Between a rock and a hard place…

I can’t help thinking that this is the place I’m destined to be…

When I started Incoming! I got some flak for having the audacity to review figures based simply on looking at the pictures that a company has produced of that figure – “It’s not a proper review” they cried.

Now it seems I’m being taken to task for not being harsh enough in my comments…

So, I just want to clarify where I stand on this.

It is very difficult to fully judge a figure without actually having it in your hand. However, you can pick up on a certain amount of detail from a picture, and certain flaws of scale or detail are usually pretty obvious.

Now, I’m usually a pretty positive sort of person – especially when it comes to the Miniatures hobby. I like being upbeat and positive about new products, and I actually dislike giving negative reviewsย  – especially when I’m not referring to a physical figure, but rather a picture which can be open to issues both with the photography and whatever paint job has been applied.

Also, if I’m not familiar with the subject matter, I can’t give comment on historical accuracy.

So, I’m inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll simply revert back to whether the figure makes good ‘eye candy’…and as we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

However, it does seem that I may be somewhat overstepping the mark in my positive attitude – or at least according to some this may be the case.

Now, the one thing I try to take pride in is my honesty – I want you to know that what you get with anything I review is based on my honest opinion, and is not influenced by any other factors. It seems that my natural positive, enthusiastic attitude may be in danger of compromising my objectivity – or colouring my subjective opinion, as that is what any sort of review actually is.

So, maybe it’s time to change – time to talk about what I don’t like about a figure, rather than just what I do like. Time to remove the coloured spectacles?

OK – I hear you.

However, given that you can’t please all of the people all of the time, I’m sure that this runs the risk of upsetting a whole new sector of my audience…


17 Comments on Between a rock and a hard place…

  1. Don’t worry Neil, you can just leave the negative stuff to me if you like. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Who’s taking you to task anyway? Can’t say I’ve read anything having a go at you for your own opinions. I’ve posted some ‘critiques’ of my own, but they’re just my opinions. Do I think you’ve reviewed a few figures with rose-coloured glasses? Probably, yes. But so what? I’m still happy to listen to what you say and view what you choose. You’re doing the hobby a tremendous service. It’s why I keep coming back here! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Saying a few things that you don’t like about a figure works for me. Go for it.

    • Paul

      Don’t get me wrong with this comment – I’m not ‘having a go’ in any way shape or form here.

      What I’m trying to say is that maybe (just maybe) I am being a little to generous with some of the comments I’ve been making. Looking back, I think at times my commentary has been *somewhat bland*, so this comment is aimed at myself as much as anyone.

      Yes, you’ve certainly been a catalyst in my thinking on this – and don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing in my opinion. I don’t think there is anything worse than coming across someone who doesn’t have an opinion, or has the same opinion about everything – and I think there was a danger of that happening to me.

      So, your comments, especially recently, have been more of a case of ‘wake up and smell the coffee’.

      After all, I think one thing that makes a show interesting is when people express an opinion – however controversial. After all, one of my favourite podcasts in the BBC Siomn Mayo & Mark Kermode film review, and as a reviewer, Mr Kermode is certainly somewhat outspoken on certain issues – and that’s part of what makes the show so entertaining to listen to.

      So, I’m re-taking the podcast oath, if you like, and I want to assure people that I’m not selling out to anyone, and I’m going to ensure that I keep honest to my own opinions – even if that means being *horrors* somewhat negative at times.



  2. Hang on a minute…

    You *already do* say a few things you don’t like about certain figures! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Are you considering “upping the ante”?

  3. You can’t be expected to only review figures you own (unless manufacturers are going to send you samples! *nudge*)
    And I recall recently you did say you didn’t like some 28mm Ancient German, only to say maybe it had been the paint job when you saw another figure in the same line…seemed perfectly reasonable to me
    If it’s getting into your top ten I think we can all take for granted that you’re not going to slate the figure off entirely!
    Perhaps if you reviewed figures again when you did get around to painting them up yourself it might be interesting?
    Anyway, thoroughly enjoy Incoming. Thanks

    • Well, that raises an interesting point.

      Now I’ve finally got the technology working, I’ve been thinking about how I approach my reviews. Rules and game reviews, generally, can be carried of fine with pure audio.

      However miniatures, by their very nature, are a visual medium. Therefore I’m looking at splitting off my miniature reviews from the audio podcast into an MP4 format, so that you get an audio-visual review of the miniature. This will only be done for those miniatures that I get sent as review copies, or for those minis that I buy (have bought?) myself so that I’m using new video footage, rather than stock pictures from the manufacturer.

      I think this idea may have potential.

      I’ve already got some material for an initial trial show, so I’ll put something together and see what the feedback is.

      BTW – top ten can be something of a two-edged sword. If there are only 11 or 12 releases in the week, much of the ‘top ten’ content is already decided – so it’s up to me to add editorial comment about the releases.

      Some weeks it’s really easy – last week, for example, had a great set of releases. Other weeks are not so good, and rather than trying to find something good to say about a release, I should just be saying what I think. But if I don’t like a figure, why is it in my top ten? Because it’s not as bad as what was at number 11. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. It’s your top 10. You picked your favourites. Of course you will talk them up. What is there to complain about? It’s not a critical review of all the figures released for the week. Most of the fans enjoy it and know what angle your coming from. Screw the naysayers.

  5. Neil

    I agree with Beccas, it’s your show so say what you feel not what you think people want you to say

    I do like the idea of having a section of the podcast devoted to miniatures you own or have had sent to you though


  6. Neil,
    Sod all the people that don’t appreciate the time you put in to do the reviews. You pick your top 10. You never claimed they were the best figures in the world and without your endorsement a particular figure line is bad.

    What you have done is this. Selected your personal favorites. Of course there will be more that you like than dislike or they wouldn’t be favorites. People looking at you to trash a product should look elsewhere. You are simply saying this is what I have seen on the web or own at what I like best. Those of us that enjoy your Meeples and Miniatures show and find we have similar taste benefit in having a review done and maybe introduced to miniatures we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I know that I have bought more than 10 games or rules I hadn’t hear of before listening to your show and I picked up an entire line of miniatures.

    Keep doing what you are doing. I personally think your shows are some of the best on the web.

    Chin Up and ignore the naysayers.

  7. Dear Neil and Fans of the Show:

    As far as I know, most of the “criticism” was directed at some of the figures from Incomng #13. To be fair to everyone, I think any reasonable person would notice the problems with the camels once someone pointed it out. One poor beastie in particular is in danger of being crushed by his rider. To give you an idea of the problem, in modern times, an adult dromedary is nearly 2 meters at the shoulder.

    Paul and I hated the selections (if I may speak for him), and we made a few comments. Since Neil himself is often critical of the equine poses and dimensions of miniatures, I was sort of surprised that he took it so hard.

    Two people didn’t like some of the selections from one show. As I myself attempted to convey, “the ten best of any particular week could in fact be quite grotesque, given a bad week for miniature releases.” It’s the nature of the thing.

    The only real criticism I have with Incoming is that a long-term review feature has a tendency to become stale. It’s hard to say what makes a miniature (or a rules system or whatever) good without being repetitive. It’s MUCH easier to be negative than positive. Sometimes it may be difficult to articulate what we like, but I never have any problem at all explaining where something went off the rails. If I am reading Neil correctly, I have a feeling he may be referring to this phenomenon.

    Bottom Line: My sincere advice to you Neil is to do whatever you want. Something like this has to be a labor of love. God knows there’s no “real” money in it. If you start trying to please everyone, soon you’ll lose your own voice, and the whole thing just won’t be worth the effort for you any more. Trust me, there’s a reason I don’t have my own website/forum anymore.

    The biggest lesson I learned is that I won’t be buying many GB miniatures. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • “If you start trying to please everyone, soon youโ€™ll lose your own voice, and the whole thing just wonโ€™t be worth the effort for you any more.”

      Ditto that. Except that, of course, pleasing me should be paramount. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Forgot to discuss this part:

    “When I started Incoming! I got some flak for having the audacity to review figures based simply on looking at the pictures that a company has produced of that figure โ€“ โ€œItโ€™s not a proper reviewโ€ they cried.”

    Wow. That blows my mind. These people do realize that the miniature manufacturers are savvy enough to hire pros to take photos that show off the product to the best effect, right? If anything, I would expect the photos to look BETTER than the actual product.

    • David

      Sorry I haven’t come back to you sooner on this – I was away from my PC last night.

      Before we go any further, I want to make one thing completely clear – I am not upset or annoyed at anything you have said, nor have I “taken anything personally” – well not that personally anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

      What our discussions in Episode 13 did highlight for me was the comment you’ve just brought out – I was in danger of becoming bland. From a broadcast point of view, this is a *bad thing*, which I want to avoid.

      So the idea of this blog entry was to state where I’m coming from, and where I’m going. What I’ve been trying to do, ever since Meeples & Miniatures first came out, is to ensure that my reviews have integrity – you can trust what I say because it’s my own opinion – uncoloured by bias in any way, shape or form.

      The comments that You and Paul have made on recent shows have made me question whether I’m compromising my own standards – and the short answer is…I think I was heading in that direction. You both raised several points about the figures I was reviewing – yes, I certainly didn’t agree with everything you said (but then again, we’re different people, so I don’t expect to) but on other points you were right.

      So I asked myself “why am I saying what I’m saying in my review” – am I being positive simply to avoid being negative?

      Now, this is something that has infected UK culture, and is something I have serious issues with – so the comments you and Snowcat have raised have made me reassess what I’m doing, and the conclusion I have reached is that I need to change.

      Now, this isn’t going to be anything drastic – but I will make sure that the comments in future shows are my full and honest opinion, and not edited in any way. So I will now say “I like this figure…but” whereas in the past, I might have been more inclined to leave the “…but” out.

      This is repeating myself I know, but I’ll say it again – I am always open to anyone’s comments. I may not like what you have to say, and if I think you are wrong, then I reserve the right to say so – BUT – if I think you’re right and you’ve made a valid criticism I will do my best to take your comments on board and action them accordingly. Constructive criticism is always good to hear – it keeps me on my toes and helps keep me honest to what I’m trying to achieve.

      So – if this isn’t clear enough, David & Paul – thank you for taking the time both to comment on the shows and go into further discussion. You’ve helped me to identify potetntial flaw in what I’m doing, and I hope that this will lead to a better show in the future.


  9. Neil,

    I think your incoming video is great. I hope it doesn’t become too much of a chore for you. I would really miss the show if you decide it’s too much of a hassle.


  10. Dear Neil:

    Thank you for the reply. As I said before, I wouldn’t bother if I didn’t care.

    To paraphrase Vyvyan from the Young Ones: Assuming you have a bum, it’s pretty easy to sit around all day criticizing other people.

    I try to temper what I have to say with that in mind. If putting something like Incoming out was easy, I’d be doing it too! As you well know, it’s a lot of real work.

  11. You might want to count the kudos against the criticisms; I find for myself that one criticism in a batch of compliments tends to get me believing that everyone is critical…

    I for one greatly enjoy incoming, fully understand how you do it and where you are coming from, and thing you are doing a great job with it. Do it the way you want man!


  12. I believe NIKE has an apt line.


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