I've been asked several times over the past months what numbers/types of troops constitutes a good range of 15mm military minis?
Let's put aside style and posing in this instance and look at what - purely in my opinion - constitutes a 'good' range of military Sci Fi minis.
For me, at the basic level in 15mm it really comes down to having enough grunt poses with identifiable command and squad support miniatures to keep the force from looking stale. Mid-Tech with open helmets? Then 1 Fireteam Leader (preferably two), 4-6 grunts (2-3 female), SAW and light Support Weapon gunner (preferably two of each) provide enough troops to make up interesting and varied combat groups.
You can expand by having a Platoon Leader, possibly also a platoon sergeant character, medic droid, LAW/RPG rocket launcher and man held Plasma/rotary cannon.
Let's cement this, again talking Mid-Tech, as:
Pack 1: Fireteam Leader, 2 grunts (1 female?), SAW
Pack 2: Fireteam Leader (female?) 2 grunts, SAW (variant) or LAW/RPG rocket launcher
8 figures per pack - 2x each pose
One of the FireTeam Leaders becomes a platoon leader. Downside - stale and lacks character above squad level.
As Option 1, as above but include a platoon command/character pack. A second different SAW pose would be good - make it character figure (think Blane, Drake or Vasquez) to ring the changes.
Pack 3: Characters. Platoon Leader (preferably two), grizzled Platoon Sgt/Top Kick (barehead or cap), Medical Droid, SAW (female? bandana/barehead Ponytail)
The Top Kick, droid and bandana/ponytail gunner are generic enough that these can slip into existing tabletop forces, or become Mercs/'Adventurers'.
Later expansion can include:
Pack 4 : Plasma or Gauss Cannon Gunner in bandana or specialist helmet, Tech Sgt/Hacker, (see Infinity range for Tech/Hacker inspiration), Wounded but still fighting female trooper (similar to Hasslefree's Kendra, in combat cap like Jas pictured here), Sniper w. Gauss Rifle (ghillie suit or nano-tech).
3 packs totalling 12 unique sculpts gives me enough minis for a platoon or two in combat, including command and a couple of characters. The Top Kick can lead second platoon.
4 packs totalling 16 sculpts gives me additional company level support troops and characters. This also allows me to personalise my platoons. Kendra can be a specialist, hero or lead third platoon/company.
What about heavier weapons? Well, if you have been living in a hole for the past couple of years you will have failed to notice that GZG produce a large range of excellent and importantly, generic support weapons for re-inforced platoon, company and battalion level games. You want to produce your own? Fine! But only after core packs 1-2-3......!!!!
If you study FOW's new WW2 pack 812: British Guards Rifle Platoon (NW Europe), each section (squad) has a different section leader & different Bren gunner, plus there's a choice of 2 platoon leader miniatures and a potential company commander figure. This allows me to give each section, each platoon a unique identity of it's own.
OK, what I've suggested above isn't to all tastes - it's certainly NOT the be all and end all - and sure, I'd like a few more poses of this or that, maybe the odd extra weapon here or there, But, I think these pack ideas promote versatility, character and identity within a reasonable number of sculpts/cost bracket - and that is more important to me in 15mm for 2010 and beyond than "one pack grunts advancing, one pack grunts firing......".