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Pre-Painted Plastics vs Metal and related Debate


Sergei
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So Reaper's (current) plan is to not change anything regarding their metal miniature lines… but is instead to expand the business to encompass the pre-painted plastic scene.

 

So I really can't understand the negativity and the doom an gloom (though there is often a lot of things I don't understand - so please don't take that personal anyone). Obviously things may change in the future (depending on the market and the success of various product lines and business strategies etc.) - but that's always going to be the case. Hopefully Reaper knows a little more about the miniatures market than the rest of us, and I'm sure (well, I at least hope) they are not jumping in with both feet and their eyes closed.

 

I for one would hate to see the death of metal miniatures, as I like to break out the paints when I have time - but I also like the convenience of picking up a bunch of pre-paints and just being able to throw them on the table. Sure, most of the existing pre-paints look like [email protected] compared to something even a beginner painter has spent a couple of hours on - but it's also great to not have to worry about the figures being knocked over or chipped or whatever. I also prefer to throw down a badly painted monster mini of the correct type than use an inappropriate nicely painted mini as a proxy (though that's just my own personal preference of course).

 

However I understand that for a lot of people that painting up an army is a huge part of the hobby… which is cool and I love looking a people's work… but for DM/GM's in RPG's a similar amount of enjoyment can be had in planning the adventure/location/campaign world itself (and being able to pick up a pre-paint for something that you haven't already got painted yourself can be a godsend if you would rather spend time on those other things). Then there are folks that like the visual representation of miniatures… but really would rather go and get their teeth pulled than paint a bunch of figures.

 

So for me this is welcoming news. If you would have asked me last week what miniatures company I would like to see producing a line of pre-painted mini's - then you can bet your life I would have said Reaper (but I would have no real hope of such a thing coming to fruition). Lets face it.. Reaper do some great stuff, and if their plastics are even half as detailed as some of their metal figures then they will be a lot better than some of the exiting pre-paints :)

 

For me, it all hinges on the quality of the paint job (which can't really be much worse most of what's already out there) and the selling price.

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Could this all be caused by a fear of change? I think so.

 

Everyone's thoughts on the subject are very interesting. If anything, Reaper understands how much everyone loves the metal miniatures and how they will be warm to the PPM if they are done right.

 

Yet, this reminds me of some feelings I had back in the early 90's about another hobby I had—a hobby that was actually becoming my career. The industry was photography. I had spent half a decade learning photography and dark room skills. Then, the future was in front of us and the digital age was going to replace film. I didn't want to hear it. How can you take pictures with out film? I refused to think it would change. There was something cool and fun about loading film into a camera. The sense of accomplishment when you developed the film and burned the images into photo paper in the dark room was the true joy. Even the aroma of the silver nitrate chemicals became a enjoyed smell. Yet, within a few years, film was disappearing--like the 8-track and cassette tapes. And even though film was still better than digital for another 10 years, it was hard to accept the change. Now, I look at digital photography and there are so many things you can do with it.

 

Not to say that PPM will turn metal miniatures into the 8-track of the gaming world. We have had PPM for a decade and that hasn't stopped legions of faithful miniature painters. And metal miniatures have not disappeared. It’s a hobby and as long as there is a demand for it, it will survive. Just like model kits. In an age where manufactured replicas can look better than anything, there is still a loyal hobby base for building kits. I'd rather build a kit, as again, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment when I am done with one.

 

Now one last example on the fear of change: I had a fear that e-books and palm pilots would kill the book industry a few years back. I saw a bunch of new companies aggressively scanning and coding books for the e-market. I thought it would be like today’s MP3 player and iPod market. Why not take 10 or 20 books inside a small electronic device with them everywhere they went? Yet, there's something about the pages in between your fingers. There's something about the smell of the printed paper. The physical presence of a book beat the e-format. Yes, you can still read books electronically but people prefer paper books. And people will prefer metal miniatures.

 

What’s the chance that the PPM is paint over resin? Resin miniatures look good--ala Flames of War.

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Could this all be caused by a fear of change? I think so.

 

 

What’s the chance that the PPM is paint over resin? Resin miniatures look good--ala Flames of War.

 

I suspect the chance of them being resin is extremely low, otherwise they would have said resin instead of plastic. There was quite the discussion about a move to resin in place of metal in another thread, which interestingly enough had a number of posts about how it would be more cost effective to go to resin in place of metal with not nearly the animosity exhibited in this thread about it.

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The financial resources involved in producing plastic, pre-painted miniatures have to come from somewhere. I realize you can't give us a full disclosure of your company's financial situation but how is it exactly that you're going to introduce not just a new product line but a new product line that requires a whole new manufacturing resource without diverting funds once spent on metal mini production? And if you do divert those funds, how does that not impact metal mini production?

 

Have you considered Hasbro's reaction to this? If you start to pull significant numbers of fans away from them and they release DDMs as non-random "boosters", including statcards etc. (and I guarentee they won't sit back and let it go without a fight), and the fanboys go running back to mama WotC, what then? Where does that leave you? Where does that leave us (fans of Reaper's stellar metal minis). Moreover if these things are hugely successful, if you're selling the painted plastic at 3x the rate of unpainted metal, economic reality has got to tell you "well, that's where the money is, sorry unpainted metal mini fans".

 

 

 

Speaking of, have you taken a look at the history of MageKnight? Fuh.

 

Oh and a nuts-and-bolts question: what kind of plastic are you guys talking about, exactly? That same chintzy rubberized garbage hasbro uses? Or something with a little more body to it?

 

I want to think this is a good thing, Matt, but I just don't see it. Either it tanks and takes Reaper down the hole (which means the best minis in the world disappear) or it's hugely successful and you guys just quit making metal minis (meaning the best minis in the world disappear).

 

Oh, and SaintRigger said this:

 

 

 

Everyone's jumping to conclusions and no one knows anything yet.

 

1) Mage Knight precisely because it WAS collectible, and Wizkids drastically changed the rules for 2.0, making everyone's rares and existing collections worthless. That's what killed it. Not plastics. They PO'd the fans, and like collectible game, it eventually died out. Reaper is making Skeletons, and Orcs to start. Skeletons and Orcs aren't going away. They will always be useful, to everyone in nearly any wargame or system

 

2) If plastics WERE cheaper than metals in every case, then GW would have switched entirely to plastics long ago! But they haven't. Plastics are great for things where you need lots of figures, like Skeleton hordes. You don't buy 20 wizards at once, but you do tend to buy a horde of skeletons. And plastics are only economically cheaper for things that you are going to produce a lot of, like hordes of spiders, goblins, orcs, skeletons, etc. They're not gonna sell 20 packs or wizards, or theifs, or 20 PCs, etc.

 

3) Wotc may come back with non-blind releases for grunts, or may not. But they've set themselves up as a Mageknight. They really can't offer "Ultra-Rare" monsters for purchase by everyone w/o ticking off existing fans. Also, Reaper is targeting the wargames market as well. So it's likely these figs will come pre-painted with square bases, not round like WOTC. This is a minor but big difference. No one is going to buy 20 orcs from WOTC, and saw off and glue them to square bases for use in Warlord or WHFB, or some other games, when Reaper will sell them ready to go.

 

So will everyone stop predicting gloom and doom?

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The financial resources involved in producing plastic, pre-painted miniatures have to come from somewhere. I realize you can't give us a full disclosure of your company's financial situation but how is it exactly that you're going to introduce not just a new product line but a new product line that requires a whole new manufacturing resource without diverting funds once spent on metal mini production? And if you do divert those funds, how does that not impact metal mini production?

 

Have you considered Hasbro's reaction to this? If you start to pull significant numbers of fans away from them and they release DDMs as non-random "boosters", including statcards etc. (and I guarentee they won't sit back and let it go without a fight), and the fanboys go running back to mama WotC, what then? Where does that leave you? Where does that leave us (fans of Reaper's stellar metal minis). Moreover if these things are hugely successful, if you're selling the painted plastic at 3x the rate of unpainted metal, economic reality has got to tell you "well, that's where the money is, sorry unpainted metal mini fans".

 

 

 

Speaking of, have you taken a look at the history of MageKnight? Fuh.

 

Oh and a nuts-and-bolts question: what kind of plastic are you guys talking about, exactly? That same chintzy rubberized garbage hasbro uses? Or something with a little more body to it?

 

I want to think this is a good thing, Matt, but I just don't see it. Either it tanks and takes Reaper down the hole (which means the best minis in the world disappear) or it's hugely successful and you guys just quit making metal minis (meaning the best minis in the world disappear).

 

Oh, and SaintRigger said this:

 

 

 

Everyone's jumping to conclusions and no one knows anything yet.

 

1) Mage Knight precisely because it WAS collectible, and Wizkids drastically changed the rules for 2.0, making everyone's rares and existing collections worthless. That's what killed it. Not plastics. They PO'd the fans, and like collectible game, it eventually died out. Reaper is making Skeletons, and Orcs to start. Skeletons and Orcs aren't going away. They will always be useful, to everyone in nearly any wargame or system

 

2) If plastics WERE cheaper than metals in every case, then GW would have switched entirely to plastics long ago! But they haven't. Plastics are great for things where you need lots of figures, like Skeleton hordes. You don't buy 20 wizards at once, but you do tend to buy a horde of skeletons. And plastics are only economically cheaper for things that you are going to produce a lot of, like hordes of spiders, goblins, orcs, skeletons, etc. They're not gonna sell 20 packs or wizards, or theifs, or 20 PCs, etc.

 

3) Wotc may come back with non-blind releases for grunts, or may not. But they've set themselves up as a Mageknight. They really can't offer "Ultra-Rare" monsters for purchase by everyone w/o ticking off existing fans. Also, Reaper is targeting the wargames market as well. So it's likely these figs will come pre-painted with square bases, not round like WOTC. This is a minor but big difference. No one is going to buy 20 orcs from WOTC, and saw off and glue them to square bases for use in Warlord or WHFB, or some other games, when Reaper will sell them ready to go.

 

So will everyone stop predicting gloom and doom?

 

 

Good post. You know another thing is distance people live apart from other gamers. All you have to do is read the boards to find people having trouble to find other people to play with.

 

I have thought about trying out Warlord. I like Scifi but my wife likes fantasy she is pretty much the only person I have to play with. Now do you guys think I want to go buy and paint a couple of $100 worth of minis take the time to paint them only to find out she doesn't like the rule set? Of course I don't want to take that risk. Now if I could pick up a bunch of minis cheap and not have to take the time to paint them then I would take the risk. To me the whole point of this game is to lower the cost of entry into the hoby. Which should make everyone happy. Heck if I could get my wife interested in playing maybe she would paint all these minis I have.

 

I honestly do not undertand why people feel threatend by these. All it is going to do is mean more new players. The biggest complaint I have seen is "I paid all this money for metal minis" Great for you. Now wouldn't it be great if you had more new people to play with that is what you are about to get. I will promise you this the minis will not look as good as the ones most of you can paint themselfs but that isn't the point

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I honestly do not undertand why people feel threatend by these. All it is going to do is mean more new players. The biggest complaint I have seen is "I paid all this money for metal minis" Great for you. Now wouldn't it be great if you had more new people to play with that is what you are about to get.

 

Exactly. I love painting my minis, but I also love playing. If Reaper wants to make my job of recruiting new players easier by introducing a pre-painted line, I say go for it.

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I think this is great news. I mean, like a lot of people, I enjoy painting metal. But being able to buy packs of baddies ready to go is a great idea. If anything, because I like Reaper's more "classical" style over WOTCs. (I still don't think they've done a pointy hatted wizard) And I also like Reaper's scale.

 

But the question burning in my mind, is "will they have broccoli bases?" :rolleyes:

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I honestly do not undertand why people feel threatend by these. All it is going to do is mean more new players. The biggest complaint I have seen is "I paid all this money for metal minis" Great for you. Now wouldn't it be great if you had more new people to play with that is what you are about to get. I will promise you this the minis will not look as good as the ones most of you can paint themselfs but that isn't the point

And I will be surfing e-bay for all the unpainted metal minis that go up for sale after they decide to give up on the figs they will never paint and go with the pre-painted figs.......

 

Seriously, while the painter side of me does cringe at the idea of pre-painted minis, the logical, gamer side realizes that not every gamer is a painter. I don't see the painters being willing to settle for pre-paints, and I can't imagine Reaper ever giving up on metal. I have had many great battles with unpainted armies. I don't see why I can't have more against pre-painted minis. They will just make my painted metal figs look that much better (and they need all the help they can get!)

 

Castlebuilder

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Just a quick reply to address the painting issue, since I *am* a painter and all--

 

Guys, miniature painting is not going away. In fact, fantasy/sci-fi miniature painting is stronger now than it has ever been! Not only do you have GW still doing well enough to stay afloat with a major presence, but you've got a bunch of other companies, Reaper among them, which were one of the mainstays carrying the slumpy gaming industry through the last couple years. Every Con that does a Paint 'n' Take, it overflows. Every year at every convention I go to there are not only my old crowd of painter friends, but an incredible number of folks new to the hobby or looking to get back into it after a long hiatus. Every year at cons with painting classes we hear calls of "More classes, more classes!" We sell Learn to Paint kits so fast I can barely keep up making the paint for 'em! Kids are getting into miniatures out of MK or D&D or even fantasy movies that made 'em think these fantasy minis were way cool. Existing gamers are getting more into the painting side as a relaxing hobby that exists apart from the frenzy of trying to finish that army on time for the tourney.

 

For me, pre-painteds are a tool which exists completely outside of my genre. These things aren't there to appeal to me as a painter (apart from any decent sculpts which may show up, like the giant clicky Cthulhu--boy did I ever want to paint that!!). These things are there so I can buy a cheap box of orcs for my D&D game on Saturday so I don't have to be the chump GM using dice for monsters (again!)! Saying that pre-painteds are going to be the death of the painting of metal minis is crazy talk. To me, that's akin to saying that robo-pets are going to destroy my desire to have a real cat or dog. And by taking personal joy in the painting of my own armies or warbands or fighting companies, I'll get a few more people into it--maybe not all of 'em, or even most of 'em, but you'd be surprised.

 

Anyhoo, as many people before me have already said, and said well--as painters, and as people who love the hobby side of gaming as much as the rules side, the point is not to waste our energy on growling at the pre-painted plastics. The point is to use our energy to get more people into our own wonderful hobby, so that it never *does* disappear.

 

--Anne ::):

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Well, let me say this: I never gave minis a thought before the D&D Minis game came out...and I've been playing D&D since the late 80s. After DDM came out, I quickly got a love for using minis in my games. But after a little while I got tired of the whole rare, common, uncommon setup, and I got interested in other options...namely the big Reaper display at my FLGS.

 

Once I realized "hey, I can paint", I realized I could have my cake and eat it too. Now, my lovingly painted, but one-of-a-kind Reaper metals do battle with mass-produced gangs of orcs, gobs, trogs, skels etc.

 

It's all good.

 

Point of the story: Mass produced plastic can lead to love for painting metal. I can't be the only guy who discovers painting this way.

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Painting is not going away for the same reasons folk art, quilting, knitting, and a hundred other anachronisms are not going away. People like it. Scrapbooking for example! With computers you never need to scrapbook again, except that it's fun a tactile and pretty and doesn't involve sitting at a computer getting RSI.

 

The only people I know who quit painting did so BECAUSE they'd burned out so badly painting masses of troops for WHFB that in the end they never wanted to see a paintbrush again... because in essence they couldn't enjoy wargaming and painting as two separate hobbies.

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The only people I know who quit painting did so BECAUSE they'd burned out so badly painting masses of troops for WHFB that in the end they never wanted to see a paintbrush again... because in essence they couldn't enjoy wargaming and painting as two separate hobbies.

That's exactly why I took an 8 year hiatus from painting and wargaming. The PPMs will help on both accounts.

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Some simple business answers completely unrelated to any actual knowledge of Reaper's finances, business structure, or internal workings:

 

Zero sum game: For me to have something, I must take it from someone else. For Reaper to produce plastics they must stop producing metals.

 

Plus sum game: If I trade fairly with someone we can both be richer. Reaper could put its expertise into a new line and expand the WHOLE business at once.

 

 

Where will capital come from? Depends. Could come from Reaper, could come from a new business partner, could come from a financier. Most companies borrow at least some money, and often lots, at some point. Interest rates are pretty good in the US, so why not? Maybe Reaper have saved up a nice big pot and want to invest it in a whole new business. Who knows? There's a LOT of options.

 

Where will the man-hours (please, feminists, I don't know a gender neutral word for it! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! *sobs* ) come from? Well, Reaper could squeeze its staff harder, hire on one or two or a dozen new staff, or the hours could come from a new partner, or most of the work Reaper needs to do might already be done, or Reaper may be portioning out small amounts of time (two days a month, say) to devote to the new project. Hence only Orcs and Skeletons at first.

 

Where will the factory hours come from? It seems very likely that Reaper will be using a new partner with existing facilities- it's not like plastic moulding is a black art.

 

Why does Reaper think that they will succeed using plastic as a material when company X used the same material and went out of business? The same reason they have succeeded using metal as a material when almost every miniature company in business when Reaper started has died horribly- some more than once- and almost every metal miniatures company started since has also died. Because it's business nouse that matters, not the material.

 

But this new line won't be made in my home country! The other lines still will. Unless, like me, and everyone who buys Reaper in the UK, Europe, Australia, Singapore, etc, none of Reaper's product comes from your home country, in which case who cares? They are all gaijin foreign devils anyway!

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Wow.

 

I just caught this news via Tabletopgamingnews.com.

 

I'm stoked. In fact I started a thread about this very thing last August:

 

http://www.reapermini.com/forum/index.php?...&pid=337143

 

I started getting into Warlord about 1-1/2 years ago, but couldn't find much time to paint so - consequently - never played the game much. (Yes, I know you CAN play with unpainted minis, I just don't WANT to play with unpainted minis).

 

I pretty much wasn't gaming at all. I'm married and have a 2 year old and we're busy with a lot of other things, so my gaming time is limited. My take is I would rather spend what gaming time I do have PLAYING a game as oppposed to PREPARING to play a game (i.e. assembling, painting, etc).

 

So, I went to games like Heroclix, D&D Minis and Star Wars Minis and, more recently, AT-43 and have been having a blast PLAYING.

 

So, then I read Reaper is getting into pre-painted plastics. I'm ecstatic! This is fabulous news for me! Way to go Reaper! Legendary Encounters sounds awesome, but how about tossing in a few Warlord pre-painted boxed sets? That'd really rock.

 

Jeff

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