Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Miniature Projects 2020

In the last few months of 2019, I had something of an epiphany with regards to my miniature hobby, and how having a large number of unpainted miniatures was actually sucking the fun out of it. I spent the rest of last year working the lead pile down to next to nothing. With that achieved, I have taken the next step, which is to try and put a system into place so that it doesn’t build up again, and so that I stay focused on the projects that truly bring me fun and fulfilment.

To that end, I bought a new notebook (I have a notebook buying problem, but that’s a different issue). I wrote down all of the miniature projects I was interested in pursuing, from big armies to little warbands. I then took any project that involved more than 10 miniatures, and subdivided it into projects consisting of no more than 10 miniatures. I then picked the 5 that I most wanted to work on, and accomplish, right now.

And that’s my new system. At any time, I will have no more than five projects on the go, and none of the projects can consist of more than ten figures. I am only allowed to buy miniatures if they are needed for one of those five projects – or if they are a single figure that adds to something I’ve already done (so a new Frostgrave monsters, or what have you).

Since none of my projects involve more than 10 figures, I should, hopefully, be finishing projects on a semi-regular basis. Whenever I finish a project, I plan to do two things. First, do a complete review and cleaning of my painting set-up. So, see if I need any new brushes, or to order any more paint, etc. This should mean I’m always working with a quality set-up. Then, I will review my current interests and see if there is another project I would like to add to my list. This isn’t a given – if there is nothing that current has me excited, I will leave the slot open.

This is actually an important point - one of the problems I had before was overloading myself, so that when something new and interesting came along, I didn’t have any capacity to take it on.

So, after a lot of thought, here’s a brief summary of the 5 projects I am currently working on. I’ll talk more about each as I show off some figures.

1. The Fellowship of the Ring
I’m currently painting up a new Fellowship of the Ring featuring figures that match my mental vision of the characters. I have already showed off Legolas, Aragorn, and Sam, and I’m currently working on Gandalf.

2. The Nazgul
Reaper recently released a new set of ‘Wraiths’ in their Bones range that just perfectly fit my mental image of the Ringwraiths. You can see the first one that I have painted above. There are only six different poses, though one is definitely the Witch King, so I will either have to convert, or just put up with some duplicates. I haven’t decided yet.

3. Ghost Archipelago Warband
I had so much fun painting up my new Frostgrave warband, I wanted to do the same for Ghost Archipelago. I’ve acquired a couple of figures for it, but haven’t actually started on it yet.

4. Space Hulk Squad
This is an idea I’ve had for a long time, but always lost out to figures from the lead pile. Basically, I’d like to paint up a squad of the old, metal terminator marines for classic Space Hulk. I’ll have to get them off ebay, but I don’t think they are hard to come by. If I enjoy this, it’ll be just the first of my Space Hulk related projects.

5. Rangers of Shadow Deep
I showed off my new Ranger awhile back, but I want to give her a full team that I can either used to play solo, or break in half to play co-operatively. I haven’t yet decided exactly what is going into this.

So that’s it. Put all five projects together, and it is only a total of 41 figures, and some of those are already painted. I’m not painting figures nearly as fast as I used to (but I’m enjoying it so much more) so I have no idea how long this will take. I suspect, if I just focus on these, it will take most of the year, though other projects may come along as these are completed, and they’ll probably be some one-off figures here and there.

We will see. For now, I’m very happy to have a plan that will hopefully keep me focused on the things I really want to accomplish, and keep me from buying things I don’t need. That said, when I see some really cool figures, I make a note of them in my notebook, and I can return to them whenever I complete a project. Putting them in a notebook really helps keep them out of my head!


  1. Wot, no Oathmark armies? 😁

    That's a clever system. I only have 5 projects in total but sub division into discreet chunks is a great idea.

  2. That's a nicely understated Nazgul.

  3. Sounds like an awesome plan!
    I've done something similar not too long ago and it wass surprisingly enlightening when I compared it with whatever was in my lead mountain, full of half-forgotten projects and impulse purchases.
    It was also a great way to start scheduling my rather erratic painting and helped me to get through my WIP pile more efficiently.

  4. Everyone to their own....a note book problem ! But if a plan helps then that is fine, every time I think about it I remind myself it isn’t a good idea for me. I will stay random 🙂

  5. Nice. Things run smoother when you formally organize go to projects that you can shuffle between to stay motivated. Mine are more open ended (Some with higher model counts, Others that entirely avoid a count at alk but having variety and choices keeps things fresh. I used to try to see particular projects through to the end but it felt like work and often resulted in extended vacations from the bench with nothing done at all. I think I have my goals sorted for 2020 but am willing to trade away one or two if something catches my eye. My goal is staying engaged rather than completely eliminating the pile so it's not a deal breaker. Your suggestion to consider ten, pick 5 is a good one. I hadn't been so formal during my planning and may give that a go next time I need to start over.

  6. I'm a chronic project starter, needs me a system like this. I love too many games that involve warbands! Luckily I keep finding ways to see Western figures as sci-fi, fantasy etc... but the sheer pile is frustrating.