This is the first and most obvious target for gaming on the run; I suspect most wargamers spend a lot more time painting their figures than playing with them. I used to paint when fellow gamers were not available, but now that this doesn’t happen anyway, I’ve decided I may as well use the time for solo gaming. Thus, the painting has got to go; but unpainted figures lack visual appeal.
I’ve already decided that I will game in 15mm, 25mm or 28mm, as they fit the available space and my skirmish gaming bent. My lady wife draws the line at the idea of my paying someone to paint figures for me, and much as I love gaming, I love her more, so I shall respect her wishes. Besides, it’s awfully cold in the garden shed at this time of year.
This leads me to look at what is easily available in the pre-painted arena. Other factors in consideration are that soft plastic stands up well under abuse from small, excited fingers; it would be nice to mix and match across ranges; and I like to choose what I’m getting rather than take pot luck with random booster packs. As previously stated, it turns out cost is not an issue, due to the small numbers of figures I actually need. (I’m also toying with the idea of using card counters for RPG mooks, minions or extras, to give a quick visual cue on how tough foes are, and reduce the amount of space and money allocated to figures. However, counters are a separate topic for another post.)
Half an hour of surfing reveals I can basically forget any scale outside of 25-35mm, and narrows the available choices to those below.
Any paint job that looks right from arm’s length is good enough for my purposes, and for 28mm figures is equivalent to viewing a real person at 40 yards or so away, at which range a lot of detail starts to become invisible.
em4 Miniatures: Cover a wide range of genres, metal, about 28-30mm high, better painted than I can do myself, £12 for 5 so about £2.40 each. Easy to see which figures you are buying.
Rackham: Confrontation (fantasy) and AT-43 (SF). Hard plastic, 35mm high on a 30mm base, very nicely painted. £16-£20 or so for 6 basic troopers, so about £3 each. Very pretty, but the 30mm bases would be a problem for storage and for use on a 1″ = 5′ grid, which I often use; so reluctantly ruled out.
Reaper: Legendary Encounters fantasy range, soft plastic, billed as 25mm but probably 30mm to match D&D miniatures, nicely painted. I have yet to find anyone who sells them in the UK, though judging by the US prices they would be in the region of £2 to £3 each.
WotC: D&D fantasy, Star Wars SF, Heroscape many genres. Soft plastic. Height varies quite a bit – looking at the D&D 3.5 basic set I bought a few years ago, Regdar is nearly 35mm tall even crouching; Aramil is 28mm fully erect. I can paint better than the early ones, though I hear the quality is improving. Cost varies between £1 and £2 per figure if you use all of them, I reckon I use half or less so effectively about £3 per miniature.
World of Warcraft Miniatures: Fantasy, billed as 40mm high (so my guess is at least 45mm in reality), probably plastic, paint jobs look reasonable, work out at about £2.50 per figure if you use all of them, with my usual “only use half” CMG rule of thumb that’s about £5 per figure. These are ruled out on size grounds as they will be too big both for my figure case and for the 1″ grid.
So, it looks like a mixture of em4 and WotC is the way to go for painted figures. One quick raid on the piggybank later…