I'm off to Gencon in a couple of days after taking a couple of years off. I don't have a rigidly structured agenda; a friend registered us for a bunch of roleplaying games, and I'm sure I'll get into one or two M:TG (Magic) tournaments with my buddy the Magic player. We'll have 8+ dads and kids out there, so there will be plenty to do. One of the things I'm going to check out in the expo area is the "Flat Plastic Miniatures" (FPM) booth.
I got out of collecting miniatures several years ago, and was using wooden blocks when we needed to use a grid vs "theater of the mind" style resolution. I imagine other DM's are the same - based on the tactical complexity, and the amount of preparation that went into it, we'll decide on the spot whether to run combat on the grid or without miniatures. I do mix both styles.
I discovered Flat Plastic Miniatures early this year and they've worked well. Here's a shot from a recent game on how they look on the table:
They feature hand drawn artwork, laser printed onto thin plastic, and inserted into a plastic base. The pieces feel way more durable than paper or cardboard, and they're a fraction of the cost of 3-D pre-painted miniatures (like the WOTC or Wizkids offerings). FPM might end up $.25 to $.33 per figure, while the (admittedly) beautiful official Wizkids pieces are $3-$4 per figure. So FPM is way more budget friendly (although not nearly as friendly as wooden blocks). When all is said and done, I'll probably spend a few hundred dollars to get a gigantic mini collection with the flat minis, whereas an equivalent collection of painted figures would be minimum several thousand dollars (and, you know, a divorce).
I also like that Flat Plastic Minis are easy to store - I've got several hundred figures in the binder pictured below:
You can get this type of zippered binder at an office supply store. Since the figures can easily slide out of the binder if it tilts upside down (a mini apocalypse), a zippered binder ensures you're not going to lose anything. The sleeves are card sleeves, available at a game store or baseball card shop. At some point the organization compulsion will take me over, and I'll put little label stickers on the sleeves to make it super organized.
Visiting the Flat Plastic Miniatures booth at Gencon is one of my Gencon goals. They have a ton of sets I don't own, and maybe they'll have some Gencon deals? I saw LOTFP will be there as well, and I'm sure I'll do a bunch of board game demos too.
Anyone else going, and what kind of stuff do you have planned?
Here's the link to the store for the guys that sell Flat Plastic Miniatures: Arcknight. The store doesn't seem completely up to date, as they've been doing various Kickstarters and so forth. That's another reason I'm curious to see what's at their Gencon booth.