Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2020 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint
Updated: Aug 27
Despite being a rather disappointing year, productivity wise, 2020 certainly seemed to demonstrate that I was finally starting to move away from such mainstays of my past hobby-time as "Games Workshop" and "Warlord Games", and instead turning towards some of the new companies like "Atomic Mass Games", "Precinct Omega" and "Kitbash Games". Indeed, neither of those aforementioned 'big' Nottingham-based manufacturers even feature in this Top Ten for the first time in half a decade.
In addition, my obsession for all things science-fiction was definitely diluted by a growing fascination with a number of fantasy ranges, most notably those of "Lucid Eye Publications", "Alternative Armies", and rather surprisingly "Wizkids". This disconnect was especially felt in my lack of finishing much to do with my favourite time-travelling television programme "Doctor Who", as well as any "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" miniatures either; all three of which had had very strong showings during the previous year...
No. 10 - "West Wind Productions" - "Secrets Of The Third Reich"
I've painted a significant number of models from this range over the past decade, but never with any real intention of actually playing the official "Secrets Of The Third Reich" rule-set. Instead, I've adopted them as my "go t0" miniatures for "Konflikt '47" by "Warlord Games", and as a result ended up painting a handful more during the last twelve months so as to allow me to field both a British and German force of 500 points apiece. Disappointingly, after just a few visits to Weird World Two, I ended up once again boxing away these great figures, quickly ending an aspiration to pigment a 250 point American faction to add to my Allies.
No. 10 - "Kitbash Games" - "Supers Unlimited"
With super-heroes always being one of my most popular genres to paint, it was perhaps no surprise to anyone that I backed "Kitbash Games" highly successful Kickstarter so as to get my greedy paws on some of their excellent resin "Supers Unlimited" miniatures. Indeed, I was so enthused with the likes of Tox, Granite and the Blue Scarab that I even purchased some more of the characterful crime-fighters from the company afterwards. Sadly however, I never did manage to complete as many of the colourful vigilantes as I had originally intended, and rather embarrassingly have a drawer full of them only partially-painted.
No. 9 - "Black Tree Design" - "Doctor Who"
One of the biggest disappointments of the year was just how few "Doctor Who" models I painted from my extensive "Black Tree Design" backlog based upon the BBC science fiction television series. Plans to complete a sizeable force of armoured Sea Devils ("Warriors Of The Deep"), original Autons ("Spearhead From Space") and Swampies from Delta Magna ("The Power Of Kroll") were all sadly side-lined just as soon as I had primed the miniatures in question, and eventually lead to me frustratingly only finishing less than half a dozen Zygons overall.
No. 7 - "Atomic Mass Games" - "Marvel Crisis Protocol"
Despite owning an astonishing amount of "Heroclix" figures by "Wizkids", many of which are already fully painted, there was probably little doubt that I would start down the rabbit hole of "Marvel Crisis Protocol". Luckily however, after something of a slow start, my enthusiasm for this 40mm scale range gained some noticeable traction towards the end of the year, and as a result I not only made some in-roads into the models found within the Core Starter Set. But also managed to finish pigmenting a few of the figures from some of the super-hero skirmish game's already numerous expansion boxes too.
No. 7 - "North Star Military Figures" - "Frostgrave"
The highly-anticipated release of "Frostgrave" Second Edition by Joseph A. McCullough undeniably helped fuel my fire to finally finish off some of my long-languishing inhabitants of Felstad. However, rather than nudge me to complete a second much-needed warband for my Witch and his Apprentice using the hard plastic sculpts from the Nottingham-based manufacturer's Tribals boxed set, I instead ended up predominantly focusing my efforts upon the over-sized vermin scurrying through the underground sewers of the frozen city.
No. 6 - "Alternative Armies" - "Hordes Of The Things"
Painted entirely for the HOTT'ember Challenge with Dick Garrison of "Rantings From Under The Wargames Table" fame, these 15mm scaled models were a real test of both my eye-sight and patience due to many of the miniatures being 'rather old and uninspiring sculpts'. Indeed, I've rarely been as tempted to consign an army to a soon-to-be-forgotten drawer as I was with this mixture of water, earth, wind and fire elementals. Luckily though, I did eventually managed to find the strength to finish all but the force's wizard, and resultantly pigmented a sizeable number of figures.
No. 5 - "Precinct Omega" - "Ballmonsters!"
Purchased on the spur of the moment during the Bournemouth-based wargaming show "Beachhead", these bizarre-looking creatures surprisingly fascinated me from the moment I first laid eyes on them, and somehow repeatedly found their way at the forefront of my painting queue throughout the year. In fact, I actually ended up successfully putting my brush-tip upon every single Ballmonster I bought, even though I still have absolutely no idea what I shall do with them on the tabletop.
No. 4 - "Otherworld Miniatures" - "Dungeon Monsters"
Initially starting as a simple trip to Greg Gillespie's "Barrowmaze" role-playing game setting and its animated stone Barrow Guardians, my collection of high-quality miniatures from this Hertfordshire company took on a life all of its own once I encountered its range of slimes, oozes and jellies. Spurred on by the discovery that I already owned a fair few of their finest moulds, I ended up painting all manner of dungeon denizens, including both a Black and White Pudding.
No. 3 - "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" - "7TV"
Buoyed along throughout the second half of the year by three semi-successful painting projects, and a smattering of skeleton warriors, my obsession with "Crooked Dice Game Design Studio" saw a number of Simians, ARC astronauts, alien pets, security guards and FedSec Troopers getting a lick of paint. Disconcertingly though, this was actually only the 'tip of the tentacle' as far as my planned out-put was concerned following Karl Perrotton running some more triumphant Kickstarters during the period which only added to my mountain of unfinished miniatures.
No. 2 - "Lucid Eye Publications" - "Toon Realms"
In many ways the completion of a small-sized Gondor/Fangorn army for "Dragon Rampant" was my most successful project of the year, and certainly saw me churn out a number of cute-looking armoured figures from the "Toon Realms" range. However, I never did manage to actually play a game using the "Osprey Publishing" rule-set, and quite bizarrely totally stopped painting any more knights, Ents or unfriendly ghosts by the end of January.
No. 1 - "Wizkids" - "Heroclix"
Whenever I am in a painting funk I usually find myself turning to my collection of plastic "Heroclix" figures for inspiration, and this pre-painted range's ability to put me back in the mood for hobbying was probably never as important to my productivity as it was during 2020. In fact, not only did the American manufacturer cause me to pigment an impressive number of super-heroes, space-knights and villains. But it also seemingly lead me down the Swords & Sorcery path as well, persuading me to complete golems, Rolling Oil, and the largest miniature I have ever attempted - the 300mm tall Walking Statue of Waterdeep: The Honorable Knight.