Tiny Tales of Ruin: Crafting Post-Apocalyptic Stories with Miniatures

Not everybody is capable of writing a lengthy post-apocalyptic novel, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot craft a few-pages story about the end of the world and its aftermath. You can take inspiration from existing literature, films, or games, and develop a short yet unique narrative of your own. It is not even impossible to create a new exciting tale from a combination of multiple sources using a playful mix of characters and locations. To make things easier, you can also use a range of miniatures to build the map, vehicles, ruins, landmarks, heroes, villains, and weapons.

Story Generator

There is nothing wrong with practicing your writing skills using nothing but a pencil, paper, and imagination. In case you get stuck in the process or have difficulties coming up with crucial plot devices, you may want to try using a story generator. One thing to remember is that some story generators can be overly simple, so you should never treat them as the only guidelines. Instead, take the generated stories merely as rough ideas that you can further expand, modify, and improve. With most automated generators, all you have to do is insert some keywords, characters’ traits, timeline, the nature of the apocalypse, and other basic information about the story. The tool will then produce (at best) a vague concept to help you move forward from writer’s block.

Even better than a conventional story generator, nowadays with advanced generative AI, anybody can simply have a complete story written by software within minutes. Such a tool works like a chatbot, which means you can ask as many questions as you want to get more detailed explanations about the characters, how the apocalypse happens, where people go for safety, and so on. Some AI tools are available for free, too.

Where to Find Miniatures

The main point of using miniatures is to help visualize the story. It is easy to build characters in your post-apocalyptic narrative if you have physical objects to represent their appearance, abilities, and roles. You may need several different types of characters including but not limited to scavengers, heroes, zombies, aliens, community leaders, soldiers, children, monsters, and animals along with vehicles, infrastructures, and the landscape itself depending on the story. Miniatures are quite easy to find when you know where to look.

Specialized Shops

Action figures might be the first things that come to mind when it comes to miniatures. Some online stores specialize in selling action figures of a broad range of genres such as fantasy, sci-fi, wasteland, steampunk, and basically everything you need to craft a post-apocalyptic story. Take a look at the listings in such popular shops as Modiphius, World’s End Publishing, Punkapocalyptic, Crooked Dice, and Heresy Miniatures, to name a few. Many of them sell similarly themed miniatures in bundles, too. Alternatively, you can always look for products in general e-commerce options like Amazon for generic styles or Etsy for personalized items.

3D Printed Models

While there are plenty of STL (3D-printable image) files for free all across the Internet, the printing process costs money. STL files are easily downloadable from various design websites like Thingiverse, Cults3D, MyMiniFactory, Printables, and Yeggi, among others. If you happen to have a 3D printer at home, you can cut the production cost by quite a margin. Some services offer a range of options in terms of material (usually different types of plastic), colors, finishes, and sizes. The price starts from a few dollars for a small print to hundreds of dollars for a large colored model.

For a completely unique personalized miniature, the only option is to build them from scratch. The miniatures must be first modeled using CAD software and saved in STL format before they can be printed. Bear in mind that the design part also costs money, unless you can do it yourself. The best thing about 3D printing is the limitless design option; not only can it produce action figures, but also all sorts of post-apocalyptic miniatures like watchtowers, destroyed buildings, collapsed bridges, broken aircraft, weapons, etc.


Let us not forget about LEGO. Apart from the aptly named “Apocalypseburg!” set, the modular options might serve you well as long as you are willing to give them some creative effort. There are also tons of minifigures that come with just about every LEGO box. If necessary, look for pre-built models or separate pieces from third-party shops, for example, Rebrickable and Bricklink.

We think crafting post-apocalyptic stories with miniatures can really boost your creative mind a great deal. The minifigures help with characterizations, whereas the variety of apocalypse-themed toys should give plenty of ideas when building the landscape. Furthermore, it becomes easier to come up with unique combinations of characters – each with an interesting backstory – and get an outlandish narrative from asingle multi-themed playset. For instance, you can put Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road and Thanos from MCU in the same villain team against an unlikely squad of heroes filled with Batman, RoboCop, Hellboy, and Yoda. Imagine the two sides fighting in a ruined New York City with a collapsed Statue of Liberty as the backdrop.

Do you have a collection of post-apocalyptic action figures? Do you have any favorite post-apocalyptic fan-fiction stories? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

How long does it take to 3D print an action figure?

Larger models take longer to print. A small action figure probably takes anywhere between 1 – 2 hours of printing, excluding the post-processing work, which may include cleaning, coloring, and finishing. The complexity of the model also affects turnaround time.

Popular post-apocalyptic strategy games:

– They Are Billions

– Endzone – A World Apart

– Frostpunk

– Atom RPG

– Fallout 1 and 2

– Project Zomboid

Is there a post-apocalyptic LEGO set?

Currently, the most popular post-apocalyptic LEGO set is the “Welcome to Apocalypseburg!” (70840), which contains nearly 3200 pieces including 12 minifigures.

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