Frugal GM Review: Inkwell Ideas Monster Stand-Ins (GenCon Special)

Frugal GM Review: Inkwell Ideas Monster Stand-Ins (GenCon Special)
First off, I want to apologize for not getting this review up yesterday on its regular schedule. I got back from my one-day excursion to GenCon on Thursday (included a side visit to the family farm) and yesterday I was busy with internet drama. I normally avoid that sort of thing, but when I see family and friends being taken advantage of....well, I'm not going to idly sit by.

Of course this is neither here nor there, so on to the review!

Now I've pretty much sworn off of using paper minis anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still like them and think they are a tremendous value. It is just that I have something like 4,032 metal and plastic minis collected over the years that need some attention. In some ways the paper minis were a "gateway drug" into the absurdity that became both the Mrs. and I buying into some Reaper Kickstarters.

Although we were there for only a day, we braved the lines for the swag bag (just an actual bag) and the coupon book. When I flipped through the coupon book I saw some sweet deals from the folks over at Inkwell Ideas. Honestly, I just wanted the "free" die....with purchase. Although I'm a dice snob when it comes to playing, I do pick up interesting dice here & there and the Mrs.......let's just say I couldn't call her Mrs. Frugal GM. She'd lose any cred if her massive dice collection was ever discovered. We might actually be at the point where I need to get an insurance rider to cover them....

The unopened "complete" box set
...anyway I digress...again. I know I'm headed to the Inkwell Ideas booth and I'm picking something up. I really had three choices of stuff I was willing to get, but was instantly sold on the Con-Special for the Monster Stand Ins. For $15 I get 600 paper minis. Not bad.....2.5¢ per mini. Oh, but hold on a second........if I toss in another $5 I get a case, and some mini bases.

OK...let me do some mental math here......screw it, I'm in. I knew this stuff cost more online, but I didn't bother to look it up until now. The base set comes in at $26.95, add in $4 for extra stands and another $7 for the organizer box, which brings our total to $41.95. Unfortunately we have to subtract $14.95 because we don't get the PDF with this purchase, which is a shame. I'd have given this 5 stars in a heartbeat had I gotten "the whole set" as I was expecting.

Maybe that was an unrealistic expectation, but the main kit you can buy right now comes with that PDF. I know there are a couple of ways it could have been distributed cheaply or for free and a Convention Special of 53% off is special....

Anyway, on to the product. The box isn't a $7 box in my opinion and won't be big enough to store this collection, but if you use it to simply store the main lot in a pile and used the sub-divisions to store the minis you need for this session, it might be big enough. To be fair, there is realistically no way Inkwell Ideas could provide an "adequate" case for all these paper minis....there are just too many minis to work with here. It is a good case and I'd probably just end up using it to store the session at hand...or use it for other RPG uses.

Awesome paper mini base
My absolute favorite thing about this collection are the stands. When I was heavy into paper minis I hated my stand options and I was prepared to buy a metric butt-load (basically double an ass-ton and add 10%) of these mini bases because they are the best. $4 for 16 is way overpriced, but only if you went nuts like I was going to do and buy them by the butt-ton direct from the manufacturer. 25¢ per stand isn't bad retail. What I like about these minis is that they are basically a clamp that holds the mini tight. Unlike the bases used by the Steve Jackson Cardboard Heroes, it really doesn't matter what thickness of paper or cardstock you are using. These bases will hold a single sheet of super-cheap printer paper no problem. There is also a nice flat surface you could right on/label....assuming you have lighter colored bases. Most of my bases were black, so no labeling there.

Cardstock paper minis
The minis are printed glossy (slick) on a thinner cardstock, which is a non-issue when using these basis. I'd have liked a thicker cardstock, but something tells me the cardstock chosen was to accommodate the case/organizer. Any thicker and it'd be a no-go there. There is nothing wrong with the thickness of the cardstock though, and I'm assuming this is my personal preference based on the bazillion paper minis I had before. The art is highly detailed, so much that I think a lot of detail might be lost in actual use. Again, I don't think this is a detraction for me, but it might be a factor for some others, so I'm mentioning it here. The minis are two sided, with the backside being a black outline.

One thing I really did like though, was that the printing of the minis was obviously planned based on the mini-bases (I know, I'm back to the bases again..). There is a generous empty space below each figure to accommodate the space taken up by the mini base gripping the figure. All too-often I see "professional" paper minis not take this into account. Sure it might make you mini seem like it is "hovering" above the table, but that beats not seeing a man-sized figure form the knees (or even waist!) down any day in my book.

You can go online to see the rather long list of monsters available. I especially like how the noted how many images are for the monsters and who the artist was. That is a great touch I for one appreciated.

Frugal GM 4 Star Review: Inkwell Ideas Monster Stand-Ins (GenCon Special)
Overall I think this is a good product and was well worth the $20 I spent. If I was going to use these though I'd really want that PDF so I could print up more. I don't think I'd spend $41.95 for "everything", but $14.95 for the PDF and buying that metric butt-load direct would be a Frugal option.....