As someone who paints miniatures both for fun and profit, I have watched the debate about pre-painted miniatures raged across wargaming and role-playing forums. Although interesting, I've never been particularly worried about it. That is until recently.
In years past (and with apologizes to both em-4 and Dwarven Forge, pre-painted miniatures have been tied to the concept of “collectability”, meaning that already painted miniatures had to be purchased in random boxes with the cooler figures being less common. “Collectability” made it impossible to easily assemble the army you wanted or get that one figured you really needed.
But now a new wave of pre-painted figures is hitting the markets. Mongoose Publishing and Rackham have both introduced new wargames with pre-painted figures. These figures are sold in squad packs where you know exactly what you are getting. Smaller companies such as Great White Games are also jumping onboard the pre-paint wagon.
Still, it wasn\'t until I heard that Reaper Miniatures was getting into pre-paints that I got truly worried. When Reaper introduces its line of pre-painted miniatures later this year, it will represent the first time a traditional metal miniatures company has taken their old moulds and used them to create pre-painted miniatures on a mass scale. It will also be the first time that these figures will be packaged individually, so that you can get just the ogre you want.
I can take only one comfort in all of this. Pre-painted miniatures still aren\'t that good. The paint jobs are not terrible when viewed from a distance, but they are still worse than a vast majority of miniatures painted by all but a beginner.
Of course, therein lies the problem. If hobby newcomers can buy already painted figures that look better than the ones they paint themselves, what motivation is there to ever pick up a brush?