D&D Miniatures Review: Monster Menagerie

The latest set of WizKids Icons of the Realms miniatures for D&D has been released: Monster Menagerie. It consists of 44 figures randomly packed in 4-miniature blind booster packs, and one “case” figure sold separately, the Treant.

As this set has a couple of figures in the set I was interested in, I picked up 2 b    ricks of the set (separately, so they weren’t from the same case), and a couple of extra boosters, for a total of 18 boosters in all – 72 figures.

For those unaware of the way these WizKids miniatures are sold, each booster contains four miniatures, three of which are medium or small, and one of which is large. You don’t know what is in each booster before buying it. Each set of eight boosters is originally shrinkwrapped together into a “brick“, and the bricks ship at four to a “case”.

The miniatures have four levels of rarity: Common, Uncommon, Rare and Ultra-Rare. In general, if you get a case of boosters, you should get at least one of every common, uncommon and rare in the set. The ultra-rares, which are translucent (invisible) versions of normal miniatures, come at a rate of about one per brick, as I understand it. (A case of Monster Menagerie, on average, gives 4 of each common, 3 of each uncommon and 1 of each rare. These numbers  are not guaranteed, however).

The figures are quite nice, and don’t feel as fragile as some miniatures produced by WizKids; they are made from a more resilient plastic. Conversely, most of the paint jobs are little more than adequate. This is not a new problem.

The following pictures are of the figures I picked up. First off, the large figures:

The selection of large miniatures is quite good. The rare Manticore and Umber Hulk are fantastic sculpts, and the Manticore’s paint job is very good. The real treat are the gelatinous cube miniatures, which have a base that detaches and allows you to place a medium character miniature within the cube before reassembling it. As the Cubes are also uncommon, they’re likely to not be that hard to find. The one problem with them? They’re not translucent enough. The uncommon Bulette miniature is an excellent sculpt. The figures on the far-left are bat swarms, which tend to look a bit messy.

My selection of rare (medium) figures unfortunately gave me a couple of duplicates. This is a problem when all the figures are not from the same case. I have two copies of two rare NPCs from the Curse of Strahd adventure – Ezmerelda and Strahd himself. I also picked up two “chase” invisible figures.

Strahd is nicely detailed, but his dark colours reduce his impact from a small distance.

Common and uncommon monsters include the regulars: Orcs, Skeleton, Wolves and Beetles. Unusual inclusions include the Medusa, Mimic (which is really nice), Dryad (not so good), Mermaid, Mummy, Werewolf and Strahd Zombie.

Of these figures, the ones that look really good are the orcs, wolves, werewolves and mimics. The Medusa has a strange headgear on which makes it appear more as a priestess than a medusa, and the dryads are fairly weird green figures.

The set has a small selection of flying creatures. The ones in the back are Spectres, and they look pretty bad if you’re not examining them closely. The ghost (bottom left) is a very nice figure. We also have will-o-wisps, faerie dragons and imps, which are mostly undistinguished.

Finally, here are a set of humanoid (character) types. Or mostly – three Satyrs are found on the bottom-left, whilst there’s a vampire in blue in the back row. The colours of these miniatures tend to be more varied, and so they are more successful as a result. The sculpts are very nice. The uncommon and common NPC miniatures in this set seem to come from the ill-fated Sword Coast Legends, but that’s as good a source for miniature ideas as any. They’re fairly generic (i.e. useful).

The pictures above include every common and uncommon miniature in the set. They don’t include several of the rare miniatures that I didn’t get, but have seen. These rares, such as the Remorhaz and the Rakshasa, are very nicely done. However, as you can see, from random booster purchases, you’re not assured of getting them.

Overall, it feels to me as something of a middling set. There are some very good figures that I’m happy to have, especially the Gelatinous Cube, the Mimic and Strahd, but others (the Spectre) feel like a waste. The choice of included miniatures is mostly good, with a few weaker entries. There are a few miniatures that particularly link to Curse of Strahd, but it isn’t a dominant theme. A Monster Menagerie? Not quite – I would have expected a few more monstrous inclusions.

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