Last week saw the release of the 5th set of Pathfinder pre-painted minis, made by WizKids (of mageknight and heroclix fame), and sold by Paizo. I’m lucky to have been able to amass a fairly large collection of minis over the last 4 years or so, hunting down rare mini’s and importing some from america. Given my eyesight makes painting a difficult experience (though one I can do given my success in hand painting all my ravenloft/ashardalon/ravenloft minis), I love pre-painted minis, and have bought into all the WotC releases since 4e came out, and also all of the Paizo ones.
Pathfinder Beginner Box Heroes Miniatures Set
Paizo’s first set was a fairly expensive and limited use set of 4 player minis, representing the 4 iconic pc’s from their books gorgeous artwork. These 4 are the classes covered in the excellent pathfinder beginners box set, so fighter, rogue, cleric and wizard, and while they are costly they quality of the sculpts and paint jobs mean that I would recommend them as being a set that is well worth getting.
Pathfinder Battles: Heroes & Monsters
Paizos first proper release was a 40 mini set, covering, as its name suggests, heroes and monsters. It was a real mixture, with the introduction of Pathfinders iconic wide mouthed goblin in pre-painted form, and some excellent humanoid minis. But it also had some really terrible cartoony sculpts, or creatures with extremely thin dimensions – heads on many humanoids and especially the zombie were the major culprits. It also suffered from a terrible packaging, with each mini individually placed in a plastic frame and then individually boxed. I ended up buying a two bricks of this set, and got almost all of the minis I wanted from it.
There were some real stand out minis, like the vampire, and the 2 watch guard minis are brilliant. Others, like the troll are really specific to Pathfinder’s art style, but have found a place in my colleciton to represent scrags, water trolls…
As an incentive to order a case of 4 bricks, Paizo made a huge black dragon as an limited availability piece, but I felt it was too spiky to fit with the large amount of WotC black dragons I already own.
Pathfinder Battles: Champions of Evil Encounter Pack
Designed to work with the adventure Paizo put out for Free RPG Day 2012, this was a blister pack containing exactly the right minis to run the module. These minis were repaints from the Heroes and Monsters set – a red zombie, a succubus, an evil cleric, and 3 zombies. However, the fact it came with a succubus mini, that was a nightmare to track down in the H&M set and 3 zombies, made this a fairly good pack to pick up to supplement other minis. It also helps that the adventure was pretty fun.
Pathfinder Battles: Rise of the Runelords
While WotC had tried to theme it’s mini releases in the past with limited success, Paizo however got it right on their first try, theming the whole set around the first adventure path series it ever released, Rise of the Runelords, and timing it to release around the same time as the adventure path had been updated and re-released in a single hard back volume.
The quality of the 65 sculpts and paint jobs improved over the H&M set, saw paizo experiment with huge sculpts, and it gave us a load more iconic pathfinder goblins, which is definitely a good thing. On the whole, this was an excellent set, with the majority of the minis being good really good, and they improved the packaging, changing it into a brick of smaller boosters, each containing 3 small or medium minis and 1 large mini in a plastic frame.
This time, the incentive piece was a rune giant from the adventure path, a 4×4 based massive mini that is stunning to behold.
It wasn’t perfect though… I ordered 3 bricks and the incentive piece from my good friend at Tritex-Games.co.uk, and the distribution of commons and rare was a nightmare. I ended up with 3 copies of one of the rares, and no copies of several of the commons… The plastic they had used in this set was extremely brittle and I’ve currently got 3 minis from the set that either were broken when they arrived or broke in my storage drawers without being used and are now waiting to be reglued. There were also a couple of stinkers, like the lamia, that would have overflowed a medium base, but were lost in the large bases. It was a very npc heavy set, not bad if you’re running the adventure path, but of less use in general. On the flipside, there were some stunning minis: the redcap, lamia kuchrima, and a set of matching ogres.
Pathfinder Battles: The Shattered Star
2012′s big preview, and 2013′s first release is the Shattered Star 55 mini set, designed to launch this week, just before the last part of the adventure path is published. The Shattered Star adventure path was being released as the minis were being previewed by paizo, which was interesting. These have literally just arrived and been unpacked…
With a lot more clear plastic used in this set, its clear (no pun intended) that Paizo and Wizkids have hit their stride. The sculpts are brilliant, the paint jobs brilliant, and theres no real stinkers in the set. Its got a lot more monsters than npc’s, addressing the issue I had with RotR, and the distribution on the rares was sorted, so a case pretty much guarantees you one of each rare, 3 of each common and 2 to 3 of each uncommon.
Its a pity they didn’t add a few more goblins in the set, but instead we get 4 new medium elementals and 4 new large elementals. We get a stunning fire giant, which personally, I’m going to use as a massive azer. We finally get a hellhound, the first in prepainted since WotC’s Harbinger set back in 2003 (and that mini was shockingly bad, and almost impossible to find). The hellhound should be a ghreat mini based on the previews, but the 3 I got all had average paintjobs. I’m not totally sold on the incentive piece, a 4×4 based female blue draogn covered in runes and scrolls. I understand her part in the adventure path, and it is a beautiful sculpt and paintjob, but of limited use to me…
So whats the negatives? Common to uncommon distribution across the case of 4 bricks I got was better but still not perfect – I had a couple of commons where I only got 2 of them while I got 5 of most of the medium elementals. There was a missed opportunity to release some of the more uniquely Pathfinder species like the various Qlippoths that feature heavily in the adventure path, there should have been more of pathfinders ugly dirty primitive hill giants, the troll champion is way oversized compared the the H&M trolls, and some of the more unique monster npc’s like King Zuuga were skipped in favour of humanoid npc’s that I felt were already closely represented (with a bit of handwaving) in the WotC range.
Ideally, if this had been a 65 minis set like RotR, they could have added a few more monster npcs…
So, whats next for Pathfinder minis? The next adventure path is a fey based Reign of Winter centered around the disappearance and rescue of baba Yaga, but after 2 sets linked to the paths, I think Paizo will try something different. Erik Mona has admitted that there is another encounter pack being done, and the next full set is for 55 minis, with another troll in it.
I’d personally like to see a few more iconic goblins, a town guard archer to join the 2 from H&M, and pretty much any creature from the recent Inner Sea Bestiary (though my preference would be for: Apostasy Wraith, Korir-Kokembe, Nightripper, Syrinx, Water Wraith).
Going through the Pathfinder bestiaries…
Bestiary 1: their ankheg and bugbears are uniquely designed and should be done in mini, a cave fisher is certainly needed, a new set of cloakers would be welcome, a lemure mini hasn’t been done for a long while, i’m sure gamma world fans and pathfinder fans would love a froghemoth, and we need something to represent vegeypygmies.
Bestiary 2: given how often akata are used in Pathfinder adventures they should be made, a charybdis could be the incentive piece, i’d love a crawling hand mini, a crysmal would be great in clear plastic, fungal crawler could be used for a variety of nasty bug critters, pugwampi gremlins occur pretty often in low level adventures, a peryton mini is desperately needed and should fit into the winter reigns adventure path (even though I hate the pathfinder artwork), scylla would be nice as mini for an encounter pack, same with the tendriculos.
Bestiary 3: cecaelia would be cool to have though probably as part of an encounter pack, given we got the clockwork servant in the shattered star set i’d like to see some more clockwork creatures (though again, maybe an encounter pack), given paizo did a book about the silly critters from D&D AND repeated them in this bestiary a flail snail, flumph and kappa mini would be nice.