D&D 5E D&D Next: How Miniatures Should Fit?


Eternal Optimist
The way I heard it put, your miniatures can be:

  • Quality
  • Inexpensive
  • Non-Random
But you have to pick two.

You've heard wrong. Quality has nothing to do with it.

The reason I framed my Law as I did is because there are costs people don't think about for having a wide range of figures that randomization ameliorates.

Just by virtue of being D&D figures, you want a large range of them. It's not like you can get away with just making orc figures. D&D designers have made a large stable of monsters for the D&D game since the very first version of the game; this is no different. When you try this with non-random figures, there are a *lot* of figures that don't sell that well; thus, the cost of the entire line goes up to make up for the ones that don't sell. By making them blind purchases, you sell wanted and unwanted figures alike. It's also great for the distributors and retailers, who don't have to deal with hundreds of SKUs.

Of course, it all falls down if there aren't enough wanted figures in the packs. Towards the end of the DDM line, the people who had been buying for years no longer needed more versions of orcs, thus lowering the potential buying pool. Saturation is a major point with minis.

It's very hard to compare to miniature lines made at different times; it's hard enough to compare to lines made at the same time. The basic unit pricing varies so much. Pathfinder minis are much, much, much more expensive than D&D minis... but it's 10 years later, they are probably of higher quality, they have much, much less savings from rare to common - as the quantity of each figure is pretty much the same - and the prices of everything in their production have risen incredibly.

The cost of making plastic pre-painted minis today is far, far higher than it was when DDM started; more than the average inflation rate. D&D Minis became a much worse deal towards the end. Saturation was a big problem, but it was coupled with no longer being the great deal they originally were.

The presumption in my Law is that the pieces are of the same quality. If D&D Minis had been done as a non-random set with the same range of minis, the costs of the figures would have been higher, because a lot more of them wouldn't have been sold. However, if only the popular minis were released in non-random fashion, they'd be cheaper because they'd all be sold too - and it's that model that Wizards are trying with their new line.

The reason that the law isn't Quality, Non-Random or Cheap Prices is that the reason D&D Minis were random had nothing to do with the quality of the pieces, and everything to do with how to keep a very large range of minis at affordable prices.


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First Post
I also put my vote in for miniatures being optional. I like only have to use them when the battle is complex enough that people can't hold positions in their head.

As far as style of mini's, I got the Pathfinder Beginner box for my son's birthday. The stand-up tokens they included struck me as absolutely brilliant. I'd love it if Wotc sold stand-up token sets that covered every monster in the Monster Manual.


I really would like to see a license granted to Reaper or another miniatures company to produce iconic D&D stuff in metal again. I love the plastic figures for monsters but always paint metal for players when available.

The boxed sets done by Ral Partha back in the 2e days were some amazing stuff and I miss it dearly.

I agree with this. Good times painting those old mini's. Course after a few got broke I made the players bring their own and just put mine on a shelf to look nice. But still, good times.

Who remembers the old plastic army men? I would love to see big bags of zombies, goblins, orcs, humans done just like that. The iconic swarm monsters in big cheap bags. Theres nothing saying there cant be several looks of mini in a bag either. Just so long as everything is recognizably the same species.

And then higher quality stuff for rare monsters. But nothing too expensive. I dont want to spend 4 or 5$ for a single model. It should be the best they can do and sell at 1$ each for Uniques.

No more dang random monster species though. If theres something i am not using in a campaign I dont want to spend money on a mini for it. That was the biggest mistake WoTC made IMO before.


First Post
The way I heard it put, your miniatures can be:

  • Quality
  • Inexpensive
  • Non-Random
But you have to pick two.

Personally, I'm mostly interested in Quality and Non-Random. It's why I still buy metal miniatures. But I would love to buy a pack or pre-painted plastic miniatures that included every monster in the monster manual, including multiples of things like orcs, skeletons, etc. I know that would be expensive, but to me, it would be worth it. (It would also be impractical with all the various dragons and whatnot)
That's a good way of putting it and makes things a bit clearer.

In that case I'd like to also see:

On the one hand: Non random and inexpensive: The unpainted sets of common foe groups: eg. 10 plastic unpainted bullywugs, 10 plastic unpainted kobolds, and gnolls and skeletons and the list goes on.

And at the same time: Non random and quality: Individual quality painted miniatures sold as singles. So you could buy 1 bullywug or 1 kobold or 1 gnoll or 1 skeleton that were especially cool, and they can be the particularly interesting one in the group, the boss or whatever. Of course you might want to have 2 or 3 of those with your set of 'minions' (which you can paint yourself anyway).

I really don't like the random element, and hence I've always hand chosen the minis I wanted from places like TrollandToad website, and nearly always bought the inexpensive ones, with a few select expensive ones that I needed for the campaign.

Edit: But from MerricB's insight, and he certainly sounds like he knows what he is talking about, that doesn't sound possible. Shucks...
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