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Are older miniatures better ?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  wolfie65 20 hours, 10 minutes ago.

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  • #1798835

    wolfie65
    Participant
    1180xp

    I just watched the Weekender from about a month or so ago in which they talk about this subject, which close to my heart.

    For example, I have a soft spot for Minifigs’ 1970s Aureola Rococo and Valley of the Four Winds lines, even some of their historicals.

    Yes, they are rather primitive and crude compared to not only today’s figures but even the 1980s and 90s ones, but it may be that very indistinctness that makes them somehow magical.

    There isn’t much detail, they’re kind of blurry, sort of like a watercolor painting  made threedimensional, and it is precisely those aspects that give them that sense of wonder that is completely absent in modern figures, where every one of the Space Zombie Assassins’ 75 straps ,69 buttons and 15 daggers stand out in the crispest detail the design computer and  resin printer could deliver. NOTHING is left to the imagination, you can even count the little hairs in her eyebrows.

    Contrast that with, to use another example, the molds made by Prince August: Very basic figures, they have nothing they don’t need and if you want additional detail – buttons, straps, pouches, etc. – you have to put them there, either with putty or just paint.

    I feel much the same way about black & white movies from 1930s or earlier. Fuzzy around the edges, soft, blurry focus, scratchy picture, indistinct details make them, in my opinion, look like I’m watching someone’s dream, a sensation you do not get from films made after the early 1940s at the latest. Not to mention the fact that in terms of pure acting ability, many of those old time actors blow most everyone who came after out of the water, easily.

    Speaking of quality, we could include books in this discussion as well, just compare something written in the early 20th century or before with just about anything more recent. It’s like comparing a doctorate dissertation with the scribblings of a grade schooler.

    #1798841

    sundancer
    42139xp
    Cult of Games Member

    I agree with you that today you just need some Speed/contrast type of paint and block them in an voila you’ve got some painted minis. Slap on the same colours on old sculpts and the results would be underwhelming. There is much more need for coverage with pigment and as you said some details must be drawn in.

    It’s like “painting with numbers” vs “painting on a blank page”. One takes more skill than the other.

    I like both for different reasons. And I’m sure both have a place in our hobby somewhere.

    #1798916

    wolfie65
    Participant
    1180xp

    The painting part is one aspect. I just watched a TheirTube video on various painting techniques, including  ‘slapchop’ – I guess folks are starting to get a tad sick of black undercoats and the extreme dullness they produce – and they also showed the ‘dip’, which is basically an overall burnt umber/sienna wash to achieve shading. Quite effective as a speed painting method and the figure did look pretty good, but if you did this with a Minifigs or Prince August model ,you’d end up with a humanoid-shaped brown blob.

    None of those techniques apply to me, I use watercolors, so black undercoats, dips and such are a no-no, I neither own nor want an airbrush and washes have to be VERY carefully controlled to not make a mess.

    The look of the models is another aspect. Until the early 00’s, most figures looked more or less like something from history, mythology, folk tales, literature or pop culture, starting with Rackham’s Confrontation , they began to look more and more like someone’s nightmare or something from a video game. See Bardic Broadcast’s TheirTube video on the subject of Heroquest. I have a Wood Elf army consisting of mostly 5th edition and older Citadel, some Grenadier, some Harlequin/Black Tree Design and assorted others, I look at today’s ‘Sylvaneth’ and I don’t even know what any of those are supposed to be. Demented trees ? Heroin-addled Hippies on an extreme starvation diet ? Walking toxic waste ? There’s no way I’m buying any of those figures.

    And not only are they plastic – for the price they should be platinum – they are oh-so-very thin and fragile, just looking at them too hard might break something off. Guess I should be glad they’re not 3D-printed (yet), which would make that even worse. I’m VERY careful with my figures and a 3D-printed rabbit assassin broke 3 times in 2 places just while painting…..

    I hate to think what would happen if I would actually use her in a game.

    #1798919

    sundancer
    42139xp
    Cult of Games Member

    I hate to think what would happen if I would actually use her in a game.

    Your opponent looks at her sternly and she snaps?

    #1798937

    osbad
    4260xp
    Cult of Games Member

    Orc - Godspeaker

    One-piece metal models handcrafted with love are the nadir of the hobby for me.  Of course, I have loads of plastics and resins too in 40 years of collecting and some are quite magnificent.  But nothing for me beats the joy of cracking open a blister pack, picking up a nice, straightforward, one-piece metal model and painting it up in a single session.

    Its the difference for me between art and craft.  Busy modern CAD-designed models are all very well as faithful representations and clear and even exciting models.  But for me it feels they are a photograph in comparison to a Turner painting.  Its about impression and feeling, not rigorous detail.  There are some old models that are unmitigated tat, but there are many that are just wonderfully characterful – whether it is the expression on the face, or just the overall feeling of the model – and I will die on the hill that this is only something that can be done well by hand in greenstuff or beesputty, rather than on a computer screen.

    Maybe its nostalgia, or the way my tastes were formed in my formative years – I am sure there are legions of young-uns who think the modern plastic stuff beats the pants off the “featureless blobs” of old metals, but whatever the cause, its how I am.

    So while I collect modern stuff for gaming purposes, I can’t help but keep browsing the ranks of Alternative Armies ooh-ing and ah-ing over the old Asgard stuff, or flicking through my old copies of White Dwarf (when the issue number was still only in 2 digits) to squint at the grainy black and white photos of Citadel pre-slotta stuff.  And every now and then the odd one pops into my painting pile for old times sake.

    Most of my gaming buddies think I’m slightly insane of course…  And maybe I am!

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 23 hours ago by  osbad.
    #1798985

    saeed
    Participant
    121xp

    It’s nostalgia as you just said the majority of young people will not agree

    #1799012

    wolfie65
    Participant
    1180xp

    I’ll die with osbad on that hill. The comparison of painting vs. photograph is  a good one and many of those young people who might not agree with us are in for a rude awakening when all their techie screens go bye-bye one fine day and they won’t know what to do without all their electronic crutches. They’re already incapable of giving correct change without the computer register telling them how much.

    Alternative Armies are another good, more current example – you can still buy most of them new. They’re certainly not the most finely sculpted, but they’re fun and easy to paint, I think they look very appropriate for their respective scenarios – Flintloque, Slaughterloo, Erin, etc. – and while they are not cheap, you are buying a solid chunk of METAL. That Östarian Hussar weighs more than the entire box set of Space Marines and ain’t gonna break so easily. The bayonets are a little fragile, but such is the nature of wargames bayonets….

    My figure collection goes back to late 60s /early 70s Airfix and Elastolin, my fantasy collection to 70s and 80s Minifigs, Ral Partha and Grenadier, my (incomplete) White Dwarf library starts at number 25 and stops at 300.

    I wish there was a time machine that could take me back to the 80s and leave me there, I’d be on that thing like shot from a cannon. I feel sorry for people who think of 6th edition WHFB as ‘Oldhammer’, everything after 5th is Newhammer to me. Don’t get me started on the re-issue of Warhammer Skirmish code name A$$ of Sickmar. I also feel sorry for people who think of stuff like Nirvana or Stone Temple Pilots as ‘classic rock’, but that’s a whole other story…..

    #1799064

    deartonyblair
    Participant
    143xp

    Like many here I’ve collected since the 70’s. The Minifigs stuff is pure nostalgia for me (Caliver Books now own the molds and are slowly bringing as much of their fantasy lines back as they can). I love the heft of old lead and the lack of detail… when Tom Meier came along he raised the bar a heck of a lot. Todays minis are generally wonderful but the appeal of computer work is slowly leaving me cold. A couple of good sites to see old lead are;

    http://www.deartonyblair.co.uk/ (my blog, use the tab search on the right)

    http://www.miniatures-workshop.com/lostminiswiki/index.php?title=Main_Page Lost Minis WIKI – excellent resource that is also cataloguing new minis as well.

     

     

    #1799203

    ced1106
    Participant
    6124xp

    > It’s nostalgia as you just said the majority of young people will not agree

    56-year youngster here. (:

    With plastics, today’s digitally sculpted plastics have *much* more detail than earlier models, and you have more opportunities to customize miniatures with multipiece. I have some 80’s GW plastic terminators, and they in no way compare against recent ones. And, with boardgames, plastic miniatures have also vastly improved. You can even compare FFG’s Runebound 2nd edition vs 3rd edition miniatures. However, monopose miniatures are limited by undercuts.

    As for metals… I have plenty of junky metal miniatures from the olden days. I have the Grenadier AD&D sets from way back when, and many of the monsters were terrible. At the same time, metal’s lack of undercuts and smaller runs means they can have more expression than plastics and can have more unusual models. So, yeah, you can cherry-pick miniatures from the old days — I like them GW squigs and snotlings, myself.

    3D printing might be more interesting, since you yourself can customize the miniature even magnitudes more than interchangeable multipiece miniatures. I’m certainly seeing buildings with quite a bit of personality in some KS.

    #1799225

    wolfie65
    Participant
    1180xp

    Agree on the board game figures, they certainly have gotten a lot better, some of them even rival wargames quality.

    Details and undercuts are a double-edged sword. Many of those details are so incredibly tiny that no one who isn’t a professional figure painter can ever do them justice – and sometimes even the pros can’t – and some of those undercuts so severe and hiding so much of the model that the only way to get any paint into those extreme recesses are washes. Even airbrush spray won’t reach and no brush held by human hands is small or flexible enough.

    Multipart models are ok to some degree, especially if you like skirmish games in which each and every model is, in fact, an individual, but to my way of thinking, for rank and file, nothing beats the look of 4th edition Warhammer  High Elf spearmen or Goblin archers. I have literally hundreds of those and I love them, whereas 6th edition or later multi-part plastics leave me cold, despite the fact that they may technically be ‘better’ figures.

    Demented Games offer most of their Twisted figures in both a metal ‘gamer’s’ as well as a resin ‘collector’s’ version, and I can’t really see a difference in terms of detail. I’d say sculpting and the quality of the mold itself have more to do with that than material.

    I have a few 3D printed figures and while they are great as unique individuals, I wouldn’t want a whole army of them, especially because they are just so, so incredibly fragile. You can run over a 5th edition Empire halberdier with a truck and he’ll be ok, your 3D Vampire countess will break if you look at her too hard.

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