“Elemental Enemies” by Trash Mob Minis
Product Type: Paper Miniatures
Let’s preface this review with some disclaimers, and an admission of outrageous bias on my part, shall we?
Firstly, I was provided with a free preview pack of these paper minis by the creator. It didn’t include all of the miniatures in the full product linked above, but I did go on to buy the full pack after playing around with these ones.
Secondly, I’m already a huge fan of paper miniatures in general (I support a few paper mini creators on Patreon), and Trash Mobs in particular. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll know that I’m a huge cheerleader for them, and that I snap up pretty much every pack as soon as they’re released. I also speak to the Trash Mobs Boss fairly regularly, and he was kind enough to provide me with a free Bulette Calf mini to give away in Bulette Storm (as well as doing a sketch of my D&D character for me). So, I’m predisposed to like this product before I ever got hold of it, and that may well be reflected in this review. Still, I’m going to do my best to be as objective as possible here.
So, let’s begin.
Elemental Enemies is the latest pack of paper miniatures at the 25-30mm scale from Trash Mob Minis, a companion pack to Ultimate Elementals that expands the lineup of elemental creatures that Trash Mobs has to offer. Where the first pack covered the standard bases, with earth, fire, water, and air elementals (plus some cool summoner miniatures), this new pack offers four different flavours of armoured elementals, cultists, cult leaders, and a new creature for each element in the form of fire dwarves, water serpents, dust devils, and gravel-duhr. Of particular interest are the water serpent and the air cult leader, which are some of Trash Mob’s signature 2.5D minis (more on that shortly).
The preview pack that I was supplied with was a stripped down sample pack that included armoured earth and water cultists, an earth myrmidon, and the 2.5D water weird. I’ve been using Trash Mobs for a while, so it’s hard to say whether that preview pack would have convinced me to buy the full set or not, but I honestly think it would have done – and that’s down to the inclusion of the 2.5D water weird.
The 2.5D models are, I think, the thing that make Trash Mobs stand out over most of the competition. The first Trash Mob mini I ever used was the displacer beast from the Dungeon Dwellers 2.5D Model Kit, and I still clearly remember the reaction from my players when that thing hit the table. The art on all the minis is clear, colourful, and stylish as hell; when all of that also has actual physical arms (or tentacles, or whatever) as well, it almost seems like it could jump off the paper it’s printed on and start devouring your players’ minis right there on the table.
Actually making these things is fairly straightforward, if a little time consuming. I’m not the most crafty of people, but I managed to put together the four minis in the sample pack in about 45 minutes (with some time spent taking photos for Twitter, because of course I did that). At the time I made them I didn’t have access to a craft knife, and the only glue I had to hand was PVA. The result was that my minis weren’t cut out perfectly, and the poor quality printer paper I printed them on went a little bit soggy from the clue. Still, I’m pleased with how they turned out and I’d be more than happy to use these at the table:
The white edges are quite ugly, but that’s entirely my fault. (And thanks here has to go to Carlos Berlitz on Twitter, who helpfully suggested colouring in those overlapping edges with a permanent marker. I don’t have a photo of the end result of that process, but it improved the look of the minis mightily).
Even with cheap paper and poor craftmanship, I think that these things look fantastic. The art is really evocative, and they look unlike any other minis on the market. Putting them together was also incredibly satisfying, and made me feel quite child-like in a good way. It took me back to being about 5 years old, cutting and sticking things in school, with no responsibilities and no worries. That may be an odd thing to say, but it was really nice to just sit and cut out colourful monsters for the best part of an hour.
The coloured bases also make it easy to keep track of large groups of these at the table; all Trash Mob packs come with a selection of different coloured bases, and I tend to print off a few sheets of different colours at a time so that when I’m planning a big combat I can group sets of enemies in different colours.
Honestly it’s hard to be critical of a product like this. If you use minis, you’re going to get use out of these; the only reason not to use them would be if you don’t like the art style (which I do), or if you happen to have the perfect metal or plastic mini for the monster you need. The time spent putting them together is absolutely a consideration – if your game is starting now and you realise you don’t have minis, you probably won’t have time to construct a ton of these. But it also doesn’t seem particularly fair to criticise a product for my own lack of pre-planning.
Outside of this specific pack, Trash Mobs produce a huge variety of different minis, with some unusual/less common monster choices that are really helpful for GMs who are looking to add some variety to their encounters. There are so many to choose from now that I often find myself planning games around which enemies Trash Mobs has produced rather than planning an encounter and then hunting for minis to fit afterwards. Plus, the individual packs come with a fairly large selection of miniatures – Elemental Enemies contains 16 unique minis – so one purchase could potentially fuel a couple of sessions’ worth of encounters.
If there’s one thing I’d like to see Trash Mobs do differently, it would be to take a cue from some of the other producers of paper minis. I’m thinking specifically of Printable Heroes, who offer a variety of different ‘costumes’ for their minis in interactive PDFs, allowing you to dress the same mini in different coloured armour (for example) to help differentiate large groups and introduce some additional variety to you mobs. Still, the coloured bases help a lot with identifying the minis (as already mentioned), and really this is something that would improve an already quality set of products (rather than a could do better kind of criticism).
All in all, Elemental Enemies is another solid release from Trash Mobs. 16 beautifully illustrated miniatures for $3.95 is an absolute bargain, and if you use minis at your table you should absolutely give these a go.
Pros: Cheap; beautiful, fun artwork; print as many miniatures as you need; huge variety of enemies to choose from; easy to make.
Cons: Potentially time consuming to put together; not useful if you don’t have access to a printer.
Verdict: Highly recommended