In recent years 3D printing has become more widespread, and is increasingly becoming more cost-effective as the price of printers drops. This offers many benefits when it comes to producing military miniatures, as with much else, and there is a growing range of such figures and accessories from several manufacturers. A question that is often asked is why do we not include such figures on our site, and this page provides the full answer to that question.
In the early days of 3D printing we did begin to include such figures on our site, and these few can be seen on the Panzer vs Tanks listing page. The figures were great and we really liked them, but it soon became apparent that it is not appropriate for us to review them. One of the major advantages of 3D printing is that it can be very flexible. Essentially it is a print-on-demand service, where figures are only created when an order is placed. Many producers offer individual figures, and the customer can choose the quantities of each pose, and not pay for any that they do not want. Therefore the whole concept of a ‘set’ as understood for plastic figures has no meaning here, so such aspects as pose number would be redundant. It would be tedious in the extreme to review individual poses, especially as the range could be expanded at any time.
Another aspect of print-on-demand is that many manufacturers can incorporate special requests from customers. Sometimes the request will only require a small change to the file used to create the figure, which is terrific for the customer and good for the producer as they can satisfy their customer’s needs, but of course we cannot review such customised products. Equally, should we review a collection of poses, then any comments that we may make could cause the manufacturer to change the specification of the figures, should they agree with our observations. Even if they do not, it is an easy thing to make any change they wish at any time, which would immediately make our review out-of-date and somewhat pointless. Since manufacturers could make multiple changes over the lifetime of the product, no review could possibly keep abreast of these, and so could be positively misleading to the customer.
The investment required to start making and selling 3D printed products is relatively low – certainly far lower than that required for traditional plastic figures, so it is attractive to individuals and small groups, who do not need to print boxes or create catalogues or websites – they can use sites such as eBay and Etsy to sell their range ‘loose’. This could mean that there is an almost unlimited array of such producers, and we simply do not have the resources to keep up with such a large market. For many years the volume of new plastic figure sets in this hobby has been tremendous, and certainly at such volumes we would not be able to offer equivalent coverage of the 3D printed output as well. At the time of writing, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has meant a huge drop in new output, but in the future such production levels may return, and if that happens then our site will be very busy again.
So, with a much less structured means of production, an easily changeable product, and a potentially vast range available, 3D printing is an exciting development and should significantly boost the hobby in the years to come, perhaps even replacing traditional plastic sets entirely. However, as we have explained, such products do not make suitable material for reviews, hence they are not and never will be a part of our site.