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Pre-Painted Plastics vs Metal and related Debate


Sergei
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I do know that in 25 years of playing D&D, it is only since prepainted minis became readily available that I started regularly using minis in my game. I've got a few metals, but I'm not a painter. Such doesn't interest me - I want to play games, not indulge in my lack-of-artistic ability. (I'm a singer, not a painter!)

 

What prepainted minis can do is provide a portal to the world of paintable minis.

 

Cheers!

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Hey, my first post over here. However, I've painted minis since the late 70s, and fell in love with Reaper when I got back into things in the mid 90s. I really enjoyed painting but found it just took up so much time. Once the DDM prepaints came out, our group switched over happily (still use some metals for PCs and important NPCs, occasional monster). I'm very happy to see Reaper getting into this market and look forward ot it.

What did I do with time saved from painting minis? Well, I didn't play a lot more. One of DMs lives out of state, so we only get together about half a dozen times year to play. I did play the DDM skirmish game some, mostly with my son, but he's 17 now, and has less time for that (he still plays in our RPGs).

Mostly what I did though was get into scenery making. Many of those .pdf cardstock models, in fact. Lots and lots Worldworks games (clearly the "Reaper" of cardstock in terms of quality), some of the old Microtactix, some Stone Edges, Fat Dragon, as well as 2d stuff from several publishers, and a wonderfully simple little program called Gridsmith that is now sadly off the market and unsupported (much easier than Dunjini, though not as pretty). So now we had games with not only accurate miniatures but pretty scenery that also made things like line of sight, etc. easier. So I found myself another hobby I enjoyed, truthfully even more than painting (you could produce more in less time as well).

So next I figure folks will come along and make cheap, pre-painted scenery. Then I guess I'll have to spend more time writing my adventures or developing my home-brew campaign world. Or maybe someone will come along with something even better to add to our hobby.

So I'm clearly in the camp of "this doesn't spell doom for any hobby, but just offers folks more options".

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Even though Knitting, quilting, and other crafts are seeing a MASSIVE resurgence? Look at how many specialty yarn shops there are now compared to 20 years ago! Even in small towns! Craft magazine wouldn't have existed then.

 

Crafts aren't dying, and plastic minis will not kill miniatures. The market will grow and shrink. All Reaper is doing is offering the figures people need to buy a lot of at a great price point. Hate the paintjobs? Repaint them!

 

 

I don't have anything against what Reaper is doing but I do see a decline in hands on hobbies.

 

And I don't. 10 years ago, your only yarn sources were often whatever junk WalMart carried in their feeble craft section. If you had a Joannes you might be luckier. The dedicated quilt/yarn shop was a scarcity. Nowadays, nearly every small town has one or the other. The internet has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to get what they need, even if their town doesn't carry it. Magazines like Craft and Make were but the feverish dreams of do-it-yourselfers. Nothing like the Craft Mafia, or Knitta Please existed.

 

Now it's everywhere.

 

And as other people mentioned, I've seen the massive growth of minipainting at several gencons. In 2001 it was a pretty small affair, compared to later years. All of this, inspit of the rise of pre-painted plastics.

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My opinion is that it was only a matter of time before someone else moved into the PPM market. The D&D stuff was selling well, especially at my FLGS where not that many people play D&D, but lots play the skirmish game. To me, it always just seemed mad, because the D&D minis are made from that horrid quality plastic, and they're RANDOM. But a lot of people are real keen on them it seems.

 

If Reaper are using a better quality plastic, and their stuff is none-random, then I imagine they can take a sizable bite out of the market. And more people getting into the hobby is always good, right? 'cause eventually some will eventually move on to the metal stuff, and will want to paint their own minis. That can only be a good thing. And Reaper are obviously just diversifying their products a little, which is always a sensible business strategy, it means our favourite mini company is probably gonna be in business for longer.

 

So far it's been said that these PPM's aren't going to affect Reaper's metal line, and I've got no reason not to believe the Reaper guys so far. I understand why some of the people who prefer metals only are a little passionate about the whole thing, but I don't think there is anything to worry about right now.

 

On a side note, I also don't think the hobby is dying. Where I live, it's just growing really, especially with newer games like Warmachine on the scene (it's become very popular in my gaming community), 40k is still very popular, especially amongst the up and coming generation (and, GW IS an entry point into the hobby for a lot of people, so love it or loathe it, I'm glad it's around), and I've even got people playing Warlord. I do However think the shift to online sales is affecting some peoples perceptions in regards to how the hobby is doing, but that's a whoooole other discussion really. =P

 

But getting back to the topic, if the PPM's are nice enough sculpts and good quality, I might even pick up a few myself (though I'll no doubt repaint them eventually). And I'll still buy my metals!

 

 

That's my two denarius thrown in anyway.

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I don't have anything against what Reaper is doing but I do see a decline in hands on hobbies.

 

Really? Wait. Do you mean you foresee it, or you see it happening now? If you do, I wonder if that's only regional?

 

I ask because, where I live, minis and terraining stuff (trains, wargames, model ships, etc.) are EXPLODING! Our local toy and hobby shops have greatly expanded their terrain sections and are regularly out of things I want to buy :angry:

 

Everyone I know in the hobby has now heard of and played on Hirst Arts stuff, and that site is also booming.

 

I can't get through a Michael's without waiting for half an hour in line.

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I live a half hour from Bruce Hirst and everything but pre-painted stuff is in the Decline. There are some talented hobiest around. Perhaps too talented since people seem so intimidated if they can't turn out first rate stuff as soon as they touch a brush. Some of us picked up a bit of Warmachine stuff but I was the only one seriously painting them. Everyone is playing with plastics or playing Warcraft.

 

Check my CMON link. I've re-painted up a couple pre-painted plastics. I don't really like them though. I think eventually metal is going to become either too expensive for companies to produce or too expensive for the average gamer to buy. I hope there is some kind of viable alternative. Very few companies are doing high quality plastic minis and the prepainted stuff has tended to be low quality both in material and sculpts.

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I live a half hour from Bruce Hirst and everything but pre-painted stuff is in the Decline. There are some talented hobiest around. Perhaps too talented since people seem so intimidated if they can't turn out first rate stuff as soon as they touch a brush. Some of us picked up a bit of Warmachine stuff but I was the only one seriously painting them. Everyone is playing with plastics or playing Warcraft.

 

I don't think you can fairly judge the rise or decline of the hobby off of Warmachine. Everybody I knew had high hopes for it, but only one guy I know ever bought any of it. At the same time, when the same hobby shop couldn't get rid of their Warmachine stock, their terrains area grew three times its original size, their stock tripled and then regularly began to sell out. The same store says that Reaper metals are selling better than ever (their words as of last Sunday), and they have a large (not huge) Warhammer customer base (there's actually a GW store in the area, which sucks away business). I, myself visit the store and buy hundreds of dollars of unpainted Reaper stuff a month.

 

I respect that you live near Bruce, but that doesn't tell me whether his sales are on the decline. He is producing new molds like a crazy man, which might suggest not. I wonder if you can point to something less general to show us why you think the hobby is dying? You said everyone is playing with plastics or playing Warcraft? That does happen everywhere, but is it possible the rise you speak of is regional. Like I said, the opposite is happening here.

 

In any case, every hobby has ups and downs. Since human beings have been carving or scultping, and then painting tiny figures pretty much since civilization began, I hardly think you'll ever be without the means to continue the trend.

 

My advice? If you want to save your cool hobbies, involve kids. My boy loves minis, and has begun to finally seriously paint them with me. He loves prepainteds, plastic toys and video games, too. But I think that unlike the generation before his, it's no longer a matter of embracing one cool thing to the exclusion of the others. For him, it's about loving all the cool things. That gives me hope.

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It's not just a matter of their not being a market for metal minis or not. It's also a matter of it being more profitable for companies to produce pre-painted plastics. Sometimes the greater profit product pushes out even other profitable products because they provide a greater profit for time and resources invested.

 

I'm not against pre-painted plastics or Reaper getting into the market. I believe from past experiences that Reapers pre-painted plastics will likely raise the bar on the quality of that kind of product. They certainly have done so in the metal mini market. Eventually though is the greater profit from the pre-painted plastics going to lead to unpainted lines in any materials being put on the back burner? I hope not.

 

I've already said there are certainly pleanty of good things about pre-painted plastics. they are more affordable than even unpainted plastics. When you need a horde of Orcs or Stormtroopers which are often no fun to paint in large numbers it's nice to have an ok substitute.

 

About War Machine. The local store had already phased out their GW stuff and War Machine was their last attempt at unpainted metals. It was just more profitable for them to sell pre-painted plastics. It was more profitable for WOTC to make pre painted plastics than continue their Chainmail and Star Wars metal lines. We may not like it but profit dictates quite a bit in buisness and there are a lot of gamers out there who do not care about the half of the hobby I care about. Reper represents the half of the hobby I care about or at least the half I care most about. It may come back around. Perhaps it is an my area is just slow. Magic nearly ruined table top RPG playing for years in my area. MMOs are a constant threat (yeah I play SWG but I still take time for my table top games). Even I find myself sifting through my boxes of Star Wars plastics to find a bounty hunter for the next game when I few years ago I would have converted and painted one. I love converting and painting minis but these pre-painted plastics are even making me lazy. Also for certain Star Wars minis pre-painted plastics are the only option I have because WOTC finds it more profitable to cater to collectors than hobbiest.

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The trade off for the bent weapons and bases with (at least DDM) PPM is the ability to collect a large horde quickly & at a low cost. I have about a 20 or so metal orcs painted lovingly through the years. 2 have broken, the rest are fine (the broken ones are really old, like from th elate 70s). In three years of DDM, I have about six times that number of orcs. I can field a whole orc raiding party, and it looks very good, despite a few bent things.

 

Personally, I think the trade off is worth. Now, if the new Reaper PPMs don't have bending issues, that would really be great, and I be even more likely to buy them in quantity. But if they bend some but are as durable as DDM, I'd be okay with that. I'd prefer that over ones that break instead of bend.

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The trade off for the bent weapons and bases with (at least DDM) PPM is the ability to collect a large horde quickly & at a low cost. I have about a 20 or so metal orcs painted lovingly through the years. 2 have broken, the rest are fine (the broken ones are really old, like from th elate 70s). In three years of DDM, I have about six times that number of orcs. I can field a whole orc raiding party, and it looks very good, despite a few bent things.

 

Personally, I think the trade off is worth. Now, if the new Reaper PPMs don't have bending issues, that would really be great, and I be even more likely to buy them in quantity. But if they bend some but are as durable as DDM, I'd be okay with that. I'd prefer that over ones that break instead of bend.

 

I agree. Flexibility is always preferable. The DDMs glue back together as well as anything else when they DO break. That also is preferable to something more brittle, which might lose little bits in the breaking.

 

It's actually something the DDM plastic and the metal minis have in common: much more bending and much less actually fracturing, ala resin or some other.

 

Personally, I have not yet been able to effectively straighten the DDM stuff permanently, and a lot of what I have is bent. But I have seen people who have. I have seen their pictures. I believe it can be done. It just takes time to learn, like any other part of this hobby.

 

Look, everything is doable. Everything is fixable and convertible. You just need to learn new skills to accomplish it, sometimes.

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It's not just a matter of their not being a market for metal minis or not. It's also a matter of it being more profitable for companies to produce pre-painted plastics. Sometimes the greater profit product pushes out even other profitable products because they provide a greater profit for time and resources invested.

Since Reaper still puts out monster and townsfolk packs and they sell far less than character minis, I tend to believe that Reaper will continue to put out metal minis as long as it's even slightly profitable...

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I'm more interested in good games than I am good hobbies.

If you define a 'good' game as having a noob to thrash, I once again invite you to look me up. ::D:

 

On topic: I am only mildly concerned that LE PPMs will eventually lead to a reduction in top-quality metal production, further increasing prices, etc. However, that's just a vague unease because my Crystal Ball of Hobby Futures is still broken.

 

I just think non-collectible PPM fills a different niche from collectible/randomized, and separate from unpainted metal. I won't argue the merits of one vs. the other(s). To each his/her own. They each serve different purposes, with some overlapping commonalities. I will say this: if the purpose of non-collectible is to get people out and playing, then I applaud that purpose. If the alternative is to wait for a utopian ideal, never to be realized, where everyone carries around a carload of perfectly painted metal and cinema-quality terrain, then I'll take plastic. :rock:

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To be flippant, they're prepainted, so what's the rush? When they arrive, just pop'em out of the packaging and enjoy. No muss, no fuss. I'd bet most everyone on this forum has unpainted pewter starin'em in the face. Get busy!! Save your coin for when they're out and your addiction has you in its clutches.

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I have read all the posts on this topic up 'til now (currently 21 pages) and have been inspired to register and respond.

 

The PPM are the only reason I am here and I don't necessarily see my demographic represented in any previous posts so I figured I would chime in for those still tracking this.

 

I am a veteren gamer and have been in the hobby of gaming for almost 30 years now. Ever since Hasbro/WoTC did the plastics my game has greatly evolved. I would LOVE to paint but I cannot - I have several issues that keep me from it - early-stage arthritis being the formost; a total lack of talent and time being another. I am at a point in my life where I can afford to spend a good amount of real $$ on my hobby and since my game of choice is DnD3.5 the amount of books and print supplements I am buying drops off considerably each month. With the onset of the next edition (whenever that comes) my spending will drop to 0 in that regard.

 

Before posting this I did some research on my own habits and have come to some interesting conclusions. Prior to the PPMs from WoTC I spent on average about $50 - $100 annually on figs. Our group - which consists of 12-15 regular gamers - only has one painter that does all of our work. Needless to say he is constantly backed up and it often takes MONTHS to get a character fig done.

 

In the last month alone I spent over $500 on figs - all of them plastic and all of them "ala carte" on e-Bay (I hate the randomness and collectibility crap). On average I spend $3000 annually on figs now. Now, I realize that I may be an exception to the norm - but I know that I am not alone. One of the other guys in our group easily matches me on his fig expense and I know our FLGS has at least 4 or 5 other customers like us.

 

With all that said - if these Reapers PPMs are a match as far as quality goes Reaper will easily pick up a good portion of my mini-budget. If they are better - depending on price-points and usefulness - that portion could be significant.

 

Hordes of orcs and skellybones are great - but I don't really need them now, I already have them - by the metric buttload. What I would like is variety of poses for my lizard men, bugbears, hobs, gobs, kobolds, zombies, and other horde types. I would like to see townspeople. Mounted figs and scenery - perhaps a merchants wagon with guard. I tell you something I would buy ten of tomorrow if someone would make it: a damn campfire! How about simple terrain pieces that don't require me to take out a second mortgage (I despise GW) like single trees or a tent?

 

Years ago I was interested in the various WHammer games and played for awhile - until I started being excluded from games because my plastics that came with my boxed-sets were either unpainted or all one color. It made me even angrier because on a strategy level I was winning - but elitist players thought they should win because of their army paint jobs. That's just ridiculous. To this day I wont play GW games - in fact it turned me off table top games forever.

 

But plastics revived my interest in minis and I know several others for whom the situation is the same.

 

I for one don't care about how it effects anyone else but me - and if Reapers inclusion in this market drives quality across the board up and price down - well then...yay for me. Will I still be buying Hasbro's stuff? Probably - at least until they hose it up. Will I buy Reapers? As long as it is comparable quality and can be easily substituted for the entries in my Monster Manuals - hell yeah. If another company starts doing it I will probably buy from them as well. If the entire hobby miraculously dries up and goes away I suspect I will survive and probably go back to what I was doiing before - using chess pawns for gobbos and 'nilla wafers for Grell. At the end of the day my loyalty and my concern only go so far as my dollar and that is just one guy being honest.

 

So with all that said I hope I made a point or two. Reaper - you guys are a solid company, you have done good work and I look forward to seeing what you do with this new line. If you are looking for investors - send me a private message.

 

katerek

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