Third party bits & their place in the hobby

An interesting discussion on third party producers cropped up in a wargaming group that I frequent on the old internet the other day. Normally I’d weigh in with an opinion on one side or the other, but by the time I saw it, it had already descended into a flame-war with name calling and digital hair-pulling a-plenty, so I decided simply to watch from the shadows to see what my fellow hobbyists were thinking about this surprisingly emotive topic. Let me clarify that last statement, the discussion was about legitimate miniature manufacturers, we aren’t talking about ‘The Chinaman’ here; no hobby-bludging re-caster was being defended by a Troll for their own dark amusement.

The question was raised: “What are people’s views on alternative miniature providers?” accompanied with a picture of a ‘Space Legionary Flame Cannon’ or whatever, and all hell promptly broke loose with rants and counter rants all over the place with burns hotter than the gushing promethium of the aforementioned third-party alternative. It has taken a little while for me to martial my thoughts on this topic, but before I go any further, I’d like to address the hobby community at large.

Dear hobby community,

Please stop being dicks to each other!

Love and kisses,

Papa-Robin.

I thought it best to keep that as short and sweet as I could, because I could go on a bit of a self-righteous rant on that subject which, in all likelihood, would end up with me just being a rude asshole on the internet about people who were being rude assholes to other people on the internet. But, now that’s out of the way, I can get on with sharing my thoughts with you should you wish to read them.

We here at PWD HQ feel that third party providers have a valid place in the community, companies like Anvil Industries, Puppetswar, Spellcrow and the like provide the community with a wealth of additional conversion options for those who wish to utilise them, I for one love that I have the option to customise my miniatures with additional elements or arming them with equipment with an alternative aesthetic. Third-party providers are great if you want to make an army of genetically enhanced Space-Samurai, or customise your Grimmdark las-slingers into Blackhawk Down-looking spec-ops, there is a company who will allow you to do that. And make no mistake, the hobby community want these products.

A perfect example of this is Anvil Industries, who have been working on their own standalone game called Afterlife, with miniatures, rules, the whole kit and caboodle, I myself have the whole set off the back of a couple of successful Kickstarters they did. The minis are lovely, the rules play well, it’s a great little game, but, for business reasons, Joel form Anvil has put the development of Afterlife on the back burner to concentrate on his range of alternative 28mm scale conversion bitz because even the old not-as-good-as-the-new-stuff stuff was out selling the new ranges. Why? Because, the hobby community want these products.

One of the prevalent accusations from the ‘Puritan’ (that’s not meant as an insult, I just like to think in terms of the Inquisition) faction was that of third party manufacturers ripping off the original IP. This argument always amuses the hell out of me when we are talking about Games Workshop, who over the years have plundered every possible repository of Fantasy, Sci-fi and even history as inspiration for their great works and no one was ever really that mad at them for ripping off Heinlein or Tolkien. For me that’s the key to the question of third party alternative providers, it’s that they produce works which are inspired by GeeDubs IP, not that they actively ‘rip it off’. Isaac Newton once wrote that he had seen further by standing on the shoulders of giants, so for a small company to produce components that are compatible with the offerings of our very own Hobby-Goliath is only following that same ethos of taking the work of something that has gone before you and adding to it for the benefit of all. Competition is healthy in all things, especially business. So, when we look at some of the products that Forgeworld produced last year, you can see a trend of them filling gaps in their range that in all likelihood, they would not have gotten round to (read: bothered with) had these enterprising alternative providers not identified and then met a need in the hobby community.

Anyway, that’s enough of my ramblings for now. So I’ll just leave you with a summary, alternative providers are good, being an elitist prick on the internet is bad.

Until we meet again, please try and be nice to each other.

High fives and fist-bumps all round,

Papa-Robin.

  • Noah Jerge

    I agree. While I personally prefer to not use third party kits/bits, I think some of their products look cool. However, I think there is definitely a fine line between inspiration and copying.