The now-defunct D&D Miniatures (DDM) line was useful in many ways: the figures from the line were pre-painted, saving the dungeon master valuable preparation time; they were made from a nigh-indestructible, rubberized plastic; the figures depicted actual game monsters, having either been taken directly from the books or introduced into the D&D roleplaying game by virtue of a stat card; and the cost per figure was competitive, even if the randomized packaging sometimes made it difficult to get enough of a certain monster type for an encounter.
In preparation for a game I plan to run in a couple of weeks (the first in months, and likely the only one for the next few months – how disappointing), I visited Miniature Market to check availability for a few figures I needed. While I could always use TokenTool or a graphics program to make tokens for the session, it would make for a better game if I could obtain the required miniatures at reasonable cost.
Even though I knew the minis have been discontinued for quite some time, I was astonished at the prices at which some of the figures I own were marked.
For example, I am in possession of six kobold archers, which were issed in the DM packs for one of the World Game Day events a couple of years ago. Since I volunteered to serve as DM at my local game shop during the event, the shop owner allowed me to keep the figures. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the figures – which were later included in the Dungeons of Dread set – were marked on the bottom with a promotional code instead of the Dungeons of Dread number, and featured a slightly different color scheme than the later figures. It turns out that, at the time of this writing, the promotional figures were valued at $22 U.S. each, and I was holding a half-dozen of them in my off-hand while researching their value.
Of course, although I didn’t expect such a difference in price between the two figures, the fact that limited-run promotional figures commanded a higher price isn’t altogether surprising. What was surprising, though, was the relative value of regular-run figures. Dragonborn heroes, for example, were all priced at more than $20 each. Monsters such as shade knights, death knights, ogres and trolls were all priced above $10, and even lowly goblins and hobgoblins were often in the $5 to $10 range.
Being a fan of playing with miniatures, this information isn’t enough to prompt me to put my collection up for online auction just yet. At this time, I’d rather have kobold archer minis to represent kobold archers on the tabletop than a few extra dollars. But this valuation exercise – which didn’t even involve half of my DDM collection, as Miniature Market didn’t stock those sculpts – showed that, at least from this anecdotal evidence, that the demand for miniatures isn’t slowing down. While I’m not in a position to say if Wizards of the Coast was fiscally wise to discontinue the DDM line, it seems clear to me that the demand for the product is there, and that WotC may have left money on the proverbial table by not approaching the miniature market differently.