Spelljammer Spelljammer's Astral Dreadnought & Adult Solar Dragon

In October of this year, WizKids will be launching two big miniatures, both linked to the upcoming Spelljammer setting -- the Astral Dreadnought and the Adult Solar Dragon.

The Astral Dreadnought will be $249.99. The creature lives on the Astral Plane, and is the size of a large dragon.

The Adult Solar Dragon is featured on the cover of the Light of Xaryxis adventure; this mini will be $109.99.


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You’re paying here for something that is a novelty collectors item. It has no where near that utilitarian value, it’s a status symbol.
Over on Reddit (which surely skews younger and newer to the hobby than here) I keep hearing about how “expensive” D&D is as a hobby. I found that surprising considering that the conventional wisdom over here seemed to be that TTRPGs are a dirt-cheap hobby compared to most—you buy a few books and you’re ready to play forever! Might be that minis and other peripherals are what’s scaring young wallets, not books, eh? LGSes seem to sell more junk/stuff/extras than ever these days.

I realize WotC and WizKids are separate businesses, but to your point about low-utility status symbols, WotC is definitely leaning into this too. I’m thinking of MTG, where in the past few years they started selling all manner of crazy artistic variants directly to consumers via “Secret Lair” products ordered from their website… and WotC’s profits soared during the same period. Feels like product offerings for both MTG and D&D are expanding to try to capture every available consumer dollar.

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D&D has always been a collector hobby and the dollar to entertainment ratio an example of how it can be cheap. That dollar to entertainment ratio really only applies depending on how much you invest in the game. If you invest in the core books and an adventure, as a DM, the dollar to entertainment value is much lower than a player. When you add in the expansion rulebooks and extended monster books it continues to lower as you don’t use all the materials provided. The additional wrench to the dollar to entertainment ratio is how often do you get to play? This is assuming a purely TOTM play style as well. So a bare minimum DM has a very inexpensive dollar to entertainment value and a player even better because they just need the PHB to play.

but it’s a collector game. How many of us know people who own more than one of the adventures or purchased the adventures and then never ran them? They either got read and sat or worse, just sat on the shelf unplayed? I used to buy them all and then sold all but Avernus and then Waterdeep set off. Now it is campaign settings. Who has bought all the campaign settings and not used them and they just sit there and maybe a race or subclass? Or nothing at all? There are diminishing returns and the expansions and MotM contribute to the diminishing returns on those books with the reprinted and iterative revisions to the content from said books and what is left rules wise become minimal effectively rendering the product dead money.

Now again we are talking about a market that is effectively a collector market as supplements are released to add to the game to enhance it and improve or change it and WOTC has in the last two years taken an approach of iterative changes across sourcebooks of “oh you know the Orc in Volo’s we have rethought and now reprinted it with some big changes in Wildemount” and now “we completely redesigned the races and how they work based on Tasha’s and in this new slipcase we are publishing a whole book of them that are reprints of the races from all these sourcebooks with the implemented changes”. This creates a psychology of needing to purchase the next product that comes along. Do you have to? No. There is nothing wrong with the game as is in the core books but if you don’t have the new stuff oh man, what about TikTok and YouTube?

So just TOTM style is a rapidly diminishing return on investment for entertainment dollars. 5e is a less egregious edition for this and has yet to experience true rule bloat and power creep but the iterative nature of post Mearls D&D is starting to show some cracks in that philosophy.

Now let’s pull out minis. Are they necessary for the game? Absolutely not but they add to it and the plethora available through Nolzur’s and blind boxes certainly are helpful and originally it seems Nolzur’s were marketed to hit the same market of affordability that Reaper was hitting with Bones but with a slightly higher quality and retention of detail in their plastic type even though they inexplicably covered it with copious amounts of Primer. Even the dragons kept the same price point.

The blind boxes maintained a decent price point but had that collectible mentality with MTG style rarities carried over from the WOtC versions and Heroclix model that made purchasing in bricks and cases attractive and more money for NECA/Wizkids. But it re-enforced that collector mentality. Gotta buy a ton of blind boxes to get a goblin horde, an Orc horde, to find that dragon. Under WOTC plunking down $10 on a box of 8 blind minis was nothing but the steady increase in price and the steady decrease in quantity per box decreased the value of the blind boxes and Nolzur’s were a lower value product for the unskilled painter.

But minis seem to be a norm now. I don’t know many groups who don’t use them. Paizo released tokens to keep the value higher but WOTC seems to, until recently with the new kit, stayed with the mini thing through GF9 and Wizkids. Wizkids is releasing counters but they are high cost compared to alternative options like Arcknight Games exact same product sold in large bundles for like $100 compared to Wizkids anemic offerings.

Wizkids is now pushing out their minis and other products at a much higher cost after securing a stronger license for D&D products and a weakening of the GF9 partnership with WOTC. They have that logo and with that “official” collector mentality the increased cost is an ever diminishing entertainment dollar ratio. Luxury items you don’t need but when all the products are pushed as luxury items at costs that make GW blush?

Next is looking at unpainted minis. Nolzur’s have a fair price. The complaint is the primer. The response was “we are going to do sprue minis you can prime”. Price is insane. Hey we are partnering with Vallejo for a paint product line too! With 20 unique colors and 40 from the Game Color range! 8 ml bottles! 3.30 per bottles in the 30 bottle paint cases. Game Color 17ml price? 3.29. Sure you’re getting the case but does the case really add value to the 8ml bottle size? Do the new colors at that size? How much are individual bottles? 2.50. A .79 difference from a full sized bottle of Game Color and the new colors are very similar to Model Colors already available. So they’re probably Model Colors with the Game Color lacquer in them. These are formulated for Wizkids and they set the price.

so yeah the hobby isn’t cheap and is a rapidly diminishing return on entertainment dollars because when you buy a book very little gets used and what little may get used gets replaced.


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
For $250, I want it to be the correct scale. That means infinitely long.

Seriously, these are $40 miniatures at max. They're 'use once and then put on a shelf to look pretty' monsters, and anyone that can afford these at these prices is probably running out of shelf space.

At this price point, its more than I would spend even when I was impulse buying all kinds of minis, terrains, and other tabletop paraphernalia when 5e first came out. But I have boxes of unpainted minis and never used terrain and 2.5 years of going digital with a VTT has cured me of this impulse.


[Looks at recent spend on digital assets that never got used beyond downloading and saving to Google Drive and can't even look cool on a shelf.]

I suppose I shouldn't feel too superior. :)


A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
One mini: 250$
A Nintendo Switch: About 250$ too

These people are mental.
Eh. Not that expensive for artwork. Let's be real. Lots of people buy this stuff to display on shelves. Whether it is artwork worth buying and displaying, well beauty is in the eye of the beholder trophy hanging on your wall.


...[Looks at recent spend on digital assets that never got used beyond downloading and saving to Google Drive and can't even look cool on a shelf.]
I still have a healthy physical spending trend for terrain and minis. After 2 years of VTT play, my entire out of pocket has been less than $5. There is so much available for free. To be honest, my players paid for pro accounts for Roll20 for 2 years in addition to what I spent, and I also have a fully stocked D&DBeyond account (but I've have had that with or without the VTT).

For those interested I've just learned that WizKids is releasing an Aspect of Tiamat miniature sometime in the next few months for a little over $100. It's not as big as the first one, obviously, but it's still 6 inches tall, which seems more than sufficient for representing Tiamat.


$250? I wonder how many they'll sell. On the one hand, the Astral Dreadnought seems like a really niche product. On the other, it was on the cover of the original Manual of the Planes, so maybe some folks would get it for the nostalgia?
That's why I want it, but $250 made me snort so loudly my wife called out to see if I was okay.

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