I’m not particularly good about keeping up with the latest from gaming companies. So my first interaction with the announcement that Wizards of the Coast has discontinued its miniatures collections came primarily from angry tweets. So I went to WotC’s page, I read the announcement, I thought about it for a bit, and here’s my opinion: It’s not surprising.

For as long as there have been official D&D miniatures there have been issues. Wizards launched its collection of minis along with a game, aptly named “The Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Game” in 2003. The idea being that people could get that double bang for their buck. They could use their miniatures for their D&D sessions, but also have a self contained game they could play just with the minis. It Sounded like a good idea, but the game never caught on the way that WotC wanted.

There were two major rules changes to the game, the biggest being in 2008, coinciding with the launch of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition. Wizards even went so far as to update all the stats cards of previous miniatures to make them playable in the new version of the game. This revamp must not have been very successful though, because the ensuing years saw the cancellation of the miniatures game. Not only that but each new set had a different policy regarding the packaging of the minis. Which leads us to last week when the whole thing came to an end.

Here’s the interesting thing though. By most accounts the miniatures line was successful. Back when the game was around, it regularly ranked in the top five collectible games by a several surveys. And even after the cancellation of the game the miniatures appear to have sold well. So what’s the problem? My guess is pressure from Hasbro. I think that when compared, even to WotC’s other properties like Magic: The Gathering, and the actual D&D role-playing game books, the Minis game must have seemed like a flop. So rather than keep hearing it from dad, WotC folded the program. That’s my take anyway.

So what can you do if you’re just getting into D&D and were hoping to purchase some official D&D minis? For now you can still find them around. On Amazon, on Ebay and on specific gaming websites. You can also find miniatures from other companies that will still fit the 1″ square standard, but those tend to be pewter and even more expensive that the D&D ones (which I always found to be overpriced). There is also the option of buying minis that have not been pre-painted, but then you’ll have to paint them yourself or have a lot of gray elves wearing gray clothes.

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Rodrigo

Rodrigo

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8 Comments

  1. January 17, 2011 at 11:28 pm — Reply

    I come from a time when you had to buy each figure, possibly assemble, prime, and then paint it. And while a hand painted figure (once you have developed some skill via practice) is a treasure to behold, the process is expensive and time consuming.
    Painting the one guy you play for six month to several years is worth the investment, but trying to summon the energy to make each of 20 orks for your warband, unique including dry brushing and wet blends just never seems to get done…so you would end up with a ton of unpainted guys over the years. The DnD minis were about cost equivalent to the old metal ones without the risk of lead poisoning and the issue of painting them. The Downside was the paint was hit or miss (but could be primed and repainted if you so desired) and the blind box. A figure might break down to 3ish bucks per either way but with single packs I can choose if I need a specific race/class/gender sculpt or if I need several of one type of monster (goblin, orc, kobald, etc)…the Blind box gives me 6-8 of…something. I would have loved for them to have continued making sets..including the 5 per heroes sets and I would really have loved “Army boxes”
    with an assortment of drow /w driders or orcs, dwarves, kobalds with 5-10 figures with 3-4 different sculpts to reflect differences in weapons, armor or class type.
    This will make me seek out figures like the ones put out by Reaper (RIP Ral Partha) which means even less money spend at the every disappearing FLGS (our local shop does not have the space for a whole wall of single metal figures like the Gameshops of old)

    I will miss the DnD figure line if for no other reason than it was nice to have the option to buy DnD official sculpts and scaled figures. Also Tokens suck, it makes the game seem so much more two dimensional both literally and in ambiance. After all Chainmaille was a miniature wargame before Gary adapted the rules to a roleplaying game.

    Miskatonic

    • seneca
      January 18, 2011 at 7:23 am — Reply

      I play warhammer so I paint entire regiments of guys in a ‘one color at a time’ assembly line style so I really don’t feel sorry for someone who has to paint one model to represent thier own character or the DM who has to paint 10 orcs and 2 trolls. Seriously I own at least 5 fantasy armies and 4 40k armies (futuristic) and have over a thousand models from over 15 years of collecting.

      The upside to that is that if my D&D DM needs something for his game I will have it or a suitable replacement. Mix these models in with the Hero Quest dungeon furniture (doors, chests, tables, bookshelves, shrines, thrones, ect) and all of my D&D games rock visually.

  2. January 18, 2011 at 4:45 am — Reply

    I would love me some minis. But the prize of those babies have made me and my brothers have to play with our old legos figures.
    U kan have a look here http://www.missionumulig.blogspot.com/

  3. brenton8090
    January 18, 2011 at 5:52 am — Reply

    I tell you what: You never have this problem when playing Star Wars D20. I’ve got tons of those little buggers. And the Star Wars minis game is more fun to play, in my opinion. Plus, I always found them to be more “cool” and “collectible.” Plus I get to go “Oh, so THAT’s what Jacen Solo fighting a Weequay would look like.”

    Oh, wait. Wizards makes those too. They’re not cancelling Star Wars minis, too, are they?

    Hey, there’s your poll of the week:
    D&D Minis vs. Star WArs minis vs. Heroclix

    • January 18, 2011 at 9:00 am — Reply

      Actually they have canceled the Star Wars minis game as well, WotC let their rights to Star Wars lapse last year I believe.

  4. January 18, 2011 at 7:58 am — Reply
  5. Kevin
    January 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm — Reply

    You know, a friend of mine got the Castle Ravenloft board game for the holidays, it actually has a whole bunch of minis. Sure, they’re all monochromatic and don’t have a lot of variety, but they should be enough for most games. I imagine the Wrath of Ashamulah or whatever has some too. The games are pretty expensive though, I found this site with suggestions for cheap low-quality minis: http://kassoon.com/#dnd/cheap-minis/

  6. Damascus
    March 28, 2011 at 1:34 am — Reply

    If you can find any quarter machines still selling those Homies guys, you’re made in the shade. You could get a whole set of figures right there. ;)

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