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.