A Miniature Odyssey

Miniature Gaming Reviews, Tutorials & Musings

Servo Skull Musings: Work, Life, Hobby Balance — July 4, 2016

Servo Skull Musings: Work, Life, Hobby Balance

Working adults need work/life balance; a phrase often thrown around, yet rarely realistic.

This has been a subject on my mind lately as my hobby collection receives less attention then usual due to work and life. The thought pattern evolved to highlight the irony of the hobby. When I was young, and discovered this hobby of ours, there was time but no money. As the years move forward into young adulthood, adulthood and now that thirty-plus era, money can fluctuate, but is more readily available then that younger version possessed. That younger self seemingly had all of the time in the world. Now, the other side of that is the total lack of time to enjoy the purchases or creative investments due to the inevitability of increasing adult responsibilities.

While I am the first to admit work/life balance exists for me, it is however unwholesomely skewed towards the work aspect. I am forced to wonder in which crack of the edifice of the work/life balance concept one’s hobby falls into? I understand that the situation is common and I am not unique in these requirements.

I have a young son. I have a demanding job. I have a house to care for. As aforementioned, nothing unique, and certainly not atypical. So how do others conduct their unusual miniature-based hobbies? How do others partake without sacrificing work, family or home? All represent non-negotiables in my life. The collection is present and growing, the ‘special space’ to work on and store them exists, yet progress is slow. Time is limited. Energy is not present.

My ideas, ambitious plans and projects remain intact. There is the acceptance that for the moment I have slowed down, but I am certainly not out. If fact writing this and as such formalizing my own commitment to myself not to give up, I know this hobby for me is far, far from over.

So what do you do? How do you maintain that special time for your miniature projects without sacrificing family, home or employment?

Servo Skull Musings: The Gateway Hobby — February 9, 2016

Servo Skull Musings: The Gateway Hobby

I have dabbled in the world of miniatures, on and off for some twenty years. Granted there have been gaps within that period that may have consisted of years themselves, miniature collecting and the surrounding fluff was always present to some extent. The time where I paused and returned, the return brought with it a pleasant nostalgia. For, there was no other but Games Workshop and specifically their 40K brand. Simply put, if there was no 40K, there was nothing else. No alternatives, and not even a glimmer of curiosity of what else may be out their as alternative options.

The past decade has seen my interest in 40K grow by leaps and bounds. My level of obsessive collecting, painting, and planning has expanded by such means of my creation of my dedicated modelling and painting studio, my expanding to Age of Sigmar, and even by way of this blog.

With that stated in the past few months my eyes have wandered to other options. This surprised me and forced a deep reflection on what that meant, and where it was going to head.

The internet is full of those deriding the direction, cost and even quality of the wares of GW. I do not share those concerns. I recognize them as mild annoyances, sometimes even necessary evils, but I counterbalance that with my enjoyment, in addition to the depth and beauty of their dark worlds.

Enter my favorite of the GW business units, Forge World. For anyone living under a hobby rock, it can be said that if Games Workshop and their brands Warhammer 40K and Age of Sigmar are Chevrolets, Forge World is their Cadillac. The quality of their models, books and supplemental material surpasses anything on the market. Which is why I order their product in spite of the pain it represents to order something from the UK for delivery in my home country.

The problem being… it never arrived. For three years Forge World has been contacted almost daily and four three years, the same response; “research is pending”. As this continues to slowly work its way up the corporate ladder to that level that represents someone capable of making a decision, my love for my little resin and plastic toys reaches an existential crisis. I wanted models. I waited, and waited, and waited. I still want models. I waited and waited and waited. Now, I simply want a refund. I expect I will be waiting and waiting and waiting. I will not give up, but my Cadillac is quickly proving to be a lemon.

That represents the first push towards expanding my horizons onto other alternatives. At first it was minor deviations from the Games Workshop realms, yet still involving Games Workshops. I discovered the beauty and wonder of the GW licensed products being developed by Fantasy Flight Games; Warhammer 40K board games and role playing games.

While I may never get the chance to play a RPG, the books were remarkable; the depth, the art, the details that pass by the militaristic and dogmatic Imperium proper towards the everyday life of Imperials and as yet unheard of worlds. I have mountains of Rogue Trader and Dark Heresy Second Edition books and that seems to be that first addicting hit.

Soon I found myself scouring Ebay for Battlefleet Gothic ships. I was still very much a GW collector, simply having expanded to other companies producing licenced products and tracking down old out-of-print models.

Then two things occurred that simply took me into new directions that have no connection to my history with GW. The first was the discovery of a Kickstarter I found information about on Faeit 212/Natfka. That was Dropfleet Commander. While I was aware of Dropzone Commander, it held little interest to me. This space/orbital based miniature game however was different, and I found myself excited for the game, and my first exposure to Kickstarter.

Next we have the Fantasy Flight Christmas sale. This saw me pick up numerous great deals including additional Rogue Trader books, but more importantly new games. The Merchant of Venus and the Battle of Westeros Miniature games were added. For the Battle of Westeros in fact, the core game and every single expansion was purchased for the same price one would have paid for just the core set prior to the sale.

Thus, the Warhammer world had officially been invaded by Dropfleet Commander and now the Game-of-Throne game that was Battle of Westeros.

It did not end there. Knowing first hand about the depth and quality everything I had purchased fro Fantasy Flight, I made the final leap.

That leap was towards their X-Wing game. A game with pre-painted miniatures that seems to be increasing in popularity fairly steadily since its release several years ago.

So what happens next? Does Forge World magically regain my trust and faith that they can serve this particular customer? Or will other options continue to pique my interest with GW scaling back in my hobby-life.

Time shall tell, the immediate fallout will however become apparent as my GW related posts are joined by non-GW related posts.

How about you? Are you purists? Do you dabble in alternatives? As always feedback, questions, concerns and conundrums are always welcome.


Mr. Kalidor


Servo Skull Musings: Smart vs Loyal Purchasing — September 15, 2015

Servo Skull Musings: Smart vs Loyal Purchasing

Our hobby is expensive, sometimes rare, sometimes difficult to understand and for some simply difficult to obtain. With that stated there are nominally three options with which to acquire GW materials; GW stores (online, and brick and mortar), friendly local gaming stores and of course online (ebay included).

I think it is safe to suggest three statements when investing in GW’s wares:

  1. Regardless of feelings towards GW at both store and corporate level, we want and need them to succeed in order to develop these shiny toys and books.
  2. The Friendly Local Gaming Stores are often the crux and heart of the community, plus with variety!
  3. Online options often provide that opportunity to save money of core product lines, track down rare product lines or even venture into the Grey (Resin) markets of Russia and China.

To make it simple and because GW stores will one day no doubt receive a musing dedicated to them alone, I will only suggest this thought. The survival and efficacy of the local stores would be better ensured if GW just up and scuttled their stores. Again a subject for another day.

At the Local Stores, chances are they have and/or can order what you need, invariably for less then what GW would charge directly. I want Friendly Local Gaming Stores to succeed above all else. Not because they are FLGS but because they are small businesses and because they offer shopping variety much like the fabled comic, video and books stores of old. At the same time they often provide that physical nexus of a location for a pickup game, planned events and even tournaments. Thusly they are as suggested above, the cultural heart of the community. Plus with variety! By variety I include all of the things you will not find in GW stores, their competitors.

As aforementioned, I wand the FLGS not simply to survive but to also thrive. I want small businesses to succeed. They bring character to the greater retail community. I believe many feel similarly to me with this sentiment. The flip side of the coin however returns to my first statement; this hobby is expensive.

Enter the online sales business, cheaper, more accessible and for some unluckily geographically challenged enthusiasts, the only method available. A smart buyer can locate and sorts of great deals on new, used and even knock off wares. Granted their is no personality, no  interaction, just a few clicks and virtual currencies fly through the interwebs. Just as intended. I think you would be hard pressed to suggest that e-commerce is not growing in popularity and access year over year. Potentially in my lifetime it will in fact become the norm.

I believe this may be the crux of my musing. The loyal purchaser exists, but the smart purchaser has long ago overtaken with the better deals to be had online. There are of course exceptions.

When it comes to my own personal shopping habits, I am first a smart purchaser and second a loyal purchaser. I scour the internet for deals, I make a habit of visiting all manner of FLGS stores near and far. However, no matter how nice the store, no matter how engaged the staff, their pricing is foremost on my mind.

I have been very lucky in some regards that I have found a FLGS within a forty five minute drive that offers a great selection, can order the rest, possesses an engaged staff and most importantly the consistently best prices I have ever seen. They have no gaming tables but that poses little problem to me. They have allowed me that rare chance to be both a loyal and smart buyer.

These days, my online purchases are limited to the rare and to the too great of a deal to pass up varieties.

Where do you fall? Smart? Loyal? Both? Perhaps you were or are as a I was, intending to be loyal, but buying smart.

Perhaps the next Musing will after all tackle the GW store problem.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Mr. Kalidor