I can't really elaborate on this idea enough to make a respectable-sized post out of it (having not actually made use of said idea), but I want to make it anyway ;3
Aside from, well, actual miniatures, I've seen and/or heard of gamers using little pog-like tokens -- with or without pictures on -- paper or cardstock standups, poker chips, coins, aquarium stones, chess pieces, and once G. I. Joes for the purpose of representing characters and critters on a large-scale map.
Why not try using origami for the purpose? Sure, one would have to learn at least a few different shapes; but change up the colour of the paper and write on a label as needed (no different than unmarked poker chips, etc) and you're good to go.
(the shapes don't even have to match up perfectly. a paper crane could be a perfectly serviceable dragon!)
You can even scale the papery beasties appropriately ;3
Hmm… one of the reasons I haven't used miniatures for monsters before (just using dice, usually) is because it would be expensive to buy miniatures for each monster I want to run. Then I started my Skype campaign and, well, we don't use miniatures for obvious reasons. I also found this site for when I do start playing face-to-face again as well: http://onemonk.com/Home.html
Having grown up in Japan, though, this idea of origami miniatures for monsters sounds really, really cool. It's been years (maybe ten?) since I did any origami, but I'd love to try it again for DnD miniatures. It also looks like someone has done exactly that, though I can't find instructions for most of them anywhere: http://www.origami.as/gallery.php?gallery=26
Here is an Origami Dragon to get you started. :)
There are a lot of paper models out there as well - particularly if you like Science Fiction
Origami dinosaurs Completely irrelevant to all interests. ;)
(I used to fold a mean T-rex back in the day...)
I'm not into miniatures other than for the practical use of making it easier to clarify combat, but I know a variation on the folded newspaper pirate hat that would make a great Saxon longhouse.
Weird, we learned to make cranes today from one of my classmates. Made the size of a dime- and a few larger.
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