Are Miniatures Family Friendly?
New players often ask me if they need to purchase miniatures to play Dungeons & Dragons. The short answer is no. More specifically, I highly recommend against new players and groups with children using D&D miniatures all-together for multiple reasons. If you really must use mini’s with younger players, try using gummy bears instead.
They're Plastic, How Expensive Can The Be?
First, not all miniatures are plastic. You can get some very high-quality metal mini’s. Having said that, even plastic mini’s are expensive when compared to similarly sized toys made from the same materials. For example, a pack of 90 fantasy creatures and actions figures will run you about $23. Compare that to $55.85 for a set of 9 monster miniatures for D&D.
Consider that you would need one mini for each player and monster. A typical party of 5 characters could run you any where from $10 to $150 for just the character mini’s.The hoards of monsters the party will encounter could quickly run up a bill of hundreds of dollars.
Do Your Kids Really Need to See That?
My wife and I have two big objections to playing with mini’s in our family games. First is the graphic nature of many of the miniatures and the other is the overly sexualized body imagery of many of the hero mini’s.
The vast majority of D&D players are in their late teens or older. Younger players make up a small percentage of the market. D&D’s audience is also heavily male. Makers of miniatures have found that the more gory, realistic and terrifying the monsters are, the better they sell. This has led to some pretty horrific imagery. Honestly, some of it I would classify as nightmare inducing for small children.
I suspect we can credit artists like Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo for the overly sexualized fantasy artwork that seems to have driven both print and 3D art in the D&D realm for decades. While more resent miniture designs have started to pull back from that tradition to make the gaming more family friendly, let’s not forget that mini’s like Astrid, Female Bard and Nolzur’s Human Female Monk are still at the top of the search results for female character figures on Amazon.
For our family games, we have opted to leave the miniatures in the box for now.
Mini's Are Great, If You Have The Money
Having said all that about mini’s, we still collect them. In fact, I have a very large collection of creepy toys. For years I have kept most of them in boxes or on the shelves of my office, where no child shall venture under penalty of certain doom. If you have the funds and your kids are a little older, mini’s can add a whole new dimension to the game. As always, make the decision that is right for your family.