The Alphastream Game Design Blog
WizKids has the license to create the official D&D minis. I absolutely love minis, so I was intrigued when WizKids announced a “Collector’s Edition Miniatures Box” that provides one of every mini in the upcoming WitchLight set. is this a good deal? What do we get? Let’s take a look!
Quick review: WizKids provides D&D minis in a number of ways. For purposes of this set, there are two kinds of minis. The first are “premium” minis that are sold separately or in a visible set where you get exactly what you see on the box. A purple worm. Or, a set of six goblins. That sort of thing. These are often relatively expensive, but detailed and well painted.
The second type is historically the most common: blind boxes. The blind box format lets Wizkids charge a uniform price for a set of minis. For Witchlight, a $17 blind box (cheaper in quantity) contains 1 large or huge figure, plus 3 medium or small figures. Those 4 minis can vary in quality and utility. Without this format, everyone would buy the pit fiend and the less-awesome mini would sit on shelves unsold. Blind box lets us get a wide variety of minis, but some boxes may disappoint us while others astound us with awesomeness.
WizKids also opened up a special store, and they try to entice people there with Promotional minis you can only get by buying from them. I don’t like this. They also give out entirely different collectible minis to stores (1-2 per store) and stores may or may not give them out. I like this even less. I can’t properly tell you how little I like this category. Moving on…
This is available only from WizKids. For the price of $750, which is $787.50 once you add in their new 5% shipping surcharge, you get a total of 81 minis:
To appreciate this, let’s have some pictures. For the 51 blind booster minis, take a look at the Minis Gallery site, which does a great job of showcasing all minis types. You can also click on this link or the one below to see them all on one image.
Worth noting that these minis really lean into the adventure. While some can be used widely, many are specific to the adventure and you many not need/want multiples of some.
Here are the premium minis. The Witchlight Carnival is a set of 10 NPCs from the carnival, while the Swamp Gas Balloon is a really cool hot air balloon vehicle!
The Starter Sets are I think NPCs? Usually the term is for PCs, and perhaps these are actually used as pregens by the adventure, but they seem to be NPCs. (They are famous names, some from the ’80s D&D cartoon and/or from ’80s action figures!)
Those are the standard minis you get. The 7 promotional minis include 2 rabbitfolk and the rest haven’t been seen. We get Tasha and something else.
Buying separately can be done in stores at retail prices, or online at discount prices. You may of course find prices vary, and you may be able to negotiate a savings with your local gaming store.
You will be able to buy the Boosters, though in this case you will want to buy a “case” of minis, consisting of 4 bricks of 8 boxes, all sealed in one big box straight from the factory. You will get 1 of every rare and at least 1 of everything else. There are 50 minis, but you will get duplicates of commons and uncommons for a total of 128 minis in a case. That’s a lot of minis! (Note that buying the Collector’s Edition means you only get 51 or 50 minis, not 128).
You can buy the 2 premium sets and the 2 starter sets. You can’t easily buy the promo minis (I’ve tried) and you wouldn’t want to pay whatever price the 2 exclusive minis end up going for… if anyone sells them.
As you can see above, buying items separately at retail is expensive: $860. But, buying online lowers that cost to $672.
The price for the Collector’s set is $750, but actually $787.50 once you factor in the new 5% shipping surcharge. (It isn’t live yet on their DndMinis site, but is on their WizKids store).
When you buy separately, the blind boxes give you lots of minis. You get 68 more minis buying separately, even taking into account the promo/exclusives you don’t get.
Overall, buying separately online will save you $115.50 and you get 68 more minis. Do you want that? Or do you want those exclusive minis enough to pay more for less? Most of us can’t afford either, but it’s interesting to do the comparison.
I suspect WizKids will tweak this offering over time. I don’t personally find it to be good enough an offer. And, importantly for me as a consumer, I want to feel good about what WizKids offers. The promos and exclusives feel like a cash grab rather than a valuable offering. It banks (truly) on collectors who will buy something inferior just to have it. WizKids already has lots of premium stuff, from a $400 Tiamat figure to a $150 Orcus wand, to a $250 githyanki statue. it shouldn’t need to make a mini of Tasha exclusive to sell a one-of-everything set.
But, that’s my opinion. What do you think? What would you like to see WizKids offer, and how does this one-with-everything box look to you?
Painted minis are feeling more and more like a racket these days. Even unpainted are getting more expensive. The justification that “unpopular minis won’t sell” for blind boxes is just that — a justification. If you’re afraid yet another Grick sculpt won’t sell, stop making Gricks. It’s not rocket science. Give the customer what they want rather than 1 out of 4 of what they want.
Reaper’s unpainted minis are a great, cheaper alternative to WizKids. I only wish they offered a painted line.
I hear that. However, I do have it on good authority that WotC really tried hard to make minis profitable and couldn’t do it. When they experimented with visible minis, then everyone bought the troll or beholder visible and almost no one bought the unicorn. So, at least back then, visible did not work. WizKids has now been doing this a long time, and they are expanding, so it is clearly working. They have more releases than ever… maybe too many. We shall see. There are lots of new players coming in, so in theory all kinds of minis are wanted. But I often hear people say they don’t know how to get started because everything feels inaccessible.
For a game that claims it is not meant to be played with minis… thee are some expensive minis.