Wednesday, November 30, 2016

D&D: Giant Miniatures Are Back (and bigger than ever) Again!

Even since the earliest days of D&D Miniatures Game (the skirmish game), I have been collecting the skirmish minis for use with the D&D table top game as well. I'd hazard a guess that the great majority of the consumers of the random booster packs were actually using the minis for D&D table top and not necessarily for the skirmish game. In 2008, Wizards of the Coast stopped selling the skirmish game, but continued to sell random booster packs of miniatures. The most recent line, Icons of the Realms, is licensed for production through WizKids.

Due to the high price of plastic, larger miniature were quite expensive to produce, and were therefore almost always rare creatures. The sculpts themselves were also often not particularly large in order to save production costs. Wizards of the Coast tried to mitigate some of this problem by introducing booster sets that specifically included at least 1 large or huge creature in each booster pack, but large creatures were still rare and pretty expensive on the secondary markets. With Storm King's Thunder, Wizards of the Coast (through WizKids) has brought back huge miniatures, and they don't disappoint. It is likely the falling price of oil (the main ingredient in plastic resin) has made these much larger figures cheaper to produce than in prior years. (Makes a great Christmas gift!)

A line up of the new giants showing the enlarged scale - Fomorian, Frost, Cloud, Fire, Hill. You can get them here.

I've not always been a big fan of the WizKids sculpts or paint jobs. They seemed a bit less refined than the figures in earlier iterations of D&D Miniatures. But lately, with WizKids having both the D&D and Pathfinder licenses, their figures have improved a fair amount the last year or so. In any event, this is not so much a review as it is a comparison of giants and other large figures over the last few iterations of D&D miniatures.

The new Hill Giants flank their older dwarf cousin. Ettin Spirit-Talker there for comparison. 
In this first comparison, you can see how massively the Hill Giant has changed. The early Hill Giant has a 2x2 "large" base, but the figure itself is fairly small, but slightly bulky. Recent Pathfinder Battles Hill Giants (not pictured) were also on a 2x2 base, but larger than the D&D mini of old. The new D&D Hill Giants are just magnificent in comparison. Not only are the on a "huge" 3x3 base, the figure itself is gigantic (pun unintended) compared to a PC miniature. It's bulk is also really impressive (don't drop him on your foot!). These figure just looks dangerous. I like how WizKids/WotC have created alternate weapons and paint jobs for the same sculpts. This keeps the cost down, but still gives some variety. A number of the new giants have 2 different weapon options.

Frost Giant (2004), Frost Giant (2009), Frost Giant (2016), Fire Giant Queen (Reaper)

Of the older D&D giant miniatures, the Frost Giants were still fairly large in comparison to the old Hill Giant... but the new Frost Giants are really illustrate their massive stature. I'm not too crazy about the aquamarine color used on the new Frost Giants. I much prefer the blue-ish white tones, but YMMV. I wish I had one of the Harshnag figures, but this gal is pretty impressive too with her dragon skull armor, despite the somewhat bland pose. I'm a huge fan of the Reaper sculpts and dynamic poses for their giants, but the size just isn't as impressive.

Fomorian (2016), Stone Giant (Pathfinder Battles), Stone Giant Runecarver (2007), Frost Giant (2016)

I do not yet have one of the new Stone Giants, but I have displayed the new Fomorian and Frost Giant against the older Pathfinder and D&D Miniatures Stone Giants. Unfortunately, the new Stone Giant also has a somewhat "meh" pose. I like the dynamic stances of these older Stone Giants, but they are smaller than even the new Fomorian. [EDIT]: Facebook user, Monty Martin, notes "the new Frost and Stone giants are comparable in size to the Frost and Stone giants that appeared in the Tyranny of Dragons set. If you place them on a Huge base, they work perfectly together." Good to know!

Feral Troll (2012), Fire Giant Raider (2008), Fire Giant (2015), Fire Giant King (Reaper, 2013 ) 

The new Fire Giant is larger than the older, but the change is a little less significant. It's actually one of the smaller sculpts of the new giants, being about the same height as the Fomorian and the Hill Giant (though I don't have the Duke Zalto figure, who may be a bit taller than Mr. Hammer-time here). The older Fire Giant (on the Heroscape base) is still pretty impressive, and I do also like the Reaper figure despite the smaller size. The "Feral Troll" is there for size comparison. You can still get him out of the Dungeon Command Goblin set.

Astral Giant (2010), Stone Giant Runecarver (2007), Cloud Giant (2016), Female Cloud Giant (Reaper, 2013), Storm Giant (Reaper, 2013)

As you can see, the new Cloud Giant is tremendously tall. It's one of the largest sculpts in the set, only a tad shorter than King Hekaton, Sansuri, and Iymrith. I love his trident-like spear (sorry it's blocked in this shot). I always want to see more interesting weapons on miniatures than your basic sword or axe. I have him contrasted against the Astral Giant and Stone Giant as well as Reaper's Cloud and Storm Giants.

For fun, I've also included a couple pics of the Trolls and Ogres through the years.

Fomorian (2016), Brutal Ogre Warhulk (2008), Ogre Pulverizer (2008), Skullcrusher Ogre (2005), Ogre Ravager (2003)

Forest Troll (2005), Ice Troll (2004), Feral Troll (2012), Mountain Troll (2006)

Final Thoughts

If you use miniatures at all in your games, you really should pick up a few of the new giants. If you don't like random boosters, most of these guys are available for between $5 to $9 on the secondary markets. Seriously... some as low as $5. While the sculpt quality on the newer miniatures is not nearly as good as the older ones (in most cases), they are so freakin' huge, you just can't pass them up. Go buy some.
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