Thursday, May 17, 2012

Failed Projects (Plastic Crack Addiction)

This post will be a warning about getting yourself in too deep. I will also include some examples, and a hard won tip that will save you time, effort, and money.

Every once in a while I get really gung-ho for an 'awesome' new army idea that I have. The first thing I usually do then is run out and buy several hundred dollars worth of models and supplies.
I work diligently for the first few weeks or even months on the idea. Then the motivation starts to fizzle out. At that point I putter along on the idea for another few months, until eventually all progress ceases. This usually happens right around the step where everything is built, and very nicely based.

Right at the point where it's time for the fine detail conversion sculpting, or painting (if no conversion is required). From then on, the army sits in the closet untouched indefinitely.
A prime example of this is my Reikland Ogres army. I bought several hundred dollars worth of ogre models, an army movement case, almost a hundred dollars worth of Empire models as examples, all the movement tray supplies, and probably a few things I'm not remembering.

I made and magnetized a slew of really sweet custom bases for the whole army. I built and magnetized movement trays for all the units that I wanted. I even magnetized the army carrying case.
After that, I hacked up all the ogre models that I had purchased, and roughly rebuilt them to be taller. Then I attached them to the custom bases I'd made. From there, I focused on sculpting two units of four of them, until the motivation died.

That left me with two half converted units, almost 30 mangled ogres that I couldn't possibly sell, 8 or 9 boxes of ogre sprues, several movement trays (that aren't optimal for 8th Edition BTW), an army carrying case with all the assembled crap in it, and box full of boxes of ogre sprues.
So, why does this happen? What happens to that great idea that causes it to never come to fruition?

I attribute that initial phase of extreme excitement and motivation to the 'plastic crack' phenomena. It's a gamer thing where somehow the thought of buying miniatures has the same effect on our brains as crack cocaine. It can only be sated at the expense of hundreds of dollars.
The initial excitement and motivation for me continues because I really enjoy building up bases, and doing rough work. I see very quick progress (relative to my detail sculpting or painting), and that keeps me moving. On the Reikland Ogres project, it was somehow fun to see all these tall ogres coming together.

At the point where all the quick and fun tasks are finished, that's where I bog down. I start working on a few models, and realize that there are literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of work required to see the project through to it's completion. That's where the motivation fizzles.
I get really overwhelmed then, as I realize that it would literally take forever to get the project finished.

I started purchasing ogres for the Reikland Ogres army way back in April of 2009. In the last several months, I've finished the first 3 models. For all that time, the rest have literally been sitting in the closet collecting dust. Once in a while I would open the closet, pull them out, and look at them sadly. It still seems like a really kewl idea, but I just don't want to invest the next two years into getting them done. So everything that I bought, and all of the work that I did on all of the unfinished ones were just a big waste of effort and cash.
This isn't the only example of this exact same situation has happening to me. There was a Chaos Warriors army, and an Eldar army that followed the same trajectory; except that both were sold off at some desperate point.

What can be done to avoid this situation in the future?
The lesson to take from this is to take these projects one step at a time. What I should have done was purchased a single box of ogres, made a single movement tray, and started working on just a few models. I should have recognized the 'plastic crack' addiction for what it was, and sated myself by purchasing only minimal models and supplies. I could have done so with the promise to myself that I'd buy more when these were done.

Had I stuck to just a few models in the first place, and saw these babies getting finished:
I would still be working on these guys regularly, motivation would still be high, and I wouldn't have tied up a few hundred dollars for several years. Who knows how far along this project could be in that situation.

This solution has the downside of keeping me from being able to play games with the new army; however, in all the years that I had these ogres sitting around, I only ever played one game with them.
Take from this post what you will, but try to learn from my mistakes. I at least recognize the problem now. I should probably point out at this point that I have about 12 boxes of Bretonnians, Orcs, and Gnoblars sitting in the closet for the Orctonnians army I've been really wanting to work on...

Does anyone else suffer from this 'plastic crack' addiction, or is it just me?

13 comments:

Magnorock said...

Very much so. This has actually been a problem for me over the years. Especially when GW quit making metal models (for the most part) and went to finecast. I went out and bought lots of metal models on top of the heap of plastic models just to ensure I had enough to finish or expand existing units I own for 8th edition game play. This has been so much of an issue that my co-host on WiscoDice really has an issue every time he comes over to the house and sees all of the boxes of NIB models laying around.

Laughing Ferret said...

You are not alone, I know that.
I think my favorite aspect of the hobby is planning an army and converting the models. After that stage it gets less exciting... I love the early stages. And so as you'd expect I have a lot more started projects than finished ones. And my preference is for converting & kit bashing plastic models, over metal.
I have a whole bunch of unopened boxes for an Ork army, a Chaos Marine army that would have a unique look & theme, and another army that got put to some VSF use, so at least some of it got painted, but 80% is still built and not primed.I have a dwarf army in that stage too, all 6th edition plastic- hate the 7th ed plastic dwarves, so not sure how easy it'd be to get it bulked up to 8th ed standards, and I feel the call of making a plastic goblin army.

This is why I love skirmish games: costs less to scratch this itch.

Joe Flesch said...

LOL! I believe we all have this issue. At least I've gotten so far as to re-selling my projects when they stall though. At one point I had nearly all the original Dogs of War stuff but upon realizing I was never going to get around to making it look like I wanted I sold it all off.

I've done the same with my Wood Elves, Ogres and Empire.

Although I did just start Empire again... Sigh...

Michael Butcher said...

I am sure there is a 12 step program somewhere, if you find it, LMK...

I end up "clearing the closets" via eBay every so often makes me at least feel better.

Lasgunpacker said...

Certainly not alone... I have an Eldar army, Tau army, dwarf army, all on sprues, and probably about 10 others in peices in boxes... will I ever have enough time to finish them? Doubtful.

Frank said...

Fantastic insightful postpost! I'm willing to bet half the models GW sells never see the table.

Dave said...

I'm not quite as bad as you in that I don't do much converting, so it's easy enough to sell on what I don't use. But the problem I have is actually parting with stuff, I've got armies which date back 15 years sat in boxes, now the quality of my painting has moved on such that these are now just embarassingly bad. But I can't be bothered to strip them which would allow me to get the real value out of the resale (or if I kidmyself repaint).

So I'm stuck with heaps of tat basically which I won't get rid off. Every so often I try and force myself to sell them but without much success as the effort of taking photos, getting it all listed up on forums/ebay all just suck up time which I'd rather spend doing other things.

I've got 5 painted armies which I've updated for 8th Ed fantasy, so they're all fine. I've a space marine company which I painted up that has seen the table 3 times and then I've got the old unused stuff.

HE 4th ed army which last saw the table over 10 years ago, Squat army from 1st Ed 40k, Eldar army mostly in grey plastic that has sat in boxes barring 5 models since I bought them. 3 more fantasy armies I've picked up off ebay (at least I work on these pretty constantly). I've then got heaps of Necromunda, Epic, space hulk, dreadfleet and similar boxes which again I've never played.

Every so often I feel that I'm starting to get on top of my habit. For Malifaux I've purposefully not bought any models until I've finished painting the last box, but unfortuantley that's only 1 game out of many!

Anyways, I'm a PlasticCrackAholoic and I say no more... well maybe just that one army which I really need!

Mr Saturday said...

This post really hit a note with me. Not so much the piles of plastic waiting to be painted, and believe me, I have them, but the unfinished projects. I'm a bit of a nutter when it comes to half-finished models. I can't bear them, they whisper to me in the darkness. So, I generally like to finish a model once I start it, but having three WFB armies, none of which are finished, I can say there is nothing more tempting than stuff you're not meant to be working on. I'm trying to finish a fimir unit, but that regiment of skeletons are looking so much fun. If I started them, those hobgoblin wolf riders would seem awful sexy, and so on...

Domus said...

That's a rather lovely unicorn collection ya got there John.

Johnny Hastings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Johnny Hastings said...

I've been enjoying everyone's stories on here.

... and yeah, I'm totally gay for unicorns.

Domus said...

It's your own little ...

UNICORN PLANET!

Hudson said...

Its a shame its all GW product...

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