So to hijack slightly, any suggestions for cool looking dwarf alternative manufacturers also appreciated.
I hear your pain... if anyone made good, affordable rank and file dwarfs I'd be all over it. As it stands, you either have good and expensive (and a certain style) or affordable and models-only-a-mother-would-love. Avatars of War are cool, but they aren't particularly cheap, and the models can be a nightmare to assemble.
The sad reality of it is that there aren't really any good alternatives to GW, Mantic or Wargames Factory for plastic fantasy models. The more you look into it the more you realise why GW think they're justified selling their stuff at the prices they do--they aren't really competing with anyone directly for fantasy models of the quality they produce. And the fact even GW can't seem to make money from them shows there aren't a lot of people that are likely to try to compete.
As other people have mentioned, the best alternative for cheap plastic models are historicals, because they have a much wider market than GW. Fireforge, Conquest, Victrix, Gripping Beast and Perry make great medieval/Roman/Japanese stuff, though the quality varies from brilliant to average.
There are heaps more metal models out there, but their price is ususally worse than GW, especially if you're planning to make units of ranked models. These are great for characters though.
_________________Also known as Peter
- my record of painting and gaming in all sorts of 28mm games