As you are all very much aware, I am quite fond of painting miniatures. Most of the time when I have shared my work with you fine people it has been my many Games Workshop projects, but that is not all I have worked on. Over the many years I have been hobbying, I have painted Warjacks from Privateer Press, Samurai’s from GCT Studios, and the occasional warped horror by Wyrd Games to name a few. As a consequence, I have seen a lot of good and bad miniatures, and have become quite accustomed to spotting the difference between the two.
So, when I started to paint some of the Wizkids’ Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons, I thought it would be a good idea to give my thoughts on the range in an objective model review. Mainly because I wanted to talk about them, but also because I thought it might make some interesting content for you all. So, this will be a bit of a new style of article for you all, but hopefully you like it and find it useful. If you do, let me know and I might do more in the future.
With all that been said, let’s begin.
Now when some of you hear the words “D&D models”, the first thing that comes to mind might be a collection of roughly pre-painted miniatures, with awkward looking faces and bendy swords. Now yes, the pre-painted minis from Wizkids can be a little rough on the eyes, but they are not the miniatures we are here to discuss today. Instead, we are here to look at the much better, and more detailed Nolzur’s Marvelous range of miniatures.
Yeah, some of the pre-printed minis can look a bit rough.
Released around 2017 (or so my source tell me) these unpainted and pre-primed miniatures were designed to give hobbyists a chance to add their own visual style to D&D heroes and monsters. From classic PC builds like Half-Orc Barbarians and Elven Rangers, to larger creatures like Beholders and Dragons, the Nolzur range has quick grown to give budding hobbyist no end of minis to help populate their own dungeons. Now I’ve been painting my fair share of these models for some home brew campaigns, and I have to say I’ve been mostly happy with the product that Wizkids have been producing. So, let’s look at why I have been enjoying painting these dwarves and goblins.
First up, the detail on these models is, overall, rather good. Each mini is full of detail for the 28mm size and come in a range of dynamic poses. Heroes are made to look epic, preparing for battle or even casting spells to smite their enemies (with clear plastic to help give that eldritch effect) and the villains are likewise given the same level of attention to detail. Some of the best miniatures in the range are the classic monsters such as the Kobolds and Hobgoblins, with special care been taken to bring the many details of the different flavours of dragons to life. There is also a huge selection for you to choose from with Wizkids already up to Wave 15 in the range, so plenty of options for new projects.
This Dwarven Cleric was a joy to paint.
As well as the miniatures been of a high quality, they are also rather affordable. Compared to Games Workshop (where a hero level character would set you back at least £20) Nolzur minis come in at a reasonably priced £4.99 for two. Yep, when you by a human wizard or the like, you get two variant sculpts for about the same cost as a takeout coffee and a muffin, which is alright in my book. Larger models will obviously come in at a higher price, but even then they are reasonably costed (a Beholder for example will only set you back £8.99).
Lastly, the miniatures come pre-primed and ready to paint, so if you don’t have the space to spray an uncoat (or a partner that hates the smell of spray paint) then you are in luck. Overall, Wizkids’ Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures have a good amount going for them. But I would be remised if I didn’t share with you some of the issues I have had with the product line.
First up, while the range is rather extensive and still growing, there are some corner case Race/Class options that are missing from the line. Now this wouldn’t be a huge issue, after all player characters have so many different options it would be unreasonable to expect Wizkids to get every combination made right off the bat. The issue comes however when we see 2-3 different Human Fighter or Dwarf Cleric packs, and no Half-Orc Monks or Gnome Paladins. Sure, some races and classes see more play than others, but making 3 different Male Human Barbarians instead seems more than a little overkill.
Next up is more an issue for DMs, and that is getting enough minis to populate a dungeon. Fighting a single Giant or Shambling Mound, on problem. Facing off against three to four town guards, totally doable. Getting and painting twenty Goblins for that epic encounter you had planned, that is a bit more of a stretch. Sure, Goblins come in at three to a pack, but that would still be £35 for the models and then you still need to paint them. If you have the time to write your home brew and paint a small army, great. But some of us have other commitments, such as families and jobs. Sure, this might seem like nit-picking to some, but is something you got to consider should you decide to go down this route.
While still fun to paint, some of the moulds on these minis were less than great.
Finally, while all the miniatures are of a good quality most of the time, there are one or two that I have come across with moulding issues. Mouldlines can be a problem due to the mono-pose, pre-built nature of the minis, and on a few models, there has been deficiencies that should really have been spotted before making it to a shop floor. For example, on one of the Dragon-born females I painted, an entire armour panel was miscast can need covering up before painting. This makes the pre-primed rather moot point, as after you have fixed the mouldlines and any defects you will have to undercoat them again.
However, I do think that this is a rare issue, as most of the minis I have painted have been fine. It has only really been noticeable on the above-mentioned Dragon-born and one of my Tiefling Bards, and even then, most of the fixing took less than a minute or two. Overall, I have been more that happy with the Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures range and look forward to painting more in the near future. Especially since Wizkids also make similar minis for both Pathfinder and Magic the Gathering (as displayed by the Jace below).
The Mind Sculptor, ready to save the multiverse.
Overall Rating: 4/5
And there you have it, our first ever Model Review. Did you like it? Has it helped you decide whether to pick some up for your own hobby project? Why not tell us about your opinions in the comments below, and while you are there why not consider liking and sharing our articles to help grow our little community. If you want to engage with me directly you can find me over on Twitter @TenguPlaysGames. I can be often found there posting random memes and teasing new articles before I write them.
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