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Pre-Painted Plastics vs Metal and related Debate


Sergei
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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.

 

I should be a cheerleader and sing the praises of WizKids (I've been an Envoy for a couple years now), but what killed their metals and unpainted plastics was not that people were not paying attention to them. The problem was that the metal and plastic blanks (basically) came out for Mage Knight which died a horrible, messy death from storyline disasters and revamps (Making your players buy all new figures because you want to make rules changes is _never_ a good idea). The timing for the two lines was atrocious is all.

 

If miniature painting was going to die out because of pre-painted plastic, I think it would have done so by now. It didn't when WizKids launched their Clix lines, it didn't when WotC started it's pre-painted plastics lines, and I don't think that Reaper would enter the pre-painted plastics arena if they thought it would kill their pewter market.

 

The way I see it, someone will sit down to play their pre-painted figures against a fully-painted pewter army and have one of two thoughts:

"They could've bought a plastic army instead of taking all that time to paint theirs" or...

"Wow! I want my army to look like that!"

If your like me, your reaction is to whimper, grab plastic and flee. Firm belief that if someone takes the time to paint their army fully, they know 100 percent how to play said army.

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I second the notion (ha!) that if prepainted plastic was going to kill the hobby, it would have done so at some point over the ten-year period that it has been available. Cheap, readily available plastic plates have not killed ceramics. Microsoft Paint has not killed pencils. DOOM has not killed hunting or paintball. That annoying D&D computer game didn't kill D&D. Risk has not eliminated war. Beer still sells even though vodka is a much quicker, more efficient way to get smashed.

 

How long have prepaints been available? At what point did they kill the hobby? Or are we going to be like a housecat- you know, the vacuum cleaner hasn't killed me anytime over the 10 years I've been alive.... BECAUSE IT IS A DIABOLICAL FIEND, BIDING ITS TIME, WAITING FOR THE PERFECT MOMENT TO STRIKE!

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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.

 

I should be a cheerleader and sing the praises of WizKids (I've been an Envoy for a couple years now), but what killed their metals and unpainted plastics was not that people were not paying attention to them. The problem was that the metal and plastic blanks (basically) came out for Mage Knight which died a horrible, messy death from storyline disasters and revamps (Making your players buy all new figures because you want to make rules changes is _never_ a good idea). The timing for the two lines was atrocious is all.

 

 

 

 

It sure didn't help but I still think most mini painters were no longer paying attention to Wiz Kids by the time the unpainted plastics came out. I've seen a handful of custom jobs of Star Wars minis. Most of them are pretty bad. Pre painted plastics rarely interest experienced mini painters.

I'm still interested in seeing what Reaper comes up with but I'm skeptical. I don't think there is any way they could pay for a paint job that I would consider worth while for the prices they are suggesting. Not unless they are exploiting very cheap labor in an underdeveloped country. Then again that's the norm for pre paints and I still think they will end up being substandard paintjobs put on by people getting paid sub standard pay. There's just no other way to do it.

It's all just speculation anyway. Until Reaper starts to actually show us the figs in question. The one thing that annoys me is that they have not yet. They should have held off the announcement until they had something real to show us. Heck we haven't even seen the concept art for these.

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post-2714-1179375798.jpg

 

So here is one pic of the prepaints, and a few others are floating around. They're basically prepaint plastic versions of existing reaper models.

 

 

Thanks I hadn't seen those yet. Do you know what kind of plastic they used?

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I'm still interested in seeing what Reaper comes up with but I'm skeptical. I don't think there is any way they could pay for a paint job that I would consider worth while for the prices they are suggesting. Not unless they are exploiting very cheap labor in an underdeveloped country. Then again that's the norm for pre paints and I still think they will end up being substandard paintjobs put on by people getting paid sub standard pay. There's just no other way to do it.

While I was looking at the prepaints on display at ReaperCon, I overheard ReaperBryan (I think) explaining part of the painting process of the prepaints to someone. I didn't hear the whole conversation, but the gist I got was that each color is applied by means of an airbrush and a custom "mask" for that mini. I didn't catch if the process is wholly automated, or partially done by hand, but I distinctly got the impression that we're not talking about 100s of low paid workers sitting around with brushes painting each figure. The process is at least semi-automated.

 

I think each person is going to have to judge for themselves whether the paint jobs are worthwhile or not. I can tell you that one of the figures is a skeleton archer, which is based on one of their pewter skeleton archers. I happened to have that particuar fig with me at RCon as an example of one of my first painted figures, so I took the opportunity to look at them side by side (well, as close as the glass would allow). The pre-production prepainted version Reaper had on display had a better paint job than mine did.

 

So while the pre-paints may not be up to your standards, they are going to meet and exceed the standards of a lot of people who want to play wargames, but are intimidated by the painting.

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I'm still interested in seeing what Reaper comes up with but I'm skeptical. I don't think there is any way they could pay for a paint job that I would consider worth while for the prices they are suggesting. Not unless they are exploiting very cheap labor in an underdeveloped country. Then again that's the norm for pre paints and I still think they will end up being substandard paintjobs put on by people getting paid sub standard pay. There's just no other way to do it.

While I was looking at the prepaints on display at ReaperCon, I overheard ReaperBryan (I think) explaining part of the painting process of the prepaints to someone. I didn't hear the whole conversation, but the gist I got was that each color is applied by means of an airbrush and a custom "mask" for that mini. I didn't catch if the process is wholly automated, or partially done by hand, but I distinctly got the impression that we're not talking about 100s of low paid workers sitting around with brushes painting each figure. The process is at least semi-automated.

Kristoff is correct - it was me. The painting process is mostly automated. There may be a human element at some part of the process, but there are not rows and rows of painters sitting at benches all day long putting green on the same orc over and over. Technology - and the intelligent application thereof - is the secret to inexpensive prepaint.

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One thing to consider about releasing unpainted plastic versions of the prepainted one is that Reaper would in effect be asking retailers to use twice the (precious) shelf space for what is essentially the same line.

True enough. For my money, if they're going release them as unpainted figures AND offer those through the normal retail channel, I would rather see them as bulk packs - IE, skeleton horde with 10 of each of the 3 skeletons in it, and probably just in a poly bag. Most retailers wouldn't stock it, but it would only be one part number to special order, which means it would make the distributors catalogs.

 

Or just keep the unpainted ones in the Asylum store only.

 

OTH, these are plastic versions of existing pewter figs, so having an unpainted version isn't really necessary at this point.

 

 

Thanks for clarifying what I thought I heard ReaperBryan!

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One thing to consider about releasing unpainted plastic versions of the prepainted one is that Reaper would in effect be asking retailers to use twice the (precious) shelf space for what is essentially the same line.

True enough. For my money, if they're going release them as unpainted figures AND offer those through the normal retail channel, I would rather see them as bulk packs - IE, skeleton horde with 10 of each of the 3 skeletons in it, and probably just in a poly bag. Most retailers wouldn't stock it, but it would only be one part number to special order, which means it would make the distributors catalogs.

 

Or just keep the unpainted ones in the Asylum store only.

 

OTH, these are plastic versions of existing pewter figs, so having an unpainted version isn't really necessary at this point.

 

 

Thanks for clarifying what I thought I heard ReaperBryan!

No Prob.

 

Also - You are correct. We do have unpainted versions of these models!!

 

We call them Dark Heaven Legends Miniatures, and you can already buy them unpainted, non-random, non-collectible in finer FLGS's across the globe!

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If your like me, your reaction is to whimper, grab plastic and flee. Firm belief that if someone takes the time to paint their army fully, they know 100 percent how to play said army.

 

Not necessarily. The person could be primarily a painter that learned these Models had a game attached and just started playing. Just like you should never assume someone with an unpainted army knows nothing about the game.

 

Painting is not equal to skill on the table, nor vice versa. It just means someone has more time to spend on one aspect of the hobby than another.

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One thing to consider about releasing unpainted plastic versions of the prepainted one is that Reaper would in effect be asking retailers to use twice the (precious) shelf space for what is essentially the same line.

True enough. For my money, if they're going release them as unpainted figures AND offer those through the normal retail channel, I would rather see them as bulk packs - IE, skeleton horde with 10 of each of the 3 skeletons in it, and probably just in a poly bag. Most retailers wouldn't stock it, but it would only be one part number to special order, which means it would make the distributors catalogs.

 

Or just keep the unpainted ones in the Asylum store only.

 

OTH, these are plastic versions of existing pewter figs, so having an unpainted version isn't really necessary at this point.

 

 

Thanks for clarifying what I thought I heard ReaperBryan!

No Prob.

 

Also - You are correct. We do have unpainted versions of these models!!

 

We call them Dark Heaven Legends Miniatures, and you can already buy them unpainted, non-random, non-collectible in finer FLGS's across the globe!

 

And to be honest they cost twice as much. That's the point. So my choice is prepainted plastics with paintjobs I don't want or unpainted metals which are quickly getting too expensive for large encounters and armies. I wasn't kidding when I said I spent $140 on the minis for a single encounter for a game I'm working on. That wasn't on dragons either just standard sized minis. Most of that money went to Reaper. I've dropped over $100 on Reaper minis several times in the past but the bang for the buck is getting smaller each time. I'm not a mini collector. I'm a mini gamer but I participate in the entire hobby and that's the way I like it. Metal is just getting too expensive. I have no problem with plastic minis. I own several GW plastics and they convert quite nicely they are also less likely to break when they hit the floor. I don't however care for pre paints. I don't see a problem with other people using them I just don't like them myself. I own a large number of Star Wars pre paints but I stopped buying them because of their poor quality. Reaper's pre paints arn't random and that's great. The process is automated and that's good too. I would still rather have them unpainted or at least the option even if it's a mail order only option.

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The painting process is mostly automated. There may be a human element at some part of the process, but there are not rows and rows of painters sitting at benches all day long putting green on the same orc over and over.

 

Well - there goes that career choice. ::(:

 

Mind you - that sounds exactly like a GW store ::P: .

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I am a bit surprised that no one (as far as I can tell) has mentioned the challenges that 3-D printers will pose to the industry once they become widespread. At this point, they're mainly tools for high end professional rapid prototyping use, but (still relatively expensive) hobbyist models are starting to appear.

 

When the printers do become commonly available (say 10 to 15 years), things will get really interesting. Want 20 orcs? Either download an orc template or scan one of your existing orcs and then crank out 20 plastic orcs in short order.

 

Ron

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I am a bit surprised that no one (as far as I can tell) has mentioned the challenges that 3-D printers will pose to the industry once they become widespread.

 

Actually, I've mentioned it around here somewhere. It will be a while before the resolution matches what can be done in pewter, but with the color 3d printing coming, it won't be long before they're usable.

 

They'll be down in price a lot faster than everyone expects, too. I looked into getting one about two years ago. With the software and the printer, I was looking at spending "only" $35,000. Not really affordable, but doable with the right business plan. I've been keeping my eye on them, and the price is down to about $30,000 for a slightly better printer than I originally looked at. Within 5 years or so, they'll be cheap enough that you'll start seeing them in more businesses. At that point, you'll probably see people creating things on them and printing them on the side, like we used to do with laser printers.

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