I am sure I have mentioned this before in various posts, it is a subject dear to my heart....like acid reflux...but I am sooo sick of crappy wargames figures. But wait, I hear you all cry. We live in a free market economy Leofwine, you do not have to buy these crappy figures that befuddle you so; it would also save us having to read about your odd rants! Fair comment, but my issue is that the chaff is hidden away amongst the wheat and you only realise you have crappy figures when it is too late.
Let me give you some examples. Only the other day I was cleaning up some Gripping Beast Norman figures for my Saga force. You can buy a Saga unit as a sealed pack and here in lies the issue. If a company has some odd looking figures that they cannot get shot of because no bugger likes them, then what better way of clearing them out than by stuffing one or two into a 'unit pack'? In the Norman infantry/spearman pack you get the required eight figures, one is standing there with his shield on the floor and resting against his leg. The figure is nonchalantly leaning over his shield and all that is missing is a fag in his hand to give him that really accurate 'Bored Guard in charge of the latrine' look. Now, what use is such a figure on a wargames table in a dynamic skirmishing/battle unit? There are a couple of similarly 'Guardy' figures in this pack that really make me lose faith in Gripping Beast....and I really love Gripping Beast usually. Also, the crossbowmen are a real pain as the prods (the twangy bits of a crossbow) come as a separate piece to be glued onto the stock. These are not only fiddly but are starting to cast badly and are different sizes. Picky? Possibly, but I was already on a downer over the stupid spearman figures and the crossbowmen were the next lot to put together.
Let me now turn to Renegade. Now, I should make it clear that, as with Gripping Beast, I love Renegade. The figures can be a little large compared to some 28mm figures but they generally look great and are fantastic value for money. You can often get some fantastic deals from Renegade too, buy four of their eight figure blister packs and get a fifth one free, or by so many regiment packs and get another free. These generous offers on top of an already generous figure price and you get a brilliant deal. However, I bought the WW1German infantry regiment only to find that, yet again, the regiment packs had some bloody awful figures in them. Guys carrying boxes, officers looking like they were next in the queue for negotiable affection...just where would you use such figures????? The blurb on many company websites and flyer's states that the figures are meant for wargamers and collectors, to my mind this is a get out clause so crappy and unusable figures can be dumped into your pack! Now, I do think that there is a major difference between the more linear units of say the Napoleonic period or ECW and WW1. In the linear period packs where the unit is more formal and regimented in stance and look an odd looking figure can be hidden and may even be acceptable. Not so in a more mobile period unit...or is it just me??? Its ok, you can be honest. I am married to Mrs Leofwine so I am used to criticism.
Old Glory seem to have similar issues with some of their 15mm packs. A good friend and fellow MHWC member, Martin, uses them a lot and it is easy to see why. Martin has some lovely looking figures in his SYW and ACW collections and he likes a big unit too. But even he tells me that in the large packs these ranges are sold in he will often end up with a pile of musicians or some other figure you would ordinarily only need one of. Just what do you do with these damn things?
Ok, these packs may well work out cheaper and provide value for money, but much of this is lost because you cannot use X number of figures and so have to buy extra packs to compensate. How many of you remember our early days playing with airfix figures? Fine when you are six and need to add a running narrative to your games and a suitable dynamic and expressive soundtrack (weeeee, booom aaarrgh, booom etc.) As we got older of course this change...a bit....and we needed more regimentation in our figures. The amount of figure posed doing something random and odd was a real pain then and so how pleased were we all when we discovered proper wargame figures....most of which you bought individually so no waste!! Is it me or are we sliding backwards a tad here? Or, worse given that I am now 1046 years old, am I turning into a grumpy old man???
Okay, rant over. Thank you for listening.