The evolution of 3D printing has been amazing. Four years ago I was eyeing up resin models from Forgeworld and Ramshackle Games. Three years ago I dabbled in FDM printing, with my Ender 3, but wasn’t impressed by the quality. Just over a year ago I started scratch building models using laser cut parts. Six months ago I got my SLA (I will call it resin from now on) printer and I was blown away with the quality. And now I have started studying tutorials on how to model in Blender with a view to making my own 3D models.
There is, or appears to be, an arms race going on with resin printers, bigger build plates, higher quality light sources to expose the resin and faster print times. As a hobbyist/consumer this is good news.
So if you don’t 3D model yourself where do you go to get digital print files?
There are Patreons, where for a modest monthly fee you can support a creator who will make 3D models. There are of course some artists who are good, some ok and some meh. This is of course depending on your own personal preferences and requirements.
If you have a need for just one type of model and don’t want the commitment then you can purchase them from MyMiniFactory or Cults3D.
Maybe you just want to try something for free? Then Thingiverse is for you. A place where artists put out work to gauge reaction before starting a Patreon. If you like their work there is the option to donate a small amount. Thingiverse is great for the remix community, where people will take parts from different models and combine them to create something new. Sometimes you have to be quick if you like a particular design, because some artists skate very close, or over, the IP line of a famously litigious games manufacturer and if you blink it will be 404’d.
One could venture into the wild west of Telegram. Just about everything is there. I once had an invite and put my head above the parapets. I made my excuses and left.
This burgeoning of the 3D printing movement has breathed back life into many old game systems.
A bit of Heroquest?
The best thing about Heroquest is……
….Thingiverse. All the game parts are there. Someone has meticulously scanned all the character models and even left on the mold lines for that old school feel.
Warmaster now has beautifully sculpted armies for a fraction of the price you would pay on Fleabay for the original metal models. There has been a revamped set of rules (there has been some pooh-poohing in more traditionalist corners) with Warmaster Revolutions.
Adding to the mix is social media enabling previously isolated enthusiasts to get to know others and share. I am talking with people from America to Australia and points in between. Groups on Facebook have reignited interest in classic old games. One can gather galleries of well painted armies/figures of your choice to inspire you in Pinterest. The Blogosphere. Twitter and Instagram. Instructional videos on Youtube.
What a time to be a hobbyist!
What direction is this going to take Games Workshop/Forgeworld? There will always be people who will buy from them no matter the cost. And that is the sticking point for some.
There are arguments out there for and against their pricing strategy and I will let you make up your own mind on this. What I am saying is purely my personal opinion.
Let’s give an example: 40K. I haven’t played since the Eighties but I like the look of some of the models and with inspiration from some of the Black Libraries books (Gaunt’s Ghosts and Eisenhorn) I have always wanted an Imperial Guard Army.
Taking a pretty basic army composition:
4 Squads of Infantry
2 Command Squds
Roughly, I have been led to believe, a 1,000 points. Buying direct from G’Dub is €382.
Buying a printer, resin, sundries (gloves, cleaning accessories Isopropanol) and four months of Patreon (this is for the Makers Cult who do a lovely Guard army) takes me to just over €400.
I now have the printer, which was the biggest outlay, and the files for the army. For the cost of resin I can now keep on printing. Another four or five squads or a couple of armoured vehicles? Just under €20.
You would like another army?
Just buy the files and resin. So for about a €100 ish you have another army!
Owning one was not for us mere mortals.
Now it is a different story. You can find them for free on Thingiverse or buy them from various makers. For about €40 I can have a Warhound with all the weapon options I want. Compare that to €664 with four different weapon options Mars Pattern Warhound. Plus I know that I won’t be getting iffy FW resin casts.
There is going to have to be a radical rethink because in two years time 3D printing is going to be ubiquitous in the hobby.
This is going to impact on some of the smaller manufacturers. For the moment historical figures are pretty safe from this, but it is only time when people will figure out that there is a vast audience out there.