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"Price vs Quality - on the Madaxeman Podcast" Topic

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madaxeman07 Dec 2020 3:21 a.m. PST

As the festive vaccination season looms large in the minds of wargamers around the world, the Madaxeman podcast team are back with an honest to goodness actual discussion about a topic which seems to be on everyone's Christmas list, why are so many wargamers seemingly more obsessed with the price of a figure than the quality?

The core premise of the discussion is that for the rules we all play, a typical 15mm army comes in at 120-odd figures. That means the price difference between buying an army of the most expensive figures on the market today (50p each = £60.00 GBP) vs the cheapest (31p each = £37.80 GBP) is just £22.80 GBP.

Given figures are at the heart of everything we do as gamers – playing, painting, collecting – and we all keep our collections for years (decades even), we spend loads on paint, terrain, gaming mats… heck, even box sets of naval games from Warlord Games that we'll be lucky to play even once – in what part of our collective psyche does it make sense to spend ages calculating how to ‘save' £22.00 GBP on 120 figures we'll spend months painting and play with many times if that means we are compromising on "quality" by not just buying the figures we like the most ?

Why don't we instead spend the same time simply choosing the figures we like the best and then buying them, whether they are 31p, 40p or 50p a pop?

There is also all of the usual painting, gaming and Gallic techno-driven military themed obscure general knowledge to fill your early December weekends and evenings as well as a quick diversion into airbrushing, a cough-assessment section (no, not like that..), a fairly comprehensive listing of those world museums displaying collections of "stand alone" military legs, many admissions of accidental purchasing, and a lengthy almost-feature on how to make an old rusty skip look like an old rusty skip using hairspray and fake rubble.

Podcast Link to Podbean : link

(the "price vs quality" chat starts around 43:30 if you want to skip the rest)

Or search for "Madaxeman Podcast" using any of your usual podcast providers

Pontifex07 Dec 2020 5:18 a.m. PST

"Why don't we instead spend the same time simply choosing the figures we like the best and then buying them, whether they are 31p, 40p or 50p a pop?"

If you're focusing on 15mm, as this posting seems to have done, it's likely because there is not quite yet the supply or demand for individual figures at that scale. If I want to buy a single 15mm figure, I kind of have to work at it.

Now, for 28mm figures, we already ARE doing that – we are ridiculously spoiled for choice with 3d printing not only available to people buying a printer, but also to anyone who spends a few minutes on Etsy. One doesn't need to personally and directly support 3d "sculptors" now, just to buy a few printed figures.

Also, I dare say this argument goes from murmur to shouting match once we apply it to 28/32mm scales. What certain… companies… charge for a single character model these days would have bought you a whole platoon of figures in days that are very well within memory of most people on TMP.

Of course, I could just listen to the podcast… but that's what you WANT us to do, blast it! :)

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Dec 2020 7:07 a.m. PST

120 figure armies? My Viking army (in 15mm) is 700 figures as are my Saxons – for big battles. My skirmish forces for each are about 150 figures. So for gamers who play big games the price difference can add up. My Napoleonics are 24 man foot or 8 man horse battalions. And a Napoelonics army requires loads of units you don't use every game as opposed to, say, a DBA army where you might have, at most, 12-15 figures not in play in a given game. Same goes for WW2 and many other periods.

For me, my hobby is very, very cheap in relation to income. That is not true for everybody. I have plenty of customers for whom $30 USD requires careful thought, and who will always try to find ways to save even $5 USD if they can.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Dec 2020 8:22 a.m. PST

Good points Tim.
I enjoyed your stuff here!


Prince Rupert of the Rhine07 Dec 2020 9:35 a.m. PST

I have to say it we are talking 15mm, or smaller, I'm using them becuase I want a lot of minis in play so cost becomes an issue. Also with out trying upset those who love the smaller scales when you go below 25mm the minis are so small, to my eye, that quality of sculpt gets pretty much lost in a mass of small blobs. Sure if I hold the minis right up to my face I might be able see some differences in quality but I won't be doing that I'll be looking at them from three feet away. Quality Vs cost really only comes into play, for me, when playing smaller games with 25/28mm miniatures where a the difference in sculpt quality is actually noticeable from a distance and I might need few enough miniatures that I can afford to splurge on the better sculpts.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Dec 2020 3:08 p.m. PST

I agree with Prince Rupert to a point.

I always buy the nicest figures I can find because painting mediocre figures sucks all the fun out of it….

Yesthatphil07 Dec 2020 3:55 p.m. PST

Just bought some Mirliton 15mm figures direct from Italy. The effective cost including shipping being around the same per figure as mid-range 28mm figures. Price isn't really an issue as long as the quality and individuality is there.

The guff about 28mm figures isn't really an issue (it's the kind of thing 28mm fanboys always come out with). There are plenty of people looking for the economy choice in any scale (indeed hard plastics have really got a foothold in the 28mm marketplace precisely because they offer more for your money).

I certainly was much more price conscious when I was a wargame youngster with limited resources – but after buying more Minifigs than Hinchliffe, I realised that, given the amount of time I spent painting them, buying cheap was a false economy.

I play in all scales from 6mm (well, OK, even smaller, for my naval collections) to 90mm (Gladiators) and ugly is ugly in any scale (and a 'regret', and a waste of time); quality is quality in any scale (and is always, in retrospect, worth every penny I spent) …

Indeed, 'regret' is a good word: my collection is quite big these days and I've loved every minute of building it over the last nearly 50 years. The rare 'regret' purchases are always where cost or availability meant compromising on quality, and they are the figures that get sold or swapped.

I always buy the nicest figures I can find because painting mediocre figures sucks all the fun out of it…

Could not have put it better.

Proprietors of brands that charge a bit more seem to do alright, so I am not sure there is any real evidence that we are cheapskates!


Prince Rupert of the Rhine07 Dec 2020 10:23 p.m. PST

A couple of points.

1) What constitutes the "nicest" miniatures is in the eye of the beholder costing more doesn't automatically equate to nicer miniatures. Taking Phil's example I'd pick Mini figs over Hinchcliffe every time minifigs where always easy to paint and I never liked the Hinchcliffe miniatures I had.

2) Also I've painted plenty of expensive miniatures that were no fun to paint due to the amount of detail on the miniature. IMO good quality expensive sculpts also need a good paint job I've seen plenty of good miniatures made to look a lot less good due to the owners average brush skills.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Dec 2020 2:14 a.m. PST

Agree with you Phil


Yesthatphil08 Dec 2020 3:12 a.m. PST

What constitutes the "nicest" miniatures is in the eye of the beholder costing more doesn't automatically equate to nicer miniatures.

I agree with you completely, Prince Rupert … I think I was just saying that when I had less disposable income, and let price be my guide, I didn't always make the best choices.

Wargaming and collecting is generally, of course (as the podcast points out) a remarkably inexpensive passtime compared to other grown-up leisure activities (and, indeed, specialist collecting) so it is all relative.

I'm laughingly confident that the last 50 years hasn't been wasted!


arthur181508 Dec 2020 4:45 a.m. PST

Price has certainly influenced my choice of scale – 10 mm – but I have settled on a manufacturer who offers a good range and whose figures I like, rather than picking the cheapest.

I think some of the concern about price is psychological: I'm old enough to remember when a box of 20mm Airfix figures was two shillings (£0.10 GBP in today's money), so seeing them at £5.99 GBP GBP or more now does make me pause!

Prince Rupert of the Rhine08 Dec 2020 4:53 a.m. PST

arthur@ I can relate. I have the same issue with games workshop I remember citadel miniatures being about 50p a metal figure now they often want £20.00 GBP for a single plastic space marine character I just can't get past it.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Dec 2020 7:08 a.m. PST

I'll spend the money on a figure if I love the figure. I have some trolls from Mierce miniatures that cost quite a pretty penny.

But these days all those ranges – Warmachine, 40k, Sigmar – just look silly so I pass them quickly by.

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