I saw this meme floating around shortly after the new year (Happy New Year, btw!). It is the old joke of having too many minis and yet always wanting more. During COVID, other similar memes were going around talking about “what you did during lockdown” and posts talking about painting complete Warhammer 40k armies and other lofty goals. Like many, I also have way too many minis and keep buying more but I looked at this year and saw the bragging joke and thought “what if I could still say this on December 31?”
Remember this bad boy? Loved painting this guy up. Archaon the Everchosen. More like “never-put-on-the-table-wish-he-was-chosen.” This poor chap has sat in my display case for years now and never once hit the table. Why? Because I haven’t painted the rest of his army. I’ve tried in fits and starts but all I’ve got to show for it is a bunch of mostly primed minis choking up my shelf space.
This collection of Varanguard and Chaos Knights from Age of Sigmar have sat around enough that I have to figure out at way to clean the dust off of the them before I start working on them again. They’ve been moved twice now and never progressed farther than pictured in those moves. Sadly, they are not alone in my collection. Not by a long shot.
I was curious so I did an inventory at the beginning of the year. By my best count, I have the following count of models in various states on unpaint:
- 139 Infinity models
- 169 Age of Sigmar/Warcry/Dreadfleet models
- 36 Dropzone Commander models
- 86 Miscellaneous other games (Bushido, Batman, Blood & Plunder, etc)
This doesn’t even look at things like Joan of Arc or the unpainted remainder of Walking Dead and other such games that I found difficult to assess.
There is easily years and years of painting there and if I just keep buying things, a lot of the figures in there will never see paint, let alone a table. I realize that this is a problem I’ve built myself as I don’t want to play with unpainted minis on a table. I don’t mind if someone else brings unpainted stuff but a personal challenge for myself is to not bring unpainted if I can at all help it.
So what do I do? I don’t want to sell off whole lots. I can’t afford to commission a painter to get through all of this but the collection is frustrating knowing my painting pace. I do not think of myself as someone who suffers anxiety but I do feel uncomfortable with the mass of unpainted minis I have. I definitely want to paint things like the Military Orders army for Infinity shown in the image above. So I think the solution is to cold stop in acquiring new stuff. Full stop. 2023 will be an attempt to not buy a single miniature.
If successful, I should be able to gauge how much effort it will take to paint everything up and clear out my backlog. The other side of things is, if a year passes with no new minis bought but I’m still woefully behind then I will take a year-end assessment to see if I truly need those minis at all. Tastes change, game systems die out or lose favor. Maybe those minis I’m agonizing about aren’t work the time investment because the game won’t hit the table anyway.
While all of this may sound lofty or even impossible given the hobby’s voracious appetite to always consume the next and newest model, I have to confess that I’m not done receiving minis I bought long ago. Things like Blood & Plunder’s Raise the Black kickstarter is trickling its way to backers and since I pre-ordered awhile back, it will arrive on my doorstep eventually.
Tag Raid is another Kickstarter due to arrive at some point in 2023 so a fresh crop of “new” minis will be mine for unwrapping. It is actually because of Kickstarter’s like this (looking at you, Joan of Arc) that I’m seeing the futility of trying to keep up with the industry. I also see a problem where I find myself not even wanting to look at a new system because I don’t want to disrupt the backlog and putting a new game at the end of the queue makes me question why I should buy it in the first place.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this kind of hobby existential crisis. Joseph McCullough of Frostgrave, Stargrave, etc fame even wrote about it a few years back on his own blog. Reading his thought process and stress, I felt very similar and appreciated all his effort into defining what was working for him and how he addressed the challenges. I encourage you to read it for a similar but ultimately different take on the subject.
So now it is February. Thirty-six days into the 365 day tour of “no new minis,” a tenth of the way there almost. I will say I think the challenge is working. I have already completed 14 minis for the year and a small contingent of little Joan of Arc minis. I have had a few moments where I just have to shut down the website or not click on the link to stop me from getting sucked in too deep on some new mini.
I’ll update my progress as I succeed or fail at this endeavor. I know there are some upcoming things that will be a true test of my will but I’m glad to use any excuse to inspire me to keep tackling my “pile of shame.”
Ohhh. What is this beauty…