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A Beginners Guide to Collecting Miniatures as a Hobby

silver miniatures line up little soldiers

A Beginners Guide to Collecting Miniatures as a Hobby

Do you love to paint and have an eye for details? Are you interested in tabletop role playing games, or just like the art that goes along with it? Then you would love the world of collectible miniatures!

But these days there are many different types of miniatures to choose from, such as Warhammer 40K, Dungeons and Dragons and Space Wolves. How do you start collecting? There is so much information available!

In fact, there is a whole community dedicated to collecting miniatures: specialty shops, online communities and even conventions dedicated to buying, painting and trading miniatures. Some participants use their minis as pieces for tabletop gaming, but that is certainly not a requirement.

Many fans of miniatures simply enjoy the art of creating and collecting! This guide will help you sort through the information, and break down what you need to get started, so you can start collecting miniatures today. You’ll be ready to take up a collecting miniature hobby in no time!

What are Collectible Miniatures?

In short, collectible miniatures are resin or plastic statues 4-5 inches tall, though sizes may vary. They can come complete and painted or unassembled. Most miniature hobbyists choose theirs unassembled– part of the fun of miniatures is assembling and painting them yourself!

If you are overwhelmed by all the pieces, there are several ready-to-paint options to choose from, or you can buy a beginners kit that includes everything you need to get started. 

There are so Many Different Kinds! How do I Start Collecting Miniatures?

Overwhelmed by all the different brands? Don’t be! The best way to start painting and collecting miniatures is to buy a starter kit. These include paint, bushes and sample miniatures. 

A popular beginner set is Reaper Miniatures Master Series Paints Starter Set for Mini Figures, which comes with high quality acrylic paint, brushes and a plastic container to carry it all.

Dungeons and Dragons also offers a beginner set: Dungeons and Dragons Paint Line Adventurers Paint Set, which includes a painting guide, primer, and a detailed figure. If shopping indie is more your thing, check out Blacklist Games on Kickstarter– Their fantasy set contains 201 minis of classic fantasy figures.

If you prefer to select your brushes and mini’s separately and just need paint, Vallejo Basic Colors paint set is very high quality and has all of the colors you need to get started. 

Where Did Miniature Collecting Begin?

Many people think of miniatures for tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons, but what they don’t know is that the history of miniatures goes back to the time of medieval war tactics, where generals would lay out their plan of attack on giant maps, with pieces to represent battalions.

As centuries went on these giant maps turned into war games, and from there they became the elaborate table top games we know today, and the beautiful models and miniatures that go along with them. Over time, many people have gained a love for collecting miniatures as a hobby.

What are the Most Popular Miniatures to Collect?

The most culturally recognizable miniatures come from Dungeons and Dragons– a world of Wizards, Monsters and Mages. That being said, the most popular miniatures currently on the market are the Warhammer series, which come from Games Workshop.

They have created such miniature lines as Necromunda, and Lord of the Rings miniatures. Whether you love fantasy, sci-fi or horror– there is likely a line of cool miniatures that could appeal to you, and a game to go along with it. 

What are Miniatures Used For?

Miniatures are used as pieces in tabletop top board games. Don’t let the name fool you, these games are very different from monopoly. They are complicated role-playing games, with books of stories and lore.

People spend years building the character they play as, and if you are already building a character for a role-playing game, why not make a custom miniature to match?

Where Can You Buy Miniature Figure Starter Kits and Other Supplies?

Starter miniature model kits can be bought online, either directly from the retailer or through online shops. But if you are interested in learning more about collectible miniatures and the games that go along with it, consider supporting your local gaming shop.

These places are usually run by collectors themselves, who can help you decide what you need to get started, and can offer advice. Local shops often host game nights for tabletop games and host lectures with painters, which is a great way to learn more about your hobby and talk shop with people with similar interests. 

What Miniatures Should I Start With?

Realistically you should be able to jump in with any beginner model kit. Many come with brushes and paint, so you are ready to go out of the box. Many companies also offer pre-assembled, pre-primed miniatures, which are perfect for beginners who want to paint without the hassle of assembly and priming. 

If you would like to assemble and prime your miniatures for yourself, it is suggested to start with larger models like a Beholder from Dungeons and Dragons, which are easier to paint than some of the smaller pieces. 

What Do You Need to Start Painting Miniatures?

First you will need a clean, well-lit workspace, such as a desk. It is recommended to use an adjustable lamp, so you can examine the miniature closely. If your miniatures need to be assembled, you may need an exacto knife and cutting mat to remove the individual pieces from their plastic sprue.

You will also need glue to hold the model together. Once the figures are assembled and glued in place, you need to prime them for painting– most brands have their own primer, so do research on which one you think would suit your needs.

From there all  you need are brushes, acrylic paints, and a pallet to mix–all of which is often included in most beginner sets! 

Does Where I Buy My Miniatures and Supplies Matter?

Yes! There is nothing wrong with buying your miniatures online, but it is best to support your local brick and mortar gaming store. The staff and owners are usually fans themselves, and these stores also sometimes act as a gathering place for the gaming community, where fans can swap tips and play.

It’s a great way to support local businesses while also learning a new hobby.

Where Can I Learn to Paint Miniatures?

The internet is teeming with videos on how to paint miniatures. One of the best resources is Citadel Colour, the official paint of Warhammer sets. The website offers free video tutorials on how to assemble, prime and paint miniatures from all of the Warhammer lines.

Squidmar Miniatures is another fantastic online resource for learning how to paint, and anything else you might want to know about the world of collectible miniatures.  But if you are a person who thrives in hands-on learning, search for in-person miniature painting classes at local gaming stores and conventions.

Do I Have to Play the Game to Collect the Miniatures?

Nope! Tabletop gaming is not mandatory to the world of collectible miniatures. If you want to paint and collect the miniatures you can easily do so without ever cracking open a rule book.

That being said, many collectors do also enjoy the games and the lore that goes along with it. It is also true that playing with a miniature you assembled and painted yourself gives you more of an emotional connection to the character, and a fun reason to show off your handiwork. 

What is the Most Valuable Collectible Miniature? 

In 2021 a collectible miniature sold at auction for $34,882. It was a rare Warhammer 40K all-metal miniature produced by Games Workshop in 1997. The collectible was painted by Squidmar Miniatures. Usually unpainted models and kits go for $5,000-7,000, so this piece’s value really came from its professional paint job. 

What Makes a Miniature Valuable?

Miniatures that are valuable are usually highly detailed, rare kits. For example, the “Imperial Knight Warden” from the Warhammer 40k line can cost you upwards of $400. Rare print miniatures are often more valuable unassembled, allowing the buyer to put them together themselves. 

Are Collectible Miniatures Only Fantasy Themed?

Some people are under the impression that all models and miniatures are only high fantasy, such as Dungeons and Dragons. But that is not the case! There are thousands of different styles of miniatures. Warhammer 40K, one of the most popular games and miniature sets, is Sci-Fi.

There are also elaborate horror miniature games and even historical fiction– something for everyone!

Start Collecting Miniatures

Models and miniatures have been around for a long time, and for good reason! Model building and painting is a fun and easy hobby for people of all ages. Whether you are looking for a new creative outlet or a way to meet friends and get lost in gaming, consider heading down to your local gaming store or shop online and start collecting today as part of a new miniature hobby.

After all, the best way to start a hobby is just to start! 

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