Today in my series of photos from my travels: a collection of painted underwear-pervert miniatures on a game-dealer's table at last year's ComicCon in San Diego. I love painting miniatures -- when I was a teenaged D&D player, it was my absolute top favorite part of the game. I ruined more shirts, tables and carpets with my hobby! There's a great gaming shop in Covent Garden, The Orc's Nest (awesome name, too!) where they always have a window-full of painted intricate miniatures, usually on sale for just a little more than the unassembled, unpainted versions (and charmingly, the finished ones are glued to tuppence coins as bases). I've never guessed, but I've always just assumed that the reason that these finished pieces -- which must have hours of labour in them -- are available for just a pound or two more than the unfinished ones is that the painter is an obsessive like I was, whose living and working space is completely jammed with painted minis, leaving quick sales as the only way to practice the hobby without drowning in figs. Link

Update Whoops! I stand corrected! These are "HeroClix" miniatures and they come pre-painted. Man -- stop playing tabletop games for twenty years and they get all pre-packaged on ya!

21 Responses to “Painted gaming miniatures”

  1. zjmna says:

    Really low quality figures: eyes facing all directions and the like. But they have an appeal for gamers who can’t tell one end of a paintbrush from the other. Some of my friends are avid collectors, and they would never have started playing in the first place had the figures required painting. I guess my main complaint would be that they really slather on the paint so a lot of the figure’s original detailing is lost with a second layer of paint.

  2. zjmna says:

    I like Mr. Terrific sitting in a crowd of Marvel characters… he was released about 2 years after the other figures, so he’s really out of place in that group of figures.

  3. stratosfyr says:

    I’ve done a few custom Heroclix. I turned Black Cat into Buffy and Blade into Angel, a Viper into Spider-Woman, a detective + “Con Artist” (really a hooker) + beret = Jean DeWolff… and a few others. It’s a fun game to play, too, but most people I know just collect and/or customize them.

    If I had to paint them all, though, I think I’d go crazy! Especially since they’re blind-packed and it’s hard to get your favourites sometimes. I wouldn’t mind painting characters I really liked, but I’m happy to just ignore, say, Sabretooth.

  4. kyderdog says:

    >>Well here is a pre-rolled d20 to go with em if anyones wants…

    The real place to get to get unpainted figures is Reaper Miniatures. They come out twice a month with new figures:

    They have a great line of mini’s and a game based on them called Warlord (28mm)

    They are by far the most detail mini’s on the market.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wizkids (who also produces HeroClix) did release an unpainted booster packs/figures for Mage Knight way back.

    It didn’t sell too well for them to continue the trend. But it’s cool while it lasted.

  6. Christopher J Olsen says:

    On the general subject, I should point out that there is a great NerdPunk band from Sacramento, California called the Foureyes that has a song called “Painting Guys” which is about exactly this sort of thing.

    As goofy as the Foureyes’ premise is, and as goofy as they are, they’re actually worth listening to for more than just the chuckle you get in the first five seconds of appreciating the novelty.

  7. Gilbert Wham says:

    Mmmmhmmmm, Ral Partha was the shit. Scale was off compared to Citadel &c IIRC. Anyone remember those tiny 15mm miniatures for Traveller? I fuckin loved traveller, I wish I still had all my gamebooks… :(

  8. belldl says:

    Ok, um, dumb question, but I thought Heroclix ( come already painted? Are the ones pictured homemade?

  9. BaconWrapped says:

    These are pre-painted minifigs from a game called HeroClix. They come like that. It would be neat if they sold blank ones.

  10. moik says:

    actually, the gaming figures in your photo don’t come UNpainted. these aren’t the kind of lead “tsr” or “grenadier”-type ad&d figures you may or may not have painted as a kid, but rather heroclix. if anyone painted THEM, it was some hapless dude in China who was probably absolutely baffled by the reason behind the damned things.

  11. Cory Doctorow says:

    Who knew? Spend twenty years out of the field and the next thing you know, they’re selling all the miniatures pre-painted!

  12. abq halsey says:

    I’m just interested in seeing the environment of the factory where they are painted.

  13. belldl says:

    Followup – there is at least one guy who makes & ebays custom Heroclix. Check for an example of his work, featuring the incredibly awesome, batshit crazy Jean Loring.

  14. LB says:

    They may come pre-painted, but HeroClix are still pretty neat – the sheer variety of characters is amazing. They have a Jessica Jones *and* a Jewel figure.

  15. shannonpatrick17 says:

    Pre-Painted NO THANK YOU! Painting them yourself was half the fun! I spent hours of my teenage life painting Ral Partha, Grenadier, Thunderbolt Mountain Miniatures, also scrounging up interesting looking rocks, wood, and foliage for dioramas.
    Some old ones I painted back in the good ol days:

    I remember vividly when I was and teen cajoled my parents to travel to 1990 Gen-Con and first laid eyes on the vast layouts of wargaming miniatures and intricate dioramas, hairs on the back of my neck zapped to attention. I mean Holy Jebus the craftsmanship and detail was unreal!

    Pre-painted what is the world comming to?
    Well here is a pre-rolled d20 to go with em if anyones wants… it’s 3, it is always 3.

    Ral Partha:

    Tom Meier’s Blog:


    Look at last years photos, awesome:

  16. GB Steve says:

    Orc’s Nest, on the other hand, do paint their miniatures. The guy in the shop has won prizes.

  17. pauldrye says:

    @6 and Cory, there’s a thriving underground for modding HeroClix, especially for the Mutants & Masterminds superhero tabletop RPG. One of the many hobbies I turned out to have more ambition than talent for…

  18. Unka Willbur says:

    I’ve got something like 1000 of GW’s LOTR miniatures (about half painted). I never even get to play the damn game, but painting the mins is the real fun for me….

  19. Watts says:

    Miniature painting is indeed alive and well. These pre-painted “clix” games have been around for a few years at least. They even have a D&D game using them.

    Sigh, damn kids and their short attention spans ;)

  20. jjasper says:

    @ #6 (shannonpatrick17) – I have foggy memories of how Ral Partha was better than Grenadier for detailing and sheer beauty. This was back in the 80′s. Perhaps things have changed.

    Pre-painted? Where’s the fun in that? Get some spray primer (grey or white depending on the shading you want) mix up some acrylic paints, and go to it.

  21. Another Aaron says:

    There’s a Jessica Jones & Jewel figure? Good Lord….I haven’t touched miniatures in 15 years but I now have to find those.

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