GWS 2020: What makes you like plastic (or metal)?

Last time (see The future is plastic), we identified that hard plastic was the preferred figure material from the 2020 survey. From those results, hard plastic beat out metal as the top choice by ten percentage points (48% to 38%). Survey responses suggest that the choice between hard plastic and metal changes with age. That is, younger gamers pick hard plastics as a first choice while older gamers pick metals. The result of hard plastic overcoming metal figures was a surprise to me but not for many of those responding on this blog, or on social media. Of course, my perspective may very well be biased by my own age. While many voiced an opinion that metal was their preferred choice, the top ranking for hard plastic was no surprise.

This time, I plan to examine preferred material choice more closely by considering primary material preference (respondent's Ranking #1) by the factors that may contribute to that choice. The factors or attributes to study are:

  • Gamer's Location
  • Gamer's Preferred Genre (Historical, Fantasy/Sci-fi, or a Mix)
  • Figure Scale (or Size)
  • Gaming Era

Note that these analyses rely upon the assumption that a respondent's preferred material choice corresponds to the respondent's preferred figure size and gaming era. I will address each attribute individually and then summarize the findings.

Gamer's Location

Does a respondent's location have a bearing on preferred material choice? Is the mix of gamers and their material preferences distributed across the globe similarly? When considering first choice between either hard plastic or metal, it is interesting that Continental Europe/Scandinavia prefer hard plastic to metal about two-to-one while USA/Canada prefer hard plastic over metal at about a three-to-two rate. The UK/Ireland and Australia/New Zealand are about evenly split between choosing hard plastic and metal.

Gamer's Preferred Genre (Primary Interest)

Responses to this question on the survey were recoded to make a distinction between Historical and Fantasy/Sci-Fi gamers. To that end, the recoding was,

  • If the response was either 0 or 1 then the respondent was classified as “Historical.”
  • If the response was either 5 or 6 then the respondent was classified as “Fantasy/Sci-Fi.”
  • Otherwise (2,3,4 responses), the respondent was classified as “Mixed” suggesting that both historical and fantasy games were considered rather than exclusively one end of the spectrum.

What do the data suggest? Well, fantasy/sci-fi gamers overwhelmingly pick hard plastic as their material of choice. Historical gamers prefer metal more than two-to-one. Hard plastic is given the edge by those gamers enjoying both historical and fantasy/sci-fi gaming. Seeing earlier results that younger age cohorts prefer hard plastic and that these same groups lean toward fantasy/sci-fi, no surprise that hard plastic is the preferred choice for fantasy/sci-fi. Similarly, the older age cohorts tend toward historical gaming and historical gaming tends toward metal as a preference. Again, the results seem reasonable.

Figure Scale (Size)

Matching up first choice of material with first choice of figure scale produces the count distribution shown in the graph below.

By total counts of respondent first choice by figure size, 25-28mm size is the most popular followed by 28mm Heroics, and then 15-18mm. When the breakdown of material preference between these top three categories with respect to material choice, 28mm Heroics are dominated by hard plastic over metal by almost four-to-one. 25-28mm figure size is about evenly split between hard plastic and metal. For figure sizes between 6mm and 18mm, metal is preferred.

Gaming Era

With so many gaming periods to choose from, it is no surprise that wargaming has something of interest to everyone. The most popular periods are hardly a surprise. WWII takes the top spot with Warhammer40k in at number two. 'Other' Sci-Fi and fantasy come in at three and four.

Hard plastic dominates Warhammer 40k and shows a comfortable lead over metal in fantasy and sci-fi. WWII, the top gaming choice, is about evenly split between hard plastic and metal. With this even split in WWII materials, I would expect the smaller figure sizes to tend toward metal with 25-28mm showing an increase toward hard plastic as more figures become available.

While past surveys suggested that WWII gaming was popular, without ranking it was difficult to judge the popularity of this period. With rank added into the 2020 survey, the popularity of WWII gaming is evident. To me, a surprising result although a global conflict ought to hold a global and lasting appeal.

The other historical periods of Napoleonics, Ancients, and 18th Century tend toward metal figures. Besides the overwhelming popularity of WWII and Warhammer 40k, another surprise, to me, was the relatively few numbers of respondents listing ACW as a first choice. I suppose ACW gaming may have a national or regional appeal, perhaps, similar to Pike & Shot gaming?

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