Monetary Value Index
This might look like an open and shut case, as flats are virtually, if not actually, free. The only thing better than free is if someone pays you to take them, like experimental drugs. But wait! Once you have your collection of flats, try selling them. No one wants them because they have no intrinsic value.
WIth miniatures, they might cost more to buy, but they also have a second-hand value, particularly if rare or well-painted. (One of the best painters is also called Steve Dean, but isn’t me, despite the fact we’ve never been seen in the same room together.) They also have a far greater life span, and can be passed down from parent to child, be left in a will, and generally last until aliens melt the earth with a giant laser.
Flats score an 8.7 from the English judge.
Elbow and Foot Friendly Index
Anyone who’s ever stood or leaned on a miniature will share my pain here. Those things are hard, and have pointy bits sticking out of them that don’t always bend like you think they would. They’re not so bad if you have something on your feet, but elbows don’t usually have much protection. (Kickstarter idea, elbow slippers! I want 10%.)
When it comes to flats of course, the name really says it all. No sharp bits of metal here, and the chances of a paper cut are pretty low, elbow and foot skin being generally quite tough.
Flats = 9.6
Minatures = 0.3
Aesthetic Appeal Index
There’s nothing better than a well-painted miniature to represent all the characters on the gaming table. Some of the models are pretty spectacular, finely detailed and a little bit scary. Singly or in a group, miniatures just do the job, whether on the table top or in a display cabinet.
Flats, not so much. No matter how great the original artwork, once they’re rendered down to tiny blobs of colour on scraps of paper, they just don’t cut it. And forget displaying them in a cabinet, if you use cheap ink they’ll be blank pieces of paper after a sunny day or two.
Flats = 1.5
Miniatures = 9.8
I’m talking here about the physical practicalities of owning, storing and transporting them here. Neither of them are much of a chore to own, store or transport, but I think flats edge it when it comes to storage and moving them about. A large collection of miniatures can be quite weighty, and needs special foam-lined containers. Flats just need an envelope.
Flats = 8.4
Digital Age Compatibility Index
Until 3D printing comes of age, flats win this one hands down. Flats can be stored in great variety on a USB stick or other device, and printed out at will when the boss isn’t looking. You can have an army of demons in a few seconds, although it might take longer to cut them out and make them stand up, but it beats work, right?
Sadly, miniatures don’t really get a look-in here, but I’m going to give them half a point for turning up.
Flats = 9.9
Miniatures = 0.5
Much like the Digital Age Compatibility category, this is a one-horse race. No one is going to be impressed by flats, even if they were drawn by Picasso and printed on fairies’ wings. (Well, maybe then.)
But a well turned-out squad of space marines and a full set of mafia crime bosses rendered in lead-alloy, now you’re talking. (And that’s some strange TRPG you’re playing there!)
Flats = 0.0
Miniatures = 9.9
Health and Safety Index
We’ve already covered the elbow and foot health scare, now I’m referring to the construction materials of the contenders and the threat to health each might or might not pose. As you might be aware, some miniatures are made of lead alloy, and might be painted with lead-based paint, particularly if they are quite old. Modern miniatures, and paints, are lead free, but it’s best to check before you lick them. (Seriously, don’t lick anything unless you know it’s safe.)
Flats are safer, as they’re more modern and printer inks and toner don’t contain lead, unless you print them on lead sheets. As a rule, I’d recommend not eating or licking flats, just in case.
Flats = 3.1
Miniatures = 1.4
The Buyability index refers to both the ease and need to buy these products. (Need as opposed to want.) In a shock twist, it appears miniatures are actually easier to obtain than flats. There’s more choice, more collectability and more places to buy them than flats. You might have to wait 2-3 business days to get them, but they’ll come right to your door. Flats can be downloaded and printed out in a few minutes, if you have a printer, but there’s far less choice, and a definite feeling of them being disposable. Flats just can’t compete with miniatures at this level.
Flats = 2.1
Miniatures = 10
In conclusion, miniatures beat flats hands down, proving themselves far superior in the categories that matter most. Even the worst of miniatures beat flats every time, despite the one or two drawbacks. You can now purchase as many miniatures as you want safe in the knowledge you’re doing the right thing.
If you want to add to this argument, thank me with monetary donations or make any other (polite) comments, please contact me