When I began my Tabletop RPG journey…miniatures were very rarely used. To be honest, we used mostly Warhammer 40k minis in lieu of actual D&D ones. As I continued playing and running at the table, I quickly moved to Theatre of the Mind. Maps and minis were simply an extra step that my current players did not need.
Then my gaming group recently expanded and I’ve found maps and minis to be essential for some (easier to follow battle sequences, easier to define the space the characters are in, etc.). There are many advantages to using maps where they are helpful, and miniatures, though not always necessary, can really help bring the game to life.
So why doesn’t everyone use minis? I find this boils down to two reasons:
- They aren’t very portable, especially in larger quantities.
- They’re expensive.
Seriously, so expensive! Some people buy the D&D official board games just to get a discount on unpainted miniatures – and those still cost an upward of $100 for a handful of minis! Don’t even think about buying them individually without taking out a small loan. When each miniature costs at least $5 on its own – to be generous – the costs can add up.
For example, I purchased 12 miniatures that I needed for a game. The total quickly racked up to $110. For 12! That’s not including the special Strahd Von Zarovich mini I bought which cost a total of $30 on its own.
A good option for saving money when buying minis is using Reaper Miniatures and buying their Bones line found here. But it’s still not quite cost-friendly enough for some. Then, of course, you have the labour and cost of painting the miniatures yourself. If you’re like me, this is not a good route to take. I have very little patience and skill regarding painting miniatures.
So what’s a Dungeon Master to do? You want to incorporate miniatures into your game but they’re either too expensive or simply inaccessible. Just as I was about to cave and buy a bunch of Pathfinder’s cardboard miniatures (they come in large packs, you pop them out, and place them on plastic bases), I found out about JP Creations. JP Creations is a company run by a university student. He uses art primarily created by Trash Mob Minis and Printable Heroes and then puts them onto durable plastic sheets, laser cuts them, and always sends them along with a set of thin, wooden bases that the minis can stand on.
Let’s first start off with discussing the customer service. As this is run by one individual and all of the orders fulfilled by one individual, customer service can take a bit longer than larger companies. But then you have the accountability of dealing with only one individual.
I placed an order for an individualised set. The one thing I have to say negative about this experience is finding all of the options you can choose. It’s difficult, especially when it’s spread about multiple artists and categorised month-by-month (as the artist’s release the pictures this way) instead of by type of monster/character. I would recommend to JP to have an easily accessible word document list of all that is available by description. This would be hard to do at first, as there’s a lot to catch up on, but after you catch up you can just add the new available monsters month-by-month without much of a hassle!
Due to this, my order was a bit vague and I gave JP the ability to fulfill it a bit more open-endedly. Several weeks after my order was placed, he communicated with me asking for more specifics on what monsters and characters I wanted. After clarification, he set to work on the order. I was surprised I didn’t receive a “Your Order Has Been Shipped” e-mail for several more weeks, then again, I reasoned it’s a small business so sometimes it can take time.
When I finally did receive my order, around 8 weeks after placing it, there was an extra sheet of monster and characters as well as a handwritten note on the order explaining JP had papers to fulfill and was sorry it had taken so long to compile my order. I had not even complained about the wait time and I’m very pleased he addressed the wait time of his own volition. I would say for a one-person business, the customer service is acceptable and he is clearly open to making amends for any setbacks.
Now let’s get down to the order itself.
WARNING: Due to being laser-cut, the sheets and the wooden bases may have black residue on them. As soon as I touched the sheets, my hands were covered in it. It comes off easily enough with water, but I got a damp cloth to wipe down the sheets before I touched them again.
So, I got an assortment of characters, monsters big and small, and JP provided with me several different art styles. They were primarily a mix of Trash Mob Minis and Printable Heroes. Trash Mob has a very wide variety, however, they have a much more “cartoony” feel to them. Some people love this. I prefer the Printable Heroes options myself.
Popping them out of the sheet was easy enough, nothing tore or ripped and they came out with ease. They are durable, but also flexible, which I think is nice especially for transportation. You can slide all of them into a protective sheet and there you go! I store them now in my D&D binder alongside all of my character sheets and DM notes. This makes them incredibly accessible!
What I really like about these minis is that they are reversible. A lot of paper minis have just the front on both sides (or the front and then a blank back).
Miniature dragons that don’t cost 10-30$ a piece?! I can’t talk enough about the affordance of these minis. Honestly, I cannot stress the price of these minis enough.
All-in-all, if you need to purchase miniatures and you find yourself unable to due to cost or not knowing how to transport all those minis to your games, I highly recommend using JP Creations. I just can’t believe how many miniatures I got for such a low price! With three full sheets of miniatures, all crammed together to make the most of the space on the page, and bases, too, I spent just over $50 inclusive of shipping. Incredibly cost-effective.
Just be warned it may take some time to receive them – which I think for any small business is entirely acceptable, especially for international orders.
If you want to skip having them printed by a third party, you can always buy the miniature art from Trash Mob Minis or Printable Heroes themselves and print it on your own. The reason I don’t fully advocate this is that you would need to cut the minis out yourself, and if you don’t have a steady hand this could end up pretty disastrous, but it would definitely be even more cost-effective.
Lastly, and most importantly, if you choose to order through JP Creations you are choosing to support a man working his way through university and an individual who is a part of our amazing community!