D&D General Miniature Survey

I'm a theater of the mind DM, so I only use minis for my characters when I'm a player. Because it's a bummer to show up and be the only one using a d4 or somesuch to represent my character.

My miniatures purchases generally fall into ones for characters I've made, character ideas, and minis I just think would be fun to paint. Like this lich:

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I'm not great at painting minis, but I enjoy it and try to paint a little each night.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
I have a ton of minis for monsters (mostly preprinted plastics now - I’ve put the metals in storage), and I hand-paint minis for the PCs. Been using minis since I started playing at the start of the 80’s.

Almost exclusively fantasy for D&D, as other genres have been lacking until recently. Oddly enough, D&D is the only RPG I normally set minis out - for combat. Almost all other RPGs I do as theatre of the mind when combat rolls around.

I also have a bunch of Dwarven forge I picked up in the 90’s, as well as the D&D cardboard tiles, as well as set of dry/wet wipe tiles for games on the go. Recently expanded my collection with some of the Warlock tiles from WizKids for town/city/tavern encounters.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Metal minis for characters, plastic (preferably pre-painted!) for monsters and generic NPCs.

I have the painting skills of a rowboat so unless someone else paints 'em, bare they stay. Fortunately, over the years I've had some players who are quite good at painting... :)

I don't bother with scenery etc. - while I love the idea in theory, in practice it just takes too long to set it up and take it down every time the PCs go somewhere new, which can easily be several times (or more!) a session. If I need to represent the location of trees in a forest I'll just scatter some bits of wood across the board and remove or move any that happen to land on roads or other places that don't make sense.

My one annoyance with minis in general is the constant, if slow, increase in scale/size. A Dwarf mini today is the same height as a 1e-era Human. Bleah!
 

ART!

Legend
"Buy"? I've accumulated so many at this point, there's no need - between pewter minis from the '70s and '80s, Heroclix, toys, Play-Do, Lego bits and minis, minis cannibalized from boardgames, etc., I can find something suitable enough for most purposes.
 

Richards

Legend
While I've amassed a fair amount of the D&D Minis (and a small handful of the Pathfinder Minis), I also have a fairly large collection of plastic critters from the Toobs line (dinosaurs, bugs, horses, forest creatures, farm animals, fish, etc.) and a bunch of odds and ends like the plastic dinosaur skeletons I got an a Nobbies store and some massive spiders, scorpions, and a bee I got for a dollar each at a Target store several years back. Michael's is good for some of the standard mythological creatures like dragons, hydras, chimeras, and griffons (although the scale is often off enough that they work better as "dire" versions). I've also constructed some larger "minis" out of poster board and cardstock, and if noting else I've been known to print out standup tokens for miniature use.

PCs are usually either an appropriate D&D Mini, a plastic mini (requiring painting) from a game store, or in a few instances a specific purchase from Hero Forge.

Johnathan
 


Greenfield

Adventurer
I started buying mini's way back in the 70s, when they first became available. I generally prefer metal to plastic. Cardboard was never a contender.

For scenery I use a number of sources: The aquarium section of the pet store has things like roman/greek columns, bridges etc. There's a vendor I see at Cons that sells resin walls, intact and ruined. I've tried the Wizard's cut-and-fold buildings, and they look good, but scenery that stands that tall becomes a problem: Players can't see the figures over/around it.

I have a few bags of colored moss/lichen for brush.

I have enough figures to field several armies worth of unique figs, but I find that I seldom come close to using all that many. I simply have to acknowledge that I can't possibly have the right figure(s) at my fingertips all the time, so for play I generally have a single box of "people" types, for PCs and NPCs, and two for monsters. I often use the same small figures for Goblins, Kobolds and most other small humanoid types, another six or eight figs for Orcs and medium humanoids, a similar number for Ogres, Trolls and such, and a few for Giants. Half a dozen demon-types, a pack of wolves.

The point of all of this is that we're trying to help the players see the same image that the DM has in his or her mind, to enable us to quickly and easily draw/lay-out the places the PCs are in. Wall sections go down faster than I can draw lines on a battlemat, can be quickly shifted as the action moves on.

Doors are good (WizKids makes some that can be opened and closed), furniture less so: I have enough to do a minimal bar scene, and very little more.

My solutions may not work for you, of course.
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
I love painting minis. I always try and find appropriate minis for our characters; if I can't find one, I'll buy one from Hero Forge. Over the years I've bought and painted up lots of monsters we can fight, and I'm always getting more.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
What type of miniatures do you buy for your games? Player characters? Encounters? Wargaming?

What genre…D&D? Sci-Fi? Steampunk?
I try not to as much as possible. Whenever I can I use what I already have instead of buying new stuff. It's an expensive side hobby that doesn't add much, if anything, to the hobby of RPGs.
 

One hypothesis I'm getting from reading all of this: if someone in the group likes minis in and of themselves (they enjoy collecting and/or painting them, for instance), you'll have them available and use them. If no one in the group likes minis as things, you generally don't have them and improvise when maps are needed or just run TotM.

In other words, the presence or absence of minis seems to happen by factors outside of whether you like them for actual gaming.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
One hypothesis I'm getting from reading all of this: if someone in the group likes minis in and of themselves (they enjoy collecting and/or painting them, for instance), you'll have them available and use them. If no one in the group likes minis as things, you generally don't have them and improvise when maps are needed or just run TotM.

In other words, the presence or absence of minis seems to happen by factors outside of whether you like them for actual gaming.
Maybe - but for years I just had the majority of my minis unpainted (and used pennies or other tokens for lots of little things). The PCs might be painted because a player would volunteer (I'd pay for them because I wanted to keep them) or I might ask a friend not in the group to paint a monster for me for a big scene or something - but it was not until 2020 when we moved to remote play and telling unpainted minis apart via the table camera became too difficult that I started painting in earnest - just table ready for play - and after 35 years of playing D&D finally got good enough (not good, just good enough) to enjoy it.
 

J-H

Hero
I have two little kids and don't buy minis. I have the money, but I don't have the space for storage, nor am I willing to invest the time to paint them. I mostly DM, so I just use paper printouts cut to size. If someone brought minis, we'd use them, and in one of my campaigns we've had minis for PCs for a while (they are packed up somewhere now). It's nice and convenient...as long as I don't have to keep them at my house.
 

I go back far enough that the majority of my minis are from Ral Partha, Grenadier, and Minifigs. These were the ones I used when I was an active gamer/DM. Ended up with some minis from GW when me and my nephews were into Warhammer and LOTR. Nowadays, I buy some from Reaper occasionally just to paint for fun. I've gotten some odd figures over the years that I've found at several trips to Gencon (always loved poking through some booth's bargain bins)...
 


Oofta

Legend
One hypothesis I'm getting from reading all of this: if someone in the group likes minis in and of themselves (they enjoy collecting and/or painting them, for instance), you'll have them available and use them. If no one in the group likes minis as things, you generally don't have them and improvise when maps are needed or just run TotM.

In other words, the presence or absence of minis seems to happen by factors outside of whether you like them for actual gaming.
Long before I ever painted my first mini, even before playing on a grid was really talked about much, we would use tokens for PCs and monsters just to show positioning. I've just never really cared for TOtM for complex fights. I still use printed out tokens sometimes with appropriate monsters on them because I don't want to spend that much money on minis and don't have storage space even if I did.
 

One hypothesis I'm getting from reading all of this: if someone in the group likes minis in and of themselves (they enjoy collecting and/or painting them, for instance), you'll have them available and use them. If no one in the group likes minis as things, you generally don't have them and improvise when maps are needed or just run TotM.

In other words, the presence or absence of minis seems to happen by factors outside of whether you like them for actual gaming.
Nah. I love converting and painting minis and I have a ton of GW stuff. I still just use symbolic tokens for D&D.
 

Yes, I am running into storage issues, esp. with larger and awkward shaped minis.
Yeah, there are some rather large and awesome minis out today that are about impossible to store. I have the Mumak from GW, and I mounted it on a board and keep it out in the open cuz there's no way it'll fit into a box. But... for minis that aren't quite so large but still rather big and awkward, you can find some plastic storage boxes at stores. I have a bunch of bobbin/thread storage boxes I use for ordinary sized minis, and some customizable/size ones for bigger pieces. With some foam sheets cut up to fit the bottom, they work pretty good so long as you don't shake up the boxes a lot. I used to have a bunch of old cardboard/foam rubber storage boxes from Grenadier, but those all disintegrated after a few years.....
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Yeah, there are some rather large and awesome minis out today that are about impossible to store. I have the Mumak from GW, and I mounted it on a board and keep it out in the open cuz there's no way it'll fit into a box. But... for minis that aren't quite so large but still rather big and awkward, you can find some plastic storage boxes at stores. I have a bunch of bobbin/thread storage boxes I use for ordinary sized minis, and some customizable/size ones for bigger pieces. With some foam sheets cut up to fit the bottom, they work pretty good so long as you don't shake up the boxes a lot. I used to have a bunch of old cardboard/foam rubber storage boxes from Grenadier, but those all disintegrated after a few years.....

If you find a link or have one handy for the plastic containers you are talking about I'd love to see what to look for.

Currently, I use the old school chessex hard plastic boxes (I have six of them), one soft carrying container with foam inside which I don't like nearly as much, and the rest are on the shelf, either the curio shelf thing I shared a pic of above or another small shelf unit that has larger minis on top. The chessex boxes are terrible at the newer minis with huge swords and flowing cloaks or anything with a larger base, but I do like the ease of looking through them and use them for most of my older minis. The softness of the shoulder bag type and its different trays means lookin through it is a pain, and the pull-foam is not great for custom spaces that hold their shape.
 

If you find a link or have one handy for the plastic containers you are talking about I'd love to see what to look for.
I got mine at Hobby Lobby and Walmart... most are basic bobbin/floss boxes, which have nice size holders for the average PC/NPC figure. They also have some larger boxes with sides that you can move around some and customize for the sizes; I've used them for giants and dragons. I just cut up some thin foam sheets to fit the bottom, which keeps them fairly safe. But... these are good for simple storage (and will hold a lot of them), but not so great for carrying them around for gaming, etc. For that, you might want to find some better boxes that will hold them securely and just take the minis you are going to use in a game in them (those Chessex boxes you mentioned would probably be better for that).
 

guachi

Adventurer
Lego minifigs for the good guys. Tokens for the bad guys. Lego minifigs allow a good mix and match of head, torso, legs, accessories in a way that miniatures don't.
 

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