Will 3D printed figures be the future for old school model lovers?

Miniature models for war games such as those produced by Games Workshop and Privateer Press attract a dedicated following of people willing to spend time and serious money on their hobby. But could the business model of selling such miniatures and the accompanying scenery for a relatively high price soon see an end?

If the price tag of miniature models makes you squirm then a 3D printed version could be an alternative. Not everyone has the technology to print the models, so such companies won’t feel the threat anytime soon, but with vendor 3D printing services, this could be a real possibility.

A changing landscape

The model makers often have terms of service that state that nobody has permission to cast nor scan materials based on their IP. But some claim that retailers must change and adapt if 3D printing continues on its path to becoming mainstream.

Figurines by Games Workshop. Photo by

Business owner Arian Croft allows enthusiasts of miniature models to download files which they can print in 3D. Croft believes retailers in the future will have to conduct their business in a similar fashion. If model making companies decide to go down this route, it would be the fusion of traditional, much-loved figurines with 21st century technology.

Lessons from the entertainment industry

The digitization of music and movies may provide guidance to owners of IP. Today the majority of movie and music lovers rarely buy CD’s and DVD’s. In fact most people no longer even have hardware. Music streaming services are now just an app away on smartphones and you have the freedom to download as much music as you could possibly want.

As physical goods become digitized will the world of miniature making be the next industry to face change? It won’t be the first or the last industry to be disrupted by 3D printing.

More 3D figures. Image via
3D figures. Photo via Business2community

3D printing certainly can be very useful for creating models and scenery, as we saw recently this was done very impressively by a creative design agency. What will be interesting to see is how companies decide to approach the changing landscape, at 3DPI we understand that some of the model companies are already using 3D printing to prototype new designs. However, the question remains as to whether they will decide to open up this process to a wider group of fans.

Featured image is of Chuck Thier’s 3D model creations. Taken from