Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Give 'Em a Leg to Stand On

One of the things I came across in my research involving minifigures for gaming use, was ABS plastic stands to help your minfig stand-up (and stay up) on the tabletop much like the bases used by lead miniatures. Though these bases require absolutely NO work to prepare and you can change colors on a whim. This is perfect if you have different tabletop colors (desert, grass green and asphalt).

The first ones I purchaed were round bases from Minfigworld. They have the two pegs for your minifig to stand on, and come in a pretty wide variety of colors.


Shortly after I’d received my first few batches of round bases, I was turned onto Catspaw Customs who do hex bases. I’m a bit of a sucker for hex bases, and the Catspaw ones not only have the two pegs for your minifigs feet, but they have 2 1x1 size connection points on them to use to designate wounds (like our group does) or items carried, etc. The folks at Catspaw also have an interesting article about why Minifigs are better for gaming than miniatures are.  Their own need for hex stands for their tabletop RPG games is where Catspaw’s business endeavor started. Like Minifigworld, Catspaw has a descent amount of colors to choose from, and they are also available without the 2 1x1 connection points.


At the time of this update, the Catspaw Customs online store doesn’t seem to be working and hasn’t been for over a week. This is further complicated by Catspaw’s lack of contact details like an email address or phone number to make them aware of the situation. Hopefully that rights itself soon.

EDIT: I've been told Castpaw Customs is no longer trading and the sale of these bases will soon be handled by BrickArms. That's good news because these bases are far too nice to disappear from the marketplace.

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Plastic Arms Bazaar

I’ve heard from some folks that they’d like to see pictures in some of my updates, so I’ve included some with this update. Now I’m not any great photographer by any stretch, but I have decent digital SLR and I’ll only get better the more pictures I take so bear with me.

Initially what drew me to the possibilities minifigs offered for gaming was the sheer selection of weapons out there being offered by aftermarket manufacturers. I was especially drawn to the modern weapons. The selection seems to be growing every few months just since I started collecting. There’s no end to weapons being offered up for your minifig to wield, and that’s very cool for big kids like me. I think this is also a good time to mention that modern warfare is my jump off point for wargaming with minifigues. Certainly not the only period I’ve been collecting for, but my main focus.

 A lot of the companies out there not only offer weapons, and in many periods, but also helmets, body armor, equipment, etc. I’ll cover some of the accessories in a future update, but I wanted to focus this time on weapons. More specifically... modern weapons. There are four main sellers I get my stuff from and each one not only carries a wide variety and selection, but the level of customer service and satisfaction is excellent. As a consumer, that’s important!

The four shops I normally get my modern weapons from are: BrickArms, Si-Dan (aka Minifig Cat), Brick Warriors, and BrickForge. Though I can’t say with 100% certainty, I’m pretty sure BrickArms is among the first minifig weapon makers out there. Brick Warriors is the newest of the companies, but certainly carries its weight as far as what they’ve been churning out product wise and in terms of quality.


Si-Dan, also known as Minifig Cat, probably produces the widest array of modern weapons. They’re the only ones who do a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) and a .50 Cal HMG with tripod. They’re constantly cranking out product every couple of months, and have the best selection of sub-machine guns, assault rifles, pistols etc. Among Si-Dan’s modern products are a lot of Vietnam era weapons, which is good for me as the Vietnam War is a wargaming interest of mine and has been for years.  As a side note, Si-Dan also carry the biggest selection of samurai era weapons, armor and headgear out there.

BrickArms has a very good selection of modern era weapons as well, though I’ve found that they’re hit and miss for size sometimes. I’ve had a couple I ordered that I thought were going to be bigger but looked decidedly small in my minfig’s hand. That aside, they have a GREAT variety of pulp era weapons to choose from. Lugars, Broomhandle Mausers, BARs, Revolvers, etc. Perfect for anyone wanting to do gaming in the pulp period.


Brick Warriors and BrickForge have a few modern-ish weapons to choose from, but these companies seem to mainly cater to the sci-fi and post apocalyptic crowd. Still, they have lots of relevant goodies aside from weapons for your minifigs. I particularly like Brick Forge’s Anti-Material Sniper Rifle. It’s a big sucker, and though it has a more sci-fi feel to it, looks menacing in the hands of a Special Forces sniper minifig.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

It's on like Donkey Kong!

Welcome to my blog, Fantastic Bits of Plastic. The intention of this blog is to chronicle my journey using Lego Minifigures for tabletop wargaming. I’ve been gaming in some capacity or another since the early 1980’s. I’ve run the gamut from RPGs, bookshelf games, board games and in more recent years, miniatures wargaming.  I loved the more 3 dimensional and visual appeal that miniatures added to our games. Soon I found myself immersed in the “hobby within a hobby” of collecting and painting figures, building scenery and relevant model kits without doing alot”gaming” itself. My interest many periods and in many scales became somewhat of a runaway train and I found storage of all the completed pieces and the hit my pocketbook was taking, a bit excessive. Not to mention the growing mountain of lead that I was amassing (best laid plans and all that). A year or so ago I’d been elbows deep into a new period and suddenly I just decided to take a break from it all. All the painting, all the collecting...all of it. I put down the paintbrush and took a step back. It was around this time I’d come across some really neat pictures during a Google image search of some wargames being played using Lego minifigures after a mention of it in an old post on The Miniatures Page.
" Thinking of getting some kind of ready-made, no paint required, re-customizable toy army. I love the idea of arming each figure with an array of weapons, changing them, or making whatever the heck I want (and well lead figs just aren't so accommodating to my never ending whims. Nor are plastic ones, but they are slightly better). The Playmobil figures are bigger, which I like however the minifigs have a greater variety of things to wield as well as helmets and faces, etc."   - ETeneibrisLux, The Miniatures Page, 2008 
I became really interested in the possibilities these could lend to my own gaming projects. Perhaps it was the allure of the toy nature that appealed to my inner child. Or perhaps the attractive nature of what I call “pick-click-and-play” that Lego minifigures allow. So I started collecting. And boy did I collect! Slowly of course, ordering bits here and bits there, but surely. Like lead miniatures, I was excited to get my parts and pieces in the mail, but unlike lead miniatures, these are ready to go. Much excitement in the past had been dashed knowing all the work that lay ahead of me basing, priming, painting, just to get a figure or two on the table. Don’t get me wrong... I’m still a bit fan of lead figures and wargaming, but not as much into it as I once was. Now I’m smitten with these little ABS plastic wonders and how versatile they are.  Just learning what’s out there as far as custom parts, weapons etc has been exciting and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ve learned all about AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) and MOCs (My Own Creation) and we’ve even added an acronym of our own to the lexicon: GULPs (Gamers Using Lego Products)! So this is just the beginning of my journey and I’m anxious to see what lies ahead.