Home Forums Sci Fi General Sci-Fi Have sci-fi figures changed?

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  • #26006
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    It suddenly struck me whilst looking at the recent Alternative Armies news and then thinking about Doug’s Spacelords range, that the old school figures have a lot more stuff on them.
    They seem to be covered in detail but kind of twisty odd detail, not sure how to describe but it kind of reminds me of Bob Olley’s old GW stuff.

    Do current sci-fi models have less stuff on them?
    If so is it because they are more stylised in a sci-fi way, is it a reflection of the media, is it because people are more skilled at painting and can make flat surfaces look nicer than they could 20 years ago so don’t need lots of detail to pick out?
    Or is it none of these, or some but not all?

    Pondering…

    #26018
    Earther
    Participant

    I call it ‘baroque gribblies’. And it’s a style I really like. The old Asgard space pirates from AA are just one end of the 80s spectrum, whereas the Spacelords range are more early 90s. Both ranges are examples of the sci-fi book cover art styles of the late 70s and early 80s, and are indicative of the time. Even the first Citadel Imperial Marines follow the same aesthetic and are hugely popular. Now, I don’t know if its a nostalgia thing, but I much prefer this style over the more ‘modern’. To me, it suggests ‘unknowable far future’ rather than the more near-future, plausible designs of current manufacturers.

     

    The cleaner lines of more modern SF ranges are definitely reflective of other medias such as console and PC games and the aesthetics in movies. It’s also a different style to the post-Alien grungy, lived-in type of Hollywood SF that was hugely popular in the late 80s onwards. The grunge look has only really been eclipsed by the clean manga SF style in recent years.

     

    I’ll stop waffling now. Yes, I am drinking. 

    #26020
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Good topic. I wonder if, in part, it might be the case that sci-fi (and fantasy) miniature wargaming began within a “narrower”, more underground subculture (perhaps especially in the UK, and perhaps also in Germany where I understand the Spacelords stuff is originally from) – a subculture that appreciates “gribbly”, esoteric, slightly psychedelic sci-fi. I imagine them as the sort of people who swear by Hawkwind, Michael Moorcock, 2000AD and all that. Then as more and more people from outside of this subculture (like myself) gradually trickled into the hobby, they brought their own tastes with them, wanting for instance the sleeker aesthetic of sci-fi visualisations like Ghost in the Shell or Terminator.

    These are some extremely wishy-washy musings on my part, though. Don’t pay them too much heed.

    #26021
    Earther
    Participant

    If you look at the era’s comic art as Rhoderic points out, you have to include Jodorowsky and Moebius’ Incal and Meta Barons work, as well as Philippe Druillet’s Lone Sloane (which had an influence on Laserburn and 40k). Über gribbly and much the better for it. A lot of early 2000AD stuff was also heavy on the widgets and doodads, with the art being much less dark and more baroque, more textured, and consequently more alien and futurey.

     

    Baroque can be defined as “Extravagant, complex, or bizarre, especially in ornamentation”. I went to art school don’t ya know, can you tell? 

     

    I suppose you could call it ‘retro weird SF’, as opposed to the ‘feasible SF’ of current taste.

    #26026
    Spurious
    Participant

    I think some definitive examples of what’s new vs old would help, I keep trying to think of an answer but realise that the situation is fairly messy as to what is actually ‘new’ in style, since a lot of ranges have been around well over a decade but I still mentally think of them as new vs other ranges that have been around even longer, or sculptors of what might be the ‘old’ style keep producing new models.

    #26034
    Angel Barracks
    Moderator

    What I mean by old school:

    What I mean by new:

    Now I am not saying modern figures have less detail, just less stuff.
    By that I guess I mean less stuff that seems to be there for the sake of it.
    Older figures seem to have bits just stuck on all over the place, little tubes, hoses, buttons, discs, levers, patches dotted onto the figure so that it has detail, even the detail seems to have detail on it regardless of whether that detail has any sense behind it.
    Ultimately it is taste and only a game so it matters not, but I would be surprised if anyone saw the Spacelords range and thought they were new, as they have a very old style about them.
    Any real point to this?
    Nope, just an observation that I had and wanted to share.

    #26038
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    I’m with Earther on this – I think it has to do with the rising popularity of Japanese styles in animation and comic art, which defines a lot of style in science fiction media generally, particularly games.  Gothic Sci Fi, which was part of the same trend that produced western Death Metal and underground comix culture, has to some extent given way to Anime-styled Cyberpunk, which is itself much more Japanese in style, while Gothic Sci Fi was more European. A lot of the examples you show above are pretty “heavy metal,” to paint with a broad brush, while the newer ones are more “anime.”

    Because of the requirements of comic art in the mass-produced, large-volume styles of manga and anime, you’re going to see smoother surfaces and more form-fitting costumes that are easier to repeat panel to panel or frame to frame, and emphasize physique and motion, keeping the action moving from page to page. It’s also the reason Superman wears his underpants to fight crime, just in a more modern form. However, comic art and graphic design of a more Underground or “Gothic” approach, say, Warhammer 40K, H.R. Geiger, Geof Darrow, and the like, are going to have a greater emphasis on costume, complexity, making the reader examine the excruciating minutiae of each page. Compare Ghost in the Shell to Hard Boiled.

    I think we’re seeing more of the former style in games media and miniatures at the moment, whereas twenty or (good God) thirty years ago, when heavy metal was more popular and punk style had a more Western flavor to it, I think it was the reverse.

    #26045
    Earther
    Participant

    It’s interesting that Kev White of Hasslefree sculpted the first three examples of new school posted by AB, possibly reflecting Kev’s own media tastes. But it would be rather cool if Mr White sculpted something in an old school SF style, like the Spacelords and the redone Asgard ranges.

     

    I so want this to happen! 

    #26201
    Earther
    Participant

    Because of this thread, I have now dug out my ancient Citadel Spacefarers, Denizen and Asgard space loons for some paint-stick action. Wish me luck. 

    #26204
    General Slade
    Participant

    Yes.  They’ve changed.

    Valka Spacewoman with Death Spray

    Or maybe they have just come full circle?  There certainly isn’t much surface detail on this Minifigs Valka Spacewoman.

    #26225
    Earther
    Participant

    Urgh. An oldie but not a goldie. She’s a munter. 

    #26226
    General Slade
    Participant

    Much as I like Minifigs even I have to admit they never really mastered the female form.

    #26230
    Etranger
    Participant

    Styles come and go & you’ve got to look at the broader trends in sci-fi too EG movies, electronic games and the like which is where the inspiration for many of the recent figure styles comes from. HALO has a lot to answer for…..

    #26248
    paintpig
    Participant

    Surely they are subject to fashion just as most objects and ideas are?

    Writers, artists, game and movies designers etc etc. explore new themes and styles so it is little wonder things like sci-fant are able to constantly evolve and re-invent. I like the sleeker unencumbered style I see in sci-fi films and figure nowadays it makes sense to me on a number of levels, from functional to stylistic taste. Yet I love the 50’s futurism of games and artwork from the Fallout series of console games, I guess a lot depends on the where the figure designer sits on the sci-fi spectrum on a particular day. I call the decline in the amount of lumps and bumps on the figure a maturing of technology in the world they inhabit, I also think I’m a bit of a wanker… go with your strengths

    I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
    Slowly Over A Low Flame

    #26252
    Cosmotiger
    Participant

    I would say there was a intermediate style between”old school-Heavy Metal” and “new style-Anime-Infinity.” For many years (for the sake of argument, let’s say early 90’s to early 2000’s), there was a lot of what I  call “Space Vietnam” or “History in Space.” Much of which was influenced by the movie “Aliens.”

    By Space Vietnam, I mean things like the Grenadier Future Wars troopers and the GW Catachan Jungle fighters, and original Cadians ( all  based on the the Aliens/Vietnam style, I think). Jumping off from that, there were  other historical or modern troops re-castas sci-fi. There was a ton of that in the 90’s. All the GW Imperial guard of the 90’s and the original Warzone figures are examples of other historical types re-cast  as SF.  It’s not exactly either of the styles discussed above:

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Cosmotiger.
    • This reply was modified 6 years ago by Cosmotiger.
    #26255
    Cosmotiger
    Participant

    Thinking more about it. it’s interesting that the two examples I used were sculpted by Mark Copplestone. While his figures are generally quite detailed, its not the “tubes and buttons everywhere” approach mentioned above. He adds a lot of practical detail, like ammo pouches and packs. The same goes for other historical sculptors that produced sci-fi, like the Perry brothers.

    And I thought of other examples: the VOR Neo-Soviets, and the Void Viridians:

    Although in general, I think of Void as transitioning into the clean-modern-new-anime style with a lot of their figures. (Many sculpted by Kev White, I believe).

    #26313
    Rhoderic
    Participant

    Does anyone know; were there sci-fi miniatures of the “baroque gribbly” variety before the Dune movie came out?

    #26334
    Earther
    Participant

    Dune was released in 84 (later than I though), so yes, the gribbliness was most definitely in evidence prior to that. But I acknowledge that Dune does have a gribblification all of it’s own.

    #26775
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    I think it just sort of goes in cycles.

    When the Void figures came out, they were remarkably “clean” compared to the 40K and Warzone stuff that was on the market.

    For that matter, compare Stargrunt figures to Laserburn ones.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #27176
    Warren Beattie
    Participant

    is it because people are more skilled at painting and can make flat surfaces look nicer than they could 20 years ago so don’t need lots of detail to pick out?

    I dunno, whenever I see someone saying a mini was ‘nice’ or ‘easy’ to paint, it usually means clean surfaces with not so much stuff covering them.

    I’m not so sure that the smoother look is all down to anime influences. Can’t say it’s not, but it doesn’t sit quite right with me. If you want to get meta I’d say it’s because society generally got more optimistic as the seventies and eighties waned, along with the cold war, so the general sci-fi look got a bit less archaic, creaky, and somewhat oppressive. But that could be a load of hooey. (Sci-fi doesn’t seem to have gotten too much more downbeat in aesthetic since the ‘war on terror’ and the 2008 credit crunch. Or has it?) Maybe it’s because Patrick Stewart and his crew were flying about in a sleek, shiny, white spaceship, spreading peace and love. 😛

    #27178
    Ivan Sorensen
    Participant

    I think sometimes the styles just changed.

    I mean, look at RT era Space Marines versus the new figures. Very clean, organic lines on the old figures. Now they’re very clunky, hard edges and box look.

    Nordic Weasel Games
    https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse5701

    #27210
    paintpig
    Participant

    I’m not a sci-fi gamer or collector but obviously I see the figures and pay attention to them, when I wrote above..

    “I call the decline in the amount of lumps and bumps on the figure a maturing of technology in the world they inhabit”

    I was referring to the world around us now, as many of you have also suggested the look is a reflection of the times, I see technology as sleeker than ever  thanks to the incredible pace of electronic design/miniaturization. In the not so long past we noted miniaturization because tech had lumps and bumps over it to accommodate “those things” that make up a particular piece of equipment, the lumps and bumps become progressively sleeker and barely noticeable so barely noticeable that when they disappear altogether it takes a while for us to register. Anyway that is my take, I didn’t really think of it as anime styling but I see the connection. I guess some companies and their customers prefer their models to have that vastly over compensated angular look with bits bolted and welded on all over the shop ,which is great too, however the sleek thang would be my thing if I ever.

    I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
    Slowly Over A Low Flame

    #37066
    Eli Arndt
    Participant

    Seems it has all been said here.

    For me, I just see it all as a break from the wonder of science fiction and a slip toward an expectant reality of science fiction. We are less naive than we once were and the majority of designs are reflecting that. Sure there is the influence of media but that has always been there and it is also what made the figures of the before look the way they did. Remember when Aliens came out and suddenly it was all space grunts? Now we have future tech that is seek, clean, efficient and cutting edge and the sculpting has followed that.

     

     

     

    -Eli

    #37071
    Patrice
    Participant

    I’m not surprised if they change. Time flies and our “historical” knowledge of the future improves (or so we think). Today we can’t imagine
    Sci-fi without drones, small cellphones, etc, it was not the case 30 years back.

    http://www.argad-bzh.fr/argad/en.html
    https://www.anargader.net/

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