It's a known fact that many popular tabletop miniature games require overpriced, badly sculpted, or mono-pose models.
While many companies forbid or restrict the use of alternatives in their stores/tournaments, (an increasing number of) players who play at Friendly Local Gaming Stores use proxy models, and/or parts from other model kits hybridized with the original "legitimate" model to differentiate their models from those of the guy across the table.
The list you will find below is by no means exhaustive, and you should check out the 40K General Thread for a more actively updated list of 3rd party models.
- 1 Core Manufacturers
- 2 Proxy Companies
- 2.1 Reaper
- 2.2 Heroclix
- 2.3 Victrix Limited
- 2.4 Russian Alternative
- 2.5 Zealot Miniatures
- 2.6 Anvil Industries
- 2.7 Pig Iron Productions
- 2.8 Statuesque Miniatures
- 2.9 Perry Miniatures
- 2.10 Wargames Exclusive
- 2.11 Ral Partha
- 2.12 Hitech Miniatures
- 2.13 Scibor Miniatures
- 2.14 Bits of War
- 2.15 Maxmini
- 2.16 Freebooter Miniatures
- 2.17 Raging Heroes
- 2.18 Tabletop Miniatures Solutions
- 2.19 Soda Pop Miniatures
- 2.20 Cadwallon Miniatures
- 2.21 Puppetswar
- 2.22 Victoria Miniatures
- 2.23 Ramshackle Games
- 2.24 Antenocitis Workshop
- 2.25 Tablescape
- 2.26 Black Cat Bases
- 2.27 Ainsty Castings
- 2.28 Hasslefree Miniatures
- 2.29 Gear Gut's Mek Shop
- 2.30 Taro Modelmaker
- 2.31 Mortian
- 2.32 Wargames Atlanic
- 3 3rd Party 3D Printed
Generally speaking, no Roleplaying Game should or will require official models, allowing greater freedom of selection. Some games may have licensed products (like Dungeons and Dragons) but mandatory model ownership is unheard of. That being said, many lines of models made for this purpose are single-part models which require no assembly. That total lack of variety may encourage some players to use kit models instead, or to customize the cookie-cutter figures with green stuff, spare bits from other model kits, or the aggressive application of a hack saw.
That said, many FLGS's will have generic terrain in stock for various pen-and-paper adventures. You should feel free to get creative with these local resources! Surely your command squad could use a planning table, or your pirate captain would want a cask of battlefield ale!
Games Workshop (and their patrician minion, Citadel) has in the past utilized their status as a big company to enter into lawsuits against other companies in the time honored tradition of using international copyright law as a fulcrum to help you sit on a smaller competitor and crush them (infamously attempting to copyright "Space Marines"). This has done a great deal to remove sympathy for slumping sales that have progressively worsened in the third millennium, and the popularity of their games combined with price gouging have encouraged waves of alternative models, some inspired and some blatant.
After an initial crackdown on external products (culminating both in instances of drilling into a finished model to verify it was not a recast after numerous instances of fraud or even non-GW models appearing at events (see; Golden Demon) and a policy of not allowing homemade terrain despite official literature from GW coming with instructions of how to make it) brought them a great of bad press, Games Workshop quietly released guidelines on how much of a non-GW product may be allowed in an army played at Games Workshop stores, as well as an official policy regarding Unit Filler. Of course, individual cases vary from store manager to event organizer for better or worse.
Worth mentioning that out of production and non-supported Specialist Games like Mordheim/Necromunda and Blood Bowl are fully free to use proxies with due to unavailability of legit models. As a result, the market for "Medieval Football" minis is somewhat expansive.
Due to Infinity's smaller squad size, and greater focus on reacting to exact enemy equipment, the community prefers to be as WYSIWYG as possible with their models. Corvus Belli makes mostly metal models, which are tougher to modify than plastic models. Combine this with their distinctive futuristic style, monopose models with very few if any extra bits, and many model profiles without actual models, and you have a perfect storm driving players to look for alternative models.
They do Warmachine/Hordes, and several other things now. Keep an eye out for Warcaster models, as they look like they'll make good Infinity proxies (and vice versa).
Now hear me out. They may not have a great selection of futuristic 28mm toy soldiers, but they have plenty of other models to offer. Plenty of WW2 and Cold War tanks for conversions, and tons of accessories kits and extra bits on the cheap. For example: the Tamiya Jerry Cans set (item 35026) includes six 55-gal oil drums with *almost* same dimensions as the old 40K oil drums that came with the Battlefield Accessories kit. Plus more than a dozen jerry cans, and four pails. For less than $9 USD.
An up-and-coming miniature wargames company. Mantic has like, at least 7 different tabletop games involving miniatures. They release all of the rules for these games digitally for free, but their minis are great for other games. They appear to be chasing GW's tail, but their minis have a distinct style. They also sell terrain made for D&D. Check them out for their own games, or to pilfer models for use as proxies in other games.
The go-to company for random 25-28mm miniatures. Reaper is known for making absolutely everything, from the astrological signs as waifus to female Dwarfs to animu chicks with chainsaws to skeleton peasants to superheroes to blaxploitation characters. While you can dig for these things from other companies, Reaper most likely has five of them already made a decade ago, and one more coming out next fall.
- Dark Haven Legends: Reaper's core fantasy line. Expect everything, including the kitchen sink Mimic.
- Warlord: Reaper's other main Fantasy range. A bit more specialized, since the models fall more into army themes like "Undead" and "Paladins".
- Bones: Recasted miniatures from other categories in plastic. Prone to bending making almost every sword look like a scimitar, but cheap as fuck and thus certainly unique in the market.
- Legendary Encounters: Pre-painted miniatures like the kind you could get out of a blind box set, or pull off a Heroclix base. Unless you literally cannot paint, go back to Warlord and Dark Haven Legends.
- Chronoscope: The more diverse range of models. Cowboys, Shadowrunners, zombie apocalypse survivor stereotypes, funky kung fu masters, and the rest.
- LJC (Legion of Justice and Caeke): Adorable animal chibis. Purpose unknown.
- Master Series: Larger miniatures with a bit of scenery and sometimes multiple characters. Mostly for diorama purposes.
- Pathfinder: Pathfinder miniatures. Very D&D.
- Savage Worlds: Savage Worlds miniatures. Vaguely noir meets Victorian.
- CAV: Mecha miniatures. Mech Warrior meets Rifts.
- The Boneyard: Extra bits like arms, wings, heads, weapons, and the like for kitbashing purposes.
- Boxes Sets: Groups of miniatures of a theme, like "Medieval Town" or "Dungeon Monsters" or "Pirate Crew". Sometimes, miniatures retired from individual sale are still offered in these sets.
While Reaper does have it's own game, most are just there to justify new lines.
When fielding an army and wanting a unique unit champion or a special face for that character, or searching for a miniature that looks just like the character you imagined, Reaper is a good first place to check.
An ever exponentially expanding range of miniatures usually featuring licensed products from Marvel and DC comics to Alien and Predator. The miniatures are usually well-casted, but painted so horribly that even preview models look like a blind Ork using intentionally thickened paints went to town on them. Some (mostly those sold in window boxes) escape that fate, and do look decent.
If intending to use a model of Spiderman in a Mutants and Masterminds RPG, or modify an Eitrigan into a Daemon then it's just a simple matter of yanking it off that base and putting them on an elegant black plastic square or disk.
A British company which largely focus on 28mm hard plastic figures. Victrix currently focus on Ancient, Napoleanic and Dark ages ranges, although they have continued to diversify over the years. They are known for their high quality deisgns and their uncompromising commitment to historically accurate figures. They also have a subsidiary company called Victrix Games which focuses on 12mm World War II gaming systems and figurines (Predominantly tank and infantry).
The name sums it up; Russian Alternative is a Russian company that makes alternative models. Most are very Warhammer Fantasy oriented, having groups of very detailed goblins and Dwarves, a fancy vampiress, female Savage Orcs, Chaos champions (one female), and the like. More expensive than GW, but at a much better quality with alternate heads and weapons to use to spice up GW models with. Mostly just for champions and characters. When buying from their eBay site, shipping is free worldwide.
Makers of decidedly unashamed GW alternatives. From NotSpaceMarines to NotServitors to NotNecrons, NotGuardsmen, NotDaemons, NotTyranids, NotCustodes and NotCultists. The Fantasy miniatures are more unique, looking like named characters...who are Dwarfs, Chaos Warriors, Squigs, Beastmen, and a few Vampires/Elves.
The main draw of Zealot isn't the full miniatures though as much as bits to spice up GW models like female
Tau "Kadesh" torsos and slit-heads, pauldrons up the wazoo, mutations and giant fly mounts for the Daemonically inclined, alternate heads showing a great deal of character for greenskins, Guardsmen, a huge amount of sci-fi weapons in scale, faces for females, alternative pose legs and chests of various kinds, and...rock guitars with base guitars and microphones.
Prices are pretty good as well, comparable to Reaper Bones at times.
Best of all though is cheap and detailed buildings. Most of the line is medieval cottages and that sort, but as far as scenery goes is very affordable for what you get.
Another british company that makes bits for "Exo Lords" that have a Tacticool theme. They mostly sell stuff like alternative weapons, bolter scopes, and ammo pouches, all things that an aspiring Reasonable Marine could desire. This is also where you get grenade launchers for Heralds of Ruin
They also have tacticool bits for Imperial Guard, as well as conversion kits for if you want to convert guardsmen into Solar Auxilia for a cheaper 30k alternative.
Pig Iron Productions
While not exactly on the same scale as Games Workshop, Pig Iron makes a variety of helmets that can fit space marines. They tend to have more of either Halo or "DOOM" themes, so you can easily turn your scouts into mini-Doomguys
Hands down the best female-faces in 28mm heroic scale on the entire market.
A Brit company that mostly makes 28mm scale historical figures. The miniatures are fairly well detailed, and don't come at bad prices. Their site is lacking in pictures of products however, with some only being pics of the prototype and others merely having description. Lines include; American Civil War, American War of Independence/Revolution, Napoleonic, War of the Rose, the Scramble for Africa, World War 1, the War of 1861, the Crusades, the Sengoku period and Meiji Restoration, the Agincourt era, the Carlist War, the 1500's Japanese-Korean War, the English Civil War, Mafeking miniatures, and some 40mm models as well. They sell several buildings which are generic enough to belong to most of their ranges including a straw roof house, a church, a barn, and a facade building. Tents, covered wagons, and camp gear are also sold.
Makes alternative models, from NotGuard to NotTau - the only faction missing is NotTyranids, albeit they have a Kerrigene Stealer Their models are well worth the price and range from pin-up versions to complete re-interpretations (NotKataphrons).
The coolest cars in the dark future (most also sold as sets with a female inquisitor) and tons of conversion bits.
One of the oldest miniature companies, out of which Games Workshop itself sprung.
Most Ral Partha models are out of print and only available on eBay. They also suffer from primitive modeling techniques, having too stock or too gangly proportions at times. Despite this, many feel they have a classic look to them. Ral Partha managed to obtain many licenses in the past including Elfquest, Shadowrun, and Battletech.
All you need in the dark future, from gothic tech-knights to mechanized priests and plague demons.
Scifi and Fantasy, great armors.
Bits of War
All you need for your scifi orcs and guard.
Conversion bits and heroes for orcs, guard and demons.
A company that makes pirate models, excellent for potential rogue traders. Also makes goblin pirates and Venician-carnival themed models.
Southern France company making 28mm scale models. Makes both Sci-fi and fantasy models, most of them female. Has three totally not Imperial Guard armies coming out, with Sisters of
Battle Eternal Mercy, Dark elves, and Slanneshi deamons Lust elves in the works.
They are out now and they are really cool!
Tabletop Miniatures Solutions
Initially having a range of Roman skeletons, they used two Indiegogo campaigns anc The 9th Age as collaborators to produce a complete replacement range for both Squatted armies with further plans on the horizon.
According to their Facebook page, it looks like TMS is shutting down, possibly indefinitely.
Soda Pop Miniatures
Very animesque and cheesecakey, but work really well for games like Shawdowrun, and their own game, Relic Knights.
Confrontation is back, providing you with great werewolves for World of Darkness, and a wide selection of neat heroes.
Produces model alternatives mostly for 40k, including some ridiculously cheap (but not bad quality) knight titans and gargants.
High quality, but also expensive. Resin and plastic minis and bits, almost all for Guard armies: they've got NotVostroyan, NotValhallan, NotTanith, NotMordian, NotSanctionedBeastmen, NotKrieg, NotPenalLegion, and more. Also some characters (still guard only), and the most unexpected unit of them all.
Known for focusing down on integrating with the styles of a certain purveyor of fantasy and futuristic miniatures, these guys make all kinds of models that work well with your existing armies. While their model quality can be hit-or-miss, they tend to provide models that will fill the gaps in your heart left by GW discontinuing their older models. If you like the look and feel of Oldhammer, go check them out!
A custom models shop with a focus on Infinity and scenery terrain, but they have a bit of everything. They'll also sell you .stl files, so you can 3D print their models at home!
Called "the best kept secret in wargaming terrain" by some dude on DakkaDakka in 2012, Tablescape makes massive terrain kits at reasonable prices (especially compared to GW) for fantasy, historical, modern, and sci-fi battlefeilds.
Black Cat Bases
These guys sell a lot more than just bases! Trading largely in metal castings, with some plastic parts, Black Cat carries a wide range of miniatures, from figures and vehicles to terrain and props. And of course, they have plenty of thematic bases for your minis.
A British company producing "resin scenics and accessories for gamers". Full to the gills with that charming British science fiction feel you remember from 70's and 80's TV serials.
A huge selection of (mostly metal) pinup and pulp infantry miniatures. They sell some "blank" posed bodies, which come nude and you can model whatever onto them you wish. They also sell some photo-etched brass parts. Newer models are in resin.
Gear Gut's Mek Shop
A shop dedicated to making greenskins! They mostly carry 40K Ork infantry models, but they have some Fantasy Orks and Goblins as well. Check them out if you want very thoughtfully modeled minis that look at home in any "GW-sanctioned" army.
A one-man shop that makes resin parts for Imperial Knights and Armigers. They're branching out now, and making all kinds of things now, including bits for Tau Suits and Necrons.
A shop catering exclusively to Imperial Guard players. They have crawling legged tanks, all kinds of modular turrets. They also have a line of heavy weapons ogres, drop troopers, and assorted infantry upgrade bits.
28mm scale plastic miniatures. Mainly historical, but recently have started their "Death Fields" range of historical soldiers thrown into a sci-fi tournament, all of which make great Imperial Guard proxies.
3rd Party 3D Printed
Shapeways has a marketplace for selling 3D-printed parts at small volume. 3rd-party sellers upload the print files, and Shapeways prints them out at various levels of detail and ships them to you. If you can't figure out the beautiful intersection between that service and the miniature wargaming community by now, then go see for yourself!
Other competing services do exist, but Shapeways is presently the big fish. They have lots of custom parts and armor available for larger Games Workshop kits, especially vehicles like Dreadnoughts, Knights, and Titans. There is even someone selling a torso expansion for the old 2nd Edition Chaos Dreadnought! That being said, the endless community of modelers also provides man-portable weapons, generic fantasy and sci-fi models, and basically anything else. The only caveat is that Shapeways only has so much precision with their printers. At small scales, those layer lines are going to really ruin your model quality, and there is nothing you or the model-maker can do about that.
All that said, if you have your own 3D printer there are plenty of websites you can download just the 3D models to print out. Places like Thingiverse or cgtrader can help with that, or you can just make your own 3D models!
POP Goes the Monkey
A shop that sells hundreds of parts for infantry, though they have vehicle bits as well. They focus on selling Space Marine upgrade kits and decorative parts, especially for the Horus Heresy line.
Selling almost entirely Knight Titan parts, this shop is a good place to go if you want to get some extra armor, different weapon sculpts, or just make your $110+ USD investment in a stompy robot model stand out a bit more. They also do Adeptus Titanicus bits.
This shop sells a few industrial-looking upgrades for Armigers, and only Armigers.
Run by a two-time Golden Demon winner, this shop just sells swap-out parts for Adeptus Mechanicus constructs.
Dark Offering Designs
The guy what makes the classic Dreadnought height extension kits.
This guy sells the parts to make a Proteus Pattern Warhound. As in, the really old Epic-style one, but at 40K scale!
Heads, helmets, guns, some melee weapons and tank turrets. Few miniatures.
While this user of cgtrader only sells 3D CAD files (you have to print them out yourself), the vehicle and armor designs they sell are achingly baroque. They also sell excellent Imperial Guard infantry commanders.
|Modeling:||Guide to Assembling Models - Green Stuff - Model Alternatives - Casting - Photo-Etched Brass|
|Painting:||Guide to Painting Models - Paint - THIN YOUR PAINTS - Duncan Rhodes - 'Eavy Metal|
|Scenery and Technical:||Forthcoming...|