I read an estimate recently - in one of the wargaming mag trade pages, I think - that only about 10% of the wargame figures manufactured ever make it onto a miniature battlefield, and that much less than half, maybe as little as a third, get painted. It may not be accurate, you may have different thoughts on the numbers, but it's kind of interesting.
You realise what this means? If these probabilities have always applied, this means that something approaching two-thirds of the total historic output of Minifigs, Warhammer, Foundry, Hinchliffe, Marcus Hinton etc etc is stashed away somewhere - if we make a deduction for stuff that has gone to be recycled or just thrown away (not a very common fate, I think), that still leaves maybe half which is lying in spares boxes in lofts, cupboards, desk drawers, sheds, garages, jam jars and old suitcases. Quite apart from the waste of material and money, that is a remarkable vision - imagine it all heaped up in one place. I wonder how many guard mamelukes there would be in there...
Since I decided to start on a new period, I have a refreshed view of my own spares department, and I will be spending some of the forthcoming weeks applying a healthy dose of reality and disposing of things via eBay and otherwise. There is, of course, every likelihood that the majority of what I get rid of will simply relocate to someone else's loft, and the percentages will remain unchanged.
While trawling through the boxes - some actually labelled "GASH" or "INFANTRY SPARES - DUFF" - I am constantly amazed to think how or why I acquired some of this flotsam. OK - I accept that at the end of any project there is a little distortion caused by the fact that what you are left with is the stuff you couldn't (or chose not to) use, but a lot of the time I simply have no idea where it came from. In an idle sort of way, I decided it might be fun to consider a geologist’s view of the
, and try to identify some patterns, in an appropriately scientific manner... Lead Mountains
This is essentially a subjective table. Unlike proper rocks, the categories of figures do not have the decency to form distinct chronological layers – they are all stirred together – so the following sections require a lot of tedious pre-sorting...
Totally irrelevant – a complete mystery – e.g. figures in the wrong scale, or for a period/nation that is out of scope, figures for which you have no idea at all what they are
· No idea
· Things very badly described on eBay
· Extra figures which came in mixed eBay lots
· The results of being criminally misled about the true size of some manufacturer’s “true 25mm” range
Stuff that’s always been there – even pre-dates the last rationalisation and chuck-out
· All suggestions welcome
· In some cases, previous failure to categorise what it was or why it was there may have brought a stay of execution until next time
Incomplete projects, or stalled good ideas that never came to fruition – e.g. large numbers of MiniFigs mounted RHA officers that never did get converted into Light Dragoons
· Cousin Michael’s Crimean troops, that he grew out of before he painted them
· Spanish Civil War – what a great idea!
· Something that was going very cheap at the Bring’n’Buy stall
· Look at that – WW2 Romanians
Useful stuff – relevant figures but need a few more to constitute a full unit
· Usual channels – just short of a few FN22s to make another battalion...
· This category is directly traceable to the emergence of eBay as a source for OOP and otherwise defunct figures.
· It can get wildly out of control – this is the bit to worry about.
Flights of fancy – e.g. sample figures for the Lord of the Rings (can’t remember why) – superbly sculpted 18mm Zulus that don’t match anything in the known universe
· Those 8 unpainted figures bought at a Wargames Show after watching a breathtaking exhibition game with 800 painted figures
· Mystery parcels bought when drunk