Unplugged: D&D Minis – Monster Menagerie II (RPG)

Traditional RPGs are games of the mind, but it doesn’t hurt to have spiffy little plastic figures on hand to help set the tone and sort through the complexities of battle. Figures can be bought unpainted or, for a bit more cash, they come prepainted. As a busy parent, I easily fall into the latter category. While any figurines aren’t cheap, they can add a bit of fun as players can see the unruly monsters gather around their poor characters, eager for a kill.



Icons of the Realms: Monster Menagerie II
Publisher: Wizkids

Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons is still going strong, branching out into all sorts of areas. You can now watch a wide variety of play online in Neverwinter, with friends via Sword Coast Legends, you can even watch other people play D&D in weekly episodes just like all those gaming feeds on Twitch. In addition to all those books, adventures, and supplements around Wizards of the Coast also licenses a line of figurines produced by Wizkids (makers of the Heroclix figurine game.) The newest entry in this line of pre-painted miniatures is Icons of the Realms: Monster Menagerie II. Past releases have tied in to various product lines, such as giants for last year’s Storm King’s Thunder adventure. Coming out a little after the entertaining Volo’s Guide to Monsters (a great source of background info on various classic monsters) Monster Menagerie II seems to stand on its own.

(Several different golems looming over those poor small-folk. They may not be as “fancy” as some of the other figures, but I can always use a good-looking golem in my stories.)


The figurines come in a box of four figurines. The figures also have a bit of rarity with one of the four figures a “rare” figure. For example, you’ll see more orcs and gnolls than orc or gnoll leaders. This is both good and bad. One might want to have one of every figure, but it also makes sense that you might want more basic troops than minis representing their leaders. The rare figures often have a fancier paint scheme (making many of those great selections for a player character’s mini.) Most of the larger creatures also fall into the “rare” category.

As usual, I found plenty of fun “monster” pieces in the set. Some of my favorites were the Black Pudding, complete with a spot for minis about to be engulfed as well as the aforementioned golems.


(a large black pudding designed with a spot for a medium sized creatures in the middle)

The painting on the minis isn’t something that will make it into a museum, but it is probably better than could do and certainly better than what I might have time to do. I’m definitely not going to be able to pull off the finer detail on those small figures.
I found several flying pieces in my boxes. They come unassembled and one plugs a clear plastic rod into the figure and then the rod is placed into the base.


An Angel, Gryphon, Androsphinx, and a black pudding about to devour an invisible tiefling.

Note the “invisible” figure in the pudding. In recent sets, I’ve seen some “rare” figures that are actually clear plastic versions of other figures in the set. These represent the figure when it becomes “invisible” in the game. It’s a great idea, but since the invisible version is rare and the non-invisible version is usually also rare, it means I’ve yet to have both versions of a figure in a set. It isn’t a total loss, as the invisible figure is typically interesting enough that it can be a stand-in for any other character.


The Angel, its base, and the troublesome rod…

For the first time I had a small negative experience with my figures. The angel figurine comes with a base, an “L” shaped rod, and the figure itself. The clear rod fit into the base perfectly, but I couldn’t get the rod to stay attached to the angel figure. It was impossible to get it “plugged in” correctly. I easily fixed the situation with a dab of crazy glue, but that slightly marred an otherwise very enjoyable set.

I have a fair number of figurines I’ve accumulated over the years, painted and some unpainted (almost all of those are still unpainted.) The stand-out in the set is the promotional “Adventurer’s Campsite” that you are allowed to buy if you also purchase several booster boxes. The set includes “Ezmerelda’s Wagon” (seen in the past “Curse of Strahd” adventure) complete with piles of campsite trimmings. The wagon is a cool purple color and has lots of nice detail (no, the wheels do not turn.)


Ezmerelda’s wagon and several camp site trimmings. Note that there are at least twice as many little campsite trimmings in the box.

For most, this is all going to come down to money, and money is the weakest aspect of the figurines. A package of four figures sells for $11-$15 retail, more than $3 each. That is a pretty hefty price tag in general, but isn’t so bad for the world of miniatures (unpainted ones can cost $2-$5.) You can buy an Iron Man action figure for $12, so $11 for four smaller (and better painted) figures doesn’t sound so bad.

Ignoring price, I found this set to be middle of the road. I love the golems and some of the smaller figures, but while the fliers were cool I don’t see them getting as much use as others. For that matter, I found the set to contain more unique-ish figures rather than a larger number of generic troop-type figures. In essence, it’s a good set for dabbling a bit here and there but I’m not so sure I would be tempted to collect one of everything.

The promotional wagon / “Adventurer’s Campsite” is crazy cool. I’m not sure what to do with the wagon (I know I’ll invent a story or two for it) as it looks a little fragile to lump in with a big box ‘o minis, but I know I’m going to be using plenty of the “campsite” items as they make great window dressing for all sorts of situations. I’m not a big fan of randomized packages with rarities, but this set wasn’t a problem. I had few duplicates in my set and I felt like the things I did get were interesting in their own right. As usual, there was something in almost every box that made my sons go “cool” when opened, and that should be a solid recommendation for any dad.
Kid Factor:
Made of flexible plastic, these figures can take a bit of pounding. Don’t let your youngest eat them, and keep the older kids from losing them or checking their tensile strength. I haven’t had problems yet, and the paint on these things tends to do OK over time, although if you put everything in one big box and shake it around all the time you might get a few chips. If you treat them with even a small amount of care they will hold up just fine.

(Review samples provided by Wizkids)

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