Back when I was really big into RPGs, Ral Partha was the brand that we mostly turned to. I do not recall others off the top of my head.
Since then, Ral Partha and several contemporary companies that made miniatures for fantasy gaming have gone out of business.
Now, it seems that over sized (bigger than 25 mm), cartoon like figures are the standard. They are also expensive! The local comic/game store has some of these miniatures, and they are $3 or more each! In my day, I might pay $1 for a really good figure that was something I really wanted, but most were 75 cents or so. Packages of 6 of the same figure, could be had for $3 or $4. Of course, you had to paint them, etc.
Now, in trying to Google up miniatures and to follow up on miniatures recommended on RPG related blogs and sites, I find pre-painted miniatures that are $5 or $6 or more each!
I can understand people wanting to have someone paint their miniatures if that is the thing they want.
I would like to find a reasonably priced source of “realistic”, well-done, and consistently sized miniatures. I think that finding a miniature to represent players, or a major NPC adds flavor to the game, and can be used to illustrate the position of encounters. Instead of making Jim be the red six-sider, when he wants to be the ruby d20, etc. can be avoided. Yes, we can use our imaginations to suspend disbelief and let any object be our placeholder, but with enough players in the mix, a table can have a lot of dice, etc. It is nice to have miniatures to represent the main players in a scene, especially for the more complex encounters with combat and magic in the mix.
I have played with and without miniatures, and with and without some object or mark on a page to represent characters.
For those of us who are visually oriented, having s physical representation on the table can eliminate confusion and arguing over position and who can see/hit what or be seen/hit by whom.
I am not interested in spending a fortune to re-enact Helm’s Deep, or any other large-scale action. While it does have a certain coolness factor to it, I just want a reliable source of miniatures at a reasonable price. Both for players to find representatives for their characters, and for the DM for major NPCs or a large gang of orc/goblins/zombies/etc. The one nice thing about a large gang of monsters, is that we can use 20 orc figures to be goblins, zombies, etc. In time, perhaps have 20 of each, but time, space, and finances all have to come together for the gradual acquisition of a large collection.