Tag Archives: Tools

The Hidden Costs of Gaming


With all the brouhaha going on at the moment in our beloved hobby I thought this was probably a timely post to write. Other than that, the picture heading the post looks like it would be an awesome “underground volcano lair” despite the fact there is no ground, nor volcano. Hollow out that bad boy for a Bond villain lair the likes of which has never been seen. Just make sure not to fill it with hot chicks of dubious loyalty!

Anyways, on to the meat and potatoes of today’s topic. As gamers we are aware that our hobby isn’t necessarily cheap, especially when you factor in the typical addict type behaviour of gamers. I still loathe people’s arguments that hobby Y is more expensive than gaming so I should be more than happy to pay current prices. We call that kind of thinking a fallacy!

However, while we often lament the price we pay for whatever brand of army men we are purchasing what often gets swept under the carpet is the cost of the various tools and paints that are needed to realise the potential each model has. While I’ve been in the hobby long enough to know that most armies never get beyond the grey plastic stage, despite our best efforts, I know that every single gamer more than likely has a basic set of tools and some paints. Just as different gaming companies gouge our wallets to a varying degree and for varying quality of goods (I’m glaring at you Failcast!) so too does this carry over into the tools we use for painting.

Over my roughly 20 years in the hobby I’ve used a number of different manufacturers. I started off with Games Workshop’s own brand, luckily for me I’ve changed that and use Winsor and Newton Series 7 brushes and a combination of Privateer Press’ P3 paints and Vallejo Model Colour. GW paints cost £2.25 a pot while I can get the Vallejo ones in their handy dropper bottle for £1.40. My brushes cost around £7 each but then I only have 3 of them a 1, 0 and 00, they are much higher quality than the GW offerings and will last far longer if looked after properly.

For gaming with either plastic or metal you are also going to need things like clippers, a knife and a set of files. It also helps to have some greenstuff and sculpting tools to fill gaps in metal models. Then there are basing materials to consider too. All of this is quite a lot of stuff and while you do not NEED all of this when first starting you’re going to at least want clippers, some glue and a hobby knife to be able to assemble the stuff you buy to use on the table.

Once you get on the tabletop you’re also going to want terrain. Do you play over boards, whether modular or not? Do you just use a gaming mat, are you happy with just an old tablecloth and a few piles of books? Generally I have found that terrain is pretty fairly priced and there is a lot of choice out there to furnish your battlefield with depending on your game of choice. For current 6 Inch Move flavour of the month, 40k, you can get some half decent bargains like this which I consider to be pretty good value.

My point is that when you think about the startup costs of gaming, you have your starter set or rule book and then the models you are going to use but there is so much that can sneak up on you too. Extra dice, tape measures etc… etc… It’s not long before you’re a true hobbyist that has a huge haul of stuff cluttering up a bedroom or a front room.

While I think we are quite good at making rational comments about how much it costs for newcomers to join our hobby with the increasing prices of miniatures, what we should not forget is just how much the true cost is even higher! We might take for granted that we have every pot of paint we are likely to ever need but newcomers will not be so lucky. Depending on what brand people choose to go for (and in GWs case they are hoping you go for theirs which are, unsurprisingly, overpriced) you can make some decent savings but you need to know what you are getting into. Personally I would not recommend Model Colour as a range to the beginning painter but in the long run it is a much cheaper and better quality paint to use (and it smells awesome too!).

While nice terrain is not a necessity the fact it is plastered across all the pictures you see of painted models it does seem to indicate some level of obligation that you have to emulate those kinds of battlefields. I know a lot of people like to make their own and there are some really talented people out there but all this extra work means less time for actually painting the army men you started out with.

If I could offer one recommendation to people starting out, what would it be? Well, considering the situation I am in I’d say get your stuff painted and worry about the rest later. I procrastinate as I have so much to do (and I just love assembling stuff too) but I am really starting to feel the shame of not having a painted army. I’m working on my problems to try to correct that, so I’d encourage those on their first foray into gaming to really push forward with getting their purchases painted. You’ll thank me in the long run.

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Conventions in Gaming – Personal Injury


I’ll bet you’re glad I used this picture to illustrate today’s post rather than some horrible, grotesque mutilation, like Justin Bieber!

One of the major parts of our hobby is that the models we use require assembly, this is of course providing you are not using a whole load of Green Army Men to represent your horde of Skaven or Chapter of Elite Cheese Marines. The plastic we use need to be cut off sprues and have mould lines cleaned up, metal models also require those pesky mould lines to be removed and generally come with a lot more flash than plastic. I have no doubt that all of us have tales of woe when certain models have been horiffically miscast, metal models tend to have some sharp edges every now and again too. We use clippers to remove parts from sprues and knives to clean parts and score edges to better accept glue. We use pin vices to drill components for pinning and we use various oddly shaped tools when working with green stuff to fill gaps sculpt parts and this doesn’t even bring into account the ubiquitous superglue that is applied liberally to very small parts in the hope that, this time, when we sit there holding things together for an hour we haven’t overspilled some to our finger and glued those to the model rather than said small part.

So, it is with this in mind that I thought I’d take a nice look at one of the aspects of our hobby that is ever-present and yet is not often thought about. The main reason that this came up is that last night I was trying to open one of the Sherrif’s finest modular movement tray packs. They are comprised of a plastic casing that is suspiciously resistant to scissors so I resorted to my knife, you will notice that my tool of choice is now a lot sharper and a lot more dangerous, hence me sitting here this morning with a stab wound on the tip of my middle finger on my left hand. It was definitely one of those “Oh $%^£” moments as the blade cleaved through the plastic and slipped into something that offered a lot less resistance, the pale flesh of my pinky in this case. Cue that moment of realising you’ve just pushed a blade half an inch into your finger and staring at it before the blood starts pumping out of it in a never-ending flood. Grab first aid kit, apply plaster, job done, carry on carving up movement trays.

With the veritable butcher’s shop of tools and the average gamer’s disposal I am sure my tale of harrowing personal injury is not unfamiliar to the majority of us. Fingers are normally the first thing to get sliced apart but no less common are tales of model components being attached to various body parts, it’s a dangerous hobby, especially if you choose a Chaos army due to all those spikes! It’s also a good job that I wear glasses as the amount of time a particularly stubborn metal component has decided to launch itself skyward on the application of clippers is astronomical.

In honour of the scars that have been earned over long years of gaming I thought I would therefore present a 6 Inch Move Top Tips for Avoiding Personal Injury. Please feel free to ignore as many of these as seem fit;

  1. Always cut away from yourself! – As tempting as it is to pull that knife towards your torso to apply extra force, performing an impromptu appendectomy on yourself won’t go down well with your wife, mother, significant other. We do the research so you don’t have to.
  2. Apply protective covers to your tools when not in use – most of what we use is sharp, toxic or both! If you have a work area (a.k.a. dining room table) like I have, make sure everything is made safe to avoid the wrath of errant wives, cats etc… that might accidentally end up as mangled as we are.
  3. Tidy things away. Especially if you have kids. Miniatures are not toys (despite what Mrs ZombiePirate says) and grasping fingers on little hands WILL find the most dangerous of your tools to play with, so lock things away if you have to. Safety first!
  4. Glue will glue things – it may seem obvious but superglue is very sticky and will literally stick anything to anything, so use it sparingly, a trip to A&E is not fun, the hot nurse will not be impressed with that stealth suit glued to your crotch!
  5. Open a window – this isn’t just the province of Servitob’s favourite sweaty neckbeards sitting in the dungeon. Some glues have some pretty potent fumes, so spare yourself the literal headache and get some ventilation going on.
  6. Put something on the table/desk – sharp knives will carve through quite a lot of stuff, especially your wife’s lovely mahogany dining table. Spare yourself some nights in the doghouse by using appropriate coverings/mats.
  7. Do not apply too much pressure – knives and pin vices will very easily puncture skin, I say this from harsh experience. Show patience when working with these tools, things may go slower but you suffer from far less of a risk from shoving something through a digit

Hopefully these few tips are fairly obvious of themselves but it is very easy to just ignore your own personal safety and mangle a finger.

Safe modelling!