Friday, September 12, 2014

Review: D&D Miniatures by Wizkids

Although I passed on the Icons of the Realms miniatures starter set that came out earlier this summer in conjunction with the big Hoard of the Dragon Queen release, I finally found a FLGS that actually had some of the boosters, and decided to check them out to see how they look. I got two boxes (each box contains one large creature and three small/medium sized creatures), which my FLGS was selling for $15.99 each (only slightly more than you'll find on Amazon), meaning they clock in at around $4 per figure. That is a bit much for my taste.

These are "blind boosters" meaning that you don't know what you're going to get until you open it up (which will presumably not be until you buy it). I find this a huge strike against them right off the bat. As a DM, I will be looking for specific figures, and want to have large numbers of certain types of figures like orcs and skeletons. There are 44 different figures in the series, and we have been told that the dragons (and a few of the other figures) in the Dragon Wing Attack game will be repurposed from the D&D miniatures line, but given different bases for the game.

The first box contained a black shadow dragon, an invisible sun elf wizard, a guard drake, and a hobgoblin warrior. The second box contained a frost giant, a kobold fighter, a human red wizard, and a quickling. At least I think that's what they are - the writing on the bottoms of all of the figures except the large ones is nearly impossible to read, and I literally have a magnifying glass helping me.

Small bases are 3/4" in diameter, medium bases are 1", and large bases are 2". The bases themselves are plain black disks with no raised lip or any decoration. Regardless of size, all are 1/8" thick.

The sculpts are very well-executed and have a lot of good detail that the paint jobs pick up well.

The paint jobs on the figures are nice, except for the invisible elf and the shadow dragon, which are unpainted. This is because the invisible elf is cast completely in clear plastic (to show she's invisible), and the shadow dragon is cast in a smoky semi-transparent gray that gives a very nice effect. The human red wizard also has some semi-translucent plastic around the hands to simulate some spell effect, and it works. The human wizard is a full 30mm to the eyes (not counting the base), which makes these even a tad larger in scale than the "heroic" 28mm that has come to replace true 25mm over the years.

Wizkids' 30mm scale frost giant (l) from 2014,
and Grenadier's 25mm scale frost giant (r), circa 1980
Even at that scale, the frost giant seems a bit too large. In scale he's something like 18' tall, which is 20% taller than the 15' tall they were in previous editions (I don't have the 5E Monster Manual yet, so I don't know if they're taller in the game or the figure is just outsized). EDIT: Now that I have the Monster Manual, it says frost giants are 21' tall. Wowzers!

The small figures, the kobold and the quickling, seem somewhat frail, like their legs are going to break at any moment. They're made of the same semi-flexible plastic as many other prepainted figures (and the kobold's pole-arm is bent), so I'm guessing they'll endure just fine, but they give the impression of frailty.

One other thing - I think the fact that the shadow dragon is flying is going to lessen its utility at the table. I understand that they want to repurpose the figures for D&D Attack Wing, but when I've run dragon encounters in the past, they're rarely flying (at least not constantly). Too, I don't think I will ever end up using the invisible elf, because it's just too specific a figure. I might use it as a generic "invisible character" marker, but that somehow feels like I'm defeating the purpose of the figure. And if I get more of them in some other box, I'm going to be a little ticked off that I'm wasting money on figures I won't use.

On the whole, I'm not too impressed with the line and probably won't be buying any more of the boosters. If they come out with some sort of themed sets later, I might go in on a box depending on what's inside, but I don't find blind fishing worth $4 per figure (close to twice that if you pay the actual MSRP). Too, the ever-increasing scale makes them harder and harder to use with my older 25mm figures (which are also "thicker" and give more of an impression of substantiality).


Callin said...

When I first heard of them, that was my largest concern: paying a large sum for blind packs.

Thanks for your write-up, I was going to get a couple to check out but I will save the money now.

Tom said...

You had me at "blind boosters".

Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

Peter V. Dell'Orto said...

Thanks for the review. I figure I'm going to do what I always do - pick up loose figures on the secondary market - eBay, mainly, or game store bins.

It's my secondary market purchases that makes the blind booster buyers take the risk - they get a shot at rares, I get to pick and choose with I need with no risk.

Joseph Bloch said...

Agreed, Peter. If there are some cool ones that are in the line I might want to get them on eBay or at my FLGS (or if I can get specific ones at some point directly from Wizkids). But now that I've satisfied my curiosity, I'll be passing up other blind boosters.

The Dale Wardens said...

I don't know if you know the trick, but you can fix the bent soft plastic minis fairly easily.

Run your tap water as hot as you can (you don't have to boil it.) Put the bent part of the mini in the water and let it soften up. Straighten it out so that it looks good and put it in ice water! If it needs a little tweeking repeat the process.

Thanks for your review!