Monday, 30 April 2012

Why 15mm?

The manufacturer of 15mm miniatures is booming at the moment. No doubt about it. People tell me it's all about money. For the £10 you pay for a character model from GW you can get 20-25 minis in 15mm. If that was really the case we would all be buying 6mm. I am a little cost sensitive but that is not what it is really about.

25/28mm projects are intimidating. If you have been to wargames shows and conventions you will have seen the massive games in larger scales with hundreds if not thousands of figures. They are works of art. You cannot help but look at them and say “I want one” just like a kid in a toy shop. When you talk to them it is either all pro-painted and has cost more than your car or it is a project of love which has taken every spare hour over five years.

It's stuff like this that inspires us as sells lots of magazines. For most of us we never get the scope of such a project, we want a game.

The truth is to do a decent job in 25/28mm takes a long time to paint. I spent a year painting a hundred 28mm zombies and it was a labour of love. I could paint 100 15mm zombies in a couple of weekends assuming SWIMBO lets me have the time. This has allowed me to paint more 15mm minis in the last six months that I have painted 28mm minis in the last five years.

15mm needs a lot less work. Most of the games I play there is a limited number of figures. This means in 15mm you can have many armies for more genres where you might only have one or two in 25mm. Variety being the spice of life, more is better. If you do a lot of solo gaming, like I do, then you have to use what you have. As there are fewer details things become a little less specific so they can often be used as looky-likeies.

Scenery also become more generic. In the same last 6 months I have produced more 15mm buildings and scenery than I have ever produced in all others scales. Again the secret is in the detail or the lack thereof. Like the minis, they become more generic.

Then there is the weight and size to consider. All of my 15mm scenery fits into a couple of Really Useful Boxes. Since SWIMBO moved in, the amount of space I have has reduced a lot. Also as anyone who has carried an army around a small lightweight army is easier to transport. I used to carry around a mechanised army and remembered fondly when I only had a infantry army to carry around. Imagine carrying a 28mm FOG army around? I am thinking time to invest in a handcart.

The increase in international trade because of the internet has also helped people. I couldn't imagine knowing who was producing figures in America twenty years ago. Blogging promotes what is out there and shows what can be done. The net has made me believe that I can do better and has given the the tools to improve my skills.

I think when you really get down to it there is a chicken and egg things going on. There has been a massive increase in ranges available which makes a 15mm more appealing. Battlefront has done a lot to popularise the scale but it has many champions. In my spheres of interest Peter Pig and Ground Zero have pushed 15mm for many years in the UK. Rebel and Khurasan have popularised the 15mm scene in the US. Rules have also caused a change. I played Command Decision for years. This was either 6mm or 20mm when I played it. The latest incarnation was geared up for 15mm. Many rule systems were out there for 6mm and 20mm. Blitzkrieg/Cold War/Future Commander caters for 15mm as well as smaller scales and these have largely superseded games like Spearhead and WRG which were exclusively 6mm. Systems like Force on Force and Tommorow's war have been a big influence as well.

Economics in action. Go figure.

Rant mode off.


  1. I agree with you. I play 15mm FOW (WWII company-leveled), and I wouldn't play it in any other scale, certainly not in 28mm. I don't like the games where 1 miniature represents 10 soldiers, and thats a crime! Also I don't like 40k, for example, because tank moves almost less than its lenght! But skrmish games will probably be always 28mm for me. They're based a bit on role playing, so 28mm fits better, as it holds more detail. And you don't have to paint much, as there isn't 100 minies per side ;)

  2. I'm a mixed scale guy myself. I collect and paint 28mm for roleplaying figures (skirmish type games) but exclusively 15mm for Wargaming. Cost is a factor but so is quality and availability so I don't always buy the cheapest models.