As a former employee of a miniatures hobby shop, I’d get this all the time: “My partner/child is really into Warhammer/WW2/D&D miniatures, and I don’t know what to get them!” Miniatures are a whole world that can, from the outside, seem utterly overwhelming. But no matter what specific niche or level your loved one is at with the hobby, we can help.
Below you’ll find a curated list of widely available hobby products for all budgets, many of which are broadly useful enough to be a good purchase, no matter the specifics of the receiver’s level of engagement with the hobby.
Table of Contents
- The Army Painter Warpaints Hobby Set
- Warhammer Age of Sigmar Paint & Tool Set
- The Army Painter Speedpaint Starter Set
Whether they’re truly starting out or just looking to add a few more colours, the various painting starter sets on offer are a highly cost effective way to add a number of new paints to a collection.
The Warpaints Hobby Set from The Army Painter features not just a good range of opaque paints but also all the tools and brushes anyone could need to start out in the hobby from the very beginning. It also features a primer, which is a vital requirement before paint can be applied to a model!
I’m also a big fan of the Speedpaints range from The Army Painter, as they’re a highly efficient way to get minis painted to a tabletop standard by applying a base, shade and highlight in a single coat. They’re significantly cheaper than Citadel’s Contrast line of similarly translucent paints also, and the recent 2.0 relaunch of the line eliminated basically all of the problems the community had with the initial versions. The starter set offers a great range of colours and even includes a quite nice brush.
The Army Painter Speedpaint Metallics were launched mid-way through 2023 and remain an entirely unique product in the field. They boast all the properties of a highly translucent, single-coat solution Speed/Contrast paint but in a range of true metallics, which is practically sorcery, if you ask me. This set offers the full Speedpaint Metallics range and a brush to use them with, which is handy, as metallic paints tend to ruin brushes faster than regular paints do.
“Green Stuff” is a sculpting product made by many companies and is infinitely useful for smoothing over gaps in models, making conversions, and modelling all manner of greeblies from scratch.
Once a hobbyist starts using it, they’ll always find opportunities and excuses to continue to do so. There’s a reason that it’s been around and entirely unchanged for decades.
Miniature-Focussed Board Games
There are many miniatures-heavy board games out there, as well as miniatures add-ons to board games. These can be a great way for hobbyists to share some of their passion with friends who aren’t necessarily interested in the building and painting of little guys themselves.
In the worlds of Warhammer, there’s Cursed City and Blackstone Fortress. The recently released The Witcher: Old World is also an excellent and fun experience which is much easier to play than it looks. Though their respective Kickstarter campaigns are now closed, it’s also not too late to pledge and order the incredible-looking tabletop adaptations of Elden Ring and The Last of Us.
No miniature is truly complete until it has been based!
Depending on the theme of your miniatures, there are a thousand ways to go about detailing the ground they stand on. The Battlefields Basing Set from The Army Painter features not only a varied selection of sand, flock, tufts and rocks, but also a handy bottle of glue to apply them with.
If their tastes are more of the brutal variety, the Citadel Skulls pack contains a whopping 340 unpainted plastic skulls with which to decorate bases, models, or battlefield terrain in the most heavy metal fashion.
Whether they’re mustering the deep sea might of the Idoneth Deepkin. sailing forth from the Iron Isles, or just wanting to create some great-looking puddles, Vallejo’s Water Texture line is the best that’s out there for the job. They come in a range of sizes and styles and are able to flawlessly recreate everything from a crystal clear spring to the muddiest bog.
After all these years, it still feels weird to spend my money on fake dirt and grime, but new weathering effects are always so fun to experiment with that I quickly get over it.
From oil stains to verdigris, you can find a product to accurately represent just about any form of filth and wear. This Rust, Stain and Streaking set from Vallejo offers a great range of shades that would be highly useful for showing wear and tear on anything from crusading medieval soldiers to futuristic mechs.
You don’t think you need a proper painting handle until you use one. You think that holding a mini by its base or blu-tacking it to a cork or pill bottle is fine, until you realise it really isn’t.
A lot of companies make handles in varying styles, but for my money, I think the Citadel’s are the most convenient and effective. They’re available in a regular size, which is perfect for infantry, and an XL which will also firmly grip midsize monsters and small vehicles.
Plus, even if your gift recipient does already have one, having another is incredibly handy for being able to work on a couple of models simultaneously without having to swap them out.
Much like a painting handle, you don’t think you need a good, proper drybrush until you use one.
Drybrushing is a technique where you heavily load up a brush with paint then wipe most of it away before lightly brushing your model with what little is left – the idea being that you’ll catch only the raised surfaces and apply an easy highlight.
Many painters get by using either old, worn-out regular paint brushes, or cheap, large makeup brushes, but neither of these truly performs as well as a proper brush fit for purpose.
I’ve been using the Masterclass set from The Army Painter for over a year, and I’m still impressed by these brushes.
Whether your gift recipient uses cheap paint brushes or expensive Kolinsky ones, a brush will always be ruined extremely fast without some basic care.
The Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver is not just the best and simplest way to clean your brushes, it’s also the most cost-effective. I’ve had one of the small tubs for almost three years now, and I’m nowhere near the bottom. Simply rinse your brushes under hot water, work them thoroughly through the soap in the pot, rinse them off, and leave them to dry.
For restoring brushes that have begun to fray, I can highly recommend the Brush Repair Gel from Green Stuff World. You simply work the resin through your brush’s bristles, gently form them back into a point using a crevice of your hand, and allow them to air dry.
Your brushes and wallet will thank you.
Regardless of how much terrain your gift recipient may have, a good battle mat to place under everything makes a world of difference to the miniatures play experience. Even if your gift recipient is the kind of hobbyist who’s only in it for the artistic endeavour, a good battle mat to display minis makes for a much cooler photography backdrop, and storage presentation.
A lot of companies make good wargaming mats, but these examples from Warzone Studio are durable, crisp and portable.
Is the person you’re buying for brand new to the hobby? Maybe they’ve been at it a little while, but want to test some new techniques? The Nolzur’s Marvelous Miniatures range of officially licensed Dungeons & Dragons minis are the perfect thing for experimentation.
Their incredibly affordable price point enormously belies the quality of their sculpts, and they all come pre-primed so you can slap paint straight on them. Plus, many of the basic heroes and monsters in the range include two in a pack. Score!
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marines Primaris Intercessors
- Warhammer – Age of Sigmar – Slaves to Darkness: Chaos Warriors
- WarLord Bolt Action US Infantry WWII Military Wargaming Figures
Whether they wage war across the grim darkness of the 41st millennium or march La Grande Armée across Europe, the one kind of model set that any wargamer will always find a use for is more core infantry for whichever force it is that they collect.
Naturally, this will require a tiny bit of research on your part, but it’s likely that whoever you’re shopping for will happily talk to you at length about their chosen forces. If you can even just find out the name of the army or empire that they collect, then a quick internet search or phone call to your local hobby store should be able to easily give you the answers as to what their basic soldiers are.
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