I think everyone has their breaking point with the "GW Hobby," and it seems to me that a lot of people are so vehemently upset due to the fact that they haven't quite reached their breaking point, and so feel compelled to continue on, and yet are disgusted with steps being made by Games Workshop. I don't think the issues are as black and white as people are making them, ie, "GW hates us all," and I think there's evidence to show that. For example, Games Workshop has fantastic customer service--and they always own up to their miscasts, lack of bases in a set, and things of that nature. Additionally, if you haven't noticed, GW has been proudly displaying gamers' miniatures in their blog for a while now, something they are encouraging openly. They don't HATE their customers, whether they're loyal or new. They don't laugh when they sell people mediocre Finecast models--they replace them, for goodness sake. It seems to me that Games Workshop is currently in a scramble period. What can they do to survive with profits right now? What can they produce that people will buy? How can they maintain our phrase "Games Workshop makes the best toy soldiers in the world" when so many other competitors are catching up to them? We've seen the answers to some of these questions in the form of price rises, unsubstantiated games such as War of the Ring, and a thus-far fiasco that is Finecast. Good Finecast models are among some of the best miniatures that have ever been produced. The problem is, they rushed it out, presumably in the hopes that it would be ready in time for the 25th Anniversary of 40K and the upcoming Hobbit films. You'll notice they also had to make sure they were the ones setting the metal-to-resin trend: see Privateer Press and Black Scorpion Miniatures, and expect others to follow. Losing customer loyalty doesn't seem to be part of their plan, it seems to be an unfortunate side effect of the measures they felt were necessary to keep them afloat. They understand and accept that by now in my opinion, but they wouldn't have such a large and expanded range for their games if they didn't believe that supporting the customers armies was important. March releases will include Space Wolf and Tyranid figures that fans have been waiting for for a long time. They didn't really even ever have to release those figures at this point, but fans really wanted them. Regarding disrespect for LotR canon, I think that, for the most part, just isn't true! They have limited room to create their own canon, and when they do, I do honestly believe they try to create something they believe fits. You might not agree with them, but they probably know just as well as you do that some things just wouldn't fit on the tabletop together. Additionally, at the same time--and this is a bit contradictory to my previous statement, actually--Games Workshop has a lot of trouble trying to get 40K and WHFB players to not look down at LotR. Some of them HATE LotR, but I remember reading on Beasts of War some of the comments about the latest LotR release, and some 40K players like the look of the Watcher and Dweller models and were even considering purchasing them for 40K. GW understands the need for a broader appeal in their LotR range--to LotR fans, historical gamers, and their own GW fanboys.
Now, there are two more things I would like to mention: no.1, if you're going to use historical figures as proxies for GW miniatures, you might want to consider actually just playing historical battles instead of battles in Middle-earth. Guys, I adore LotR, but nothing beats real history. The SBG rules and WotR rules can easily be adapted to the Middle Ages. If you're fed up with GW, and don't have a lot of cash to spare, just adapt the rules you own to a completely new range of miniatures and get on the road to being done with GW. Secondly, there have been numerous claims in this thread that Games Workshop is the only one with the license to make Lord of the Rings miniatures. While this is true in the sense that Games Workshop is the only one making full-out ranges for armies featured in the films, please don't just ignore Mithril Miniatures and Wizkids. Mithril Miniatures has been producing metal miniatures based only on the books since the late 80s, and would be especially appealing to those who are disgusted with "GW's anti-Tolkien policies." Wizkids produces pre-painted plastic miniatures for their Lord of the Rings Heroclix range. Maybe they don't count, as their ranges aren't liable to support the army building you're looking for, but the statement that Games Workshop is the only company with the license to produce LotR miniatures is fallacious.
Mithril Miniatures: http://www.mithril.ie/
Wizkids LotR Heroclix: http://heroclix.com/category/heroclix/l ... z1nVcRNHIL