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"Is 28mm the problem?" Topic

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10 Nov 2017 11:39 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Is 28 mm the problem?" to "Is 28mm the problem?"

1,390 hits since 10 Nov 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Early morning writer Inactive Member10 Nov 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

Now, before the knee jerk responses that are sure to come, hear me out.

On some levels the broad 'hobby' of miniatures is fine and growing. But for historicals, it seems there has been retrenchment on a variety of fronts.

True enough, there is a move into skirmish gaming by many and thus very small numbers of figures, relatively, needed. Fine as far as it goes. But, in so many ways, it doesn't go very far. At least not if your goal is to get a sense of historical tactics and events within the obvious, and considerable, constraints of gaming in miniature. And, of course, the first goal should be having fun. But…

Based on the size and expense of 28 mm and the greater challenge of achieving a superior paint job and the reality that the advertised figures are usually painted by professional painters who run circles around most of us, perhaps 28 mm is intimidating some people either out of the hobby or into its hither shadows.

While a beautifully painted miniature army is a wonderful thing to have and to behold only a fraction of hobbyists will have either the skill or the resources to achieve such a worthy goal. For most of us, a 'good enough' paint job to get to the game we want to recreate the battle we want to recreate is so much easier to achieve. And smaller scales, my choice being 15 mm or 18 mm of late, is less costly, easier to paint, and either permits a smaller table or the same size table becomes a 'larger' space. Plus you get a better figure to ground scale (though always something of an abstraction and, in larger scales, often times an absurdity). But the scale might be 'true' 25 mm, or 10 mm. Nothing against 6 mm and smaller but that is a bit of a different discussion though people do skirmish in 6 mm and the whole budget and space issue is even less 'traumatic' in the smaller scales.

So, is 28 mm (and some of the larger scales up 40/42 mm) a part of the problem? Or even those gigantics, 54 mm?

Mind you, I have been eying some of the 40 mm ranges so I'm not entirely a partisan of my chosen scale. And that really shouldn't be the point of this discussion, partisanship towards a particular scale. But has the phenomenon of the larger figures where their admittedly wonderful paint jobs when done my artistic hobbyists and professional painters caused some folks to back away from the hobby or practice in secret where their less than eye-catching paintwork won't embarrass them? The hobby press and a lot of what gets posted on the web are predominantly in the larger scale. And, yes, there are some who post painted figures that are average and some even embarrassing to look at let alone be responsible for (though a painted figure of any quality is better than an unpainted figure!). But it seems most of the public images are of the 'professional' or 'artistic' level.

Thus, is this a part of the problem?

This is not intended to start some sort of 'war' but to really explore the impact of larger figures with superior paint jobs on the hobby of recreating historical battles in miniature. And I guarantee you I understand the older eyes part of the equation why I've been eyeing those 40 mm figures.

While I'm at it, I may as well toss in this thought. Miniature wargaming came of age with the baby boomers who grew up on westerns and other movies of historical battles, who started life with minimal impact from television, who didn't have the distractions of computers and the ever growing numbers of electronic distractions including being able to watch movies at home (a great time suck in my life because I'm a big movie fan). We discovered the Airfix range and put them to very good use. Also, I think we were a much more 'hands-on' generation than those that followed and this is very much a tactile hobby, we like to handle our efforts and then sit back and admire and share our results. All of that may be a contributing factor as the younger set with their smaller attention spans gravitate to activities that don't require any large time commitment. And, sad to say, I think we were a more imaginative lot we 'created' what we built out of Legos, now kids follow the instructions to build a specific model.

Of course, there are generalizations above, but my question still stands.

Lastly, this is not a rant against availability. Sure there are some items in larger scales I'd like to find in my scale but, frankly, over the last decade or so we've been spoiled for choice, I shall mention but two sources of vast ranges of figures, Peter Pig in the 15 realm and Blue Moon in the 18 mm realm, so many ranges with so many packs from both. There are many others. And they've gotten plenty of my money. So that is not my issue here. I'm really curious.

(got posted in a wrong thread, too, reposted to get the thread title right!)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 9:30 a.m. PST

I don't think so. The same logic could be applied to scale modeling, playing guitar or cooking.

Rhysius Cambrensis Inactive Member10 Nov 2017 9:37 a.m. PST

Different people enjoy different games at different scales. Why is this a problem precisely?

foxweasel10 Nov 2017 9:40 a.m. PST

In a nutshell, are you saying that people who can't paint particularly well are being put off becoming wargamers?

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 9:42 a.m. PST

RC: +1.

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 9:48 a.m. PST

I agree with the honourable member for Cambridge.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 9:56 a.m. PST

Part of WHAT problem?
Your rant was so long my eyes glazed over.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine10 Nov 2017 10:02 a.m. PST

I'll be honest I'm more of a painter and modeller than a player these days. Most of the models I paint rarely see to much table top action. So I'm kind of the exact opposite of.

For most of us, a 'good enough' paint job to get to the game we want to recreate the battle we want to recreate

Most of my fun comes from the painting,converting and building the actual army so generally I love 28/30/32mm sized miniatures.

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:06 a.m. PST

I paint fair @ best but I paint to please myself only! My brother paints much better than I do & I really like them but for me average is king!

Personal logo jeffreyw3 Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:13 a.m. PST

I'm with Prince Rupert…

Skeets Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:31 a.m. PST

RC: +2

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:43 a.m. PST

In my opinion, No. (As an answer to the original question.)

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:47 a.m. PST

Dunno. The people you really need to ask are those poor discouraged ones in the shadows. Certainly the rise of video games cleared out a lot or people who didn't care about the look of the thing. I find myself going to a lot of effort to get period and place appropriate buildings that none of us cared about 40+ years ago.

But from the looks of some of the SF and fantasy armies, plenty of those players care about appearances too. I think we need to look elsewhere to find the reason(s) historical gaming is less and less a part of the convention and magazine scene.

Oberlindes Sol LIC10 Nov 2017 10:49 a.m. PST

I'm still not sure what the problem is, but that won't stop me from commenting. (Like anything has ever stopped me from commenting.)

When I was a kid in the 1960s, most of our toys were pretty generic. We had plastic army men (and pirates and cowboys and Indians), Tonka trucks, Matchbox cars, plastic dinosaurs with their names and sizes on the tail, Legos sets that were just boxes of bricks, Erector Sets that were just girders, nuts, and bolts, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, and GI Joes.

None of these toys were connected to anything in particular, other than our imaginations. Our WW2 army men might ride into battle against the dinosaurs on Tonka trucks.

Over time, I have seen toys becoming more and more tied to specific universes: Star Wars and Star Trek and Tron and things that I haven't heard of because I don't watch children's tv. I started noticing in the late 1980s, and the trend has only grown.

The closest things we had to pre-universed toys when I was a kid were the Fireball XL5 set (it cost $6 USD! I still can't believe that my father actually bought it for me for my birthday), the submarine Seaview (in bright yellow and it really worked in water, even at the beach!), and Fort Apache (which was based on a 1948 movie that none of us would see until we were college students). Those toy sets were, actually, almost as generic as the other things.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 10:53 a.m. PST

I am not sure what the problem is. I have seen plenty of 25s that have been painted -- at best -- to a mediocre standard. Everyone still seemed to be enjoying the game. I have no delusions that my figures will look anything like the figures in magazines. For that matter, my table is not going to look like a magazine picture, either.

Personal logo Striker Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 11:05 a.m. PST

If the problem is that people who don't paint as well as others are hiding away or dropping out of the hobby, then I don't see a problem caused by figure size. Personality would probably be more of an impact.

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 11:27 a.m. PST

For me 28mm has become the solution. I CAN SEE THEM!!

basileus66 Inactive Member10 Nov 2017 11:32 a.m. PST

Short answer: no.

Long answer: I paint trying my best regardless the figures come in 28mm or 15mm, so, in the end, the time I save painting 15s is marginal. And nowadays, with plastics, savings using 15s are not that big either.

attilathepun47 Inactive Member10 Nov 2017 11:35 a.m. PST

I don't think the scale is the problem per se. For those people who are into historical gaming, it is more an aspect of a shift in attitude in favor of "the look of the game" and ease of play over focusing on questions of historical tactics and the competitive nature of wargaming.

There is a question of appropriate scale, however. Larger scales may be fine for skirmish gaming or wars where all the battles were fairly small (War of 1812, for example). But if you want to play significant battles of the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War, then I say that anything larger than 15mm scale is an absurd choice, based on both cost and space. By the way, I started out with 25mm figures when I first got into miniatures gaming in the 1970's, but abandoned that scale as soon as decent quality 15mm figures became available--I have never regretted that choice.

I go along with the theory that the overall decline of historical wargaming is a generational thing, based on the endless spewing of ridiculous mind-rot from the media, with the toy producers following suit, which has proceeded at an increasing pace at least since the 1970's.

FABET0110 Nov 2017 11:39 a.m. PST

There is no problem. You simply have a different set of gaming values then those that enjoy skirmish and 28mm figures.

And the idea that you can't get a sense of period tactics with 28mm is just absurd. You just may not be getting the "Big Picture" but that will depend on the battle and period your playing. The more modern, the more appropriate skirmish becomes. That doesn't even consider how much of medieval and early wasn't much more than tribal warfare (clan feuds, Viking raids,…).

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 12:10 p.m. PST

In my experiences and interactions with other gamers the problem is not scale, but time. Most gamers who want to do a large army in 28mm can usually afford to and more often than not have the room to put on games in that scale. The big issue is the time to paint a 28mm army, which is becoming off putting for most.

Last week I finally showed off my 28mm Seleucid army for Hail Caesar (we used it for Kings of War) that I've been working on for well over a year and is up to around 450 figures. After the initial shock of seeing what I had done and why, most of the comments were about how people would rather paint up smaller forces, why not do it in 15mm, and pretty much everything including the kitchen sink about the pitfalls of doing a large 28mm army. Just changing times.

Tin hat10 Nov 2017 12:14 p.m. PST

I couldn't seem to find a theme to your question. What was your point again?


princeman10 Nov 2017 12:29 p.m. PST

I have been into miniature gaming for over 42 years now and the same questions keep coming up.
We as a hobby need to be less paranoid and just enjoy what we are doing.
Wish I had a dollar for every time in those 42 years someone asked about the graying of the hobby – is scale of figures an issue or does your paint cover in one coat.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Nov 2017 2:14 p.m. PST

A reminder, 28mm is a size, not a scale. The 1/56, 1/72 etc scale figures are produced in scale.

evilgong10 Nov 2017 2:46 p.m. PST

How are the boffins going in inventing a machine to paint figs, or a 3D printer that spits out fully-coloured / painted figs of a high quality?

David F Brown

Black Hat Miniatures10 Nov 2017 2:48 p.m. PST

I can't see why 28mm is "an absurd choice" any more than 54mm, which I am moving towards for a lot of gaming. All games have a token representation of the actual men either by ground scale or by a ratio of models to actual soldiers. In 54mm that ratio might have to be a little higher but you can play exactly the same games in 54mm that you can play in 6mm…

So, I don't think 28mm is the problem – people seem to be moving into smaller games, more skirmish and a focus on complete systems rather than developing their own…


advocate10 Nov 2017 2:54 p.m. PST

Please, I read the first part of the post and skimmed the rest. Still couldn't identify the problem of which you speak.
I have figures in a variety of scales, and glory in the fact that I can. They all have their appeal.

idontbelieveit10 Nov 2017 3:18 p.m. PST

OP said there was a retrenchment – people cutting back on their spending. I'm not sure that's a problem. The guys I game with spend a lot less than they used to, I would say, but part of that is because we have a lot of nice stuff we use.

The only real complaint I hear is not having enough time to paint so in going for new periods it's often skirmish games because you can get a really good contingent with a lot less time.

Our group is 28s only really with no interest in any other scale, er, size :-).

Pizzagrenadier10 Nov 2017 7:27 p.m. PST

Even a cursory glance at the number of young gamers and modelers on Instagram and Pinterest or even Facebook groups who are doing an incredibly prolific amount of stunning work at a level and quality us older generation gamers would never have dreamed of proves just how wrong the assertion of the OP really is.

You need to get out more and see what the hobby is up to…

Pat Ripley Fezian10 Nov 2017 8:08 p.m. PST

There are more figures available than ever before in a whole range of scales so that doesn't seem to indicate a problem.

The ability to have figures produced to your whim is certainly available to those who have the cash to splash which further diversifies the pool.

The "press" and i include youtube/websites have coverage of a range of things of astronomical quality and it only takes a click to disappear down the rabbit hole of a new interest.

There is a huge underground of folks around the world who game in their little communities and who don't really appear in even the more obscure media let alone attending conventions or tournaments.

Large scale historical games of a particular realism are probably as rare as they have ever been. After all you need time and money to do them which is why it's always been a grey hobby. It's just they don't get all the coverage they might have had in the "old days"

A big part of the scene for me is painting and modelling so for me not having big historical games isn't an issue even though it may be an interest that keeps me reading. nb i dont have the patience to deal with an opponent for a 6 hour game.

The skirmish games regardless of whether you call them "mass battles" fit well time wise with many of our lives and schedules. 28mm figures fit really well with that scale of game and certainly look pretty.

basileus66 Inactive Member10 Nov 2017 10:44 p.m. PST

The only real complaint I hear is not having enough time to paint so in going for new periods it's often skirmish games because you can get a really good contingent with a lot less time.

Indeed! I've been trying to game Late Roman period for ages, but never had the time to paint an army. Now, by using Saga or Dux Britanniorum I have had the time to paint and game.

abelp0111 Nov 2017 5:51 a.m. PST

For me it was my disaffection from the current batch of Napoleonic rules and not having to deal with eye strain. At this point in my life I prefer a short skirmish game using beatifully painted 28s than a 6 to 10 hour battle. I love painting moreso now than when I was painting 18s. I will return to painting smaller size minis, but for the foreseeable future I'll be painting 28s.

ordinarybass Inactive Member11 Nov 2017 3:31 p.m. PST

-28mm is not the problem. Not for those who enjoy skirmishes or big tables and not even for those who are fine with oddly compressed ground scales.

-28mm is not hard to paint to a solid tabletop standard for those willing to do a bit of dipping. My stuff is painted fast and dipped and garners compliments often.

-28mm isn't even terribly expensive. Whether the new crop of plastic kits or the old bargains standbys like old glory, there are bargains to be had even before venturing into the used marekt.

-As for the tired old complaint against this current generation, I dont see it. Maybe they are a bit less interested in history but SAGA, FoW, Bolt Action, etc are going strong and as regards the wider wargaming hobby that encompases historical and fantsy/sci-fi gaming it's growing with lots of new blood. Take a gander at Adepticon coverage and tell me with a straight face that the youngsters aren't comign into the hobby.

-Lastly, as regards LEGO, it's just not that true overall, and I'm quite involved in the LEGO community. Sure things come as sets. They also come with a much wider variety of pieces which are used to great effect by the LEGO fan community of kids and adults who build their own creations. Spend a few minutes on Google looking at the "My Own Creations" (MOCs) that young and old are doing and be amazed.

I have little patience (perhaps because I'm younger ;-) ) for the tired old "this darn generation" kind of arguments. Your folks said it about you, you said it about us and maybe I'll say it about my kids, but it doesn't make any of it really true.

Puster Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2017 6:15 p.m. PST

For me 28mm is a problem, because I fail to paint sufficient minis to build armies. I need a week for a single mini, because I know if I paint faster I can be much better, and I hate being worse then I could be.

On the other hand that also happens in 15mm, or in 6mm, and I fail to see how another size can solve that problem for me.

That said… wether 28mm is a problem or not depends on the question. If the thickness of a pencil is the question, then 28mm is ineed a bit on the excessive side…

Great War Ace Inactive Member12 Nov 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

Or even those gigantics, 54 mm?

Pft! Midgets. I game in 90mm aka 1:20 scale, when I am not gaming with "big 25s", aka as 28mm. I still use my true 25s alongside the bigger stuff, because I like my older miniatures.

The rules determine all: the approach is tailored by the rules used; "approach" equals mindset. So if your rules are single basing or multi basing, right there you are operating in different hemispheres. The rules determine how much abstraction is in the game. Miniatures are only tokens, not the rules. In our game we could dispense with miniatures altogether, because it is the basing sizes that determine "man count" and their combat value. But we have always loved models and the thought of playing without them is boring.

People who only play commercially developed games are as midges orbiting this candle or that one. The next shiney product to come along arrests their attentions and they are off, buying miniatures to suit, amassing a conglomeration of disunited, game/rules-specific toys. No wonder they bail along the way. It isn't the scale of the toys, it is the demand of the rules that they comply and buy the specific miniatures. That approach does not foster lifelong interest.

Modellers who happen to game are the staying base in this hobby.

Codsticker12 Nov 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

People who only play commercially developed games are as midges orbiting this candle or that one. The next shiney product to come along arrests their attentions and they are off, buying miniatures to suit, amassing a conglomeration of disunited, game/rules-specific toys. No wonder they bail along the way. It isn't the scale of the toys, it is the demand of the rules that they comply and buy the specific miniatures. That approach does not foster lifelong interest.
Nonsense. Playing with miniatures is like any other interest/past time/hobby: people become disengaged for a whole host of reasons; some come back, some do not, some never leave.

UshCha12 Nov 2017 12:32 p.m. PST

I do think there has been a bit of a shift, not good or bad just a shift. In years gone by I felt the game was the thing. More and more it seems to me wargaming is becoming more akin to model railroading where the dominance is to many, the modelling and the running of trains more for the look than detailed operations. There have always been different aspects to our hobby. The key even looking at the latest rules seems to be wargaming without too much deep thought required, to be fair less stressful is on the rise. I think this is just the way it is. In modelling most folk go for 1/35 scale for detail, instead of 1/72. Wargaming seems generally but not exclusively going that way. Me, my pet is 1/144 but it's not for me about the painting and modelling.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 5:54 p.m. PST

So, is 28 mm (and some of the larger scales up 40/42 mm) a part of the problem?………Thus, is this a part of the problem?

I'm sorry……..what's the problem?

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2017 6:09 p.m. PST

People who only play commercially developed games are as midges orbiting this candle or that one. The next shiney product to come along arrests their attentions and they are off, buying miniatures to suit, amassing a conglomeration of disunited, game/rules-specific toys.

Don't over generalize. Makes you look silly. Lol.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2017 10:44 a.m. PST

For me, it depends on the period. In periods requiring mass numbers of troops I do in 15mm, like ACW, Napoleonics and FPW. For others like AWI, Victorian era colonials (I do 2nd Boer war in 28mm) etc. I do in 28mm. I can paint like I used to so, I have started outsourcing themajority of my painting.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2017 10:48 a.m. PST

Young people into Fantasy/Sci-fi seem to be able to paint or have painted 28mm figures. I should think it is the same for 28mm historicals. What was the problem again?

I have gotten into 28mm AWI partly because of the excellent figures that are available. What was the problem again?

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 3:54 p.m. PST

I meant to say was, I can't paint like I use to.

I still enjoy the large battles that take 5 or 6 turns to play out. I can also appreciate the smaller skirmish games that are over in about two hours. But part of what attracted to this hobby are the really big games.

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