If you’d asked me when I started playing RPGs that I’d have close to 2000 miniatures in 2017, I probably would have raised an eyebrow and said “yeah right.”

I was staunch roleplayer–I didn’t see much use of having anymore miniatures beyond those found in boardgames like HeroQuest. But somewhere along the way I just started buying more and more figures (getting in the wargaming and D&D 3rd Edition had a lot to with this).

Up until a few years ago I had around 3000* miniatures: painted, pre-painted plastics, but lots of unpainted figures lying around. I downsized.

(*This may seem like a large number, but I know gamers who own thousands more.)

Hundreds of unpainted figures and assorted figured I’d never use had weighed on my mind. Many had to go.

(And I’d like to finish painting my collection before my eye sight gets worse–it’s already bad, but I’ve known older gamer who lament not being able paint [well] because of their eye sight).

So, after selling off about 1000 figures, my number one piece of advice to newbie miniatures was this:

1. Start Small. 

It’s still sound advice in my mind. The initial cost to get into the miniature hobby can be around $100, depending on the paints, miniatures, and other paraphernalia you buy. Not knowing what to get can be overwhelming, as is the prospect of painting lots of figures.

But now I realize many gamers don’t start buying figures from scratch. They get them in various board games. And lots of game come with pre-painted figures (for a cost). So my next bit of advice is this:

2. Keep Your Collection Manageable. 

What’s manageable depends on the collection and your intent. Buying box of full of prepainted miniatures is much different from buying a box of unpainted lead miniatures.

Keeping your collection manageable means being able to organize and store them.

If you feel overwhelmed when you look at your collection, then the collection might not be manageable anymore. This leads to #3.

3. Have a Plan.

Each month companies produce lots of cool new miniatures. They’ve been doing this for decades. And its hard to resist buying them for whatever vague notion on how to use them in your games. That’s the power of sales and marketing for you.

Like this Behir/Cavern Crawler miniature from Reaper, for example.

Cool Miniature + Potential Use with Old School Module = Less Money in Wallet

About 15 years ago I bought this figure to use it in the The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth… someday. I had no idea when.

Did I ever run the module? Yes, but it was 5 years later, and the players didn’t get far enough to justify painting the figure.

Perhaps my biggest “Dien Bien Phu” in wargaming is investing in Warhammer Empire Army before finishing my Hundred Years’ War army. And this was on top of the figures I wanted to paint for RPGs.

I didn’t have a plan, only a vague notion of when I’d like to finish painting the miniatures… someday.

Now I make concrete plans whenever I purchase new figures (and my purchases have gotten less). Before this, I’d fallen into the trap of purchasing whatever cool “shiny” happened to catch my eye.

Having a plan can help you resist temptations. It can help you finish what you start, instead of going from one half-finished project to the next. This applies whether you’re buying a handful of figures or building an army.

At this point, I know some reading are asking: “Stelios, what’s the big deal? So what if I have a bunch of miniatures I’ve never painted or haven’t seen the tabletop? I just like collecting them.”

And that’s okay.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But I’ve developed a philosophy after collecting a bunch of miniatures, dealing with the anxiety of not finishing them then selling them off, and watching other gamers drift from one game/project to the next (at watching their angst).

And I’ll share this philosophy next week on Mini Monday.