Apparently Wizards of the Coast has discontinued their plastic Dungeons & Dragons miniature range. This is not surprising, as D&D Miniatures- and Star Wars Miniatures skirmish games ceased to exist. The cited reason is profitability, but I call tomfoolery.
I admit that I am not very knowledgeable about the matter and I’m too tired to google, but I think that Magic the Gathering is Wizards’ flagship product. They care for it, employ the top designers, artists and producers to keep it profitable. Dungeons & Dragons, having fallen from its glory, is their secondary product, and they keep it profitable and fresh by releasing supplement after supplement, with or without high regard for quality. Any other products are tertiary, being crafted when times are good. D&D Miniatures is such a tertiary product. D&D, a game almost non-functional without miniatures, presented an opportunity: Sell cheap, low-quality miniatures to gamemasters to help them play the game. But how to do that proved to be a problem. Wizards had no experience in miniature sales, and for some reason they did not want to emulate Games Workshop, creator of Warhammer. They needed a format to sell it in. As Magic the Gathering is sold in booster packs (random card packs containing one rare card, four uncommons and several commons), they thought about doing the same with the miniatures. This was the downfall of their idea.
Originally the miniatures for D&D Miniature skirmish game came in booster packs. The game was a quick and dirty version of the combat system where the players made warbands of monsters for themselves and fought their opponents’ ones on ready-made area maps. The miniatures were handy, as they were exactly the same as in Monster Manuals. Game masters could use proper miniatures instead of a clumsy and vague paper grid and x’s or paper clips and erasers. Provided that you had the miniatures you wanted. As the miniatures came in random packs, collecting a coherent miniature collection was an expensive task. I’m sure trading was considered as a way to eliminate randomness, but the game was too marginal to have any coherent trading experiences. Everyone plays Magic, and you will probably find a player in any nerd gathering. That was not the case with D&D.
Consider a Game Master with an idea for a low-level campaign. The players are adventurers who are recruited to halt an orc menace. The GM probably has an idea for a great climax where the players fight a horde of orcs, mowing them down with impunity. Or a fight against an orcish chieftain, supported by his shaman and an enigmatic servant of devils who orchestrated the orc battle. To make that happen the GM would need several orcs. Assuming that he only has access to retail boxes of, let’s say Dangerous Delves, every box has about 20% (wild guess) chance of containing an orc miniature. To get five, the GM would have to buy about 25 boxes. Each box costs about 20 €. That’s 500 € for five orc miniatures, plus an insane amount of random miniatures you may or may not ever use. In short, no-one bought the miniatures themselves, especially after Skirmish ended, and the line was discontinued.
Let’s imagine a different world. In that world, Wizards took ques from GW. Instead of random boxes, the miniatures came in blisters. There are few “Encounter Packs”, each themed differently and with a price tag of about 18€. The “Orcish Raiders”-pack contains one Orc Chieftain with an axe and scale armor, one Orc Shaman, two Orc Skullcrushers, one Dread Wolf and six Orc Warriors, for example. People looking for miniatures for an orc-themed campaign can just buy one or two boxes and he is set for life. There are also monster packs, which are themed by environments and contain about six monsters, of which one is large. The blisters contain hero models with more paint steps and special monsters, priced at 5-10€. Every miniatures is fully-painted (with cheap, conveyor belt-paint jobs) and fully assembled. Every month Wizards releases a few new blisters and one Encounter Pack. In this world, each time I see an interesting Encounter Pack or a monster in a book, I would probably buy it. And, I think, so would many other Dungeon Masters.
So. If you have the guts, hire a sculptor (call me!), contact the ex-D&D-miniature manufacturers and start churning out cheap generic fantasy miniatures. I think there is in there, provided it is done properly.