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    Avatar photoirishserb

    It occurred to me this morning that the internet has made me a much less productive hobbyist.  Now, most will probably say, “Well, DAH?  But, I’m not referring to cruising the net instead of diligently working on hobby products. I’m referring to how the internet has changed the marketplace, business models, and distribution of hobby supplies.

    It used to be that when I would start a new project, I would go to the bookstore/library/etc and search for info (the hardest part back int he day), go to the DIY store and buy foam and terrain making material, and the hobby shop to buy figs/paint/glue.  All of this might be done on the same day, and by the end of the evening, I would have a start on figures and terrain.  Over the next few days, I would paint figs and build and one or two weekends off, I would have what I needed to play the first game.  When I got into 20mm moderns back in the 1980s (i.e. Cold War Soviets, East Germans, and Americans), it took six days to have three forces, specialized terrain, and try the first game on the table top (I already had the research materials on hand).

    Today, with the net, I would cruise the net for research info,  order figs, order glue and solvent, order styrene patterned and plain sheet for buildings, might buy paint at the local shop (more likely order it there), pick up foam, order spray adhesive, and wait.  In about four days, stuff would start to arrive.  Since I started this on a weekend, the stuff would arrive at the point in the week when I am most busy, so I wouldn’t get to do anything for a couple more days.  It would probably be 10-17 or more days before I have figs and paint, and some portion of some of the things that I ordered wound be back ordered (or often involve some error).  Those items might hold up all work for up to another 2-4 weeks, after 4-8 weeks, it is likely that all of my items would arrive, and all work could commence, by which time, I likely would be somewhat discouraged by the waiting time, and proceed at a shuffle, rather than a sprint.

    The bottom line is that the advent of the net, GW-like business models, reduced inventory and selection at stores,  and the belief that I can just order what I need anytime I need it, all serves to radically slow down my productivity.  Back when, nothing was a fingertip away, but all of it was within arms reach.  Today, everything is a fingertip away, but almost always out of reach.

    In 1985, I could bring a new period on the table in 6 days.  Now I can’t even get the figs or paint in 6 days. it is kind of a funny thing.

    Today, I am waiting for patterned sheet (four weeks), replacement solvent (7 days, for the discontinued product that I’ve used for the last 31 years), and resin (14 days after my local supplier sold my order to someone else, and my second order direct from the manufacturer hasn’t arrived yet).  These are all things that I could readily get from the local storefront from 1983 (1987 for the resin) through about two years ago.

    So instead of casting and making buildings, I am sitting here posting on the net.  Has the internet slowed you down?

    Avatar photoGone Fishing

    Very much so, I’m afraid. It’s also cut down the number of books I read. The internet can be a huge time drain. 

    Avatar photoAutodidact-O-Saurus

    Other factors have reduced my productivity rather than the Internet. But then, my gaming projects are glacially slow anyway. True, it may take longer to get the goods and supplies when ordering on-line but that’s not too bad since practically everything that interests me–figure-wise–always had to be ordered anyway. Even in the pre-internet days few hobby shops catered to my interests. The demise of the brick-and-mortar distribution model hasn’t really affected me since my limited sight and transportation options had already severely curtailed my ability to get to local shops. Consequently, I rarely suffer from ‘oh! Shiney!’

    That’s forced me to plan my projects, e.g., I’m awaiting some Carthaginians (been back ordered by the retailer) so it’s time to re-base the Romans and Gauls. On hobby days, I’ve found that I can no longer paint for hours at a time–too much strain on the ‘ol eyeballs. I have to take frequent breaks and scooting across the room to the computer for ten to fifteen minutes of perusing gaming porn keeps me motivated and then I scoot back and do another thirty minutes of painting. I’d estimate I spend 1/3rd of my hobby time on-line and 2/3rds painting/modelling.  True, I may have gotten more figures painted in earlier years, but now I complete more projects and feel more satisfaction. I think it’s because I have to plan them out and I approach them more methodically.

    As for reading books… instant access to e-books has greatly increased my consumption. As much as I dearly love spending hours perusing bookshops (and there are a bizillion books I’d love to acquire) transportation, again, is an issue. Eye issues had also reduced my reading to no more than 8 to 10 books a year–though I would purchase many more.  After succumbing to e-books, though, I’m reading 40 to 50 books a year–I read everything I buy now. After a life-long love affair with ‘real’ books I never thought I’d grow to love portable devices and variable font size!

    In short, I think the Internet has increased my productivity.


    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    Avatar photoMike Headden

    With half a dozen active projects and a dozen or so more on the back burner and at least a dozen more basically abandoned for the foreseeable future,  at any one time, the brief periods between deliveries from the online world are the least of my worries.

    Time gobbling MMORPGs are far more of a hazard!!

    There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data

    Avatar photodeephorse

    Precisely the opposite for me.  My local model shop has a great range of plastic kits and paints, but that’s it. No metal figures or unusual vehicles that are necessary to produce an accurate historical OOB.  To get those I would have to wait, sometimes months, until there was a show I could go to to buy these things in person.

    Only last week I wanted to buy two B.E.F. and one French infantry battalions for my Early War Rapid Fire project.  Thanks to the internet I found three manufacturers of the products I wanted.  I was able to compare images and prices and order what I wanted in just a few hours.  The figures arrived two days later.

    As for books, the internet, OK then, Amazon, has enabled me to vastly expand my reference library over the years.  I like books, I don’t like reading walls of text from a screen.  In addition I don’t particularly trust the information presented to me on the net. Who is the person writing this?  What are their sources? Etc., etc.  We’ve all read wargame forums where people assert ‘x’ to be the case yet give no sources, and they are frequently just plain wrong.  About a week or so ago one frequent poster to another well known wargaming forum was cheeky enough to cast doubt on the research and reputation of a reputable published British author and historian.  You just cannot take what is writen on the internet at face value when people such as that frequent its pages.

    Play is what makes life bearable - Michael Rosen

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    I don’t know where you blokes live, but physical shops have been a rarity in the UK for years. I’m near Birmingham, and I can think of one shop in the city besides GW – Waylands Forge.

    The internet has been a boon as far as ordering stuff goes. Back in ye olden days, one would consult a catalogue, poorly illustrated, if at all, with the wares it was flogging. After making your selection and working out P&P, you wrote a cheque and sent it off with your order. Then you’d wait, and wait a bit more. Eventually the postman would deliver the parcel. Maybe. “Allow 28 days for delivery”.

    Or you trolled off to the one miniatures shop in Brum – MiniFigs, which was not actually in the city, it was in Shaftmoor Lane, near where Tolkien grew up. They sold…MiniFigs, and WRG. The 20 French voltigeurs you wanted may have been in stock if you were lucky. And they closed down in about 1982 anyway.

    Now I look online. Make the order, pay by credit card, and the goods are usually in my sticky little hands in less than a week. Often sooner.

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoMike

    NCS, did you ever visit Dungeons and Starships?

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    NCS, did you ever visit Dungeons and Starships?

    The first shop on Summer Row, tucked in between the dirty book emporiums? 🙂

    They used to stock Flying Buffalo, but there wasn’t much there for the historical gamer.

    Trafalgar Models used to have a shop in Sutton Coldfield, remember that?


    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    Dungeons & Starships? Was that the one in Digbeth?

    Avatar photoirishserb

    This is interesting.  I’ve always lived in Ohio in the US. and now that I’m thinking about it, maybe I was just spoiled back in the day.

    In the 1970s, I lived in a small city of about 25,000, there were a couple of hobby shops that had plastic kits, but no actual gaming miniatures.  My first games were with Marx army men and 1/72 airfix figures.  Metal figures at local stores started to become available to me in late 1979.

    In the 1980s, I moved to a larger city, that always had 2-4 local shops featuring the typical hobby items (plastic, model RR, rockets, etc)  as well as gaming figures.  There was also a store about 35 minutes away that had a huge selection of gaming miniatures, maybe 30-40 different lines, literally tens of thousands of figs on the shelf.  By the 1990s, another movd to an even larger city put me within reach of at least a half dozen different shops featuring a wonderful range of gaming products on the shelf.  I  think my first game/miniature related mail/online order was to Wargames Foundry in 1998. Prior to that I had gone through 19-20 years of always having figures available at local stores, and prior to 1980, it never even occurred to me to look for a mail order source as plastics were the only figure type considered.

    Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, I’m thinking that maybe I just happened  to be in the right place at the right time, a sort of gaming Mecca in northern and central Ohio.  Whoda thunkit.

    Now, I live in a smaller city again, which supports three hobby/comic shops.  Two survive mostly on comics, though all three carry some sort of clicky/collectible/canned games.  One is a more traditional shop with some kits and model RR, etc., but none feature anything of particular interest for me.  Additionally, the shops in the big city just south of me, have mostly either dropped the figures of yesteryear, and switched over to the clicky/collectible/canned game formats, thus my whining.

    Please note that by canned game, I mean GW/FOW/Warlaord games etc. type business models; I don’t mean that to be belittling or insulting in any way, just contrasting what came before it.

    I appreciate the comments shared here.  They help me put my own experience in perspective.

    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage

    About a week or so ago one frequent poster to another well known wargaming forum was cheeky enough to cast doubt on the research and reputation of a reputable published British author and historian.

    Don’t tell me, let me guess…:)


    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    Avatar photoMike

    Dungeons & Starships? Was that the one in Digbeth?

    Yeah. I used to work there.

    Avatar photoWhirlwind

    I will be forever grateful to Dungeons & Starships for stocking Ambush! modules and Fighting Wings’ air warfare games!  They helped keep me going in an otherwise miserable time.

    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen

    For me, it’s been greatly improving things. Being able to get books on literally any topic alone has been a huge advantage.

    Pre-internet, I simply wouldn’t be a Napoleonic gamer at all, since the local library had virtually nothing on the topic.

    Of course, everyones perspectives are different 🙂

    Avatar photokyoteblue

    I’ve been online for about 30 years and so I have a balance between it and my hobby. I think it’s enriched my hobby life.

    Avatar photoMartinR

    My hobby output has slowed because I have more stuff than I can ever possibly need or practically use, so I’m just filling in the bits now.

    The Internet let’s me order stuff and it arrives very quickly indeed, once I’ve decided what I want.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    My productivity went up, I attribute it to seeing new ways to tackle problems that was holding me back like the tree/forest problem. Also getting inspirations also push my to try something new, and I like to do them while it’s fresh in my head. In terms of online shopping it does happen that I have to wait and once it arrived I might not be in the mood or lost the inspiration but overall I work faster, especially if I play some kind of Youtube modelling tutorial in the background.

    Avatar photoTony Hughes

    Having never had, or even imagined I could have, a situation like the OP describes what he had in the past I can’t honestly feel any sympathy. I’m also surprised at his experiences with Internet purchases as they don’t match mine at all. I does show that, for some people, it isn’t all progress.


    Avatar photogreg954

    My productivity has gone up, the internet has allowed me to acquire hobby stuff. I otherwise would not be able to get.

    Problems I have which impact productivity are not internet related. For example, storage and finding people who are available to play are more problematic.

    Avatar photoOldBen1

    My productivity is always affected by the internet.  Sometimes it is just easier to veg out in front of a screen.  I also like to live vicariously through many blogs as well, so that is also a time waster.

    Avatar photoNorthern Monkey

    Oh, I hate the net for this, but I’m addicted, if I spent half as much time painting as I do browsing my lead pile would be non-existent. But on the other hand if I hadn’t spent the time browsing I wouldn’t have half the collection I have now!

    My attempt at a Blog: http://ablogofwar.blogspot.co.uk/

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