Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Big Con

     When I started wargaming some forty plus years ago, the only figures that I could afford were soft plastic ones, namely  "Airfix". They came in a box, normally of  "48 pieces" for what in current money would be about 7 1/2 p, with about 36  of the 48  pieces generally being usable, the  others less so. When a new box was released it was always a time for great excitement of course, from civilians to confederate infantry, Germans, Foreign Legion etc.  However, I think every Wargamers dream was to own metal "lead" figures, but they were (comparitvely speaking) very expensive.  There were few suppliers and virtually no shops supplying them, outside of London and for those in the provinces (me) it was a very difficult task indeed to obtain them.  The "obstacles" of course were eventually surmounted and purchases of Hinchcliffe figures and Miniature Figurines  were eventually made. 
It was a slow and expensive business building up a wargames army in lead.

      Nowadays though we seem to have reverted to some form of inverted snobbery, where we're being brain-washed into believing that plastic figures (be they the new "hard" plastic rather than the soft polyethylene Airfix type) are superior in some way to lead miniatures.  My firm belief is that the only reason the "major" players in the figure manufacturing business have taken the step down the plastic path is money.  I haven't got a problem with firms making money, after all, it's what they are in business for, but when 5 plastic figures could knock me back £25 I draw the line. 

      There are plastic figures on the market that are excellent and fairly reasonably priced too, but equally there are many, many ranges of figures produced in lead/white metal that are on a par for cost per figure.
    
       Oversized plastic figures, which tend to be mainly, but not exclusively,  in the fantasy market have great detail on them, making them easier to paint - which is hardly surprising though when a shoulder strap 1 mm thick is possibly up to 2 inches thick in scale !  This in itself would warrant another rant, but it is another feature of the plastic market, that finer details cannot always be had the way they can on a metal figure and detail comes at a price.

     The photo above  shows the "waste" from a few sprues of plastic figures (6 figures to a sprue and assemble them yourself), I really can't imagine the same waste from metal figures not being re-used.

     In case you're wondering, yes I do have plastic figures of the modern "hard" plastic variety but I haven't come across anyone that prefers them to an equally sized metal figure.  Randomly looking through the interweb I came across 16 plastic men-at-arms for £20 or £1.25 a figure, which seems fairly reasonable (if you're prepared to put up with the bunches of bananas they have for hands) and a similar pack of 30 figures in metal for £24 or £0.80 per figure !

     Plastics are not always cheaper - its a Big Con !

For some reason (probably my ineptitude) last week's blog was missing the group shot that I took of my entire Gangstas collection., so here they are.

The basing "problem" has still yet to be resolved, but I'm getting there - you'll no doubt have noticed that my photography skills are still pretty dismal.

The building in the background is basically a large length of thin card wrapped around a polystyrene block and was used in many Indian Mutiny games, though it wouldn't look out of place in New Mexico, Spain or the Middle East either.


Next week's blog should feature my "Offensive Miniatures" SWAT figures as there are only a few minor details to finish off (barring any catastrophes with varnish, as happened with the Gangstas !).

Thanks for looking and all comments, are of course appreciated and if I haven't already welcomed you to my site "Welcome", I hope you find something of interest here.

16 comments:

  1. I am really showing my age here, but I can remember my brother and I buying quite a few boxes of those Airfix Civilians when we were just "bairns" to use as spectators when we played Subbuteo football. We had a Subbuteo stadium and it was cheaper to populate it with Airfix Civilians than official Subbuteo spectators, which came in packs of five or six.

    As for your rant about the price of plastics, I must agree with you. I'm looking forward to a rant about resin. Now there's a real rip off!

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    1. We're out of the same mould Bryan !
      Strangely enough I have no argument with resin.

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  2. Wow 40 years of gaming. I am so young, your gaming ego could be my father! :D

    Where you got those 30 metal figures :O Don't be shy!

    Can't wait to see offensive SWAT, I will get mine at TAGs but I figured I'd get their riot cops.

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    1. The metal figures I mentioned were the basic pack of Old Glory, they may not be to everyone's taste, but they are value for money.

      The Offensive Miniatures sculpts are excellent andI will be getting their Riot Cops Deal at a future date.

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  3. I must admit some times plastic is the only option but give me metal any day in figures!

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    1. You're right of course AL, sometimes there is no alternative

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  4. I agree metal is preferable to plastics. But as metal prices continue to rise I can see the tooling costs for injection moldings becoming more and more acceptable to larger wargames figure manufactures. Unless they move to some of the new resins. Just my 5.56mm

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    1. Hey Clint, as the metal figure's prices rise, so will the plastics'. Prices for metal figures were raised in the past under all sorts of reason, mainly though the price of lead.

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  5. I honestly don't have a preference between plastic or metal, and will use both. But I will admit, conversions with plastic is easier.


    Love the gang shot.

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    1. I don't mind plastic figures either, but to price them comparitively to metals is just extracting the urine in my opinion.

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  6. I have been through it all. Some plastic are actually quite good and nicely detailed.

    But there is, to me at least, something specil in a metal miniature. The plastic can sometimes feel too much as a toy. (Which it basically is)

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    1. Well said LS; its the difference when playing poker with either heavy-weight clay chips or the flimsy plastic ones - The former feel correct whilst the latter feel cheap, but both do the same job !

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  7. I Much prefer metal. Some might argue that plastic is easier to convert. Especially those that come in kit form.

    Having just assembled a few WGF Zombies I was kindly donated have decided to stick to metal zombies in future I just prefer the weight and feel that they have.

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  8. I'm with you Brummie, although the plastics can be used in all sorts of ways too, cheaply bulking out a horde, conversions, casualties etc.

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  9. Most of my favorite minis are metal, but I think plastics can be very nice. Just overpriced as you say. That group shot of the Gangstas looks great.

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    1. I've always wanted metal figures from the time I couldn't afford them. I've seen some excellently painted plastics too.
      I really like my gangstas, just wish I could have done them more justice with my painting.

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