15 July 2002
Mike I don't agree on everything, as you'd expect. One area where we do part company, and quite strongly, is on the subject of what to review. We have different philosophies on the matter.
Mike prefers only to review those figures and models that have quite a bit of merit, feeling that we'll waste both valuable time, and rapidly diminishing server space, if we look at poorer quality figures. He also doesn't want to be seen as endorsing figures that are, quite frankly, a waste of metal. He'll put up photo's or scans of substandard ranges however, to show people what they're like, so people know what to expect.
I tend to look at things in another light- I'd like to cover every figure made, anywhere, in any scale, that falls into our "period of interest" (i.e. 1670 to 1870). I think we should be trying to let people know what's out there, no matter what quality, and let the reader judge for themselves. I'll never be able to do that, so I review what I can.
My approach has some very big pitfalls, though. If Mike reviews a figure, you can be sure that it's worth looking at. He may be critical of the figure in many areas, but overall the figure can be said to be useable. On the other hand I've reviewed some ranges that I wish I hadn't wasted the time on. And reviewing takes a lot of my scarce spare time- I've been stuck in front of this bloody computer for most of today, for example.
When I slam a figure or a range, I always feel a bit guilty. Someone has put their skill, effort and time into producing a master, making the moulds and getting it onto the market for gamers to use. And some opinionated Aussie bastard comes along and rubbishes their efforts. For a new sculptor, it may discourage them and prevent them from further developing their range. On the other hand, though, I'm NOT saying my taste in figures is the right one. I'm offering my opinion and, very importantly, putting up scans or photo's of the figures so you, the reader, can tell whether I'm speaking out of my arse or not.
There's also the fact that these figures are being produced as a business, in the majority of cases. So the gamer, as the consumer, has a right to know if a particular figure is well cast, is accurate, comes from a complete range and is compatible with other brands. There's no reason you should buy blindly if you don't have to. Most manufacturers aren't trying to do the gamer a favour, they're making money (albeit very little, in many cases) off them. And if they want to continue making that money, they should provide a product that's worth spending money on. If the figures look like scurrying rats then you, the gamer, have a right to be told they look like scurrying rats. If the figures are inaccurate, that's not your fault, it's the sculptor's fault. You don't have to accept the figure, he should fix the problem (as Chris von Fahnestock, of Outland Games, is doing with some of the Bataillenfeur range, for example).
How do we do the reviews? Simply we look at a number of factors- the proportions of the figures, facial features, the animation, how much detail, definition of detail, the accuracy (if we have the knowledge), size in relation to stated scale, how well made the figure is (i.e. flash, casting seams and incomplete castings) and, lastly, a subjective assessment of how much we like the figure. There's no magic formula or scientific method- just particular points we look at.
For the present Mike and I will continue going our own way on the issue. The opportunity is always there for anybody to refute one of our reviews (as long as you can do so in a logical manner- ie explain why a horse, that we think looks like a wombat with a hyperactive pituitary gland, actually does look like a horse). But eventually server space and time will mean we restrict our reviews to what we like- or to what YOU want to see. But you'll have to let us know what you want to see, first.