Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Consumer Challenge: a year without buying miniatures

On a beautiful winter’s day in February ‘22, my wife and  I walked through the city and, just after Covid and all kinds of lockdowns and cancelled social occasions, philosophized about the value of immaterial things such as simply being able to interact with other people and walk through a city.

Probably inspired by that conversation (and before I knew it) I spoke the ominous words: I won’t buy miniatures for a year!

Dear reader: I know what you are thinking now. Why would he say such a thing? Did he succeed? What did he learn from it? Would he do it again?

Safety nets and pitfalls

I must say that I had a LONG painting queue lying around at the time, so I didn't mind finishing that first and spending more time playing games. This notwithstanding, I nearly walked out of a model shop with a box of figures within half an hour …

But I caught myself in time and got through the first few hours with my honour unscathed!

I really did not buy any figures during that year. However, honesty compels me to say that some miniatures nevertheless did find their way to me. A Kickstarter – ordered before that time – arrived in 2022. I also got some miniatures gifted now and then and one or two swaps also resulted in new figures. In any case, the total collection did not shrink in that year.

Triple focus?

I painted a lot of figures. Almost my entire stock of 28mm Modern and Vietnam, a whole bunch of ancient Necromunda figures and a handful of collateral projects successfully ran into a brush during the year. As well as the Kickstarter which, of course, was also painted.

Buying rulesets was of course allowed and that gave me a few new projects that I could do from my existing stock. 

I also built a lot of terrain, because well, both old and new projects revealed some things lacking in my terrain collection. So now I own a village and three landing boats for Vietnam, a colonial plantation manor for various periods and a medieval Pele Tower I felt I realy REALLY needed.

However, as a consequence of this frantic terrain building the 19th century Japanese and the WW1 collection are still looking at me, dressed in primer color, somewhat reproachfully. Not buying worked out fine, but focus? Not so much….

The art of inventory management

Along the way I noticed that my inner hobbyist became a bit more relaxed because I could ignore all the blingbling passing by in my newsfeeds. After all, I wasn’t going to buy anything anyway. This way, I was not putting pressure on myself with new purchases and ambition to do something with them “soon”.

Instead I realized some long-cherished plans (which I will have to play with at some point, of course). I also had a lot more time to try out new ideas and have become a lot more proficient with airbrush and styrofoam than I used to be. Although the successful completion of a few field projects left me with an acute storage problem….

I also noticed that it's okay to get a new idea and think about it without buying everything right away. You can always do that after that year 😊 The special thing was that I actually didn't feel limited because I didn't buy figures anymore, but felt more freedom to do more with the stuff and plans I already had laying around.

Rinse & repeat?

I don't know if I would do it again. I also don't know if I have to.

I have now ordered some stuff that I have made plans for, but I notice that I let other things pass by more easily. It didn't save me any money though. Instead of buying figures, I just started investing in game rules and tools.

I hook up with other people more easily to play games, which is great fun. I also really enjoyed browsing through my existing collection and doing things with it and I actually still do. Of course you need a collection and some stock to do that. But let’s be honest; if those aren’t there, you don't need a buy stop anyway right?

So all things considered, it brought me some good things. And no, there were no withdrawal symptoms! 😁



  1. Not sure I could have done that, you're a brave man!

  2. Maybe a 3 month trial period is in order.....

  3. A good idea if only to reduce the lead / plastic mountain, though collective action to do this would likely put our figure manufacturers under pressure.

  4. First comment: what a pity ! I have seen your painted miniatures ! Second comment: many years ago a fellow-hobbyist told me "You have no failed projects. You just have some projects that are not yet finished". Since I am far more a collector than a player, whether or not to game is for me irrelevant. History is fascinating (for a Back of Beyond-scenario I discovered a woman who spent some time in the Legion Etrangere (!) and while traveling around the world lost her first husband being murdered before her eyes. I only read about her because she met One Arm Sutton, a mercenary for one of the Chinese warlords). I quite simply are a fanatical megalomaniac and I love it (;-)))).

    1. And as long as you are not bothered by that, you should ! :)

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog post about the "Consumer Challenge: A Year Without Buying.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story and offering a glimpse into the world of conscious consumerism!

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