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Article updated: 2017.02.05

There are several different ideas of how to do miniatures "properly", and it's often a source of heated debates on the internet forums. The source of these dabates is that these people believe in separate philosophies.

I'm listing here the broad categories, if you'd like to know further details, read their own articles.

Collectors: They prefer miniatures that look interesting. They often prefer to build dioramas out of them. As they don't use the miniatures for gaming, base size doesn't matter to them. Some like to spend their time assembling the miniatures, some like to spend time with painting them. What they need is a quality that catches their eye and a figure that catches their interests.

  • They don't mind: Different poses.
  • They don't mind: Standing poses.
  • They don't mind: Marching poses.
  • They don't mind: Dynamic poses.
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some even prefer them).
  • They don't mind: Battle damage, tears on.
  • They don't mind: Diorama accessories.
  • They don't mind: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't mind: Preparing for battle poses.
  • They don't mind: Casualty poses.

Types of wargamers by the outlook of their miniatures

Parade ground army: The miniatures are standing in a parade pose. Some of them prefer to use the same sculpt for all of the miniatures in a squad, or even the whole army. They usually look clean and fresh, without dirt or battle damage. Some of them like they are posing for an army advertisement photoshoot.

Philosophy: Pose: Standing pose, Painting: Clean clothing / Uniform clothing

Pros: Easy to differentiate the miniatures.

Cons: They look stupid when in contact with the enemy, waiting meekly to be massacred.

For sculptors:

  • They need: Standing poses.
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Different poses (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Marching poses.
  • They don't need: Dynamic poses.
  • They don't need: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't need: Battle damage, tears on clothing.
  • They don't need: Diorama accessories (some don't mind them).
  • They don't need: Preparing for battle poses.
  • They don't need: Casualty poses (unless the ruleset require them).

Marching army: The miniatures are in a marching pose, like they are marching to the battle, or marching towards the enemy on the battlefield (more aggressive stance, weapons ready). Some of them prefer to use the same sculpt for all of the miniatures in a squad, or even the whole army. Some of them prefer clean looking miniatures (fresh out of training camp), some use minis that have seen some battle, with torn clothes and battle wounds.

Philosophy: Pose: Marching pose.

Pros: They look good while away from the enemy.

Cons: They look stupid when in contact with the enemy, waiting meekly to be massacred.

For sculptors:

  • They need: Marching poses.
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Different poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Battle damage, tears on clothing (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Standing poses (some don't mind them).
  • They don't need: Dynamic poses (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Diorama accessories.
  • They don't need: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't need: Preparing for battle poses (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Casualty poses (unless the ruleset require them).

Army in combat: The miniatures are in dynamic action poses. They prefer to use different poses, possibly different sculpts for their miniatures.

Philosophy: Pose: Dynamic poses

Pros: They look good when in contact with the enemies.

Cons: They look stupid while standing away from the enemies, slashing the air.

For sculptors:

  • They need: Dynamic poses.
  • They need: Different poses.
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some even prefer them).
  • They don't mind: Battle damage, tears on clothing (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Diorama accessories.
  • They don't need: Standing poses.
  • They don't need: Marching poses.
  • They don't need: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't need: Preparing for battle poses.
  • They don't need: Casualty poses (unless the ruleset require them).

Types of wargamers by basing the miniatures

Diorama builder wargamers: They prefer to have small dioramas as miniatures. Their heroes might stand in large rocks, their flyers could fly above trees. Their miniatures have scenic effects on them (snow, dirt). Their aim is that the miniatures should look as cool as possible. If they can't fit on the standard base, they use another kind.

Philosphy: Base: Scenic base, Base: Diorama base, Painting: Scenic effects, Painting: Realistic clothing

Pros: Diorama miniatures look nice.

Cons: They look out of place on most terrain that's not depicted on the base. The size of the base is often over the legal size for wargames. Sometimes it's hard to differentiate the miniatures - if all of them are covered in snow, they all look the same.

For sculptors:

  • They prefer: Dynamic poses.
  • They prefer: Different poses.
  • They don't mind: Diorama accessories.
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some even prefer them).
  • They don't mind: Battle damage, tears on clothing.
  • They don't mind: Casualty poses (to add to diorama bases).
  • They don't need: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't need: Standing poses.
  • They don't need: Marching poses.
  • They don't need: Preparing for battle poses (some of them do).

Scenic basing wargamers: They prefer to base their miniatures so the base looks like the terrain they are standing on, but they stick to normal base sizes. Some of them prefer standing miniatures instead of dínamic ones. They differ from diorama builders in that they don't create scenic effects for their miniatures. This makes their miniatures cleaner and often easier to differentiate.

Philosphy: Base: Scenic base, Painting: Clean clothing / Uniform clothing

Pros: Legal base size.

Cons: They look out of place on most terrain that's not depicted on the base.

For sculptors:

  • They don't mind: Different poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Standing poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Marching poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Dynamic poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Battle damage, tears on clothing (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't need: Diorama accessories.
  • They don't need: Preparing for battle poses (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Casualty poses (unless the ruleset require them).

Flat basing wargamers: They prefer to use flat, empty bases. For them a base is just a thing to get their miniatures standing. They might even use clear plastic bases. Some of them prefer standing miniatures instead of dínamic ones.

Philosophy: Base: Flat base / Transparent base, Painting: Clean clothing / Uniform clothing

Pros: Legal base size. Transparent bases look okay on every terrain.

Cons: Flat plastic bases look out of place on every terrain. Transparent bases look okay.

For sculptors:

  • They don't mind: Different poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Standing poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Marching poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Dynamic poses (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Multi-part miniatures (some of them do).
  • They don't mind: Battle damage, tears on clothing (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Diorama accessories.
  • They don't need: Non-combat poses.
  • They don't need: Preparing for battle poses (some of them do).
  • They don't need: Casualty poses (unless the ruleset require them).

Solutions to make everyone happy

Basing: If you prefer diorama / scenic basing, and don't want your bases to look out of place on a terrain that's not depicted on your base, then make removable bases, and create one set of bases for every kind of terrain you can think of.

Posing: If you feel your marching or combat pose looks out of place, create one set of marching and one set of battling poses for every unit in your army. That way you can just exchange your marching miniature when they get in contact with an enemy unit. You can also create casualty miniatures to show where your heroes have fallen.

Things to consider when sculpting wargames miniatures

Static poses: The miniature doesn't show any sign of stress or urgency. It is either standing straight, standing at ease, marching or moves casually. There's a minority of gamers who like standing and marching poses, so try to create some static poses for them.

  • Standing poses: A few gamers prefer these. Try to make at least one separate standing pose available for the armies you sculpt.
  • Marching poses: A few gamers prefer these. Try to make at least one separate marching pose available for the armies you sculpt.

Dynamic poses: The miniature is in movement. Most gamers prefer these.

  • Generic dynamic poses: The miniature is dynamic in a way that can be seen normal any time during a battle - running, crouching, taking a look. It usually holds its weapon ready for battle, or in case of shooters, taking aim with it. I consider reloading the weapon a generic pose.
  • In action poses: The miniature is caught in the middle of a single action.
    • Combat action: The miniature does something related to combat. It stabs with a knife, covers from a blow, throws a grenade, crouching on the ground. These actions are not being done all the time, and depict a distinct moment. They look great in dioramas.
    • Preparing for battle: These are poses like pulling out a sword, or putting a string on a bow. They could be interesting poses, but only a few gamers like these, because they are neither combat poses, nor parade ground poses, so they won't see much use.

Different poses: Most gamers prefer to have different looking models in their armies. So even if you only made one sculpt, cut that up, and create separate casts of the appendages. If you don't want fiddly miniatures, put those together for yourself, and create moulds from them.

Multipart miniatures: A few collectors like to assemble them, but most gamers prefer to get their miniatures on the gaming table as soon as possible. Even if you sculpt yourself separate appendages for your miniatures, make some moulds with assembled miniatures, and make those available. If you really stick to casting multi-part ones, at least make some of them available pre-assembled (like some of the Mantic and Petersen Games miniatures). Also, if you create multi-part, especially multi-pose miniatures, make sure they assemble easily and tightly (possibly snap-together kits), without the need of additional pinning and epoxy putty to fill the huge gaps.

Battle damage, tears on clothing: Some people like them, some don't. It's easier to add damage to a model than removing damage from one, so I recommend to do a clean miniature first, and make that available. If there's demand, alter the original to represent battle damage.

Diorama accessories: A few gamers prefer these. If you add diorama parts to your miniatures, make them a separate part so those who don't want it shouldn't need to saw them off, or even better, sell them as separate parts so those who don't need them, wouldn't need to pay for them. The pose of the miniature should look normal even without the diorama part if possible. For example, if the mini is standing on a rock, without that rock it could look like it's stepping with the foot in midair. If you made a miniature that only makes sense in its diorama surroundings, try to sculpt additional parts to have a figure that can be used in its own. This way you can salvage the most of the miniature, and it will be useful for a wider range of customers. For example, if the mini is sitting on a chair and holds its head in its hands, if you repose the legs to be standing, and the arms to hand by its side, it will make it a good wargame miniature for most people.

Non-combat poses: These are poses (sitting, eating, etc) that are totally out of place on a battlefield. Although the pose might be a nice one, only a few gamer like these for their wargames. If you sculpt a miniature for a wargame, it's better to avoid non-combat poses, unless you do it for specific scenarios. For multi-piece miniatures you could create non-combat alternate parts you can sell for collectors.

Casualty poses: Most modern wargames don't use casualty markers, so casualty miniatures will be used only for dioramas, or in very special scenarios.

Vehicles: Vehicles and artillery pieces are another popular subject.

  • Clean vehicle: A standard vehicle, that looks like it just came out of the factory.
  • Combat vehicle: The vehicle is not standard issue, it looks like it has seen combat. There can be protective or offensive measures applied, like extra armour plates, or extra fuel tanks.
  • Damaged vehicle: The vehicle has been damaged, there are holes in the armour, bent parts.
  • Vehicle in special circumstances: The vehicle looks like it's in a special place or condition. For example there's chain on the tires, or modifications for climate.
  • Vehicle in use: There can be mud on wheels or tracks, stowage on the vehicle.

So a quick recap:

  • Create as many different poses as possible. These should be mostly action poses. Avoid non-combat poses.
  • Make a multi-part, possibly multi-pose version so gamers could assemble them to their liking.
  • Make versions of them that don't require long assembly - snap-together versions, single-piece casts, or pre-assembled miniatures.
  • Create at least one standing pose. Create at least one marching pose. Make these available as a separate choice for those who want only these.
  • You can create scenic or diorama elements for dioarama builders as a separate add-on (or one-piece kit).
  • You can create non-combat alternate parts for multi-part miniatures as a separate add-on (or one-piece kit).

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Do you have further ideas for philosophies of miniature collectors? How do you have questions about the ones I've listed? Tell your opinion in the comments!

 

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