Overall, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan of the pre-painted D&D and Pathfinder minis. Many of them are “just okay” from a sculpt standpoint, and the factory paint-jobs usually leave a lot to be desired.
But there are some decent figures out there if you look hard enough. I’ve discovered that the figures that appeal to me the most are the larger monsters. Many of them are painted to an acceptable standard and can be used in your games as-is. Others need a little TLC and some touch-ups; a darker ink-wash here, a drybrush highlight there, or picking out the too-dark bits with some brighter colors. It’s a heck of a lot easier than painting the entire figure from scratch.
The best part of course, is that the Common/Uncommon ones are often cheap. I purchased the following 7 minis from Miniature Market for $39 USD (not counting tax & shipping). That’s around $5 and half bucks a figure. Not horrible.
I wanted a Sphinx for my Egyptian/Arabian themed campaign army. I couldn’t find an affordable, bigger Sphinx, so I settled on this guy with the neat headgear. Turns out he’s the size of a large Orc. Wish he was larger but he’ll do for now. He could use a highlight on his nose/cheeks and maybe his hair/fur, but he’s playable.
I’ve had my eye on the guy in the middle for some time. He’s perfect as an Insectoid (bug-man) in a Sword of Severnia army, or as a Demon. I actually have a second one, plus a Mezzodemon variation of him, coming from eBay. They’re a bit hard to find. That gives me a nice 5-man Warband regiment of Insectoids or Demons. I will probably do some highlighting on these guys because they’re really dark and don’t stand out enough from a distance.
This funky Frost Giant was only $6. His horns and skin color are actually more muted than it appears in this photo. Some ink-washing & highlighting could make him pop more. He’ll be stomping enemies into the frozen tundra in no time.
I plan to use this unusual big beastie as a Basilisk in my Sword of Severnia wargame and other dungeon crawl games. Touch up his horns and an odd detail, and Bob’s your Uncle. Whatever you do, don’t gaze into his eyes!
This was the most disappointing figure in the batch. He’s the size of an Ogre or Troll. I thought he was larger than that. And his paint-job is ugly and needs work — black teeth & nails, come on WizKids! And he was $7 (a buck more than the Giant). Oh well, no worries, he can be improved and serve nicely as a Greater Demon or a passable Golem.