When Uwe Schlage bought a handful of 1/2400 scale Naval Miniatures from a local hobby shop 15 years ago in Hamburg, Germany, he was hooked. The purchase inspired him to start an online store and sell miniatures for his new found passion. The store, rightly christened Masters of Military, serviced a niche market of small scale wargamers. It soon became the leading shop in Germany for GHQ and CinC miniatures (two of the most popular small scale miniatures manufacturers). Masters of Military was so successful at selling the miniatures lines that many shops around the country quit selling the models.
Over the next few years, Masters of Military tried to expand their assortment of miniatures. They picked up some British 1/300 Models that had a deeper selection then what they were currently offering. While the new selection was unique and affordable models, the quality just couldn’t meet customer expectations. Stephan, Uwe’s friend commented that, “Germans normally only purchase high quality miniatures.”
With this paradox of quality and selection on his mind, Uwe approached Stephan with an idea to expand their assortment by using 3D printing technology. With no experience whatsoever, Stephan took to intense Google research to prove out the idea. In order for their idea to work, they needed a way to design models and a way to print them. Shapeways became the forerunner for their print solution, but regardless of their approach, they needed 3D files of their models.
Stephan took it upon himself to learn 3D design software to create miniatures. Stephan’s initial naïveté lead to some poor choices in software. He quickly learned that his designs would only be as good as his tools. In our interview Stephan said:
“There are two main differences in 3D editing programs, the first kind specializes in organic designs like animals or humans. I design more technical things like Tanks, Ships or Rockets, so a technical 3D Software like Autocad works better. You can start with free programs like Sketchup, but you also will reach the limits of this software very soon and become frustrated. ”
After much trial and error, Stephan made progress. “I hadn’t used this kind of software in more than 20 years so I was starting from zero. Within several months of intense work I uploaded my first model to Shapeways under the Masters of Military Label.”
The first designs were simple bunkers, but the selection began to grow. “I have had to learn many things by trial and error and most of my first models were rejected one or two times before they could be successfully printed.” Stephan moved to civilian trucks, tanks, and even more complex pieces of machinery.
As Stephan’s skills grew, collectors and gamers began contacting Masters of Military and requesting designs that weren’t available from the major small scale miniatures manufactures. Masters of Military’s attention to detail and openness to create new model has garnered them a shining reputation with the small scale community. They continue to produce high quality 3D printed miniatures and sell their models through Shapeways. “My own standards are very high, so I try to design the best possible models within the limits of 3D Printing.” Says, Stephan.
Masters of Military continue to expand their assortment and to find ways to share their models. While they have had success with Shapeways, it also comes with challenges. “Unfortunately, the Base prices from Shapeways are very high. That is hard to understand as an outsiders, and we can understand why gamers often buying the low quality 1/300 Models for their table instead of a fragile $30 model.”
Masters of Military plans to expand their range of modern Vehicles (Ultramodern and Cold War) and also their WWII range of Ships. The big miniatures manufactures have nearly every standard model of vehicles. Masters of Military has decided to specialize in uncommon vehicles, prototypes and ”what if´s”. They would even like to explore the sci-fi genre.
You can check out the Masters of Military store on Shapeways. Their bestsellers are the HETS Tank-Transporter and the Dooby Armored Dozer in 1/285 and N-Scale. They have also been successful with the SA-10 SAM Battery and the V2 Missile Battery models.
Contact Masters of Military.