Monday, 14 November 2011

Rhinos and Small Birds

By The Megapope   Posted at  15:36   ramblings 6 comments

Now 150% more Space Spartan! Thanks, Chapterhouse Studios!
As my regular readers will be suspecting by now, I'm a bit of a fan when it comes to "third party" components. I've purchased a bunch of awesome looking crests, helmets and shoulderpads that I got to supplement the GreekoSpartanyRomans™ feel of the Ultramarines, from companies that aren't in any way affiliated with Games Workshop. Not to mention the resin models and extra transfers from Forge World, who are.

And yet GW themselves actively pretend that the only way to customise your models is by either purchasing entire box sets/blisters to get the pieces you need (they discontinued the bits mail ordering service) or using Green Stuff to make your own.


Some of the non affiliates are clearly making items that are meant to be used with the IP (intellectual property) of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, while others are just in the same scale and happen to be compatible. Out of the companies that I've purchased from (I'll list them all at the end of this post), Chapterhouse Studios are by far the most hilariously brazen in terms of "HEY GUYS YEAH WE TOTES DO SPACE MARINE STUFF AND WE DON'T GIVE A BUNCH OF GRAPES" to the extent that they'll happily show a bunch of GW models with their bits tacked on, all over the front page of their website.

Raaaahr I'm a heavy handed metaphor for big business! 
Unsurprisingly they're also getting the pants sued off them by GW. I wish them good luck.

So all this has been building up in my head after the manager from my local GW store asked me not to post up any more images of my space marines that featured third party bits (one crest and a helmet in a squad of ten guys) onto their facebook page. This, as they say, urinated all over my rice crispies. I didn't really hold it against the manager himself, who's a fairly nice guy from what I can tell and who understandably doesn't want to get in trouble with his higher ups. The higher ups in Games Workshop especially renowned for being a swarm of humourless arco-flagellants who would sell their own grandmothers as limited edition figurines if they would work out a way to make them stand still on a model base for long enough.

No, my irritation was really just aimed at the company itself, which is compoundedly* annoying because I have no-one to aim my irritation at who's going to bother listening. So instead I'm here telling you all why I think Games Workshop going after third party people is badwrong. In handy numbered list form!

Credit: some disgruntled gamer on 4chan 
1. Games Workshop's IP is about as original as Marcel Duchamp's moustachioed Mona Lisa. Yes, it's a fantastic setting. Absolutely, it combined existing elements in a new and interesting way. But it combined existing elements. 'Lasguns', the god-emperor and psychic navigators? All come from the Dune series. The Chaos symbol? From Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion series. Most of the races? LOTR in space. A whole bunch of the original game itself? Go look up Laserburn.** Going after a tiny company for daring to show some copyrighted figures when they've wholesale stolen half of what's currently licensed just seems cheap.

2. Everything from these third party guys, everything you can buy... the thing that they all have in common? They're put onto or around GW models. You need to buy a GW model in order to make use of the third party bits. Without the space marine body my crested helmet is going to have a hard time hopping around the board blasting xenos scum. The whole point of third party company success is that they make things GW can't be bothered making. They're the equivalent of small birds that live on the backs of rhinos and keep their ears clean. As opposed to leeches.
    3. There's no possible way this looks good with most people. Clearly, some fans who refuse to criticise the things that they love will defend GW to the hilt. But amongst the online community, I guarantee you that for every one person defending the corporation another nine will be siding with the little guys. The steady stream of nine to fourteen year olds who've been bought a box set for Christmas have absolutely no idea about any of this, and coincidentally there's often a culture of real dismissal towards the online community amongst store staffers. This lasts for about as long as it takes for the kids to find almost any popular 40K forum and then suddenly this cultivated attitude backfires and the staffers just look like tools.
      The bits catalogue is kinda like this. But with less stuff. 
      4. At the end of the day, in a hobby that's already expensive and during a global recession where most people are feeling the crunch, it's a jerk move to blatantly suggest in magazine and blog articles that gamers should go out and buy, say, an entire box of Eldar just for the head crests. And yet GW do this. Rarely directly of course, they just drop the name of the pack or blister where the featured part of this week's awesome looking conversion happens to be found, and let you work out the rest. Oh, they still have an online bits catalogue, but... yeah. It's a tad sparse.

      Extreme example because I love being a hyperbolic so and so: the beautiful conversion piece at the bottom of this GW blog entry would have cost me NZ$469 to make just for the major parts, as I can't order any of the pieces separately. Let's say you're living in the USA and not getting horrendously price gouged like we are, the components work out just shy of 250 bucks. CHEERS GUYS.

      Meanwhile, Privateer Press now do an online parts ordering service with over 4000 bits available for both the Hordes and Warmachine game lines. Slightly ironic given that the PP games have nowhere near the amount of variation and range of model that you get in GW lines, in regards of either troop weapon and gear choices, or conversion options.

      So that's my reasoning why GW going after or even ignoring third party companies is an issue. Obviously there's other factors at play here. Ever since they went into licensing their IP into other arenas such as books and computer games, GW have had to tighten their grip on the reins. There'll be  economic sense behind how they're handling it, though I guess I'm arguing that this isn't really enough, if you want to go from being a good company to a great one. There's a symbiotic relationship that's being ignored (or condemned) by the larger party who's still benefiting.

      That's enough rambling from me for one night, anyway. I don't intend to be ragging on Games Workshop that often, but sometimes a geek has to say things. Here's the promised list of people that I get my bits from.

      Chapterhouse Studios. They probably need your custom badly if the lawsuit with GW is still in progress! They make the crested helmets and shoulderpads that my corporal in the top pic uses, plus a whole bunch of other stuff. They deliver promptly and make decent models.

      Armorcast (it pained me to leave that U out). I haven't ordered from these guys yet, but I plan to. They make cool looking cinematic effects for your models, such as muzzle flashes and missile launcher smoke trails. They also do a cool range of decals for things like books and purity seals that I plan on checking out.

      Pig Iron Productions. They make the scout helmets that I use. They were lovely and not only sent me out the helmets nice and quick, but they gave me double the amount I paid for.

      Secret Weapon Miniatures. I got the greek style crests from these guys. Another website with awesome service, they chucked in a cool piece of resin scenery for free that I can use as an objective marker.

      Forge World, of course! The fancy bits and bobs that mainstream GW don't make. Completely awesome range of decals, resin models, etched brass symbols and other goodies. A wee bit pricey depending on what you're after, but the delivery time from the UK to NZ is amazing.

      I've got some other websites bookmarked that I don't think I'll ever personally use, mainly just out of personal preference. Scibor's MonstrousKromlech and Galeforce 9 are all fairly well known 3rd party places that specialise in a huge variety of goods from custom miniatures, to bits, to entire crafted gaming tables.

      Our new character model, Shmoboute Shmuilliman!.
      I definitely recommend that you check out this list and get yourself some extra goodies for your armies if you find stuff that suits. The only down side is that staffers at the local GW store might give you the stink eye if you ever play there with models rocking some third party bling. Personally this doesn't bother me in the slightest since I'm only intending to play against my mates, but it's something to keep in mind.

      * Yes that's now a word. 
      ** To be entirely fair the same writer took his laserburn ideas to the 40K universe. SHUT UP IT TOTALLY COUNTS.


      1. I like Scibor and have used a lot of their "Eygptian" bits, however it should be stated that their scale is a little larger than GW's. Not to the point where it won't work, but some bits may stand out. Kromlech makes awesome stuff, but half the time you can only get what you want on their eBay page and not their website. I personally go between all the 3rd party companies, because if you look hard enough, you're bound to find something amazing that can spark an idea for an existing army, or even a brand new one!

      2. Yeah Scibor do some really awesome looking stuff. I think if I was ever going to do a Primarch model, I'd use the Scibor sci fi knight guy (who has the suspicious looking gauntlets haha) who I hear is meant to be a representation of the big R.G anyway. I think the increased size would make him even more perfect for that.

      3. PP might have more variety in models these days than GW. GW have really moved to a "core unit - add bits to change unit" approach

        PP units are almost all unique figures. While they have less customisation within each box/unit that have a heck of a lot of wacky parts availble these days.... but being metal they are harder to work with

      4. Also, about GW drawing inspiration from unusual sources... Cough* Necrons *cough* Cylons *Cough* thats the goddam resurection ship they copied and pasted *cough*

      5. Y'know... you're right. Which is why I'm more of a PP kind of guy than a GW kind of guy. I'll still pick up a GW piece on, say, Ebay... but not very often any more.

      6. Check out Max Mini as well, they make some very nice stuff, I've got their Necro Hounds and they bloody awesome. I also just picked up some wheels from Zinge Industrys for some Heavy Mortars I've scratch built for my Penal Legion and they are great, pretty similar to the old metal ork cannons wheels. Check them out as well.


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