Hefty 12¢ Miniature
I eventually switched over to a flat paper mini that I could use with Alea Tools markers. I still use the Alea Tools markers and highly recommend them. A good set of these magnetic markers travels easily and can be used to relay quite a bit of information in-game.
My preferred flat "paper" mini is actually mounted on a 1" fender washer. This gives the miniature some real heft, making it easier to pick up and move around with or without an Alea Tool marker underneath. My goal was to get the price down to 10¢ a mini, which is doable, but realistically my final cost comes down to about 12¢ a mini.
Supplies needed (preferred option):
Printed Monsters (Magic Cards, or other Collectible Card Games)
1" Craft Punch (Fiskars squeeze punch)
White Glue (Aleene's Original Tacky Glue)
1" Fender Washer (Bulk Box)
The process to make a mini is super-simple and really only two steps, punch out your monster and then glue it to a washer. If you have Alea Tools markers, they make great clamps for gluing. Just put a marker on top of the card-stock after you've glued it down to the washer.
I used to source my Magic cards from the Favorite Local Game Store (FGLS). The ones that run Magic tournaments often have big boxes of common cards that you can sift through. You might also ask your Magic playing friends for old cards. It had been my experience that if they knew you were cutting up the cards you could get them much cheaper. The first time I tried this the FLGS wanted a dime a card, but when I explained what I was doing I got them to halve their price.
It never hurts to ask.....and if you bring your punch with you it might help prove your sincerity.
For the washers, shop around. You can usually find a pound box of bulk washers much cheaper than grabbing a handful from a bulk bin. I was able to get my per-washer price down to a bit over 6¢.
Finally, I highly suggest getting a quality Fiskars squeeze punch. It will make getting the right part of the card punched so much easier. Saving $5 on a tool you will get a lot of use out of isn't worth it. Now I don't count the cost of my tools in the overall mini price, but I end up with:
+ 1¢ Washer & Glue
12¢ Total Cost
If you glue another card cut-out to the other side of the washer you can get your price down to under 10¢ a miniature.