Saturday 17 March 2012

Order Cancelled

"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!

L to R: (All Willie Figures unless mentioned) French engineer officer painted as Austrian engineer; British officer as Prussian officer of miners with RSM guard; Hovels farmer w/sheep; French engineer again as Austrian officer of pioneers with RSM guard; British sutleress; Farm girl and Farm boy; British officer as Wurtemburg artillery officer.

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. 


Prince Lupus said...

I have found my solace in 1/72 plastic. I can get about 50 figures for £5.

Itinerant said...

You'll never have buyer's remorse from a non-purchase.

I applaud your decision. I've done this several times. And I've never regretted it.

Shelldrake said...

I feel your pain on this - postage is a real killer for most things and Australia Post has high costs.

Even though I live 'close-ish' to Eureka the cost of postage hurts a bit for me too.

Australia isn't alone here - the number of companies in the US that charge outrageous postage costs (cough old glory cough) prevents me from buying from them too.

What makes it worse is that there are cheaper postage rates in the US - these companies just don't offer them in their checkouts.

For Eureka's defence - they only charge the actual cost of postage.

Solution? Group buy with other people. Not so easy to find.

Are you able to get to Salute 2012 in London? Eureka will be there and you can ask them to bring some items with them.

Ross Mac said...

As in other aspects of life, it seems to me that a relatively small increase or decrease in over all income can have a profound impact on hobby budgets. It seems like there is a tipping point where on one side dropping a couple of hundred dollars on hobbies is negligible while on the other it is irresponsible at best. I am continually amazed at the number of people who can drop a few thousand dollars a year on hobbies and gadgets without blinking.

I'm glad that I took up homecasting before I retired and that I actually really like a lot of 1/72nd plastics.


PaintPig said...

I suspect we have all been there, many times I have gone to the final round of checking out and shut the browser down. Hmmm, it has never stopped me from sleeping at night.

Great post.

Keith Flint said...

Thanks for the comments. I have often seen those boxes of 1/72nd plastics in hobby shops and been tempted. They could certainly be an alternative if I decide to try a new period.

abdul666 said...

To be responsible / wise is not always pleasant (at the moment, is more often than not unpleasant).
On a lighter tone: refreshing to see a touch of feminine tenderness in the brutish wargaming world!

James said...

The great thing about this hobby is that you can go as deluxe or as low-cost as you want.

I remember playing with armies made from craft paper!

If money is tight right now then you've got to be more circumspect. I've been pondering for a week buying some spare wheels to fix a few wagons!

Peter Douglas said...


I have a long list of projects sketched out on paper that never hit the online order page! I also know that I have a lot of unfinished lead downstairs - there's nothing like rediscovering figures you had forgotten about - it's like putting on your spring jacket for the first time since the fall and finding a 20 in the pocket.



Barry Lee said...

Hi Keith. Totally get where you are coming from, but you deserve a treat every now and then, surely? Since Christmas I have been getting back into the hobby and I had quite forgotten just how therapeutic the painting can be. Who know, I may even get gaming again before long, if your up for it! All te est, Barry

Keith Flint said...

Hi Barry - I guess we all deserve a treat now and then. But I think I realised I had better things to spend £50 on in this particular case.

Glad to hear you're enjoying the painting again. I'm working on a few things myself and as you say it can be therapeutic. And of course I'm always ready for a game if you need an opponent. Good to hear from you.

Cheers, Keith.

Barry Lee said...

Hi Keith. Hoping to have the wargame room back in action sometime in the summer, so yes, I'll be up for a game. Mostly painting ancients at the mo. all the best. Barry

Steve J. said...

I've been there before Keith and can completely empathize. I'm glad that most of my gaming has moved to 10mm, as I find it good on the value front, with enough detail to keep me happy on the painting front and looking good on the table.

I won't go into the realm of 2mm and 3mm gaming after your comments when we last met!!!

Keith Flint said...

Now come on Steve - you know I was only joking...don't you?