Tuesday, November 1, 2011

When bad ideas catch on.

I woke up this morning got my cup of coffee and sat down at the computer to do my normal routine, check my email, and browse the news and hobby feeds and this one seriously put a downer on my day. The announcement that Black Scorpion Miniatures is switching to resin is some akin to finding out the maker of your favorite soft drink its changing it formula, because somebody somewhere "thinks its good idea."  You'd think Games Workshops, bad press over "Failcast" (and whether sales or lack of back the hype in unknown to me, but regardless the BAD vibe is out there for all but the most faithful). would have enforced the old adage, "IF IT AIN'T BROKE DONT FIX IT" but apparently this is lost on Black Scorpions master sculptor and head honcho, Adam Clarke.

I love Black Scorpion miniatures and while thankfully, I have enough Pirates of theirs and other manufactures to make a 3000 point WFB army. It doesnt mean I'm not interested in new releases and with talk of Old West picking up around here as the next skirmish game we dig into, I have easy a good 3 dozen figs I want to pick up. Mr. Clarke goes into detail on why they make the switch, and to his credit he doesn't follow GW's lead with the bait and switch price increase, but the same old justifications/ rationalizations for covering that its just a cheaper manufacturing medium just isnt flying with me.
The primary reasons everyone likes to sell you is it looks better and holds more detail, and maybe so to a perfect cast. However considering Black Scorpions has some of best detailed pewter sculpts on the markets this is completely negligible. I can also tell you I have two of Black Scorpions' convention only exclusive releases in Resin and they do not in anyway look better than the pewter figures, in fact I was hoping they released the one (Lord Nelson) in Pewter because I thought it would look better.
Another line of bunk they like to sell is its lighter? well who cares Black Scorp doesnt release models for large format tournament style games so you're not hauling 100's of figures, and do you want models that can take handling and game play or ones the fall over when a breeze comes threw the room or can bend and be bent back or break and shatter?

Metal/Lead/ Pewter miniatures are the medium of craft and have been since this hobby got going in late 70's for old farts like me, who have involved in it since then. It "is" the medium, its part of the craft, the nostalgia its "what it is". Of course I realize the cost and mass production have forced the necessity of plastic and resin figures. I havent even really got that accepting of plastic, while I have alot of great plastic figures. And at the time I started this blog, (Note: Plastic Legions)  I even convinced myself that plastic was the way to go forward in the hobby, based on GW's excellent plastics however as time went one I dug into other plastics out there. The writing on the wall was pretty clear I sure have plenty of mediocre plastic figures that really just remind of bag of plastic army men from the corner store but at 10 times the price. The issue with good plastics or course being price, which is why we have resin, its cheap, it feels cheaps, it looks cheap, its toxic.
Resin is fine for some things, like terrain. I look it at like plaster..its a cheap medium for making things in simple molds and gets the job done for smaller detail work as its cheaper than metal. Whoever thought its was a great idea for fine detail, hand sculpted, expensive miniatures, had the makings of great Con man because thats the bottom line, period. COST. No matter how they dress it up to you. Since Black Scorpion hand packs and cleans their products ( BS miniatures are also some of the cleanest out the package metals, I have seen). Something that its buyers surely appreciate, so I hope that its not following GW's lead there too and going on the chopping block a surely lethal combination for a small manufacture.

Games Workshop has of course pushed this charade on the gaming public for the uber boutique Forge World with its great sculpts and horrible quality or their "Finecast line" it all boils down to increase profit with a cheaper medium and marketing to make you think its better. I'm not sure if Black Scorpion has delusions of grandeur with its new Cutlass game thinking its going to cash on the GW faithful by going to resin as a selling point (laughable but true) or not. . But I think they need to do some research on who their customers are. Where fans and customers of Black Scorpion miniatures clamoring for a switch to resin and I somehow missed it? maybe so. Somehow I think if presented with the choice of a small price increase or a switch to Resin, people who buy figures for small skirmish games when presented with a choice would opt for the former.
I guess I could go to over the "Lead" (note: not "Resin" of even "Plastic) Adventure forum and ask around but I am pretty sure what the answer will be...sometimes this Hobby just makes you want to bang your head against the wall. I guess I wouldnt care if they didnt make stuff I actually had an interest in. And so another one bites the dust and creates a secondary market for own figures working against its itself...sigh.


Scott said...

I hope this is not a worry trend that will spread through the rest of the hobby manufacturers. It took me a long while to get my head round the switch from metal to plastics, and for the large number of core troops big armies require, I can go along with it, though its still nice to have metal command figures with a higher level of detail. I still find it takes far longer to trim prep and assemble plastic figures compared to full cast metals, so they certainly don't save you any time! :-( I have so far resisted purchasing any resin stuff, due to all the bad press. That last tag 'toxic' is rather worrying...

The Lord of Excess said...

Argh ... I can handle plastic, it doesn't bother me at all really. Its easy to work with, won't break, etc. But I HATE resin, its SHITE, total SHITE! The best castings of it have bubbles, are warped, break easily, etc. Only big solid minis should be cast in pewter, anything with a sword or a gun should NOT!! I really hope this isn't a trend either. I'd hate to see it all go resin. I can handle plastic, but not resin ... :( I'm sad about Black Scorpion too I've been wanting to pick up some of their minis for a long time now ... if I am not able to in time to snag some of their metals I probably won't bother ... I just won't do resin at all.

Poosh said...

I strongly disagree with this post weirdly. Firstly plastic can only achieve certain positions whereas metal and resin can achieve much richer details, plastic limits what you can do. But I really think you have a wrong notion of Finecast. Putting aside the price, I have a host of Finecast, all are of excellent quality: superior to metal with superior detail: this just isn't an opinion, if you are as objective as you can be when looking at the actual material, it is far superior to using metal. It is far easier to build large monsters than metal. GW failed with Finecast due to sloppy quality control and their pricing. The actual product, in and of itself, is superb. Finecast is different to standard resin though note.

In edition Mantic produce original metal models in plastic-resin and then DOUBLE the number of models in the box when they make the switch. PP also make plastic-resin models. I think you've been grossly unfair here!

Only Finecast produces superior details to metal as it's a different substance to what other companies are using. PP switched from metal to plastic-resin and I happen to think they did a great job.

John@Plastic Legions said...


Well clearly some people like resin miniatures or it wouldn't be popular medium it is. If you like the soft GW resin of Finecast as your medium to work with and can accept the price and lack of quality control..more power to you. fair or not, I hate it.

I dont begrudge the use of plastic for kits for Large format army games like WFB or Mantic either its the only way they could possibly go. I own plenty of both.

In Black Scorpions case however I find it a whole different story IMO -this is unnecessary switch aimed at cost control and targeting the GW market (and apparently is will speed up releases according to Adam) However that doesn't change the fact the plenty of fans of the company dont and wont like this change and they will surely be losing customers. I am disappointed as a Black Scorpion fan and customer, than now instead of buying miniatures from them directly, I'll be shopping for there original pewter figures second hand.


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