A ramble and a rant:
I’ve been watching the Spectre Miniatures Kickstarter recently, as I mentioned a while back. In fact, I pledged for it then, and may be upping that amount to get some more of their increasing range of interesting figures. However, one thing they added lately made me think about how I view models in a broader way.
Yup, it’s a truck.
This looks like both a nice model and a huge one. This is deliberate on Spectre’s part as they’ve gone for something that starts as a large truck in the first place, and then modelled it with raised suspension and extra large off-road tyres, just as the PMCs do. A nice touch, and details that are often overlooked. These mods make it even larger and more intimidating than it would be anyway, and it doesn’t roll off the forecourt as a compact. Of course, that intimidation factor is the whole point…
So it looks like a nice model. Agreed. However, for me it lacks a really important detail: an interior (and non-solid windows).
This isn’t just Spectre (they merely inspired this rant). The vast majority of cars and trucks you see for gamers are exactly like this: a big block of resin with details on the outside. All well and good, but especially in skirmish games I really want to be able to interact with light vehicles¹. Think of the movies and the newsreels. Trucks aren’t simply large boxes, they have doors you can open, and if they are armoured can use as cover. They have windows you can see and shoot through, engine blocks to hide behind, unarmoured panels to offer concealment, and so on. I want to be able to get in and drive off, or roll up and bail out. Of course, I can do this in an abstract way, and even if they had a full interior I couldn’t bend my models to get in. However, the vehicle could still be shown with doors open and this flexibility allows it to become not just part of the terrain, like every other modelled box, but a mobile and mutable part of it. It also looks a load better.
I appreciate that most people don’t seem to care about this. But I do. In this specific instance it’s the difference between me buying 3 and buying none. I expect I’ll end up with either 1/48th kits or die-cast models.
At the end of the day it comes back to the usual question: where do you want to compromise? In gaming there is no option – you have to compromise somewhere because reality is way too complex to model on a tabletop. You’ll compromise on models and terrain as well as rules because you need all these things to be practical and affordable as well as working in-game. Too fiddly a model and it will break, too complex a rules set and people will get bored. But in making these (necessary) compromises we remove our games from the realities we are trying to replicate in the first place. We all have our personal limits to how far is too far and which elements of the puzzle are key. Where are yours?
1: Note that this is predominantly an issue with light and especially light, unarmoured vehicles. Think cop cars at a shootout. Doors open and windows shot out all over – at least some of the time. Properly armoured vehicles tend to keep their doors closed in combat to retain that integrity, unless someone is actually getting in or out at that particular moment. In that sense they are just large lumps in combat.