by Mike Shea on 13 November 2017
If you're looking for a low-cost, high-value, durable, and easily transportable set of miniatures for your Dungeons & Dragons game, check out Sly Flourish's curated flat plastic miniatures, 168 flat plastic miniatures for your D&D games on sale for $60.
Getting a solid collection of nice-looking miniatures for our Dungeons & Dragons game is a real challenge. These days we can get pre-painted plastic miniatures in random packs for a high price, we can get unpainted miniatures at a moderately high price, we can make our own, or we can look into another handful of options from the past, many of which are now out of print.
Over the past few years the company Arcknight Games launched a number of Kickstarters for a new type of miniature: the flat plastic miniature. These durable transparent flat miniatures have unique artwork and stand up on standard 1" or larger stands. They're most similar to the cardboard stand-up Pathfinder Pawns (currently out of print) but are lighter, thinner, and put more of a focus on the art because of their transparency.
I've backed the flat plastic miniature Kickstarters in the past and now have hundreds of them, which all conveniently fit in a small set of ziploc bags. I put together a small set of these that I take to conventions and to my local game shop so I have a nice variety of miniatures always on hand.
Every time I take them out and put them on the table, people ask me about them. Everyone who spends any time with miniatures instantly sees their appeal. They're small, they're lightweight, they're inexpensive, and they're beautiful.
After spending a lot of time thinking about miniatures I came to the conclusion that Arcknight's flat plastic miniatures are a DM's best choice for miniatures these days for all of the reasons above.
After reaching out to Arcknight's owners, we came up with the idea for a DM Starter Set of flat plastic miniatures curated by Sly Flourish. With their help, I hand-selected 167 miniatures out of their entire current selection based on flexibility and highest potential use at the table for both characters and monsters. Arcknight released this set on sale for $60, less than 50 cents per miniature, including two packs of their bases of 1", 2", 3", and flying bases. It's an amazing deal.
Check out the image showing every flat plastic miniature in this collection.
In the rest of this article, I'll give some insight and tips on how to get the most from this set of flat plastic miniatures. In full disclaimer, I do receive a small percentage of the sales of this set of flat plastic miniatures. That said, the whole reason I reached out to Arcknight Games was because of how much I love their minis.
Arcknight also sells the Flat Plastic Miniatures Core Set which includes 310 flat plastic miniatures for $120. While many of the miniatures in the Sly Flourish DM Starter set are included in the core set, the Sly Flourish set includes a number of miniatures from other sets that Arcknight sells. When making this set, I chose from over a thousand miniatures across all of their sets to pick the ones that I believe will have the highest use at the table. The core set includes a much wider range of humanoids and a wider selection of monsters. If you put both sets side by side, you'd see a good bit of overlap. The Sly Flourish set probably contains about 20% miniatures from other sets outside of the core sets such as the skeletons from the undead horde set and the drow from the servants of the spider queen sets.
If one were to buy both, you'd definitely have some duplicates but those duplicates can still stand in for multiple copies of the same creature.
Flat plastic miniatures arrive on a number of pre-scored sheets. Once they arrive, we have to punch out each of the miniatures from the sheets. This isn't too hard but sometimes the scouring doesn't go quite deep enough so it takes some work to break out the minis. Bend each miniature along the scouring line a couple of times to break it away or carefully cut them out with scissors if you're having trouble. Be careful not to force it and tear a mini.
In particular, we'll want to make sure the tab breaks out well so it fits into the base. Sometimes a little corner of the plastic doesn't break away and we'll want to trim it or it wont fit into a base when we're using it at the table and might not have scissors nearby to fix it on the spot. Overall it will take a good 30 minutes to break out all of the minis from the sheets but that's just about all the work we need to do.
I chose most of the miniatures for this pack based on their flexibility to fill in as other monsters when needed. My hope was that just about every mini could be used for a number of potential monsters. The demon-kin, for example, can augment a number of smaller evil races like kobolds, goblins, or various small demons and devils. The orcs can fill in for hobgoblins or vice versa. The troglodytes can fill in for lizard-folk or yuan-ti if need be.
There's a hard truth to collecting miniatures. We'll never have all of the minis we need. No matter how big our collection, we'll always be one monster shy. By being willing to replace a specific monster type with one of the miniatures we have on hand, we can get close enough. The minis in this starter set were chosen exactly for that versatility.
I tried to give good representation to all of the races, armor-types, and genders we're most likely to see for various characters in our D&D games. I also intended for these character miniatures to fill in as villains or NPCs when needed. Whenever you need a big bad boss or a handful of ruffians, dig into the hero minis from the set and use those. Because every one of them is different, it's easy for players to identify which one they might be focused on during combat.
We can also use a single miniature to represent a larger number of monsters. If we're not sworn to gridded combat we can use a single skeleton to represent five skeletons if the characters are being attacked by large hordes of them. Each miniature can act as a larger battle group instead of just a single creature. Often we don't need a miniature for tactical combat but just to help the players remember what they're facing. They might have five fire giants in front of them in a game but we only need the one fire giant miniature just to show them what's going on.
How we sort our flat plastic minis and store them will make a big difference in how easily we can pull them out during a game. Here were the categories I sorted this set into:
One major advantage of Flat Plastic Miniatures is how well they store. Flat plastic miniatures are thin, but very durable, so you can stack a whole bunch of them up in a very small space. A segmented storage box can work well but is probably bigger than we need. I've found that a sheet that holds business cards with inside facing slits can store all of the small, medium, and large FPMs. We can fold it in half down the middle to make sure all of the minis stay in their pockets. A small ziploc bag can hold the huge minis and all of the stands. Rubber-banded together this pack is very thin and lightweight, easily fitting into our DM kit.
Over the past fifteen years we've seen dozens, maybe hundreds, of attempts to get some sort of miniature or token into our D&D games. The landscape is littered with out-of-print products and miniatures on the secondary market selling for 10x what they sold for a decade ago. Today, though roughly 80% of DMs use some sort of map and miniatures to represent combat, our options aren't great.
In my experiences and opinion, Arcknight's flat plastic miniatures offers us the best balance of cost, portability, flexibility, and beauty. For $60, Sly Flourish's curated flat plastic miniatures is a great deal. Give them a try.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master, Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures, and Sly Flourish's Fantastic Locations. You can also support this site by using these links to purchase the D&D Starter Set, Players Handbook, Monster Manual, or Dungeon Master's Guide.