I was catching up on older episodes of the Fools Daily podcast (@fools_daily) the other day when Mike Marshall (@OldManMyke), a notable of the wargaming community, made an interesting comment. He said that he unboxes and assembles everything that he buys as soon as he gets it home so as to actually see what he has and to avoid that "I think I have some boxes of those in the loft" situation. It struck me as a simple, but profound idea. I know that I buy stuff all the time, "Oh great! Askaris on sale, well I'll need those for the Colonial project I have planned!" It arrives, I have a quick glance at it, declare myself satisfied and then immediately box it away since I am busy with other things.
Things have gotten so far out of hand that I worry that I don't actually know what I have. So I decided to mirror Mr. Marshall to an extent, and began assembling miniatures on the weekend. There are three immediate benefits that I have experienced. Firstly, I have more room. Yes, oddly enough I am actually storing vast quantities of sprue plastic, and additionally, once I clip the spares off and put them into my bits box I am gaining space, millimetre-by-millimetre. It might not sound all that impressive, but I live in a small house and every box of miniatures that is rendered into little soldiers that stand on their own two feet is a small victory. The one thing I will now have to start sorting out is a better storage solution for my miniatures than bookshelves, but at least I am getting a sense of the scale of the project. I had always assumed that keeping my miniatures in mint condition in their boxes was space saving, it is not. It does however mean that these boxes are no longer "collectible", so much for flogging a plastic wrapped copy of Space Hulk! But these miniatures were bought to be painted, games to be played, not hoarded.
|Sitting and building miniatures is a great, low energy, way to unwind after a long day.|
Secondly, I am beginning to comprehend the scale of Lead Mountain™and can plan where I want to go in discrete stages. For instance with my Polish World War II project, I want to put together a section first, then do some Germans to match, and then upscale both so that I can actually start playing some tiny patrol actions. A similar thing exists with my Napoleonics. I have now completed three battalions of French, along with some loose foot, but I have nothing for them to go up against. It is difficult to find motivation when the prospect of painting several battalions for both sides is a prerequisite a actually playing a game. What this means is that I need to try and achieve an element of parity, which means I need to get amongst the boxes!
Finally, there is something therapeutic about just sitting glueing miniatures together of an evening. IT differs from painting in the sense that it is easy to pick and put down, and it requires far less concentration. It is also creative in a totally different way from painting because one is essentially composing the subject which will be painted later. I noticed that I gave far more thought to the overall look of the miniature, adding grenades and holstered pistols to Space Marines for instance, than I normally would. Especially since I normally paint my marines in about three parts, I am hesitant to add grenades and such because they often stop the arms from sitting correctly. The last thing you want to do, having painted a miniature carefully, is to get glue all over the place as you try and wrestle arms and accoutrements into place. Don't get me wrong, I still think certain parts of the model benefit from being added at the last, but certainly composing miniature almost entirely then allows little extras to be added during construction. In fact, I have done just this with my Deathwatch Kill Team that I started assembling on the weekend.
|A Deathwatch Kill Team takes shape.|
I suspect that composing bases at the same time might also be a good idea, especially if the bases are more complex than sand, paint, and static grass. It allows, I think, a great deal of interplay between the base and the miniature. I suppose that I had better explain what I mean in more detail, but Mr. Marshall has certainly changed the way I think about assembly. I always considered it a rather mundane and irritating process that got in the way of painting, when in fact it can be creative and actually highly motivating.
Go and listen to the Fools Daily, the chat is good and the hosts very knowledgable about all things wargaming related.