I was taking lunch today with a friend, and as we do, we were discussing this and that about our fine hobby.
Now, I am severely old school in my tastes, and so I was explaining to D that I'm pretty much finished with historical wargaming, but that I still have a desire to play fantasy genre games with friends and family.
I also explained that as of 18:34 last night I actually owned zero figures...
That's right, zero.
For reasons I don't intend to recount again, 36 years of collecting has gone out of the window, either sold, donated or binned. Now before anyone tells me how foolish I was and how valuable they are... I FUCKING WELL KNOW! I have more idea than most of these armchair experts who pronounce the value and rarity of stuff, normally with an astounding degree of inaccuracy and scant knowledge.
They are toy soldiers, which pre 1990 will in all probability become dust in the reasonably immediate future. And just because you paid £100 for that rare, unreleased Dwarf Rent Boy it's not proofed against entropy.
How d'ya like dem apples?
But that aside, I still have a lot of boardgames, books, RPGs and the like and so I could still probably pay for one hell of a funeral.
Now, I am heavily invested in original artwork, model railways and a couple of other things. This means that coupled with the fact that I spend my working day painting for a living, I really don't want to spend weekends painting toys (as I have previously stated).
So, I am drawing up a list of attributes that would need to be taken into account for me to have one kick arse fantasy army.
1. Old school credentials.
2. A certain quirkiness
3. Good looks
4. Low painting time
5. Hordes of the little buggers
And so, as we tucked into dim sum, assorted Cantonese regional dishes and some green tea, we discussed which army and which figures would best fit those criteria.
Minifigs went straight out of the window, as the re-releases are I am sure sponsored by Dick Turpin or Stede Bonnet.
Hinchcliffe are bloody awful, with a few exceptions.
Citadel was also cast out because - and let me be uncharacteristically blunt here - everybody thinks that these are the only fucking figures we had in the 80s!
That left us with:
Denizen. Authentic old school figures that are wonderfully sculpted and realistically proportioned.
Warrior. The original budget figures which, whilst simplistic, can be painted quickly and made to look very nice indeed.
Essex. Whilst overpriced when compared to their historical ranges, Essex are very well sculpted and cast models with a degree of originality.
The problem is, that none of these have everything I want in one package.
Secondly, they vary in scale.
For today's connoisseur, it seems that the concept of mismatched figures is a major issue. This diverges from the traditional view of we, who are old enough to remember when White Dwarf brought us monthly reports of more than just GW products and suggested where they may be useful in the new game they had produced, which I think was called 'Warhammer'.
Back in the day, if you liked a particular range of figures, you bought a few units of the models you liked, and into your army they went. This meant, that as you shopped and your army grew (and we had armies rather than the armed stag parties which seem to be a la mode these days) you had figures of all sizes and stature. And it didn't matter one jot!
What mattered was that you had an army with a real feel of the fantastic that was unique to you. Some of us had identically sed units, and some of us had irregular units which even (I can hear the sound of gamers heads hitting the keyboard as they faint) had a mix of manufacturers in them.
It was a n awesome time...
What did matter, was that basing strictures were tightly followed. It does not really mater how many figures are on the bases or indeed the figure scale, so long as you have the correct bases for the system you are playing. In trying out armies for competitions, we often used blank bases with just a single model on one of them as a means of identification, until we knew which army list was going to work. Horror of horrors, we sometimes just used the bases and wrote the details on them.
Some people call these game counters I believe, and play these things called board games, which don't have figures at all.
I think that by mixing manufacturers, you get an army unique to you and spread your wealth across a wider spectrum of manufacturers. As your collection grows, you find that certain units of certain figures adopt their own 'personalities' and this adds to the pleasure of the hobby. It's amazing what a difference it makes, simply adopting the same painting style across myriad models. You become scale blind in short order and the games you play will not suffer for it.
So what if your opponent does not share your taste and aesthetics - Fuck 'em!
A great part of this hobby, is creating things of beauty. And as the old adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
PS: In the end I decided upon Warrior skeletons with Grenadier cavalry, zombies and characters. One or two Citadel models may be included for character and variety.