The Not So Secret Tabletop Miniature Influencer Wars

by | Nov 12, 2022

Well what a week in tabletop miniature drama, and now that the drama settled down, it is time to two cent the Spikey Bits vs. JH Miniatures debacle. First, to bring everyone up to speed real quick on what happened, last week Spikey Bits Warhammer blog decided seemingly unprompted to go after JH Miniatures a garden variety painting and hobby influencer. 

The main issue at hand was over JH Miniatures issues with Army Painter’s Speed Paints and the paint’s issue of reactivation. JH Miniatures was a little more critical of this “issue” going as far to call it a defective product. All this while other painting YouTube channels who reviewed the Speed Paints either didn’t mention the reactivation or simply didn’t see it as much of an issue. As it was, JH Miniatures may have gotten a bit more animated than most about it, with Spikey Bits doing a deep dive into JH Miniatures social media posts. Primarily though, Spikey Bits went after JH Miniatures for not disclosing his off and on work for the Army Painter competitor Vallejo paints. 

The fireworks didn’t really start until JH Miniatures went ballistic, seeing it as an attack on his character. JH Miniatures proceeded to blast Twitter about how terrible Spikey Bits was, including up to suggesting legal charges against Spikey Bits for slander, followed by selling a shirt with the words “Go F-Yourself” to the owner of Spikey Bits. Then over the following days devolve into a shit party on Spikey Bits from all corners of social media, culminating in one of the largest Warhammer 40k reddit groups banning Spikey Bits. This finally broke Spikey Bits forcing them to issue a bit of retraction and mostly apologizing, followed by JH Miniatures calling for a ceasefire.

With all that said, let’s dive into this rotting Tabletop Miniature influencer patronage proxy poonany pattycake and how Spikey Bits learned some things the hard way.

Now, this isn’t a contrarian attempt at white knighting, as no one in their right mind should do that for Spikey Bits on this one. Spikey Bits is known for years as the place where hobby content goes to clickbait heaven in a pop-up ad symposium of malware. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that even if Spikey Bits wrote the next Pulitzer it would still fall on deaf and ad-blocked ears. The truth is though, JH Miniatures’s armar un Cristo was just the spark, because the years and years of Spikey Bits’s banality had built up the hobby street cred equivalent of Jack Harlow. This made JH Miniatures pity party paroxysm all the more delectable for the tabletop Twitter mafia to go wrist deep pummeling away at Spikey Bits. Unleashing the pent up resentment at always seeing Spikey Bits as the first google search item for anything hobby related content, making it easy for the rabid dogs to be, well, rabid. In other words, Spikey Bits was absolutely the wrong site to bring any case against anyone, with the expectation of maybe Lucifer as long as he doesn’t take the form of Tom Ellis.

What about JH Miniatures screaming at the top of his digital lungs like Arturo Román though? Well, it is true we might have a slight case of doth protest too much, as Spikey Bits was right about one thing: conflicts of interests. Now the timing of everything isn’t clear cut, like when did JH Miniatures exactly start working on behalf of Vallejo, but you can see how people with certain agendas could make assumptions. In the end, JH Miniatures rage was satiated once the pound of flesh was extracted from Spikey Bits and decided it was time to end the war by setting up donations to an anti-bullying organization.

There though is some intrigue to all this. Since Spikey Bits doesn’t really do these sorts of articles, they might report on drama, but they don’t really make these kinds of targeted hit pieces. It is the detail and just how targeted the article was, that should get us thinking and do a bit of digging. Spikey Bits is if you strip away the GeoCities website design is just a news and product review site. If they can’t just cut and paste the content with ease to meet the 100 posts a day minimum it just doesn’t make much sense to post it.

Spikey Bits as well doesn’t really have any allegiance to anyone or anything, I guess you could make the case that they have a relationship with Army Painter, but Army Painter seems to have a relationship with everyone who will shill for free paints. So, when all this drama happened, Army Painter’s relationship with Spikey Bits, if they had any, was quickly cut to avoid the hate train running off the tracks in every direction. 

We just don’t have a good reason (and no, just for clicks isn’t the answer) why Spikey Bits would make these claims, unless of course it was fed to them by other people. Maybe a group of influences and channels that may or may not have anything to do with testing the 2nd run of Army Painter Speed Paints. The timing is kinda sus. A few weeks before the Spikey Bits piece lands we get the announcement that some of the biggest YouTubers in the miniature painting space get to be paint testers for Army Painter, followed days later by vaguebooking hate they claim to be receiving. Then the Spikey Bits article hits, coincidence? We even have one influencer selling a T-shirt defending the Speed Paints reactivation issue in response to the F-Spikey Bits shirt. It could also be a group of betas, because seeing JH Miniatures’ temper I am sure he has rubbed a few people the wrong way. Spikey Bits just didn’t decide to write the article without help, coaxing, or some sort of incentive.

What overall lessons should we all learn from this, besides don’t get into a fight when you have the Q-rating of James Corden? Well, the online painting influencer scene is very competitive, with hierarchies within hierarchies. It is like the House of the Dragon, but with more incest, where everyone is a trash panda for clicks, likes, and subs. It is a hustle that never ends as the social media algorithms naturally pit everyone against each other, unless you can break out with a Kickstarter, sponsorships, or an Only Fans. It is no wonder, petty jealousies, fights, and skullduggery run rampant. Besides, we are dealing with creatives and narcissists, they don’t know how else to act, but to be passive aggressive, and recreate online amature versions of Mean Girls. 

This makes the lessons simple:

  • Divulge your sponsors or who you are working for if it is related to the products you are reviewing.
  • Don’t defend products or people who won’t do it themselves, unless it is really really in the community’s best interest.
  • Always, always vet your sources before opening your mouth.
  • You might have gone too far if you print shirts with the F word on them.

One final note, Twitter and Reddit aren’t the real world, never be afraid to hit that block button for your own mental health, besides that usually drives the troll crazy, so in the end it is a win, win.

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