Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pennies from Heaven

About five years ago I used to dream of having my own small lead figure business, a little family run affair where I could sculpt and sell my own figures and earn an honest crust. My dreams were crushed about a year ago with the appearance of the plastics on the scene. My little fairytale turned into a nightmare as I watched all my figure ranges being undercut by big companies and their new plastic ranges, selling at half the price of mine. Struggling to keep up with the plastic take over I was forced to bow out and sell my fledgling company. Of course this was all a fantasy, but I no longer wish I was a figure company in today's market.

Although I have to say I am delighted to see the plastics and their new prices from a collectors point of view. My wake up call came when I went to buy some a pack of three pack ponies from Foundry, they were charging £11 for the ponies and £8 for the post and packaging! £19 for three bloody ponies! Things had to change, the average gamer with his wife and kids couldn't keep up with this kind of robbery.

Now is a good time to be a collector as the larger companies start to strike back against the plastic movement. Warlord Games have had great success with there Roman and Celt plastics and they are very good, but other figure companies must have felt the drop in sales as Warlord figures stole their market.

The war has truly begun now, as Warlord games prepare to launch their new plastic English Civil war range, Renegade Miniatures have released their Regiment deals. 24 metal figures for £11.95!!! "The quality of metal for the price of some Plastics!" Well, I almost fell out of my chair. At these crazy prices they will steal Warlords thunder and throw a bucket of water over their fireworks. Things had to change, the prices of figures had got out of control and now I suppose we are seeing the long awaited fall out.
What a joyous time to be a collector! I scamper out like a cockroach from under the ruins and devastation and clean up amongst the fighting giants. Price War....what is it good for?....well, about two cheap armies actually.

I have always liked Renegade's Civil War ranges but couldn't really spare the money, now they are giving them away and I recommend anyone interested in the era to go there and have a look.

26 comments:

BigRedBat said...

So you are going ECW? Most of my mates have decided to build armies this year for ECW. I've resisted so far, becuase I have soooo many ancients to paint... but that Renegade offer is fantastic. The Perrys look great, if perhaps on the small side.

BTW the Renegade celtic chariots are quite nice for £6, although I find the horses too large.

Almost Anonymous said...

After a couple of years of almost-orders, I finally put in an order for some Renegade Warring States Chinese.

The price was right, and the sculpting and proportions look good, although I'm not sure how they'll look alongside my motley force of John Jenkins and Curtey's Chinese, nor against my converted hordes of Foundry and other ex-Pict, ex-African, and ex-Aztec tribals ...

Almost Anonymous said...

@Secundus: One niche market that I can think of would be separate heads for use in conversions. Yes, Westwind [?] and Amazon/QT sell some, but they tend to be limited to the ranges that they already sell. Of course, the niche market might easily be squashed by one of the bigger players ...

Andrew said...

I'd really be interested in seeing 28mm plastic's affect on sales in specific numbers. Can we hire ninjas to steal papers from all the major mini producers and see how their bottom line changed?

My suspicion has been that the new 28mm plastics really haven't caused a problem to metal manufacturers. Don't most gamers/collectors prefer metal over plastic? And haven't low-priced metal miniatures been available all this time? For example, Old Glory Miniatures' prices are comparable to Warlord's plastics.

As for me, I'm unaffected by the advent of 28mm plastic all together—my armies are 1/72 plastic! When buying 28mm for collecting and painting I'll stick to metal!

Sire Godefroy said...

Lucky you, for us Continentals (and American fellows) there is a serious set-back with Renegade because of that ridiculous postage ratings (30%, at least £7.50). Sometimes I can't believe the UK being a member of the European Union...

However, I would like to see you joining the 17th century - as with the advent of Warlord's range my own TYW-project will be unleashed.

Good luck!

Almost Anonymous said...

Renegade postage is now 40% to North America - it may be best to arrange with a contact in the UK to take delivery of the order and reship it at a more reasonable rate ...

Secundus said...

I think the plastics must have had some sort of effect on the industry to see the likes of Renegade dropping their prices so low and comparing them to plastic prices. I think the main problem is that the plastic moulding process has improved ten fold, now the quality of plastic figures rivals that of metal and a lot of people are releasing it.

An army of hundreds of fine sculpted figures can be bought for half the price in plastic. We are at the dawn of the plastic era I think and will only see more and better products. I have to say as a collector this is great, we can only profit by this. We will get excellent plastics at low prices or competing metals at knock down prices, it's a win win situation I think.

BigRedBat said...

I may be a grumpy old conservative but I've not bought any of the plastics yet.

This is largely because the Perry and Warlord stuff is smaller than I like to paint, and doesn't fit with my existing ancients armies. Also, the poses Warlord use don't lend themselves to fitting figures on a base in the quantities I like. I've not liked anything from Wargames Factory, yet.

I'm not fundamentally against plastics, it's just that no one has delivered what I want yet.

I've always wanted a little wargames business of my own, too...

Secundus said...

I know it would be nice wouldn't it. It's all pie in the sky for me but I have planned out what ranges I would attempt and little tricks that might see me exploit the market. Funny enough, all my little schemes I have seen come to life within Crusader Miniatures, with their Rank and file ranges. Also producing Commands for different periods in history I think would be a winner (see Crusader again for that one).

Aussie Pleader said...

Re ECW - that is really cool. I have been interested in that period for decades, never yet taken the leap though. Perhaps over the next couple years?

Re the manufacturers' wars. I guess that's really good as it will make things affordable again for more people which must be good for the gamer community. The sad thing, if the plastics take off, is that the margins of the small manufacturers of figures will be hit hard perhaps leading to a decline in variety.

Secundus said...

I know what you mean. I was put in my place a little while back on the blog when I suggested that all companies will be jumping on the plastics band wagon, with the fact that the new equipment and moulds to cater for the plastics cost a fortune, with small family companies not being able to afford them. I guess It will be the big boys in the industry leading the way for a while. I wonder how It will effect smaller companies like New line Design etc.

BigRedBat said...

I think Newline already sold up their ancients range!

We'll have to see how the manufacturers do. Wargames Factory keep coming up with products I don't like... and Warlord Games only make figures that are too small for me so I don't have one plastic 28mm mini, yet.

Re niches, my experiences with eBay would tempt me to make a range of Generals, personality figures and artillerymen, and sell them at a premium! Actually the latter might be quite saleable, as there is a dearth of figures involved in poses for sieges.

Chris Tregenza said...

Just a quick note to let you know I've included this post in my round-up of the week's best gaming posts

Secundus said...

Wow, thankyou for the 'best gaming post', I think the pictures help lol.

As for Newline Design selling up their ancient range, I can't believe it. I'll go there now and have a look around. They were great for low prices and I have huge numbers of their cavalry throughout my armies.

I always liked their ranges, for I saw them as one of the little guys in the Industry and I will always support the under dog.
If they've sold up then things are moving quicker than I thought.

BigRedBat said...

Newline's problem was their marketing. They never had decent photos up.

Secundus, I have 20 or so Newline minis that I won't use (Celts, Romans etc), any use to you?

Secundus said...

I know what you mean about the photos on their web site, I used to grab a bag or two of their stuff when I went to Salute, So I got to have a close look at it first hand. Not the best sculpted figures but quite cheap.

Thanks for the offer of figures BRB but the truth is I have so many figures laying around in boxes at the moment my house has started to subside. Thanks though, that was a really kind offer.

I have two armies of English Civil war Minis on their way to me as I speak and I have to find room for them somewhere.

BigRedBat said...

Hi Secundus, I made my saving role; no ECW for me! I rather think Polemarch will be my purchase, this spring.

Secundus said...

I know they do look great don't they. You'll have to pace yourself...may be a unit a month or something, because it looks like they're bringing out hundreds of figures for the range. The problem is they all look fantastic, so once you start collecting, you'll be carried away. It's a shame they not having the same bargin deal as Renegade...who knows if you wait five years lol.

BigRedBat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BigRedBat said...

They are a real must for me, becuase my second passion (after Romans) is the Hellenistic Greek period, which has been poorly served until now in bigger 28s.

I have quite a lot of unpainted Foundry and Crusader stuff; the new releases will hopefully give me the momentum to get everything painted...

GB give me 10% off because I'm an SOA member (worth joining for this alone, as it only costs £20 PA), and I'll put an order in for collection at Salute, to save on postage. I don't mind spending 90p on a really nice mini! I don't plan to buy hundreds, but will certainly by dozens...

Keir said...

Secundus,

I've just come into some pin money and I was wondering what you'd recommend ordering for an army of these fellows? Like what, 3 regiments of foot and 2 of horse? I have the WHW ECW rules but I'm not sure what system I'd use for ECW at this point. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Keir

BigRedBat said...

Hi, Keir, I'm not Secundus, but I recently printed and read these rules which looked very accessible:

http://www.quindia.com/studioart12.htm

Cheers, Simon

Secundus said...

Hello Keir, I know what you mean, It's really quite scary when starting a new era in war gaming. I am trawling through ECW books at the moment and finding out new things every day (about cavalry at the moment)

The place I started was to go and have a look at the army deals on the Wargames Foundry website. I have decided that I am going for the early rather than later armies(Royalist). I wouldn't pay the Foundry prices but It's a nice starting place to see what someone else has done, I think they are 1000pts in Warhammer terms.
I am approaching this project without my normal self pressure by calling myself a painter and collecter rather than a gammer. This will help me in those dark hours when I start getting swamped by waves of lead soldiers. Trying to hurry through regiments so I could use them for a campaign got too much for me. Painting figures and deadlines don't make good bed fellows.

Anyway where was I.... Oh yes, After looking at the Foundry army deals for a feel of an ECW army, I started to make some choices. Their Early Royalist army has 4 cavalry units,1 Dragoon unit and 4 Regiments of foote. It also has a sniper, the king himself, 2 light guns and 2 field guns. For me this is a good start.

I like the way that all the regiments are slightly different strengths eg; 24 figures, 32 figures etc. So I might take this and use it in my own forces. Being early in the war the pike and musket ratio is quite evenly mixed (less so later in the war).

I will be building an army of 4 cavalry units and to start with 4 Regiments of foote. I have given some thought on how to make painting them enjoyable and easy for me. I will paint them in twelves. first I will paint 12 musketeers, then 12 pikemen then 12 musketeers again. So my units will have 12 pikemen in the centre flanked by 24 musketeers. As i said earier I may vary these slightly to give character. I have ordered and recieved a whole bunch of ECW flags from Repro Flags (Essex Miniatures sell them on-line). My troops coat colours will be based opon the the Regiments for which I have banners for, which in itself is a lot of enjoyable research.

Bicorn Miniatures do some excellent ECW characters and figures for the era, but are quite exspensive (£9 for three cavalry). I may buy a few packs in the future. I recommend them for your Generals and characters, have a look, they're very nice.

I hope my very long winded ramble has been of some use, It is all new to me at the moment too and I'm still feeling the way myself.

This is my plan for my own ECW armies this year and I hope it helps.

P.s I will be using the Warhammer rules for ECW when I'm ready to play......in five years lol.

Secundus said...

Keir, I would suggest you add another Regiment of foote to your plan and make it 4 foote, 2 horse as a starting point. After that add some more horse units, maybe a Dragoon unit (best of both worlds there).

Keir said...

Thanks to you both for taking the time to give me a bit of advice. I sent away for those rules today and I think I'll do the miniature purchase tonight.

Cheers,

Keir

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