Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Continuing our series on getting started in hobbies, let's look at hobbies that involve building models.

Miniatures Games

Grey Knight trooper
A Grey Knight figure from the
Warhammer 40K miniatures game
Miniatures games are generally two player, with each player commanding an army or fleet attempting to complete a military mission. Games may be set in historical eras like World War II or ancient Greece, or far-flung galaxies in a science fiction universe. The game pieces are all models, which the players assemble and paint. Making your army unique provides an amazing outlet for creativity and imagination in the science fiction and fantasy games, and great opportunities for historical research in more true-to-life campaigns. The Whiz Store carries a wide variety of miniatures games, including:

  • Warhammer 40,000AD (usually called 40K) is a science fiction game set in a galaxy at war. This is the single most popular miniatures game worldwide.
  • Warhammer Fantasy (or just Fantasy) is medieval sword-and-sorcery combat.
  • Warmachine & Hordes are paired steampunk games with giant robots pitted against even larger warbeasts in a magical world.
  • Malifaux is set in a very dark, alternate Victorian earth, where wild west gunslingers face off against Dr. Jekyll, Japanese demons and other villains from in your favorite horror movies.
  • Flames of War is the world’s most popular historical game, depicting the epic European battles of World War II.

Regardless of the game you choose, getting started with any miniatures game is similar:

  • Ask your local hobby store to show you a demo of the game.
  • Browse the boxes of models available for the game. The single best predictor for a player being successful with an army is that they like the way the models look.
  • Check to see if the game has a two player starter set, or a starter box for your army. These are usually good deals, saving you 20% to 70% off the price of the contents.
  • Buy a few models, and the tools you need to assemble and paint them.
  • Get a rules book before acquiring a large number of models, to ensure you are building a legal, playable army.
  • Start attending the play dates at your local store! We play Warhammer 40K on Tuesday evenings, Malifaux and Warhammer Fantasy on Wednesday evenings, Warmachine & Hordes on Thursday evenings, and Flames of War on Sunday afternoons.

Model Rocketry

Model rocket launch
Model rocket launch
Model rocketry allows your budding Goddard  to build and launch actual flying rockets. How cool is that! This is a favorite activity for cub scout packs and summer camps.

  • Begin with a starter kit that gives you rocket(s), launch pad, controller, wadding and a recovery system (parachute or ribbon). Starter kits usually run from $35 to $50. Add a few engines ($10 to $15 for a pack of three).
  • Rockets are available that are ready to fly out of the package, or challenge yourself by building and painting a kit from scratch.
  • Make sure you have plenty of open space for a launch site.
  • Your first shot each session should be with a low powered engine, to estimate how far your rocket will drift downrange. Save the high powered shots for windless days for the best chance to recover the rocket!

Model Building

Finally, you can just build models for the joy of building and painting them .You don't have to make them fly or play games to enjoy models! 

  • Youngsters should begin with a snap-together model that requires no gluing or painting. These are roughly equivalent in difficulty to a simple Lego model.
  • Pick from planes, cars, tanks, airplanes and ships.
  • Modelers often collect particular types or eras, like 1950’s muscle cars, WWII planes or modern tanks.
  • Graduate from snap-together models to glue and paint versions. Skill level 2 are basic models with simple paint jobs. Skill levels 3 and up typically have many pieces, small finicky details, or intricate paint jobs.
  • After mastering plastic models, you may wish to explore balsa models (typically planes) and hardwood (typically ships).

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