Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fighting an Addiction – Or: My Battle with Lead Mountain

“Hello, my name is Joe and I have an addiction for buying too many miniatures…”

A few weeks back, someone I know was complaining about having to buy another army and the cost of certain figures, etc., and why he keeps putting himself in this position. While I never got around to replying, it did get me to think about my own addiction as a compulsive buyer of gaming stuff, mainly miniatures, and what I am doing to keep my mountain of metal under control. Plus, this could be a cool subject for my blog for others to think about before they start buying into a project that will go nowhere.

While I have always known that I had way too many miniatures, especially unpainted, it was about a year and a half ago that I realized how much unpainted miniatures I had in my collection. That is when I realized that I really needed to let some things go and stop getting involved in a bunch of periods, armies, or other projects because of something I read/seen/or talked about. I had made a decision to stop being a miniature-holic.

The first big step was to list out all of my projects by scale and armies that I have, have started, would like to do, or had at one time. After doing that, I saw that for some periods, I had multiple scales for it for the same armies. For an example, I had at one time or still have figures for WWII in France for 1940 in 3mm, 6mm, 10mm, 15mm, and 20mm! Five different scales of the same French and German forces! (Literally – The French forces were the exact same force for numbers or each type of vehicles, infantry stands, etc.)

Next, I struck from the list all of the projects that I sold off or have given away. From there I made out a rough estimate of the amount of minis that it would take to finish projects that I still had, plus storage requirements for everything (armies, buildings, terrain, etc.) Once that is done, I started to cry over how unrealistic everything has been and how much larger my house would have to be to finish everything. Now, I was ready to start cutting the fat.

Then I reviewed all of the projects on the list. I first terminated the projects that I had I not started on, those that I didn’t have a solid start on, and also projects that I have absolutely no interested in any more. This was followed by marking what periods that I have finished, also finished, and those that I really still wanted to do. Everything in between I made a decision on whether to keep or get rid of based on interested, what is need to complete, storage, cost, etc. So now you know why I am selling off a lot of miniatures (unfortunately, which is rather irregular still.)

But now what is to keep me in check? Part of this is to control myself from starting new projects before I start buying a bunch of figures and drop it later. That is where I came up with a series of questions to ask myself as sort of a “litmus test” on determining if the project is something I want to give it a “Go.” All of these questions might not apply to everyone, but everyone should ask themselves some of the questions before they buy their first pack of miniatures for a new project.

  • Do I really want to do this project and it is not just a passing fad?
  • How many other projects do I currently have going on?
  • Am I going to duplicate an existing or past project and why?
  • How much am I willing to budget towards this project, $100, $500, $1000 (include everything – miniatures, terrain, bases, rules, paints, painting services, resource books, and shipping costs)?
  • Am I going to have to eat putter butter & jelly sandwiches at work for a while? - Seriously, if you have to ask this question – get out now!
  • Am I willing to do both opposing forces, terrain, and know all of the rules?
  • How many gamers will typically play in a game and how many figures are needed per player for a normal game?
  • Is there anyone else willing to help and how committed are they to the project if they are to do their part, especially if it is a vital part?
  • Will this be a one-shot project (once it is bought, it is finished) or living project (you continuous have to keep adding more to it as rules/armies change – i.e., GW, FOW, Modern gaming)?
  • Are the rules available to cover the project (do I have them or need to buy them) and do I like the rules?
  • Basing requirements: universal (used by many rules sets) or unique (only one rules set) and do I want to commit to that type of basing?
  • Miniature availability: What scales, manufacturers, and quality are available for the project and would I be willing to use a smaller scale, different manufacturer, or lesser quality to do the period to stay in budget (instead of 25mm, can I use 10mm, if they are available)?
  • Can I cut down the number of figures needed or find other ways of reducing what is needed (maybe use 3 figs on a stand vs. 4)?
  • What number of figures do I really need to play a normal size game (10, 40, 100, or 1000 per side)?
  • Can I still play games with fewer figures / stands until I get everything done?
  • Do I really have the time to paint that many miniatures or will I use a painting service?
  • Can I use these figures for other projects or games that I might be interested in (like using a “commonly” played scale of miniatures that can be used to fight several different opposing forces vs. an oddball scale / army that can only be used for that one project )?
  • Will I get enough enjoyment from this project for the effort that I will be required to put into it?

Anyway, I hope this helps someone from making that horrible discovery one day of a big sinkhole where your house use to be before sank due to the weight of all of the unpainted miniatures in your basement.

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