Been a long time since I did a product review. This time I thought I’d share my thoughts on the “Big Three” wargaming mags: Miniature Wargames; Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy; and Wargames Illustrated; as well as some cool plastic miniatures: Halfling Militia from Wargames Atlantic.
I didn’t buy these, I got five of them for FREEEEEEEEEEEEE! with my copy of Miniature Wargames magazine. MW has taken to attaching free sprues of miniatures with some issues, which makes the $15 per issue price tag a bit more bearable for me. (Skip down below to read my thoughts on the “Big Three” Wargaming magazines.)
These halflings look pretty cool, as you can see. They have a nice level of detail, come with several options for heads and weapons (bows, halberds, spears and a sword), and fit together nicely. They’re versatile, too. You could easily use them for any fantasy game; or, if you still play Warhammer Fantasy Battle, they’d fit right into an Empire army as a spearman regiment or archer unit. (These guys are from Stirland!) They’re also fun to paint.
The one quibble I have is the length (and strength) of the spears and halberds. They’re too long. Don’t get me wrong: if I was keeping a huge spider at bay (as pictured on the cover), I’d want my spear to be as long as possible; but they’re a disaster in the making, as they stick so far out they’re easy to snag. So far they’re bendy enough not to snap, but I’m not what you’d call an optimist. They’re also somewhat inconvenient to store and ship because of the length of the spears. Other than this relatively minor complaint, color me impressed with this set, considering I hate assembling plastic miniatures.
Onto the gaming magazines.
First off, I’m not including White Dwarf, because White Dwarf is not a wargaming magazine. It’s a Games Workshop house engine that only covers GW products and has been primarily functioning as a product catalog for the last twenty years. Also, I don’t buy it.
The actual wargaming magazines–Miniature Wargames; Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy and Wargames Illustrated–have quite a bit in common. They cover a wide variety of wargaming and hobby news, they’re all very well-produced and pretty, they’re all published in the UK, and they all cost $15 here in the States. So what are the differences, at least the ones that matter to me?
Wargames Illustrated is fantastic to look at. It has a good variety of wargaming articles for all genres; showcases new games regularly, and sometimes comes with free sprues of miniatures. (I got most of my Cruel Seas ships from this magazine.) It has some good modeling and painting articles, too. It also devotes a lot of pages to covering game shows and conventions in the UK and Europe; which, although cool, is not something I really give a shit about, considering I don’t live there and am not likely to attend any of them. I would rather have more articles and scenarios for games I like.
Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy is another beautiful magazine that is heavily weighted towards the historical wargamer, which makes it of limited use to me. I rarely buy this magazine as a result; but the issues I do own are very nice. WS&S generally focuses on a monthly theme (The Carlist Wars, for example) and then devotes several articles and scenarios to the topic, including a compendium of miniatures for the period/conflict in question, presented in a variety of scales by different manufacturers. It’s a wonderful reference, and also regularly features articles by some big names in wargaming (Rick Priestly, Henry Hyde, etc…) What it does it does very well; but it’s just not for me.
Miniature Wargames, finally, is my UK wargaming mag of choice. I’ve collected it for a couple of years and it’s always been good; but since John Treadaway took over as editor it’s really been great to see the shift from a traditional historical focus to include other genres of wargames. Now, there is a center section devoted specifically to fantasy and sci-fi wargaming in each issue, which is much appreciated. MW also features product reviews, modeling and painting articles and occasional convention and wargame show coverage that doesn’t monopolize the pages. It often gives away free sprues of miniatures, too (like the halflings above). For me, Miniature Wargames is the best fit.
Here in the States, we get all of these magazines a month or two after they are published in the UK. COVID-19 disrupted the shipping schedule and so now I have months of missed issues. Print publishing is getting insanely expensive at $15 a pop and it may just be time to cut the cord. (MW doesn’t offer discounted subscription rates in the States, so I’m stuck paying full cover price.) Since I hate reading electronic media, I will likely just learn to live without it rather than purchase an online subscription.
Star Wars stuff coming soon!
Great review Keith, of the miniatures and magazines. Can understand the cost being prohibitive especially if they don’t do a subscription deal. Have had product featured in two of the three, my only gripe about both magazines is they only do large feature articles on the bigger companies, or if someone in the production team like a smaller company, which is a shame as there is so many great small companies out there ( and I’m not talking about my company)
Sad but true, Dave. I haven’t seen much in the way of small company focus. The magazine I buy the least, Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, seems to show some small companies in their miniature suggestions for whatever their monthly theme is, but no feature articles. As far as your company goes, maybe we should send “Iron-Skin” Liu over there to talk to the editors. He’s a big fan…
I can imagine that being a conversation of very few words Keith ! LOL
Never loquacious, that Liu…:)
They look great! I’ve always felt that Wargames Illustrated stumps for Warlord Games. At least most of the free samples seem to be WLG. The halflings look great!
Thanks, Tom. I never noticed that about Wargames Illustrated, but I don’t have many issues of that magazine. I figured you’d like the halflings since they’re Wargames Atlantic!
I’m surprised that the mags are all British; are there no American equivalents?
Those halflings look great. Only a fiver (about $7.50) for five of them? GW charges more for used sprues!
I suspect that most American wargamers probably think the British mags are just fine! 🙂 Yes, I find WA prices to be quite reasonable (especially since these were free), considering how many miniatures you get in a box. Their other stuff looks pretty good too, although I haven’t had any hands-on experience with those.
Never really been a big magazine buyer, though I have been “gifted” quite a few over the years, as you know a friend offloaded a load of all three of these offering to me a while back, and though thee was bit’s in all three that I found of interest, not enough to make me want to part with hard earned cash for any of them. Of the three I think I actually like WSS the best myself, but each to there own.
Interesting to hear that John Treadaway is editing WI as I used to love his “Fantasy Facts” column in Military Modelling many years ago, and actually used to buy that mag just for his column.
Nice figures by the way, they look quite big for halflings? perhaps the bases are just small.
John has been the editor for a few years now, Roger. I had occasion to correspond with him a couple of times. Seems like a nice guy. I used his method of making asteroids and they look wonderful!
The halflings look right-sized in real life; but I did attach them to 20mm square bases, so they may look a little bigger for that.
Yeoh Johns a good man, he was president of the SFSFW (Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers) for a while back when I was editing the Miniature reviews in the society mag.
I made some Asteroids myself a few years back, but with a different technique…..
I think yours look better, but then I hadn’t read Johns article!
Those look great, and using old paintbrushes as “flight stands” is brilliant. I just chuck my old paint brushes away once they’re no longer viable for drybrushing!
Tight as a gnats bum! that’s me!!