First up, the good news: May is Monster Month! Now that my Gaslands project is (somewhat) complete, I’ve decided to get back to my first love: fantasy miniatures. And to that end, I have decided it’s high time I got around to painting some good old-fashioned monsters!
With the arrival of Reaper Bones and other inexpensive miniatures like Nolzur’s Marvelous Minis, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on some large beasties for not a lot of cash. And for the most part, the sculpting is top-notch on these miniatures, whether sculpted by hand (Bones) or 3d designed (Nolzur’s). Some of the monsters I’ll be painting this month have been in my insanity pile for years, whereas some are relatively recent purchases. Some are metal, some are plastic or resin. Old school, new school; the point is, they’re all monsters, and they’re all getting painted this month!
Now, the less-fun news. A couple of months back, I reminisced about the early Grenadier miniatures that were my first steps into what would eventually become my wargaming hobby. If you missed that post, you can read it here (if so inclined). One thing I wrote in that post has been on my mind ever since.
Here’s what I said: “…even if I were to (paint) one miniature every day for the rest of my life, I would likely never finish what I already own, never mind any future tempting purchases. A somewhat sobering and morbid thought, but true nonetheless.”
Guess what? It is true. And it is sure as hell sobering.
(Actually, what I wrote was about stripping and repainting old miniatures, not painting new ones, but that changes nothing. Between what I have that I would like to strip and repaint, and what I have that has never yet seen paint, the reality remains the same. It ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime.)
Like many gamers nowadays, I am of a certain age. I am not the oldest grognard wearing a “Keep Calm and Cthulhu Fhtagn” T shirt, but neither am I a youngster any more. I’m in my mid 40’s, and I’ve been gaming since I was 12, collecting and painting miniatures since I was 13 or so. While mid-40’s is hardly old, especially considering the well-known and often-discussed “greying of the hobby”; and although I’m reasonably healthy at the moment (knock wood), I have no illusions about my life. In addition to other vices (like indolence), I really like scotch and gin, and I’ve liked them for many a long year now. The sad truth is that I have a lot of lead, both painted and unpainted; and a lot of half-started and wish-list projects I’m simply not going to ever complete.
As I’ve stated elsewhere in this blog, the last big gaming convention I attended was Gen Con in 2012. In addition to a comprehensive review of the convention, that post includes a list of all the stuff I bought when I was there. I knew buying most of that crap was a mistake as soon as I got back home. Most of it is still sitting right here in the original packages. I haven’t painted or used most of it, and it doesn’t look like I ever will.
Herein lies a problem faced by many wargamers: Let’s say you drop dead. What happens to your stuff? Many wargamers would naturally pass their armies on to the next generation, assuming their children had any interest in such things. I don’t have kids, and likely (and hopefully) never will. So what then?
It goes without saying that it becomes a problem for those we leave behind. Someone (or, if you’re lucky, several someones) who probably doesn’t need any more to deal with while grieving your death, as it may make them reach the “anger” stage of grief much faster. In my case, it’s not just my painted miniatures and the insanity pile that would be left behind. (That link leads to a description of my insanity pile that is outdated by several years. Like Scrooge, I have labored on it since.) It’s also the thousands of books and comics that I have amassed in almost four decades of collecting. All this stuff is going to land squarely in the lap of people who may love me, but may not necessarily love my hobbies and want to deal with 30 plus years of accumulated academia, esoterica, and plain-old geekery after my death.
It’s time to get real, and prioritize what I can realistically keep and what I should just bid a fond farewell to. And like many gamers, I need to STOP BUYING NEW STUFF. Not just new stuff, but old “new-to-me” stuff too, no matter how great a deal it is. I have to start saying no.
To this end, I’ve come up with an action plan.
Part 1: As a way to motivate myself to shrink the lead pile, I’m stealing an idea I saw on fellow TMPer Oiler72’s blog: the lead mountain progress total. With every post, Oiler keeps track of the number of miniatures he’s painted vs. the number of new miniatures he’s purchased, for a plus or minus overall progress total. I’m doing that, starting with my next post. I’m not about to count what I already have (that would make me mental). But whatever the starting point number may be, it should be easy to track whether I’m up or down relative to it if I keep logging painted vs. purchased.
(Note: this is for miniatures only. I do not consider terrain projects or things like Gaslands conversions, which are technically not miniatures, to be any progress towards adding to or shrinking the lead mountain.)
Part 2: I need to narrow my interests. I need to decide what games I’m going to focus on and what projects I can realistically complete. I need to look at the stuff I already have, and decide, once and for all, whether to keep it or get rid of something I know I’m never going to paint and/or play with. Is it worth the investment in time and/or money? If not: adios, muchacho. When deciding what to keep, I should consider whether it can be used in multiple games or whether it will only be used in one system; for example, unpainted police miniatures can be used for zombie, pulp, supers or any other modern game, whereas pirates can pretty much only be used as pirates.
Example: Wow, those Firestorm Armada ships look really fucking cool! Should I keep them? Let’s see:
- I’m never going to find anyone else near me who plays Firestorm Armada,
- Spartan Games went out of business, which means the game is no longer supported,
- While I could conceivably use the ships for other games, I don’t have any other space games except for War Rocket and X-Wing, neither of which match the theme or scale,
- I don’t want to buy any more space games,
- I have way too much other stuff to paint.
So should I keep them? Sounds like a big fat NO.
Firestorm Armada was easy. I have many other games/miniatures to consider, and many miles to go before I sleep.
Now that is a sign that you are getting old if ever I read one! and one that rings so true with myself, I don’t know if you are aware but back at the start of 2017 I stated that I wasn’t going to buy any new figures that year (an idea that went slightly askew when I won £50 to spend on mini’s through “Vampifans” site, but that aside, to date I still haven’t bought any new figures yet. This isn’t to say that I don’t plan on ever buying any new lead, but as you say purchases will have to be very carefully considered.
These days I game very rarely and so the vast majority of the figures I buy I do so simply because I really fancy painting them, and this too has curtailed my spending somewhat (Funnily enough I think my last be splurge was also with Spartan Games, though it was Dystopian Wars, in my case).
Anyway enough waffling, I wish you all the very best with this Keith, oh and great news to hear you are on board for “Forgotten Heroes” this year too.
I game very rarely nowadays too, Roger, and most of my gaming is unfortunately of the solo variety. I find myself in the same boat as you. I buy miniatures because I love them and I enjoy painting them. The sad fact is that they will likely never see play.
Still, even if I converted my gaming and painting hobby to solely a painting hobby, I have too much already. And you, perhaps better than most, know how those damn miniatures companies operate. They just keep on producing stuff you want. 🙂