Sunday, May 6, 2012

Alternative Miniatures

So, if I haven't made it clear in previous posts, I love WOTC's pre-painted minis. But alas, it was not a love destined to last. With both the D&D and Star Wars lines going pretty much kaput (though I am curious about the upcoming "Dungeon Command" line), not to mention that some some of my sessions are a bit on the weird side, I've had to look into some alternate sources to fill my miniature needs.

I'm sure the Hershey's Kiss had it coming.
I wish I was into painting miniatures, because there seems to be a much better variety of metal minis than WOTC's limited selections. But I'm just not into it, and there's no use pretending otherwise. Pathfinder has recently created a line of pre-painted minis similar to WOTC's. Some of the sculpts are quite nice, but since they're mostly sold at gaming stores, it's hard to find them for a reasonable price.

I spend a lot of time browsing toy sections for characters that look about the same size and shape as a D&D mini. You never can tell where a usable mini will come from. Sometimes I'll be browsing party supplies and see a bag of small toy animals that's the perfect size. Or I might be at a craft store and find a "Toob" of animals that would be perfect for my campaign. When I actually set out to find something, I never can. But as long as I keep my eyes open, I come across a lot of toys that give me inspiration for future sessions.

Penguins, Zombies, Frogs, and Sharks.
My gaming group is planning to eventually run a Mutants & Masterminds campaign, and we plan to use HeroClix minis for the combat encounters. HeroClix are slightly bigger than D&D minis, and their bases are just a little bit wider than the one-inch squares D&D uses. They should work fine for our purposes, but they wouldn't look right standing next to traditional-sized minis if I wanted to incorporate them into a D&D game.

Size comparison with D&D mini.
However, there is currently a line of DC/Marvel minis that is more appropriately sized. It's called "Heroics". I've seen these at Wal-Mart and a couple of other places, and they look pretty decent standing next to a D&D mini. If I was running a campaign where Batman gets trapped in the Forgotten Realms, this is the mini I'd use. The downside is that they're a buck each (you can find a lot of HeroClix for half that at Troll & Toad), they're blind packaged so you don't know which one you're buying, and they don't have a very big selection (so far there's only 10 Marvel and 10 DC characters).

Heroics Minis

Size comparison with D&D mini.
We've also got a Traveller campaign coming up. I don't know if we'll use miniatures much (I know my character hopes she never has to touch a weapon), but I like to be prepared just in case. Now, the characters themselves are easy enough; I've been going through all my most human-looking Star Wars miniatures for ones that might work as our crew. Though admittedly it was hard to find ones that weren't wielding lightsabers.

Possible candidates for our crew.
But what if we get ourselves in a space battle? I thought about picking up some Star Trek HeroClix or Star Wars Starship Battles minis, but those were a bit on the expensive side for something that might not get any use. Plus, they all looked too iconic - every ship in the Star Trek universe just screams "Star Trek" at a volume that's impossible to ignore; ditto for Star Wars. So I improvised. For just a few bucks I managed to find all sorts of generic plastic spaceships, which don't look too bad sitting on wooden block pedestals. Now let's hope we never have to use them.

In space no one can hear you fumble.
Just recently I found a deal on miniatures based on the Hunger Games movie. (Note: My review of the Hunger Games is on my other blog.) These minis were originally sold in blind boxes for around $3.50 each. But apparently they didn't sell that well, and I found them on clearance for - get this - 10 cents each at Walgreens. I bought several just to see what they looked like, and was pleasantly surprised. They're scaled very close to D&D minis, and have decent sculpts and paint jobs. They look like the kind of teenagers you might see in a slasher movie, so these would be fun to use in a modern horror RPG. My only complaint is that they're attached to these large grey bases that make them tower over the D&D minis. I might try cutting one of them off the base just to see how securely they're stuck on there. Ordinarily I'd be aghast at breaking collectibles, but for 10 cents each? Slice those suckers up.

Left-to-right: Several characters I don't know, Katniss Everdeen, several more characters I don't know.

Size comparison with D&D mini.
In an upcoming Gamma World session I've been working on, I'm considering throwing in some vehicular battles. I wish Micro Machines were still being made, as some of those were the perfect size, assuming you "zoom out" once battle begins (in other words, try not to have pedestrians and cars in the same battle). But Micro Machines are considered collector's items now, and it's hard to find them cheap. But that doesn't mean you can't find tiny cars if you need them. They might look a little silly, but Squinkies makes some miniature Hot Wheels cars that easily fit in a one-inch square.

Left: Hot Wheels Squinkie.  Right: Micro Machines '57 Chevy.
I've stumbled across a few more possible minis here and there.  For example, there's some Halo miniatures out right now that would work pretty well in a sci-fi game. But I just don't have the funds or the storage space to fill my house every mini I see.  Now, if I had a lot of money to burn, I'd order all the "Doctor Who Micro Universe" miniatures.  I don't know what I'd use them for, but I'd love to have them.

Well, that's enough rambling for today.  In conclusion, don't drink paint.

No comments:

Post a Comment