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Pre-Painted Plastics vs Metal and related Debate


Sergei
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Reaper seems to know that lots of people like mucking about with the pewter figures. You really can't do the same level of conversion on a plastic one. So there's a market section that will resist an 'all plastic' line.

 

If I'm playing against someone with a plastic army, I'm fine with that. I'm not playing fig against fig, it's player against player. We could be playing with beans for all that matters. It just looks waaaaay cooler to have painted figs on the table.

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From what I could see looking at the pre painted figures at Rcon, The reaper pre paints ARE cast from their " original " metal figures. This is VERY good in my opinion. Better sculpted + prepainted = growth in the market and in turn the industry itself. Painting will ALWAYS be around in a big way. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it the more I think that pre paints may actually save the hobby.

 

I scultp but I do not paint. I have never been able to paint, and may never be. I look at the average gaming figure and am daunted by the intricate detail and lack of immediate ability. Now when I look at a pre paint ( Reaper's to be specific ) I look at something that I can buy to game with and eventually paint over later. The industry is shrinking because people are a lot more interested in having fun than they are in working. For most people mini painting looks like more work than fun so they shy away. Give them an army of pre painted plastic figures anda fun game to play and they will happily buy, and before long will begin to try their hand at painting.

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I agree with everything Tre pointed out.

 

What's with everyone worrying about the "death of the hobby"?

 

When I first discovered miniatures, it was for D&D back in the eighties, and you had nowhere NEAR the number of companies putting out models as are around now.

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<snip>As a matter of fact, the more I think about it the more I think that pre paints may actually save the hobby.

<snip> Give them an army of pre painted plastic figures anda fun game to play and they will happily buy, and before long will begin to try their hand at painting.

Agreed. I think that smart marketing schemes could actually encourage this as well - for instance, in Warlord by only making the grunts, adepts and a few solos/heroes available as prepaints, and preserving the uniques and some really cool character types as unpainted pewter.

 

People who are daunted by painting an entire army are far more likely to try and paint one figure.

 

And as most of us know, all it often takes is one figure.

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What's with everyone worrying about the "death of the hobby"?

Well, let's see...Ral Partha's gone. Grenadier is gone. Martian Metals is gone. RAFM was (is?) struggling for awhile. GW/Citadel is moving primarily to plastics. All the big mini producers of the 70s and 80s are pretty much gone, or radically changed. I think the only major producers from that era that are still going on as before are historical mini makers like GHQ and C-in-C. Some old-timers still consider Reaper an upstart, small time player, since they didn't get their start until the early 90s. Plastics, which are typically associated with low quality, mass produced toys are invading the scene.

 

On the surface, it looks bad.

 

Dig a little deeper though, and the hobby is booming. The only reason that plastics are "invading" the hobby is because the economics of it are now viable - the cost of injection molding is going down, but not as fast as the market is actually growing.

 

Reaper's a major player now, and draws upon the talents of most of the best sculptors of that earlier era - Garrity, Guthrie, Mize (RIP), etc - as well as cultivating new talent. More and more people are sculpting for themselves, and finding people to cast things for them. The internet is booming with small outfits that are putting out some incredible figures - Freebooter, Hasslefree, Ad Astra etc, just to name a few. Painting groups, almost unheard of before 2000 are sprouting up everywhere it seems.

 

I think the fear of the "death of the hobby" actually comes from what happened to major sectors of the hobby when Magic:TG was introduced. There was a lot of short term fallout from the CCG craze that Magic induced. People were spending loads on the game, other companies were spending loads to develop competition, all to the detriment of the traditional games, like miniatures and RPGs. Ultimately, Ral Partha and TSR, as well as other companies were victims of that craze, failing to survive it. Short term, it was bad - real bad, with many icons in the hobby going under. I think in the long term it strengthened the hobby, just based on the ratio of men to women at cons you see now vs pre 90s attendance. But a lot of people remember what Magic did to miniatures, and I think their fear is pre-painted plastics could have the same effect. Short term - maybe. Long term, most probably not.

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These things always come in cycles. Privateer Press is pretty big. Reaper is practically the Grenadier of the day. Rafm is distributing Reaper and still has models. Ral Partha Europe is still around. Mirliton is putting out the old Grenadier stuff. Heresy, Hasslefree, and Black Scorpion are in business. Alphaforge, Darkwater, Dark Slave are small startups. I don't see anything but MORE companies putting out models to spend my money on!

 

Back in my day, there were only a few lines of model paint. How many have we got now? The models and tabletop game market may fluctuate, but I don't see it dying entirely.

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To be entirely clear, IIRC Ral Partha folded because it was aquired by FASA, and FASA folded due to litigation fees associated with its court battles with Harmony Gold (though helped along by a flattening market too).

 

I think the reason there are more minis companies out now is because of the internet: it is far EASIER for small start-ups to both reach their customer base as well as market to them. I see more people who traditionally have been into SF/Fantasy making the leap to historicals because the internet facilitates access to those sorts of minis/games. The Internet is a very, very powerful mechanism for information dissemination that did not exist in the days of minis ads in the back of Dragon Magazine...

 

Damon.

 

PS: Very much disagree that metal is easier to convert (or you can "convert" to a greater degree) than plastic. I've been a model builder for more than 20 years (since the ripe age of approx 8). That has almost exclusively been in plastic. Plastic is easier to cut, form , modify, remove, sculpt, etc than metal IMHO. I would rather convert a plastic figure than a metal one...the only downside being the pre-painted aspect.

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It's not the plastic vs metal debate that bothers me. I have no problem with plastic minis. In fact they are super quick to convert and you risk less than you do with metals wich are quickly getting way too expensive for gameing. I recently started collecting some figs together for a pulp era game and found that I had spent 140 dollars on the minis for one encounter. It was a large encounter but it wasn't all that big.

 

No plastic minis don't bother me at all with standard 28mm running nearly five bucks a pop from any company.

 

What bothers me is the PRE-PAINTED aspects. They either gotta strip brilliantly (which is rare) or be painted lightly (even more rare) for me to be able to customize them and re-paint them. WOTCs pre painted are mostly below what I consider the lowest acceptable table top quality paint job and the plastic they are made out of won't hold it's shape. The nicest pre painted plastics I've seen are the Heroquest figs both in paintjobs and plastic quality.

 

Still the biggest problem I have is that you can't seem to get the best of three worlds from any game company. It's like that old addage. Fast, Cheap, Good. Pick two. You can't get metal, unpainted plastics, and pre-painted plastics from the same company. Mage Knight almost managed this.

 

I like the price and ease of customization that comes with plastic I just don't want the substandard slathered on paint jobs put on my people making substandard wages. I guess that's too much to ask.

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Isn't RP still around as Iron Wind Metals?

 

 

They're still putting out minis under the RP name, and battletech stuff too.

 

 

 

I don't like plastic. Heck, I don't even like using plastic bases (though they are an unfortuante necessity sometimes).

 

 

But that's me, and I won't buy 'em. I'm happy to keep buying metal minis. So long as I have metal minis, I'm happy.

 

 

If metal minis dry up and Reaper goes all plastic, THEN I shall vent and rage about the destruction of the hobby. I'll add it to my 3rd-edition D&D rants (fell abomination!) and go out on street corners with a placard. :poke:

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Reaper seems to know that lots of people like mucking about with the pewter figures. You really can't do the same level of conversion on a plastic one. So there's a market section that will resist an 'all plastic' line.

 

If I'm playing against someone with a plastic army, I'm fine with that. I'm not playing fig against fig, it's player against player. We could be playing with beans for all that matters. It just looks waaaaay cooler to have painted figs on the table.

 

I think there is a healthy market for both. Long term I think pewter will always rule the hobby due to a large part of its draw is the painting and collecting of pewter figs.

 

As for conversions... it is much, much easier to convert a plastic mini. Plastic is much easier to cut and glue and depending on the grade of plastic you can actually dip the minis in very hot but not boiling water and make them pliable again, and remold them. Then dunk them in ice water and they are rock hard in your new position. I used to do this with HeroClix and Mage Knights. The hot water method is great for straightening out bent weapons, feathers, tassels etceteras, which are ever present in plastic minis. As for the cut and clip method I made a Spawn figure out of 6 figures. I wish I had a digital camera to upload some of my kitbashes. I also routinely used green stuff. I find trying to convert metal much harder and it has fewer techniques to use.

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To be entirely clear, IIRC Ral Partha folded because it was aquired by FASA, and FASA folded due to litigation fees associated with its court battles with Harmony Gold (though helped along by a flattening market too).

 

The old Ral Partha is currently three different companies that are all doing very well, and one of the original owners, Tom Meier, is one of the most sought after sculpters in the world and owns his own little side company Thunderbold Mountain Miniatures. Ral Partha is Ral Partha Europe, Iron Wind Metals which both offer all the figs Ral Partha did and more. IWM has the right to all the Ral Partha properties like Battletech, Crimson Skies, Arcana, Shadowrun, etceteras for their metal miniature line. WizKids Games owns the rights to the intellectual properties for plastic minis Mech Warriors are plastic Battletech, they had a plastic version of Crimson Skies and Shadow Run. The Europe and IWM branches are probably as thriving as Ral Partha ever was and WizKids is in the class with GamesWorkshop. So they probably aren't a good example of a crippled hobby.

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I agree totally with Ironworker! I can't understand why the issue here is metal vs. plastic on this forum. Plastic is just fine and will not kill the hobby. PRE-PAINTED MINIS WILL KILL THE HOBBY!!!! If it takes off and more people buy pre-painted, guess what happens? Company sees more dollar signs in that venture and drops the unpainted lines. Rackam has already fallen under this spell. I can't understand why Reaper or Rackham couldn't also sell the unpainted plastics. Am I the only one here that would want this? :wacko:

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Ummm, not necessarily.

 

It depends on the margin and volume of sales. Pre-painted minis probably have higher production costs so the margin is less. Unless the volume of sales for the pre-painted minis makes up for the narrower margin, just because pre-painted minis outsell unpainted minis doesn't mean that THE HOBBY WILL DIE!!!!!!

 

Didn't WizKids offer some unpainted Mage Knight minis for some time? If I recall, they flopped. If there isn't enough demand for the unpainted plastics and the setup, inventory, and distribution costs of having both unpainted and pre-painted lines outweigh demand, then it makes no sense for Reaper to offer unpainted plastics.

 

Besides at least in the initial runs, the pre-painted plastic minis are available as unpainted *metal* minis. Remember, the plastic minis are based on metal sculpts for at least the initial runs. So, hop to it and buy the initial sculpts!

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Ummm, not necessarily.

 

It depends on the margin and volume of sales. Pre-painted minis probably have higher production costs so the margin is less. Unless the volume of sales for the pre-painted minis makes up for the narrower margin, just because pre-painted minis outsell unpainted minis doesn't mean that THE HOBBY WILL DIE!!!!!!

 

Didn't WizKids offer some unpainted Mage Knight minis for some time? If I recall, they flopped. If there isn't enough demand for the unpainted plastics and the setup, inventory, and distribution costs of having both unpainted and pre-painted lines outweigh demand, then it makes no sense for Reaper to offer unpainted plastics.

 

Besides at least in the initial runs, the pre-painted plastic minis are available as unpainted *metal* minis. Remember, the plastic minis are based on metal sculpts for at least the initial runs. So, hop to it and buy the initial sculpts!

 

 

By the time WizKids came out with their metals and unpainted plastics most miniature hobbiest were no longer paying attention to the company. The miniature hobbiest crowd had moved on replaced by the 3D CCG crowd which were not interested in unpainted minis.

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