We’re really living in the age now of affordable D&D miniatures. 3D printers are an emerging technology, but are hardly a guarantee of what you want, let alone the way you want it. They're also still quite expensive (both the printer and the miniatures) if you want things done properly and to a decent standard. There are a lot of cheap 3D print files out there, but a lot of them look quite average compared to what is produced in factories and with molds. The fact is that the technology is still relatively new and the gap will take a while to narrow.
Fortunately, there are some quality companies out there producing a huge variety to suit both players who might desire one or two minis to suit their current PC, their pets and familiars, as well as ambitious DMs who might need a whole lot more for their planned epic adventure. If you're like me, and most people are I'd wager excepting those poor "forever DMs" (my condolences), you fall somewhere in between.
The first thing you’d first want to decide on is whether you’re happy buying unpainted miniatures (and having yourself, or a mate, painting them up) or if you’re keen on pre-painted miniature lines? You’ll generally pay more for the latter than the former, but some of the hard work is done for you. Some players like nothing more than a leisurely afternoon painting their miniatures and specifically ask for the unpainted versions, while others consider it a necessary chore and are more than happy to pay a bit extra to have the work done for them. I’ll link to some examples from our game store as we do our best to curate the best fantasy miniature options available, but you are of course free to look beyond this list.
Reaper Miniatures - Reaper Miniatures is kind of the industry standard for both inexpensive and variety for unpainted miniatures. There's rarely a game store in the world that doesn't stock at least some of their miniatures. At Miniature Hub we pride ourselves on having one of the most comprehensive Reaper Miniature ranges in Australia. More recently, and to coincide with the introduction and success of the below high definition D&D miniature lines from WizKids, Reaper Bones Black is an apt response. Bones Black aims to reach the premium portion of the market, combining the affordability of the Reaper Bones line, and the detail of their Dark Heaven Legends Metal Miniatures line.
WizKids Miniatures’ Nolzurs & Wizkids Deep Cuts - Relatively new kid on the block, but they make high-quality unpainted D&D miniatures on the official D&D licence as well as official Pathfinder miniatures. So what you’re getting is great quality, and more or less accurately represents the monsters and characters of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. We've found that this official aspect is really important to some of our customers who prefer staying on-brand and with a uniform and consistent style when it comes to their miniature collection.
Spellcrow - They're resin, which are a little bit more on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. These miniatures are loaded with the light-weight detail that only resin miniatures can really provide. Additionally, because Spellcrow are an up-and-coming producer, they’ve got some interesting and relatively unique designs for the discerning player hunting for a miniature that few other players may have or know about. Although still a small producer to the overseas market, they're well-known in Europe and unlike some smaller producers who are more stagnant in their growth and innovation, Spellcrow are producing new high quality molds, and thus miniatures, regularly.
Dungeon Saga - We know they're for a board game, but who cares, they're great value! I first ran into these little gems many months back when looking for a whole bunch of rats and spiders for my Sunless Citadel game where I really wanted to buff up the wererat matriarch encounter. Their Dungeon Critters pack really fit the bill and helped pad out the encounter with the hordes of giant rats I needed. Same with a lot of their other offerings, they are well-targeted to the bulk D&D minis niche - an area official dnd miniatures have yet to fill. So, if you're happy to go with n
Krakenships - Our newest line of miniatures! In response to the growing demand for niche races for Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and 3rd party materials, we had a big dig around for a manufacturer that is dedicated to filling this market niche. There are decent number of miniature producers out there, but not many focused on filling long-standing racial niches. Eventually we found Krakenships. They've been running a number of successful kickstarters, initially to launch their range of Firbolgs, and the latest one aims to fill the need for Tortles and Tabaxi dnd minis. And, as far as we know at the time of this article's writing, we are their only retailer to the Australian market. So, no need to sign up for expensive postage to Australia via the kickstarter, we've got you covered for these unique miniatures when they're ready for release! For the latest information on pre-orders and new stock, we recommend liking our Facebook page, or following us on Instagram.
There are heaps more unpainted fantasy miniature options out there, far too many to mention here. The above is more an overview of what we've selected for our store, but you can find a lot of gems in other miniature lines worldwide, which may be particularly pertinent if you're looking for a unique character mold that no one else at your table has seen before.
D&D Icons of the Realms Boosters & Pathfinder Battles Boosters - These packs have been around almost as long as Paizo has existed, and D&D has been with Wizard’s of the Coast. They don’t retail new as individual figures yet, but come in booster packs of randomized miniatures within a series, similar to Magic the Gathering booster packs. They’re a steady, albeit more expensive, option for those looking for pre-painted minis, and are happy to get heaps of them. If you want to pick up individuals on these in the secondary market (e.g. eBay, Facebook Marketplace etc), they can sometimes be a steal. Some local game stores also sell them individually, but the only one online that I can recommend for now is Troll and Toad.
WizKids Premium Figures - The new'ish kids on the block for high-quality prepainted miniatures. More expensive than the unpainted Nolzur’s and Deep Cuts versions, and lacking in variety currently, but exquisite in their paint job quality. They're D&D miniatures for the non-painter who still wants a gorgeous figurine.
WizKids 4D Settings - The even newer kids on the block. These beauties are the premium terrain options from WizKids. This is not principally a post about terrain, but 4D settings are just so good, that they just had to be mentioned.
Reaper Miniatures: Legendary Encounters - is an aged line, which is a little surprising, as for a while they were the most affordable pre-painted miniatures on the market. For some reason, though, Reaper are moving away from pre-painted offerings, so our range for them is limited. So, pick them up while stocks last, as it is unlikely we will see any more of them in the near future.
Mojo (or kid's toys more generally) - Sometimes the most obvious solution is right under our sticky-fingered gaze. Children's plastic toys these days are a cut above what they were in yester-year, often being durable (to the point at which you could whack them in a school or dice bag and they'll emerge relatively unscathed), well-painted and decently sculpted. And, with the rise of so many toy lines containing fantasy themed offerings, as well as D&D 5e's recent focus on adding dinosaurs etc to the game, it's never been a better time to pinch from your kid's collection. Just take them, glue them to a Reaper Base of the appropriate size, and voila! As linked above, we stock some lines from Mojo, for this very reason - they're affordable and of surprisingly tabletop quality for your dnd miniature games. Just add a base and they look the part. What's not to like?
Still not affordable enough for you? Dang... well, there is one more option. As lamentable as it is, you can often find people (or their relatives) out there who are selling their old miniature collections. If all you're after is a whole bunch of minis, then Gumtree, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace may be the place for you. This could include official prepainted D&D Miniatures or something like Games Workshop or Frostgrave miniatures, and other multipack lines which are great if you just need a whole pile or Orcs or Skeletons etc. I picked up a whole box full of neglected Icons of the Realms prepainted miniatures the other day for $100 AUD. It ended up being about $2 a miniature. Bargain. The only downside was that they were quite neglected, with scuff marks and dislodged bases, likely more due to poor storage than table use. So, if you're happy to "wear" the cost of previous owners in exchange for affordability, then this might be the easiest way to quickly upscale your collection.