TMP has been awash with (mainly negative) comments about Games Workshop's replacment of metal figures with resin. GW's line (naturally) is that this is a huge step forward in the production of model miniatures which have superior detail and are closer to the original master than metals. The naysayers say that everyone they know has had to take their models back as they were pitted, broken or warped. One story relates how some of the figures actually melted in the window of Games Workshop in Bath.
Well, I was in Oxford Street today and so decided to pop into their shop there and have a look. They had a Finecast set of the Fellowship of the Ring on display so I had a close look at them. I have some (but not all) of these figures and had painted one or two so knew them quite well. The figures in this box set are not the same as the original box set but I will examine that issue more closely on my Lord of the Rings blog in a day or two.
The figures come in a box with the notorious plastic "clamshell" inside. There is no protection or padding for the figures at all they just rattle around in the box. The figures are attached to a sprue and I gather that you need to be careful in removing them from this so I will break out a new craft knife and have a go tomorrow when I haven't had a bottle of Frascati for lunch!
There was no sign on any of the figures of the pits or bubbles. The chap in the shop said that quite a few did get through like that because their quality control people weren't looking that closely for pits as this isn't an issue with metals. They have now been re-trained (all very Soviet, no doubt). There was, however, some flash on some of the figures so I will have to see how easy that is to remove. The resin itself feels like...well, exactly like hard plastic actually. It is certainly nothing like the stuff that Grand Manner et al use for scenery or even the resin lady pirate I picked up from Black Scorpion at Salute which was very brittle ( I broke her sword off very quickly). I say it is like hard plastic but then again it has a sort of soft plastic texture and is matt in finish rather than shiny like other hard plastic. If I didn't know better and someone handed me one I would have said plastic for sure. I have flexed some of the weapons (not too much!) and they have a fair amount of give; I would say that there is no immediate chance of breaking a sword off these. In fact the only issue I can see is the soft plastic-type paint flaking on bendy swords and what not. I'm not sure how the new resin will deal with spears, for example. Some people on TMP have said that if you drop a figure it would shatter which just shows they haven't touched one. I would say that they would be about the same as a plastic figure with, I suspect, more strength in the delicate bits than plastic.
So what about GW's claims that the detail on the figures is better? Do you know what? It is! Quite noticeably sharper than the metals I have. The light isn't very good this evening so my pictures aren't brilliant but I was convinced enough to fork out £37 for the set. How this detail will look after several coats of Humbrol enamel is a good question, however, so I plan to paint Gandalf over the weekend.
GW have already removed all metal figures from their shops (you can still get them but only on the website) so the stores now only sell plastics and finecast figures. Is this the future for wargaming figures? I'm not sure what sort of set up costs were involved, which GW can afford and smaller one man firms couldn't so whether any other manufacturer goes down this route may be doubtful.
I was actually thinking, the other day, "I must order some more LotR metal characters before they are replaced by this horrible Finecast stuff" and now I am thinking "I'll wait to get them until they are out in Finecast". So, I am convinced but no doubt the naysayers will continue on the basis that wargames figures should be made of metal, full stop (a view I have some sympathy with!).
Oh, and I went into GW before lunch and the Frascati!