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A most excellent adventure through time

So unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard about this Citadel Finecast business. That’s right, the days of pewter miniatures are numbered. Resin has been the weapon of choice for many small companies, Privateer Press showed it could work on a larger scale, and now GW has started dispensing the Kool-Aid through all their available media channels. I hope it’s cherry.

With a lot of people looking forward to the new setup, I find myself looking backwards. A couple weeks ago, OOTB hosted yet another bitz swap event at the gaming club. Tons of people showed up, lots of coin was raised to help support the summer’s tournament and — most importantly — Mark brought a bunch of awesome old stuff for guys like me to buy. Going through Mark’s collection is like taking a time machine for a spin. Lamasus sealed in the original box, Armorcast Titans, you name it and he’s got it.

Whether it's lead Dwarfs or 80's cinema, some things just get better with age.

It’s a little bizarre when you’re shopping for brand new Tomb Kings models one day and buying an old school Anvil of Doom and Throne of Power the next. Seriously, I have recently purchased Dwarfs that are as old as I am. And you know what the crazy part is? Many of them are actually better looking models than current ones!

You can’t deny that the changing technology has had a significant impact on the design, the pricing and the experience of working on these models. Plastic, lead, pewter and resin all handle differently and have their pros and cons. Softer materials like lead and resin can be easier to modify than modern pewter. Resin holds a lot of detail. It’s also prone to small bubbles and other casting defects. We all know and love plastic… easy to work with, but the casting technology limits the design in certain ways. Undercut is not an option, so textures are much more limited than with pewter or resin.

Assembly is a bit of a double-edged sword as well. Many people love the sheer volume of options and conversion possibilities that come with plastic, but there’s definitely something to be said for the old method of just having plenty of pewter variants to make a unit out of. For Fantasy, you knew that things would rank up properly because there was no way to build them wrong! And it sure as hell saves a lot of time when assembly just means gluing a dude to his base. People like me take positively forever to build a regiment of modern plastic models, let alone paint them.

This new “secret recipe” resin that GW is using sounds fairly promising, but I highly doubt that it’s the saviour of the universe, as GW would have us believe. It’s lightweight, which is great for large models, but  I’m sure you’ve all seen some of the many images floating around the web of badly miscast Finecast miniatures. That doesn’t mean you should write off the entire range, though. Not by any stretch, and I’m a little upset that so many people are falling for this. We’ve all had our share of mispacked or miscast miniatures in the past, and while miscasts are inevitable, GW seems to have taken steps to reduce mispacks. Many of the new Finecast minis are cast on a miniature sprue, which means you’re not likely to get a pack missing a head or with 2 left arms. From what I hear this was a bit of an issue with the Dark Eldar releases. Lots of tiny little spiky things that look exactly the same to a non-gamer who makes a crappy wage to stuff blister packs all day long.

So, while I don’t think this is as big of a deal as GW would have you believe, I do think that it’s a completely logical move for them. Resin is relatively cheap, lightweight, and their casting method will be less prone to mispacks. That should help them shave a bit of cost on shipping and returns/exchanges. And for the gamer, things work out pretty well. Your minis are a bit easier to build, they might break and chip less when dropped, etc. Once they start sculpting miniatures with resin casting in mind, I think we’ll really start to see the full benefits of the switch. The amount of detail seen in Forgeworld and other resin miniatures is pretty incredible, and I’m sure the GW sculptors will be able to pull off some incredible stuff that wouldn’t have been possible before.

I’m not going to bother trying to rationalize the price increase that we’re seeing on some of these new models. GW invests in technology to make things cheaper, and yet prices always go up a few percentage points. That’s just life, I guess.

As I’ve said before, I don’t mind paying Forgeworld prices for miniatures when the product is actually good enough to warrant it. In fact, I am getting more and more excited with each passing week for the Forgeworld/Warhammer Forge Chaos Dwarfs. It’s pretty insane when I think about it, but this fall (once I get some real progress on the Khemri army) I will probably be painting 1980’s pewter Dwarfs alongside 2011 resin Chaos Dwarfs.

It just goes to show you, everything is different but the same. Things are more moderner than before. Bigger and yet, smaller. It’s computers…

San Dimas High School football rules!


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