Okay, so I was thinking, for rpg skirmishes, 3d miniatures are awesome - but to collect a couple hundred different types of monsters in different variations would take a lot of time, money, gluing and painting, etc. That's not to say I won't collect 3D fantasy figures for RPG'ing - but to be able to jump right in and play, with low cost and minimum effort, nothing beats illustrated paper standups. Not just any standups though!
Back in the 80's I bought a book at the games shop, called Cardboard Heroes: Fantasy. It contained around 300 or more unique illustrated figures in it, to cut out, fold, and glue together, to make cardboard illustrated figures. I never dared to cut the pages up though, I just flipped through in teenage awe thinking how awesome it was. Later I tried photocopying it, and assembling that, but it didn't turn out too well.
Then I lost the book. Doh!
Anyhow, I recently stumbled upon something really cool on the Steve Jackson Games website: they've made each page of the Cardboard Heroes fantasy book available for purchase as digital download PDF so you can print out as many figures as you'd like! I've got a nice printer these days, and a laminator, so I printed out the figures, laminated the pages, scored the fold lines, cut out the figures, and glued them together.
They came out great! I'm now in the process of gluing heavy washers onto the bottom of them to weigh them down so they don't blow over if someone coughs or sneezes.
The thing that's really cool about Cardboard Heroes is that every single figure is a unique illustration. Need 12 kobolds? All 12 are unique people, with different poses, outfits and weapons. There's skeletons, zombies, orcs, half orcs, lizard people, insect people, mummies, player heroes and npcs, ghouls, elementals, goblins, hobgoblins, - and so much more! It'll keep me busy for a while :)
Here's an A4 page, in a lamination pouch.
Cutting figures out. Scoring the fold lines softly with a craft knife so the laminate can fold.
Gluing the tabs so the name of the figure is on the underside.
Not folding the fold lines hard - so that the figure curves instead of forming a triangle. This makes the figures easier to see, especially if one is standing behind another.
Some cavemen and some minotaurs. They've got so much variation in this collection!
Here' a bunch of hobgoblins, ready for washers
A bunch of finished lizard folk. I'm trying to decide if I will paint the metal washers black or just leave them as visible metal. Click for closer view!