Review: Model Box – The Monthly Subscription Box for the Miniature Hobbyist

Are you aware of subscription boxes?

I must admit that it was something that had completely slipped past my radar until my son Josh recently started getting a box every month containing various geek goodies (A T-shirt, plus other merchandise bits and pieces). I’m not sure if he uses Lootcrate or Superloot for this.

Subscription boxes are a service where you sign up to receive a box every month. The boxes are themed, usually around a hobby or pastime, but are essentially a completely blind purchase – part of the appeal lies in mystery of “What have I got this month?”

model box logoI was contacted by George Kleanthous of Model Box, and asked if I was interested in reviewing this product, especially since the March box had a theme of ‘War’.

This is a brief description of the product from Model Box themselves:

Model Box is a monthly subscription box designed for wargamers, collectors and painters. Similar to other subscription boxes (like Loot Crate), each month’s box is based on a theme. Our boxes contain at least 1 miniature, paints and a mixture of other accessories for our hobby such as brushes, scenery, terrain materials etc.

Model Box Mission Statement:

There are hundreds of great miniatures/paint/games company that the average hobbyist may not know about, and Model Box wants you to discover more about your hobby.

So what to do get? The following box arrived:

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Opening it up revealed a well-packed box, plus a paint brush taped to the box lid

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After removing the packing, the contents were revealed:

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And here they are:

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The contents in full are:

  • Bolt Action – US Airborne HQ blister – 4 28mm metal miniatures
  • Tanks – Puma Tank Expansion – 15mm plastic kit plus stats cards
  • Javis Battle Zone – Type 3 Foxhole resin terrain – 28mm scale
  • Battlefront Colours of War paints – Yankee Green and Thunderbolt Grey from the ‘Team Yankee’ range.
  • Rosemary & Co Series 502 Stubby Flat paintbrush, size 6

A somewhat eclectic selection of goodies, although to be honest, that is entirely the point of what Model Box are offering.

Were you to buy these items individually, they would cost somewhere around £23 – £24 plus postage, depending on where you sourced them from.

Model Box have several plans available

  • Monthly Repeat Plan – £23.99 + postage
  • 3 Month Repeat Plan  – £68.97 + postage (works out at £22.99/month)
  • 6 Month Repeat Plan – £131.94 + postage (works out at £21.99/month)
  • 1 Year Repeat Plan – £251.88 + postage (works out at £20.99/month)

If the contents of the box I received are a typical example, you can see that the monthly repeat plan will get you the contents at around retails price. If you take out a longer subscription, it will  start to get you discount, up to around 12% – 15%.

So what did I think?

The ‘War’ box contents usefulness is definitely mixed for my own hobby needs. Paint and brushes? Well I am always looking to add to my collection, so these are good. The 28mm terrain piece can be used for sci-fi, so that is also useful, plus the fact that I’d not seen Javis resin scenery in the flesh before, so this has put that company on my radar. The Puma? Whilst I don’t play Tanks, I do have a 15mm WWII German force, so it would have been useful…except for the fact that I already own 3 resin Pumas in that scale. As for the 28mm figures? I don’t play WWII in 28mm, so unless I wanted to use them for painting practice, or perhaps a modelling project, then not.

And therein lies the crux of the issue  – which is who is the target audience for the product?

In my experience, most wargamers tend to be pretty focused on scale and period for what they want to collect (at least at that moment in time), so having this scheme of blind purchase of models, to my mind, just doesn’t really fit with that way of thinking.

It may appeal more to those people who are primarily collectors and painters. In the case of the box I received, you could actually put together a nice diorama with the scenic base and the US Airborne pack. It could be used as a ‘project of the month’ style purchase – a bit like a miniatures hobby version of “Ready, Steady, Cook”.

Model Box’s mission statement talks about raising the awareness of the wider hobby for the average hobbyist – something that ties in closely with our own Podcast aims – so I can certainly applaud their intentions. For example, the theme for the April 2017 box is ‘Bombshells’, which according to Model Box “will focus on the best female miniatures we can get our hands on.” It would be interesting to see what models they would choose to fulfil that.

In conclusion, I don’t think I fall within Model Box’s target demographic, so this isn’t a product for me. I am not a fan of the idea of a blind purchase and, to be honest, my monthly hobby budget is already allocated on far too many other things!

However, if you are the sort of person who wants something new, shiny and completely unexpected arriving on your doorstep every month, then this could well be a service that you would find interesting.

You can find out more details at the Model Box website.

 

 

 

 

5 Comments on Review: Model Box – The Monthly Subscription Box for the Miniature Hobbyist

  1. Good review. This is the first time I have heard of Model Box, yet you have captured my concerns exactly. All I could use would be the paint, brush and terrain.

  2. Never heard of them, but very interesting. But like you have stated not that attractive to me. Wargamers are indeed scale and period focused. If they had say a 1/72 WWII box, or a 28 mm Dark Ages box etc etc I would love to subscribe. I would actually subscribe to both boxes. Or even better when you set up your subscription you could tick a number of boxes ie. 28mm Dark Ages, Napoleonic, FIW; 20 mm Napoleonic,WWII; 15 mm WWII; 6mm Fantasy and on and on. I think that would be quite exciting.

  3. I think the key selling feature of the “box” model is that you get a ‘curated’ or expertly chosen set of gear that is novel, delightful, or opens your eyes to something that you wonder how you survived this long without it. In the same way a friend might gift you a song or album and expose you to a great band or genre you never listened to before.

    The problem with us miniature gamers – particularly the ones who frequent this site – is we’ve already got a near encyclopedic knowledge of our top 5 gaming genres and enormous lead pile. Then we’ve got sources of info like this podcast to keep us abreast of the new and shiny so we can cherry pick.

    This box would, however, be the type of thing I might gift a friend who’s newer to the hobby and/or might be stuck in a rut with, say, 40K or Warmachine or another all encompassing rules-model-playgroup game to help them look beyond their system or genre.

    It’s not for me for the same reasons as Neil but John’s idea of an era or genre specific box would be the one that could convince me to buy in. I’d get it for a genre I was considering moving into.

  4. Nice idea, misconceived.

  5. I think this box is a great idea for beginners and people who would like to start a collection. The veterans may not be the audience, but people who are only gaming AoS or 40k right now may give it a go. The available ranges can be overwhelming and especially younger people will not yet know some of the more obscure boutique miniature producers or even know about historical miniatures.

    You can never have enough paint and brushes, but I think it may not be necessary to include one of the latter each time. Resin bases, conversion sets etc. would be a good addition, too.

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