Tag Archives: WizKids

A quick look at the Tyranny of Dragons miniatures

The last prepainted Dungeons & Dragons miniature set, Lords of Madness, reached stores in 2010. Since then, I have grown eager for a new source of plastic miniatures. The Pathfinder miniatures line included some good figures, but they come mixed with lots of characters and monsters unique to their adventure paths.

So the release of the new Icons of the Realms Tyranny of Dragons collectible miniatures excited me. This set of 44 miniatures comes in boxes of 4 randomly-assorted miniatures that retail for $15. The price continues a decade of steep increases. In 2003, Harbinger boosters only cost $9.99 for 8 figures. My desperation for new plastic helps overcome the sting of paying so much per figure.

Don’t complain about the random assortment. If you want to buy specific figures from the sets, plenty of vendors sell them individually. Unless you crave the splashy rares, and the excitement of cracking a box, you get a better deal buying singles.

The set’s big draw comes from dragons and other flying creatures posed in flight atop clear plastic pillars. In the past, only a few bats and stirges received this treatment.

Pegasus - Tyranny of Dragons (large uncommon)

Pegasus – Tyranny of Dragons (large-sized uncommon)

Harpie - Tyranny of Dragons (medium rare)

Harpie – Tyranny of Dragons (medium-sized rare)

If you handicap your dragons by making them fight on the ground, then the new flying dragons won’t suit you. Plenty of grounded dragons have appeared already, and you can still buy them from resellers. I’m eager to pit some players against a green dragon just so I can swap figures when the creature takes off. Yes, I know this is a shameful indulgence.

Green dragons - 2008 D&D Starter Set vs. new flyer

Green dragons – 2008 D&D Starter Set vs. new flying  green

The set’s other splashy feature comes from invisible character miniatures molded from translucent plastic. Most rare figures feature a lot of costly, painted details. To WizKids, these invisible rares must seem like an ideal combination of zero painting (cheap!) with the sort of collectability that entices buyers. Did the idea for these minis start as a board-room joke about selling empty boxes full of “invisible” figures? If you buy singles, don’t complain. Premium figures like these make the others more affordable, because resellers can charge $30 for an invisible Drizzt, and then use the profit to offset the cost of all the ordinary figures they opened to find him.

Invisible Human Female Ranger and Drizzt

Invisible Human Female Ranger and Drizzt

The Red Wizard may rate as my favorite figure. I love the magical fire sculpted from translucent plastic around his hands. Too bad this guy arrived too late represent some of the enemies in Dead in Thay.

Red Wizard - Tyranny of Dragons

Red Wizard – Tyranny of Dragons

The Rock Gnome Female Wizard and Stout Heart Halfling Female Bard rank as the set’s two most welcome additions to my collection. Past D&D miniatures sets presented gnomes and halflings with the same proportions as humans, making the figures look like tiny humans—15mm-scale mistakes. None of these figures satisfied me. The new gnome and halfling look good.

micro-human Lidda, Halfling Rogue from Harbinger (2003) flanked by a new Gnome and Wizard

micro-human Lidda, Halfling Rogue from Harbinger (2003) flanked by a new Gnome and halfling

Apparently, miniature sculptors cannot agree on what a wyvern looks like. The new set’s flying wyvern looks puny compared to the specimen from the Pathfinder Battles Savage Star set, and emaciated compared to the one in the 2004 Aberrations set.

Pathfinder, Tyranny, and Aberrations Wyverns

Pathfinder, Tyranny, and Aberrations Wyverns

In the things-that-bother-nobody-but-me department, I continue to be annoyed by miniatures that seem out of scale. This set’s offense comes from the Orog, a new candidate for the worlds largest medium-sized creature. Check out this oversized orc posed next to the undersized Storm Giant from Against the Giants and the new Frost Giant figure.

Orog, Storm Giant, and Frost Giant

Orog, Storm Giant, and Frost Giant

You will need these to read the writing on  the bases

You will need these to read the writing on the miniatures’ bases

An ideal set of random miniatures matches the rarity of figures to the number game masters will probably need. Goblins and skeletons can be common because you can always use more. Dragons and mind flayers can be rare, because you probably just need one. Mostly, this set aligns rarity with usefulness. The flying bases push the rarity of some flyers higher than they should be. I would be happy with several flying gargoyles, but I have yet to open a single one of these rares. Also, as much as I like the Gnome Wizard and Halfling Bard, I only need one of either common figure.

I have opened 3 uncommon green dragons, but no uncommon shadow dragons, 3 uncommon frost giants, but no uncommon stone giants. This means it is time to stop buying random boxes and turn to buying singles from resellers to fill out my collection.

The most useful Pathfinder Battles miniatures for any fantasy game

A year or so ago, I posted my list of the 11 most useful types of miniatures. This list remains one of the most popular posts on this site. However, since that post, those old D&D miniature figures have continued to grow scarcer and their secondary-market prices higher. This summer, WizKids will sell a new line of pre-painted, plastic Dungeons & Dragons miniatures, so we will finally see some new D&D figures to buy.

After the end of the last D&D miniatures line, Paizo and WizKids entered the market with their Pathfinder Battles line. These sets focus on figures unique to Pathfinder and the game’s adventure paths, producing many creatures and personalities that cannot come from anywhere else. Because I don’t run the adventure paths, the Pathfinder line includes too many figures that I won’t use, so I seldom buy the randomized boxes.

Still, the Pathfinder Battles line does include figures useful to any game master, so I’ve cherry-picked many figures on the secondary market. For an excellent gallery of Pathfinder Battles figures, refer to pathfinderminis.com.

Chimera Pathfinder Battles miniature
Succubus Pathfinder Battles miniature
Lich Pathfinder Battles miniature

The Heroes & Monsters set ranks as most useful set of random miniatures ever released by any vendor. The commons seem torn from my list of most useful miniatures. The rares feature cool and iconic monsters from the Chimera to the Succubus, plus the best Lich ever.

Watch Officer Pathfinder Battles miniature
Watch Guard Pathfinder Battles miniature
Rogue Pathfinder Battles miniature

I stocked up on the Watch Officer and Watch Guard, the Human Rogue, the Gargoyle, and the Mummy. I like that the Skeleton omits the shining armor found on most of the D&D skeletons—shining armor seems like an odd accessory for bones rising from a graveyard or crypt.

Gargoyle Pathfinder Battles miniature
Mummy Pathfinder Battles miniature

Skull & Shackles ranks as my second-favorite Pathfinder set for one reason: pirates. If I update my list of most useful miniatures, pirates will leap ahead of some other types.

Pirate Sailor Pathfinder Battles miniature
Pirate Smuggler Pathfinder Battles miniature
Tessa Fairwind Pathfinder Battles miniature

I’ve purchased at least one copy of every pirate in Skull & Shackles. Plus, I love the Bloodbug (pronounced “stirge”).

Bloodbug Pathfinder Battles miniature
Wererat Pathfinder Battles miniature

Urban adventures always seem to include wererats, so the Wererat figure will also get a lot of time on the table. I like the sharks too, but you know my hang-ups about underwater adventures. Use them for Arduin air sharks.

Earth Elemental Pathfinder Battles miniature
Air Elemental Pathfinder Battles miniature

Third place goes to Shattered Star for a full range of elementals ready for heavy rotation at any game table.

Fire Elemental Pathfinder Battles miniature
Water Elemental Pathfinder Battles miniature

I also like the Tower Girl as a PC, the Cleric of Zon-Kuthon as an undead mastermind, and Sheila Heidmarch as a non-fighting noble.

Tower Girl Pathfinder Battles miniature
Cleric of Xon-Kuthon Pathfinder Battles miniature
Shiela Heidmarch Pathfinder Battles miniature

The new Reign of Winter set includes some good animal companions and familiars, such as the Owl, Falcon, and Goat. No player has yet chosen a spirit goat companion for their PC, but I hope to see one soon.

The new D&D miniatures line should add these figures that have never been done before

Drizzt Do'Urden D&D Miniature

Drizzt Do’Urden D&D Miniature

Last week, Wizards of the Coast announced a deal with WizKids to produce pre-painted, plastic miniatures for Dungeons & Dragons. These new figures will accompany the D&D Next release this summer. As with the Pathfinder Battles miniatures, also from WizKids, the line will include both blind, randomly-assorted boosters and visible starter packs. The visible Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures Heroes starter packs include 6-figures priced at $19.95, and will reach stores in July.  In August, the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Miniatures: Set One Boosters go on sale. These packs will include 4 figures drawn from a set of around 54 figures, likely priced at $15.99. The same sculptors who do HeroClix and Pathfinder Battles will sculpt the D&D line, so the quality will rank just as high. The sample photos show Drizzt Do’Urden as one upcoming figure.

I loved the original D&D miniatures, so when rising costs forced WotC out of the miniatures market, I felt dismayed. No alternatives suited me as well. I have boxes full of Reaper Bones, and while I’ve painted a few, I’m not ready to make painting another hobby. The Pathfinder Battles line boasts quality, pre-painted figures, but the line includes too many figures specific to the adventure paths and to the Pathfinder bestiary.

If I had the ear of someone planning a D&D miniature release, I would give my list of useful miniatures that have never appeared in plastic.

  • cave fisher wind-upCave fisher – I realize that this odd monster seems like it would hardly see use as a miniature, but I keep running published adventures that include cave fishers. Obviously, adventure authors fancy cave fishers because of their interesting mode of attack and because they can fit logically into the caverns where adventures happen.

  • Pixie – When Heroes of the Feywild added pixies as an available race, they became a surprisingly popular choice at my tables. But no pixie figures exist. We need a tiny pixie on a clear plastic flight stand similar to all the bats, birds, and stirges in earlier sets.

  • City guard with crossbow – I listed city guards among my 11 most useful types of miniatures, but none of the available figures hold a bow. Just about every type of humanoid needs to be represented with more figures with bows.

  • Medium displacer beast – Many folks love complimenting their character with pets, and in fourth edition, the displacer beast ranks as a most popular choice. Too bad no medium-sized displacer beast figure exists.

  • Mushroom – Towards the end of the original run of D&D plastic miniatures, each set seemed to include an inanimate object such as a ballista, treasure chest, or magic portal. I want to see this theme continued with a giant mushroom ready to be added to my collection of dungeon decor.

    Update: A mushroom figure escaped my notice. Thanks Shawn!

  • Ulder Ravengard card from Murder in Baldur's Gate

    Ulder Ravengard card from Murder in Baldur’s Gate

  • Dark-skinned, armored fighter – When I ran Murder in Baldur’s Gate, I looked for a figure to represent the brown-skinned Ulder Ravengard, but I discovered that nothing suitable existed.

  • Translucent green slime – Another monster that adds easily to an encounter, I want a green slime miniature sculpted from translucent plastic.

  • Goblin spellcaster – Every low-level D&D adventure includes a battle with goblins or kobolds–encounters that typically include a shaman or spellcaster of some sort. Kobolds have spellcaster figures, but no suitable goblin exists.

What figure would you like to see?