Discover the best miniatures for your D&D adventures
So you want to enhance your D&D experience with beautifully sculpted miniatures to bring your adventures to life. Not sure where to look. Not a problem, look no further because we’ve got you covered, just read on below.
Let’s start with the generally cheaper option of unpainted miniatures (or minis for short). If you’re keen to keep costs low, love to paint or like to make your models your own style, then unpainted minis is the way to go. Below we’ve detailed a few of the best options to consider for your models.
Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures
Nolzur’s Marvellous Miniatures offer a sweet middle-ground between quality and price. Standard humanoid models come in packs of 2 at about £5 a pack making them nice and affordable for players to grab something suitable for their character. There’s a great range too with most playable races covered plus a huge range of monsters varying in price but offering a similarly affordable price.
The models are made of resin, require very little modelling (usually just gluing the model to the base), are generally good quality and are modeled closely after the designs created by WOTC. The only real criticism is that long thin details like swords often end up being curved. However, Nolzur’s come highly recommended as an affordable, good quality option.
Reaper minis lean slightly more into the more budget side of miniatures at a small sacrifice in quality compared to Nolzur’s. There’s a lot of variety on offer here with metal and plastic models depending on your preference. They tend to make better metal models with the plastic versions tending to lose a bit of the details, but still stack up reasonably well on the board.
Generally, I prefer the other options available but Reaper Minis make a perfectly good, cheaper alternative.
Gale Force 9 – Collector’s Series
Gale Force 9 offer a more premium product for those that want slightly more stylish models. Their range of minis isn’t as large as the aforementioned minis, but the ones they make do look great. Often these models are released to coincide with WOTC’s other releases such as their campaign books to help you populate your campaign with some of the main characters involved in those adventures.
We highly recommend these miniatures, the quality is similar to Nolzur’s minis but the posture and build makes them more unique a stand a little taller than their counterparts. They do cost a little more though so be prepared to shell out a little extra for these minis.
Here we get to the cream of the crop. Games Workshop don’t make specific D&D minis, but some of their tabletop games are set in similar, fantasy worlds including Warhmmer: Age of Sigmar, Warcry and their Lord of the Rings game (with D&D taking many cues from the world Tolkien built) meaning that many minis either look the part or form adequate substitutes. You can also invest in some of the miniature based board games Games Workshop produce such as Warhammer Quest: Cursed City, which have excellent miniatures and represent pretty decent value when you account for the number of models (and the fact you get an entire game too).
In terms of quality, Game Workshop are really the premium brand, the quality is usually excellent and while Nolzur and Reaper minis tend to play it a little simpler in style and posture of models, Games Workshop love to go a little over the top. Extra spikes, bevels and embelishments are the order of the day and it really does enhance the product itself. There is a trade-off here with the products tending to be more pricey. Having said that, it can depend on what you buy, box sets of squads can be cheaper model for model than the alternatives like the myrmourn banshees or a battalion of elves making such sets easy to recommend. Other models will set you back a fair penny, but if quality over cost is what you want, then they will certainly make an impact on the table.
One thing to note is that models from Games Workshop are intended for hobbyist modelers meaning that parts will come on sprues that will require gluing together and painting. This does give you the flexibility to build the model how you want, but may not be ideal for those that won’t and out of the box option. You should also be aware that standard D&D models and battlemaps are built for 28mm models but Games Workshop models are usually a bit larger making them a little more awkward on a battlemap (even if they do look excellent).
Unpainted minis are great for the hobbyists out there but may not always be ideal for those of us with limited time, that still want their tabletop to look great. In which case, you may want to look into options for painted miniatures. These tend to be more expensive, but can simply be unboxed ready to play.
Icons of the Realms
Similar to the Gale Force 9 Collector’s series, WizKids release sets of minis to coincide with campaign and setting releases to allow you to use the models as part of your adventure. They look good and are pre-painted so great if you just want to unbox and play. There are different packaged options available including sets (you know which model you’re going to get as part of a set) and booster packs that provide 4 random minis from a campaign or setting.
One thing to bear in mind with these pre-painted minis is while the model is nicely detailed and the painting looks decent, it’s not as good as what could be accomplished by a good painter. You also pay extra for the premium of having a painted mini. We recommend them if your looking for something that looks decent and is easy to play with, if you want excellent quality or to get involved with the painting side of things (or are sticking to a budget) there’re better options elsewhere.
Marketplaces like Etsy and eBay have really opened up the market for independent sellers to be able to share their talents for modeling, at a cost of course. Such things tend to come at a premium depending on the quality and experience of the painter, but often lead to the best look. These are an option if quality is more important than the cost.
Finally, we should probably point out that games of D&D don’t require models at all. The theatre of the mind can be a perfectly great way to play, as can the use of 2d models or tokens. These could be bought or created with the appropriate name or image on or could just be coloured tokens to establish which token represents which character.
However you want to play, what look you want to establish and how much you want to pay is entirely up to you, the great thing about D&D is that it’s still hugely accessible without shelling out lots of cash. Hopefully the options and ideas above will give you some idea of what models to get for your collection.