New players often ask me if they need to purchase miniatures to play Dungeons & Dragons. The short answer is no.
I recommend against new players and groups with children using official D&D miniatures for multiple reasons. If you really want to use mini’s with younger players, try using gummy bears or one of the many cartoon-themed toy sets that are available.
Here are two good examples of what I mean. Disney’s character miniatures are more in line with the cartoon look and feel that I try to present to younger players. While the Wildspire Fantasy Miniatures would be found at my “grown-ups table.”
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.
Remember that you need one mini for each player and monster. A typical party of 5 characters could run you anywhere from $10 to $150 for the character minis. The hoards of monsters the party will encounter could quickly run up a bill of hundreds of dollars unless you are printing your own… more on that later.
My wife and I have two big objections to playing with traditional D&D minis 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 minis.
Because the target market for minis has traditionally been young males (15 to 24), minis made for the game tend to be overly graphic. 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 printed and 3D art in the D&D realm for decades. While more recent miniature designs have started to pull back from that tradition to make the gaming more family-friendly, let’s not forget that minis 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 younger kid games, we have opted to leave official D&D miniatures in the box for now.
Having said all that about minis, I have a very large collection of miniatures, monster minis, and generally “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 table.
A not-so-big secret is that I have two 3d printers. I subscribe to multiple Paetron vendors like Loot, Crippled God Foundry, Archvillain Games, and White Warewolf Tavern. So for less than $50/mo I get about 50 new minis and countless terrain pieces I can print myself.
If you want to design your own mins, Hero Forge is a great place to go. I personally sit down and help players design their minis and purchase them for the players after they have played the same character for 5 levels. It’s a great incentive for the players 😀
Want something affordable and already painted? Amazon has many options. From the Disney and Lego options to the official Heros of the Realm collections, you can have them delivered to your door.
Check out the video and links below for more info.
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