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Troy’s Crock Pot: In the Land of the Little People

Posted By Troy E. Taylor On August 20, 2008 @ 4:01 am In Crock Pot,Tools for GMs | 11 Comments

He’s a regular Becky HomeEc-y

I like doing crafts. You’re more likely to see me in a Michael’s, a Hobby Lobby or even the paint section at Wal-Mart as you are at a game store. I guess I’m always looking for creative outlets. And painting the 25mm metal miniatures used in roleplaying games is just one way I express myself.

Land of the Lilliputians 

In fact, the most interesting aspect of Third Edition D&D when it was released in 2000 was the support it received in metal miniatures. I picked up the D&D branded Heroes set and the Monsters set and I was painting those for my game. Before long I was painting Chainmail sets — and then I discovered Reaper miniatures, and I was in heaven then, I can tell you. For a while there before I bought storage cases, entering my study looked like Gulliver in the Land of the Lilliputians.

Now I don’t have the world’s largest collection. And while I do a fair job of painting, I’m not a professional quality minis painter. (I’ve seen the quality of painting pros, and there are promises to keep and miles to go before I would consider my brush strokes even deserving to be displayed alongside those folks). Even so, I’m pretty proud of my little collection, and glad to have them for my games.

Age of plastic

I’ve always been of two minds of pre-painted plastic miniatures, such as those for HeroClix and the D&D Miniatures game. 

First, I fully realize not everyone, in fact, mostly everyone, doesn’t want to invest in metal nor even paint figurines for their games. The whole collectable, randomized-pack thing perplexed me, but then, I don’t go for that in trading cards either. So if this was a relatively inexpensive (compared to buying metal) means of getting into the minis scene, then I was cool with that. 

On the other hand, when I saw people trying to roll up a characters that matched what they had in their plastic collection — rather than going with their gut and simply reaching for a metal fig that best fit a character of their creation, I had to admit I was taken aback. 

My own packs

I recently came into possession of a few booster packs of D&D miniatures. So for the past few weeks, my son and I have been opening one each weekend. And I’m starting to see the appeal of the collectors — the grab bag aspect of discovering what treasured rare is inside each pack. 

And to be honest, I’m a lot more comfortable with my 4-year-old playing with the plastic figs (supervised of course) than my pewter minis and their more fragile pinned parts. In fact, we’ve had a blast doing the toy soldier thing with the plastic minis and a few dungeon tiles. No rules, just imagination play with monsters and heroes and a dungeon landscape.

Seeing one of my children embrace this kind of play, to be enriched by the little figs in a positive way is worth more to me than any old metal vs. plastic debate, anyway. Count me in as a fan.

About  Troy E. Taylor

Troy's happiest when up to his elbows in plaster molds and craft paint, creating terrain and detailing minis for his home game. A career journalist and Werecabbages freelancer, he also claims mastery of his kettle grill, from which he serves up pizza to his wife and three children.




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11 Comments To "Troy’s Crock Pot: In the Land of the Little People"

#1 Comment By greywulf On August 20, 2008 @ 4:25 am

I love plastic 1/72 scale historical wargames figures. They’re near as darnit 25mm in size (give or take a few mm), and are a whole lot cheaper than D&D minis. I picked up a pack of 42 Persian Infantry figs for around $8. That’s less than 20c a figure, and they look awesome too!

They’re great for setting a style to your cultures – maybe one Empire is modelled after Ancient Greece, another one Rome or Viking, and there’s my Persians in there someplace. If you want non-humans Irregular Miniatures do a brilliant Fantasy line. Alternatively, orcs ‘n’ goblins are only a green (or brown) paint-pot away. Vikings painted green make great orcs :D

#2 Comment By LesInk On August 20, 2008 @ 7:30 am

I just hated the fact that you had to buy random collections. That darn collectable miniatures game stuff just gets in the way of a GM needing 20 kobolds in his next fight — or even worse for the rarer creatures.

Luckily, there are now several websites businesses that break down the collections into individual miniature purchases. I can now get the pieces I want without always breaking the bank. Granted, it cost more on a per miniature basis (and it should), but I get only what I want.

Now, instead of a partly full very heavy shoe box of unpainted miniatures, I now have a much lighter box *full* of painted miniatures.

The only problem I have now is that I want an easy way to number my 20 kobolds without marking the figurines. Anyone seen any numbered markers that fit under these nicely?

#3 Comment By tman On August 20, 2008 @ 8:11 am

Lesink – Why not just paint a little 1,2,3, etc on the black plastic base. (Or would a colored sharpie work?) Then you can refer to Kobold 1, Kobold 2, etc. It won’t harm the painted figure, but it makes them distinct.

#4 Comment By LesInk On August 20, 2008 @ 8:29 am

@TMAN – I’ve been tempted, but for some reason I don’t want to write on the figurines at any place. Plus, the numbers are not 1 .. n for the particular of monsters I have. I know, very “Type A” of me, but it shows that I value my (cheap plastic, hehe) figurines enough to not mar their surfaces with scrawled numbers.

The closest I have come to a solution is to have several small round pieces of paper with arrows pointing to the character they represent sitting next to the figure. They have to be moved with the figs, but it is clear who #5 is.

My ideal case would be a some plastic circles with numbers written on the side that I set the figurines on and can reuse for any group of creatures. I tried with some checkers, but they were too big for the 1″ grid.

#5 Comment By glennzilla On August 20, 2008 @ 8:33 am

I am a former Warhammer player. And I still love thier multi-part plastic models. They aren’t as cheap at the 1/72nd scale figures, but they are VERY customizable. They also stand up to a child’s abuse pretty well. Weapons and horns might break or bend, but they can be glued right back. The glue actually WELDS the plastic together so it’s a firm bond and they survive being dropped every time.

A single box provides more than a dozen figures, often 18 and sometimes more. They even come with “hero” and “leader” parts.

#6 Comment By nolandda On August 20, 2008 @ 9:43 am

I never was a big miniatures fan, but eventually I got sick of using dice to mark lots of enemies in a large combat.

Especially in combats where there were lots of different enemy types it got confusing. “Wait! I thought the green d4s were the evil wizards.” “No! The black d6s are the evil wizards. The green d4s are the dust devils they summoned in round 2. ”

I went to ebay and purchased a huge lot of common miniatures. I got them for about 35c apiece, but I was patient.

I sorted them by type: one box for human/PC race things, one box for humanoid monsters, and one box for animals/non-humanoid monsters.

I almost never have exactly the creatures called for in a given combat, but I can always find something close enough that confusion is not really a problem any more.

This likely isn’t a good strategy if you are a perfectionist about your minis, but if you only care about keeping track of who is where in large combat scenarios this might work well for you.

#7 Comment By Scott Martin On August 20, 2008 @ 10:02 am

I’ve played AT-43 a few times in recent weeks, and the prepainted nature is a huge part of what sold me on it. In the past the hurdle was simply expense– I was too cheap to invest minis for anything, including a great space battles game.

Now that I’ve enjoyed play with a friend’s units, I really like the appeal of prepainted plastic. It seems hideously overpriced, but at least I don’t have to waste time on a task I don’t appreciate (painting).

#8 Comment By Swordgleam On August 20, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

I didn’t realize D&D was supposed to be played with miniatures until I’d been gaming for two years. My group wasn’t too well off, so all we had were a wizard and a fighter who stood proudly on top of our dice box in the center of the gaming table.

Since then, I’ve started playing with groups that use grids and graphs, but no minis yet. I’ve decided I want to try running my 4e game the “proper” way with tiles (well, printed-out 1inch grids at least) and minis, so I finally went looking for some.

I’m not sure if this it’s alright to put plugs in the comments, but my friend directed me to PopularCollections and I got around 35 individual common and uncommon minis for $15 plus shipping. It’s not a lot, but it’s a start, and I plan mainly to use them for PCs and major villains, anyway, not every mob that comes along. I did clear them clean out of celestial dire badgers, though.

#9 Comment By Troy E. Taylor On August 20, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

Swordgleam: Remember, there is no “proper” way to play the roleplaying game that you love. Whatever works for your group, whatever you say is fun, is the way to go.

The reason minis work for D&D is that many of the feats and tactical features of character creation assume you are using minis and the grid. So if you pick a feat that gives you a tactical advantage, then that feat really only comes into play if you are using the grid. (So yes, the designers get you coming and going). But it doesn’t have to be that way. :)

Thanks for the link to popularcollections.

#10 Comment By Bob On August 20, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

Being a Warhammer player in my youth I’m actually more at ease with letting my kids play with my metal figures rather than the newer plastic models they’ve released. My metal Space Marines in Mk6 armour could put a dent in the side of a car and come out unharmed where as if you drop my Tau and Imperial Guard you can guarantee they will lose at least an arm.

I’ve actually been thinking over the last few days about seeing wether my eldest (7) would actually be interested in wargaming. He’s having a little trouble understanding the concept of tabletop roleplay so it might be a way into it for him.

#11 Comment By nblade On August 20, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

I’m glad, I’m not the only one who has a son playing with their miniatures. My 6 year old, as tries to paint some. It expensive to let him to be sure, but I have bunch of old miniatures I’ll never paint and he gets to do those. He and I actually use them with more simplified Microlite20 rules, my built dungeon pieces(made from Hirst Art molds), and a few d20. He really seems to enjoy that.


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