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View Full Version : Plastic characters, a method to achieve madness.



Gargskull
20-03-2010, 15:47
As we all know, plastic kits cost a bomb to make and because of that characters cost a bomb to buy as they can't possibly return the investment of an injection plastic mould so they have to be made as stupidly expensive metal figures instead.

There used to be another reason of course, metal was more detailed and resulted in nicer models but as anyone who's seen the space hulk terminators will tell you that is now a thing of the past.

So then, the only thing standing in the way of entirely plastic armies is the way characters are made and sold. I believe that with a bit of rethinking how they do things, GW can achieve a wholly plastic army.

Please at least read on before you call me mad. :p

It's my belief that GW could make and sell the characters for each army in groups, on a single sprue with half the characters for that army on one sprue and half on another. That way you've got all the characters needed for the outlay of just two of the smallest sprue moulds.
They could sell these boxes of 3/4 characters for something crazy like 30 and it would still work out cheaper then the current metal models (see killa kanz).
At that kind of price I think they would sell in significant enough volume to make a return on the investment as (I think/hope) that just about everybody who plays that army would buy the character boxes.

People who wanted all the characters would buy them in a heartbeat, people who wanted 1 or 2 could buy the box and just sell the parts for the remaining characters. I also think it goes without saying that painters, modelers and collectors would love that kind of product. We all know plastics are easier to assemble, less trouble on the table top and a joy for converters.

It would be a boon to your game also really, with GW writing codexes that treat characters as keys to unlock particular builds then just buying that box to get one or two you really want would mean you'd get additional 'keys' to try out and experiment with different builds whenever you want without further expenditure.

Now for my example I've used Orks as Orks is all I know and they're also well on their way to being the first all plastic army. :p
This is in general discussion for a reason though as the idea could easily be applied to both systems and any army.

Orks have seven named characters, I'm going to split them up into two groups. Each group has a 'headline' big character to make the set a must have and the rest have just been divided up between them. The sprues are the small type used in the Ork Gretchin set, I reckon that would give plenty of space for four character models whilst still being one of the cheapest sprue moulds to make. I've also given thought to some multi use models.

So without any further rambling:

Set 1:

Headlined by Ghazhkull Thraka in his signature mega armour
Mad Dok Grotsnik
Boss Zagstrukk
Boss Snikrot.

GT would have some bits to make him a 'regular' mega armoured warboss and MDG would have regular painboy optional parts. Zagstruk and Snikrot could have stormboy/kommando nob parts if there's room for anything else.

Set 2:

Headlined by Wazzdakka Gutzmek and bike of the Aporkalypse
Old Zogwort
Kaptin Badruk

Less characters but these would be bigger models with more parts to compensate. WG could have warbiker warboss bits, OZ weirdboy parts and Badruk might be able to squeeze in a powder grot. :p

Well there you have it, I'm very interested to hear what people think. I've tried to cover every point I could think of. I know the most poignant argument against is going to be "that's a lot of money if you only want one character" and it is, I can't argue that. But I was aiming at maximum value for money and as I said, if you only want one then you have the option of trading with friends/forum members to get the parts or flog the ones you don't want. :)

bigcheese76
20-03-2010, 15:58
I think the suggestion you have made is a good idea, although I belevie it would be better with a scheme in place alongside it, which would comprise of the current metal models for those of us who just want one specific character and cant afford to fork out your proposed 30 for some characters you will never use.

Personally, I would love to see everything in the entire GW range brought out and produced in plastic as I am a converter at heart and plastic is just so much easier to work with.

One other argument I have against it is a strange one, in which I may be alone in portraying. When I have a centre peice model, such as Yarrick for my Guard, I like to pick him up and feel a bit of weight behind the model as he charges in, and plastic takes away that. (please note this point may just be me)

Overall though, I think you have a fairly good idea and if GW were to hear about the idea I beleive they would definately consieder it as one of their main markets would be those hobbyists who just love to build, convert and paint, as they would be most likely to want to buy what is effectively a set of characters.

Gargskull
20-03-2010, 16:24
I think the suggestion you have made is a good idea, although I belevie it would be better with a scheme in place alongside it, which would comprise of the current metal models for those of us who just want one specific character and cant afford to fork out your proposed 30 for some characters you will never use.

Personally, I would love to see everything in the entire GW range brought out and produced in plastic as I am a converter at heart and plastic is just so much easier to work with.

One other argument I have against it is a strange one, in which I may be alone in portraying. When I have a centre peice model, such as Yarrick for my Guard, I like to pick him up and feel a bit of weight behind the model as he charges in, and plastic takes away that. (please note this point may just be me)

Overall though, I think you have a fairly good idea and if GW were to hear about the idea I beleive they would definately consieder it as one of their main markets would be those hobbyists who just love to build, convert and paint, as they would be most likely to want to buy what is effectively a set of characters.

Thanks for the positive thoughts and the constructive criticism. I hadn't considered selling single metals alongside a plastic group set but with the much lower startup costs of metal figures I expect that they could easily do that for some of the more popular guys.

The ideal goal would be for none of the figures in the set to be 'useless' to a player, if you don't want those characters the models would have parts for the lesser versions of whatever troop type the character is from e.g. you could make zogwort himself, a weirdboy or your own custom version of a character that would use zogwort's rules. I think having all those unique plastic parts and bodies would be an enormous shot in the arm for custom characters and conversions.

30 was an extreme example anyway, I just wanted to demonstrate that per character even a high priced set would save us money. I would hope it wouldn't cost quite that much though, lol.

I totally get what you mean about weight but something is always lost, you truly can never have everything. :(

I'm rewriting it in an e-mail for them now, anyone know what would be the best address to send it to? JJ perhaps, lol.

bigcheese76
20-03-2010, 17:08
You could send it to Jarvis but I would advise the design team instead, as they would be the ones who I assume would have to look over it eventually.

Thinking about it, your idea to include parts for other models to be made, like a wierdboy from Zogwort, probably wouldnt be carried out by GW as people would probably stop buying the metal wierdboy then and only buy the Zogwort kit and edit it. This would lower their profit margin, something I think we all know they will do anything to avoid.

Skalfgrimm
20-03-2010, 17:21
There used to be another reason of course, metal was more detailed and resulted in nicer models but as anyone who's seen the space hulk terminators will tell you that is now a thing of the past.
If I may just chime in on this part.

I own the Space Hulk models and I adore them, but there are many faults in them, and every last one can be attributed to the injection molding process: Steel molds for plastic are rigid, wich means you cannot have any undercuts or the sprue will be impossible to remove from the mold.

Metal Miniatures are cast in flexible silicone molds, so undercuts are possible and thus offer better details.

This is the basic difference between the two techniques and the main reason I prefer metal miniatures.

jullevi
20-03-2010, 17:36
For plastic kits to be profitable, they need to either sell like hotcakes or be ridiculously expensive, preferably both. The problem with plastic character kits would be the first one - what is the catch that makes regular Joe buy several kits, especially if they are more expensive than normal troops?

From gamers (and modellers?) point of view, plastic characters should have a bucketload of weapon options (like those that are currently being sold). However, designing a model to be compatible with multiple options requires certain compromises to be made and more often than not the end results is good looking bits which build into bad looking model. Plastic Empire Character kit is the perfect example of this. It is not that much of an issue with Plastic Space Marine Commander, because Space Marines are rather blocky to begin with. For collectors, plastic characters have no value whatsoever.

The main reason why Space Hulk Terminators look so nice is that they are not multiparts per se, ie. they are not designed to be compatible with anything. Each Terminator is individual and designed to be built in one pre-determined pose, so effectively they are closer to metals in design rather than plastics.

To sum up the problems:
-gamers want plastic characters with several options
-painters want plastic characters that look good and that pretty much excludes multi-part plastics
-collectors don't want plastic characters at all

The Phazer
21-03-2010, 10:44
If I may just chime in on this part.

I own the Space Hulk models and I adore them, but there are many faults in them, and every last one can be attributed to the injection molding process: Steel molds for plastic are rigid, wich means you cannot have any undercuts or the sprue will be impossible to remove from the mold.

Metal Miniatures are cast in flexible silicone molds, so undercuts are possible and thus offer better details.

This is the basic difference between the two techniques and the main reason I prefer metal miniatures.

Indeed - the SH models are wonders, but they still show the limitations of plastic molding. The lack of undercuts means that many of the Crux Terminus end up fairly badly deformed, and a few of the skulls on the genestealer bases are the scale equivalent of about a foot wide.

I don't think metal molds for special characters are going anywhere soon, to be honest.

Phazer

Earl_UK
21-03-2010, 11:31
Each army could have a Command Box, kinda like the SM Command Squad box.

Gargskull
21-03-2010, 11:53
The Terminator's, nice as they are, are still starter box models desinged to be in as few bits as posisble. If they attempted plastic characters then I imagine they'd do them in many parts, same as any plastic kit to get around the limitations of plastic moulding. They don't however have to be multi pose just because they're multi part.

The squighound that comes with the new gretchin set is a good example of this, it could've been all one piece with a closed gob full of teeth but they made it's face separate so it could have a nicely detailed open gob.


For plastic kits to be profitable, they need to either sell like hotcakes or be ridiculously expensive, preferably both. The problem with plastic character kits would be the first one - what is the catch that makes regular Joe buy several kits, especially if they are more expensive than normal troops?

From gamers (and modellers?) point of view, plastic characters should have a bucketload of weapon options (like those that are currently being sold). However, designing a model to be compatible with multiple options requires certain compromises to be made and more often than not the end results is good looking bits which build into bad looking model. Plastic Empire Character kit is the perfect example of this. It is not that much of an issue with Plastic Space Marine Commander, because Space Marines are rather blocky to begin with. For collectors, plastic characters have no value whatsoever.

The main reason why Space Hulk Terminators look so nice is that they are not multiparts per se, ie. they are not designed to be compatible with anything. Each Terminator is individual and designed to be built in one pre-determined pose, so effectively they are closer to metals in design rather than plastics.

To sum up the problems:
-gamers want plastic characters with several options
-painters want plastic characters that look good and that pretty much excludes multi-part plastics
-collectors don't want plastic characters at all

The hook to buy more is that it'd be an awesome kit full of totally unique parts to make custom characters or super awesome versions of your army's unnamed leaders. Even if the average casual player only buys one box and makes the standard characters, fiction fans, guys who like making unique characters and just modelers/converters in general would love this kind of set as it'd be giving them fantastic parts that were never available in plastic before and thus just as GW did when their first multi pose kit came out and did again when they started making vehicle kits with modular options, it'd open up a whole new avenue of possibilities in the hobby.

Generic characters, warboss, sm captain etc need lots of optional parts because they have a pile of weapons/wargear options in their respective codexes. Named characters don't, their wargear and weapons are predetermined and usually cannot be changed all that much if at all. Your point about the SH Termies being designed more like metals is exactly what I was intending (and the one thing I forgot to put in my first post) albeit with more parts per figure to avoid moulding limitations as I just said above, they would still fit together in only one way as per metals/starter box figures but being plastic would be much easier to convert for folks to make custom characters and the like.

Hence if you had a plastic version of marneus calgar that was in enough bits to avoid moulding limitations and looked every bit as good as the metal version but easier to put together and cheaper, would collectors still frown on it?

Corrode
21-03-2010, 13:17
Fantasy has this solved better than 40k at the moment - the three plastic character sets (Warboss, Empire General, Empire Battle Wizards) come with enough parts to make multiple characters, and cost 12. This might seem like a losing proposition - the more they let you build from one set, the less reason you have to buy multiple sets! I'd say it's the other way around though; for the sake of putting in an extra leg/body option (or in the case of the general/warboss kit, a horse/boar), the set goes from being 'nice' to 'value for money'.

I think your scheme is a good idea - sell a 'command group' box for Marines say which has enough bits to make a Chaplain, Librarian AND Commander from the same box. Have them have interchangeable options (much like how the Chaos Terminator Lord/Sorceror is pretty much mix'n'match), plus their own unique bits (a psychic-hood head/torso, a skull hat, etc.) This kit could function as a basic 'I just want to put a unit on the table' kit for gamers, and as a source of bits compared to relatively static metal models.

That said, I wouldn't want rid of metals completely. At times I hate metal with a passion, but I've grown to like the feeling of weight and genuinely appreciate the differences in painting. I also don't mind shelling out for an expensive character (although the prices could be a little saner). Having both options would be nice.

Gargskull
21-03-2010, 22:10
Well they already did two plastic command squads for imperial guard so it's certainly not impossible.

Corrode
22-03-2010, 02:14
Well they already did two plastic command squads for imperial guard so it's certainly not impossible.

A command squad is a different beast, though - Marines have a plastic command squad too, but that's not the same as having characters be plastic and come with 3 different characters in a single box.

EldarWonderland
22-03-2010, 13:57
Having just quickly and easily assembled and painted the new Deff Dread for my Ork-loving but not painting! son and a couple of weeks ago fought with clamps, green stuff and super glue to finally manage to put a Varghulf together so it doesn't break as soon as it hits a hard surface guess where my vote will always go in the plastics vs metal debate.

The new plastics, to me, seem very well detailed and are certainly good enough to play games with.

Sigis
22-03-2010, 17:11
The idea for plastic character box is really nice. They could make it $45 and Id still buy it multiple times to make several sets of commissars, psykers and priests for imperial guard rather than pay for the metal models, plus I could make a Commissar Cadet squad with the extra bits! would be amazing.

bigcheese76
22-03-2010, 19:02
Gargskull, as I have said before on this thread, I really like this idea too and where I can see a couple of problems with it, they are not to major in most of the cases and if this set is used in conjunction with the current metals aswell, most of the small problems are addressed.

For this reason if you do decide to pitch it to GW, and you want a bit of help doing so, then feel free to shoot me a PM, and I will help you out as best I can.

Gargskull
22-03-2010, 20:55
A command squad is a different beast, though - Marines have a plastic command squad too, but that's not the same as having characters be plastic and come with 3 different characters in a single box.

Ah, when I said orks was all I knew, I wasn't kidding. I assumed by command group you meant something like the IG set. My mistake. :)

I see you meant a box set of plastic HQ units rather then a literal command squad and that's a cool idea, I could see that.

An Ork one could have a foot slogging warboss (no mega armour or warbike), wierdboy, mek (not a big mek) and painboy. Could maybe have zogwort and grotsnik parts in there for people who don't want the metals.

I'd also sell a warboss in mega armour plastic with Ghazghull parts, a similar warbiker boss kit with gutzmek parts and a big mek kit that could do the kustom force field and/or shokk attack gun.

Thus 3 plastic kits could replace a whole load of blisters and plug some gaps in one fell swoop.


Gargskull, as I have said before on this thread, I really like this idea too and where I can see a couple of problems with it, they are not to major in most of the cases and if this set is used in conjunction with the current metals aswell, most of the small problems are addressed.

For this reason if you do decide to pitch it to GW, and you want a bit of help doing so, then feel free to shoot me a PM, and I will help you out as best I can.

Cool man, thanks for the support. :)
I haven't written it up yet as I am horrifically lazy, also it didn't seem very popular earlier, lol. I will endeavor to do so now though.

Verm1s
24-03-2010, 01:00
so they have to be made as stupidly expensive metal figures instead.

In addition to all the sensible info about the limitations of plastic injection moulds, I'll say that the fact GW metal characters are stupidly expensive has other and possibly greater factors than 'metal'.

Seriously, though. If you know little of the mini world outside GW and toe the company line of plastic models = kewl, it might be better not to hold forth on the economics and practicalities of miniature manufacture.

Deamon-forge
24-03-2010, 10:44
thats a good idea bout having them in a box say for 30. even though i hate metal its nice to feal that weight behind the mini. I would be even happy if they done them in Resin.