Honestly, this game is great straight out of the box. It really is. There's no reason you can't add to the atmosphere with a little customization though...
Paint the miniatures. I didn't do this simply cos there's so damn many of them, and because the detail on the soft plastic isn't great for the fine paint work that I like to do. If you're the patient type, with lots of time on your hands then go right ahead. A good compromise might be to only paint the "shotgun guys", so that you always have your own custom playing piece to represent yourself.
Find modern era miniatures and paint them. If you're up for the added investment there are a few companies that make some really classy minis just right for this kind of game. Using custom minis can really add to the game, just because the character is more personally yours, and of course it just looks cooler. With a lot of the character models available you might want to think about coming up with character specific house rules, kids move faster, cops start with more bullets. Whatever! Here's a list of some companies with their websites and some sample pics of their products. Bear in mind that minis aren't sold painted so you'll have to do it yourself. I'll post some painting tutorials in the near future for those interested.
Wargames Foundry's Street Violence Range:
This UK based company produces a wide variety of miniatures covering virtually every period of human history as well as sci-fi and fantasy. The sculpting is exquisitely detailed and the casting is exceptional with few flaws making it quite easy to paint. The street violence range consists of over 50 different sculpts assembled into a variety of collections of 5 characters. Within the range you will find gangsters, beat cops, SWAT team members, thugs, groupies, Yakuza knights, private detectives, street kids, and even a blatant rip-off of the A-Team. Who wouldn't wanna be B.A. Baracus in a city of the living dead? In the Street Violence section of the www.wargamesfoundry.com you'll also find downloadable rules for a game called Street Fight, so you can always get more use out of your miniatures when not playing Zombies!!!
Monolith Designs' Graven Images and From Beyond ranges
Monolith Designs produces a range of miniature scenery for historical, fantasy and sci-fi wargaming. They also distribute these 2 ranges of miniatures for their respective sculptors. The Graven Images line sculpted by Jim Bowen covers a range of periods including World War II and some sci-fi stuff but notably includes a nice selection of urban gangs and the like. These miniatures look great! The From Beyond line by Kev Adams is mostly centred around horror, and you can find some interesting Zombies there as well as a neat lil Buffy inspired vampire slayer.
Wanna be Batman or Spiderman in the City of the Damned? No problem! These miniatures are roughly in the same scale as the ones mentioned above and are used in Wizkids Heroclix game. They have different ranges covering the DC and Marvel Universes and an "indy" line featuring heroes like Hellboy and Judge Dredd. These miniatures are a little different from the ones mentioned above for a few reasons tho. Firstly they have a rotating base with stats printed used in the Heroclix game. It can be removed and replaced if you have no intention of ever playing Heroclix. Secondly the miniatures come ready painted, and randomly in sealed boxes so you never know which hero you might get. Of course, much like other "random" collectables there are folks out there who will sell parts of their collection loose. The rarity affects the price and the rarity is often based on the figures value in the game rather than just how cool it looks so you might find the figure you want costing a fortune for no good reason, seeing as how you don't play the game. All in all though, it's a decent set of figures and it could make for some interesting game scenarios when you get bored of traditional Zombies!!!
That about wraps up my discussion of Zombies!!! for now. Have a look at the other articles on it if you're interested. In my next post I'll be looking at Risk 2210 a long time favourite game of mine!