This blog is about the world of gaming miniatures, as seen from my perspective. I've been collecting and painting for over 30 years now, and while my primary focus is miniatures for D&D, I also enjoy many other games that use minis, so we'll be covering those as well. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Much Ado About Plastic

I do not own any plastic pre-painted miniatures, D&D or otherwise. So news of the demise of D&D Minis does not affect my buying, painting, and/or collecting habits.

There's plenty of chatter going on out there about it; just take a peek at the latest entries over on Eternal Keep and you'll see what I mean. Hard to tell for certain if the line is being shut down simply for financial reasons, or if they have made just about every single monster, NPC, and hero several times over and there's not much left to cover. Or, if you prefer, the various theorists and fortune tellers out there suggest it is a portent of doom; an event that signals the beginning of the end of D&D as we know it!

Personally, I think it's a bummer. When you think about it, there are plenty of reasons to use D&D Minis in whatever pen & paper game you happen to run or play in:

1) Affordable - a quick perusal of eBay listings showed a lot of minis in the $1 to $3 range. Sure, the prices for rares or critters like Orcus and dragons can quickly hit $50-$60, and even the Colossal Red Dragon goes for $200 plus, and then some. I'm just saying I think you can pick up a bunch of orcs, skeletons, and other common foes plus a smaller amount of giants, demons, and other strange critters for a lot less than their metal counterparts. You also need to factor in the cost of supplies (paints, brushes, tools, etc) and time when mentioning metal minis.

2) Time - let's face it, not everyone has time to paint minis. Many folks don't even WANT to paint (Heretics! Burn them!). Hell, sometimes even I get burned out when I've been painting for a spell, and take a break. With D&D Minis, you buy them and POW, good to go. Table-ready. No muss, no fuss.

3) Storage - unless you are a hard-core OCD-type collector, you can simply dump your D&D Minis in a Rubbermaid tote, cardboard box, or burlap sack. Sure, you can be organized if you want, that's just going to cost you some more money for additional totes or carrying cases (tackle boxes, tool boxes, craft supply organizers, etc).

Those three points summarize why I think plastic pre-painted minis are a good for D&D. Granted, you can always make an argument that in many cases, metal minis can be even less expensive than their plastic counterparts. I know I have personally scored many lots of lead in the range of 10 to 30 cents per figure. Bargains can be had, that's no secret. And on the other end of the spectrum, many sellers continue to charge outrageous prices for minis such as the Ral Partha 11-series of AD&D miniatures.

But painters still need to invest substantial funds into paint & supplies, and the time it takes to learn the craft and paint, paint, paint. I am fairly confident I will go to the grave with a roster of unpainted minis that is both long and shameful.

I dig the fact that if you give a couple of painters a lead mini, chances are they will produce finished products that look quite different. It's always fun to trot out new lead for the gaming group, something that bears my personal touch. In our current game, I hand-picked and painted up everyone's characters. It is some of my best work to date, and I feel like we are moving our characters around the battle mat, and not some generic proxy or figure that is exactly the same on our board as well as on thousands of other gaming boards worldwide.

The plastic king is dead; long live the king.

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