Minis are Popular: Contemptor Kevin’s Recap of SDCC 2023

While I haven’t had the time or energy or money to go to many conventions this year – aside from Warhammer Fest back in April – I have been more able to choose my spots, and I needed to conserve my time off to attend the mother of all conventions: San Diego Comic Con!

As a comics convention, SDCC has, over the past two decades, become known for promoting big Hollywood movies (comic book movies have become billion-dollar events, after all) – the line to get into Hall H for the Marvel panel infamously required staying in line overnight. Along side these lines were panels and free autograph sessions with entire TV show casts – trying to make these lines and panels was always an exhilarating process. But this year the Writers’ Guild of America and Screen Actors’ Guild are both on strike (Editor’s Note: Goonhammer emphatically supports these strikes and the unions’ attempts to get fair deals from the studios), so those panels weren’t being held, leaving people looking for something else to do.

And that something was miniature gaming, it turns out.

In an out-of-the-way corner of the Convention Center there’s a section dedicated to card and board gaming. There was also a miniature painting room, sponsered by CMON and the Army Painter, which had two major activities going on:

  1. Paint and Take, in which every hour folks would come in and paint a single miniature.
  2. Miniature painting classes, taught by Jake Krajeski of Alpha Omega Hobby in Boston.

I was able to do both the Paint and Take and a couple of the miniature painting classes, which was a great way to fill up my Friday at SDCC.

The Paint and Take is something relatively common at wargaming conventions – Gen Con has them, NoVa has them, Adepticon has them, and so forth. The SDCC version, however, had a couple of things relatively unique to it: The first was that we were given a homemade wet pallet with three different paints. While we got to pick the paints, it still meant a limited color selection. The second was that the crowd doing the paint and takes was not the standard wargamer crowd. Instead, it was just random geeks who found out about the room and were trying their hands at painting for the first time!

Credit: Kevin Stillman

The painting classes taught by Mr. Krajeski were probably the better use of hobby time, especially for beginners. These we had a full mostly-complete set of colors with which to paint our minis. Mr. Krajeski also gave a pretty good explanation as to how to (speed) paint, as well as encouragement. He was an excellent choice to run these sessions.

Credit: Kevin Stillman

My one complaint about the class was that the paints they used were apparently some sort of starter paints. These paints, particularly the blues, had absolutely terrible coverage. None of the more common mini paints – Citadel, Vallejo, Army Painter, etc. – have quite so weak paints. Some plastic bags to let us carry the painted minis home would have been helpful as well, but less important overall.

There were also demos games! Around the talbetop gaming/mini gaming area, there were demos of Bolt Action and Battletech. I didn’t have the opportunity to try them out, and my friend Meg who tried to get into the Battletech Demo said that it was long-filled.

Next year, I’m hopeful that SDCC will take the opportunity to expand upon the popularity of miniature painting and miniature wargaming. First, more and better paints would be helpful: actual wargaming paints with excellent coverage would be a good start. Second, more space would be nice. I don’t know if it would be good to move the mini painting from the Convention Center to the Manchester Grand Hyatt or the Marriott Marquis Marina, but being in the Convention Center can be quite limiting to space. The third thing that might be helpful is if Games Workshop was at the Convention.

Elsewhere on the floor, some of the bigger properties continued to have a growing presence. CMON had it’s big booth with a full display of painted miniatures, as well as demo areas for some of their games. Yu-Gi-Oh was the star attraction at the Konami Booth, with long lines for their card game demo and digital card game demo.

Credit: Kevin Stillman


There wasn’t a whole lot of Warhammer on the floor this time around. I did pick up a JoyToy Thunderwolf Cavalry set, and gave the Thunderwolf to Ragnar Blackmane. But there were no Warhammer branded exclusives this year, which was kind of a shame.

Credit: Kevin Stillman

I did pick up a model kit on the floor, that I assembled while in line: Metagross, one of my favorite Pokemon. I’m gonna try and convert this into a Shadow Shiny Metagross. An Iron Warriors Shadow Shiny Metagross…

Credit: Kevin Stillman


I do not think we will ever see a Warhammer 40K GT at SDCC, there’s just not enough space in the Convention Center, the Hotels, or the Gaslamp District to hold an SDCC-based GT. But since last year, Amazon has gotten involved with producing a Warhammer TV series. While I’m not sure that said series will go anywhere (especially with the ongoing writer’s and screen actor’s guild strikes), I think that *if* the series actually starts production, we will finally have our first official SDCC panel!

Until next time, when we’re all stuck in line together.


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