Thursday, 9 April 2009

The quiet revolution

The wargames hobby is undergoing a revolution with the mass increase of historical plastic injection moulded miniatures, typically in kit form with some multi-pose options.

We have;

Romans, Celts and Zulu Wars from Wargames Factory
Romans, Celts and ECW from Warlord Games
ACW and Napoleonics from Perry Miniatures
Napoleonics from Victrix
WW2 from Valiant Minatures

I have seen a number of these sets and they offer a number of advantages of their metal cousins such as price, weight, customisation etc but they do have to made made. I wonder how many of these boxed sets will remain unmade.

More importantly, often these new figures are incompatible in size with existing collections, the Valiant seem to be the worst offender in this, dwarfing my slender SHQ castings.

Plastics are made from reducing larger models in size to create moulding tools, these tools are very expensive. I am sure that more modern technology has let to reducing costs but Airfix mentioned a cost of £1000 per part on a sprue. That is a lot of costs to recoup.

We are also seeing 40mm miniatures. Old Glory seem to be selling an ever growing selection of these but the nicest by far are from Front Rank who have a small range of AWI figures. They are gorgeous but even the smallest skirmish project is going to cost a small fortune.

However ......

We have seen another shift in the hobby, as people are shifting down in scale. Who would have thought 10 years ago that 15mm would have been such a dominant scale in WW2 gaming? Battlefront and their Flames of War rules have had a large impact on the hobby, which will continue now that Battlefront also own Wargames Illustrated.

Wargames Illustrated, much like interiors magazines seem to portray a different view from the general reality. We don't all have dedicated games rooms with super sculpted terrain and massive 28mm figure collections, we have to make do on dining tables and dented polystyrene tiles.

The shift to 6mm and 10mm is driven by rulesets such as Warmaster, Blitzkrieg and Coldwar Commander as well as gamers wanting to play big battle games with the massive time and cash outlay larger scales require. Larger games often don't look right in 28mm, the move distances and ranges all out of scale with the figures.

Leading the shift to the smaller scales are Pendraken and Baccus, regretably Heroics Ros now owned by Navwar is not to be found at shows. The Baccus stand is always a draw at shows with Pete's evangelical zeal in promoting his scale, his approach showcases the scale. Pete estimates to have sold in excess of three and a half million figures in the last year.

The secret with smaller scale often lies in the quality of the basing, bold contrasting painting and of course to quote Stalin "Quantity has a quality all of its own".

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