Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Watch this space

Well hello there.

Long time, no see, eh?

After a long hiatus, I've been painting again. Not playing many games, as life is so busy, but I grab a few minutes where I can to make progress on a collection of miniatures.

Which collection? 54mm Three Musketeers? 25mm Napoleonic Naval Boarding Actions? 20mm Star Wars?

Why no. None of the above.

You see, I'm taking a new tack, when it comes to miniatures. I have spent years collecting most everything that I take a fancy too. I have more miniatures than I can store, and far more than I'll ever paint. And don't get me started about terrain.

Actually, I take it back. Let's talk terrain. 'Cause the terrain is key to the whole decision I've made.

I've been spending time lately going through my collection, deciding which 80% (give or take) to sell, and which 10% to keep. When I started considering projects to keep, I focused first on the miniatures I liked the most. Sensible enough, sure. But quickly that turned into the polymorphous madness of scales and periods that put me right where I am today. And then I realized something key. I have almost no terrain for any of these projects. And terrain takes up a LOT of storage space, relative to figures.

So, what if I had a 54mm dock and ship, and a tavern, through and around which my Musketeers could fight their skirmishes? And a 20mm Mos Eisley? And 25mm islands and ships for my Horatio Hornblower battles? Not to mention 15mm Ancient camps and terrain. And 25mm Viking/Saxon huts and ships. And 25mm sci-fi Post Apoc / Necromunda terrain? Good grief. I'd need a dedicated storage space. Or a MUCH bigger house. And that's just silly.

So what then?

One scale. One scale would help a LOT. And a small scale at that.

For years, I've collected 25mm science fiction figures. I started with Rogue Trader characters and pirates, added Confrontation (not the Rackham game...the GW pre-cursor to Necromunda) figures, 2000 AD figures, Inquisition characters, most of the Necromunda line, and an assortment of others I've discovered in the "bits bin" of the local store over the years. At a guess, I'd say I have at least two hundred figures in this collection. Guess how many are painted? Maybe twenty.

And...here's another something to consider...these figures are collector's items anymore. Worth a few dollars.

I've also collected sci-fi figures in 6mm, 20mm and 15mm. See the pathological collector in action.

So which scale?

I like skirmish wargames. Not exclusively, but that's certainly where my preference lies, strongly. I like story-telling, reaction-based, solo-friendly games. Two Hour Wargames come to mind as the best known examples, but there are others. I like platoon-level games as well, commanding a reinforced platoon, maybe as much as a company, a squad at a time. My favorite rules for this, and (this is important) one my local friends play too, is Alien Squad Leader.

That rules out 6mm, in my opinion. The infantry is just too small to play character-based skirmish games with. 25mm works for those character-based games, duh, but the figures are so expensive, and the terrain is so large. And, my friends play Alien Squad Leader in 15mm.

15mm figures, especially sci-fi figures, have come a LONG way since I started collecting. A quick search turned up Khurasan, Rebel, 15mm.co.uk, Critical Mass and few others, and revealed that RAFM is now selling my favorite 15mm Traveller figures again. This last was quite a revelation, as I'd lost these from my collection years ago, and buying vintage Traveller figures was WAY, WAY EXPENSIVE just a couple of years ago, if you could find them at all on eBay and elsewhere.

And 15mm terrain is...well...tiny! About 1/8 the volume of the 25mm equivalent. And much, much faster for me to create, due to the relatively small detail.

And I can paint 15mm figures far faster than 25mm figures, while retaining a pleasing and characterful level of detail.

In the end, it came down to economy. Of storage space. Of time required to create and paint. Of money.

15mm it is.

Watch this space. More to come. I've been painting up critters, and robots and soldiers. They're coming.

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