Minis question

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Sorry if this isn't the right place to post this...

Just wondering who here uses minis while gaming (as opposed to cardboard circles or other tokens). Among those- how do you manage the cost of minis? I'm a DM about to start a campaign featuring dragonborn, and I've been very frustrated by the rarity of reasonably priced minis for them. Most of the ones I've found are about 30 bucks each, which is just not an option when I want an group of about 5 (preferably identical) to act as dragonborn soldiers. I've been able to find a reasonably costed alternative for most of my other miniatures needs, but all the dragonborn are just crazy expensive. I can always use human soldiers as stand-ins, but you'd think a budget of 40-50 bucks could get me 5 honest-to-goodness scaled baddies.
You could get the Heroquest version - from the Heroes of Khorvaire set - Warrior of Ebberron - or the individual figure "Rhogar Dragonspine - Heroscape Miniatures (Dragonborn)"

Rhogar Dragonspine - Heroscape Miniatures (Dragonborn)

 Have you considered going with metal minis, or converting plastic? Reaper sells a metal "dragonman" conversion kit with several different heads you could splice onto non-dragonborn figures, as well as having a number of dragonmen and lizardfolk minis that would work for dragonborn. The Reaper dragonmen are a tiny bit larger than the official D&D minis, but dragonborn are supposed to be kind of big anyway.


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How I manage the cost of minis: I didn't buy a ton of randomized minis.  Now that I'm DMing, I like to use minis if I can.  PCs *always* have minis.  Monsters have minis when I have one that comes close (I like to use a flesh golem for ogres), otherwise I use tokens.

Some (somewhat) inexpensive sources for minis:
Dungeon Command - Each faction box gives you a set assortment of 12 miniatures, two models of which are doubles, and two of which are Large.  That's $30 at your FLGS, or a bit cheaper at Amazon, so that comes out to between two and three bucks a mini (ignoring the terrain tiles, which can be used as dungeons in your game, too).  Downside?  It's expensive to try to get a large number of mooks this way.  Luckily, some websites break open the packs and sell the individual pieces separately, so you can just buy extra goblins, drow warriors, whatever.

The Adventure system board games - Each board game comes with 40+ minatures, and most of them come in threes.  Ignoring the terrain tiles, you can get minis at a bit more than a dollar this way, including some very nice "villain" pieces (Ashardalon comes to mind).  The terrain tiles are some great added value, especially since it allows you to reveal only part of a dungeon at once.  Downside?  Sixty bucks is not an insignificant amount of money for a lot of people these days.  Just like with DC, though, some sites like to break open the box and sell pieces.  So, if you need 6 kobold archers for some reason, you should be able to get those fairly inexpensively.  Another downside (for a lot of people): these minis are unpainted.  There are some great threads, though, showing how a few people have overcome that.

Closeouts - Some stores may have closeouts on the older random packs of D&D minis.  Some sets were less popular than others, especially after WotC announced the line would be cancelled.  Keep your eyes open.  Even bookstores like Barnes & Noble carried some of these, and if they still have any stock, they might be fairly inexpensive.  You're far better off trying your FLGS, though, but the downside here is that some of these FLGS have the old sets at a premium, seeing them as "collector's items" now.

Metal minis - I'm lucky in that I can drive to Reaper's physical store and buy pretty much anything in their catalog at a whim.  People who don't live near Dallas-Fort Worth, though, aren't so lucky.  Still, Reaper has a great selection of fantasy minis, and they're of a similar scale to D&D's (I think their models are slightly bigger, but since a mini is just a representation of a character, that's not a huge deal).  There are other companies, as well.  Downside?  Just like the board game minis, these are unpainted.  Still, that's half the fun.  You're starting to get into a more expensive territory here, but sometimes it's easier to buy a couple of $5 minis (especially for PCs) then it is to buy a $60 box of minis, despite the value.

D&D Collector's Edition minis - Part of me hesitates to put this on here.  These sets aren't cheap.  However, if you need a beholder, the Beholder set gives you a fairly good selection to choose from (I'm running Gardmore Abbey for my group now, and they'll meet the Ghost Beholder when they clear the watchtower).  These are more expensive, though.  The Beholder collection is $35 for 4 Large minis ($8.75 each), which seems like a lot, but actually jives with the aftermarket Large mini prices.  The Dragon set is $45 for five Large minis ($9 each).  Unfortunately, there are no Huge dragons in the box.

I've also picked up minis from a WoW mini game that came out a few years ago, which a friend gave me before he went into the military (I kept a few of them, especially the murlocs), but the bases are too big for medium creatures.  There's also the afore-mentioned Heroscape miniatures, but it's hard to find those now, in my experience.

Regarding Dragonborn: Unfortunately, WotC hasn't put out many dragonborn minis.  They're in the same boat with gnomes, actually, which I have to break down and use halfling minis to represent.  Castle Ravenloft includes a dragonborn Fighter mini, but it's only one.  Wrath of Ashardalon includes a dragonborn wizard, but, again, it's only one.  Still, you might see if some sites have those minis up for sale.  Get a few of the fighters if you can and paint them yourself.
I used to be a Warhammer/40k player (with a bunch of Reaper stuff purchased for conversions/bits), so not only did I have an impressive collection already, but I was quite used to the idea of paying $3+ per mini, which is what the majority of the old WotC boxes used to sell for. Prices have gone up because that's what prices do, but I can still reliably find painted D&D mini's at $4 per at my FLGS, though that's for random ones. Most of my recent purchases of specific mini's have been at the major conventions (Origins, GenCon) where prices are a little steeper because they're selling to collectors. Beyond that, thewok's suggestion of clearance sales is a good one.

There was recently a kickstarter run by Reaper, the $100 pledge level ended up getting something like 235 mini's. I think this is incredably awesome of them to have done, and I really hope other mini's manufacturers will consider doing similar things in the future.
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you'd think a budget of 40-50 bucks could get me 5 honest-to-goodness scaled baddies.

Maybe go to Troll and Toad and search for Lizardfolks, Troglodytes or Whelps. Also suitable are Half-dragons, Dragon Disciples, Dragonspawn, Draconians, miniatures in full helmets and Mageknight scale servants. Some of my favorites are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.