My wife made an interesting observation the other night. I ran to the store whilst working in the command bunker (ok, the unused dining room I converted to my studio) and my wife came up to me looking sheepish. She said “You better tell me that I love you A LOT.” She was insistent so I became quite worried.

As I was unsure of which miniature purchase she found out about, a myriad of excuses and lies swirled about my head. Before I could blurt out an excuse, she said that she had fished out of the kitchen drain “one of your really valuable ones”. While I was relieved that I was not in trouble (at least not that I was aware) my mind quickly turned to all of my valuable minis that could have met an ugly fate.

Is There Even A Question of Metal vs Plastic Miniatures?

A Sign of Everything Wrong With Society Today? Yes.Yes it is.

Turns out, it was actually a not at all particularly valuable Warhammer model got knocked into the sink. She said “I know it’s one of the valuable ones since it was really heavy.” Hmmmmmmmmmm, that got me thinking. Is there some primordial association with weight equating with value? Is it that metal is “real” and has value over a disposable plastic society we live in today?

We live in an incredibly disposable society. Mind you, every generation complains about how the current generation is wasteful, but now it is especially true. The whole idea of planned obsolescence has really gone to the extreme. When you buy something now, it seems that more and more is being made out of cheap plastic since the makers assume you aren’t going to repair it if it breaks, just toss it and get a new one. Think about the humble box of Cracker Jacks.

Not All That Is Wrong In This World
When was the last time you got a good toy? Or I should say when was the last time that they actually put toys in Cracker Jack boxes. Now, you just get a bad joke and a weak water transfer tattoo. Used to be you would get toys. Metal toys. Ok, so you did have a plastic flats period before they totally got rid of them but still, they have more weight both physically and metaphysically than paper.
When it comes to permanent things and the value of plastic over metal, I give you this:
And You Thought Toy Soldiers Were Expensive
Ok, when was the last time you managed to do something that lasted so long (i.e. marriage, or at least it seems that it is lasting a long time) and sealed the deal with plastic. I would honestly love to see the person that thinks a plastic wring, no matter how high tech it is, really does compare to a precious metal ring with a diamond. Mind you, I wear a stainless steel ring myself but it is at least metal.
So what is the difference?

Permanence folks, the difference between metal and plastic miniatures is permanence.

Plastic, though it takes a bazillion years to decompose, doesn’t hold the permanence of being that metal does. Sure, you can do a lot of things with plastic that can’t easily be done with metal. Most of that is strictly cost related, but plastic does have some good properties. However, think about all the ancient pieces of wood & paper compared to the ancient pieces of metal and stone around.
There is a feeling of realness that metal provides that other stuff can’t. There is something very primal about us equating weight with value. Going back to the days of the caveman, more food that was dense is better than less. If you have the choice between a handful of mung bean sprouts and a handful of nuts, the nuts are going to give you more bang for the buck. Ok, so that is an incredibly simplistic comparison but it gets my point out there.

So, this is why I prefer metal toy soldiers over plastic or resin. I love the feel, the heft I think is what I am looking for, that is provided by a metal object. Also, I like my models to be able to survive an afternoon in the sun or in my car. Some resins (and the one everyone is thinking of isn’t the only guilty one) just can’t make it if it warm. In Houston, there are a LOT of warm days.

One Can Survive In My Car, One Will Melt

Last, there is a real anachronistic feel to metal toy soldiers. Since so much is cheap lightweight impermanent plastics, there is something very old school feeling about working with metal. I’m proud to have almost all all-metal armies. I just can’t see myself going back if I have a choice.

Am I wrong? What do you think?