|This is an attempt at creating one of the 1 pounder Grenz light guns that were used to support the Grenz infantry early in the SYW. The gun is from Parkfield Miniatures, RSM gunner with paint conversion, RSM grenzer with rammer instead of rifle.
Saturday 17 March 2012
"In wargaming, as in life, consumerism will not lead to satisfaction."
Ah, wise words indeed. Who am I quoting? Well... Alright, I apologise. I'm quoting myself, from the one and only article I ever had published in a wargames glossy (Battlegames 24). In pursuit of this philosophy, I have been making a virtue of necessity over the last couple of years by not spending a great deal on the hobby, for the simple reason that I don't have a great deal to spend - or perhaps one might say I simply can't justify spending much on wargaming when more practical items need purchasing and bills need paying. But this month I had a rare experience - a bonus in my monthly salary. So I thought I might treat myself to a bit of lead, just to raise the spirits a little, and grant myself a small reward amidst life's pressures.
But what to choose? In the end I decided to add some 'speciality' figures to my SYW collection, which I could use to decorate my battlefields in order to add to the visual spectacle. I'm talking about some musicians, a civilian vignette or two, a senior officer in a striking pose, and some artillerymen or pioneers to scatter about the place. Such figures have an interest in themselves, being fun to collect and paint, but also have the advantage that you can use them in just about all your games, as their only function is to fill up the gaps on the field of battle and give one's set-ups a more satisfying and interesting appearance.
I settled on Eureka Miniatures, being initially attracted by a nice pair of artillerymen carrying a small powder chest between them, and a nice looking vignette of George Washington dismounted with his horse and a pair of his dogs (which could stand in for any aristocratic gentleman from the tricorne era). Browsing the site, I added in a few musicians and mounted trumpeters, some dismounted hussars, and came up with a figure which was... well, frankly much too much. Well over £70 in fact. Eureka foot figures are £2 each, mounted £4. So I scaled down the order and got it down to about £35. Then I began my checkout. And then I found that postage from Australia would be £17. That's half the cost of my order! UK stockists? I could find only one, and the stock was limited, not to mention the fact that the figures themselves were more expensive anyway to compensate for being imported. So I returned to my checkout page, and looked at it for a few minutes, pondering. Following which, I muttered the immortal words 'Ah, fuck it' and closed the page down. I had saved myself 50 quid.
The purpose of this post is not to berate the wargames industry in general, or Eureka in particular, for their high prices. I'm sure Eureka would sell their stuff cheaper if they could, and I am willing to believe (albeit reluctantly) that the postage from Oz really is that much. It seems I have lost track of how prices for unpainted lead in the larger scales have increased. I'm used to good old RSM95 prices, where a foot figure can still be obtained for around 70p, or a bit less. Furthermore, for someone who has been known to bemoan the price of contemporary rulesets, this does rather put things into perspective. Creating a new army in 28mm must be a very expensive process indeed, in the light of which a set of rules for £25 must be small change. None of which, however, makes me feel much better about the hobby.
I guess really I'm saying that I continue to feel that the sentiments I expressed in that article hold true. I can do without those extra figures. My artillery batteries can be attended by some individually based musketeers which I already have lying around; I can paint up some spare officers to scatter about the place; and I can complete some mounted civilians that are still in my small 'lead mountain'. And that will be fine. In addition, I can see that to someone contemplating buying a new good quality golf club, or, (to choose a subject closer to home) a parent considering buying a new dressage saddle for their daughter, £40-50 isn't much. I guess wargaming still counts as a cheap hobby. But sometimes it really doesn't feel that way. It would seem a hundred unpainted foot figures can still easily cost you £200 pounds. And unfortunately I find that I have no desire at all to wargame in any scale below 15mm. In fact, I have a hankering to wargame with 40-42mm figures in the horse and musket era. Fat chance!
Ah well. So, order cancelled. To add a splash of colour to this sorry story, I conclude with a photo of some purely decorative figures purchased a while back, which I never presented in their painted form, then a photo of a recent small artillery project. TTFN!