Sunday, September 27, 2020

Contributors to Material Preference

Last time (see One Word, "Plastics"), we identified that hard plastic was the preferred figure material from the 2020 survey.  From those results, hard plastic beat out metal as the top choice by ten percentage points (48% to 38%).  Survey responses suggest that the choice between hard plastic and metal changes with age.  That is, younger gamers pick hard plastics as a first choice while older gamers pick metals.  The result of hard plastic overcoming metal figures was a surprise to me but not for many of those responding in the prior post's commentary.  Of course, my perspective may very well be biased by my own age.  While many voiced an opinion that metal was their preferred choice, the top ranking for hard plastic was no surprise.

This time, I plan to examine preferred material choice more closely by considering primary material preference (respondent's Ranking #1) by the factors that may contribute to choice.  The factors or attributes to study are:
  • Gamer's Location
  • Gamer's Preferred Genre (Historical, Fantasy/Sci-fi, or a Mix)
  • Figure Scale (or Size)
  • Gaming Era
Note that these analyses rely upon the assumption that a respondent's preferred material choice corresponds to the respondent's preferred figure size and gaming era.  I will address each attribute individually and then summarize the findings.

Gamer's Location
Does a respondent's location have a bearing on preferred material choice?  Is the mix of gamers and their material preferences distributed across the globe similarly?  When considering first choice between either hard plastic or metal, it is interesting that Continental Europe/Scandinavia prefer hard plastic to metal about two-to-one while USA/Canada prefer hard plastic over metal at about a three-to-two rate.  The UK/Ireland and Australia/New Zealand are about evenly split between choosing hard plastic and metal. 

Gamer's Preferred Genre (Primary Interest)
Responses to this question on the survey were recoded to make a distinction between Historical and Fantasy/Sci-Fi gamers.  To that end, the recoding was, 
  • If the response was either 0 or 1 then the respondent was classified as “Historical.” 
  • If the response was either 5 or 6 then the respondent was classified as “Fantasy/Sci-Fi.” 
  • Otherwise (2,3,4 responses), the respondent was classified as “Mixed” suggesting that both historical and fantasy games were considered rather than exclusively one end of the spectrum.
What do the data suggest?  Well, fantasy/sci-fi gamers overwhelmingly pick hard plastic as their material of choice. Historical gamers prefer metal more than two-to-one.  Hard plastic is given the edge by those gamers enjoying both historical and fantasy/sci-fi gaming.  Seeing earlier results that younger age cohorts prefer hard plastic and that these same groups lean toward fantasy/sci-fi, no surprise that hard plastic is the preferred choice for fantasy/sci-fi.  Similarly, the older age cohorts tend toward historical gaming and historical gaming tends toward metal as a preference.  Again, the results seem reasonable. 

Figure Scale (Size)
Matching up first choice of material with first choice of figure scale produces the count distribution shown in the graph below.
By total counts of respondent first choice by figure size, 25-28mm size is the most popular followed by 28mm Heroics, and then 15-18mm.  When the breakdown of material preference between these top three categories with respect to material choice, 28mm Heroics are dominated by hard plastic over metal by almost four-to-one.  25-28mm figure size is about evenly split between hard plastic and metal.  For figure sizes between 6mm and 18mm, metal is preferred.

Gaming Era 
With so many gaming periods to choose from, it is no surprise that wargaming has something of interest to everyone.  The most popular periods are hardly a surprise.  WWII takes the top spot with Warhammer40k in at number two.  Sci-Fi and fantasy come in at three and four.

Hard plastic dominates Warhammer 40k and shows a comfortable lead over metal in fantasy and sci-fi.  WWII, the top gaming choice, is about evenly split between hard plastic and metal.  With this even split in WWII materials, I would expect the smaller figure sizes to tend toward metal with 25-28mm showing an increase toward hard plastic as more figures become available.   
While past surveys suggested that WWII gaming was popular, with no ranking it was difficult to judge the popularity of WWII gaming.  With rank added into the 2020 survey, the popularity of WWII gaming is evident.  To me, a surprising result although a global conflict ought to hold a global and lasting appeal.

The other historical periods of Napoleonics, Ancients, and 18th Century tend toward metal figures.  Besides the overwhelming popularity of WWII and Warhammer 40k, another surprise, to me, was the relatively few numbers of respondents listing ACW as a first choice.  I suppose ACW gaming may have a national or regional appeal, perhaps, similar to Pike & Shot gaming?

After two posts examining hard plastic figures as a top choice and the relationship between material preference and a variety of possible contributing factors, I will step out on a limb and make the following generalizations about a respondents' top choice of hard plastic.  Those preferring hard plastic as a first choice of figure material are more likely:
  • Under the age of 51
  • Living in Continental Europe, Scandinavia, USA, and Canada
  • Having a primary interest in fantasy/sci-fi gaming
  • Gaming with 28mm Heroics
  • Playing Warhammer 40k and fantasy/sci-fi
Perhaps not revolutionary findings but useful, reinforcing generalizations, nonetheless.  In my mind, at least.

Given the data presented, what conclusion does the reader reach?

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Hittite Spearmen

Work continues on fielding the "extra" six units to augment the original, dozen unit Hittite army completed earlier in the year.  This unit of fourteen spearmen files in as Unit #2 in this additional recruitment.  Mustering out four more units in three months before year-end should pose no problem.  Well, no problem as long as I can keep the brush in motion and the paint flowing.  Figures are from Wargames Foundry.  Nice figures.
Next off the painting desk for the Hittites will likely be another chariot and crew.  Chariot and runners will again be Foundry figures.  A resupply of Newline Design figures came in-house recently containing three more chariots so the Hittites will be switching chariot suppliers soon.  As at Kadesh, my Hittite Army may field a lot of chariots.  While only six can be called up for duty at present, enough models are in The Lead Pile to bring that total up to twelve (or maybe thirteen?).

I never did make it to the hex flocking project I planned for this weekend past.  Work on the GWS2020 analysis took precedence and kept me busy.  While I plan to tackle a follow-up analysis on the Figure Material Preference question this weekend, perhaps, I can work in a flocking exercise?  Time will tell.

Speaking of the Figure Material Preference analysis, I thank all of you who took the time to respond.  This was a very informative and vigorous discussion and I appreciate these efforts very much.  Really a top quality discussion that provided some good insights!  Hopefully, the continuation of the analysis for this question can raise an equal interest and contribution to the discussion. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

GWS2020: One Word, “Plastics”

To quote Mr. Mcquire in the 1967 movie, The Graduate, "there is a great future in plastics."  According to the 2020 edition of the Great Wargaming Survey, plastics especially hard plastics may be the future.  See Jasper's WSS blog post with an initial peek at some of the initial results of this year's survey at GWS 2020: Highlights and Maybe Some Shadows.

In this first look at the 2020 survey results, Jasper highlights responses to one of the new questions on the 2020 survey. That is,
Which material do you prefer for your miniatures?
Based upon survey responses, the answer is hard plastics by a small margin over metal. Resin comes in at third overall.

As I did for the GWS 2019 survey, I plan to dig a little deeper into the data in an attempt to bring more order out of the data chaos.  With Jasper referencing Question 17 in his initial blog post on GWS2020, this survey question relating to miniatures' material preference is as good of a place to start as any.

Since this question asked for the respondent's top three choices, I limit my analysis to the Top Three choices even though the survey graphic provides a weighted average across all choices.  Does that make a difference?  Even limiting material choices to the Top Three, Hard Plastic, Metal, and Resin comprise the Top Three choices as in the survey summary.

Figure 1

Seeing the result of hard plastic figures coming out as the top material choice in the aggregate, is a surprise to me.  Perhaps, this is only one indication that I am out of step with the hobby.  For me, metal is my preferred figure material but I am one of the Old Guard, I suppose.  I began miniature wargaming in the early 70s with Airfix HO scale plastics.  While I amassed sizable armies in soft plastic, by the early 90s the plastics were jettisoned and I moved on to metal figures.  I really have not looked back.  Well, not yet, anyway.  I did recently pick up a Star Wars Legion core set in hard plastic to work with my grandson.

Since the graphic above (Figure 1) is an aggregation of the Top Three material choices, does breaking down the rankings make any material difference?  Yes, it does.  See Figure 2.
Figure 2
Respondents' top choice for figure material is Hard Plastic (48%), Metal (38%), and Soft Plastic (5%). 
Respondents' second choice for figure material is Hard Plastic (33%), Metal (27%), and Resin (21%).
Respondents' third choice for figure material is Resin (35%), Metal (17%), and Soft Plastic (10%).

These results suggest that outside of hard plastics and metals, resin is a popular second choice.  As a third choice, it is dominant.  Interesting since my collection of resin figures is almost nil.  Most of my resin models are for WWI aircraft.  I cannot think of having any resin figures but I must have a few.  Again, I seem to be out of step with the masses.

Perhaps, my out-of-steppedness can be explained by age?  As seen in many of the analyses from the GWS2019 survey, age does matter.  Is that the situation here as well?

Looking at Figure 3 (below), age seems to be a driver of material first choice as well.  In the 40-and-under age groups, roughly two-thirds of respondents pick hard plastic as their first choice.  Hard plastic as a first choice drops to 50% for the 41-50 Age Group, to 33% for the 51-60 Age Group, and down to 23% for those 61-and-over group.   

For metals as a first choice of material, popularity increases with age.  Those respondents in the 40-and-under groups list metals as a first choice in less than 20% of the responses.  In the 41-50 age group, metal as a first choice jumps to 37%.  In the 51-60 group that first choice percentage is 58% and two-thirds for those 61-and-over.
Figure 3
Is this pattern brought about due to figure size, game genre (fantasy vs historical), game type, combinations of all three, or something else entirely?  Perhaps cost is a major contributing factor in material choice?  Cost for the lower age cohorts certainly seems a reasonable barrier to entry into the world of fielding large armies in metal.  I have my hunches based upon these results and trends seen in the GWS2019 survey.

Next time, I will examine the effects of adding preferred figure size, game genre, and game type into this debate on the drivers of material preference.

The future may come down to one word, plastics.

For readers making it through these graphics and analysis, and wanting to weigh in with their own observations and experiences, I encourage and look forward to your comments.  For your age group, do these generalized survey tendencies ring true with respect to preferred figure material?

Thursday, September 17, 2020

US Volunteer Infantry in 1898

This week, I finished off a second 30-figure bag of Old Glory infantry for the Spanish-American War project.  Rather than Spanish in the blue tunics of their Foreign Service uniform (see Spanish in Foreign Service Dress), I have US volunteer infantry in its familiar blue shirt.  As always with this project, the Old Glory figures are a real joy to paint.  Simple uniforms, bold details, and few accoutrements, what is not to like? 
The Spanish-American War project is another collection whereby I am drawing down the inventory of unpainted lead.  While I have not taken an assessment of the size of the collection to date, I must surely have enough painted figures to hold a large action.  Two more 30-figure bags remain in The Lead Pile but there is no hurry to bring them to the workbench since I am in the midst of switching gears.

By switching gears, I mean focusing attention to 25mm Hittites and 15mm 18th Century projects.  Expect SYW and 1799 units to march off the painting desk as they alternate with additional Hittites which are slated for completion by year-end. 

Unfortunately, as I draw down The Lead Pile for a few projects, more orders arrive to replenish other projects.  With a number of recent summer-ending sales, more 25mm Biblicals from Newline Designs, 15mm SYW and 1859 figures from 19th Century Miniatures, and 15mm SYW and Napoleonics from Eureka arrive.  This is a never ending battle.  

Also off the painting desk are a handful of Jump Off markers for Chain of Command.  With Jake busy fielding British paras (see More Paratroopers), it would be fun to see this long dormant project back on the gaming table.  Once the situation allows, of course.  The crate selection is from a recent order from Brigade Games.
On the gaming front, not much action over the last two weeks since my last F2F outing at the boardgame table.  Several games are under consideration including a second round of 15mm AWI battles using Fields of Honor.  Of course, these will be solo contests.  I delayed returning to the gridded AWI battles while I awaited a resupply of Woodland Scenics flock to dress up my bare, green hexes before tackling more hex-based games.  That order arrived in yesterday's post.  I may have a small project for the weekend.  

On the New Blogger front, I notice that the interface still is undergoing revision.  Today, the options available for photos have changed from my last post four days ago.  It would be useful to see a Change Log as developers are mucking around with this new interface.  With a Change Log, at least we would know what pitfalls have been covered and which may still lay ahead.

Finally, the Northwest continues to be blanketed in smoke from numerous fires burning across the region.  While cycling has been confined to the indoor trainer for the last five days, air quality is slowly showing signs of improvement today.  Rather than the Hazardous reading of the past several days, air quality is merely Very Unhealthy.  I may have a chance to return outdoors by Friday or Saturday.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Return of the Hittites

When I finished my 2020 goal of a dozen unit Hittite Army in June (see Hittites The Gathering) , I figured that was good enough and job done.  Twelve units would be sufficient to field a basic army for Basic Impetvs, Impetvs, or To The Strongest!.  Having completed this task ahead of schedule, some readers suggested that I should press on and field another half-dozen units before the year was out.  After all, I finished twelve units in six months, six units in six months should pose little challenge.  Right?


Off the painting desk today is the first of these reinforcements for the Hittite Army.  Mustering out is a bow-armed, light chariot with two crew and three runners.  Figures are all Wargames Foundry.     
While third quarter winds down, planning for fourth quarter painting push to close out the year is under consideration.  Seems that 25mm/28mm has seen more than its share of focus at the painting desk, thus far.  In an attempt to rebalance my efforts, the tentative plan includes switching from a focus on 25mm/28mm projects to the 15mm/18mm projects.  Of course, the Hittites will continue passing across the painting desk until a further six are finished.  Hopefully, the 1799, 1859, and SYW projects will experience increased production as year-end approaches.  Have I mentioned that the 18mm SYW project may see a new army project undertaken?

I received the survey results from the 2020 edition of WSS' Great Wargaming Survey.  Expect a series of analyses digging deeper into the survey data over the next several months.  Data explorations will be similar to results seen in the 2019 battery of analyses but some new twists too including the introduction of a few new questions.  With luck, an interesting revelation or two will fall out of these analyses.    

To close, the West is in flames due to wild fires.  By Saturday afternoon, air quality was in the Hazardous classification.  A thick smoke hung over the region, heavy with the smell of burning brush and timber.  One small town about 40 miles away burned to the ground this past week.  Now, we not only wear face masks to protect from COVID but to prevent smoke inhalation.  Sigh.  What a year.   

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Spanish in 1898 Foreign Service Dress

Off the painting desk emerges a largish bunch of Spanish infantry for the Spanish-American War project.  Well, largish for me, anyway.  With a batch of 30 figures, these Old Glory 25mm figures with form two BMUs. 

With blue tunics, red trousers, and white sun helmets, these are smart looking figures.  When I first saw the illustration below of this Havana garrison unit, I knew I wanted to field these colorful lads.  I am glad I did!  This Spanish garrison will add much color to the Spanish Army.  The Spaniards may go down to defeat but will look smart doing so.
As with all of the Old Glory figures in the 25mm Spanish-American War range, the soldiers are not too encumbered with equipment or webbing.  This lack of equipment makes painting a snap.  Great figures and a pleasing result.
Next off the painting desk for this project will be 30 US Volunteer Infantry.  Like the Spanish here, the whole 30-figure bag will be tackled in one go.  While the Americans don blue shirts, no red pants for these cowboys.

Surprising to me is that the Cuban scenario still lingers on my gaming table, unplayed.  I really ought to either put the board into play or pack it up and move on.  After having given Fields of Honor-AWI a couple of games and enjoyed that, perhaps, I ought to move on to playing the more detailed, colonial version?  I did work out a set of rules using the Combat Effectiveness engine of some of my other primary rules.  Going that direction is an option too.
What scenario is envisioned here?
With the hex grid used for the recent AWI battle tests of Fields of Honor still occupying one end of the gaming table, I am on the look out for a similarly sized scenario to give the AWI version another try.  As a reminder, the hex grid is 8x6.  I am open to recommendations and suggestions. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Austrian IR#11 in 1799

The 1799 Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland is another project not seeing action at the painting desk of late.  Checking the Painting log, this project last mustered troops in late February.  I guess that corresponds to the launching of work on a Hittite Army and the pandemic.  The former has been much more enjoyable than the latter.
After about six months of focusing on 28mm figures and projects, it was good to return to 18mm figures in general and the 1799 project in particular.  The two battalions mustering out from the workbench today are Lancashire Games' figures led by AB mounted officers.  These long-legged dandies, called up, are the second and third battalions of IR#11.  Hard campaigners may look a tad slender but one expects that situation when on campaign.  Good, solid sculpts.  More Austrian infantry are being pushed into the painting queue.  This time, Austrians from Campaign Games Miniatures will be the subject for the brush.
On the gaming front, I took part in an evening F2F gaming session Saturday night with Kevin.  Kevin received his copy of the newly released Jacobite Rising (JR) from Compass Games.  JR is the latest offering in the long running series of Commands & Colors games.  His game was delivered in Friday's post and was stickered and awaiting battle when I arrived Saturday evening. 
On the table was the Battle of Killiekrankie, 1689.  Government forces are facing attack while marching through a defile.  Commanding the Government forces, my army was set upon by the Highlanders and dispatched in relatively short order.  One of the features of JR is that a retreat result now requires a retiring unit to pass a rally attempt to remain on the field.  Fail the Rally Roll and the unit is removed from play.  My Government forces faced four occasions in which they had to retreat.  In every situation, the unit failed to rally.  With the battle set to a threshold of six enemy units eliminated for victory,  four of the six victory banners against me resulted from my army failing to stand.  In banner count, Government forces lost 6-2.  
At least the suffering was over quickly.

Friday, September 4, 2020

An ECW Artillery Foursome

After nearly a year of inactivity on the 30mm ECW project, the foundry churns out four artillery pieces.  For a project that I consider "done and dusted," ten months between additions is not concerning.  In fact, I considered the existing four guns and one mortar sufficient for most ECW battles.  Rarely have I needed more than two guns per side.
My position on this sufficient gun requirement was nudged in the direction of fielding a few additional pieces when I discovered two packs of Old Glory guns in The Lead Pile.  One pack contained two culverins; the other, two demi-culverins.  The conundrum faced was that there was no crew.  Do I allow these four guns to languish in The Lead Pile or buy crew for these pieces.  Of course, I opted to add sixteen crew to the shopping list.  Hardly a surprise.  
While crew from the existing guns were all sourced from Redoubt (which I love), this time I chose to give Bicorne Miniatures ECW artillerymen a try.  I have always read that Redoubt and Bicorne are a good match size-wise, so I plunged in to verify for myself.  For size with respect to height and heft (remember the Barrett Scale, anyone?), Bicorne figures compare favorably to Redoubt.  I still think I prefer the Redoubt artillery crew. 
Anyway, off the painting desk come four guns and crew. The guns are Old Glory and the crew, Bicorne.  Two culverins and two demi-culverins to add to the artillery arsenal of both sides.  
Enough Renegade Miniatures' foot remain to field one more 27 figure regiment of foote.  One day, I may get around to clearing out that bin and pushing them into the painting queue.  Beyond those figures, only a scattering of casualty figures and some TAG horse remain to paint.  Since the TAG cavalry are of the slightly earlier Thirty Years War period, I have been in not much hurry to paint them, but I will! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

I Can Ride 1,000 Miles and I Can Ride 1,000 More

Yes, I put 1,000 miles into the legs and bike during the month of August.  While July saw over 800 miles logged cycling, I pushed a little harder in August.  The notion of logging 1,000 miles in the month really did not enter into my calculations until the last week of the month. I figured I might have a chance but doubts loomed.  Even with three days and 120 miles to go, I thought it would be a close call.  
August's Cycling Log
Those doubts were removed Monday when I logged the last 37 miles to put me over the top.  I have not logged a 1,000+ month on the bike in at least three years.  Surprisingly, it was easier than expected.  Every day saw me out on the bike with the exception of one rainy day indoors on the trainer.  Daily mileage increased too.  Is this pace sustainable through September?  Not likely but let's see how far the bike carries me in September.  The downside?  Painting production fell a bit.   

Until I close the logbook on September in five weeks' time to see how I did, following are an assortment of photos from this week's travels.

Next time, a return to wargaming content.