The economic reasons for this move are well documented, as the rising cost of the white metal alloys had driven up the costs of the metal miantures across the industry. Games workshop, however, have blazed the way in passing on these price hikes to it’s consumers, with a figure that might have cost £4 a couple of years ago now retailing for £10-12. And as it looks likely that prices will remain high, or increase in the future, it is easy to see why GW is looking for alternatives. Their plastics ranges are doing well, and without doubt GW have been a leader in the industry in this area, however, for some figures plastics are never going to be economically viable- the moulds just cost too much money for the likely return.
GW also assert that their Finecast range is made from a resin that takes up more detail than the white metal, meaning that the resin figure is much closer to the original ‘green’ sculpt.
A picture from GW's own website- Nice!
There are members of the war-gaming community on the Internet, who see GW as the ‘Evil Empire’ of the gaming community, will always heap criticism on GW. While I don’t collect any GW stuff any more, I wan certainly not one for these rabid, frothing fanatics who will bleat on about how terrible GW is. That said, there is a lot of criticism about the quality of the Finecast products on the forums, and I have to say some of it seems justified.
Resin is always going to be a hard product to cast in- trapped bubbles can ruin a miniature, and once cast it can’t be melted down like white metal can- this means you need a vigilant quality control. Unfortunately, GW seemed to have rushed out their Finecast product, and there are endless complaints online about their figures being incomplete, mis-cast or requiring some green stuffing just to get it to look right.
I went down to GW too look at this product myself, and I have to say that the quality of the resin was generally high. It was indeed possible to see much more of the detail on the Finecast model than on the white metal version. However, I looked at about 10 packs, and even a very cursory examination revealed that one of the Eldar charters had a miscast wing- Not a very scientific study, I will grant you, but 1 in 10 is far too high.
Another criticism, and one aimed at resin stuff in general, is that it is just too fragile. It was not hard to see that the Finecast figures will simply not withstand the rigours of war gaming. Resin has, by and large, been used in the industry for collectors and diorama painters, and not for gamers. As GW are just casing resin versions of their metal figures, they have a great many spiny bits and fiddly bits that will easily break off. This is especially true of the Lord of the Rings stuff, which is sculpted with much more delicate weapons etc. I looked at Aragorn on a horse, with his sword held aloft. There is no way that sword would even survive the painting process, never mind gaming.
The third consideration, I would say, is the cost. GW were quick to increase the prices of their white metal figures as soon as the going got rough, but there is no sign of them reducing the price for the Finecast product. This means your still paying £7-8+ for a model on foot, so you’re no better off than when you had to buy white metal figures. To conclude, the introduction of Citadel Finecast to replace white metal is a bold, or desperate move. The miniatures produced are indeed more detailed than the white metal, but the quality control needs to be stepped up a lot to reduce the amount of faulty products reaching the shelves. Further more, while Finecast will certainly suit the painters and collectors, the gamers out there are going to wonder why they are paying just as much for a fragile figure that is less ‘fit for purpose’ that the white metal ones- it’s a compromise at best and this product should either be better, or cheaper.