random thing. If I’m gonna spend money on a sculpt, I want it to be the ones I want.
I have tried my hand on and off and painting and its never worked. For the longest time, we just used dice to represent everything on the map.
I came back from GenCon with the Firey Dragon Mega-Counter CD, and printed off my first sheet for this weeks game.
I am looking forward to using counters rather than dice at this weeks game.
Whilst I’ve not gamed for a couple of years now (blame University) I used to use metal minis whenever I RPG’d. And I just got sent some photographs from a German friend who plays D&D and a few other RPGs who, for the first time, started dabbling in the wonderful world of miniatures, and now has himself a painted metal dwarf for D&D. So it is alive, in certain corners it seems 😉
As for myself, I just love painting (and building) models and miniatures in general; it’s especially pleasing to have a little physical representation of “myself” on the table.
Gospog: Do you have a favorite brand of minis? Maybe you could do a post on how to do sculps and conversions. Now THAT’S something I’m been too afraid to try.
I use a combo. Most of the time the minis that represent the PCs are metal, but you just can’t beat the plastic pre-painted minis for the hordes of fringer scum in the Star Wars setting not to mention the faceless stormtroopers. My FLGS does a brisk resale business in the the WoTC prepainted minis, so sometimes you can get specifically what you want.
We use metal miniatures, I really enjoy painting them, and to go with prepainted ones seems like it would be copping out. To make up for missing minis if I don’t have enough painted, I dig into my wife’s Kinder Suprise collection.
Well, I use plastic minis to represent enemies in the games I run, I prefer to have a metal mini for any characters of my own, as they are more unique because I’ve taken the time to represent my own character in appearance.
I really love the “real life” look that miniatures provide. My budget and my limited amount of free time would like plastic pre-painted versions but the randomness of buying a box of whichever flavor is available at the moment doesn’t allow me to get what I need. The secondary market (ebay, etc) tends to overprice these little pieces of plastic.
This all leads me to purchase the metal miniatures and use the painting as a stress relief.
I prefer metal miniatures. I have to have a 3D representation of whatever it is, and while I don’t mind plasitc minis, I do mind having to pay $3 extra just because a handfull of people wanted rarity added to them. I’m not spending that much money for something I may not want – I’m done going “Hmmm, a fiendish kobold-blooded dire fruit fly… I need to find a way to use this!”
I use a combo of my own painted metal minis (for BBEGs, PCs and major reocurring NPCs), DnD plastic minis (monsters and baddies in general) and Fiery Dragon counters that I have glued to 1 inch metal washers (for whatever my growing plastic mini collection lacks).
On the DnD minis, I too dislike the random distribution but am lucky to have a friend (and a player in one of my campaigns) that owns a FLGS and does a brisk business in single dealing. I can dump on him my undesireables – the aforementioned “abyssal mauling dragon-blooded psibold” – and he trades them for what I am looking for – trolls, gargoyles and dragons.
I have just discovered that I have become a mini-snob though. If a player is playing a dwarf and needs to borrow one of my minis, I kinda’ get miffed when they pull out an orc with an axe and say, “aww, this is good enough.”
Having never been a big minis guy, I’ve never tried the combo approach — that sounds quite cool! I like the idea of having lovingly detailed metal minis for the PCs and major villains, and using plastic figs for the hordes.
And Gospog, I’ll second Carolina’s suggestion — I’d love to see a guest post on converting and/or scratchbuilding minis. If you’d like to write one for TT, drop me a line. (It’d be a great candidate for a free PDF, too — that would be nice to print out and have near your work area.) 🙂
we use metal minis for all the PCs, dice or cardstock counters for NPCs and monsters. we tried using minis for the monsters for a while, but there’s just too many of ’em.
Our group uses a mix– mostly plastic, though we had a couple dozen metal minis prior to the group’s D&D mini obsession. Ben really enjoyed painting them, so it worked out very well.
I’ve always been cheap that way– minis don’t make my blood sing. I’ve used dice, counters from wargames, and paper cutouts to avoid purchasing proper models. While I don’t mind wasting $15 on a rarely read book, I do mind wasting $4 on a mini, even if I do use it. I accept I’m just strange that way…
Hell yes I use Metal Minis – from my old-school grenadier & ral partha (circs 1980’s) up to Reaper and Rackham.
Over 1000 metal mins & counting.
I find the plastic minis great for D&D monsters & animals &legions of dwarves or zent soldiers – but for PC’s… 99% of the time it’s painted metal.
No counters for me.
I still use a handfull of my metal minis. Unfortunately, for human sized, they’re not so good because the scale of the D&D minis is larger. In the past 4 years or so, I have bought a few metal minis, but painting is just no longer a hobby for me. My modelling urges are now satisfied with LEGO (which doesn’t need painting – which due to it’s messiness, needs a large timeslot so you don’t spend more time getting prepared and cleaning up than actually painting).
1,000+ minis? Wow! Rory, you could probably photograph your collection and offer them online as counters. 😉