Monday, 28 March 2011

Conspicuous Consumption

My Salute tickets have arrived. For those who don't know, Salute is the South London Warlords gaming club's annual show and one of the biggest Wargaming events on the UK calendar. It might not have quite the size and attendance figures of Games Workshop's Games Day, but it more than compensates by the sheer number and range of traders. There are companies that do Salute and nothing else and miniatures that can only be bought at Salute or on the web.

I tend to schedule my miniature buying around shows. Despite my advocacy of the Internet as a means for wargaming companies to communicate and sell directly to their customers, I actually rarely buy any miniatures online. I'm not entirely sure why this is, but it may be that when confronted with a limitless range of miniatures and a credit card it is all too easy to go a bit crazy and spend far more than I can afford.

The shows are useful because they set a natural limit on what you can buy. Most traders don't accept credit cards, so it is easy to set a budget for yourself simply buy taking a limited amount of funds. Plus, you can only buy what the traders bring with them.

Consequently, I make most of my wargaming purchases at certain key points in the year and plan my collecting and gaming around them. There are four of five major events in the year when I accumulate a large volume of models.

In spite of these limits, I still seem to end up with more models than I can do anything with. Last year's Salute was all about Malifaux and the English Civil War. My Malifaux models (or at least the ones I bought last year) have been painted and used, but my ECW figures remain unpainted and unassembled. Not that I regret the purchase, I still fully intend to paint up my Royalists and get in a game. I simply have more models than I can paint of use.

This hobby supplies few opportunities for instant gratification. Unlike most Sport, our hobby requires considerable preperation and unlike other collections (such as stamps or action figures) the act of purchase is not the end of the endeavour. Once we have our miniatures we still have a great deal to do before we are ready to display or use them.

I didn't use to like painting. This was a combination of the amount of time it took and my lack of satisfaction with the results I achieved. This has changed a great deal, I now find it quite relaxing and satisfying, but it is still very time consuming and requires a good deal of effort.

This is also somewhat true of gaming. Although I enjoy the gaming experience, it takes a great deal of time to set up and put away and requires a good deal of concentration over a period of time. Sometimes the energy required to do it just isn't there.

Buying new miniatures is the closest to instant gratification we can get in this hobby. A new miniature of box of miniatures is full of possibility, detached from the requirements of time and effort needed to extract value from them. We can look a box and fool ourselves into thinking that beautifully painted display images are exactly what will come tumbling out of the box. Consequently we can easily accumulate more than we can use. I don't really need Salute, I still have plenty of projects to be getting on with and yet the acquisition is good part of the fun.

Is there a solution to this? Probably not. As much as I can tell myself that I need no new miniatures, but I still want them, I am still excited by them. There will still be a pile of unpainted and unassembled miniatures for some time to come.

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