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The Tiger Roars 
Guest Commentary

In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, There is Only Plastic by Patrick Eibel
Patrick EibelThere are many ways to decide on which army to play when you begin collecting. Certainly, personal preferences on the background and history of the army and the style of tactics they favor will play major roles in your decision. However, for some, the cost of assembling an army can be a real deterrent or benefit. To that end, armies that can be built using mostly plastic miniatures will be cheaper and easier to build than armies with mostly metal miniatures.

For the most part, Games Workshop plastic kits offer greater posability, more figures per dollar, and are easier to convert and put together. Now, I can hear the purists out there hollering that choosing an army based on the availability of plastic models is stupid. And as the only criteria, it is, but it certainly can be a valid reason to someone on a limited budget.

I have ranked the armies below using the following criteria: plastic models available (not including vehicles, which mostly tend to be plastic anyway), percentage of army that can be made from plastics, ease of assembly of the figures, and potential playability of the collected army. Again, the purpose of this list is to provide a guideline about cost-effectiveness and ease of assembly to a person just starting an army. 

1. Space Marines. The fact that the Space Marine army is the most popular is one of the worst kept secrets of the game. Aside from having one of the strongest lists, it also features the most amounts of available plastic miniatures. In fact, once the product support for the new codex is released, it will be possible to field an army made up entirely of plastic figures. Here is a list of figures that are plastic, or plastic with metal bits, available for the Space Marines:  
  • Command Squad (new); 
  • Captain (new);
  • Terminator Squad;
  • Combat Squad;
  • Tactical Squad;
  • Assault Squad;
  • Bike Squad;
  • Attack Bikes; and 
  • Devastator Squad. 
All of the kits are fairly easy to assemble, yet still offer opportunities for posing and converting for the creatively minded. Add to that all the vehicles and the Dreadnought kit, and you can see there is a lot to choose from.

2. Tyranids. The Tyranids have only four plastic kits: Warriors, Genestealers, Hormagaunts/Termagants/Rippers, and the Hive Tyrant, the last of which includes metal parts. But by using the mutable rules in the back of the codex, these models would be enough to create an entire army. It can be tricky to model some biomorphs or swap for the correct claws or gun, and the fact that the Termagants and Hormagaunts share a box is irritating if you want to use only one of those species. However, when you are done assembling your figures, you are rewarded with a consistent looking army that, when painted, can look very impressive.

3. Orks. Just because there haven’t been new miniatures in awhile doesn’t mean this army is at a disadvantage. The kits—Boyz, Stormboyz, Stikkbommas, and Warbikes—may be used to form a strong backbone to any Ork army. With a little creativity and the judicious use of some metal Nobs and special weapons, you can also fashion Trukk Boyz, Skar Boyz, ‘ard Boyz, Flash Gitz, and Burna Boyz, which covers almost all of the Troop and Elite choices. The Ork models are blissfully simple to assemble and the basic Boyz box offers the option for shootas or close combat weapons, making it one of the more useful “regiment” box kits.

4. Necrons. As long as you don’t crave variety (a benefit when constructing a Necron army), you can build a very fine force of nothing but Warriors, Scarabs, Destroyers, and Heavy Destroyers using the plastic kits available to Necrons. Add a Lord or Destroyer Lord to your mass of Warriors, and you are ready to hit the battlefield. Just be warned: the Warrior models can be very fragile and somewhat tricky in getting the arms to line up. Of course, Necrons may be the easiest army to paint if all you want to do is prime them black and drybrush them in a suitable metallic tone.

5. Tau. Another new entrant into the 40K ranks, the Tau benefit from the fact that all of the Battlesuits are plastic models. That, in addition to the Fire Warriors and Kroot (if you choose to include them), can provide a strong basis for an army. I have not assembled any Battlesuits (Crisis or Broadside), but the Fire Warriors are pretty straightforward. I recommend watching three hours of Evangelion before deciding to collect a Tau army, just to get the idea.

6. Imperial Guard. Until recently, the Imperial Guard was one of the worst armies to collect: all that were available were squads of metal miniatures, and you were going to need a lot of them. The first relief came in the form of the Catachans, which while not being the best-looking figures, at least offered Guardsmen in bulk (pun intended). 

With the release of the Cadians, however, GW has finally provided great Guard figures that won’t break the bank. The best new addition is plastic heavy weapon teams that include all of the heavy weapon options you can choose. You can take your spare autocannons or lascannons from the heavy weapon sprues and upgrade your Sentinels (also a plastic model). You can build an infantry-heavy army, or add tanks (which are mostly plastic kits) and build a more balanced force.

7. Chaos. Unlike their Imperial brethren, Chaos Marines have only two true plastic kits: Chaos Space Marines and Khorne Berserkers. While you can build a pretty large force just using these models and the mutations sprue, if you want to include demons, daemons, or Raptors, you will be going metal. Still, the figures assemble about the same as Space Marines and look wicked cool. 

8. Eldar and Dark Eldar. I have included the two Eldar armies together, not because of the rumor that they will be combined in some future codex, but because both armies offer pretty much the same choices as far as plastics go. Both armies have a Troop option (Guardians for Eldar, Warriors for Dark Eldar) and Fast Attack option (Jetbikes). Eldar get Vypers and Shining Spears, Dark Eldar get Raiders and Ravagers. I’d call it even.

9. Daemonhunters. The Daemonhunter army has plenty of neat figures and customizable characters, but the only plastic figures you are going to get are the ones from your allied Space Marine or Imperial Guard squads.

10. Witch Hunters. This is even worse than the Daemonhunter army, as you trade the option for plastic Space Marines for the all-metal option of Sisters of Battle. While the range of figures is fantastic, it has to be one of the most expensive armies to collect.

Perhaps I will do another list in the future that will incorporate metal figures. For now, I hope you enjoyed this article.

Related Pages
A Thousand Points of Light--Assembling an army on a budget

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© copyright Patrick Eibel, November 2004. Used with permission.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle