Friday, August 7, 2009

50 - The Big 5-0!


It's been almost exactly 5 months since I started this blog, and more than 9 months since I picked up this hobby in earnest. I still remember the first 2 miniatures I painted - a metal Star Wars female smuggler figure which came with the Star Wars Galaxies Collector's Edition box which I've had in my possession for, oh, 6 years now, but never actually did anything with, and a plastic Lord Recluse figure which was packaged with the City of Villains game. At that time, I knew nothing about thinning paint, I had the brush control of an 8 year old boy loaded up on Jolt! cola, and techniques such as drybrushing or using ink washes to supply depth to the figures were foreign to me. Needless to say, those 2 figures were put out of their misery.

After those 2 kinda miniatures, the first legitimate miniatures I actually purchased were 2 Games Workshop Warhammer Fantasy Battle figures - an Empire Templar Grand Master of the Blazing Sun and a Sigmarite Warrior Priest. I bought both figures working under the assumption that I'd give this hobby a try by painting up some individual miniatures rather than to invest in a regiment box only to discover I really didn't have any interest and thus waste 10 or 20 figures as a result. Boy, was I wrong. For anybody out there who is curious about entering this hobby, but not sure how to start, let me advise you from experience - do not start your painting hobby with Special/ Independent Characters. They are designed and sculpted for more experienced painters. I almost drove myself insane trying to figure out how to properly paint all the fiddly bits and varied textures of the Templar Grand Master. The Warrior Priest was less intimidating, but I still had to make 5 or so attempts at painting him before I was even semi-satisfied in the result. The Grand Master, on the other hand, is still sitting unpainted on my workshelf after having gone into the Simple Green wash for the 4th time about 2-3 months ago. I'm almost convinced that had I started with, say, a simple Empire State Troops box, my early experiences with this hobby would be far less frustrating.

Well, after those first 2 disastrous attempts at Games Workshops figures, I decided to switch over to Reaper Miniatures for a couple of reasons - 1) since my painting skill was nowhere near the level required to properly paint those 2 Independent Characters, wasting GW level money on anymore figures (or even troop boxes) seemed irresponsible, and 2) Reaper's price point was right up my alley and I could buy 1 or 2 at a time rather than commit to 10-20 figures at a time. So, from early January to late February, I invested in about 20 Reaper Miniatures. At roughly $3 per figure, it seemed like a reasonable investment over the span of two months. For anyone interested in Reaper (which I highly suggest - they may not be Warhammer legal miniatures for table top gaming, but as hobby miniatures they are affordable and of an excellent quality), I'd suggest two on-line retailers for good service and excellent discounts - Miniature-Giant and Miniature Market.

This is not to say I did any better with Reaper Miniatures in terms of painting quality, but at least I wasn't feeling guilty about slapping on thick layers of paint on $15 figures. For me, Reaper's line of miniatures were my apprenticeship in this hobby. They allowed me to work on brush control and painting in thin layers, and because they're metal, allowed me to dunk them many, many times into Simple Green without fear of the cleaning solution melting or warping the figures.

The next step in my slow descent into the insanity of addiction in regards to little miniature figures was when I discovered the absolute steals and bargains one could find on eBay. Of course, eBay is far riskier than buying it from a dedicated retailer, and often in order to get the really, really good deals, you have to purchase the sprues without the box (in order to cut down on shipping, apparently), a careful and cautious approach to eBay has pretty much allowed me to to accumulate almost $2000 worth of miniatures at practically 50% the cost. Granted, because eBay offers so many bargains, I also ended up buying much more indiscriminately than I would have had I only had a 20%-30% discount available to me, so the amount saved was kind of rendered moot by the quantity purchased. As for eBay dealers who I've found to be excellent sellers with large inventories and A+ customer service, I'd recommend Discount Games Store, MacPac51, and Wizard Games (also known as Red Dragon Games). I'm sort of reluctant to give shout outs to these guys (especially the first two since they also offer free shipping!) because the last thing I want to do is have more people bidding on their auctions and thus lose out on some of the more incredible bargains available!

Well, this about wraps up post number 50. I've noticed that traditionally, most blogs devote a retrospective to their 50th post, so here you have it. Post 51 will be coming fast on the heels of this one because I've decided to participate in a cooperative painter's contest that Admiral Drax blogged about and I want to tell you my plans for it! See you soon and thanks for visiting.

4 comments:

Jonathan said...

You've definitely got some work you can be proud of, Paul. Congrats on 50 posts, and good luck with many more to come!

BTW, you mentioned you had like $2000+ in eBay purchases: we ever going to see a fully painted army one of these days? :P

Paul Wu said...

@ Jonathan:

Thanks for the kind words, man. The miniatures community has been one of the biggest surprises for me when it comes to this hobby. Lots of great, supportive folks.

As for the $2000 in eBay purchases - that's MSRP, but in terms of what I actually payed for them on eBay, it's about 50% less. Still, that's $1000 more than what my wife would've preferred I spend on toy soldiers, especially at my age! :P

And about that full painted army? Well, my next post is going to go a long ways (I hope) towards making that come true. I've committed to participating in this painting challenge, see...

Corvus said...

Nice collection you got there, and all very well painted. Looking forward to another 50 :)

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