On Forgeworld/GW Quality and the rise of the Chinaman

chinaman-recasting
A big fat caveat before I start, this article deals with recasting – I nor PWD neither condones or endorses this, but it’s something that happens and should be discussed openly.

Recently BoLS posted and article bemoaning the quality vs price of Forgeworld. The article took the Sicaran battle tank, which is clearly a very popular kit, but alas, it is one fraught with problems – just take a look at the article to check out a variety of warping, poor alignment and general problems that afflict the kit.

I’ve built a number of these kits for friends and they have ALL had issues, many of which align with those presented in the article above. This is not the only kit with issues either, have you ever tried to put together a Storm Eagle?! It’s a very frustrating project – even if it’s a beautiful kit at the end of it.

Too much

As my fellow nerd blogger over at BoLS states, perhaps this is unacceptable for the associated price tag? Of course when it first started ForgeWorld was a very niche product, something you saw only once in a blue moon, but now with the advent and popularity of the Horus Heresy series it is the mainstream. Certainly amongst the Warbastards (my gaming group) we have all, without exception started a Heresy army, even Dave the stubborn hold out eventually caved. Some of us even have several…

So are these problems justified for a mainstream product when smaller companies can produce quality plastic kits for similar or smaller price tags? Is GW missing a trick here?

People are frustrated with GW. There has of course been complaints about the price for a number of years now, I’ve been in the hobby since I was – maybe 10? – and now I am getting on for 30, I have seen price rises in abundance. But this all seems to be reaching a critical mass of sorts… which leads to…

The Rise of the Glorious Chinaman

Now this is an often un-mentioned subject, and clearly a moral and legal grey area, but it’s clear the Chinaman is gaining traction in the GW market, and what is driving this? The prices.

Of course there will always be some people who rush for the cheaper product, even at the cost of quality, these are the people who would play Guard with green army men or similar (something I am promised GW staffers have seen). But those people aside, others who normally would pay to support the company and universe are switching over too – a clear indication that GW are pricing gamers out of the market (See Dave’s post on the subject here).

Ok, so full disclosure here, I have built items from the Chinaman, but I do still buy products from GW/FW on occasion. That said, the price rises have massively curtailed my spending on GW products even before I discovered the Chinaman. Where once I would be regularly starting new armies (The Hobby Magpie was strong with me), I am all but completely turned off on the idea now, and that is largely because of the price. I think there is also an element of my growing up/having more responsibility financially there too – but that’s another article and price is without doubt a major player.

Who or what is this… Chinaman?

Ok so, in short the Chinaman is a phrase coined over on /tg/ to refer to the myriad of chinese miniature re-casters. I won’t be linking to any sites or sources in particular as I am undecided where I stand on it all, but you can find them yourselves without too much effort. Until fairly recently they were pretty hard to get in touch with and required a bit of a clandestine approach; now however they seem to be a lot more prevalent and ‘open’ – which means you see them a whole lot more.

Rewind around a year, and you’re back where you had to know a password to be able to browse a catalogue, and the correct email to send your order to, in the right format or you just couldn’t get hold of this delicious Chinese resin. Now there are simple sites where you can sign up, pay with your credit or debit card and track your order from Shanghai to your door. You used to only be able to find reference and images of these recasts on /tg/ but now they’re cropping up in some mainstream places – a popular podcast’s Facebook group springs to mind.

The quality of these casts is fairly comparable to ForgeWorld. Granted the resin isn’t quite as good quality, but other than that, considering the items are often a fraction of the price, and you’d have to do a lot of work with the genuine stuff too… I really can see why people are moving this way.

Where am I going with this?

Well I’m interested in the opinion of the hobby community at large. My experiences outlined above show what I believe to be fairly typical: You love the hobby, would spend money on it, but just can’t justify the higher costs and frankly declining service of the GW stores, with the identified quality issues, and so turn to the Chinaman.

Between the writing of this article and the publishing of it BoLS has also included some coverage of the Chinaman.

Is this the case for you? Have you ever ordered from the Chinaman before? What was your experience like? Are you completely against the whole thing?

Let me know your thought in the comments below:

Martin

By day a mild mannered Web Designer from Swindon, by night a horder and shaper of bits in his mad kit bash laboratory.

  • brentinKorea

    Havent but going to. Its not price alone but also shipping and exchange rates.

  • johnwhytenz

    I’ve used several chinamen. I found out about them by BOLS linking to one of them 2 years ago. (really stupid thing for them to do in my opinion). I ordered a malenthrope coz I had a FW model and wanted to compare the two.

    What I found was the chinaman was perfect in quality. The shipping packaging was better than FW. The resin was… interesting to work with (but not really difficult). Also there was no release agent on the chinamans.

    I used chinamen when I was after particular pieces from GW kits. What I did find is when they copy the plastic kits they loose some details. (whereas the FW pieces are detail perfect.)

    I did find the chinamen to be of variable quality. The ones from chinese ebay were definitely the worst. (detail damaged before transit, poor packaging etc).

    That said the entire thing sits uncomfortably with me. I’m trying to paint my millions of models without buying too many more so I haven’t been tempted in a while. But the fact I can get the items that are often better quality, at a fraction of the price, with easy shipping if bloody tempting