Remember the old starter box set for Warhammer. I loved it then. I adore it now. Granted, the models are not the overwhelming, nor dynamic, nor obviously compelling (the Goblin archers in the set, for example, appear to be wearing terrycloth bathrobes). They show their age, but usually in the most charming manner (of course, a gentleman never asks, but these diminutive fellows are about 25 years old now). These particular Dwarfs have made an honorable mention for my top ten models list in part because they are not metal and that is a timely issue, because they represent the very best of my painting ability at the time when I began to participate in this hobby with some ambition, because I think they still look really cool, and because they are tremendous fun, if stunty.
To this day, I like these limited, stiff Dwarfs to most of their current plastic iterations precisely because the models are such simple chunks of plastic. It is the girth that I admire –the extremely low center of gravity.
Still, all of the above is not quite enough to merit a slot in the top ten… nearly, but no.
As you can see, I enjoyed the soft, forgiving liberties of plastic even then. I have about 10 or so of the Crossbowmen, whom I cobbled together by chopping away at the awkward Dark Elf figures mercilessly. At the time, I was totally baffled by the notion of the Dark Elf. The very idea just seemed ludicrous …now I would give a pinky to have them back.
Well. Generally speaking, I do not believe in empty nostalgia –or at least I try not to (though #7 will test that rule)- so please wipe that tear from your eye as you cast your mind back to a time when this box of 60 plastic figures with 6 different races cost 20 USD. I am reliably informed that this would be something like 42 USD in today’s currency –which in my reasoned opinion makes the set decently comparable to, if not exactly on par with, the 74 (shockingly diverse, dynamic, and beautiful) figures one would get along with a rulebook, dice, templates, etc in the Island of Blood starter set today.
This was/is a stunning example of forward thinking.
Because it seems the right time to look forward while looking back, let me state the following clearly. I am totally, absolutely fine with GW’s current direction –supportive even. This is a rare opinion. I realize. Even most apologists will concede the obvious cudgel of the price rise. For my part, I believe quite sincerely that almost all of the clamor, the rage, and the opportunistic indignation is wildly misplaced.
I say the above at least in part because what I am doing in this hobby is not necessarily married to what GW is doing in this hobby. And this is a disposition that I believe the company endorses, even promotes (please feel free to ask me about this opinion if you have no notion of how or why I have come to it).
Non-metals are the way of the future and have been for 25 years. These models demonstrate that then and now. I have three 40K armies in various states of flux/completion. Between them, I have exactly one metal model (Telion. I know. I know). I do not expect to suddenly leap toward Finecast, but I will be happy to experiment with it just because I have disliked working with metal that much. I look forward to the new stuff, actually. Certainly, the price has increased, but I find both value and consolation simply in the fact that the material is not metal.
With regard to the aforementioned cudgel, I set aside my hobby sum and work within those means. That was true when I was a nipper and bought these Dwarfs. It is true now. I will not be spending more than that sum regardless. At the very best, I may have to actually finish all my projects before moving forward to the next. That would be good for me. At the very worst, I may have to trim the fat and get rid of some old models that are simply collecting dust in the basement. Also good for me.
In the mean time, let me bid my most pleasant farewell to metal. Ciao.
See you next time, when the nostalgia machine (and my attempts to resist it) kick into a higher gear with entry number seven...