Friday, 13 November 2009

Land of the Giants

Now, I'm a fairly easy going sort of chap.

Actually, that isn't true. I'm sort of a bloke who has a bit of a temper and a tendency to go off on one. However, my employer has paid for me to go on self awareness training so at least I'm aware that I'm not an easy going chap and can recognise in myself when I'm going to lose it and so can control any outbursts and so on.

However sometimes you see something and it just sort of tips you over the edge a bit. Apparently, according to Nicholas Holmes in "Arquebusier" magazine "28mm is now well established as the scale of choice for most wargamers".

Since when? Now I have armies in most scales from 6mm up to 25mm, but my 28mm collection is limited to stuff I've won at Society of Ancients events and is only fit for skirmish gaming (pictures of these, which I think are Gripping Beast illustrate this blog). And when I start a new period my thoughts do not immediately turn to 28mm. Mostly I turn to 15mm (especially if Peter Pig has a range) or 20mm plastics from Hat & Zvezda. These win on speed of painting, transportability and realism in that you can field lots of units with reasonable numbers of figures in them.

I accept I'm not like a lot of wargamers, but do "most wargamers" now gravitate towards 28mm figures? I sincerely hope not.

I have a number of problems with 28mm figures. In fact I have a number of problems with the large figure culture that has sort of spilled out from Games Workshop. Firstly they seem to have killed off genuine 25mm figures, so I can't add to my existing armies.

Secondly there's the painting style we're all obliged to adopt now, with the multiple layers and tones are then the specially graded cans of overpriced varnish (honestly, - go and buy some Ronseal). They make figures look as genuine as David Dickinson's suntan.

Thirdly there's the look of them. I did a quick check on Wikipedia but I can confirm that anabolic steroids were introduced in the late 1930's (allegedly the Nazi's tried to use them to produce an Aryan super race), consequently the stocky, over muscled figures many manufacturers produce can't be justified in any way. People simply do not look like that*. Have a look at Warlord Games stuff, in particular the ECW figures. They're well built, fit looking, carrying the sort of bulk that sad sim-world players put on their avatars. And the faces! Only Noel Fielding of the Mighty Boosh comes close to looking like many of these figures which appear to have hada face transplant from a flat iron. Then check out the length of the arms (which would barely reach pockets), and whether or not they have a neck.

I could go on, - there's the complete disregard for scale in the clothing they wear, which features jackets the thickness of a plank. There's the idea that flags are likewise made out of a peculiar type of cloth that is 2" thick.

Still, I'm a lone voice in the wilderness on this one apparently and as the hobby is a broad and hopefully tolerant one we can all live side by side.

However I take exception to the expression of opinion as fact, and the underlying assumption that bigger is better.

*Ironically to my mind the best proportioned 28mm figures I've ever seen were Harlequin's original series Dr Who figures. Lovely proportions and body shape.


  1. Good luck with the course and all. It allows your employer to tick some government tick box and meet some key performance indicators no doubt. As for 28mm figures, detest them. Pretty much for all the same reasons you do. If I want large figures, for RPGs for instance, maybe, or even 54mm, maybe. For everything else there is 6mm.

    Well not completely true as I have a bunch of 15mm, and have just bought a load more from Peter Pig for playing AK47 with. Then there are the 10mm WW1 troops I bought from Pendraken, but the theme is smaller is better. IMNSHO the image of 28mm as the dominant scale comes from commercial preoccupations within the hobby. Those from the press, and those from the manufacturers who want to sell expensive figures.

  2. I did the course a couple of years ago. This is the new, calm, me.

    You are spot on about why 28mm is so widely regarded, - it photgraphs well for the glossies.

  3. Hurrah! another person stating the obvious. The Emperor has no clothes.

    I completely agree that magazine illustrations drive fashions in painting. A couple of years ago we had a very large 25mm Napoleonic game many styles of figures on the 20ft table. Some were beautifully detailed many layered modern castings but the ones that looked the best were 30 yr old Hinchlife in simple block painting. The way light reflected made even the white coated figures appear dark and muddy on the table compered to the clean lines of block painting.

    I bought some 30mm Suren figures for the FPW last week and they simply are streets ahead of anything that is produced today.

    Please carry on expressing your emotions. There is plenty of reason to be angry today. Stifling what you really think may be more comfortable for others but with a few exceptions (those you love) why bother? It only encourages them to be lazy and annoying and it does your mental and physical health no good at all.

    No, let them have it both barrels!


  4. Glad to have you on board, John.

    Tell me, were your 30mm Surens shorter than the modern 28mm????

  5. I'm with you on the 28mm monsters, I really prefer true 25s like minifig and ral partha,
    and some of the 20mm plastic stuff is also quite

  6. I've got some Ral Partha. They're lovely. Glad to see someone is reading the back pages!