With the official announcement having been less than a week ago, today marked the release of Games Workshop’s “Finecast” range of resin miniatures. Replacing the metal lines entirely, they mark a huge change in the world of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Warhammer 40k, and miniature gaming in general.
What is it?
Citadel Finecast is the brand name for Games Workshop’s new line of resin miniatures. Forge World, a specialty branch of Games Workshop, has been using resin for some time, and other manufacturers have experimented with it. Resin offers several significant improvements over the metal it’s replacing.
Having seen and handled some of the new Finecast miniatures, I can confirm pretty much all the wonderful features of the new models that Games Workshop have have been so kind to point out to everyone:
- The details are indeed sharper than metal. I was skeptical, but looking at the models up close you can tell the difference, although how much it matters varies depending on the miniature in question.
- The models are lighter, which is very handy for complex models with wings and other bits that break off. No more pinning, and models are less likely to fall over.
- Flexible: the models are less likely to break, and you can even bend things like weapons out of the way temporarily to access areas for painting. Weird, but handy.
- Easier to glue: as a porous material, resin absorbs super glue more easily and sets faster and stronger.
- Easier to paint: like with glue, paint is absorbed more easily into metal.
Naturally, there are disadvantages to the new models, although naturally Games Workshop is being quiet about such things:
- For some reason (moulding process?) the models have significantly more flash and mould lines. However in their defence a lot of the extra flash and mould lines are very easy to remove, because it’s very thin and comes away easily. Many people have reported considerably worse moulding problems than what I saw, though, so it varies. If you buy a Finecast model and it’s abnormally poor quality, remember that you can return it and ask for a replacement.
- In the vast majority of cases, the move to resin has increased the price of the models, despite resin being cheaper to produce (see more below). Interestingly, though, some models, such as Wood Elf Treekin, were sold in 1-packs but are now (sensibly, considering unit sizes) sold in 3-packs, and have actually decreased in price (per model). Amusingly, there have been reports of this exact box, the Treekin, being in error and only containing 2 models. Probably a good idea to check your purchases before leaving the store.
When it really comes down to it, though, the advantages significantly outweigh these disadvantages.
Summary: Finecast resin is completely safe. Read on for explanation:
There’s been concern about the safety of the resin in Finecast miniatures, specifically the toxicity of the dust. It’s well known that the resin for Forge World models is dangerous to your health if you inhale the dust, and wearing a facemask is advised if you sand or file the miniatures.
People are unsure as to whether this applies to the new Finecast miniatures, and it seems even Games Workshop employees have not been kept up to speed, because I tried asking and answers varied. The new Finecast boxes also have a new “12+” logo on them, so some were concerned that it was due to this toxicity issue (it’s unrelated, they’re just trying to get it into peoples’ heads that Warhammer isn’t suitable for little kids).
I finally found the answer on the Games Workshop website, under a Finecast assembly guide. The answer is that Finecast uses a new kind of resin that is not toxic or dangerous in anyway. Some commentators have said that this is essential, because some regional laws would prevent the retail sale of the resin if it were dangerous.
Incidentally, filing Finecast resin is advised against due to the softness of the material.
Why resin? How did this happen?
If you ask any Games Workshop employee, they’ll go on about Finecast being all about making better models. Sure, resin is really nice, and has some definite advantages over metal, but that’s not the reason. It’s about money.
Games Workshop is not a massively profitable company, and hasn’t been going too well over the last five years or so. Some of the recent financial reports (such as the 2008-2009 one) are quite interesting reads and give a bit of an insight into the business decisions in Games Workshop. A key concern has been the highly fluctuating cost of raw metal. The cost of tin (the primary metal in pewter) has nearly tripled in price since 2009. The commodity prices for plastic and resin are considerably less, and much more stable.
There have been rumours on the internet for a while about Games Workshop replacing all their metal with resin, but it was pretty vague and not taken very seriously until recently. One interesting manufacturing quirk was found, however: resin production can use the same moulds as metal miniatures (or refurbished metal moulds), allowing easy conversion to resin.
The final clue was the increased production of Forge World miniatures, indicating Games Workshop was experimenting more with resin. The upcoming release of Warhammer Forge, coupled with interesting things like Forge World Chaos Dwarves, meant that it wasn’t just obscure super-heavy tanks and strange conversions, but serious mainstream models.
Finally, with a very blurry pseudo-announcement last week, Games Workshop announced Finecast. They didn’t tell anybody what they were actually talking about, but the internet knew anyway. Lists and prices of the new models emerged as they were distributed to stores around the globe.
And here we are. In an impressively short time, all the metal models have been swept aside, replaced with shelves of Finecast resin models.
Citadel Finecast models are pretty much as Games Workshop advertises: say what you like about them, they do make very good miniatures. Whilst they aren’t perfect, they are a huge step up from models, and I know I won’t miss the nightmare of trying to superglue heavy wings on to unstable miniatures, only for them to snap off when you knock your model off the gaming table (*sigh*). The price tag is a bit of a kick in the shins, especially for Australians who are already paying too much, but hey. The move to resin is a huge change, but I think it’ll be one that we will look back on and appreciate. And in 10 years, we can amaze all the kids: “Check out this model, it’s metal!”
You can read more on this post at the Games Workshop blog: Citadel Finecast – What you need to know…