WizKids has just released the brand new Dungeons and Dragons Icons of the Realms Fangs and Talons set in the UK. This is the 15th set of pre-painted miniatures including the likes of blights, dragons, a rare tabaxi and even a T-rex! As a set these come in blind booster boxes, each containing 4 miniatures – with a unique premium miniature (sometimes referred to as a Case Incentive) sold separately. We have got hands on with a brick of these booster boxes and the Premium Purple Worm, but should you? Let’s find out!
Fangs & Talons Booster Boxes
Fangs and Talons includes a range of creatures, from the likes seen in the basic Monster Manual through to some from Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Therefore, Fangs and Talons features a good mixture of miniatures, which can be thrown at high or low level adventuring parties. Some are run of the mill monsters to fight along the way, while others deserve an entire questline. There are classic mobs such as various Kobolds, elementals and animated armour, that can just pop up to add challenge to a quest. At the opposite end of the scale the T-rex, the Flail Snail and the dragons almost demand a storyline for their grand appearance.
Coming in blind boxes, unlike other Icons of the Realms products, such as the Cave Defenders pack, you do not know exactly what will be in each box. While other packs come in clear plastic packaging, these blind boosters are in standard cardboard packaging, with nothing (aside from perhaps weight) to differentiate between two unopened boxes. Including 45 unique miniatures, only a handful could perceivably be used as player characters. The set isn’t named Fangs and Talons for no reason, though it isn’t just about sharp teeth! Plenty of talon related animals with claws or ways to scratch and pieces prey make the set – with even scorpion stingers spears making an appearance.
For someone like myself that has limited painting skills to see some of the insanely small details perfectly painted makes this pre-painted set mindblowing – plus these details help the miniatures gain that extra wow factor. For example, the Human Wizard (#17) is holding a spellbook in one hand. The book has a sketch and squiggly writing on the open pages of the book. Older Icons of the Realms sets wouldn’t have gone to this level of detail. A number of the miniatures of the set also use translucent plastic to give a real flair to the sculpts. From the Skeletal Alchemist’s flowing blue tinted beard to the entire Water Elemental, the use of translucent plastic isn’t just to say it’s used, it enhances the look of the miniatures.
As with other sets there are some variants that have common and uncommon numbers within the set. This time around there is one such occurrence with a goliath #1 and #14, coming in the same pose but with either a sword or warhammer. This does mean that you’d be able to get both within a case or brick – while normally only one of the AB variants would appear. Having played a Goliath before it is great to see some more pre-painted miniatures for them, even if they took up both a common and uncommon slot in this set.
In the Fangs and Talons set all of the medium and below sized miniatures come on the standard black bases, with the large and above miniatures coming on the new clear plastic bases. These new clear bases seem to split the community a bit. Some of these miniatures do need bases of a decent size for balance purposes and allowing the terrain below to be seen through them helps keep that visual immersion. Clear plastic does mean it can be harder to read the monster name on the base, but this seems a worth trade off to make, especially if you have picked up terrain mats or 3D terrain products. Having a set flicking back and forth between clear and black bases though is a little odd.
Every box will be different, though it is still important to touch on damage when discussing miniature quality. There was only minor damage to a single model, the Pack Mull’s tail had cleanly snapped off, in the brick. This can be fixed with a spot of super glue, so while not perfect it wasn’t a huge issue. A couple of the weapons came out of the box a little bent/curved when they shouldn’t be, with one miniature leaning over too much. Otherwise the 32 miniatures came pretty much faultless – what you would expect if purchasing.
Terms To Be Aware Of
There are three main ways to purchase the Fangs and Talons booster boxes, individually, as a brick or as a case. The easiest way to explain these is to start by putting numbers to the terms. An individual booster box includes 4 miniatures – 1 being large or huge in creature size. A booster brick is 8 of these individual boxes. Above this, a case is 4 of these bricks. Why these sets are sold in this style is due to the randomised contents of the individual boxes.
Fangs and Talons includes 45 unique miniatures (not included in this figure is the A/B Kobold variant #24). As a general rule, the higher the miniature’s number the rarer the miniature. In this set, for example, the Twig Blight numbered #3 is considered common, while the Flail Snail numbered #38 is rare. This rarity combined with other factors build together with size to select 4 miniatures for each individual box. Therefore, while unlikely two individual boxes could have the exact same miniatures within them.
Buying as a brick or a case is supposed to reduce this chance, with sealed bricks or cases put together during production. A brick, as seen in this review, should only include a handful of duplicates. While WizKids doesn’t 100% guarantee it, a case (which totals 32 booster boxes) should result in gamers getting all of the miniatures from the set. Simply, bricks give a higher chance of not getting repeats, than buying 8 individual boxes – giving the purchaser more variety. Note that you will get multiples of some miniatures within a brick or case, of course which miniatures is random.
Premium Miniature Purple Worm
Each time WizKids releases one of these Icons of the Realms sets they also release an accompanying premium miniature. Too big for the boxes this is a premium addition that sticks to the sets theme. For the Fangs and Talons set this is the Gargantuan sized Purple Worm, akin to the desert worms of Dune – teeth and all. Instantly, the Purple Worm makes an impact when it hits the table. Measuring just under 17cm high this isn’t exactly mini, to the extent that a medium sized miniature (an average human or bugbear) can fit laid down within it’s wide open jaw.
Design wise there is a real texture to the Purple Worm’s skin, with sharp teeth and spikes along its spines. The purple used gives it a rather vibrant colour, without going too far – as a neon like colour may have detracted from the ominous vibe. As with the rest of the Fangs and Talons set, as the Purple Worm is a Gargantuan in size it is on a clear plastic base. Not a huge amount of this base is on show though, with the rocks the worm has breached through surrounding it on the base.
At a challenge rating of 15, and having the ability to burrow through solid stone, the Purple Worm isn’t exactly a monster that players will want to take on lightly. It is certainly the style of miniature and monster that adventurers will have to set out on an entire questline to tackle. While it would have been nice to include the stat block on a card with the premium miniature, or even a small questline to go with it, the Purple Worm can easily find its way into a dungeon near you!
The Fangs and Talons set isn’t on the cheap side, especially when purchasing as a brick or case. If you are looking for some miniatures to add that bit of extra wow factor to your D&D experience then a single booster box can do that. When purchasing you will not know what you are getting, due the randomised way the blind booster boxes are put together. If this doesn’t sit right with you then the other WizKids pre-painted miniature ranges, such as the Cave Defenders Monster Pack, might be more for you. Regardless, the sculpts and painting level have increased over the years and the Fangs and Talons set includes some fantastic minis. These are high quality miniatures, which come pre-painted, ready to be dropped down during your next game night!
(Editor’s Note: The Icons of the Realms Fangs and Talons brick and premium miniature were provided to us by Asmodee for the review. They are currently available from local board game stores! Find your local store here.)