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It seems that the items and events are added for variety but you won't actually face off with the minis.
Am I correct that you don't actually use the figures from these sets in game?
No official use. The trial rules of KS miniatures (which has been scrapped for now) did have the option for those kind of characters appearing so don't rule it out in the future. But use them as survivors if your gear is close to what they have, or even if not if you don't care.