Eager to play Star Wars but don't know where to find some figures? It can be really frustrating. There are so many Star Wars collectibles out there- toys, models, statuettes, christmas tree ornaments- yet very few of them are at the proper scale.
The basis of any good army is a solid infantry. Here are some figures you can use as front-line troops.
- In the early 80's, Kenner came out with their Micro Collection toy line. These were small, plastic playsets that came with prepainted miniatures. Although the miniatures were not as finely detailed as most gaming miniatures, they just happened to be the same size! Unfortunately, the sets did not sell as well as Kenner had hoped, and the entire line was soon scrapped. They are now considered collectibles and are very highly sought-after. As such, they are a bit too expensive for most gamers.
West End Games metal gaming miniatures- In the late 80's, West End Games produced a line of 25mm metal figures for use with their Star Wars role playing game. These miniatures had their flaws- they were significantly smaller than most other gaming miniatures, they often had unsightly seam-lines from poor molding, and wobbly bases were a common complaint (many gamers glued the figures to washers or pennies to give them some much-needed stability and also to resolve any line-of-fire disputes). Still, they were vastly superior to the Kenner Micro Collections. The line included virtually all the characters from the original trilogy, as well as many characters from the Expanded Universe, and even a few vehicles and creatures. West End even published a seperate set of rules for using their figures in mass combat without the Role Playing Game. Unfortunately, the company went through some rough financial trouble in the 90's, and they lost the Star Wars license. By the time they recovered, LucasFilms had already passed on the torch to Wizards of the Coast.
These figures are about 30mm tall (27 not counting the base), which would put them at approximately 1:70 scale.
Galoob's Micro Machines toys- During the 90's, Galoob produced a series of very popular toys known as Micro Machines. These toys were never meant to be used as gaming figures, and they were even smaller than the old West End Games miniatures, but they were relatively cheap, and the line included many vehicles, so quite a few gamers have chosen to make entire armies out of them.
An average Micromachine figure stands at 26mm (24 without the base), which would mean a scale of around 1:75.
Wizards of the Coast's metal gaming miniatures- After the fall of West End Games, Wizards of the Coast stepped up to the bat and made their version of a Star Wars role playing game, based on their popular (but relatively complex) "D20" system. While gamers everywhere argued about which system was better, one thing that could not be argued was that this new D20 game did not lend itself very well to large-scale combat (at least not like West End's "D6" game). Still, WotC was committed to making the most of their new game and they began to produce high-quality gaming miniatures. They recognised that a good portion of their target audience already had WEG miniatures, so they concentrated most of their efforts on making generic characters inspired from "The Phantom Menace". As far as production quality went, they were superb figures- very detailed with no hint of flare and with very stable mounts. When it came to gaming, they were just adequate, as many of the figures had these bizarre poses that made it very difficult to tell what direction they were facing, and they had these huge square bases that just looked odd when placed next to the older WEG figs. For collectibles, they sucked, since they did not have any of the main characters from the film. Sales were dissapointing, and the company decided to pull the miniature line and focus on publishing material for the game instead.
Wizards of the Coast's official scale is 1 inch = 2 meters (1:79), but the miniatures are about 36mm tall (33 if you don't count the base), which would put them at about a 1:50 scale.
Wizards of the Coast's prepainted plastic miniatures- In 2004, encouraged by the huge success of their prepainted Dungeons & Dragons plastic miniatures, Wizards of the Coast decided to start fresh with an entirely new line of Star Wars minis. At the time of this writing, only the first 60 figures have been released, and they are already proving to be a huge hit. To put it simply, these figures rock. They're exactly the right size, with incredible detail. They're prepainted, and WotC pulled out all the stops to make sure the paint job is the same high quality as the molding. What's more, the figures can be used in the role playing game, or by themselfs in a skirmish battle (rules are included when you buy a Starter Set). And becuase they're plastic, you really don't have to worry about dropping them or having the paint chip off. I have only 2 small problems with them. First, becuase they're plastic, lightsabers and staffs tend to get bent, especially if you leave them in your car on a hot, sunny day. Secondly, they are only sold in random assortments, so it can be difficult to get the pieces you want. Still, they are currently the best figs around.
These figures use the same 1:50 scale as WotC's metal miniatures, even though the terrain tiles for the miniature battle game are 1:79.
Board Games- Hasbro and Milton Bradley have both released board games that use small miniatures. To be fair, I've only seen 2 of them out of the box, so I can't really give a good review on their quality or scale. Epic Duels (MB) and Star Wars Monopoly (H) are just the right size. Other board games include Star Wars Episode 1 Monopoly (H) and The Queen's Gambit (H).
Paper Cut-Out Miniatures- Of course, you don't have to spend a fortune trying to track down obscure board games or old collectibles. You can just download paper miniatures from the Internet. There are plenty floating around- just do a web search for them. You can even find a few on my homepage.
Star Wars just wouldn't be the same without spaceships and vehicles. Starfighters swooping down on attack runs, walkers lumbering forward like mechanical juggernauts, speeders zipping around at break-neck speeds... A vehicle on the table can add a lot of atmosphere and really bring a game to life, but the problem with Star Wars is that everything is freakin' huge. Cities can be as big as a planet, and a space station can be as big as a moon. Take a look at this chart comparing the sizes of some popular vehicles:
|Vehicle||length in meters||1:50 length in mm / inches||1:70 length in mm / inches|
|Snowspeeder||5.3m||106mm / 4.2"||75.7mm / 3"|
|Cloud car||7m||140mm / 5.5"||100mm / 3.9"|
|Jedi starfighter||8m||160mm / 6.3"||114.3mm / 4.5"|
|Cargo skiff||9.5m||190mm / 7.5"||135.7mm / 5.3"|
|A-Wing||9.6m||192mm / 7.6"||137.1mm / 5.4"|
|AAT-1 Federation Tank||9.75m||195mm / 7.7"||139.3mm / 5.5"|
|N-1 Naboo fighter||11m||220mm / 8.7"||157.1mm / 6.2"|
|X-Wing starfighter||12m||240mm / 9.5"||171.4mm / 6.7"|
|AT-TE Republic Walker||12.4m||248mm / 9.8"||177.1mm / 7"|
|Y-Wing starfighter||16m||320mm / 12.6"||228.6mm / 9"|
|Republic Gunship||17.4m||348mm / 13.7"||248.6mm / 9.8"|
|Imperial Lambda shuttle||20m||400mm / 15.7"||285.7mm / 11.2"|
|AT-AT Imperial Walker||20.6m||412mm / 16.2"||294.3mm / 11.6"|
|Slave-1||21.5m||430mm / 16.9"||307.1mm / 12.1"|
|Millenium Falcon||26.7m||534mm / 21"||381.4mm / 15"|
|Jabba's sail barge||30m||600mm / 23.6"||428.6mm / 16.9"|
|Sandcrawler||36.8m||735mm / 28.9"||525.7mm / 20.7"|
|Rebel Tranport||90m||1800mm / 70.9"||1285.7mm / 50.6"|
As you can see, some of these vehicles are quite large. An AT-AT miniature would be about a foot tall. The millenium falcon would be almost 2 feet long. I usually like to keep things in scale whenever possible, but in this case I don't even bother. Instead, I use models that are a bit too small. Trust me- if you have an X-Wing that's only 6 inches long instead of 9.5, none of your players are going to complain.
Micro Machines Action Fleet- With the success of their Star Wars Micro Machines, Galoob decided to expand the line to include larger vehicles. And so, the Action Fleet was born. The fleet consisted of a number of plastic vehicles large enough to accomodate Micro Machine figures in their cockpits. This would have been a fantastic boon to Star Wars gamers everywhere except for two small details- First of all, many of the vehicles are not consistant with the original Star Wars designs (for example, the laser cannons and engines on the X-Wing don't look anything like they do in the movies!). Secondly - and this is the big one, none of the Action Fleet vehicles are to scale with each other or with the original Micro Machines. Just about every Action Fleet vehicle I've seen is either way too large (Snowspeeder) or ridiculously too small (AT-AT, Imperial Shuttle, Republic Gunship, etc). Now, that said, there are a few that can still be used. The TIE Fighter and TIE Advanced are pretty much at the right scale. And while the AT-ST may be a tad small, it's OK for most games (especially with the old WEG miniatures). The X-Wing and N-1 Starfighter are noticeably small next to WotC miniatures, but even they aren't so far off that they can't be used for gaming scenery.
There are tons of good Star Wars model kits out there, and some of them can make fantastic scenery. 1/72 models work very well with WEG or Micromachine figures, and 1/48 are great for all the other miniatures. I highly recommend the Millennium Falcon Cutaway by AMT/Ertl and the Shuttle Tydirium by MPC. They don't match any of the figures' scale exactly (although they come very close to the WEG and Micromachines), but they're close enough for most games, and they look great on the gaming table.
If you thought there were a lot of paper miniatures floating around the web, wait till you do a search for paper vehicles! There are literally hundreds of models out there just waiting to be used in your campaign. Many of them may need to be resized, but this is fairly easy to do with even the most basic photo-editing software. Here are a few links to help get you started:
Momirfarooq.com - My web page; Not the most detailed or acurate models, but they are (mostly) scaled properly.
SF Papercraft Gallery - Fantastic models! TIEs are at right scale; Y-Wing can be easily rescaled.
Iceberg's Lists - The ULTIMATE list of links to cardboard models.
- Nomatter what you want to buy, chances are there's someone willing to sell it.
Cargobay at Starwars.com- The Cargobay is the ultimate list of Star Wars collectibles. It won't tell you where you can get them, but it will give you tons of info to help you find what you're looking for.
Star Wars Miniatures Info World- Ironically, this site has even more info on the WotC prepainted plastic line than the official WotC page!
Starship Modeler Star Wars Scales- This site lists Star Wars models by scale, so you can decide if it'll work with your miniatures before you buy it!
Star Wars Miniature Battles Yahoo Group- A group for people who like to play the old WEG Miniature Battles.