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"Few Questions about the Metal vs Plastic debate" Topic

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1,132 hits since 28 Dec 2012
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Paragonicnova Inactive Member28 Dec 2012 9:42 a.m. PST

I know that TMP is well versed in this topic but I cant remember if these questions have been asked yet

1. Who has the largest market share? Plastic Buyers or Metal Buyers? In terms of historical, fantasy, sci fi?

2. If a new company was setting up, would you request them to make their minis out of a certain material?

6sided Inactive Member28 Dec 2012 9:45 a.m. PST

1. Nobody knows.
2. Opinion will be split down thw middle.


religon Inactive Member28 Dec 2012 9:51 a.m. PST

2. If a new company was setting up, would you request them to make their minis out of a certain material?

I save my contempt for resin and finecast. I will pay less per figure for plastic, but don't avoid it.

Parzival28 Dec 2012 10:23 a.m. PST

1.) I've no idea. If you include 1/72 stuff, I'd guess that plastic actually dominates, but much of that is going towards the diorama market than gaming. In historical gaming metals are probably stronger, but companies like Warlord and the Perrys are making huge strides in that area. In SF/Fantasy, the dominate player is of course GW, and that's a mix of metal, plastic, and now "Finecast" (whatever the heck that is). But without knowing real sales stats across the market, I couldn't tell you.

2.) I have no preference. I like metal for the heft, plastic for the price. I don't like resin miniatures in general, but if the price is lower than other options, I'll consider them. (I have not noticed this to be the case, though, which makes me wonder as to why they're made.) I tend to get excited about the prospect of new plastic figures because I expect they will be considerably cheaper than comparative metal figs (of comparable quality), and this usually proves correct.

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Dec 2012 10:29 a.m. PST


Griefbringer28 Dec 2012 10:51 a.m. PST

1. Who has the largest market share? Plastic Buyers or Metal Buyers? In terms of historical, fantasy, sci fi?

If we are talking about 28 mm multi-part hard plastics, then on the historical side they are a new-comer, having been available on the market for under five years at the moment. Also, the coverage is still pretty limited, so for most historical subjects metal is the only option available.

On SF and fantasy side, GW is the dominating presence, and their product line is getting rather plastic-dominated (though also supplemented with resin and metal, though the later is being phased out). That said, there are lots of smaller manufacturers cranking out mainly metal models.

2. If a new company was setting up, would you request them to make their minis out of a certain material?

No. There is demand for models of many different types and made with many different materials.

What I think is important is that the company utilises design methodology that makes most of the type of material that they are using – metal and plastic models have different strenghts and should be designed accordingly. And a lot depends on the business model – are you trying to cover mainstream or niche products?

What I would request from somebody starting a new company would be to consider their experience, abilities and interests. I certainly like to see companies where the people running the business are both interested in what they do, and good at what they do (that said, realistic business plan would also be a good thing to have).

Personal logo Miniatureships Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Dec 2012 11:02 a.m. PST

The material used in starting a new business venture would depend on the amount of money the new business owner has to invest.

Metals require less of an investment. Plastics require a much higher investment, and a slower turn around time.

The other things to consider is the amount of time it takes to get both items to market and what the market is doing at the time. Gamers are somewhat fickle in there interest. Meaning that ACW can be the hot ticket in historicals this year and next year it could be Colonials.

It is interesting that companies pointed out as making a difference are the companies that work in both mediums and not just in the area of plastics.

Rubber Suit Theatre28 Dec 2012 1:59 p.m. PST

I don't know that I would request it per se, but there seems to be a large market for unpainted PVC figures (think clickies and other "collectible" figs). Reaper seems to be the only company doing unpainted versions right now, but the success of their Bones line is bound to spur similar development.

Personal logo Cardinal Hawkwood Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2012 5:56 p.m. PST

there is a debate?

Personal logo Martin Rapier Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2012 7:49 a.m. PST

1. I don't knwo but based on the size of the modelling market as opposed to wargaming, I'd say plastic.

2. I don't care, as long as they are reasonable value for money. A resin or metal model which costs as much as five plastic ones isn't good value for money. Unless you really, really have to have that particular obscure AFVs. Ahem.

Augustus29 Dec 2012 8:58 p.m. PST

My commentary is limited to 28mm, more or less.

1. Historical Right now, plastic is still new. Metals' days are numbered if price rises are any indication and the increasing number of companies offering plastics. I know this I would not be in Napoleonics, ECW, or Spanish War of Succession or starting Crusades if Wargames Factory/Warlord/Victrix/Perry/Conquest had not opted in. The storage issue alone in storing 28mm plastic is far far lighter than lead/pewter.

The metals line in 28mm, IMHO, in the long run, is over. Niche companies will likely be able to survive, but companies looking to expand will look at plastics.

Sci Fi/Fantasy A bit different. Plastic is prevalent and getting larger. Metals are either short-run supports, supplied by niche companies offering smaller lines, older companies with niche/older/new lines that may or may not avaialable before or large companies that have not had a serious issue (yet) with metal production costs. Some of this carries back to Historical. Pretty scattered.

1A. 1/72 plastic is sort-of in its own genre altogether. While 1/72 is viable, I think most of the sculpt work is junk, despite attempts by companies like Zvezda to get out of the rut and actually put some serious work into sculpting before casting. It is a strange scale to work in as waiting on manufacturers to finish or approach a complete range is often heart-breaking.

2. Hard plastic. If soft plastic like 1/72, it will not sell in 28mm. Metal is not a automatic sale. The sale is still made in the sculpts and how whatever material you choose picks up that sculpt and how the price balances against it.

It could be resin, but resin has a lot of issues around it and unless your production method is very efficient (like over 50-60 perfect pulls in a day) then it likely will not be viable. There also an uphill battle as GW's recent issues surrounding resin-cast models can attribute to. Resin is not really intended for mass production unless the company really knows what it is doing and/or has proper tech support/experience. But, I have to say, there are very few substances that can pick up what resin does – when done right, it is far superior that just about any other material to pick up detail. I've seen resin pick up and recast printed wording off a piece of paper in a mold.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Dec 2012 12:34 a.m. PST

"Metal days are numbered" is a big leap I think, especially when you consider that for every plastic figure released there are 100s of countless metal figures being released even to this moment.
Also, I very much still doubt the long term viability of plastics in the historical market (despite the over blown hype)due to a host of reasons --
The intial cost is massive, the sheer volume of product needed (has not anyone else noticed that all the plastic manufactuers are just cherry picking history?), the speed required to release entire ranges in various scales in almost endless periods and deliver it to the market,just to name a few.
So far, the relative few products of hard plastic that have been released have shown no negative impact on simular Old Glory product.
furthermore, it seems to me that some of the intial plastic companies have struggled and that the releases have slowed down and not sped up as was predicted -- Perrys and the toy soldier Company seem to be doing the best but still move at a very slow rate.
All just my humble observations and from someone who has the ability to go into plastics but has chosen to abstain.
Russ Dunaway

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