Sunday 3 September 2023

Instant Armies: Are Mini Painters an endangered species?

Could colour 3D printing eventually become cheap enough (and good enough) to make miniature painters an endangered species? Could we one day see fully 'colourised' starter box sets similar to the current Waterloo starter set for Black Powder? Ultimately the answer may not be 'Can the technology be developed?' but rather 'Is there a market for it?'


  1. More choice has got to be a good thing so bring on pre-painted armies. For those who don't want them, don't buy them and to guard against unpainted figure supplies drying up buy all you'll ever need now: (the vendors will love you for it). As to commissioning people in poorer countries to paint for money, if it's more than they can earn locally for doing something else then why not? It improves their lives and ours - it's the law of Comparative Advantage.

  2. There used to be a time when a wargamer made his own moulds and cast his toy soldiers. There probably still some enthusiasts who do that, but most of us now buy miniatures from a manufacturer. Same with pre-painted soldiers ...

    On the other hand, it's all about what the hobby is really about. Miniature wargaming always had and has a strong DIY vibe: assemble your armies from different manufacturers, paint them yourself, build your own terrain, write your own rules, come up with your own scenarios ... not all subparts of the hobby are DIY all the time, but a firm component still are. The same with 3D printed stuff when it becomes more available. A big bunch of wargamers will 3D print stuff themselves (even coloured), others will buy ready-made products.

  3. Pre painted armies have been around for years, heck I knew people who used to paint and sell them. But, with the new trend it rather depends on the quality 3D print provided as that's what killed most of the old painted army companies off, really poor paintwork. I also have to say that print quality is still incredibly variable, most samples I bought even this year still had heavy banded lining ruining the detail especially in smaller scales.


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