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Author Topic: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe  (Read 1950 times)

Offline Mammoth miniatures

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Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« on: February 21, 2024, 10:46:38 PM »
I should preface this by saying that I usually attend wargames shows and conventions as a trader, but my gripe comes from my experience as a customer, albeit one who has to do his browsing in-between trips to the loo/tea breaks.

The last few shows I have been to I have noticed that an increasing number of traders are 3d print farms selling printed STL files. Now this isn't bad, but my gripe is that many of these stands seem to be selling the same miniatures from the same handful of patreon sculptors (or sometimes just generic free STLs like slinky dragons).
I find that this bothers me for a few reasons.
First and foremost it makes the experience pretty boring from a customer POV. I can only see the exact same 3d printed beholder so many times before I simply stop caring. At one fair I was next to a chap with a table full of 3d printed dinosaurs - I thought they looked really good, but then when I went to go and get some lunch I passed 2 other stalls with the exact same dinosaurs.

secondly I find it a bit disheartening that I'm not getting to meet the actual creators of these minis like I would do in years gone by - And in some cases these print farms aren't even crediting or making it known that the minis they're selling aren't their own work - to me it's dispiriting to see the idea of the miniature as the result of a sculptors labour be replaced with the notion that miniatures just manifest themselves from a printer.

Thirdly, It seems to be an inevitable bubble that's going to damage conventions in the long run. many of these print farms are having to undercut each other pretty savagely - At some point the bubble will burst and a large number of these print farms will stop coming to shows, and I have to question whether there will be much to replace them if the prevailing expectation from new hobbyists is that conventions are a place to get cheap 3d prints first and foremost.

For comparison my partner does craft fairs and very often when applying to trade at a craft fair will be questioned about what exactly it is she sells. If there are too many candle sellers, or they already have two or three jewellers, there's a good chance you'll be refused a spot to ensure variety at the event.  I can't help but feel like events organisers within the tabletop community should look at implementing something similar - "sorry, but we already have two people selling 3D prints from X patreon." it would benefit the customer and the wider market as it might encourage some diversity in product range rather than allowing the current race to the bottom.

Perhaps I'm being a curmudgeonly old man, but I'd far rather go to a smaller event with more variety than a big event of 300 stalls only to discover that 150 of them are selling the exact same miniatures.

(to be clear, I like 3D prints and STL files, I just don't want to see the same exact selection of figures 5 times. )

Offline Jemima Fawr

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2024, 03:41:51 AM »
It sounds very similar to my last visit to 'Colours' in around 2012ish.  The Perries and Warlord had just released their first sets of plastic figures and it seemed like around half of the traders there all had bloody great stacks of the exact-same boxes.
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Offline Dice Roller

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2024, 04:16:23 AM »
I'm afraid the cat has long since been out of the bag in one form or another.
As JF says, go to a show and all you'll see are umpteen dozen traders all selling the same boxed sets.
It's particularly bad at the smaller, local shows. You'll not find manufacturers anymore, just traders selling the same boxes.

Offline ced1106

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2024, 04:41:20 AM »
> I can't help but feel like events organisers within the tabletop community should look at implementing something similar - "sorry, but we already have two people selling 3D prints from X patreon."

They absolutely should. Send the event organizers a note of what you wrote.
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Offline boneio

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2024, 01:21:17 PM »
I'm fairly sure the larger UK shows (or at least the ones I go to - Hammerhead, Partizan et al  lol) do curate their trader lists. There's generally a waiting list to get onto and they are mostly manufacturers with a few well-known traders usually represented too. A little competition between traders and a little choice for the customer is no bad thing :) I agree it needs to be kept sane though in order to maintain variety.

3D print is another story... again there are a couple of larger vendors I'm thinking of who usually attend and are well established, and who contribute to the community.

The discussion around which STLs are sold, the longevity of it, etc... that's a whoooooole other thing.

All I'll say is that GW and the like remain successful due to their well-curated and maintained IP and visual aesthetic.

Online zemjw

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2024, 03:30:52 PM »
I haven't see many 3d prints at the couple of shows I attend, so I'll keep a look out this year.

I do agree about the same boxes on every other stand, which gets really tiresome. What is more annoying is buying a box, only to find it £5 cheaper two stands down. I'm never quite sure what the etiquette is when that happens, so I generally just absorb the hit :(

Offline Elbows

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2024, 04:26:33 PM »
What would concerne me more (and is rampant online and even moreso locally, I'd imagine) is selling 3D prints in person which you don't possess the rights to print/sell.  It'd be nigh impossible for a normal person on the other side of the world to keep tabs on convention sellers flogging all their stuff without a license, etc.

I'm also always baffled when I attend a convention and there are retail shops there - selling stuff at MSRP.  Now I understand backing local stores, and all that good stuff, and I do think that the occasional vendors who supply emergency gaming supplies (dice, tape measures, super glue, etc.) is pretty clever ---- but when I attend a convention I want to see something either new/special/unique or get a decent deal.

I see entire retailers packing up their whole storefront (of which they sold almost nothing), and putting it back in a van or trailer to drive 8-10 hours back to their normal store...etc.  Just bring stuff you're willing to ditch at a discount, or create convention specials, etc.  As someone busy gaming or hosting, I'm incredibly unlikely to randomly buy something at full pop because the table is 20 yards from me.
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Offline Vis Bellica

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2024, 08:09:51 AM »
I agree with Elbows on this.

The three things I look for when buying at shows or conventions are:

1) the emergency purchase (need a can of varnish)
2) the new and exciting purchase (oooh, shiny!)
3) the discounted purchase (I wasn't going to spend any money but that is just too good a deal to ignore)

Otherwise I'll just order online: I can get more hours of fun planning a new army and then buying it online in the comfort of my own home than trying to buy at a convention when I'm competing with Backpack Man, Body Odour Man, Pay in Two Pence Pieces Man etc and then having to carry everything all day or take a trip back to the car.

To bring the post back round to the point the OP made, 3D printed models at shows need to fall into one of the three categories above...so acres of the same models at the same prices don't catch my eye and snag my wallet!

Offline Bloggard

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2024, 11:27:29 AM »
good post, and I hope / wish it proves possible to do 'something' about it.

Not overly hopeful that the clock can go back to the cottage-industry old-processes model tho'.

As regards 3D designer's rights, yep, have to think it's a bit wild west with etsy etc.
I only buy units where the printer at least claims to have an official commercial licence etc.
I guess the Patreon model so widely adopted now at least insures the originator gets some dosh - even if not necessarily as much as they should.

And the bubble-bursting ... again: I notice that with the 'Old World' getting back underway, a number of 3D printers who I'm in touch with have been inundated - and more than one has decided to go full-time. And as far as 'print-farms' go, some of the best prices I've seen have been from what appear to be lone operators, often with a day-job - but then I suppose timely production is the issue there, and where the farms have the advantage.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2024, 11:54:58 AM by Bloggard »

Offline Deedles

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2024, 08:59:24 PM »
I agree with Elbows on this.

The three things I look for when buying at shows or conventions are:

1) the emergency purchase (need a can of varnish)
2) the new and exciting purchase (oooh, shiny!)
3) the discounted purchase (I wasn't going to spend any money but that is just too good a deal to ignore)

Otherwise I'll just order online: I can get more hours of fun planning a new army and then buying it online in the comfort of my own home than trying to buy at a convention when I'm competing with Backpack Man, Body Odour Man, Pay in Two Pence Pieces Man etc and then having to carry everything all day or take a trip back to the car.

To bring the post back round to the point the OP made, 3D printed models at shows need to fall into one of the three categories above...so acres of the same models at the same prices don't catch my eye and snag my wallet!

Snap…

I have a created a “not going to,X show” budget to spend on line with the travel cost  etc being used . My last few visits to Salute were more costly on travel than buying stuff by some margin . Crisis was good for different suppliers and the spend was good .

I have 2 3d print suppliers that I use - happy to support them long term as the service has been great .

But as per  OP , yes multiple suppliers of the same  thing is frustrating- just as per the various plastic set resellers .
« Last Edit: February 23, 2024, 10:19:55 PM by Deedles »
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Offline mikedemana

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2024, 04:01:23 PM »
It might be here in the U.S., but I haven't quite noticed cookie cutter clones of 3-D printed stuff. Maybe it is because there is simply so much stuff out there, the chance of bringing the exact same stuff is more slim? Not sure. Not saying the dinosaur experience above isn't legit. Just saying I haven't run into it in the U.S.

It is a weird thing, but I feel an obligation to buy something from vendors at the shows. They are supporting our hobby by bringing things for us to see in person and purchase. So, even if I don't necessarily need that pack of figs or piece of terrain, I try to support the vendors as much as possible. Obviously, at larger shows, I can't support every single vendor. I'm not rich by any means. However, a package of tufts from this vendor, at couple pieces of scatter terrain from that one, a box of figs from yet another. That's the way I try to spread out my money.

If it is a a convention I help organize (and worse yet, and the vendor coordinator), I am even more loose with my money, it seems.  lol I HAVE taken to the habit of recording on my terrain and figure inventory in notes on my iPhone. So, if I click on the terrain note, I find a list of every single MDF, 3-D printed, resin, etc., building or other terrain that is sitting in my closet at the moment. At least I can avoid duplicate purchases that way...!  lol

Just my two cents and impressions on the vendors at the convention scene I attend here in the U.S....

Mike Demana

Online OSHIROmodels

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2024, 04:05:12 PM »
It is a weird thing, but I feel an obligation to buy something from vendors at the shows. They are supporting our hobby by bringing things for us to see in person and purchase. So, even if I don't necessarily need that pack of figs or piece of terrain, I try to support the vendors as much as possible. Obviously, at larger shows, I can't support every single vendor. I'm not rich by any means. However, a package of tufts from this vendor, at couple pieces of scatter terrain from that one, a box of figs from yet another. That's the way I try to spread out my money.

I agree with that Mike  :)
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Offline nozza_uk

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2024, 10:35:17 AM »
It is a weird thing, but I feel an obligation to buy something from vendors at the shows. They are supporting our hobby by bringing things for us to see in person and purchase. So, even if I don't necessarily need that pack of figs or piece of terrain, I try to support the vendors as much as possible.

Funnily enough, I feel the same whenever I 'stumble' across a wargames shop when I'm travelling.

Offline ntdars

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2024, 06:18:41 PM »
I'm 100% with you. I feel like a majority of wargamers nowadays either have 3d printers, or have access to one through a friend or club member, so buying 3d prints at shows isn't top of mind especially at the prices they sell things for. Here in the states, our big historical convention, Historicon, there are tables upon tables of resin figures/vehicles that are sold for insane prices - like $15 for a 15mm tank.

When I go to a show I'm looking for physical product I can't get from a printer - paints, flocking material, cast miniatures, other cool hobby stuff. It feels cheap and lazy to show up with a pile of 3d prints priced with a 1000% markup.
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Offline syrinx0

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Re: Wargames shows and 3d printing - a gripe
« Reply #14 on: February 29, 2024, 06:04:05 AM »
I agree with that Mike  :)
Same. While wandering about the hall, I tend to buy a bit here and there.
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