It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying and tabletop gaming. This week I’m going to tell you why you should use more toys as minis.
I figure that tabletop gamers fall into two groups; those who supplement their mini collection with toys, and those who hate the idea. If you’re in that second camp, it’s probably because you think that toys just don’t look right on the gaming table. I was one of the haters too, but I changed my mind. Here’s why!
There’s a lot of junk out there, but search hard enough, and you just might find the perfect additions to your collection. I found that toys from Japan can be particularly good, and tend to be on the smaller side, but keeping an eye on your local cheap or second-hand toy shop will pay off eventually, especially if you’re in a biggish city.
Lots of folks online have shown off their dollar store hauls, so that’s an awesome option if you have cheap shops like that in your area. You’re most likely to find animals and mythical creatures such as dragons, but you never know what might turn up.
Two other great sources for toys for minis are your own toy collection and second-hand sales. Such sources usually have a varied collection of toys to choose from, are dirt cheap, and might surprise you with what you’ll find.
Kitbashing and Converting
If you’re ready to do some converting and kitbashing, then toys offer a veritable gold mine of options. Some hobbyists on YouTube recently did a toy monster mashup, go search it out if you’re looking for more inspiration.
With some exceptions, toys are generally a lot cheaper than specifically-produced miniatures, and printing takes time. It’ll take time to find the right toys, but you can usually search while looking out for other things.
The Buying Strategy
Patience and a will to shop around are the keys to success if you’re going to use toys as minis. Buying a couple of odd-looking horses because you need horses for Friday’s game might be fine, but you’ll quickly collect a lot of ugly minis that way.
Rather, keep a list of what you want minis for and play the long game, buying only the best of the best.
Toy Traps to Avoid
Avoid buying online, unless you can find a good size comparison for the toy. Also, avoid cheap-looking plastic, as this can become brittle over time and break easily. Thin plastic is usually the biggest clue, but strange colour changes in the plastic can also give you a hint that the toy will be more hassle than it’s worth in the long run.
I hope this inspires you to start adding some toys to your mini collection. If you have more collecting tips to share, then throw them in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!
The Rising Phoenix Games dude.
Rodney is a writer and editor of tabletop RPGs and a painter of Orks. He is worryingly fond of mill decks in Magic: the Gathering and a self-confessed Japanophile.