Help support TMP


"When did GW "get the lead out"?" Topic


37 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please don't make fun of others' membernames.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the SF Discussion Message Board

Back to the Fantasy Discussion Message Board


Areas of Interest

Fantasy
Science Fiction

Featured Hobby News Article


Featured Link


Featured Ruleset


Featured Showcase Article

6mm Sci-Fi Jeeps

I found more models, now I have to paint them to match!


Featured Movie Review


10,920 hits since 12 Jun 2010
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

geekygamer12 Jun 2010 10:50 p.m. PST

In what year did GW/Citadel stop using lead in the alloy used to cast their figures?

Billiam12 Jun 2010 11:07 p.m. PST

In 1993, New York passed (and later that year, overturned) a ban on lead in products that precipitated the switch to lead-free pewter in miniatures. Citadel (and other major players like Ral Partha and Grenadier) switched over that year in the U.S., though I believe it took a few more years for British prodution to switch over.

geekygamer12 Jun 2010 11:56 p.m. PST

Blood Bowl 3rd Ed. figures distributed in the US would be lead-free by default then?

aecurtis Fezian13 Jun 2010 2:01 a.m. PST

Not to be pedantic, but New York state did not pass a ban. Legislation was proposed, but objections were raised by manufacturers including Old Glory:

link

The law as eventually passed and signed provided for a waiver for miniatures; see " 1376-a. Sale of consumer products containing lead or cadmium":

link

Gaming lore still maintains that the state passed a ban; that it was the New York city health department that was responsible; and other variations. In fact, a number of states passed laws banning lead in *children's* toys, etc., around the same time. So there was a broader concern, and the industry took notice.

Allen

Wellspring13 Jun 2010 2:37 a.m. PST

What about the new federal law on toys for kid's consumption being tested for chemicals?

Lord Raglan13 Jun 2010 3:14 a.m. PST

Bring back lead if it helps to reduce the price, in fact I will be happy to consider any toxic substance if we can achieve this aim!!!

H Unruh13 Jun 2010 5:09 a.m. PST

I don't recall the exact year, 93-94 or so. But when they switched they needed to move a lot of inventory quickly. They were offering 100 figs for $100. USD

It was broad category only where they would send you a random mix.

Skeptic13 Jun 2010 5:21 a.m. PST

[I]n fact I will be happy to consider any toxic substance if we can achieve this aim!!!

How about some cadmium, which seems to be the toxic metal of choice for replacing lead in metallic baubles from China?

Griefbringer13 Jun 2010 5:26 a.m. PST

No idea about US, but the UK production switched away from lead around summer 1997.

Steve Hazuka13 Jun 2010 6:25 a.m. PST

Lead prices skyrocketed too if I recall.

This link shows the change in prices of lead going back to 2000. Starting at about $0.23/lb to now if I'm reading it right to a high of $1.20/lb this year.

link

Aliosborne13 Jun 2010 6:40 a.m. PST

I believe this was only in the USA, in 1993 GW products in the USA were Pewter while in the UK they were still lead, it was not later till they changed to Tin based globaly. I can't remember exactly when this was though

nazrat13 Jun 2010 7:05 a.m. PST

This could be rumor as well (and I'm sure Allen will let me know if it is), but I knew a good number of relatively big Big Wigs at GW back then and they said that a family in the US had attempted to sue GW because their child had chewed on or eaten a figure and had gotten sick. The case was thrown out but since similar suits could be filed in each state GW decided to go ahead and switch to pewter rather than spend the money fighting any number of similar frivolous claims. I have no problem believing this story considering how stupid some court cases can be and how much money they can cost.

'Course it could just be I was handed a load of carp, too… 8)=

Jerry

Battle Works Studios13 Jun 2010 8:23 a.m. PST

Bring back lead if it helps to reduce the price, in fact I will be happy to consider any toxic substance if we can achieve this aim!!!

Already done. Go look at Reaper's economical P-65 range.

nazrat13 Jun 2010 8:48 a.m. PST

I'd MUCH rather have the figures in pewter-- I never want to go back to worrying about dropping a lead figure and picking it up to find the weapon bent horribly or worse yet the face smushed flat. No thanks, I'll pay extra for the harder metal!

aecurtis Fezian13 Jun 2010 9:03 a.m. PST

"This could be rumor as well (and I'm sure Allen will let me know if it is), but I knew a good number of relatively big Big Wigs at GW back then and they said that a family in the US had attempted to sue GW because their child had chewed on or eaten a figure and had gotten sick."

Wouldn't surprise me at all, Jerry. There are a number of stories about the genesis of the proposed New York Bill. One that I recall sounds very much like that, although a specific suit against GW was not mentioned. There's another one about a messy divorce, and one involving child protective services: all lively additions to the mythos, whether true or not.

I'm waiting for the inevitable "I knew a guy whose second cousin lived next door…" post.

Allen

Sargonarhes13 Jun 2010 10:05 a.m. PST

Some where around 93-94 the US federal law banning the use of lead for recreational purposes. But I don't think I've ever seen a GW minie made of lead as they weren't very wide spread in my area at the time. I might have a Battlemech mini or two still made of lead.

Strange how this law did not effect the sale of bullets, which yeah. I like going out to the range and firing off a few rounds for fun every once in a while.

BlackWidowPilot Fezian13 Jun 2010 10:58 a.m. PST

Well, for what it's worth to everyone, back in the Jurassic Era when this all took place I used to have a mail order retail business -Federation Armory- selling you guessed it, miniatures that contained *lead.* When the case broke, one of the first things I did was contact my principle supplier -John McEwan (Reviresco)- and ask him about what he knew about lead in miniatures and the health effects (if any). John's reaction was "Who eats their miniatures?" Note that John McEwan had been working with lead-alloy miniatures including spin casting for longer than I'd been alive, and just for yuks had his own blood tested to see what if any lead-based issues were involved. The results were nada…

Yorus truly then contacted my physician, an old school Internal Medicine MD from Stanford who explained to me pretty clearly and bluntly just how little risk was actually involved, then just to prove the point ole Dr. Spiegl had me roll up my sleeve and did a blood draw for a full lead screening protocol. Results: nada.

The plot thickened when I talked to Mr. Jack Van Shaik of RAFM Miniatures (Canada). It seems that Canada had a regulation on the books that required *routine* blood testing of Jack and his crew at RAFM to check for lead levels in the blood. According to Jack, the government vampires checked right on time like clockwork, and the results were always the same; negative.

The plot thickened further afterwards when one of my regular customers – Mr. Dave Hornung- contacted me (or I him – 'twas looong ago now) and gave me a firsthand account of his actual testimony during the court hearing in which GAMA sought a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the specific NY state government agency that had issued the lead miniatures ban. According to Dave, he gave testimony as a *hobbyist,* even though he was a lead abatement expert employed by the state of New York (!!!).

Dave schooled me on the actual know risks of lead miniatures (ie., nil), and dirty NY politics (messy, as one might expect of *any* politically motivated ban ordered by an double-salaried environmental protection "czar" under fire for his double salary and close political relationship with then NY Governor Mario Cuomo…), and a reportedly messy NY divorce (soon to be ex-wife allegedly accused soon to be ex-husband of making their children ill from letting the kids play with dad's painted lead miniatures) that said NY environmental czar caught wind of and jumped on as a pretty transparent IMHO cynical attempt to deflect the heat over his big at-the-public-expense paycheck.

According to Dave the two lawyers representing the State of NY hadn't even prepared a case brief – guess they and their boss thought they had a really soft target, and were visibly shocked by all of the people who turned up to defend the industry and our hobby, including a legal team hired by GAMA, Dave, and other witnesses who could string a coherent sentence together and make a rational case for following real science and not politically-motivated pseudo-scientific grandstanding…

According to Dave, the two attorneys for the State of NY were badly rattled by the courtroom beat-down they received on the first day's hearing, so much so that their lack of preparation visibly wore the patience of the presiding judge very thin indeed…

On day two of the hearing the judge granted the request for a TRO, putting an end to the ban until further notice. Sadly, the damage had already been done, as one or more major distributors who decided discretion was the better part of valor, unilaterally declared that they would cease carrying lead-based miniatures. The ripple effect in the industry was considerable, but that's another story.


Leland R. Erickson
Grayhawk Studios
grayhawkstudios.com

aecurtis Fezian13 Jun 2010 12:25 p.m. PST

If you're interested in reading the NY state health commissioner's summary action, see post #97 here:

link

I was mistaken in posting the link to Old Glory's testimony in reference to the proposed legislation. It was in response to the summary action, at the hearing set forth in the action.

In the end, the legislation failed to back up the order, and supposedly (and ironically) that was said to be due in part to Governor Cuomo being a figure collector.

Allen

Happy Little Trees13 Jun 2010 3:02 p.m. PST

P-65 baby!

John the OFM13 Jun 2010 4:32 p.m. PST

There was an article in The Courier by the lawyer involved, which referenced the messy divorce story.

BlackWidowPilot Fezian13 Jun 2010 4:58 p.m. PST

"There was an article in The Courier by the lawyer involved, which referenced the messy divorce story."


I've got that very issue buried in my personal archives somewhere, now that you mention it…evil grin


Leland R. Erickson
Grayhawk Studios
grayhawkstudios.com

Covert Walrus13 Jun 2010 5:40 p.m. PST

I recall the international ramifications of this case as well: The English side of the hobby also moved to "Food Quality Pewter" which still conatins lead at about 0.014% by weight IIRC. Irregular Miniatures had their staff tested for lead levels, and found not only were they minimal, the highest were among those workers living near the motorwya – In fact, the Ministry of Health in the UK had figures showing that peopel living near the motorways had quite high levels, far higher than anyone in the lead-smelting industry! ( Oxides from car exhausts are absorbed far easier.)
The Ral Partha stuff we got here in NZ made from the magic RALIDIUM were quite frankly, what turned people off CBT; It was brittle, kept sharp edges even when sanded and got a nasty yellowish 'bloom' from being in damp conditions, which a chemist/gamer of my acquaintance suggested might be "Butter of Antimony" or Antimony Sulphide from moisture acting with sulphates in the releasing agent and the poisonous metal used to harden Tin.

aecurtis Fezian13 Jun 2010 6:04 p.m. PST

"I've got that very issue buried in my personal archives somewhere, now that you mention it…"

Yup. You know something? We've been doing this too long.

Allen

BlackWidowPilot Fezian13 Jun 2010 7:14 p.m. PST

"Yup. You know something? We've been doing this too long."

No such thing.evil grin

Leland R. Erickson
Grayhawk Studios
grayhawkstudios.com

BlackWidowPilot Fezian13 Jun 2010 7:18 p.m. PST

Covert,

an acquaintance of mine skilled at researching things obscure and esoteric like what really went into trade "secret" alloys stated with some small authority that "Ralidium" was in fact a Bismuth alloy that was probably at the time cheaper than a lead tin alloy and just as potentially toxic if ingested in copious amounts. Of course, it again begged the question, "Who eats their miniatures?!"evil grin


Leland R. Erickson
Grayhawk Studios
grayhawkstudios.com

Farstar13 Jun 2010 8:12 p.m. PST

one or more major distributors who decided discretion was the better part of valor, unilaterally declared that they would cease carrying lead-based miniatures. The ripple effect in the industry was considerable, but that's another story.

A ripple effect that killed Grenadier, skewed miniatures sales for a couple years, and made the distribution rush to get in on the top-to-bottom price gouging of the first two years of MtG that much more attractive. The MtG collectable/speculation rush contributed to the domino collapse of 90% of the American games distibution industry in 1995-1996. All of the usual chains of communication fell apart except for the conventions, leading one game designer I knew at the time to report that the most common line heard at the conventions was "It's a shame you guys haven't released anything in a while." To which the reply was often to wave at the table full of new books and say "we didn't stop, the distributors did."

Odds are fair that the failure of games distribution is what led some companies to lean more heavily on the books channels, ignoring the very different rules that applied there. Those rules are what killed GDW in 1995 and TSR several years later.

The rise of the WWW probably kept the games industry in the US from extinction by improving communication, but the domino effect from one divorce case is frightening.

StarfuryXL513 Jun 2010 9:15 p.m. PST

Not surprisingly, the switch to different alloys resulted in higher prices for figures. Not trying to start a GW bashing, and I'm sure other manufactures did so, too, but that was GW's story at the time. It was a "temporary" price increase until they got the new alloy sorted out. Also not surprisingly, prices never did come back down.

Dremel Man14 Jun 2010 5:33 a.m. PST

Summer '93.
I was there.
Our shop was completely barren of all minis for 1 week.
We sold plastics, paints and books.

The very first products released as "Pewter" in the USA were Man O' War ships.

Following quickly on the heals was the severly curtailed range of US Pewter blister packs.
We went from having 50 feet of blister packs filled with all the wonders of early GW goodness (Maruader minis, Dragons, War Machine boxed sets, rarities of the ages), to a grand total of 8 feet of mediocrity. Four each of 40K and Warhammer Fantasy.

The beginning of the end…

richarDISNEY14 Jun 2010 8:01 a.m. PST

BlackWidowpilot…

"Who eats their miniatures?"

BRILLIANT!!!
beer

Covert Walrus15 Jun 2010 9:41 p.m. PST

Leland,

Ah, Bismuth oxide is also a yellowish colour – that makes sense and would certainly have been hard and brittle. Light, though, which was a saving grace for the dragons in the fantasy line.

CooperSteveOnTheLaptop16 Jun 2010 7:51 a.m. PST

Star Fury – I remember all those Citadel explanations of how plastic bases & shields etc were going to be 'cheaper' without the price ever coming down…


I have a persistent dream where I'm compulsively eating painted miniatures & equally distressed at idea of poisoning myself & destroying a painted mini. Disturbing, I know.

I'm dire at chemistry so maybe someone can help out – isn't it just pure lead that's toxic? In alloy form isn't it just a totally different substance?

cf: calcium essential for life but utterly deadly if you ingested it in pure form…

HammerHorror16 Jun 2010 8:30 a.m. PST

"I have a persistent dream where I'm compulsively eating painted miniatures…"

Weird, I have these too and I always wake up amazed at the strength of my teeth.

Farstar16 Jun 2010 4:24 p.m. PST

I'm dire at chemistry so maybe someone can help out isn't it just pure lead that's toxic? In alloy form isn't it just a totally different substance?

Other way around, really. Metallic lead is not hugely toxic when ingested, but lead carbonates and lead salts have a much higher bio-availability when ingested. Worse, they taste good. Its why lead-based paint is no longer allowed.

StarfuryXL522 Jun 2010 8:51 p.m. PST

@CooperSteveOnTheLaptop – Yep. A harbinger of things to come. Who knew? Who knew?

Erik M22 Jun 2010 10:14 p.m. PST

Lead is toxic. But in various ways and not very much in it's usual solid state.
~ Rome is said to have fallen due to lead-poisoning; the piping was made of lead…
~ An actual case was made at Volvo here in Gothenburg. Two body workers, the ones fixing faults from production, was falling seriously ill from lead-poisoning. But none else of their co-workers. It turned out they had a garage-business fixing cars too. But there they didn't use their work-stipulated protections… Lead dust heated by 5'000 rpm of grinder turns toxic vapour. And that vapour is lethally toxic indeed.

Andy ONeill23 Jun 2010 1:49 a.m. PST

Although the lead pipes in rome were made of lead, the water is hard and the lead was fairly quickly coated in limescale.
I have heard something about sweteners though. Something to do with reducing wine which ended up sweet because of the lead ( would that be lead salts? ). So the rich people were eating lead in such sweets.

AFAIK if you want to point to any one factor then the fall then malaria is top of the list. Stuffing up the economy to feed the games is also high up on the list.

HumorousConclusion23 Jun 2010 12:22 p.m. PST

It's worth noting that Games Workshop switched to pewter in the US well before it introduced white metal in the UK, probably because there was no legal requirement to do so. I am looking at the issue which announced the introduction of white metal in the UK, 206 dated February 1997. Two months later they announced that they would produce no more lead miniatures.

I remember the changeover well. Initially there was a bit of rush to grab the old models before the prices went up (or rather switched from 4 models a blister to 3). The rush increased when they started offering 3 for 2 on all lead models. The final weekend of the 'great lead sale' was fantastic as they offered half price on all lead miniatures and a ton of boxed up army deals. I got 2,000 points worth fo Chaos Dwarfs plus a whole load of Necromunda stuff as well.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.