Bolt Action in 1/72: Only If You Really, Really Want...

I tried to make a 1/72 copy of the Band of Brothers set this week.

DISCLAIMER #1:

I am aware of certain disadvantages of 20mm soft plastic, like flaking, and the mediocre quality of older sculpts.

DISCLAIMER #2:

I don't accuse Warlord of exploiting this wargame hobby and charging unreasonable high prices. Compared with monopolist Games Workshop, Warlord is relatively cheap. Space Marines (12 miniatures) cost EUR65. about 5,50 per miniature. Warlord's German Infantry (25 miniatures) cost EUR30, about 1,20 per miniature. A GW 40K starter set (53 miniatures and a rulebook) cost EUR125, a Bolt Action starter set EUR86 (sometimes just 70). For 36 miniatures, a vehicle, a house and a rulebook.

HOWEVER 

I'm nostalgic. As kid I played with 1/72. I like to walk down Memory Lane. Besides, we wargamers need money to pay taxes, booze and alimony,  so why spend 86 euro if cheap 1/72 and Ebay/Marktplaats is all you need? I came. I saw. I lost.

Although my 1/72 Bolt Action imitation is cheaper, it was not as cheap as I hoped. Here's what I did:

  1. I bought the rulebook for just 4 euro via internet. First edition, allright, but hey, 1st ed is fun as well. A digital rulebook would cost me 22 euro. I rather save 18 € for my other hobbies, like women. Besides, updating isn't that difficult
  2. A standard Band of Brothers starter set has 10 order dice with fancy printed lettering. A blogger made his own order dice with blank dice, ordered via the web, and stickers. So I ordered 26 blank dice in 5 different colors, website here. Just 10 euro. Instead of the dice bag a standard 1 euro black wash flannel is just as good.
  3. Two boxed sets with 50 1/72 miniatures (German panzergrenadiers, American Airborne) are 8-9 euro each: an Armourfast halftrack is 12 euro. Total 30 euro, but that's for 100 1/72 miniatures with two 1/72 Halftracks, not 36 28mm and just one vehicle. A friend gave me a shoebox with old toy soldiers.
  4. Via ebay/marktplaats I can buy very cheap 2nd hand railway houses, max 5 euro. But I have Linka plaster moulds and Dave Graffam paper models and prefer DIY. 

So, finally, I paid:

  • book: 4 euro
  • dice: 10 euro
  • wash flannel: 1 euro
  • german & US soldiers: 0 euro
  • Armourfast halftrack (2) 12 euro

= 29 euro. Which is a competitive price compared with 86 euro, but

  1. the imitation is not as smooth as the original. It's good enough, however not perfect
  2. for me as adult gamer with a paid job ... I have that 86 euro, no problem. So in the end I thought, why be nostalgic if I can pay my booze and alimony AND 28mm Bolt Action? 

I checked other options, smoother, but the BA starter set is hard to beat, moneywise. I think it's strategic price marketing. Too cheap and the profit is too low. Too expensive and players will buy 1/72 or 15mm instead. Consider this:

  • two 1/72 boxes, a vehicle model kit in 1/72, the official rulebook, two sets official order dice, a house: 85-90 euro
  • An Italeri boxed diorama set (30-40 figures per side and a house, just like Warlord), 50-55 euro plus 7 euro P&P): 90 euro with official PDF and home made order dice, about 110 euro with official dice.

Sure, moneywise, you can save on the extra's.

  • In an Italeri diorama set are included an anti tank gun and three tanks.
  • In 28mm three tanks are worth 20-25 euro each and a gun 15 euro. 25 soldiers cost 30 euro or more while 50 soldiers in 1/72 cost 8-9 euro.
  • An Italeri diorama set with blank dice and the official Bolt Action 2nd edition rules as PDF would cost 60+10+20=90 euro
  • An official Warlord starter set with 3 tanks and a gun would cost 86+15+3x25= about  160-175 euro.

That's also a price strategy, I think: break even on the basic starter set, make money with the expansions.

Anyway, I concluded that a 1/72 is indeed a sort of viable option ONLY if you really, really want to recycle your old miniatures and have old model kits lying around. If not, it's not worth the saved money: I'd rather spend 100 euro more for brand new 28mm that's compatible with what my wargame friends have, than spend less money but more time on a scale that none of my regular opponents is interested in.