Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2019 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint
There can be little doubt that 2019 was a wonderfully surprising year for my painting, with the sudden emergence of several new miniature ranges which somewhat shockingly overshadowed my usual mainstay manufacturers. “Lucid Eye Publications”, “Modiphius Entertainment”, “Fantasy Flight Games”, “Knight Models”, and “Kitbash Games” all arguably came out of nowhere to challenge the annual dominancy of my traditional Big Four - “Warlord Games”, “Wizkids”, “Black Tree Design” and “Games Workshop”, and as a result made this period my most productive ever.
In addition, there was a noticeable increase in the amount of Fantasy-based models I pigmented that weren’t from the Mortal Realms of “Age Of Sigmar”. Science Fiction and super-hero figures have repeatedly governed my hobby-time over the past decade, yet due in large to the characterful sculpts of the “Toon Realms” range, Skeletons, Treemen, Spiders, Knights and assorted forest-bred wildlife increasingly ‘cropped up’ on my online shopping trolley too…
No. 10 - "Wizards Of The Coast" - "Star Wars Miniatures Game"
There can be absolutely no doubt that I would never have painted anything concerning either the "Star Wars Miniatures Game" or "Wizards Of The Coast" during this year if it wasn't for the generosity of Phil Curran, who along with a formidable array of other science-fiction based miniatures, kindly gifted me an enormous Commerce Guild Homing Spider Droid and four Super Battle Droids. Indeed, despite owning a significant box full of models from the collectable miniatures tabletop game, I have predominantly focused on simply re-basing the figures in the past, not re-painting them. However, I felt it was only right to put my brush-tip to these lovely sculpts as soon as possible, and score some much needed points during the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge as well.
No. 9 - "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" - "7TV"
Despite having played numerous games of "7TV" by "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" when the "cinematic style" skirmish game first came out several years ago, it wasn't until the end of 2019, with the release of "7TV: Apocalypse", that I finally became enamoured with its second edition. As a result, except for a quartet of Gabriel Hounds, I barely picked away at the Lincolnshire-based company's range until the very end of the year, when I finally finished a partially-painted female X-Commando who had been lurking in my queue for months, as well as their excellent Protoplasmic Terrors.
No. 8 - "Reaper Miniatures" - "Chronoscope"
Whilst my plans to host a campaign loosely set in James M. Ward and Gary Jaquet's mid-25th century “Gamma World” never materialised, the science fantasy world did encourage me to pigment a plethora of models from "Reaper Miniatures" Chronoscope range. These varied from some distinctly "Dungeons And Dragons" stalwarts, such as the Gelatinous Cube, Stone Golem and Mind-Eater, through to some surreal adventurers, like Sherlock Holmes and a Deep Sea Diver, as well as the formidable "Bones" sculpt of Ape-X.
No. 7 - "Warlord Games" - "Doctor Who: Exterminate!"
Quite possibly the biggest disappointment of 2019 was the utter lack of new releases by "Warlord Games" for their "Doctor Who: Exterminate!" Miniatures Game. Admittedly, this absence of fresh sculpts did offer the opportunity for me to pigment my quite considerable backlog of time travelling figures, but without the persistent 'buzz' of new foes to fight I soon found my enthusiasm dwindling for what is a somewhat overly-clunky rule-set. As a result, perhaps my most notable success was completely painting the range's "Tomb Of The Cybermen" set, complete with its Cyber-Leader for the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Challenge.
No. 6 - "Fantasy Flight Games" - "Star Wars: Legion"
Undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of the year, especially considering how poorly my attempt to paint the Minnesota-based company's previous "Star Wars" game had gone, was the sheer number of figures I completed for "Star Wars: Legion" by "Fantasy Flight Games". Initially wowed by the attention to detail on the range's dynamically-posed Wookie Warriors, I soon transferred my attention over to the Dark Side of the Force, by applying my brush-tip to the likes of General Maximilian Veers, some Imperial Royal Guards, a complete squad of Imperial Death Troopers and Emperor Palpatine himself.
N0. 5 - "Games Workshop" - "Age Of Sigmar"
Two significant-sized projects lead to me pushing through a considerable number of "Games Workshop" models for "Age Of Sigmar". On the one hand I added enough Bloodletters and Heralds of Khorne to allow me to field a 1,000-point strong Blades Of Khorne army for the miniature game's second edition, and on the other I stubbornly forced myself to complete enough of the Nottingham-based manufacturer's overly-complicated plastic figures to deploy an Iron Golem warband for "Warcry".
No. 4 - "Wizkids" - "Heroclix"
Ever a stable part of my annual output, my interest in super-hero based gaming surprisingly didn’t really ‘take off’ until somewhat late in the year, with my sudden determination in October to clear my painting queue of eight old(ish) Ultron Drone figures. Before that point I had simply been 'picking away' at the pre-painted plastic figures, momentarily fixating upon the Spaceknight Firefall's fearsome battle against a clutch of Dire Wraiths, before flitting over to the odd "HorrorClix" miniature such as the Reaper of Souls and a Carnage Bot.
No. 3 - "Modiphius Entertainment" - "Star Trek Adventures"
Having become increasingly frustrated by the extraordinarily long delays affecting their Robert E. Howard’s Conan Role-Playing Game Kickstarter, which was supposedly meant to deliver in June 2016, I actually once swore I would never buy another “Modiphius Entertainment” product again. But then the London-based manufacturer released their “Star Trek Adventures” miniatures and I quickly found myself neck deep in Borg drones. Two fully-painted boxes of the Collective later, as well as a half-strength raiding party of Romulans, and even I must admit that the 32mm scale resin figures had an enormously positive impact upon my productivity during 2019.
No. 2 - "Black Tree Design" - "Doctor Who"
Enthused by a lengthy series of battles using some homemade rules and my desire to potentially field numerous opposing factions, as well as an increasingly nostalgic love of classic “Doctor Who”, it was perhaps inevitable that I would continue to steadily work my way through this ageing company’s (back) catalogue. A formidable force of Sharaz Jek Androids, Silurians and Monoids all helped motivate me throughout the year, and even kept my passion going when the delivery service of “Black Tree Design” left a lot to be desired, courtesy of some incredibly poor communications and month-long delays.
No. 1 - "Lucid Eye Publications" - "Toon Realms"
Perhaps my biggest success of 2019 was the completion of a small-sized Undead army for my “Lord Of The Toons” project using the “Dragon Rampant” rule-set. Produced by “Lucid Eye Publications”, a company I was initially utterly oblivious to, this force of skeletons and spiders greatly contributed to my success during the Ninth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, and maintained much of its momentum for almost the entirety of the year due to a positively frantic release schedule. A genuine surprise genre, this particular range also got me as close to doing batch-painting as I have been in almost a decade of hobbying…