2006 was a great year for miniatures. Not only were there great releases from existing companies but new companies came onto the scene and smaller manufacturers started expanding their wares and offering and wider range of new miniatures. It is often said, perhaps too much, that we are in a "golden age" of miniatures. And even if this isn't the case it is true that we really are benefiting from a wealth of gaming possibilities.
Editing and posting the news on TGN has been a great experience as it continues to expose me to new games, genres and miniatures on a daily basis. Unfortunately I had a difficult enough time resisting miniatures before starting the site and now with all the new possibilities I see it is even more difficult to do so. Almost as difficult as having to choose a winner from amongst the great nominees in our inaugural Editor's Choice Awards. Grant, Martin, Stuart and myself all took a look at the releases from the preceding year and picked the ten best historical, sci-fi, fantasy as well as general releases. Each of us then narrowed the field down to a list of five nominees and from those products we had to pick a winner in each category.
All four of the TGN staff then voted for their favourite in each category and we then compiled the votes to present here. So without much further ado we present the winners of the 2006 Tabletop Gaming News Editor's Choice Awards
2006 Fantasy Product of the Year
Obelisk Miniatures: Baluchi Zombie Tribesmen, mounted and unmounted
Obelisk Miniatures only started producing miniatures recently but has made a definite impact with their Baluchi Zombie Tribesmen.
The figures come in mounted and unmounted versions and have the one quality that you always want to find in a miniature, the ability for it to fire your imagination and want you to game with them. The figures easily fit into a fantasy or Pulp setting quite easily and with some conversions you could probably use them in any game setting. The zombies themselves are gaunt and emaciated and have protruding ribs and body cavities. And the mounted versions are riding camels that show the same desiccation with flaps of skin in their backs and bones and teeth featuring prominently.
2006 Science Fiction Product of the Year
Forge World: Death Korps Of Krieg Infantry Squad Advancing
Forge World is known for the high quality of their sculpts but there is something singularly wonderful about the Death Korps of Krieg models they have produced. Despite the fact that this award is for the Infantry Squad Advancing product the entire range of miniatures including the heavy weapon teams and mortar teams show the same quality and precision. In fact if the recently releases Infantry Squad at Ease had been released earlier it would have been nominated in place of the Advancing Squad.
it's difficult to pinpoint what it is about these miniatures that raises them above the competition. One can easily find faults in the sculpts and people have pointed out the imprecise proportions of the miniatures and yet despite this they are indeed impressive works. Each miniature is highly detailed. The masks and rebreather kit are crisp and the cloaks also hang well on the miniatures. Unlike many previous GW and Forge World releases the figures aren't overwhelmed with skull imagery and there is a single 40K Imperial emblem that is easily removed in case you want to use the miniatures with other rule sets.
2006 Historical Product of the Year
Vendel: Armoured Elephant With Porus
The quality of a pose makes or breaks a model and the pose of Vendel Miniature's Armoured Elephant with Porus is what makes it a quality figure.
As Martin mentions in his write-up the entire product is somewhat diminished by the static nature of the Porus miniature but the Elephant itself has a somewhat crazed glint in its eye as it charges forward. The armour plating and details present a wide canvas on which to work to customise and detail the figure further and the Elephant stands out against the mass of infantry round it as you expect the real thing to do.
The winner in the final category was the most difficult to determine, the award for the best overall product of 2006. All of the nominees were exceptional products and worthwhile winners in their own right. The issue was to decide which of the top five evoked the most excitement and interest and provided the best value. And to that end the winner is:
2006 Product of the Year
Pig Iron Productions: War Droid and War Droid Upgrade Kit
The Pig Iron Productions War Droid and War Droid Upgrade Kit reminded me of the plastic Games Workshop miniatures, especially their Marines. You got a basic body and then a large number of weapons and accessories with which to upgrade and customise it. The same is true for the War Droid. The basic model is a great sculpt with an immense amount of character but where this product really shines is with the inclusion of the Upgrade Kit.
The Upgrade Kit provides alternate heads, new weapons and some truly nasty looking close combat weapons and expands the possibilities of the basic War Droid immeasurably. It was all I could do to not assemble the review copies we were sent prior to photographing them for our review.
A good miniature doesn't lock you into a particular game or setting and this is true of the War Droid. It is generic enough that it could be used in almost any sci-fi setting and its weapons are also well sculpted and detailed but not so specific that they couldn't serve in any sci-fi game. And lets not forget that the Upgrade Pack provides far more new weapons that you can use on three or even five of the War Droids leaving you with numerous conversion options for other figures.
And best of all it shares the same quality that our other winners did in that it makes you want to assemble it and start gaming immediately. The War Droid stood out when it was originally released and despite the competition at the end of the year it is the one miniature that is still memorable.