Saturday, 1 July 2017

The State of 15mm


I've been ruminating on 15mm sci-fi for a little while now as I get my hobby mojo back and am able to spend some time painting my way through the gubbins I collected over the years.

Back in the day (2008 to be precise) I bought my first 15mm sci-fi figure, a Laserburn classic and promptly fell in love with the scale. I was at uni at the time and didn't have the time to spend hours on painting figures or the space to game 28mm or indeed the budget.

Slippery Jim diGriz, aka The Stainless Steel Rat

Here I found myself painting through the entire pack which had 15 figures and two vehicles which I had picked up for under a tenner including postage. I played some small skirmishes and found myself enjoying my hobby as I could put together a small force and paint it in a relatively short time.

Over the following years, forces have been collected, painted, gamed and then sold off but I haven't lost my love for the little guys.

Skirmish Forces in 15mm. Average cost, £5.00

Now for the most part, I played Rogue Trader but I do have a ridiculously large collection of rulebooks for various systems and I have a hankering to try out as many as I can and am slowly painting my way through a couple of different forces that will be beating each other up while I try out the assorted gaming systems too.

Tiny adventuring parties!

This has been one of the big pluses for me as I can bodge together a fairly large force for peanuts compared to trying to do the same in 28mm scale and still have enough space on a small gaming table to actually play a game or two. Compare this to the likes of 40k where a squad will set you back a minimum of £20. There's enough stuff available in 15mm to proxy most forces and it's affordable enough to put together a ten man squad for about £3.

 Insatiable alien eating machines!

Villainous Noble and henchmen

It's not all easy sailing though as I have noticed that 15mm sci-fi seems to trend more towards what is classed as Hard Sci-Fi (think Hammers Slammers rather than Elves in space) so some of the 40k forces are a bit tricky to do (I'm looking at you Eldar!). Slowly but surely, more out there ranges are becoming available, such as the assorted Ork figures that have been released in the last couple of years and some of the Space Dwarves I've seen but the new releases seem to still be more hard sci-fi than anything else.
 Crazed Cultists!

Lucius Goldburg and Underlings

Another issue I've found is that a lot of the 15mm scifi blogs have gone quiet in the last few years. Back in 2008-11 there was an abundance of people trying out the scale, blogging about it and creating some brilliant conversions and off the back of it, lots of new companies and ranges sprang up.

Skip forward to today and while there are still new releases cropping up, the excitement of 15mm scifi seems to have almost vanished in the blogsphere. Yes, there's a thriving facebook community which has some really inspiring stuff on it but where are the blogs that follow a project (or in my case a scatter gun approach to any project!) or has someones slowly expanding painted collection on it.

Stompy Robots! 

 Savage Alien Frogs!

There's tons for 28mm but for some reason 15mm blogging doesn't seem to happen much anymore which is a real shame. I must admit that I'm as guilty as anyone with my long hiatus on 15mm and then my blog cull but I'm slowly regaining momentum and hope to get some serious blogging done over the coming summer.

 Farpoint Salvage

But what can I do to re-enthuse folks with 15mm scifi goodness? Well I think I am going to have to make a start by getting my finger out and painting, converting, scratch building and sculpting enough to give me some forces to play around with and then play lots of games and actually blog about them!

 Mollusc Freedom Alliance!

I currently have a fair number of my Governor General's force painted and a few more bits and bobs in the works as well as assorted villains and a slowly expanding Xenos herd but I hope to speed up things a bit and finish out some starting forces over the next few weeks before throwing them into battle!

 Squat Armoured Cruiser

I'm also thinking of sculpting a few bits and bobs that have been lacking in 15mm scale and running a small kickstarter to get them into production. It's early days with them at the mo but I will be sharing more in the coming weeks once we've finished moving house and settled in our new digs.

 Shadow Wars Armageddon anyone?

In the meantime, I hope my long and rambling waffling inspires at least one person to have a bash at 15mm scale sci-fi. Who knows, you may enjoy it!

The Governor General and Retinue.

I suspect that blogging time is going to be sparse as we move and until we get our new place sorted out but I will try to keep things moving along in any spare moment I have. 

In the meantime, All the best!


  1. I know what you mean, i game in 1:72 for the same reasons. Its lots of fun to dig out proxies (and 28mm figs make great 'big monsters'!) and i find it gives a great sense of freedom to do what you like with background and encourages you to add ideas to whats already written. I love what you have done making forces, loads of character and they really give your setting a coherent feel though have their own individuality. Top stuff!.

    1. Thanks for the comments!

      I tend to thrash around hobbywise quite a bit so 15mm scifi has been proving very handy as it's not too expensive to buy a squad, skip to something else and then come back to it months later!

      I'm hoping to give the setting a bit of a boost in the coming weeks too!

      All the best!

  2. I feel like you're writing about me in parts of this - such a similar experience!

    When it comes to your comments of the blogosphere I agree - Dropship Horizon isn't what it was, and I think we're all missing Spacejacker over on Tinysolitarysoldiers.

    I post on LAF a lot though, and there does seem to be an increasing pop up of 15mm Sci Fi - I think it's still growing, despite the lack of blogs. Posts like this are super inspiring though - that image with the 'squigs' is so good.

    I agree - we need more Rogue Trader style minis. I'd love something like the recent Colony 87 range in 15mm. Maybe we should all club together?!

    1. Hi!

      LAF is great and there's some inspirational stuff to be found on it and 15mm does seem to be appearing fairly regularly on it too which is great!

      Tiny Solitary Soldiers was and is a fantastic reference source but sadly it's not been updated in ages! Dropship Horizon is sadly a shadow of it's former brilliance.

      I'm actually planning on sculpting a selection of more science fantasy themed 15mm gubbins with the vague aim of launching a small kickstarter to get them produced so watch this space!

      All the best!

  3. Found your Eldar fix these are by Blue Moon Miniatures
    Think you'll like them!

    I went from 25/28mm Sci-fi to 15mm just because the movement and weapon ranges look more realistic!

    1. Indeed!

      I see that 15mm skirmish supplies is stocking them too!

      All the best!

  4. Dropzone horizon used to be the go to place. I remember when it went silent.......popped up briefly with a new crew, and then functionally went silent again. I suspect you'd need a crew of people working on the same blog to create the necessary volume and passion to recreate the community. You see the oldhammer group doing very well, and some of the most active guys there have formed a community blog. Something to consider?

    1. Hi!

      I know how you feel! Dropzone Horizon used to be brilliant but now the updates are a bit perfunctory to be honest.

      The oldhammer group is a perfect example of a community that's thriving. Its niche but constantly surprising in content and scope and there's some really inspiring stuff coming up on it.

      It may well be the case that a community blog would be the way to go, even if it just covers what's going on in the 15mm scifi world.

      We shall have to see what we can do!

      All the best!

  5. I can well understand why you would want smaller models as they're cheaper and provide greater scope for playing. Personally, I like 28mm, as it gives me the chance to make each model into a character while still being able to include quite large buildings, vehicles etc.

    Price-wise, I miss being able to spend £5-10 on a couple of characterful models instead of £20+ on a box of 10. I definitely think 15mm is a better scale for the really large battles that would have been covered by the old WFB.

    1. The price per the numbers is one of the major incentives to 15s. Also if your like me and want to field allot of vehicles but don't wish to lose your eye site in 6mm the movement space is also kinder in the smaller scale ....)

    2. I think at the end of the day I'm more into individuals and a few vehicles, but it's definitely a good scale for big games. I also find that really characterful terrain ends up very large and almost impossible to store!

  6. Very interesting post, Richard. The lack of up to date blog posts doesn't help I think. It makes venturing out into the 15mm world a bit confusing and possibly lonesome. There are still quite a few players out there but you have to search the forums and stumble across facebook groups to find them. I think the huge number of new 28mm focused games coming out tends to drown out the 15mm news. It certainly stops players trying out 15mm I'm sure, as it looks like a quirky niche! A bit more blogging (and I obviously have to tar and feather myself here) showing the great options available will help dispell the old "lack of variety or character" myth that still surrounds the scale.
    Thanks for the mention earlier in the comments btw.

    1. Hi!

      I'm finding it a rather odd experience to be honest as when I started 15mm blogging, way back in the Special Corps for my Stainless Steel Rat project, there were 15-20 blogs for 15mm scale. Admittedly this was back in 2008 just as the sudden 15mm boom started.

      Sadly since then, the amount of interest that I've seen in 15mm has dropped right off apart from the Facebook page.

      I hope to post an article or two about proxying the likes of 40k in 15mm scale to see if I can't tempt a few folks to dip their toe in the scale.

      I think part of the problem is as you say, there's just so much going on in 28mm scale that 15s get lost amongst it. Also while 15mm scale has lots of stompy robots, military vehicles and troops, there's not much in the way of choice when it comes to characters at the moment, something I'm very keen to do something about!

      Hopefully my ramblings will encourage a few other folks to have a bash at 15mm sci-fi blogging too!

      All the best!

  7. I'd agree that much of the newer stuff you see in 15mm is geared towards Hard Sci-fi, but there are certainly a lot of quirky ranges out there if you look around (as you say, the Laserburn stuff is wonderfully old school, even if it may not stand up to today's digitally sculpted standards). Love of the eccentric was why I started in 15mm a few years ago, I wanted to recapture some of the Rogue Trader wonder I felt when I first read it all those years ago..... and I'm still sculpting stuff to make me happy and try to capture that feeling (that and not having to drop £7-8 on a single metal miniature)

    I too have been very slack in my blogging - this had made me want to update it with lots of new stuff!!

    Great article btw.