Precinct Omega Podcast - News #40 - Meet Mastercrafted Miniatures


Only half a script, this time, because the main part of the episode is an unscripted interview with Ben Calvert-Lee of Mastercrafted Miniatures and long-time collaborator with GCT Studios.


SCRIPT FOLLOWS:


NEWS

Rubicon Models has announced the release of a new Renault FT light tank kit. The Renault FT is often described as the world’s first “modern” tank and you can see why, as despite its diminutive size compared to modern heavy armour, you can see many of the distinctive features of the modern tank concept get their first expression is this revolutionary design. Although the tank was manufactured in and after 1918, with a little imagination the Renault could appear in late Victorian steampunk settings, alternate World War One settings, gothic sci-fi and definitely in World War Two Early War settings. I’m pretty certain this will be in Rubicon’s 1/56 scale range, compatible with most 28mm-ish wargames minis.


Microworld Games has previewed production tests for a new 6mm Chinese Warring States range. Digitally sculpted but cast in my favourite material - white metal - these are fantastic-looking designs. The Warring States period is an under-explored setting for historical and oriental fantasy enthusiasts and is positively booming with sophisticated designs and larger-than-life characters. This is definitely a range to watch.


Spellcrow, one of many after-market producers within Games Workshop’s aesthetic, has previewed new fantasy orcs just in time for GW to pivot its vision for fantasy orcs into the latest orruk designs. I will be looking at this in a couple of weeks, unpicking GW’s motivations for the aesthetic shift and talking about what it might mean for the after-market manufacturers. But, for now, we’ll let this issue percolate.


HiTech Miniatures has followed up their new sci-fi viking release from a few weeks ago with another one. HiTech has a distinctive style that isn’t to everyone’s taste but is, at least, their own despite them working within the same GW-adjacent aesthetic as Spellcrow. And despite their name, it’s interesting to see that they are still working with traditional sculpting and casting methods.


Diehard Miniatures has launched a new Kickstarter for fantasy minis. As I mentioned last week, I’m often loath to mention Kickstarters in the news but from the photos it looks like this one really is all poised to go to full manufacture on fulfilment and looks more like a pre-order scheme than a proper Kickstarter. The minis are traditionally sculpted, cast in white metal (I believe), and are a diverse mixture of fantasy and sci-fantasy tropes. I’m a particular fan of the little astromech-type droids that will look great in any sci-fi, science fantasy or cyberpunk setting.


Renowned display quality miniatures manufacturer, Figone has announced a new release to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Has it really only been 10 years? Figone has set a very high bar in sculpting quality since they launched and this new release is no exception: a demon queen surrounded by her diverse courtiers, this is a masterclass in sculpting for display.


Henry Turner is a new name to me, but he is running a Kickstarter for 6-18mm Napoleonics in STL format in a range called Europe Asunder. Normally, I’d gloss over this project as being both a Kickstarter and a digital-only release, but given that Henry has raised over £10k against a project goal of £250 it’s fair to say that the historical crowd are getting in on the printing game in a big way.


Corvus Games has also added new sci-fi designs to their digital product line, including some fancy-looking robots. I mention them purely because it’s relevant to today’s discussion.


I much prefer talking about Devil Inside, who have finished yet another successful Kickstarter campaign for their Hell Awaits range inspired by classical designs and descriptions of demons, devils and evil spirits from a range of cultures and times. A modest campaign for a modest range of traditionally-sculpted miniatures cast in resin that evoke the weirdness of a Hieronymous Bosch painting - it only attracted fifteen backers and just under £700 in funding, but it’s a range worth checking out for anyone who likes a distinctive quality to their miniatures.


Manufaktura have new heads and new minis. I mention them only because it’s relevant to our discussion later.


0-Hr has launched a Kickstarter - I’m breaking a lot of my rules for this week’s news, aren’t I? - for spaceships in their own setting, called Trinity. Even though it looks like the spaceship minis are only being offered as STLs, this project is worth bringing up because, in addition to the minis, 0-Hr is including map posters of the interiors of the spaceships. So for anyone looking for a combination of miniatures gaming and roleplay gaming, or who - say - would like to play a spaceship combat game, like Horizon Wars: Infinite Dark and link it with a 28mm skirmish game like, say, Horizon Wars: Zero Dark, this is an idea worth looking at.


And finally, Seb Games has released a few new fantasy sets, including dwarves and K’dillians that are crocodilian lizard people - as their name implies. These have a pleasingly Oldhammer look to them, are traditionally sculpted, cast in white metal and are just… y’know, for sale. On their website. Like cavemen or something.


Right, that’s enough news. I have a treat for you this week because you don’t just get to listen to me talk for the rest of the podcast.


<Oh, do I get to say something?>


No, Bernard. We have a guest.


<Sad face>


Stop it.


INTERVIEW HAPPENS


PRECINCT OMEGA

Ben and I covered a lot of ground there, but the thing I’m really taking away from the discussion is the microenterprise nature of GCT Studios.


GCT has a well-known and successful miniatures game in Bushido, quite apart from its boardgames. It has an extensive and growing range of miniatures and it is a regular sight at the big events with impressive displays and boards.


But it’s still a very modest undertaking. And I think we all underestimate how much of our industry, outside Games Workshop, isn’t very different. I mean, I am a microenterprise. But it’s easy for me to to look at the endless barrage of news and releases and to feel like I’m just one insignificant minnow surrounded by bigger fish. The fact is, though, that the miniatures wargames market is - with the exception of one whale - a shoal of small fish.


This has a lot of implications, but this episode is already, like three times longer than a regular news episode, so I’ll leave it to you to unpack those thoughts for now.


NEXT WEEK

If all goes to plan, next week I will have another guest on. I’d love to tell you who it’s going to be, but we haven’t actually recorded the interview, yet, and it’s kind of a hero of mine, so I don’t want to tip my hand. Keep an eye on my social media feeds, though. If we get to meet up and once the recording is in the can, I’ll announce it there.


But we’ll wrap this up for now and I’ll speak to you all again next week.


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