Star Wars RPG: Coming to a table near you soon. | Print |  E-mail
Saturday, 26 August 2006
Brett takes a look at your options for Star Wars miniatures to enhance your gaming experience.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.
-Obi-wan Kenobi

The Game:
I've played Dungeons & Dragons for many years, and always thought it would be cool to try a science-fiction role-playing game someday. So with this end in mind I began collecting a few different sci-fi RPG books: Star Frontiers, Alternity, Star Wars D6 and finally Star Wars D20. After going over the rules, I found I liked Star Wars D20 the best, if only because it was easier for me to translate from my D&D experiences. Plus, Star Wars brings up so many good memories for those of us from a certain generation � I can quote the movies from memory, and often do, to the chagrin of friends and family.

Anyway, I learned the Star Wars D20 rules a bit, and then realized I had zero sci-fi miniatures. A quick way to kill a sci-fi game is to have a fighter with a sword as your character piece! It's bad enough I can't seem to stop myself from saying "gold pieces" instead of "credits." 

Clearly, I had to go on a quest, er, mission to remedy the situation.

The Miniatures:
Fortunately, a friend and I found some Wizards of the Coast (WotC) Star Wars plastic miniatures for sale in a hobby store: Rebel Storm starter kit for half price--$10 instead of the usual $20 (SW Minis). Wow, a Darth Vader and a Luke Skywalker in each starter kit! At that price, we each bought a box.

The minis are 28mm scale. We really liked what we saw in the first box, so we continued to buy more. We soon found, however, that many main characters from the stories are either rare or very rare pieces, which makes it difficult to use characters from the stories in your games. Just imagine a kid who's short on cash. He has to pretend that the pieces he owns are other characters:

The Rebel and the Yuzzem

Kid: "No, the guy in the rebel outfit is Han Solo."
Friend: "It doesn't look like Han Solo."
Kid: "Well it is, and this is Chewbacca, even though it's a Yuzzem."

How sad is that! I soon realized how lawful evil the marketing behind the Star Wars Miniatures game is. The emperor sits on his throne, plotting how to squeeze the last credits out of the very people who helped him seize power. If you listen, you can hear the evil laughter. No, not George Lucas � OK, maybe he's laughing too.

The WoTC Collectible Miniatures Game (CMG) boxes are very short on monsters, and droids are scarce as well. You won't want for minor character pieces, though: tons of stormtroopers, alien races and generics. There are lots of player character pieces to choose from as well, including many of different races.

Other miniature sets that can be found for Star Wars include the long-out-of-business West End Games (Grenadier, then Simtac) line of Star Wars lead miniatures. These 25mm scale minis are well done, but very hard to find, being out of production since 1999. Pre-painted plastics are much easier to find.

There are lots of other Star Wars products out there. I have only begun to scratch the surface of the vast amount of models and miniatures that have been produced since the original movies were released. Many are not to standard RPG scale though, but can still be used by a creative Game Master.

The Star Wars Miniatures line has created a resurgence in the number of people participating in the Star Wars RPG. Wizards of the Coast has even begun reprinting some of the harder to find sourcebooks for the game because of this demand (and there are rumors that more is to come). These books were going for as much as $500 on eBay before this re-release!

The real Han and Chewie

The Ships:
Finally, we started a Star Wars RPG. It was a lot of fun, we enjoyed the blaster battles, but our ships were all imagined. I've heard that Star Wars miniatures will eventually release a ships set, but on a date far, far away: Nov. 28, 2006. I hope they will be to scale when released, as I have heard that many of the planes in the Axis & Allies line were poorly scaled.

Since waiting is for the weak-minded, I soon found an alternative: Hasbro has a line of cast, painted ships called the Titanium Series. The ships go for $5 each and can be found in Wal-Mart, Target, Shopko, Toys-r-Us, and other similar stores. The ships are extremely well-done, durable, have some movable parts--like landing gear and cockpits--and are the prefect size for space battles. A few Wal-Marts even have the five-ship case sets for $20. Not all are space ships, some are ground transports. There is even a Superstar Destroyer piece that will be released this month. Some of the pieces are larger scale, of characters from the movies, and smaller one-man ships. These pieces go for $20 each, but are less usable for gaming.

My one beef is that it would be nice to have the bigger ships, such as Star Destroyers, in the larger-scale line. Then I might actually have a use for one in a game, and would buy them. The Titanium series also has several new-series Battlestar Galactica ships. The Galactica herself is also being released in a large size version. I hope this will be a trend for the bigger ships in the Stars Wars line. One can only hope that they will be able to get the rights for other science fiction series in the future (like Star Trek!). I highly recommend these amazing pieces.

A selection of Titanium ships

Another option is Hasbro's MicroMachines line of ships and 15mm miniatures. The ships are well done and have some different vessels than you'll find in the Titanium series. The MicroMachines are not as large and heavy as the Titanium series, but being plastic, they're more durable and don't chip paint like metal ships. One problem is that they are out of production, so the only option for obtaining them is eBay. But sometimes you can get a good bargain, with many ships in one auction. MicroMachines also produced a huge number of Star Trek ship miniatures, which I was able to acquire through auctions. The 15mm character pieces include all the main characters in the Star Wars series and can be used in a role-playing setting in a pinch, if a certain character piece is too expensive or hard to find in the new Wizards of the Coast Star Wars sets.

The Map:
Lastly, one thing I thought missing from my science fiction game was a stars battle map. Star Wars space battles are very difficult to run if you're a stickler for the rules (which I am not). I was able to find a felt star battle map online from a company called Monday Knight Productions. The map is made of, yes, felt and has stars painted on it. While you cannot write on it, as you can many battle maps, it is good as a background and it looks much better for space battles then a table surface.

The Conclusion:
There are a lot of Star Wars miniatures to choose from, many from different sources. The Wizards of the Coast line is very popular and will continue with Bounty Hunters and Ships sets in the near future. The older items are still available through auctions, and can really round out a collection. Finally, ships are out there: just look in most department stores, and you will be pleasantly surprised. As in all things, keep vigilant; look out for bargains, and happy gaming.

-Brett Arroyo

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