Yes, I’ve got 25,000 20mm figures painted, but it has been achieved over forty some years, and reaching a milestone (millstone?) gives me a cause to reflect on my real objectives through all these years of painting, like?
1. Was my goal to paint the maximum number of figures?
2. Will they all be used in games?
3. Did I actually use what I painted?
4. How many projects were left by the wayside?
Before addressing these and other thoughts, I think I should say that through out all these years, my hobby and the support of other gamers has been a source of motivation despite what life and work has thrown at me. So on to the answers, which in the main are definitely yes!
1. No, It was no a numbers game. I’m a plastics nut for various reasons, partly because you can produce large armies at low cost, but particularly because of the ease of transporting the armies. Originally by restricting myself to plastics, I felt I was controlling my acquisitive urges, yes I could create large armies, but only in a limited number of periods. But then the ranges exploded as more companies produced plastic figures. These days I have to challenge myself before making any purchase of new figures.
2. Yes, but usage is partly determined by finding opponents, but more often in my early years I found that often no-one could provide an equivalent opposing force, so I always endeavoured to produce armies for both sides in a conflict. But that said, in my early years we didn’t care so much about mixing 20mm and 25mm. Some armies have dropped in and out of fashion, for example “Black Powder” has fired up my underlying interest in Napoleonics again.
3. In overall army terms, they have all been used, but various sub units and add-ons have never seen action. A better question is do I still want them and intend to use them and the answer is clearly yes.
4. Luckily, not a lot. My biggest mistake was in starting a Russian Crimean Army using Esci figures, as so little was produced. What it did teach me was to wait until either sufficient figures were produced for the period or I felt confident I could convert whatever was missing.
Perils and Pitfalls I’ve encountered
· The low cost of plastics mean you can easily buy the figures for an army, but do you have the time to paint them before your interest moves on to other subject?
· Interrelated, than while plastics are quite economic, the extras that might be needed to complete an army may be unavailable, or make it significantly more expensive than planned. My original Napoleonic Russians were a case of this as I had to buy metal Hinton Hunt cavalry and other bits.
· Yellow bayonet disease – this was a problem in my early years with Airfix plastics and enamel paints, these days with washing the figures in the dishwasher using acrylic paints and not using figures for casualties the problem is only slightly worse than metal figures.
So where does this leave me in terms of future painting and modelling?
a) I intend to stick to 20mm with the sole exception of some skirmish figures, e.g. for Saga, but these will be small in number
b) I will not start any new periods/armies before there are sufficient figures available to complete it.
c) Concentrate more on a replace and sell or upgrade basis. Too many of my early figures need a complete rework, like my WW2 Soviets, where I sold off the old units and produced a new coherent force. My plan for later this year will be to do the same for my WW2 US forces (if PSC bring out it’s
heavy weapons set).
d) If I keep on using Black Powder or similar. I’ll need more casualty markers
a) Quite achievable
b) Trouble is some periods tend to morph into others
c) I’d better watch out for the cases where upgrading turns into more effort than painting from scratch
d) Make sure I don’t discard “suitable” dead figures