today I am scornful of Games Workshop and even more so of the
company’s fanbois, the plain truth is that GW is responsable for
making me a serious miniatures wargamer.
began collecting and playing with little toy soldiers when I was six
and my grandfather bought my uncle and I a couple of boxes of Airfix
Napoleonic figures. I collected Airfix and (later) Atlantic 20mm
plastic soldiers throughout my childhood. As I moved into
adolescence, I began to play simple wargames with these using
Brigadier Young’s “Charge!” rules. (In spite of being an
American, then, my entry into the hobby was, ironically, very
typically British. Perhaps this is why I sympathize more with the
British side of the hobby today. But that’s another post.)
the time I was ten, I had begun collecting small numbers of lead
figures, most particularly 28mm fantasy and 6mm science fiction. I
only seriously began to look at miniatures gaming, however, when I
was finishing up college in the late 1980s.
first attempt to build “serious” armies was using Games Workshop
(Citadel, at the time, really) hard plastic Space Marines: the
original “Beakies”. I got sucked into it by Karl Heistermann and
Doug Shuler (pre-Wizards of the Coast career), who worked at my FLGS
and had developed a simple and fun set of rules to move the boxes of
marines they had ordered. (This was pre-Warhammer 40K, actually.)
years later, Games Workshop launched what was to become their entry
game for their 6mm Warhammer 40k line: Adeptus
can’t recall ever being so excited over a wargame release.
game seemed to me to be pure genius: a 6mm science fiction game with
a unique “look” (gothic science fiction wasn’t a thing back
then) and accessible rules, which allowed me to put hordes of figures
on the table? It could have been custom-designed for my likes. I
bought AT and its follow-up game, Space Marine,
as soon as they were launched and I haunted Pegasus Games in Madison
Wisconsin, looking for new releases for the system.
quickly painted Dark Angel, White Scar and Eldar armies. Looking back
on all this, I am amazed at how affordable the hobby was back then! I
had three Phantom titans in my Eldar force, even though I was a
starving university student working for minimum wage. Space
Marine/Adeptus Titanicus was my first completed wargame
project, where I painted multiple armies and terrain and used them to
set up a convention game. And, as I recollect, the game was a hell of
a lot of fun.
1990, I emigrated to Brazil, but I still followed Space
Marine at a distance. Unfortunately, there was no way to
get GW products in Brazil, at the time, except through pirates —
and didn’t do 6mm. I thus migrated to other manufactures, scales,
and periods (DBA figuring large in my scheme of things back in those
days). Shortly after the turn of the centutry, pressed for space and
money (and with freight prices to Brazil being what they are), I
moved decisively into 3mm for all of my periods and have been happily
painting and modeling in picoscale ever since.
GW’s prices skyrocketed and they became the company we all love to
hate through market manipulation and relentless production of skub, I
turned my back on them. I began to feel nothing but pity and scorn
towards the people who were willing to shell out thousands of pounds
to play in the increasingly overpriced “Games Workshop hobby”.
Furthermore, the aesthetic GW began promoting for the Warhammer 40K
universe turned me off. Originally, it was a very “Heavy
Metal/2000AD” kind of look: sci-fi, unique, kind of
ornate, but still “clean” looking. As the 1990s advanced,however,
it became increasingly baroque and cartoonish.
moment Space Marine “jumped the
shark” for me was when Gee Dubs started producing ork vehicles that
were essentially 16th century cannon on wheels with little medieval
towers atop. They just looked ridiculous to me. The “no gurls
allowed” aspect of the Warhammer 40k universe also got worse and
worse. The background started out as a sort of tongue-in-cheek heavy
metal riff: sexist, sure, but silly sexist. “Spinal Tap”, not
Proud Boys. As the years went by, it became more and more of a
grimdark heavy metal wet dream universe: the kind of wet dream, more
over a particularly spotty and socially inept adolescent boy with a
nazi fetish would have. To me, Warhammer 40k just became stupid and
never lost that feeling of enchantment I had with the original Epic
series of games, however. Those were cute and silly and just plain
Miniatures gives me back my youth
July, my webfriend Mathieu posted some photos of a new line of 3mm
figures. Now Mat has been attempting for some time to do 3mm Epic
Gothic Sci Fi and I’ve been mostly “yeah, whatevs” because his
suppliers are all on Shapeways (crap castings at premium prices) and,
so far, the castings he’s been getting copied, to me, the worst of
GW’s overly roccocco-style of figures.
new castings Mat had were crisp and clean, however, and followed the
aestetic that originally attracted me to gothic sci-fi (loopy enough
to be unique and space-opera-ish, but not ridiculous). They were from
a company I’d never herd of before: Vanguard Miniatures, out of the
more I looked into Vanguard’s press releases, the more I became
intrigued. The figures looked to be unbelievably top notch: extremely
detailed and well-cast. The more I learned about them, the more that
old feeling from thirty years ago began to grow in my breast.
Eventually, all I could think, contemplating Vanguard’s new line
orderd a bunch as soon as they came out, but post being what it is to
Brasil (still), I had to wait until early June to get my mitts on a
how are they?
Part II of this report, we will take a detailed look at what I
consider to be the most exciting 3mm release in a decade.