Of late, I can’t help but think creativity in the hobby is at a bit of a low ebb. I’m not detracting from the amazing painting and techniques I see used on Facebook or Twitter (which are frankly spectacular), but I see fewer and fewer physical changes to models that surprise me. At best, I see kit bashes, not scratch built pieces or crafted conversions. The only exception tends to be for diorama or display pieces, not for the tabletop.
Pondering why, I think there are several reasons. The most positive, of course, is simply that these days the sheer range of models on the market is so broad that there isn’t the need to create things yourself as there was in the 80s or 90s.
While I don’t mean to bash GW, as I understand their business model and it seems to work for them as a company, their policies do impact this a bit at the moment. They only release rules for models that exist now (due to some copyright entanglements), which means you don’t need to scratch build or convert for them. Their store and event policy specifies all GW parts – technically even scratch built pieces wouldn’t pass muster, so you can’t go beyond kit bashes with only GW parts. And the current pace of releases means more involved conversion projects get obsoleted by newer models – I was considering a Deathwatch squad with custom conversions and team members, and a rumoured deathwatch box put me off – I thought I’d just wait and see the new models. Great for GW sales, not so great for unique pieces!
I’ve seen some weird and wacky conversions for Malifaux, but generally there is a high level of tournament play with the Faux crowd, and that does mean the core of the models are Wyrd standard. The same definitely holds true for Guildball, and even more so for the prepainted Armada and X-Wing crowd.
I think this is one of the big reason that Frostgrave is hitting so many buttons for so many people. There are no “official” models. There’s a strong fluff and theme around it, but the characters are blank slates, letting you convert them however you like, and it means that boards and warbands for this are just all kinds of wacky fun models. Its definitely the system I’m seeing the most creative modelling for, except perhaps Of Gods and Mortals, which is similarly unfettered.