DEEP THOUGHT: Is Wargaming’s Future Pre-Painted?

With the rise of successful pre-painted miniatures tabletop rgames, just how important is the painting side of the hobby?

Let’s Be Honest…

Traditional unpainted minis are amazing these days.  Companies like GW are kicking out minis that look like this:

IF you really know how to paint well.

But a lot of the time while we imagine our minis will look like this, they actually end up under our beds looking like this:

Just add dust and procrastination.


The Not So Distant Past

Once upon the time the conventional wisdom in the industry said that pre-painted minis were doomed. If you wanted to make a “real product” you would avoid the concept like the plague.

Sure it might make your game easier to adopt, but it would just be youngsters who picked up the pre-paints and they weren’t “real gamers”.  Because remember “real gamers” love all that assembly & painting hobby stuff that goes along with the minis.

And that worldview was pretty much accepted for the last twenty years.  But lets be honest – a large part of it was probably due to minis that looked like these guys:

Remember them?  That’s an ancient Dungeons & Dragons Kobold and Ork.  They came with a giant amount of other buddies of similar quality, along with all manner of Battletech, superheroes and every type of mini you could think of.   These early pre-painted plastics were soft, lacking detail and the factory painting was … not to Golden Daemon standards.  The lack of epic success of these lines or any game associated with them scared pretty much everyone off treating pre-painted minis seriously… for a while.

Today’s Market

Fast forward ten years to 2017 when a little company you may have heard of by the name of Fantasy Flight Games threw these guys into the wargaming industry, and got everyone to turn their heads:



X-Wing The Miniatures Game was the breakout game of 2013 and hasn’t slowed down. It’s been joined by Star Wars Armada and with Disney cranking out TV shows and movies like clockwork looks to have a bright future.  If there is a sweet spot to be had in wargaming between quality of miniatures, easy rules, deep tactics, and a killer license, FFG has it.
DUST’s universe is still out there kicking out both primed and pre-painted minis  range that arrives on your doorstep looking like this:
Now let’s step into historicals for a bit and look at ARES Games’s Wings of War WW1 and WW@ aerial combat games:
Put down your paintbrush, grab your scarf and get playing.

Barrier to Entry

The dangerous thing for the traditional on-the-sprue games is the incredibly low barrier to entry these newcomers offer.  Once you’ve seen a group of gamers playing X-Wing or Armada draw in a newcomer, who literally pulls ships off the shelf, buys them and is in the game ten minutes later, you can appreciate the potential for viral growth a quality pre-painted range allows. It’s the traditional games high barrier to entry that can hamstring them if they aren’t careful (let us all take a moment to reflect on Warhammer Fantasy).  Expecting a new gamer to shell out hundreds of bucks only to have to slog through months of painstaking hobby effort before coming to the tabletop is a harder and harder sell each passing year in our NOW NOW NOW culture.

The Technology Angle

Certainly the technology for pre-painted quality is here and I can only see more of this type of thing in the future.  As an example of technology take a close look at these toys:

This is a line of collectible plastic toys out of Japan.  On first hand they don’t look terribly impressive.  But note that these are in 1:144 scale and most are barely bigger than a single Terminator.  Also, these planes are over 10 years old!  They contain screen printed marking that most hobbyists simply cannot reproduce by hand. Did I mention these sell for about $5

Zoom in for a look at the plane’s markings – could you match that? Be honest.


Fast forward ten years from now and ask yourself what will be possible with printing and painting technology.

So I will ask you, do you think preprinted minis will take over our industry, leaving the “old fashioned assemble and paint it yourself” minis as antiquated as lead miniatures and model railroads?
And most importantly, could you see yourself going for pre-painted minis for your future gaming needs (or have you already)?

So what’s your opinion on pre-painted minis?  Heresy, or the inevitable future?

  • Knight_of_Infinite_Resignation

    I’ve thought for a long time that GW are missing out here. Titan and space games are perfect for this. Low model count, relatively expensive single models that could be sold prepainted. I love the assembly and painting, but it would be nice if we had the choice with unpainted perhaps being a little cheaper. Would definitely bring people in to the game.

    • orionburn

      Pre-painted might work with games like Battlefleet or Blood Bowl given the model count is so much lower.

      A problem that people don’t often consider is the difficulty for retailers. Now you may essentially end up with 2 of the same thing (painted and non-painted option), and if you go to a store similar to my own FLGS you know that shelf space is cramped enough as it is.

      • ErgonomicCat

        Plus the extreme issues of cost – I know that if my FLGS was told that they had to double up on their stock by buying a pre and unpainted version, they would likely just stop carrying as much. That’s the very legit issue here, I think.

      • Brettila

        The number of kits to assemble would go down dramatically.

    • Zingbaby

      Nah not for the core GW games anyway, then we are just playing with toys, like “competitive” legos.

      • marxlives

        I don’t know if anyone has told you this…but we are playing with toys.

        • Zingbaby

          I mean – I don’t actually disagree, but it can be more …a work of art, or artistic expression at the very least.

          GW has always made crap ‘games’ but incredible models; the Hobby/Painting side of 40K is quite the major draw for a lot of folks.

          I realize this is BOLS, where mashing 2 grey plastic cherry-picked WAAC forces on a table is considered, “strategic” and fun… but people do LOVE the hobby aspect of the Warhammer universe as well.

  • Engelus

    There is nothing stopping people from scrubbing and repainting if they want to customize. I’ve customized one of my x-wings in this fashion.

  • Karru

    I can never see myself going for a pre-painted models since for me the assembling and painting part of this hobby is the most important part. It’s one of the many reasons why I never touched X-wing. While I do not judge people who wish to get pre-painted models, I wish it doesn’t take over as the “go-to” method for companies.

    This is for multiple reasons. First of all, it will increase the price of the models and decrease the amount of models received. It isn’t free to paint all those models, so they cut costs somewhere. The second is customisability. Pre-painted models have to go together without glue or without any major assembly. This removes options from many kits and replaces them with mono-pose, single option kits. If one wants different options, they either have to go with another kit or just go “count-as”.

    Then you have the biggest issue I have with it. Lack of creativity. With pre-painted models, I dare to guess that vast majority of people won’t bother with things like repainting them or modifications. You will end up seeing the same model over and over and over again. The same pose, the same paint job. I always look forward to seeing people do their own thing, even if the paint job isn’t perfect or finished as of yet. To me, pre-painted is the exact same as grey plastic. You took it out of the box and that’s it, you did nothing else to it.

    • orionburn

      And unless GW makes everyone play Ultramarines then you kill all the separate SM armies out there. That is unless they only offer Ultramarines as a painted choice and if you want another army you have to repaint them all. That still doesn’t get you away from all the different weapon options. Yes, Company B can make a good looking FW-109 model but it also doesn’t have the option to take 20 some variety of weapons either nor be used by 50 countries (compare to all the SM chapters and sub-chapters).

      Maybe it’s because I’m just an old effer now but perhaps the core problem is the now-now-now mentality. I’ve been building models for 30 some years. It’s a hobby I love and for me 40k is the best balance for me. I not only get to build/paint which I enjoy, but then I actually get to use them too in a game unlike a WWII tank that just sits on a display shelf.

      • ZeeLobby

        Matt Ward probably wouldn’t care though.

        • Drpx

          “Just as planned.”

    • Brettila

      Well, you can modify as needed or add paint. But yes, most will just pull and play.

    • marxlives

      So punish players who are not hobbyists and raise the bar of entry for…..creativity?

      • Karru

        So you would instead make it more expensive for everyone, especially the hobbyists, so everyone will play with the same pose and coloured armies?

        You are not punishing players who are not interested in the hobby. They can still play with their grey models. If they don’t care about the painting side of things, surely they won’t mind playing with Plastic. If they can’t handle it, they can commission someone to paint it. If that isn’t an option, then slowly paint the collection.

        Better solution in my opinion. No one gets “punished” and we see more creativity on the table. Also, we see more models with more options for cheaper. I always see that as the better alternative.

  • Rob brown

    You’ve picked really early sets of D&D miniatures for your examples they have significantly improved since their first set. The soft plastic means they can take a real battering. D&D miniatures and their later incarnations like Pathfinder Battles are good for what they are intended for – to use as proxies for D&D games – to be honest plenty of that ranges models are really good (and are improving) and have NO equivalent in any other miniatures line. I want the ease of being to play D&D not start an entirely different hobby before I play.

    For me they appeal to totally different people – people who prefer the gameplay to the hobbycraft. There’s nothing wrong with either.

    • Brettila

      Did you even read it? That was the point. He posited that many 40k players think of that when they hear, pre-painted.

  • Jaime Fdez

    Does anyone remember what happend to Confrotation?

    • Krizzab

      looks like no one remember.

  • Badgerboy1977

    Whilst I understand the appeal for some, I personally would never go for pre painted. Building and painting the minis is a huge part of the hobby for me, if not the main part to be honest, getting something that’s ​already done completely takes away the joy quite frankly and leaves you with so many forces that look exactly the same.
    Sure you can re paint them but I’d say that would be the minority due to the extra effort needed.

    Maybe GW could do a beginner’s range of basic pre painted, monopose minis and units but if they went further than that it would be a huge mistake in my book, incredibly unlikely as it is.

    • orionburn

      I could understand doing that with let’s say the core boxed game. That way you got the rules and everything else needed and you’re ready to go right out of the box. It’s all easier said than done with a company like GW and the amount of models/armies they have.

  • Pre-painted I don’t care about, repainting is easy.

    What I don’t like very much is that those minis come pre-assembled.
    I like the customizability of GW models. Poses, weapon setups, heraldry. Also I just love the assmbly itself.
    Putting together a new Battlesuit is so much more fun than just plucking a X-wing from its tray.

    • ZeeLobby

      At the same time, most of GW’s new stuff is monopose and extremely difficult to reposition. At this point I probably wouldnt care if it came pre-assembled. I think the best game system would allow you to purchase models at any step in the process. Clearly it’d be expensive to do.

      • Brettila

        Anymore they could probably give us assembled models minus weapons. Then you have all the weaponry as extras to add yourself; or even interchange.

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    A question: Why would you go for pre painted tabletop war games, when boardgames and video games provide a much richer experience and wealth of products at a lower cost.

    What does prepainted, pre-assembled offer?

    • MVBrandt

      I think many folks overlook the social, tactile feel and aesthetic offered by tabletop games. As someone who defended WOW as being equally social back when i played it, I was wildly mistaken. Not everyone plays games for just the game. Also, might as well ask why people bother with all the investment in gear and learning to play football when they can just get each year’s Madden.

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        That’s understandable, but I don’t feel that explains the difference between painted and unpainted.

        I’m more interested in what is specifically attractive about pre painted war games over anything else.

        It might just be the popular thing in your area, but it would be interesting to know why.

        • MVBrandt

          It’s not popular in my area. Well no more than anything else. I’m a 40k player and hobbyist.

          I’m a little surprised this needs articulating (In a nice way), but basically there are far more people who enjoy sitting down socially to play a game with another human being, whether that be magic, or a board game, or xbox. In fact, there are far, far more of them than there are the subset like us who enjoy paying far more cash and time in order to do the same thing.

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            So to re ask the question, why chose a pre-painted mini game over a board game to do that?

          • MVBrandt

            For people who weren’t hobby gamers to begin with, they don’t see a huge difference. They’re simply choosing games they like. Why choose magic over a board game? To those folks, xwing isn’t much different from Magic with minis instead of cards.

          • ErgonomicCat

            Pretty much, yeah. I think the distinction between mini game and board game is an artificial one. And I think that trying to preserve that difference is bad for all the hobbies. It leads to board game players sitting around and complaining about how “Magic scrubs” don’t understand how to play, and mini game players sneering at people playing Krosmaster because it’s “training wheels” and the like. We gamers do often love to create artificial subgroups amongst ourselves.

            However, why choose Malifaux over Blood Rage? Malifaux is more flexible, has a more involved and broad rule set, and many more options for playing. To me it’s not a matter of the components (people have spent a ton of time and money on customizing board games), it’s the breadth and focus of the rule set.

            Also, you have to remember that some people don’t love the hobby aspect. I hate painting. People keep saying that I’ll enjoy it, that I just need to give it time, etc. I don’t. It’s not something that appeals to me. I do not derive pleasure from it. Putting a bar to say “You can’t enjoy playing this game unless you also enjoy, or suffer through, this aspect of it” seems, again, needlessly divisive. I understand why people would be upset about *only* prepainted minis (or especially pre-assembled, as kit-bashing is the one thing I enjoy about the hobbying aspect). But I think if we stop saying “pre-painted minis are for kids games” we can get people doing interesting things.

          • MVBrandt

            Extremely well said

          • af

            I don’t know that the distinction is artificial. While the dividing line is not 100% defined, I expect a miniatures game to involve a serious hobby aspect — assembly, painting, even hand-crafted scenery — that a board game doesn’t have (of course, there are people who also paint the figures in their board games, but most people absolutely don’t). Also, miniatures games tend to be free-form movement over a table, while board games have a well-defined board, usually with discrete movement.

          • marxlives

            This was true in the 1970-2000, it is not true anymore. To many scenery options available, and you can break ever movement you do into a grid, you just are not seeing it. Free-form is an illusion, unless you are cheating on your movement.

          • af

            I disagree. Grid is discrete, free-form is continuous. You measure things differently in a grid (hex in particular has both benefits and drawbacks). Very few tabletop miniatures wargames that I know of are currently grid-based. And the hobby aspect remains: while a lot of people play with unpainted miniatures, the most passionate wargamers I know take great joy in converting and painting their models, and building their own scenery.

        • marxlives

          People who like the social aspect of being around people, like a game’s system, but are not hobbyists.

    • Txabi Etxebarrieta

      MVBrandt kind of nailed it on the head. My job fluctuates between 40-60 hours a week depending on crunch time reporting, and outside of that I do a lot of political work that takes up a ton of my free time. Then there’s the fact that no one does LAN parties or couch co-op anymore and most video-gaming is done over the ‘net. Which is fine, but sometimes I just wanna sit down with someone and chill out, and I don’t have that much free time to spend in prep time.

      Also I have incredibly unsteady hands, which makes me one of the worst table-top painters you’ll ever meet.

      As far as board games go, I actually do enjoy them about as much as I do war games for a lot of those same reasons. I just like that with most war games you can really customize and tailor your army to your play style a lot more than in more board games, which is a big part of it for me. Board games tend to be a little on the restrictive side. There’s a preset number of options/combinations of playstyles, scenarios, so on and so forth that really limit the variability and number of unique experiences you can have. Compared to something like X-Wing where you can choose every aspect of your fleet based on your flying preferences, the board games feel like one-off or finite experiences.

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        So in regards to your hobby experience, have you played warhammer or warmachine or smaller games like Malifaux or Infinity?

        • Txabi Etxebarrieta

          Both. When I played 40k I had a World Eaters army and I’ve tried to start WarmaHordes with Retribution on two separate occasions. Malifaux I have a small crew of Neverborn and have two Infinity sets, one of whom (Nomads) is most of the way painted.

          I have bought into The Other Side to see if pre-assembly saves enough time, if that’s any indication.

      • marxlives

        I agree with you for people who work or are salaried and have kiddos and fam, prepainted sounds awesome. Live is too short. Honestly, even when I was a single guy, I spent way too much time between working, school, gym, hitting up girls on Thurs and Saturday nights to do too much painting. Most of my painting was really wash/dip jobs. Prepainted for 40k would have been way more preferable to me.

  • Majere613

    The modelling side of the hobby is way, way to big a thing for me for me to ever consider going pre-painted/ assembled. Most of my armies (and I have far too many) have every HQ extensively converted or scratch-built, and in most cases those ideas are what inspired the army in the first place.

    The thing with the pre-done stuff is that there’s far less a feeling of ownership- that this army or fleet is ‘yours’. I’m sure that for a lot of people this isn’t an issue- the sales of X-wing seem to prove that- but it is for me. I suppose part of it is that most Star Wars fans want their ships to look like they do in the movies, so even if the models were sold unpainted most people would end up painting them the same anyway.

    • ErgonomicCat

      The number of Poe Dameron repaints (before the official model came out) suggests that you’re correct here. Hell, the x-wing subreddit actually had people complaining that if they saw one more repaint, they were going to unsub. 😉

  • MVBrandt

    Honestly, if GW sold its basic rank and file models like Orks, Guardsmen, Gaunts, etc in a prepainted snap fit format, where larger and centerpiece models were what you built and painted, it’d help their sales.

    The author is spot on that the barrier to entry ous comparatively high, and now there are quality prepainted in a better known IP sitting right near them on hobby shop shelves. Ominous.

    • Txabi Etxebarrieta

      This would 100% do it for me. I don’t hate painting even though I’m terrible at it. But I just do not have the time to paint a horde.

      • orionburn

        And that’s why I cry every time I try to sit down and paint my Nids. I put some decent time into my unit of 10 gargoyles and they turned out decent enough. But can I put that time in to the 100 some guants I have yet to paint? Yes, but I’d like to play them within the next 5 years.

    • af

      This is a good idea, though to be honest I’m unsure about the snap fit thing. I love building and converting models, and it’s not very time consuming. Building and converting guardsmen, for example, is very fun. I would lose something if they were snap-fit monopose…

      Pre-painted for horde core troops would work, however. But I’m not sure how to combine that with anything but snap-fit 🙁

      • orionburn

        With pre-painted I think you’re almost forced to go to some sort of single mold injection and the models not require assembly. Basically GW would have to sell a unit of 10 basic space marines with bolters. Then as an actual model kit you’d have the options for special/heavy weapons.

        The biggest problem is that due to the fluff you have so many variations, whether it’s Guard troops or which hive fleet Nids are from. You really paint yourself into a corner (pun not intended) by doing pre-painted. GW would likely do Ultramarines as the pre-painted option, but not everyone wants to play them. In a way you’re opening up the market to invite new people in but also alienating that market at the same time by forcing them to choose one faction. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but for me I wouldn’t have any use for pre-painted models.

  • Flavio Zancarli

    I think ther’s a bit of misconception here: There are GAMERS and there are HOBBISTS and those with various degrees of both. So gamers would love to have great prepainted minis hobbists would not! Personally i’d like to have the choice if it’s affordable! you know time is not infinite and having the work done for those things you’re not particularly fond of (like scenics) it’s nice!

    • ZeeLobby

      True. I personally am both, but still wouldn’t mind both either. Let’s be honest, any hobbyist already has a backlog which would take 8 years to paint. I wouldn’t mind occasionally buying prepainted stuff.

      • orionburn

        lol…true on the backlog. Honestly I’d rather put the time it’s going to take me to paint 100 gaunts into big kits. Core troops I don’t care much about. Mainly because what’s the point of killing myself on them when so many are going to get killed and be off the table by turn 2?

  • hdarren

    Pre-painted already exists, just buy the “pro-painted” stuff on ebay.

  • I think 40k and AOS *need* to come pre-painted. And then the rest of us that like to paint can take it from there.

    This would be beneficial in a couple areas:

    1) grey plastic hordes would cease to exist. Pet peeve of mine, I cannot stand playing against grey plastic hordes. I’d almost prefer playing against cardboard cutouts or wooden pogs that represent troops. Almost.

    2) most of the players I have met in my life HATE painting. This would I think open the doors for more people joining, because a lot of guys won’t play simply because the thought of assembling and painting models makes them vomit a little in their mouths, and they like things like xwing where they dont’ have to do anything except take model out of package and play.

    Having to assemble and paint models is a huge barrier of entry to a good many of people, and I don’t begrudge someone hating the thought of assembling models or painting them.

    • Zingbaby

      Most of painters I have met in my life HATE playing…

      Because GW “games” especially, have incredible models but generally crap game-rules.

    • Karru

      While there are benefits in having pre-painted models, there is a lot of downsides to this that need to be considered.

      First of all, pricing. We are already paying premium price for GW products. These aren’t FFG X-wings we are talking here that cost 15€ for a box. How “attractive” AoS would be when you would have to pay 80-100€ for a unit of 5 medium sized mono-pose models that you need around 4 boxes of for a standard army? Not very.

      Lack of options. Pre-painted models need to come fully assembled or need to have absolutely minimal amount of assembly that doesn’t require glue. This means that instead of getting our usual box of dozens of options, we would get a kit with only one loadout.

      I’ve noticed that there is one major oversight people do when it comes to “should things be pre-painted” comments. We aren’t talking about a set of 10 models here. We are talking about a collections of possible a hundred models that vary from the size of a paint pot to spray can. Do you really think the pricing of these models would magically remain the same? They have to cover that cost with something and what would be the only way to do that? You guessed it, increase the price of the box.

      • Nope I know the pricing would go up for these.

        You’d be paying a convenience tax. Quite honestly most people I know that gripe about pricing won’t pay the price as it is, or even at 2005 levels, so they of course also wouldn’t buy these either.

        The people that would love prepainted pre assembled models that hate modeling would also not care about not getting options. They’d just want to buy the box of whatever configuration, pull them out of the box and go.

        • Karru

          Let me introduce you to this fantastic option called “commission painting”. It’s a service that would cost about the same as the “convenience tax” but you can choose the configuration AND colour scheme! It is an excellent alternative to those that don’t have the interest to assemble and paint but would be willing to pay nigh double the cost of the normal kit.

          • We would need to see GW actually implement it before we knew how much the painted models would cost.

            I know most commission painters charge at least double what the box goes for retail.

            I’d certainly never consider that a viable option for most people that already hate GW prices if the boxes were double or more the cost.

            Cheap crappy wiz kids paint jobs on cheap plastic reaper bones material could be done for the cost of the boxes now or maybe a bit more.

  • stinkoman

    i have a hard time even buying painted ebay miniatures. i do buy them if they are exceptional at a reasonable price. heck one of the best moves for my buddy was buying a fully painted 8k point eldar army. painted to exceptional standards. he doesnt have time to paint and assemble, though he thinks he can juggle getting married and playing 40k (jokes on him).

    you can produce pre-painted sets for 40k, just dont get rid of the NoS kits so i can customize. It’s all really what you get out of the hobby. i enjoy collecting an painting an army and get a sense of pride when i place said units on the table.

  • thereturnofsuppuppers

    Those who do not paint their minis are poor hobbyists.
    I feel it neglects tradition of the hobby, and shows a lack of respect for your opponent.

    Everyone can paint in some way, though some have bigger challenges than others, it is always achievable.

    Badly painted guys are so much more preferable to bare plastic or prepainted stuff.

    • ErgonomicCat

      I’ve never understood this perspective. How does it show a lack of respect? I have chosen to take time out of my life to come to a location and play a game that we both enjoy together. How does whether I spent several other hours doing something else factor in to that?

      On the contrary, I feel it shows a lack of respect for your opponent if you insist that you get to determine how they spend their limited gaming time. And I mean the opponent as a human being, not as the other player. Feeling like you can dictate what they do with their time outside the time they have designated to come in a play a game with you is disrespectful and, to me, feels arrogant. It’s like someone says “Do you want to go to lunch?” and you respond with “How many hours did you spend in the gym this week? I’ll only go with you if you’ve worked out at least 2 hours so far this week. Otherwise it’s disrespectful to me.”

      To suggest that you can only play a game if you’ve devoted X amount of time/money/effort is crazy to me. I showed up, with an army/crew/warband/whatever. I know the rules, and I will play the game with you. That’s the sum total of what you need from an opponent. If you don’t like playing against unpainted, you’re free to make that a stipulation in your games. But to make that leap to “it’s disrespectful to me” is completely unwarranted, imho. I can tell you with absolute certainty that my choice to play my new models unpainted has literally nothing to do with you. I did not think “Ah ha! I shall bring this new piece I got that I am excited to enjoy to the shop, but I shall not paint it, because I hate my opponents! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!’

      • thereturnofsuppuppers

        It would be the equivalent of turning up unwashed with food in your beard to an interview.

        Presentation is important when showing respect.

        You show that you have considered the feelings of your opponent and their gaming experience.

        Going the extra mile to create an interesting army for him to engage with shows that you value your opponent and the effort he has put in.

        Your opponent has possibly travelled, spent lots of money or struggled to find time out of his day to play you. They may also have spent a long time painting or building his army. He might have spent hours creating the most competitive list.

        Painting your army shows to your opponent that you respect their efforts. You are willing to make his experience more rewarding by spending time painting your army. Painting is rewarding and can provide conversation while you game, sharing techniques or struggles.

        Painting takes time, and the result is a more pleasing army to fight. You are able to see the personality of the armies creator and better engage in the world you are both helping to create.

        It shows that you care about their game possibly even more than yours.

        Not painting your army, shows that you haven’t considered this, and are selfishly playing the game.

        I would not want to play anyone who would be so self centred.

        • “Not painting your army, shows that you haven’t considered this, and are selfishly playing the game.”

          Yeah, how dare people be so selfish as to want to play the GAME part of wargaming. What, do they think it’s supposed to be fun or something?!

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            I think you’re failing to grasp the selfish part of that sentence.

          • Clearly I must be, because I don’t see how an elitist attitude that looks down on people that may not have the time or ability to paint a ton of minis is good for the game or the hobby at large. Does this attitude also extend to terrain? Like, if I haven’t hand-crafted terrain pieces and were just using household objects to denote terrain, does that also make me a poor hobbyist? What if I didn’t magnetize something that can have multiple weapon loadouts, but want to try one that’s different from the one I built, just to see if it’s worth using? What about someone who just picked up something like the Storm of Sigmar set to test the waters of the game?

            The hobby already has a steep barrier to entry with regards to prices and the time/space required to play without also insulting people that don’t have the time, budget or ability to engage in every aspect. You’re basically saying that you’re too stuck-up to bother with people who don’t meet your vaguely defined standards.

          • thereturnofsuppuppers

            So do you try to play with a painted army?

          • At this point I would like to play, period. I don’t have a local gaming store (the closest is over half an hour away). I don’t have a circle of friends with the interest or budget to play wargames. I have a small collection of X-Wing minis and a half-finished Storm of Sigmar set that I bought to try out the game. Sure, I have paints and an airbrush and other models (aircraft, mostly) but don’t have much free time to work on them. Nor do I have a dedicated space to work.

            Does that make me a poor hobbyist? If I showed up at your gaming store with my tiny collection of Stormcasts–half of them with blank bases–and asked to try one of the mini-scenarios, would you take that as a personal insult? What If I had the Khorne half, which hasn’t been painted at all yet? Would you find that disrespectful?

  • ErgonomicCat

    “Expecting a new gamer to shell out hundreds of bucks only to have to slog through months of painstaking hobby effort before coming to the tabletop is a harder and harder sell each passing year in our NOW NOW NOW culture.”

    I think that’s a pretty harsh characterization. I’m pretty sure if I told my grandparents that before they could play a game dominoes they had to spend $300 on “Domino supplies” and then 8 weeks hand carving the pips, they’d also have said “Oh, well, I don’t want to play that.” It’s not like this is some new thing that we can blame on millennials.

    Also, lest people steeped in the hobby aspect forget, even if someone spends $200 on their stuff, and then is willing to do the work of hobbying, it’s not like you can just sit down at your table and assemble and paint.

    People who have been doing this for years have all the tools, paint brushes, etc. For someone that hasn’t done anything, simply figuring out what you need and buying it all can take many hours and another hundred+ dollars. So you’re asking someone to invest $200+ and tons of hours in a game that they may or may not want to make part of their long term gaming life. That’s a huge request.

    • Zingbaby

      Your argument is kind of all over the place… note that you will pay real cash money whether you are hobbying (painting) or just buying a pre-painted army to game with.

      I tend to think that 40K at least, though obviously not all games, has more hobbyists than ‘gamers’, perhaps because the game has always been the weakest aspect of the ‘hobby’.

      • ZeeLobby

        Your second section hits it spot on. And people forget that hobbyists are a smaller niche than gamers are. I think it’s one of the reasons people are always shocked that X-Wing outsells GW and PP products. In the end the MtG player base is massive compared to both.

        • orionburn

          Eh…I don’t think it’s shocking. Everybody in the world knows of Star Wars so you have a much broader audience. Does it help that you can open up the box and be playing shortly after? Yes, yes it does. Because I know when I box a new box of troops for 40k it will likely be at least 2+ weeks before I can get them in a game due to my schedule.

          • Zingbaby

            The point is – not everyone cares about getting ‘them in a game’, and many, or has been the case with 40k – most, prefer to paint/hobby those models rather than play a game that has always been broken.

          • orionburn

            And wasn’t that the main issue people had with old GW management? They looked at themselves as a model/miniature company first and “game” company second. I see a fair amount of people in my various 40k groups that don’t play – they just paint & collect, so I’m not disagreeing with you there.

        • af

          You’d have to back that up with numbers. I’m guessing (but cannot prove) that more people buy miniatures because they like collecting them, than because they actually want to play a game. Maybe they are not full-fledged hobbyists, but they are mostly not gamers. I’ve no proof of this (except my own subjective experience — my purchases are all over the place!), but I know GW essentially bet on this. (Well, sort of, there’s also their cool standalone board games, but still…)

          • Grieux

            All the big spenders I know, including myself, are hobbyists way before gamers indeed.

          • ZeeLobby

            Well, they bet on this during the 5 years that they had sliding sales… They also bet on this while stating that they did not believe in using any statistics or customer input. They didn’t believe in consumer testing or market research. They said all of this in their yearly reports. If anything, I’d say they got this wrong, and they appeared to do a 180 now, refocusing on rules and gameplay, with the new CEO.

          • af

            MtG is not a miniatures game, so I’d say it’s completely unrelated to this topic. If GW wants to pursue that market, they can release a 40K CCG (which I believe they have, If I remember correctly).

            Others have already replied re: X-Wing: it’s a wildly more popular and more well known franchise, so it’s unsurprising that it sells better than the relatively obscure Warhammer. You may think 40K is well-known, but that’s because BoLS and similar websites are an echo chamber. To put it into perspective, of all my friends and acquaintances, almost all have heard of Star Wars (though many don’t like it) but almost none have heard of Warhammer/40K.

          • ZeeLobby

            A lot of players of X-Wing came from MtG, so I fail to see how it is “completely unrelated”. They’re both games, played by gamers. I think it’s important to not remove a point of reference simply because it’s cards vs models. I know it’s hard for hobbyists in tabletop gaming to do, as they see those as 2 HUGE differences, but for many gamers I know, they could care less if there’s models, vs cards, vs tokens, etc. They’re just looking for a good game. Feel free to disagree, but I know very few tabletop miniature gamers who’ve never played MtG.

            Everyone whose ever been in a game store knows GW though. I’ll agree X-Wing has the Star Wars franchise to hang it’s success on, but it is succeeding, for multiple years in a row. It’s not like it was a fad that is going out of season. It has outsold GW and PP for multiple years now.

            PS: Your bias might be showing through, as GW has copied MANY other companies to produce the games they have today. I could go down the long list of mechanics, aesthetics or fluff they have borrowed to make what they own, but I really shouldn’t need to. In the end copying things from each other IS NOT a bad thing. It’s how we get better games. And yes, GW is the most successful miniatures company out there, in a 5+ year slump. It’s quite clear with the number of competitors out there, compared to 10 years ago, that GW is no longer the only game in town, and based on the success FFG and PP have had lately, I’d say they need to put in double time to keep it going. They clearly recognize that with their current shift away from “we know what’s best” to “maybe we should involve our customers”. Which is only a good thing.

          • af

            I think MtG is unrelated simply because it’s not a miniatures game. What would be the comparison? Buying pre-painted cards vs print-and-play or B&W you must color? I really don’t see the comparison. They are completely unrelated types of games — there is no hobbyist aspect to MtG at all, though there is a collector’s aspect. In contrast, look at the beautiful dioramas miniatures collectors can create.

            Agreed that GW copied others before them. I also didn’t mean to imply Mantic, Privateer et al are wrong to copy them in turn (in fact, I think Mantic writes better rulesets. Shame about the mostly awful models… but they can improve!). I also agree with you that GW seems to be changing strategies and trying to write better games, and we can all agree this is a good thing.

            As for X-Wing… I don’t play it, but I own and play (with friends) SW: Armada, and like it very much. And yes, I like the pre-painted ships, but I don’t feel the urge to buy any more beyond the core set and a couple of expansions. Not implying anything with this, just my subjective experience.

          • Matthew Pomeroy

            There are also a good number of folks I know (and I do this myself) that do not play Xwing or Armada BUT buy the ships shamelessly for SW:EoE rpg

  • Corpsepile

    I love Warhammer, I love what people can do with the painting, but in all honestly I will never be able to match , and when it comes time to paint legions of the same model like Night Goblins or Tomb King Skeletons I honestly just procrastinate until its sitting in my closest.
    So in all honesty I would love to just buy pre-painted so I can actually get into the game instead of being a spectator for so amny years

  • Raven Jax

    X-Wing is popular because it is a Star Wars game. It was helped by having good rules, but never doubt why it became famous. “Want to play a board game where you dog fight X-Wings and TIE Fighters?” is a very good sales pitch. So I am reticent to extract trends from that one game.

    As for the other games you mentioned like Wings of Glory or Dust? Games like 40K and WarmaHordes (where you paint your miniatures) are more popular.

    • Txabi Etxebarrieta

      There is, I think, a momentum variable at play too. I play X-Wing, but not because of Star Wars. I never liked the setting or the movies. I play it because it lines up with where I am in life, and a big part of that is size of the community. I could have just as easily played Attack Wing or Wings of Glory. But having a big enough community means I’m not trying to align my schedule with a small group of people picking a day out of the week that works for most people. I can go to the gaming store just about any day of the week and people play X-Wing.

      40k I think also had the momentum factor in that it was the most visible war game with the most expansive and widely talked about back story. And that is how I think you end up with a lot of unpainted armies and high school kids playing it. They all want that general experience, and 40k was for a while the only major company that delivered on it.

    • Matthew Pomeroy

      I have to point out, my favorite game went to prepaints and changed its “scale of game” and tanked out hard.
      RIP Confrontation, and the sad thing is I loved those prepaints and I loved the newer rules.

  • Txabi Etxebarrieta

    Reading the conversations here have gotten me thinking. It seems like technology is now up to a point where it is definitely a viable route for some companies to take. I cannot imagine 40k, in the space it currently occupies, making the transition. Personal opinions of balance aside, I think it is fair to say GW focuses a lot more on model quality than it does having a tight ruleset. The biggest draw of 40k is the expansive lore and the ability to personalize your army to incredibly intricate levels while still having it fit in a grand space-opera narrative. You lose that when you can no longer create your own space marine chapters/hive fleets/ork clans, have dynamic custom poses, so on and so forth.

    But that’s one element that draws people to wargaming out of many. I loved 40k growing up as a kid, when I had tons of free time, when I had plenty of time to do stuff like paint and read novels, and when my income could go to nothing but plastic crack. Now, post-grad-school with a full time job and a live-in girlfriend and activism, I play X-Wing. I don’t like Star Wars (never have, personal preference) but I can still play it with my dad and the local gaming group, its comparatively inexpensive, takes little time, and I don’t really have to worry about competitive metas and such to enjoy the flying.

    The thing is, I could easily see myself going back to 40k after retirement or something. If I’ve got secure income from planned retirement and need to find a way not to drive my girlfriend out of her mind by being in the house all the time, burying myself in novels and taking the time out of my day to paint a characterful army has its appeal. And on the opposite end of that spectrum, as a fan of DC comics I look at the Knights range of models nowadays and think to myself that it’d be awesome to buy a one-off model like Darkseid or one of the Lanterns just to paint for its own sake.

    So I guess I’m cautiously optimistic in that I think pre-paints will open up doors for some maybe help people find a better fit for themselves. Removing barriers to entry like modeling requirements would stop a lot of the issues hobbyists have with the unpainted armies, since the gaming crowd can move to prepaints or pre-assembled games like The Other Side. And maybe some games can make the switch. If PP goes prepaint because they focus on rules and have monopose models anyways, they’ll pretty much have me.

  • Zedatkins Zed

    I have a Marvel chess set from eagle moss. The paint quality is poor. I’m not a great painter but honestly I could do a better job. For reference see here:

    These are large models and they weren’t cheap. So I am soured by this for pre-painted humanoid figures. But for vehicles I have ZERO problem buying pre-painted models. I have a series of 1:18 Batmobiles and they’re all great.

    • BloodAngel

      If you don’t like the paint they came with, why don’t you just repaint them then?

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    Antiquated: maybe. Obsolete: never.

  • Brettila

    Ever since AT-43 I have felt like a combination would serve GW well. Sell traditional kits, but also have some prepainted lines. These could be the separate marines, Eldar, Cadians, etc. They would have trouble keeping them in print.

  • Pyrrhus of Epirus

    i hate painting (but luckily can afford to pay somebody) but i would not be a fan of pre-painted, i like the fact that for the most part when i go to a tournament or even just play a new guy at my club that even if were the same faction, our armies will most likely look unique.

  • marxlives

    Honestly I think prepainted is great for high model count armies, remember not every gaunt needs to be the same quality as a terminator captain. In the end I think it is prepainted that is one pillar to Star Wars FFG game successes. The hobby aspect, while cool…is anything but universal. Most people fall in love with the gaming aspect but few with the hobby aspect (which is why there are unpainted armies). This has grown, as models have become more elaborate.

    Ironically enough, higher detailed models may attract veteran players or hobbyists, but not too many new players. And realistically, if the model very very detailed it is almost a form of false advertising, very few hobbyists will take the model to the standard presented on the box. And while we may say, ya I want to try, outsiders are like…this is beyond me.

    That kind of insider knowledge is great if you are into restoring classic cars and are looking to have ladies jump in because classic cars are awesome, but it becomes a little ridiculous when we are talking about…toys.

    Prepainted minis are also a great idea to breath life into other franchises in the 15mm or > range. Light hard plastic is easier to cart around, the models look crisp with the modern prepainting industry, and if you make the quality good enough, hobbyists can paint over the models and do their own paint jobs if they wish. I totally wish BattleTech took this route not only for their mech, but their other vehicles, aircraft, and infantry as well.

    That said, with current tech, prepainting is about giving options, not taking them away. It gives new players, or those who enjoy the game system but not the hobby aspect to have decent armies on the table everyone can enjoy seeing on the tabletop, and it gives hobbyist the option to paint over them if they wish and customize the models.

    • Karru

      Okay, but what about the price? Would you like to pay double the price for your unit of Gaunts? What about something like a Wraithknight?

      High model count armies would be the first armies to die out. Instead of having to pay the 400+€ for a standard army, you are suddenly paying 600-800€ for an army you are going to repaint anyway because you don’t prefer the colour scheme.

  • BloodAngel

    I love pre painted. Even the hundreds of WOTC Pre-painted D&D and Star Wars Minis I bought. I don’t have the time or the talent to do all that. Nor do I want to. The cool thing is, I saw many, many very highly detailed, re-paints of those same minis. So you get the best of both. Pre-painted for those of us who just want to collect and play the damn game. and if you are not happy with the pre-paint, just prime it and give it a paint job of your own.
    For this exact reason, I really didn’t appreciate all the snobs who denigrated pre-painted minis just because they happen to be the 2% of the population that has the skill and time to do a better job, or the desire to do so.
    FFG Star Wars X-wing and Armada (and also Wings of War as shown above) are great in my opinion and there are many (I belong to some on FB) communities where you can see peoples re-paints, which are great too.

  • PrehistoricUF0

    Not interested in pre-painted kits. I already pass on the stuff that lacks customizability/posing/options. As soon as things come pre-built and pre-painted, I stop buying.

    Hobbyist first, and gamer a distant, distant second.

  • Nosebleed

    Pre-Painted terrain, yes.

    Pre-painted miniatures, never.

  • ctFallen

    One important thing, all those models you showed except the 3 Dust guys(only 1 face) are vehicles, none organic, pre-painting organic things and getting them to look good and uniform is much harder=more expensive. And while Dust does have good looking painted models they are more a painting service than true pre-painted models as you don/t have to get them painted and its pretty expensive compared to the price of the basic model.

    I don’t care about pre-painted models, its not part of my hobby. It will probably become more main stream because most people need that instant gratification and can’t be bothered to work towards something even if the end result is more gratifying. And thats fine to each his own. But there will be hobby non-painted miniatures for along time to come as some people enjoy and get more out of the building and painting then they do out of popping some models out of a blister playing a game and then throwing the models in a box till the next game. Look at the new models wizkids just released for D&D and Pathfinder, not painted but good detail, and from what I have seen are selling pretty well.

  • Jay Barton

    It’s not like people can’t paint over it if they don’t like it; I’ve had to do that and all those look just as do as the one’s that were blank sltes. /shrug

  • Witch Beatrice

    Armada and Xwing are fantastic games – you buy the three or four ships and youre ready to play as soon as you punch out all of that Cardboard XD

    But for Warhammer – i have Space Marines and Astra Militarum that have literally sat on shelves primed but not painted. Its embarrassing to throw them onto a table and even worse its hard to figure out who is equipped with what – the point of paint is to identify exactly without question who is carrying a meltagun and who is weilding a power sword versus a normal close combat sword. *hint the power sword is Glowy and Shiny.