In this post I would like to talk a bit about the evolution of Blood Bowl miniatures and how the game was able to keep refreshing on this side of things even when it seemed that Games Workshop had turned its back on its child. What I mean by that is as you may be aware the original Blood Bowl First Edition was released in 1986 but there was a period between roughly 2005 until 2016 that the game was no longer updated by Game Workshop.
This didnt deter the loyal players of the game and it flourished during this time opening a gap in the market for fresh new teams. This is where the 3rd party miniature companies came in offering a range of new models keeping the astrogranite full of character and stopping it from going a bit stale. Dont get me wrong if everyone had to continue to use 2nd/3rd edition models/converted teams through this time I don’t think it would have been a huge issue but from talking to coaches who played the game in this time I believe that they kept the enthusiasm high all the way until Games Workshops rerelease in 2016 giving the game a running start and leading to the creation of the incredible community that surrounds the game right now.
The pictures above shows a bunch of the last models that Games Workshop released for Blood Bowl before letting the game be absorbed by the community and progress that way. As you can see they looked quite dated very quickly as they stopped production at a time when the advancements in model design manufacturing were progressing at a rapid rate which fuelled this demand for new Blood Bowl Miniatures to play out the communities highly imaginative and thematic ‘fluff’. Where as with 40k or AOS (Warhammer Fantasy back then) you can add personal touches to armies to a certain degree with paint schemes and lore but Blood Bowl took it to a new level. Players wanted teams that were unique, eye-catching and reflected themselves in some way and this is exactly what Third Party Miniatures supplied.
So where does Kickstarter come into this?
Kickstarter was founded in 2009 and opened a door model companies to reach a wider market. As you can imagine some of these miniature producers are a small set up and don’t necessarily have the cash flow to produce teams and then sell them, this also comes with a big risk if they are not taken well by the community and don’t sell. with Kickstarter they were able to create one set of models and 3D renders to show to the potential customers and gauge whether it will sell. If they do not get enough backing then they have only wasted a minor part of what they would have doing it the traditional way. If on the other hand the project it fully backed they then have the orders in and cash flow ready to start production. This less risky way of producing models has seen a huge increase the output and startup of new designers.
Obviously this is all great news for us sports enthusiasts but what are the key differences for the consumer in these 2 options?
Lets start with buying the official Games Workshop plastic, this is more often than not the cheaper way to get hold of a new team. Games Workshop have released all their teams up to now (24th November 2018) at a price point of £20 with additional goodies ranging from £7 for dice to £24 for the team specific pitches. Secondly, GW’ quality and customer service is second to none in my opinion, so you know you are getting a great product and experience. But as discussed earlier there was a gap in the market for these unique teams therefore the cheaper option is not always the most popular. So with that in mind lets talk about what third-party miniatures can offer and why they are still booming in a market where Games Workshop has reemerged.
One of the most common complaints I hear about the new teams released by GW is that they do not give you the correct amount of positionals for the optimum build in that team. Now I can understand why this is frustrating but do not blame GW for this and do not see it a huge deal as even after buying 2 boxes in order to obtain the extra positionals it will still only cost £40 with models left over. This is where these third-party designers are putting out teams with the right amount of each positional in order to play competitively saving the need to buy another box but more often than not still at a higher price.
The next point is something that has recently drawn me to other manufacturers over the mighty Workshop and that is the lack of unique models. Lets take the GW Human team for example, the box comes with 2 Blitzers but in order to be competitive you ideally need 4. The issue occurs when you have to get another 2 of the same Blitzers meaning you now have 4 models on your team of 11 all looking the same. Now for anyone who still uses 3rd edition minis this is a common sight but when the quality of models you see around tabletop games has advanced to what it is now (just look at the new 40k models being released) a lot of people are screaming for more. This is why splashing out £70 on kickstarter knowing you are going to receive a unique team with each player sculpted in different positions and a full roster of positionals is better value for money than 1 or 2 £20 boxes of mass-produced plastic.
There will always be people on both side of this argument and I personally believe that since GW has woken up and realised that the Blood Bowl Community is huge and will continue to buy their products whether it is because they prefer their models or if it purely to support the game in order for it ensure its longevity (belive me I know a lot of people who do this), their sculpts and flexibility/ability to listen to the community has notably improved. There has been a lot of coaches who have been left deflated by the most recent official releases, in particular 2 specific positionals, the Chaos Warrior and the Nurgle Pestigor. I personally belive the reason a large group of people found these models underwhelming is down to the expectation of what Games Workshop ‘should’ do and they have not gone along with that. What I mean by this, taking the chaos warrior as an example, is that the majority of models depicting this position, whether it be by GW or a third-party, have more often that not been designed in a way to resemble a Chaos Warrior from the Warhammer Fantasy Universe in battle armour (see picture above of Greebo Games Chaos). Whilst there is nothing wrong with that, and if people prefer that then that’s their rightful opinion, BUT one of the greatest legacies that 2/3rd edition of Blood Bowl has left behind besides the extremely well play tested set of rules is the characterful models, artwork and ‘fluff’. This is what Games Workshop are trying to do, they are taking a chance and creating something different and I commend them for it. They are producing a new set of teams with their own character so that the 2016 edition is something that will be remembered just like 3rd edition is now.
Above are Willy Miniatures version of Chaos Warriors and as you can see they have gone down the same route of depicting them as Fantasy Warriors in Battle armour. Dont get me wrong these are awesome models and look incredible but I am glad Games Workshop went in a different direction and their take on it (below) has really grown on me.
Recent Hits and Current favourites
In order to round-up this discussion I would like to share my thoughts on some of the recent teams that have caught my attention and some that are in the pipeline or even live right now. So to kick things off the most obvious choice would be …
Greebo Games Obsidian Dusk
As mentioned earlier Greebo Games released their Obsidian Dusk Dark Elf team not long after the 2016 Blood Bowl release. It came at a time where there was influx of new player and the offering of a team not yet re imagined by GW drew in a lot of orders making it a hugely succesful kickstarter campaign but that aside the quality of these sculpts was something new, something innovative that the community hadn’t really seen before. With Blood Bowl 2016 being released in a 32mm scale this allowed Greebo to do the same naturally allowing a lot more detail to be added creating this vastfully more characterful and unique team.
Iron Golems Buzzed Bumblebees
Say to a coach the ‘Buzzed Bumblebees’ they may struggle to realise what you talking about, but mention ‘Two Drunk Flings Halfing Team’ and you will most likely be met with a different response. This is down to the incredible amount of networking and marketing that the Two Drunk Flings podcast put into this team designed and produced by the incredible designers that is Iron Golems, the same designers that came out with one of the best Wood Elf teams around.
The reason I have listed this team is somewhat down to how its was marketed and its journey from kickstarter to now (I believe they are being shipped as I write this) has been something spectacular. The work the Drunk Flings have done to keep everyone involved has been incredible, bringing models to tournaments, even giving one or two away as prizes for the stunty cup. Dont get me wrong this is not the only reason, the models are spectacular also. Every single Halfling is unique and if you have ever played the team, you need a lot of them. Not only is each model different, they have all been given as much time and care as each other creating a team of 14 (I think) halflings with so much character, exactly what anyone looks for when buying a halfling team. For example there is one with a cake, one with pots an pans for armour and even fighting Irish one.
These are my two favourite recent kickstarter campaigns, there are to many impressive projects to talk about, I would be here all day but I would like to move on and talk about a couple of campaigns that are either live at the moment (depending on when you are reading this of course) or have been teased for the new year.
Exit 23′ Zenobian Zeniths
The first of these projects are the highly anticipated Zenobian Zeniths, the Amazon Team that goes against the mould (pun intended) brought to us by Exit 23 Games. The Zeniths were the brain child of Christopher Chant or @choibot on twitter, someone who I have had the pleasure of being league opponents with at the esteemed ECBBL in London, and a great member of the local community and always a joy to talk Blood Bowl with. I believe the idea behind the team is to give an alternative aesthetic for an Amazon team due to majority out there being bikini wearing, busty women. It’s a valid point, see below some picture of how Amazons have been depicted in the past including the pc game.
As you can see there seems to be theme of what is expected from the Amazons but not necessarily what is practical. The Zeniths really hit a gap in the market that from what I hear from the community is very welcome and breath of fresh air.
So let’s have a look at them..
So here they are in all their glory and they do not disappoint, they actually look like they are ready to play Blood Bowl and just like with the Buzzed Bumblebees, each model is unique and full of its own characterful presence, I catch myself becoming curious about their story. Well this is where the project get better, the project page on kickstarter (I will link below) is full of detail ranging from the original sketches by a comic artist, to the 3D designs and finally Graphic novels available which I am very excited on getting my hands on. What does it for me is the subtle steam punk theme, not too in your face that you forget they are athletes but enought to give them that edge.
So there you have it, if you’re in the market for an Amazon team (even if you’re not) I suggest you take a look at these quickly as I believe there is only a few days left on the project. But I shall leave you with some more pictures below
Greebo Games Lizardmen Team
Now this hasn’t been confirmed 100% confirmed yet but Greebo Games have released the below renders of their potential new lizardmen/Slaan team. I have no further details but I couldn’t write a post about Kickstarters and not put these up here. Just look at them, I am very excited about these and think I will need a separate post when these arrive.
The main objective of this post was to give people who don’t know about the huge selection of third-party miniatures a bit of an overview of what to expect and how they come to fruition. The reason I wanted to do this is as prerequisite to a new page on the Blog. We want to start keeping track of the best current projects. A place where you can go to see if there is something you have missed or just havent been checking. So keep your eyes peeled for OTT’ Project page including the best current projects being funded on sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
If you know any project going live or live right now send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it on the new pages.
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