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D&D 5E Miniature Collecting and Use

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
Hello fellow travelers,

just interested to hear about any fellow miniature collectors/users out there and how you use and collect.

I have a healthy collection of minis but have focused on miniatures that can be or rather will be used in game.

I have been pruning preening and trading to get to this point. For example I have perhaps 15 kobolds but have traded off a neoghi to get there.

I have supplemented some groups with miniature that I have painted myself but have largely focused on icons of the realms minis.

what about you?

my group uses minis a fair amount though terrain and building vary by the DM. My pal uses minis and dry erase grid while I have buildings, mountains and trees.

I am interested to hear about others’ use of terrain as well.

last year I made a modular foam dungeon. It took forever and was hard work.

I bought pink Foam insulation Sheets, cut them, used a roller to texture them and then painted. Will add a pic if I can fine one...

here! Foam dungeon! Sadly all those hours and never used thanks to the pandemic...

and here is a part of the minis!

this is becoming a new hobby with the gaming. Perhaps telling (regarding the gaming hobby) is the fact that when we had nothing but dice and a few metal figures I had no less fun. This collecting bit has helped me stay immersed though when life prevents playing.

happy gaming!
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I too tend to focus on minis that I expect to use in-game. Lots of Kobolds, goblins, orcs and the like as they tend to show up often and in large numbers starting from early levels. A smattering of undead. A couple big boss monsters like trolls and bugbears. And a handful of random things I bought for specific purposes. Lots of retired PCs. Starting to build up some dungeon terrain. Currently I just place terrain on a Chessex dry erase mat, but I’m looking into building some UDT for various terrain types cause that seems super versatile and fun. I usually paint my own (or more often I make my partner do it cause they’re much better at it than me.) I just don’t like the look of most pre-painted minis, except professionally hand-painted ones, which are out of my price range. Plus painting minis is a lot of fun.
 

pukunui

Legend
I have way too many miniatures, and I keep buying more every time they release a new set. I like to get all the ones I like, although some are simply too expensive to justify buying on the singles market (like most dragons and things like beholders and such).

That said, I hardly ever use them in game any more. I find I prefer to just go with theater of the mind these days because it's faster than stopping play to set things up on the table.

But I'm too addicted to collecting the minis to stop buying them, even if I don't ever really use them.

Sigh ...
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Let’s be honest it all depends on budget, time available and how much it pains you to have a stand-in mini rather than an exact equivalent.

For most monsters I don’t think you can beat the preprinted plastic minis. Firstly they are durable so don’t need to be stored with precision, you can just put them in a box. Secondly time constraints mean I would never be able to paint the volumes of monsters needed. The Pathfinder minis line are better painted than the D&D minis and I’ve found in general the older D&D sets are better than the newer ones, that have some really weird scales.

For special cases, legendary creatures, BBEG etc it can be really good to exercise your painting muscles and do a number. I’m not a great painter but I’ve had a lot of fun doing some bigger pieces that I’ll get a real kick out of putting on the table. Though I can never paint the full range.

Regarding the actual collection, in the early days I used to buy by the box which while kinda exciting, is hugely wasteful. Luckily I paired down my collection about 3 or 4 years ago and found a buyer for a lot of duplications and less used items (like three Tiamats) and so I recouped a fair bit of money.

As I went on and started really building my collection I set myself a budget and I would look through whatever sets were released that month to pick the models I liked the look of and thought I would most use.

Now I am even more selective much exclusively buy for specific modules, unless I’m trying to complete a set... for instance at least one of each type of devil.

When it comes to PCs I don’t think you can beat reaper for price and quality. The Nolzurs minis are really good quality and so are the Gale Force Nine minis (though these do stretch the budget). Having a painted mini for a PC is a really nice touch. We usually encourage players to use a nice home painted mini from our collection - the other DM in our group has collected a beautifully painted set of painted metal reaper minis over the years. Or they buy one and one of the painters in the group will do it for them.

For instance in preparation for my Odyssey of the Dragonlords campaign I bought a plastic toy Cerberus that I based and repainted, a similar cyclops, and a huge boar for about £20 off amazon. I then bought some Nolzurs death dogs for a particular locations. I dug a GW hydra out of my GW collection and painted that up as well as a couple of Perry miniature hoplites. It all then goes into the pot for next time.

Regarding terrain I keep it simple. I bought an A3 colour printer and a laminator for about £100. I copy transfer PDF or jpeg battlemats to word and print them at a scale of 18 squares by 12 squares (just under 1 inch per 5ft) I find for a small random encounter you can use one A3 page, lay two together for a larger encounter. Truly epic fights can have 4. Though this is rare. Laminating helps them stay flat, means you can draw on them in dry erase and means they last. I trim the white border from the printer off so they line up and the lamination almost never splits. I’ve had many for 10+ years. I’m up to about 200 A3 maps now meaning I can do most biomes of random encounter.

Paizo battlemaps are perfect for this because you can snapshot in Adobe the 18 x 12 or 18 x 24 section you want, actually allowing multiple map types from a single 26 x 24 battlemap. Again I make these specifically for adventures but save ones that could be used again. Paizo sell these for pdf very reasonably on their website.

Sorry for such a long post. I really enjoy this aspect of the hobby though. Good luck. It really is satisfying after a couple of years of gathering stuff and it doesn’t take long to build a neat collection... then you just have to work out where to store it! I get get a kick out when my DM says “have you got five giant weasels” and I say “of course”.

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pukunui

Legend
... and I’ve found in general the older D&D sets are better than the newer ones, that have some really weird scales ...
Yeah, the early WizKids sets especially had some weird scales - Huge giants on Large bases, for instance. And in the Elemental Evil set, two of the elementals were Large size, but the other two were Medium (even though their sculpts matched the Large-size versions in the MM). The first ogre was really big, too, and subsequent ogres have been smaller.

However, the older WotC sets had some weird scaling stuff that went on too, like how halflings started off super-tiny and then grew to be ridiculously large. The later hobgoblins were a lot bigger than the early ones as well.

I also think I prefer the WizKids paint jobs and sculpts more than the WotC ones. The 4e era minis especially had many awful minis that looked like they'd been dipped in shiny paint.

For instance in preparation for my Odyssey of the Dragonlords campaign I bought a plastic toy Cerberus that I based and repainted, a similar cyclops, and a huge boar for about £20 off amazon. I then bought some Nolzurs death dogs for a particular locations. I dug a GW hydra out of my GW collection and painted that up as well as a couple of Perry miniature hoplites. It all then goes into the pot for next time.
I'm currently running Odyssey of the Dragonlords. While I've subsequently bought some of the Theros minis, I still don't have enough thematically appropriate minis that I've just stuck with theater of the mind for this campaign.
 

TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Yeah there are some really dodgy earlier models. I remember bad luck when buying War of the Dragon Queen boxes meant I got four of these travesties out of 10 huge creatures total.

61801EB8-B60F-4F68-BCFC-D6245E45E0D4.jpeg

I think I’d be hard pressed to find a use for one, let alone four. Not to mention over time the top-heavy weight means they lean over even further. Grrrr.

Still the same set also go me this, which I love so 🤷🏻‍♂️
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Fenris447

Explorer
I tend to mostly get Icons of the Realms minis. I'll sometimes dip into Pathfinder Battles, aiming for ones that I can use in D&D. They're mostly interchangeable, except for things like the Pathfinder goblinoids that look totally different from the established 5e looks. If I need something really specific, I'll pick up unpainted Nolzur's or Reaper minis.

I actually built a spreadsheet with every Icons of the Realm and Pathfinder Battles mini, with their size category and rarity. I can rank how much I want/need a mini on a 0-5 scale, and the spreadsheet calculates out what booster packs are the most likely to get me stuff I want.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I tend to mostly get Icons of the Realms minis. I'll sometimes dip into Pathfinder Battles, aiming for ones that I can use in D&D. They're mostly interchangeable, except for things like the Pathfinder goblinoids that look totally different from the established 5e looks. If I need something really specific, I'll pick up unpainted Nolzur's or Reaper minis.

I actually built a spreadsheet with every Icons of the Realm and Pathfinder Battles mini, with their size category and rarity. I can rank how much I want/need a mini on a 0-5 scale, and the spreadsheet calculates out what booster packs are the most likely to get me stuff I want.
Impressive!

I troll miniature market nonstop going through recent releases. I find it much more economical to buy or trade for Singles usually.

that is the only way I buy “expensive” singles. I gather up weird stuff I won’t use in play and trade it in.

I just got a frost giant skeleton and previously a Balor but not paying cash! It hurts too much that way.

then there are the oddballs that I get unpainted. Sadly, my nolzurs beholder is still gray! I just lack time so buy prepainted when I can.

the new gray stuff from WizKids can be a game changer. 13 bucks for a treant is not so bad. 50-60? Ouch! Sometimes having something at scale is enough for play. If I won the lottery I could paint em all and quit work.

wait. If I win the lottery I could just get them painted!
 

I always run theater of the mind, but when I'm playing at cons, I always try to have a miniature for my character. I hate being the one that's stuck using a d4 for my PC when everyone else has a cool depiction.

As a consequence, painting minis, unless I have a new character that needs one, is more an idle hobby. I'll pick up random minis to paint because they look cool.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
When I not depress, I try to pull the minis I have which match the encounter. But I be defaulting to different minis. Ok the orc is the scout. The Kobold is the mage. I have a big plastic (wrapping paper ?) container of big minis. And at least two boxes which hold 144 minis.
Now I have bought some "Frozen" $1 minis for Icewind dale. And need to buy Bullwinkle for this week.
I do admire the people who can bring off Theatre of the Mind.
 

Fenris447

Explorer
I troll miniature market nonstop going through recent releases. I find it much more economical to buy or trade for Singles usually.

the new gray stuff from WizKids can be a game changer. 13 bucks for a treant is not so bad. 50-60? Ouch! Sometimes having something at scale is enough for play. If I won the lottery I could paint em all and quit work.
I'm lucky enough to live nearby Miniature Market's brick-and-mortar shop, so they're my FLGS for everything. The staff is fantastic, and you absolutely can't beat their prices + free ship-to-store.

I'm rubbish at painting, but my wife is pretty artistic. So she enjoys painting up minis for me every now and then. She did an absolutely amazing job on a few Grung, even finishing their skin with gloss to make them look wet! The only downside is that I have to be careful with what I ask her to paint, as she's a player in my campaign and it might spoil stuff that's coming up.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I'm lucky enough to live nearby Miniature Market's brick-and-mortar shop, so they're my FLGS for everything. The staff is fantastic, and you absolutely can't beat their prices + free ship-to-store.

I'm rubbish at painting, but my wife is pretty artistic. So she enjoys painting up minis for me every now and then. She did an absolutely amazing job on a few Grung, even finishing their skin with gloss to make them look wet! The only downside is that I have to be careful with what I ask her to paint, as she's a player in my campaign and it might spoil stuff that's coming up.
Ha! I drive over there too! It’s a FLGS with discount pricing. I visited them back when they first came to St. Louis over on Watson I think.

matter of fact, that is the first place I ever looked at a 5th edition book! I liked the orcs in the monster manual compared to 3e...

that place is great. I have a bunch of minis awaiting payment there now (I sent them in and am waiting for them to review and give me store credit...)
 

aco175

Legend
We use minis for nearly all the encounters, but terrain varies. We have a lot of old 3e/4e maps and terrain tiles box sets that get used. A lot of the time when I make an adventure I use the tiles and maps as planned encounter areas. The King's Road get used a lot for random encounters on the road.
1602710743765.png
 

Azzy

KMF DM
Heh. I've collected and painted lots of miniatures (though I must admit that I've collected far more than I've painted)—just not for D&D. I have extensice armies for WH40K and Dust 1947. I rarely used miniature prior to 3e, and even after 3e I had few actual miniatures (using standies and counters instead). However, I've been playing D&D online exclusively sice about 2015 so I'm reduced to using "virtual" miniatures.
 

the Jester

Legend
I love minis, and have hundreds (mostly the old randomized plastic 3e era ones, but a healthy collection of others too). I am fine with swapping in substitutes for whatever I am running; not having the proper mini has never stopped me from using a monster!

I find terrain to have one major downside- storage and the size of it all. I generally prefer battlemaps and wet erase pens; preprinted tiles or maps are pretty useless, or at best, single-use, for me. I'll sometimes print out or draw maps of interesting set pieces to use, though.
 

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I love minis, and have hundreds (mostly the old randomized plastic 3e era ones, but a healthy collection of others too). I am fine with swapping in substitutes for whatever I am running; not having the proper mini has never stopped me from using a monster!

I find terrain to have one major downside- storage and the size of it all. I generally prefer battlemaps and wet erase pens; preprinted tiles or maps are pretty useless, or at best, single-use, for me. I'll sometimes print out or draw maps of interesting set pieces to use, though.
That is how we roll at my friends house. Works great really.

I have tons of buildings trees etc but have only started using them much.

got a farm set, barracks and orc huts. Generic enough it should come up time and again...
 

I have one of those "under the bed" plastic storage boxes which I've sectioned off into six equal slots with cardboard, in which I store a good chunk of my plastic minis (mostly D&D Minis, but a fair selection of other stuff like creatures from the Toobs line, plastic spiders, and the like): undead/constructs, outsiders, vermin, animals, aberrations/magical beasts, and elementals. Then I have some smaller plastic containers holding my other D&D Minis: humans, dwarves/elves, monstrous humanoids, reptilian humanoids, dragons, and oddballs (to include oozes); those are stored in a dresser drawer, while another drawer holds the bigger plastic figures: the larger dragons, dinosaurs, a dire elephant, a pair of giant spiders, a giant bee, my Beholders boxed set, etc. I try to match the mini with the creature it represents in the adventure; if there's no real good match, I'll resort to creating a stand-up token on card stock. (Those get saved in flat plastic contains that used to hold oversize cassette-type tapes.) On rare occasions, I'll make my own "mini" out of poster board, construction paper, or colored card stock: I've done a stone colossus, wood colossus, zygomind, and "walking brain" in such fashion.

We're purely a face-to-face setup, currently on hold due to COVID. But we make use of battle maps (I've got about three dozen of Paizo's Game Maps and Map Pack sets) and I make my own geomorphs: paper or cardboard with 1" grid lines for smaller areas or the back of a desk calendar page gridded out with 1" lines for larger areas. The homemade geomorphs get filed in manila envelopes in another "under the bed" box, and the calendar pages get rolled up inside an empty toilet paper roll with the adventure name written on it, then stored in a dresser drawer (one of two, nowadays) in my gaming room. (I've found multiple uses for several of the geomorphs/calendar maps; each time the new adventure title gets added to the envelope/toilet paper roll.)

I also have a small collection of unpainted metal minis from decades ago; my grown son paints some of them on occasion, as well as a bunch of plastic minis he purchases for his own campaign. Those are hanging in three display cases on my gaming room wall, while his sit on his dresser in his bedroom.

Johnathan
 

pukunui

Legend
I’m so addicted I splurged on a chardalyn dragon only to find out it was going to cost me more in shipping than the dragon itself cost to get it here to NZ. I had it sent to my parents in the US instead and now I have to figure out how I can get it here without it costing me an arm and a leg.

I didn’t realise how heavy it was.
 

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