If you're a fan of miniatures & miniatures wargaming then the fact is, you're part of a very niche hobby.
The towering giant in this industry is still not really that big of a company, all things considered.
So while miniatures gaming is seemingly dominated by a couple 'big' companies, because of the nature of a niche hobby, which is further subdivided into many more specific niches, there is an amazing proliferation of small companies putting out some amazing creative products, which I think, in terms of breadth of creativity & real options for gaming, collectively is the true dominant force in the Hobby Industry. These smaller, for the lack of a better term, Independent, companies create a wide variety of unique miniatures, games, supplements and game aids.
It is an odd hobby we have: the discovery of these companies is spread by word-of-mouth, even when often it is electronic-mouth. But with the creative health of this hobby being so dependent on the Independent companies, it becomes even more important to discover them, share them and support them.
I have a handful of my favorites: World of Twilight & Hasslefree, GZG, Critical Mass Games, Khurusan, Zombiesmith, Greebo, Neomics, Micro Art Studio, Scibor, (the list could go on for a long long time), and this entry's focus: Impact! Miniatures.
If you play Blood Bowl, you know about Impact already. Or maybe you don't. I only discovered them several years ago, and everyone steps aside to see what lies beyond GW at different rates, so maybe you don't know about them. In the time since I first ran across them they've been expanding very fast and adding new products all the time. They've got their own miniatures they produce as well as distributing other independent companies' miniatures.
This alone would make them an important and vital resource.
I already alluded above that I believe this hobby thrives as well as it does, essentially in the dark of everyday culture without the benefit of exposure & endorsement by mainstream media, advertisement and cultural transmission. Therefore its continued growth requires a symbiotic relationship between the small independent businesses and the consumers: we are them & they are us: we live & perish together.
Here is my Big Three reasons I think this company is worth support and patronage:
1. It is a symbiotic company with the hobby. They support events & contests & podcasts & more.
They're committed to advancing the hobby and it shows.
2. They in turn support other independent miniatures companies & sculptors.
They seem to be adding new miniatures lines all the time. They carry Greebo, Heresy, Neomics & more.
Here in America, it can be pricey to order that one goblin fanatic or the one minotaur you want from that one European company. But chances are, Impact has it. The reverse situation is also true for the Europeans.
For Australia & New Zealand, well I guess you guys are used to being far away from everyone else...but look on the bright side: it's easier for you to get North American & European products than it is for the Antarcticans!
And you have some good stores & distributers there as well, Like Irresistible Force and War Puppy..I've even ordered from them before and had things shipped to here.
3. Great new products beyond miniatures. When I moved once, I lost my BB range ruler. I called GW and asked if there was any way they sold them separately. I was told no, and they suggested I buy another boxed edition of the game. Yeah. Like that was going to happen. If that happens to you, Impact supplies third party products that might coincidently be a substitute for your needs. And all gamers like dice, they have dice. And those cool treasure chests I liked so much that I painted for a client (look back at D: Dungeon post) turns out they are from Impact - I didn't even know.
On my list to try someday is their game 'Elfball'. There is information on it in their forum, and it has its own Wiki with a ton of information. I haven't had opportunity to play yet, but it looks solid, and I'm all for getting 'double duty' out of miniatures!
Here are my Favorite 3 items at Impact! Miniatures for sale right now, in no particular order:
1. Playing field for use in miniatures sports games:
I got one of these, as well as one of the smaller ones, for games with just 7 players on the pitch.
I love it.
Its hard to tell from the picture but the field has distressed areas, where the grass would be more muddy from heavy player action. Brilliant.
I am a miniatures painter, so I am always worried about my painted miniatures. Even when you give them several coats of varnish, cardboard pitches make heavy wear & tear on your miniatures.
I use a pitch printed on vinyl (Impact now sells those too) and this season I'll probably be using this felt pitch.
The cushion of felt should help preserve the paint jobs and that is worth more than gold.
2. Dice. Skill rings are popular and useful, but if I'm going to pick one small accessory, I'm going with dice, because I'm a dice junky. If I can match dice to my team color or theme so much the better!
I used these for my Chaos Dwarf team last season, and had great fun Axing people ;)
Impact! Designed these and they're hands-down my favorite fantasy football miniatures. They're high on my list of favorite of any genre miniatures as well. And yes, you might recognize the paint job from letter A: Alligator at the start of April.
Impact! asked if they could use pictures of my team on their site and I was both flattered & happy to say yes.
All goes back to symbiotic after all. They're good guys over there and I'm honored to have my painted miniatures representing their product. The big guy I hadn't painted yet- but my plan for him is to paint him as an Albino.
I'll be painting some other miniatures for them as well and looking forward to it.
Here is a new one they made and destined to be one of my favorites. If you can find an excuse to use him on a team, treat yourself and pick this guy up. Paints up easily and really well sculpted.
Best thing in my mind about Golden Compass was Battle Polar Bears, so how could I resist?
2nd best thing was airships... hmmm...
Size comparison to an iconic Big Guy, the Rat Ogre:
Wave goodbye to the readers boys! Thank you.
There are a lot of good Independent companies out there. Find them, support them, and they'll support you directly and indirectly, and this hobby of ours will continue to grow and become more diverse and interesting.
So visit Impact! Miniatures and check them out.
What are your favorite companies? I'm always wanting to find more.
And thanks for putting up with me as I wax philosophical ;)