Thursday, July 29, 2010

Get the Most Mini For Your Money

D&D miniature figures (minis) are fun to use in campaigns. D&D 4E maps and combat were designed with minis in mind, and they're visually compelling representations of the various races and creatures used in the game.

When looking for new minis, consider:
  • How many figures do I need?
  • What is my budget?
If you're just starting out, I'd recommend searching for Booster Packs, Starter Sets, and 'Monster Lots'. Each include set numbers of miniatures that will help you get a variety of monsters on the cheap. $15 - $25 would be considered a good spending budget to get started. It's made easier if the GM and players chip in together.

Below is a list of handy websites that I browse and use to compare prices to get the best value and selection.

Miniature Market -

What's here: Booster Packs, Starter Sets, Plastic Singles, Metal Singles (Reaper Minis)

Prices: Nearly everything is discounted. Booster Packs are sometimes listed at more than 50% off retail price. Singles range from $0.75 to $4 on average (rarer figures are more, of course).

Shipping Specials: Free shipping on orders of $75 or more.

Notes: Miniature Market has an e-mail newsletter announcing when items are on sale. They will also sometimes include a discount coupon with your shipments, good for future purchases.

Troll and Toad -

What's here: Booster Packs, Starter Sets, Monster Lots, Plastic Singles

Prices: Singles are listed as $1 - $4 on average. Random Monster Lots from $7 - $15.

Shipping Specials: Free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

Notes: Troll and Toad has special sections for cheap minis, and a storefront on eBay that's easier to search.

Reaper Miniatures -

What's here: Reaper Miniature figures are usually unpainted pewter. Very fun projects for players who want a more custom figure for themselves.

Prices: Reaper Minis can get pricey, around $5+ per figure

Shipping Specials: Free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

Notes: Their preview pictures are usually of painted figures, which can throw you off, but the detail on the molds very good. They also have an e-mail newsletter to let you know when new figures have been designed.

Gaming ETC -

What's here: Booster Packs, Starter Sets, Plastic Singles, Monster Grab Bag

Prices: Booster Packs here are sold nearly at retail price. Singles are more expensive depending on their rarity.

Shipping Specials: Free shipping on orders of $100 or more.

Notes: This store is actually much better for Magic card prices, but has the occasional sale on plastic minis. Always worth a look if you want specific monsters for a future session and want to compare prices. They have a very good e-mail newsletter that will highlight their biggest discount items.

eBay -

What's here: Plastic Singles, Metal Singles, Monster Lots

Prices: Singles can go from $0.01 - $12 depending on rarity. I would not pay over $8 for any single item listed, unless it's something huge or exceptional.

Shipping Specials: Shipping varies between free and $3 or so. Try to buy multiple figures from a single seller to combine the shipping cost for your purchases.

Notes: This is a good site to purchase multiple minis of the same figure (great for monsters, and cool for players to repaint). Use the 'Buy It Now' option for things you want, use the 'Bid' system for whims. When you buy something and it's a good deal, add that seller to your 'Favorite Sellers' and opt to get their e-mail newsletter. You'll get updates when they get new items. A lot of eBay stores also have their own website (GamingETC is an example), and you might get a better deal shopping directly from them.


Final Note: If you're interested in supporting your local gaming store (and you should be), most now have their own websites listing their available products and let you purchase them online.

Thanks for reading. I'd like to hear any comments you might have on this subject, or other good sites to suggest.