Long term listeners of my podcast Wargaming Recon will remember episode 84: Wargaming on the Cheap. It shared a few ways that we can all wargame on the cheap. One way that I brushed against on that podcast episode is using plastics.
Any grognard can tell you in their day they only had metal figures to push around the table. They needed to cast the figures themselves, in their basements, in the dark, during a blizzard after hiking 5 miles up a hill to buy the ingredients. They did this until one sunny day that companies began casting models in plastic. Mainstream companies like Games Workshop have been doing this for years. Warlord Games and the Perry Brothers experience unparalleled success with their new plastic ranges.
Plastic models are awesome because you can get a lot of models for relatively money. You may ask how can wargamers get more miniatures while spending less money. It must be too good to be true! Yes and no.
Through the miracles of modern industry it is now cheaper to produce an item if tons of it are made. Making one Roman Legionary could cost $5, 15 of them could cost $3/guy, but 5,000 of them could cost pennies per model.
There is a downside to using plastic models. They’re not great for the environment. The plastic is made out of fossil fuels, which will someday disappear. There’s always been metal, and it can be re-smelted, so we can continue to get our toy soldiers. Recycling the plastics can be tricky. Anybody that has bought a box of plastic soldiers has experienced the dreaded sprue. Think of it like the clothes hanger. Instead of clothes hanging from it we encounter pieces of a model.
Many years ago I made the decision to avoid multi-part plastic kits. I had my fill when I played Warhammer Fantasy, Battlefleet Gothic, Warhammer 40k, Starship Troopers, etc. My idea of fun does not constitute gluing together 9-18 pieces to construct a single soldier. No. Thank. You.
At last I can reveal the crux of the matter. Not every plastic kit is multi-part. This week a buddy of mine, fellow Troll in the Corner author Adrian, and I decided to get into Hail Caesar. Searching the internet brought me to a wonderful website known as Plastic Soldier Review. They review numerous plastic soldiers for historical gaming.
They are to thank for teaching me that HaT Industries creates beautiful 20mm plastic soldiers. These models are, for the most part, one piece. They look good, they have nice poses, they’d be easy to paint (if you’re into that sort of thing), and they’re very affordable. A nearby game store sells boxes of infantry for $7.50. That box yields 45-48 infantry or 12 cavalry. Not a bad deal at all.
My motto for all of you is if you’re interested in a new period or a different game why not give plastics a chance? You can save a lot of money by using them instead of metal minis. It is possible to save even more money by using a different scale such as the 20mm produced by HaT (or Zvezda). Where else can you get 45 models for $7.50? I can’t think of a single place.