Saturday, April 3, 2021

My First Step into the World of Painting Minifigs

When the vast majority of D&D players play out a combat with miniature figures, they use a distance scale of 1" = 5' and the now standard 28mm miniature scale that practically all commercially-produced minis meant for tabletop fantasy games come in. But for the longest time, I've used a smaller scale of ¾" = 5', along with a Chessex 1½" gridded battlemat until I was able to print my own custom ¾" gridded mat. I just like the smaller scale, and I like being able to display larger dungeons or battlefields on a tabletop of manageable size.

That does mean, however, that I cannot use standard 28mm miniature figures for my campaigns. This has never really been a problem, though, because I've always advocated using generic pieces—pawns and checkers and chessmen—rather than proper miniature figures. Plain game-pieces are easy to find in a variety of sizes, and they're more versatile than minis: a handful of checkers or chess-pieces can represent whatever characters or monsters you like, without having to repurpose miniatures in potentially confusing ways.

That said, there are some smaller-scale fantasy miniatures out there, in 1/76 or 1/72 scale (about 18mm to 20mm), which fit on the ¾" grid I like to use. This scale is much more common for WWII and some Napoleonic minis, and what options there are for fantasy also tend to focus on armies—orcs, goblins, skeletons, elves, dwarves, and so forth, with large numbers of minis coming in relatively inexpensive boxes. Dark Alliance miniatures, for example, have about 40 figures in a box (at 1/72 scale), for about ten bucks plus shipping. Not bad at all.

I decided to pick up a box of their orcs, because even if I wound up not getting into the habit of painting 20mm minis, they'd still make decent 28mm goblins. And tonight, I painted one. The results are… adequate for a first attempt? Anyway, I'm more surprised by the fact that in all my years of gaming, this really is my first time painting a mini.

My first orc.

My 20mm orc next to a 28mm ranger that my wife both
designed via Hero Forge and then painted this evening.

Oh, yeah… and because I didn't have any 18mm bases lying around, the orc mini is actually mounted on a bingo chip. For some reason, I just love that. It's just so very "MacGyver." Or at least "DIY." ∎

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