Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2015 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint

The fourth article covering my favourite miniature manufacturers over the years, this period was clearly dominated by my love of British science fiction television programmes such as “Doctor Who” and “Blake’s Seven”, as well as an affection for the Doug McClure fantasy movies of my childhood. Interestingly, I also found my participation in the “Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge” something of a catalyst to start ploughing through my sizeable collection of Bob Murch’s painter-friendly “Pulp Figures” and a dalliance with the free rule-set “Pillow A-go-go” by “Fiendish Fabrications” a surprising motivator to pigment numerous “Heroclix” super-heroes and villains…

No.10 (Joint) - "Reaper Miniatures” - "Chronoscope"
Bought as an experiment to ascertain the difference between their “Bones” sculpts and metal castings, this particular sojourn into the world of “Reaper Miniatures” pigmenting a pair of Black Mist models certainly helped me make up my mind that I wouldn’t purchase any of the company’s unpainted polymer 28mm-sized humanoid figures in the future, as I found their loss of detail disconcerting. However, it did lead me to eventually purchase a fair few of the range’s larger monsters as the financial savings were quite significant. Sadly, both of my Black Mists actually ended up in Canada as payment for entering the Fifth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, and I have yet to purchase a (second) metal version of the crime-fighting vigilante to use on my own tabletop.

No.10 (Joint) – “Antediluvian Miniatures” – “Lost World”
Basing their sculpts upon some of my favourite fantasy childhood films, such as the 1976 cult classic “At The Earth’s Core”, this Ross-shire based company completely caught me off-guard with its characterful castings in the Summer and seemed destined to be one of my most popular manufacturers of the year. Disappointingly however, having quite quickly pigmented Professor Peter Cushion, I then found my attention wandering elsewhere, and not even their subsequent release concerning a squad of Guardians of Lemuria (heavily influenced by “The Warlord Of Atlantis”) managed to restore my motivation.”

No.10 (Joint) – “Steamforged Games Limited” – “Guildball”
Intrigued by this alternative to the legendary sports tabletop game “Blood Bowl” by “Games Workshop”, I actually spent quite some considerable time plugging away at the contents of a Union Starter Set for “Guildball”. Yet was ultimately beaten by the incredibly fiddly detail found on each sculpt, an utter aversion to the complexity of the actual rule-set, and a serious dislike for the ‘difficult to reach’ pose of my team’s captain, Blackheart. In fact, my problems progressing the central midfielder with a brush-tip alone were enough to put me off “Guildball” for life, especially after his head fell off part way through the painting process, and I discovered that a far more paintable pose of the player was available; albeit at a significant cost.

No.7 – “Wizards Of The Coast” – “Star Wars”/“Dreamblade”
Fuelled by the speculation concerning the imminent release of J.J. Abrahams’ “American epic space-opera film”, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens", this dalliance with “Wizards Of The Coast” was initially confined to just a pair of their models from the long defunct “Star Wars Miniatures Game”. However, as part of my “Zomtober” challenge I later decided to re-paint three plastic “Dreamblade” Gutsoup Golems in order to turn them into proxy Krynoids for a “Doctor Who” flavoured game of “Zombicide” based upon the February 1976 six-part television story “The Seeds Of Doom”. Lamentably, this rather over-ambitious project was never fully finished, and despite some temptation to simply pigment a few more of the collectable miniatures game’s innovative-looking models just for the ‘fun of it’, no more of the “spawning dream creatures” saw a paint-brush.

No.6 – “Nexus Miniatures” – “Super-hero Dinosaur Zombie Apocalypse”
Encouraged by Simon Quinton’s enthusiastic postings over on “Brummie’s Wargaming Blog”, I rather badly fell in love with this company’s D-Rangers and Caprican Legion Troopers courtesy of their sculpts bearing more than a passing resemblance to the main characters from Glen A. Larson’s 1978 “Battlestar Galactica”. Admittedly, the figures themselves were a little crude and mis-proportioned, with the ‘Cylons’ significantly smaller in stature than their human counterparts. But their attention to the detail of a ‘Colonial Warrior’ uniform more than made up for this, and resultantly I eagerly painted up proxies for Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer, alongside a trio of the Imperious Leader’s finest centurions.

No.5 – “SLAP Miniatures” – “Moon Howlers”
Heartily recommended to me by Bryan Scott of “Vampifan’s World Of The Undead” blog fame, I ended up painting eight He-Wolves as an entourage for my repainted “Heroclix” model of the Hyena. Slightly painful to assemble, with plenty of super-glue, green-stuff and pinning definitively required, these furry fiends were still a joy to paint in a multitude of appropriate browns and greys, and were completed within the space of a fortnight before having them subsequently devour Batman in a Caped Crusader-inspired game of “Zombicide” by “Guillotine Games”. Sadly, my plans to pigment Skipper Fred, Bosun Ace and Steward Gladys for the Sixth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge as a (not) “Popeye” entry never materialised into anything more than a trio of colourfully-primed miniatures…

No.4 – “Pulp Figures” – “Lost Tribes”
Originally planned to be part of a much larger “Pulp Figures” contribution to the Sixth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, these Bob Murch sculpts seemed destined to be the start of a significant expedition into the savage worlds of pulp. However, despite both Jai and Cheetah joining Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor for a mid-year “Doctor Who”/“Tarzan” tabletop team-up, my enthusiasm for the somewhat cartoony range of miniatures never materialised into a full-blown painting spree, and resultantly I simply ‘scatter-gunned’ a few hominids here and gun-toting gangsters there.

No.3 – “Black Tree Design” – “Doctor Who”
It’s incredible to think that a New Year clear-out uncovered the vast majority of this “Doctor Who” treasure trove, and lead to the creation of a sizeable Cyberman force for the tabletop. In fact, with hindsight it is hard to imagine my eventual immersion into “Age Of Sigmar” by “Games Workshop” the following year, if I hadn’t been inspired to pigment quite so many Mondasian and Mark II Cybermen during this period and subsequently used them play-test the fantasy rule-set. At the time though, I was simply determined to provide my “Eaglemoss Collections” Cyber-King with a suitably large retinue, and these silver giants were reasonably straightforward to paint.

No.2 – “Wizkids” – “Heroclix”
Arguably initiated by a desire to field the numerous members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, this range of collectable plastic figures proved consistently popular throughout the year, and helped me add a significant number of models, both large and small, to my ever-growing collection of finished re-painted “Marvel Worldwide” and “DC Comics” characters. In addition, this range of super-heroes and despicable villains caused me to re-imagine the “Pillow A-go-go” ruleset by “Fiendish Fabrications” into a short series of rooftop battles which occurred across both the Gotham City and New York City skylines.

No.1 – “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio” – “7TV”

Indisputably down to my love of the BBC science fiction television series “Blake’s Seven” and “Doctor Who”, I not only managed to paint a formidable force of black-clad Federated Troopers, including a heavily-moustached Commander and cybernetically-enhanced Stefan Travers. But also progressed a significant number of Spawn, Robo Rodents and grotesquely-mutated Failed Experiments with which to vex the time-travelling Tweedy Mattinson and his Plucky Assistant. In addition, my enthusiasm for “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio” saw me involve their miniatures in a number of popular Battle Reports which either saw their Freedom Fighters teaming-up with the likes of Rocket Raccoon and Judge Dredd, or the company’s Robo Rodents proving pivotal as proxy Runners for “Zombicide” by “Guillotine Games”.


  1. I had such high hopes for Nexus, sigh.

    1. Me too, PMMDJ. I still own loads of their Caprican Legion Troopers, and was lucky enough to receive a couple of the ranges latest minis last year. But their releases now seem to have completely dried up and that's killed my enthusiasm to paint any more of their stuff :-(

  2. Interesting to see who was top of your list in 2015 Simon, some your still painting now and some have withered away to be replaced by other companies, and all the factors that keep you interested

    1. Thank you kindly, Dave. I'm personally thoroughly enjoying these flashbacks to my earlier painting years, and surprised at some of the entries; especially "Reaper Miniatures" and "Star Wars" - both of which have made something of a comeback on my painting table this year.

  3. Good to see CDG at the number one spot and even better to see no GW stuff! :-)
    Many thanks for the shout out for the Moon Howlers. I really liked the modularity of these figures.

    1. You need to let your dislike of "Games Workshop" go, Bryan, LOL!! I too was pleased to see "Crooked Dice Game Design" come top of chart, as its still a company I purchase from today, but not one which tends to dominate my painting table. Happy to give both you and the OOP Moon Howlers a shout out :-)

  4. an interesting post on many counts, especially the changes in directioon you;ve taken over the years and almost being able to pinpoint the start of you Cybermen force.
    Can't say I'm struck by these particular Crooked dic minis as they have so many other (imo) much better ones!
    I think the most memorable post from my pov is the Werewolves one, there being so many varieties out there !

    1. Cheers Joe. This was definitely the start of my big Cyberman push and love affair with "Black Tree Design" too. Glad you're enjoying these postings, as I have a final one to come this year for 2014...

  5. Ah that was a good year, I remember it well, I have to say that I still love that "Jenna" figure, though the "Gutsoup Golems bring back some memories too. Yes a good year that....

    Cheers Roger.

    1. Thanks very much, Roger. 2015 was indeed a productive year for my wargaming, with many a memorable mini being painted over those twelve months.


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