Top Ten Manufacturers Of 2022 - A "Fantorical" Viewpoint
Without a doubt the biggest change to my hobby during these twelve months has undoubtedly been the arrival of an "Elegoo" Mars 3 Pro 3D Printer and my subsequent subscription to various “Patreon” service memberships. Indeed, my desire to print/paint the increasingly numerous STL (Standard Triangle Language) files which I own has completely changed my attitude towards both online buying from non-digital manufacturers and those selling their wares (whether it be plastic, resin or metal) at wargaming shows.
However, whilst this somewhat alarming transformation to my hobby habits has undoubtedly caused a few ripples to the companies I ordinarily turn to for my tabletop goodness, the relative lateness of my introduction to the likes of “Big Mr Tong” and “C27 Studio” haven’t been anywhere near as impactive as I feel they are going to be in 2023. Furthermore, I still have a number of painting projects ‘on the go’ which very much rely upon the sculpts of “Games Workshop”, “Battlefront Miniatures” and “North Star Military Figures” to keep them going. So, I’m pretty confident that the future will not become entirely obsessed with "Elegoo" Water Washable Resin produced models…
No. 10 - "Catalyst Game Labs" - "Battletech"
Whilst I disappointingly pigmented many more infantrymen than mechs from this vast range than I had intended, as well as failed to start the Weird War Two campaign I had planned using some homemade card-based rules, I was still somewhat pleased to at least make a small dent in my embarrassingly large collection of these 1:285 scale plastic models. Furthermore, alongside my French, German and Polish walkers, I also managed to rebase, if not prime and shade, some of the other giant armoured vehicles I own, which should hopefully encourage me to maintain an interest in this project for many moons to come.
No. 9 – “North Star Military Figures” – “Gaslands”
Despite me having no actual interest in playing Mike Hutchinson’s popular ruleset “Gaslands” or even his subsequent “ultimate Director’s Cut”, I did quite suddenly develop an unhealthy interest in “car-on-car destruction in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.” Admittedly, much of this enthusiasm was actually based upon a highly disquieting and somewhat short-lived obsession with the “Hot Wheels” toy vehicle range by “Mattel”. But it did cause me to build (and even convert) four 20mm plastic Motorcyclist kits from the Implements of Carnage One sprue by “North Star Military Figures”.
No. 8 – “Alternative Armies” – “The Ion Age”
Fuelled by playing more battles within a two-day period than I can fully recollect, this range of 15mm science-fiction figures was arguably always going to receive some attention during the year. However, it actually wasn’t until I got hold of some "Citadel" Sons Of Horus Green paint that I finally started working on some ‘reinforcements’, and then I didn’t just stop at pigmenting Retained Knights. But also, a hefty resin Battle Taxi, even heavier metal Havelock Type 57 Battlesuit and a special edition Witch Knight.
No. 7 – “Twisted Pinnacle 3D” – “Sentry Robots”
With Walt Disney’s 1979 science fiction film “The Black Hole” being one of my favourite movies of all-time, there probably was little doubt I was going to pick up a bag of these awesome resin robots when I first saw them on “Etsy”. However, having received them a little worse for wear from their postal journey, and identified that their sculptor, Mike Tongue, ran his own Patreon subscription service, I used these terrific figures as motivation to help spur me on to purchasing my own 3D printer.
No. 6 – “Big Mr Tong” – “Cybermen”
By far my most popular supplier of STL files on Patreon for this particular period by tapping into my love of all things “Doctor Who”, this range of 28mm scale resin miniatures kept my 3D printer incredibly busy during its first few months, and also helped me to better understand the usefulness of supporting models using “Chitubox” Basic. Disappointingly, my plans for a large campaign featuring many of the different factions Mike Tongue has sculpted never disappointingly materialised, despite my completing a sizeable squad of Cybermen.
No. 5 – “Battlefront Miniatures” – “Flames Of War”
Despite not actually finishing my planned 50-point strong German D-Day I did end up pigmenting an impressive number of “Battlefront Miniatures” 15mm infantrymen – whether they be part of several MG34 and K98 Rifle Teams or a quartet of sMG34 Machine-Gun Teams. To be honest though I badly underestimated just how many figures I needed to finish in order to field two full-strength Panzergrenadier Platoons, and over time this fatigue caused my enthusiasm for the project to trail off quite dramatically.
No. 4 – “Encounter Terrain/Splunjohnny” – “Doctor Who”
Initially, these cartoon-like sculpts by Splunjohnny looked set to snap me out of a “Doctor Who” funk which had somewhat plagued me since “Warlord Games” seemingly stopped caring about releasing any new miniatures for their officially licenced tabletop game “Exterminate!” Sure, I had to reply upon “Encounter Terrain” to 3D print my models in 40mm scale and at a tenner a piece this was making my quite sizeable forces of Zygons and Cybermen a tad expensive. But I thought they looked incredible and were definitely enjoyable to put a brush-tip to – At least until I bought my own printer and discovered how devilishly difficult it was going to be to produce the marvellous figures at precisely the same size as Jo Levin’s company did.
No.3 – “Warlord Games” – “Black Powder Epic Battles: American Civil War”
Having previously only dabbled with the American Civil War thanks to an ill-advised impulse purchase of some 15mm metal Union figures by “Peter Pig”, I genuinely saw this plastic product by “Warlord Games” as an easily accessible entry into some seriously large-scale battles featuring rifles, horse and cannon. Disappointingly though, I soon realised that my painting technique/style simply did not work well on the ten-man strips of miniatures. Indeed, I repeatedly found myself yearning for the ‘tiny terrors’ to be individual infantrymen, as I felt that would help alleviate some of the inaccessibility issues I was having with the soldiers’ fine detail, and resultantly speed up my entire process.
No.2 – “Games Workshop” – “The Horus Heresy” and “Epic”
Quite possibly one of my most consistent manufacturing mainstays, I initially thought that the majority of my “Games Workshop” models for this period were going to come from the Nottingham-based company’s long Out of Production (OOP) Epic range, as opposed to any of their newer lines. But that mentality eventually changed when I acquired their Warhammer: The Horus Heresy – Age of Darkness boxed set and began ‘grinding out’ a plethora of Sons of Horus tactical space marines. Sprinkle in some old school Blood Bowl dwarves, as well as a couple of characters from their Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game, and I was clearly greatly enamoured with the former “bedroom mail-order company” all year round.
No.1 – “Crooked Dice Game Design Studio” – “7TV Second Edition”
Featuring a veritable mishmash of post-apocalyptic creatures, space age androids and future assassins, I repeatedly dipped into my backlog of Karl Perrotton’s marvellous metal figures throughout the past twelve months. Initially, I seemed set to finally polish off a number of Simian Minions I’ve had lurking around my hobby table for more years than I care to remember. Yet, having then been distracted by some the company’s large resin miniatures for a couple of months, I eventually started slowly working my way through the numerous late Jim Bowen sculpts “Crooked Dice” re-released (via a highly successful Kickstarter) as part of their classic Near Future and Cyberpunk Corporate Wars range.