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Subject: Are Pre-Painted Minis a concept "too good to be true?" rss

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Leo Zappa
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With the apparent demise of Mongoose Publishing's pre-painted Battlefield Evolution line (they appear intent upon continuing some vestige of the line as unpainted minis), along with the related Starship Troopers Evo line, and the transfer of Heroscape from the parent Hasbro line to WOTC, where it seems destined for an uncertain future, plus the still wobbly AT-43 effort, are we seeing the end of the grand experiment known as "Pre-Painted Minis"?

I know I am squarely in the center of the target market - a gamer who loves minis but doesn't have the time/desire/talent to paint them. My son and I have created a pretty big Heroscape collection, and I have been considering buying into AT-43 or BF-Evo. But now, events seem to be converging to a point that indicates a possible grim ending to the movement.

Were Pre-Paints, at least at the prices they were first marketed (especially HS) an unrealistic product from the beginning? Was it foolish of us (and the companies making them) to think collecting big pre-painted armies for relatively little money was financially viable for the producers in the long run? Or is it the confluence of several unique factors, such as lead paint scares for Chinese products and the rapidly escalating price of oil (driving up the cost of the plastic) that has led to the current situation? Or are these problems simply a series of unrelated incidents that superficially look as though they might be related?

I will never be in the market for unpainted minis, and if pre-paints go the way of the dinosaur, I will simply play with the Heroscape stuff I have collected to date, and stick to boardgames otherwise.
 
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L Myrick
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Or are these problems simply a series of unrelated incidents that superficially look as though they might be related?


I think that's it actually. There's really no connection between Heroscape going to WotC and the demise of Mongoose Publishing's prepainted lines. And Heroscape is certainly not dead. My guess is it will continue to thrive under WotC. So that leaves just Mongoose bailing out. And i think there are some pretty clear reasons why their venture didn't work. When i went into my FLGS to look at the stuff, even the owner was talking the stuff down...he showed me a rulebook that was falling apart though brand new, and said every one he received was the same. And the early pre-paints were pretty weak for Battlefield Evo.

From what I've seen, the AT-43 community is growing slowly but steadily, a good thing i think, and now with Confrontation hitting the shelves, both lines being distributed here in the US by Fantasy Flight, I think we'll be able to tell how a well-planned, well-painted, nicely-ruled prepainted minis game fares in the market. Looks good so far IMHO.
 
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Leo Zappa
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lmyrick wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
Or are these problems simply a series of unrelated incidents that superficially look as though they might be related?


I think that's it actually. There's really no connection between Heroscape going to WotC and the demise of Mongoose Publishing's prepainted lines. And Heroscape is certainly not dead. My guess is it will continue to thrive under WotC. So that leaves just Mongoose bailing out. And i think there are some pretty clear reasons why their venture didn't work. When i went into my FLGS to look at the stuff, even the owner was talking the stuff down...he showed me a rulebook that was falling apart though brand new, and said every one he received was the same. And the early pre-paints were pretty weak for Battlefield Evo.

From what I've seen, the AT-43 community is growing slowly but steadily, a good thing i think, and now with Confrontation hitting the shelves, both lines being distributed here in the US by Fantasy Flight, I think we'll be able to tell how a well-planned, well-painted, nicely-ruled prepainted minis game fares in the market. Looks good so far IMHO.


Funny you mention the Mongoose rulebook that was falling apart. A gaming buddy lent me his Mongoose Babylon 5 Core rulebook to look over, since I have been considering getting into that system. Just like what you describe, the book, hardbound and brand new, is already falling apart. For a company with the word "Publishing" in their name, the actual art of 'publishing' seems to be eluding them!
 
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Where can I get some info on the Battlefield Evolution 'demise'?

I heard about the Starship Troopers already... too bad.
 
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Tony Chen
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They shouldn't be.
 
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Leo Zappa
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neoshmengi wrote:
Where can I get some info on the Battlefield Evolution 'demise'?

I heard about the Starship Troopers already... too bad.


http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/281118
 
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Aaron Gelb
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Well, this makes the choice of which prepainted game to get into a lot easier!

AT-43 it is...but i'm still going to wait a year before getting into it.
 
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Andrew H
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Confrontation: The Age of the Rag'Narok is the next product line from the Rackam AT-43 people. Fantasy world instead of Sci fi. I think I will get right into this one once I see that it is going to be continued with further painted figures (reports I have heard is that all their future figures will now be painted plastic instead of unpainted metal) and that it is not tooo expensive.
 
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I think Mongoose just messed up with the way they released their line. I think there's still a very viable market for pre-paints.
 
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Aaron Gelb
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Fulminata wrote:
I think Mongoose just messed up with the way they released their line. I think there's still a very viable market for pre-paints.


I agree. They really did a piss-poor job of advertising it, getting it out there, and had time and time again issues with quality, thus rarely sticking to their release schedules.

While AT-43 might have had/will have date push backs, their quality has always been top notch.

And I do think that sci-fi and fantasy are easier sells than modern warfare....people like to get lost in their imaginations with miniatures.

I'd rather play an ape in power armor than a British Task Force.

Its a shame that its going under, and with it the hopes of a prepainted Starship Troopers. THAT would have been coooool.

So for now its AT-43 or Confrontation. I think Sci fi interests me more with miniatures.

HA, I just wish these were available years ago when I was in high school trying to get into Warhammer!
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Chris Morris
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As an avid WH40K player for many, many years who just just doesn't have the time to paint and assemble anymore, I am very excited about AT-43. I waited for a bit, but just made my first dive into a Red Blok army for this one. Before I invest too heavily into it though, I want to see how the game plays. To me, that is more crucial than the painted/unpainted issue. If the rules are good enough to keep my attention long term, I could care less either way. It just makes it a little easier since I don't have to spend several months painting before I can actually use my minis in public!!
 
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David Winter
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As a long term miniatures gamer, I've never found any of the prepaint games that really appealed so far. In the name of accessibility the rules generally seem much more simplified than traditional miniature games and as such don't seem like the kind of game i'm into.

I can see potential in the area, but as yet it's not been done to my tastes.
 
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Troy Adlington
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dedindahed wrote:
As a long term miniatures gamer, I've never found any of the prepaint games that really appealed so far. In the name of accessibility the rules generally seem much more simplified than traditional miniature games and as such don't seem like the kind of game i'm into.

I can see potential in the area, but as yet it's not been done to my tastes.


I agree David.

Also if you don't like to paint your own stuff then you can get things professionally painted at reasonable rates.


Metal figs are better sculpted in general than your plastics too.
 
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L Myrick
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dedindahed wrote:
As a long term miniatures gamer, I've never found any of the prepaint games that really appealed so far. In the name of accessibility the rules generally seem much more simplified than traditional miniature games and as such don't seem like the kind of game i'm into.

I can see potential in the area, but as yet it's not been done to my tastes.



I play both sides of the fence. For ancients I play WAB and have to paint or pay someone else to paint part of my armies. But I like to play sci-fi too, and don't have enough time to paint those too.

For the rules, I have to disagree. Have you read the full AT-43 rules? They are quite deep and i think very well thought out and coherent. I don't think they're any more simplified than any miniatures rules I've read.
 
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Bwian, just
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dedindahed wrote:
As a long term miniatures gamer, I've never found any of the prepaint games that really appealed so far. In the name of accessibility the rules generally seem much more simplified than traditional miniature games and as such don't seem like the kind of game i'm into.

I can see potential in the area, but as yet it's not been done to my tastes.


As a long term miniatures wannabe, I've got plenty of generic rule sets that I can use if I decide I don't like the ones published for the figures. What I don't have are painted figures: I don't particularly like painting, and painting time generally comes out of gaming time for me. I've considered painting services, but haven't been able to work out the system. Nonetheless I hate playing with unpainted or primered figures, which means I don't get many games in.

I think there's definitely a future in pre-painted minis. I'm happy enough buying where they are now, but the quality is just going to get better, and the price is going to come down as time goes on.
 
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Troymk1 wrote:
dedindahed wrote:
As a long term miniatures gamer, I've never found any of the prepaint games that really appealed so far. In the name of accessibility the rules generally seem much more simplified than traditional miniature games and as such don't seem like the kind of game i'm into.

I can see potential in the area, but as yet it's not been done to my tastes.


I agree David.

Also if you don't like to paint your own stuff then you can get things professionally painted at reasonable rates.


Metal figs are better sculpted in general than your plastics too.


Troy - I agree with you and David as to what is possible and what is important. However, I want to stress that there is a market (of which I belong) that wants the game ready to play out of the box (a la Heroscape). Not only do I not want to have to paint my figs, I also don't want to fiddle with sending my minis off to a painter. I want them ready to go when I open the shrinkwrap. That's the market segment that I believe is potentially large yet at this point is in a position to being less well served moving forward than it has in the last couple of years. I wonder if wanting pre-painted figures, a decent rule system, and a non-collectible marketing approach while maintaining an attractive price (as Heroscape has done fairly well these past several years) is just not practical - is it asking too much?
 
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I don't think pre-painted minis are going away any time soon. Hero Clix is still going despite WizKids best efforts to commit suicide, Halo Action Clix and Horror Clix seem to be doing OK as well. As far as I know the other WOTC pre-painted minis are still doing OK as well, Dnd and Star Wars miniatures.

My personal take is that in the games that have died had a smaller base of support and (without knowing the ecenomics) I'd guess pre-painted figs were too expensive for them.

When games like Clue now come with pre-painted little figures I think they are here to stay in some form or another.

Cheers,
Van
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L Myrick
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vandemonium wrote:
I don't think pre-painted minis are going away any time soon. Hero Clix is still going despite WizKids best efforts to commit suicide, Halo Action Clix and Horror Clix seem to be doing OK as well. As far as I know the other WOTC pre-painted minis are still doing OK as well, Dnd and Star Wars miniatures.

My personal take is that in the games that have died had a smaller base of support and (without knowing the ecenomics) I'd guess pre-painted figs were too expensive for them.

When games like Clue now come with pre-painted little figures I think they are here to stay in some form or another.

Cheers,
Van


I think we're talking apples and oranges here. He can correct me if i'm wrong, but i think the OP was commenting on NON-collectible pre-painted tabletop miniatures games, as opposed to collectible games or boardgames with painted figures to move around the board. It's a fine distinction perhaps, and open to interpretation, but i think it exists.
 
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lmyrick wrote:
desertfox2004 wrote:
Or are these problems simply a series of unrelated incidents that superficially look as though they might be related?


I think that's it actually. There's really no connection between Heroscape going to WotC and the demise of Mongoose Publishing's prepainted lines. And Heroscape is certainly not dead. My guess is it will continue to thrive under WotC. So that leaves just Mongoose bailing out. And i think there are some pretty clear reasons why their venture didn't work. When i went into my FLGS to look at the stuff, even the owner was talking the stuff down...he showed me a rulebook that was falling apart though brand new, and said every one he received was the same. And the early pre-paints were pretty weak for Battlefield Evo.

From what I've seen, the AT-43 community is growing slowly but steadily, a good thing i think, and now with Confrontation hitting the shelves, both lines being distributed here in the US by Fantasy Flight, I think we'll be able to tell how a well-planned, well-painted, nicely-ruled prepainted minis game fares in the market. Looks good so far IMHO.


I agree with Myrick 100%.

Mongoose was an exception (they never had anywhere near the same clout or exposure in North America that Reaper, Games Workshop, or Hasbro/WOTC has). Rackham's AT-43 is doing very well in North America and I think Confrontation will do fine as well (especially now that Fantasy Flight is distributing the games). HeroScape is not going to suddenly become less popular now that is has moved to Wizards (maybe more expensive, but that's another story). Reaper Miniatures just released a pre-painted line (Legendary Encounters) this year and is expanding it. This field is growing, not shrinking.

As long as there is a large enough segment of people like you LEO, who love minis but don't want to paint them, then there will be continued attempts to satisfy that demand by companies who can do enough volume to justify it.
 
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dedindahed wrote:
As a long term miniatures gamer, I've never found any of the prepaint games that really appealed so far. In the name of accessibility the rules generally seem much more simplified than traditional miniature games and as such don't seem like the kind of game i'm into.

I can see potential in the area, but as yet it's not been done to my tastes.


I would agree with you David that the rules associated with pre-painted games are much less deep than traditional minis games in most cases.

That said, there are many excellent miniatures rules systems out there that are not tied to a specific figure manufacturer. So there's nothing stopping you from buying Confrontation figures, Reaper's pre-paints, or HeroScape figures and using them in a game like Hordes of the Things, Vis Magica, Armies of Arcana, Warrior Heroes, etc. In fact, in the computer-moderated tabletop wargame that I'm currently developing and playtesting, we mix all kinds of figures from various manufacturers together to field our armies (including traditional self-painted or pro-painted minis, with pre-paints from HeroScape and such). And it all works just fine.

So bottomline, I think that if decent pre-paints become more readily available, more non-painters will buy them and use them to play a vast array of games (including games other than the specific one they might have been manufactured for). Personally, I have zero desire to play the new Confrontation game, but I fully intend to buy a bunch of the minis just to use them in my own wargames.
 
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lmyrick wrote:
vandemonium wrote:
I don't think pre-painted minis are going away any time soon. Hero Clix is still going despite WizKids best efforts to commit suicide, Halo Action Clix and Horror Clix seem to be doing OK as well. As far as I know the other WOTC pre-painted minis are still doing OK as well, Dnd and Star Wars miniatures.

I think we're talking apples and oranges here. He can correct me if i'm wrong, but i think the OP was commenting on NON-collectible pre-painted tabletop miniatures games, as opposed to collectible games or boardgames with painted figures to move around the board. It's a fine distinction perhaps, and open to interpretation, but i think it exists.

Agreed, but... Collectible/mass market prepaints are going to keep driving manufacturing improvements. So even if non-collectible games weren't viable now, they would become more so in the future.
 
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Just keep buying Heroscape! It will always be prepainted! And by buying them you are using your "dollar votes" so that:

1. Heroscape needs to continue on.
and
2. It shows other companies that if Heroscape can do it maybe they need to think about doing it, too.

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Bwian, just
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volnon wrote:
Just keep buying Heroscape! It will always be prepainted! And by buying them you are using your "dollar votes" so that:

1. Heroscape needs to continue on.
and
2. It shows other companies that if Heroscape can do it maybe they need to think about doing it, too.

3. It causes AT-43, which makes pretty SF miniatures just like I want, to go down in flames...

I think just buying prepaints (of any brand) is probably all the signaling that is necessary.
 
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desertfox2004 wrote:
lmyrick wrote:


I think that's it actually. There's really no connection between Heroscape going to WotC and the demise of Mongoose Publishing's prepainted lines. And Heroscape is certainly not dead. My guess is it will continue to thrive under WotC. So that leaves just Mongoose bailing out. And i think there are some pretty clear reasons why their venture didn't work. When i went into my FLGS to look at the stuff, even the owner was talking the stuff down...he showed me a rulebook that was falling apart though brand new, and said every one he received was the same. And the early pre-paints were pretty weak for Battlefield Evo.


Funny you mention the Mongoose rulebook that was falling apart. A gaming buddy lent me his Mongoose Babylon 5 Core rulebook to look over, since I have been considering getting into that system. Just like what you describe, the book, hardbound and brand new, is already falling apart. For a company with the word "Publishing" in their name, the actual art of 'publishing' seems to be eluding them!


As an aside I know exactly what's up with Mongoose in terms of their books falling apart. Basically they decided to move from using external publishing houses to an internal publishing model. Unfortunately their lack of experience led to a number of kinks that it has taken them some time to iron out (and they may not be completely done in that regard even now), usually relating to warping covers or the binding, as you have noted, falling apart. Once they get it together it should cease to be a problem but it's caused them no end of trouble thus far. Still, if your friend contacts Mongoose about his book they'll happily replace it free of charge, they've been very good at doing that.
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Michael R
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I think the quality of plastics being used for minis these day is far superior to what it was ten years ago. I see minis coming out in plastic that are as good as a good metal mini though not as good as the best you can get in metal.

One thing I have been worried about these prepainted minis is the fact they are very cheap considering they have been individually painted by hand and then on top of that they are been sold in a disposable way (in collectable booster that have rares and commons). I do worry about how ethically the production of these minis is. Are the painters provided with a good working environment? Are they getting a reasonable wage? I do worry that some poor ten year old may be spending twelve hours a day hunched over painting my figures to take home $1 at the end of the night.

I know that this worry does not apply to a company like Rackham who use machines to paint their figures.
 
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