Inventory Time

September 1998 Editorial

If you've noticed that I've been doing less work on the website over the last two weeks, you would be right. You see, Michelle the Insurance Agent kindly pointed out to me that since I didn't really know what was in my miniatures collection, it was very hard to determine how much it should be insured for.

Hence, I've been inventorying my miniatures collection.

My holdings are not particularly vast compared to many of yours, but by making continual small investments over a number of years - plus the occasional figures donated for review - my collection runs into several thousand figures/vehicles of all scales and periods. And, like many of your own, my collection of unpainted figures exceeds my collection of painted figures.

Going through everything is a bit like borrowing a time machine, as there are all kinds of memories stirred by different figures. When I was young, I bought what I fancied, with little plan for building coherent groups of figures that would be good for anything (is that how I ended up with three - count 'em, THREE - packs of Turks?). Then I started to discipline myself, to think in terms of projects and armies - but in going through the cabinets, I find forlorn half-painted armies, abandoned on the way to some other project. (I remember when my friends and I were going to do the Battle of the Bulge in 1/285th scale? Here are my late-war Germans, unfinished, left behind when the gaming group decided to go modern instead...) Oh, and here are the figures I've been given or bought from friends who moved away, or moved out of the hobby, or just lost interest in a particular period. (Which explains why I have such odd items as an F-117 Stealth Fighter - not a common sight on the gaming table - and a great pile of Leopards but no other Germans, and a SAM transporter, and an eclectic assortment of NATO trucks ... all inherited when the "modern microarmor" phase ended among my gaming associates. One friend moved up to 20mm and back to WWII, while the other went back to roleplaying.)

I have hopes that this inventory process will help me focus on finishing old projects, rather than rushing impulsively to new projects. But on the other hand, what's the fun of a hobby if it becomes too much like work?

I'm also coming face-to-face with the realization that, frankly, I don't need to buy many more miniatures. I have plenty now. What will make me happier in the long-term will be to finish up my incomplete armies, even if I have to forego the short-term thrill of buying one more regiment, one more squad. And if I do find the buying impulse irresistable, well, perhaps I can influence myself to buy a figure or a pack which builds on something I already have. Why dive into Prussians when my French need more line infantry?

Another point of reflection that occurs to me while I note what I own, is to appreciate the stages of gaming I've gone through:

I've begun to consider that which was inconceivable in years past - hiring a painting service. When I was younger, I thought that painting services were horrendously expensive, and I had so much time to paint everything I wanted. Now, I am beginning to realize that I'll never be able to paint everything myself, and that perhaps it would be a wiser investment of my hobby budget to pay for painting, rather than to buy yet more figures I won't have time to paint. And yet, I love painting so, and I'm not sure it will "feel right" to play with figures painted by someone else...

It has been instructive to me, while I have been taking stock of my miniatures, to also "take stock" in where I'm going with this hobby, to formulate my goals and figure out how I'm going to get there. Even a hobby can use a little planning and forethought.

A Milestone: Before I sign off, I should mention that this old web-magazine broke through another threshold this month - yes, there is now more than 26 megs worth of material here. Maybe not as well organized or beautifully presented as I might like, but hey, it's still an accomplishment. (No wonder I can't get my armies painted, I've got to write up another new game for the website...)

Comments or corrections?