Friday, 12 November 2010

Some thoughts.....smurf like musings if you will

Ok, so we live in exciting times for our hobby. Lots of things seem to be occurring all at once and the quality of it all only seems to be getting better. Although gamesday was a massive disappointment for me, I was able to take a look at the miniature design stall and glimpse into the tech they use to create our wonderful models. Needless to say, its all very impressive.

However, we get the odd slip up every now and again with the likes of the plastic minotaurs and the new stormraven but this is to be expected. The eb and flow of life seems to dictate this pattern in all things. Remaining on the hobby, take a look at the new dark eldar. They are all great models and most people seem to agree. Then we get a sneak look at the stormraven, not so good. Skaven range....great, plastic minotaurs.....oh dear. To coin a popular phrase, its all swings and roundabouts and we should expect this. However, in fairness, the amount of disappointing models is definitely on the decrease but this maybe having a disproportionate effect on our opinions.

Consider this, GW releases a range of new models (lets say beastmen) and the majority of them are really nice. Unfortunately, two kits are really horrible and that ruins the whole range. This is enough to put me off collecting this range of miniatures and I ask myself, and you guys, why?

Is it because this occurs so rarely these days that we expect all the products to be at least acceptable? When one or two kits fail our expectations, it disappoints us as customers to the extent that we cannot see past these failures and instead enjoy the majority of the range. With all the advancements in technology and the seemingly unmoveable price tags do we now expect so much more, whereas before we could excuse the bad models on account of the fact that they had been largely sculpted by human hands without the aid of computers and lasers. We said to ourselves, well I couldn't do any better so its not too bad?

Could it be that in years gone by most ranges of models were actually (compared to todays standards) pretty bad but we put up with them because we didnt know any better? You can see this in some of the plastic kits that are still around today. For instance, the plastic catachans and the plastic marauders are getting on a bit now and they are both pretty horrible kits. However, I remember when they were released that my opinion was 'wow plastic guardsmen for the first time, awesome!' Or 'chaos models that actually rank up...sweet!' As things get better and standards are raised our perspectives and priorities change. We were grateful before just to have 'affordable' models to use as plastics were still fairly uncommon. As the years have gone by the opposite has occurred and suddenly its all about the quality, because the price range hasn't gotten better.

The final point that I would like to consider is a strange one and it seems to crop up in my opinion forming of new models an awful lot. It concerns GW's advertisement of new products through white dwarf and the web. There have been a number of model kits that have initially put me off big time because they have been painted or positioned badly by GW. Examples include: the ork stompa, the ork nobz box, the imperial guard command squads and the ork deff dread. All of these kits I now love.

My point is that GW just don't seem to put effort into advertising the hobby possibilities of their kits anymore. I remember a particularly special white dwarf (for me personally as it was my second ever issue aged 12) which featured the release of the plastic khorne berzerkers. There were large sections of the issue dedicated to the conversion of these models both big and small in scale. Head swaps, arm replacements, simple body positioning techniques and complete limb repositioning. Also the issue featured a number of different paint schemes and examples of what people in the studio had done with the kit. For me as a 12 year old and new to the hobby, it was inspirational stuff, and as a result of the issue, I saved up my pocket money for 3 weeks so I could buy a box and then spent a week trying to replicate the conversions shown in the issue.

Now we get a 2 page spread if you are lucky and a whole load of pictures of the same eavy metal models fighting different foes in different terrain types. The plasitc ork nobz box is, in my opinion, one of the best plastic kits GW have ever done. There is so much variety in that kit its unbelievable. I have purchased 6 boxes so far for my various ork projects. Yet the white dwarf coverage consisted of a page showing 5 very static, very boring goff nobz and a snake bite with a big choppa. I mean the big choppas are the best thing about the kit?! Where was the variety? Where was the hobby and conversion advice? Where was the enthusiasm for advertising the variety and versatility of an excellent kit! The only reason I bought a box was because I needed some nobz for a tournament and i couldn't get hold of the old metal box in time so I bit the bullet and reasoned that I could probably convert them.

I guess my point here is that GW have obviously lost the incentive to advertise the quality of their kits. Maybe they are so confident in the quality that they feel they don't need to anymore as we expect a high level of detail and variety?! I don't know. However, it seems that kits that initially make you react badly on the whole seem to surprise you when you actually look at them 'in the flesh'. Maybe the stormraven will do the same? Only time and a little courage will tell.


  1. I like your ramblings Smurf - there is a lot of sense in what you are saying. The Ork Nob box is probably the most obvious marketing issue you raised. The models built and displayed on the front and rear of the packaging are plain and boring, not that far removed from the Black Reach snap fits. Yet when you build them, you get so many awesome bits and pieces, none of which you would be aware off if you haven't already seen the kit. I know I wasn't until I rummaged through a mates bitz box and kept asking where these cool bitz had come from - the Nob kit being the answer, which i was unable to visually reconcile with the boxed images.

    WD has gotten better at displaying the bitz in a box in the frame contents shots, and the last few major releases have ad 'eavy metal kit bashing content.

    Although I still reminisce about the Land Raider launch edition which had the go to wo how we design, sculpt, manufacture, build and paint a land raider, inlcuding showing its versatility with other bits etc. It was a 2 edition spread featuring Jes and Tim and was supported with an overview of the older space wolf plastic kits.

    So in summary, I totally get what you're saying.

  2. One thing I really miss about white dwarf is the amateur content. The would display the armies of the members of the editorial team and often peoples own armies would feature in the battle reports. You really got to glean a lot of inspiration from viewing what other people had done. Especially when there wasn't that much variety in models and so the conversions were often essential to field field certain units.

    Nowadays it seems like a model cannot be featured in white dwarf unless it is painted by the eavy metal team. Every battle report features the studio army, which is almost always limited to what they have painted and so the armies end up being crap.

    I put this to the eavy metal team at gamesday and the response was that they had to display their models in the best possible light by using the best miniature painters in the world. I disagree, I think they are alienating a lot of their customers and would do much better showing us what the average joe modeler can achieve.

    Bring back the old days...thats what I say

  3. oh and rogue pom, I completely hear you on the landraider issue. That kicked major ass! Ill never forget that picture with the landraider coming over the hill and the orks just standing in front of it. You could almost smell the fear!

  4. Which is what pulled you and I into the hobby. The models are secondary really, the universe comes first and advertising too much in the same way kills that off.

    I still have my old army books and codices. Brilliant things they were too. It's not always progress eh?

  5. The latest wd's make me cry a little inside. There are some amazing bitz in many kits (and yes, a small horde of ugly models ripe for conversions), but the wd's I see no-longer have conversion-minded articles of any quality.

  6. Considering what we pay for minis these days and the brands that are competing with GW are putting wayyyyy more detail into their minis for cheaper, while GW has been doing this for 25+ years, I think that anytime they release a poor quality kit, they're dropping the ball and telling their fans that they don't care.

  7. I agree with most of that. Models do look much better in person than on paper but seeing them painted by professionals encourages me to paint better and try and achieve the same results.

    For example, the new Fire Prism. When I first saw it online I thought it looked rubbish. I hated the long barrel, the round turret and the vectored engines. However when I later saw one in the shop, painted by the shop staff, I was sold. It looked soooo sleak and Eldar. The long barrel seemed to be more fitting to the longer turret. I then immediately bought one.

    But when I came to paint it I did take some inspiration from the White Dwarf with the Night Spinner rules in it to highlight the pointy bits on the front and above the engines. The pro painted models gave me something to aim for.

    Also seeing two non-pro painted Fire Prisms in the battle report also made me think (when I later compared them to my painted model), 'I can paint better than somebody whos army got featured in a White Dwarf.' That gave me a lot of confidence.

    Anyway, good rant, makes me think.