Cheap miniatures

We like our fantasy games to be cheap and cheerful and so, rather than spending upwards of a fiver for one or two of Games Workshop’s (undoubtedly excellent) offerings, our armies are composed of figures from a wide variety of other sources.

Some of our favourite suppliers and manufacturers of reasonably priced miniatures are:

  • Warrior Miniatures- nice pirate miniatures amongst many other 25mm and 28mm ranges- Pirates are good 28mm
  • Irregular Miniatures- some very handy 28mm (and every other scale too) figures- a huge variety of ranges
  • Denizen Miniatures – slender 25mm fantasy and sci-fi figures
  • Ground Zero Games- some good civilians- 25mm scale
  • EM4 miniatures- 28mm metal and plastic figs including ultra cheap plastic orcs and dwarfs
  • Wargames Factory- plastic 28mm- some excellent zombies and orcs and useful bits left over
  • Twilight Creations- ultra cheap plastic zombies, zombie dogs, skeletons etc. a bit on the smaller side of 25mm
  • Grim Reaper Miniatures Nasteez figures offer very reasonably priced monsters- lots of good giants. Now defunct, I think, but try Spirit Games in Burton, they have a large stock.
  • Rapier Miniatures- nice 28mm Witches for those Hallowe’en dioramas but we love the pumpkin heads…
  • Mantic plastics also look good. We got some cheap Mantic elves from Ebay but they are a bit on the skinny side for 28mm!

Prince August moulds for casting your own figures- made of lead scavenged from skips, church roofs and discarded tyre weights! The newer PA fantasy moulds are an improvement on the original ‘classic’ range.

Of course, if you are feeling adventurous you might want to make your own figures. There are a few suppliers of 25mm or 28mm armatures / puppets / dollies which are basically a blank figure onto which detail (clothes etc) can be modelled. I have found the ones from Amazon Miniatures (now defunct, I think) to be OK but they have no faces or hands (and they are made of very brittle metal). Ebob Miniatures do great ones with proper hands, feet, heads and faces which are really useful. They do men, dwarves and halflings. The latter are great for making figures of children.

Similarly handy are Irregular Miniatures 28mm nudes- which are male figures and not necessarily nude as they come in a variety of tunics, bare chsted, with trousers etc. Still £1.80 for three.

 

Many of our figures are bought from car boot sales or charity shops- also a good source of plastic trees, buildings, animals, dragons, dinosaurs, vehicles etc. of no particular scale!

If you are looking for cheap versions of Games Workshop plastic figures then you can sometimes pick up the Heroquest, Talisman or BattleMasters games reasonably cheaply. The latter in particular has a large number of 28mm knights, goblins, orcs, wolves, chaos warriors and undead. Heroquest also comes with an array of dungeon furniture too.

Sci-fi buffs should also look out for the Space Crusade game.

In a similar vein, the non-GW Darkworld game also has a wide selection of fantasy figures and monsters.

There are many, many versions of the Dungeons and Dragons game which come either with half a dozen plastic (sometimes metal) 25mm adventurer figures or with a full panoply of plastic monsters. Some of these are good, some bad, many downright ugly. There is a pre-painted set which is very good though and has interesting monsters.

The game Key To The Kingdom has four (or maybe six) 28mm scale warriors in horned Viking helmets and carrying lanterns, plus a 40mm Dark Lord.

A game called Labyrinth has four plastic warrior figures – about 35mm tall, so heroic, but still nice.

Another game to look out for is Impact- this has both sci-fi human troopers (good for future Torchwood?!) and dinosaur / lizardmen. All in a 28mm scale.

Crossbows and Catapults comes with two opposing forces- Vikings and Barbarians in the original sets and Knights and Orcs in the recent reissues. We haven’t seen these newer ones but the original figures are good- Vikings are large and heroic (about 30mm scale) and the Barbarians are OK but decidedly odd looking with their square bodies!

Heroscape is a wonderful source of pre-painted plastic miniatures in a 30mm ish scale. If you can buy a set cheap, well worth getting. Keep the minis, sell the hex terrain on Ebay.

In a similar style to Crossbows and Catapults is the Weapons and Warriors series. We have seen two sets: Pirates and Knights. The pirates set is sometimes also called Blackbeards Treasure. It comes with pirate ships and rowing boats, wooden stockades, cannon, palm trees and lots of pirate figures- all in 25mm scale.
The knights set has some really good mounted knights in a 28mm ish scale and some slightly smaller men-at-arms

Moving further afield, the Batman board game Shadow Assault has 4 30+mm pre-painted Batman figures and 20 x 25mm plastic Ninja figures- bald headed in clear plastic they are generic enough to be used as basic conversion fodder- just add a spear, sword or gun to the right hand, a shield on the left arm, model some hair or a helmet from greenstuff…

Want to play Quidditch? The Harry Potter and Philosophers Stone Trivia Game comes with 8 broomstick mounted Hogwarts kids. They are about 32mm scale I guess but fine for use with smaller ranges. I have seen two versions of the set- one set has two pre-painted teams but in the other they are un-painted (moulded in red and green  plastic).

The Harry Potter “Rescue at Hogwarts” game has a 28mm Harry, Hermione, Buckbeak (hippogriff) and three Dementors. Hard to find but great!

And then there is the Indiana Jones DVD boardgame with 4 plastic unpainted Indies in 28mm and the Temple Run boardgame with four unpainted 28mm plastic runners.

Moving even further afield, look out for Cluedo sets! Several modern versions have 28 – 35mm ish plastic figures in a 1930s style. There are at least three different versions of these in grey plastic- including one where all the figures are carrying luggage. All the sets are useful for conversions but some are a bit slender. I use a lot of these for the witches and wizards in Harry Potter.

Best of all, there is a special edition Cluedo set with pewter figures in a perfect 28mm scale- complete with dog and butler. Perfect for Pulp and Cthulhu games they are very similar to Copplestone ranges.

There is a further Cluedo game with pre-painted plastic figures. Nice but a little on the large side even for our catholic tastes, as are the similar figures in the Dragonology boardgame.

Speaking of pre-painted figures- check out the collectable miniatures ranges- Mage Knight, Heroclix (superheroes), Combat Hex Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who.
The scales are erratic and some on the large side but if you can get them cheap they are a welcome addition… There is even a Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit game with four pre-painted miniatures of this type…

Want trolls, demons or other monsters? Look for the plastic Gormiti figures- about 5 – 7cm in height or the recent pre-painted Monster In My Pocket figures. The MIMP figures fetch good money on Ebay too.
Want 28mm scale giants? What about the McDonalds Happy Meal ‘Gimli’ figure- still available at all good car boot sales.

And finally… Games Workshop’s Battle Games In Middle Earth magazine was a great source of figures and copies, with figures, can still sometimes be had for a song at boot sales.

The ongoing Dr Who Adventures magazine also regularly has ‘free’ figures in a very approximate 25 – 30mm scale. Some are good, some are dreadful but look out for weeping angels and Daleks (you can never have too many Daleks)

That’s all for now but I will add further thoughts as they come to me…

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