Monday, November 21, 2011

On the reasons why I prefer plastics

Hello and welcome to another week! My camera has hiccups severe enough to warrant a trip to the service, so it's a perfect opportunity to make a rant (like I need one...). Today I want to share with you the reasons why I came to prefer the "new" over the "old".

I'm talking of course about the shift many companies made towards plastic and resin miniatures and accessories, driving more or less away from metal ones. Normally I'm a fan of the old ways and the tried and true, but in this case I found myself drawn more and more away from white metal and embrace the ever more familiar sprues of plastic goodness.

It all began when Games Workshop released their first ever plastic multi-part regiment sets. I was immediately interested (like, I suppose, the most of us) and picked up the Night Goblins and the Orc Warriors sets. These were the times before the Internet became as major a source of communication as it is today, and I've never been a follower of technology, so I had no way of checking upon the quality of these products beforehand.

What I saw gripped me right from the start. There were, for these times, so many options, so many parts, so many possibilities to assemble the miniatures I didn't know where to start. Of course, compared to what we see today these sculpts are quite low quality (and I'm still dying to see new plastic orc boyz...), but back then... Whew.

Moving on.

Why was it such a breakthrough? Because before these products hit, we had blisters containing three or four metal models, normally quite similar to one another. I did not like it at all, not to mention the huge price decrease for a full unit at that time. Twenty orcs in metal would set me back three or four times as much as twenty orcs in plastic. It was a time before I started working full time and such costs would make it simply impossible to enjoy my hobby. All in all, plastics won immediately.

It was also the time I still played games quite often. One of my worst pains were chipped paint, broken off parts and the similar. Plastics provided an immediate solution. They were so light that they would never damage under their own weight and due to their chemical make-up they actually absorb paint, making chips impossible and with good varnish they would stand any rough-and-tumble.

Years passed, more and more plastic kits began to surface. Not all were better: if you remember, for example, skaven Night Runners or the previous dwarf warriors kits you'll see what I mean. Some kits, like the gnoblars, are to this day a huge waste of material and a perfect example of how not to design a sprue. But all things considered, the plastic was becoming a medium of choice.

And I came to notice quality was going on par with quantity. The days of metals being more detailed and better sculpted than the plastics were gradually becoming history. If you managed to observe new waves of plastic kits you'd clearly see the company was in the process of learning the plastic how-to. They even fiddled with the composition of the material itself. But I was still unsure. I still hunted auctions and other second-hand means of acquiring old metal models.

Then the seventh edition hit, and along with it the Battle for Skull Pass set.

This was the final argument in favor of plastic models. What I saw in this kit was a wholly new quality of models, even for plastic ones. I've never suspected that one-piece miniatures could be so detailed. The mass production of this kit also made the models very cheap on the second-hand market.

When it comes to true, multi-part sets, the amount of parts and the way they are assembled takes converting and kitbashing to a whole new level. As a strong supporter of personalized armies these are the things I probably love most about the hobby. You simply cannot achieve this level of possibility with metal models.

As my last point, there's something else. Metal can be stripped and repainted over and over, which is good for learning. You cannot do the same with plastics, not to mention resin. This, in my opinion, makes plastic models actually more demanding: by not being so able to redo my work, I strive to make my models as good as I can on the first go. I can see how such approach can make me a better painter and ultimately a better hobbyist. This is the mindset with which I sat to my orc army and it is my hope I manage to pull it off.

There you have it, I hope you enjoyed. See you on Wednesday when, hopefully, I can show you some actual models.

1 comment:

Davey said...

Agreed. Plastic and resin kits win every time.