Saturday, 10 August 2019

Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2016 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint

The third article in my ongoing look back over the years at my favourite miniature manufacturers, this particular period interestingly precedes my utter obsession with “Doctor Who” and his adventures through Time and Space, and instead clearly demonstrates an almost unhealthy preoccupation with comic book super-heroes; both those created by “Marvel Worldwide” and “DC Comics”. In addition, I was just starting out with the then highly-controversial fantasy-based world of “Age Of Sigmar” by “Games Workshop”, and surprisingly popular “Frostgrave” by “North Star Military Figures”…

No.10 (Joint) - "Black Tree Design" - "Doctor Who"
Predominantly pigmented simply because Yeti were quick to paint and I needed some figures to post reasonably quickly, this horde of half a dozen abominable snowmen was actually the second such time I had finished an assortment of the Great Intelligence’s automatons, having previously painted a sizeable batch when the sculpts were originally produced by "Harlequin Miniatures". Bemusingly, I did later add the animated gargoyle Bok to my overall tally, but other than that “Black Tree Design” simply hit my radar through necessity/quantity as opposed to a desire to actually game with its models.

No.10 (Joint) – “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio” - "7TV"
Building upon the back of a huge push during the previous year to paint up enough plant-infected humanoids with which to play a “Doctor Who And The Seeds Of Doom” flavoured game of “Zombicide”, as well as a similar desire to use “Guillotine Games” cooperative adventure board game to recreate Terry Nation’s world of “Blake’s Seven”, the only surprise concerning “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio” was that more miniatures from its coffers weren’t finished during the year. Disappointingly, this was undoubtedly due to my “Doctor Who” game never being fully realised, and the “Blake’s Seven” campaign, which was actually using the original “Space Hulk” missions as a basis”, was brought to an abrupt halt after just a couple of battle reports.

No.8 - "Irregular Miniatures" - "Star Trek"
Featuring in the very first of my (Lead) Mountain Musings, a themed monthly attempt to try and reduce my backlog of unpainted lead, plastic and resin, this assortment of 6mm spaceships were predominantly posted during the month of September, and whilst the reimagined “Star Trek” vessels have never seen any actual tabletop action, the likes of ten tiny Blitzspear Class Corvettes (Romulan Raiders) and Perry Class Frigates (Soyuz-class Federation starships) still managed to leave a lasting mark upon my annual painting tally. Indeed, not only did this mini-project take on a life of its own as my initially modest ‘Federation Starfleet’ quickly dwarfed that of the ‘Romulan Star Empire’, but “Irregular Miniatures” Kitakami Class Tug (U.S.S. Enterprise) was voted my Eighth most popular model of 2016 by Dick Garrison in his annual Top Ten Miniatures - A "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" Viewpoint post.

No.7 - "Mongoose Publishing" - "Judge Dredd"
For any pledgers badly burnt by the “Judge Dredd Miniatures Game” “Kickstarter” run by “Mongoose Publishing” in September 2012, my participation in Zomtober 2016 was doubtless something of a sore point, as I showcased several of the Undead models financed by that particular farcically-run crowd-funder. However, despite predominantly utilising the plastic torsos of “Mantic Games” zombie sculpts, there is no doubting just how strongly these figures sparked my imagination for the Undead denizens of Mega-City One, and I even went so far as to personally contact ‘Mongoose Matt’ in order to secure supposedly the last of his Zombie Judge figures.

No.6 (Joint) – “Pulp Figures” – “Weird Menace - The Strange Villainy of Pulpdom"
Despite having previously pigmented Bob Murch’s marvellous Boys In Blue collection some twelve months earlier, there can be no doubt that the motivation behind painting this particular batch of sinisterly-robed goons was entirely due a need to safely reach my target tally in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge rather than wanting to progress any actual opposition for my characterful cops. However, that didn’t stop me undertaking a simple conversion so that at least one of the fearsome figures would be better armed with a rifle (as opposed to a lantern) should their diabolical machinations ever be interrupted by the law.

No.6 (Joint) – “Warlord Games” – “Doctor Who”
This ‘handful’ of “Doctor Who” figures initially caught my eye due to representing characters from “Nu Who” as opposed to the classic BBC Science Fiction Television programme, and resultantly helped me overcome my initial scepticism concerning both their significantly larger 32mm scale and my somewhat negative perception that the Nottingham-based producer was behind a number of other popular casters receiving ‘cease & desist’ orders for their ‘not-Who’ models. In addition, the re-booted Zygons were an absolute joy to paint, despite depicting the somewhat contentious ‘official’ paint-job of blackened hands/feet, and quickly became one of my favourite factions to field whilst playing  the “Doctor Who: Exterminate!” tabletop game.

No.4 – “North Star Military Figures” – “Frostgrave”
Arguably the successor to the old “Games Workshop” skirmish game “Mordheim”, I was ultimately somewhat disappointed by the sheer brutality of combat within Joseph A. McCullough’s rule-set, and as a result found my desire to continue playing “Frostgrave” rather fleeting. However, that dissatisfaction didn’t set in until after I had finished painting both an entire warband with alternative Mage and Apprentice, and a sizeable menagerie of animals. In fact, towards the end of my time exploring the frozen ruins of Felstad I even started trying to progress enough hard plastic skeletons so as to play the skirmish game’s Mausoleum scenario.

No.3 – “Reaper Miniatures” – “Chronoscope”
Churned out like so many cans on a food factory production line so as to provide me with a plethora of points for the Sixth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, this assembly of automatons actually proved much more time-consuming that initially envisaged due to both the need to pin several of their stick-thin limbs in place and my concern that any heavy-handed dry-brushing would actually result in a breakage. Fortunately, despite these fears, I actually managed to paint a staggering sixteen of the Cyber-Reavers up, plus finish the second member of a travelling party I planned to have wander the post-apocalyptic wasteland of “Gamma World”.

No.2 – “Games Workshop” – “Age Of Sigmar”
Definitely something of a fantasy gaming revelation for me, “Age Of Sigmar” firmly took me by the scruff of the neck and before long had me producing Plaguebearers like the puss-filled daemons were going to go out of fashion. Not only did this “successor to the discontinued… Warhammer” capture my imagination enough to paint a plethora of the Chaos Gods’ finest, ranging from the diminutive Nurglings, to monstrous Beast of Nurgle, but it additionally encouraged me to complete a whopping ten-strong unit of Bloodletters as well. In fact, I probably haven’t felt quite so strong a motivation to be able to field a fully-finished faction since I worked on both a British and German force for “Secrets Of The Third Reich” by “West Wind Productions” in 2014.

No.1 – “Wizkids” – “Heroclix”

By far and away the most popular genre, these pre-painted plastic superheroes dominated my hobby table, starting with a quantity of readily re-painted OMAC robots for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, and ending with the far more time-consuming stars and stripes of Captain America. In between times I also managed to whittle my way through an entire nine-strong swarm of “Horrorclix” Aliens, a ten-man squad of U-Men, and five members of “DC Comics” Metal Men, as well as converting a few of the New Jersey-based company’s Lackey figures into the bobble-hat wearing minions of Mister Freeze during the annual “Forgotten Heroes” challenge.

18 comments:

  1. Interesting to see how your model interests change in focus over the years Simon

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    1. Thanks Dave. It really seems just like yesterday I was painting some of these too!! I've dug out the stats for a couple more years too, so depending on the popularity of this post I may well dip my toe back into 2015 and 2014 as well... As you say, the change in focus in quite remarkable as new games/ranges emerge and old favourites disappear.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your picks. I wasn't aware of those Trek ships and they look pretty good. The 6mm seems an odd classification though so I'm a little confused. It's been more than a year since I did any Star Trek ships but I thought the common scale was 1:3500. I think that's the common ACA and SFB scale but everything I did was at 1:7000 which is really small. I love the Warlord Doctor Who models too. Great looking figures. I hope they continue to expand the range and give some love to my favorite Doctors. As much as I enjoy the recent Doctors I can see why you keep returning to the Black Tree range.

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    1. Cheers for commenting Horridperson, much appreciated :-) You're entirely right about the exact scale of the not-Star Trek ships "Irregular Miniatures" produce, but you'll find them under the company's 6mm Science Fiction range hence my reference to the scale.

      I've got some contacts with "Warlord Games" and their "Doctor Who" range, and know of their frustration with the slow release schedule - there's a lot of licencing discussions/agreements which takes place behind the scenes. I'm definitely looking forward to the second doctor stuff coming soon, but hope for a Sixth Doctor at some point, hence my liking for "Black Tree Design" models as at least Colin Baker's tenure gets a bit of love.

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  3. Compared to what you are currently painting, these now seem quite extrordinary, - I doubt you would have known at the then how much your tastes would change.

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    1. Thanks Joe. I think this period was the start of my current big four - "Warlord Games", "Games Workshop", "Wizkids" and "Black Tree Design" tbh. But I think I'd certainly be surprised that I wasn't painting more "Crooked Dice" and "North Star Military Figures" in 2019, and who'd have thought that three years later my love of "Reaper Miniatures" would have been rekindled.

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  4. Ah the diary of a wargaming butterfly .... I should recognise that approach ... er cough .. me !!! Lovely to see the old stuff again. I really am enamoured of those cultists and the Frostgrave minis, especially that Barbarian.... glances at an un-primed one waving from the box of shame.

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    1. LOL Phil!! 2016 was certainly the start of a surprising turn of direction towards Fantasy minis, imho, especially with "Age Of Sigmar", and its incredibly to think so how influential that particular game has been to my hobbying over the last three years.

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  5. I do like reading your top ten posts. I'd certainly agree with most of your choices but not the order you put them in. A few, however, would fit near the top of my top ten worst companies - Age of Sigmar for replacing the much better "Warhammer" and Black Tree Designs for their appalling customer service. But I guess we'll all have very different opinions, which is a good thing.

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    1. Thanks very much Bryan, I rank them purely based upon the number of miniatures from each manufacture I have painted that year, so don't actually go with customer service tbh. Although according to my records, I actually ordered from "Black Tree Design" a whopping six times in 2016 (which clearly accounts for why I have so many in my backlog), and never once experienced an issue.

      As for "Age Of Sigmar", as you say, differing opinions is a good thing, but I would certainly have to give that rule-set/mini range exclusive credit for my current interest in "Games Workshop" and Fantasy gaming in general.

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  6. I’m impressed that you can remember what you were painting in 2016! My 🐿 can’t retain information for that long.

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    1. Cheers Peter. I actually record everything I paint in a little diary to remind me of palette choices etc, so its easy to just note down how many minis from a company I finished during a twelve month period.

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  7. I do love these reviews and interesting to see just how many projects you had on the go in any one year - makes me feel better about all mine! :D

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    1. Thanks very much indeed, Michael. I do have another one planned to cover 2015's output, but then it'll have to remain an annual thing. It is amazing though, just how many projects come and go over the space of twelve months.

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  8. Funny to see how other people's hobby evolved and you made me wonder what my top ten from that year would be like.
    I remember getting into a lot of Kickstarters back then and I also think that's when me and my friends started with Bushido.
    Great review, I loved reading your views on the different lines you collect(ed).

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    1. Cheers Wouter, that's very kind of you to say. I wish I could go back further tbh, but I didn't start properly recording my hobby stuff until 2015 - having relied on printing out a diary before that... still perhaps I could look through those at some point and see if I could post something about those years.

      I have a few "Bushido" minis semi-painted somewhere and keep meaning to get them finished, but goodness knows when that will ever be! LOL!!

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  9. An interesting review that shows you like a wide range of minis.

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    1. Thanks Undercoat. With hindsight I think this was definitely a period of transition for me though, into Fantasy.

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