Dungeons & Dragons started out as a wargame, but at the squad level rather than the army level. This means that it started out with a huge number of miniatures. As the game became more popular the miniatures side took on a life of its own, and the miniatures themselves became collectible. The collectors soon started getting serious about them, and they began getting more intricate and better painted. Soon, there were specific lines for gamers, as well as paints and painting manuals. Suffice to say that the popularity of miniatures has only increased as gaming has been hit with a resurgence.
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There is more to collecting miniatures than buying them and putting them under glass. Unlike most collectibles some modification can actually help their value, as long as the modifications are from someone who knows what he/she is doing. Specifically, miniatures that have been built and painted well actually increase in value rather than decrease. However, the key in that sentence is “well”. If the building and painting are shoddy, the miniatures are virtually worthless. Thus, only paint them if you know what you are doing and leave the painting those who can handle a brush, if you don’t.
For those who are interested, painting just takes some practice. Like any painting project start by sanding down any flash and do a rough assemble; don’t really assemble the figure, just make sure that parts work together and make adjustments as needed. Paint the figure and its parts white; when it dries you can paint the figure and parts as needed working from shadows first and then from head to toe. You can then assemble the figure and paint it with a clear paint to act as sealer. You want to avoid glossy paints, as most collectors prefer the miniatures to be mostly matte, or non-shiny, but gloss can be added for highlights. Please note that this applies to PVC or vinyl just as much as it does to metal miniatures, but remember that the paints are different.
Obviously not all miniatures will be unpainted. Some collectors pieces will be prepainted: do not touch them as the value will not only go down but painting them usually does not work as well as you would think. When it comes to miniatures keep in mind that collectors also tend to be players, so they know what colors the pieces are supposed to be, based on their gamer knowledge. This means that they can tell if the prepainted figure has been repainted. Thus, although you may not like the color, someone can always tell if the color has been changed, so simply don’t do it.
However, there are some great pieces that you may want to just leave as is. That’s fine as well; sometimes that may actually be the best thing to do. The bottom line question you always need to ask is if it looks good the way it is, or can you paint it the way it should be painted? If you cannot paint or it is a gorgeous piece as it is, then do not touch it. On the other hand, if you can paint well, then go ahead. Just remember to paint in the appropriate colors, and you will have created a beautiful piece of art.
There are a number of great miniatures on the market, both current and resale. Just find the miniatures that you love, and collect as many as you can. It should be a collection that you need to be proud of, and forget what others tell you; it is your collection, and you should always love what you collect.