I hope you've had a good Sri Lankan New Year / Easter. Between visiting relatives and stuffing my face with goodies, I did manage to get some work done though. The get-stuff-done prize though go es to Luke. Let me tell you what he's been up to...
It struck us that there is probably a market out there for affordable jungle terrain. Not many fancy paying $50 for a bundle of aquarium plants -- but would they pay $20 for enough to cover the terrain needs for an 8x4 table? $20 for re-assembled and painted plants?
The idea is Luke's and he's talked to a couple of stores that are interested in seeing what we can offer. I managed to pick up a small forest of aquarium plants before all the shops closed for the holday week, and next week I hope to have some pics up of some "test" plants.
Can we actually manage all that for just $20 for a whole table? I dunno... $50 for a whole table might be a better figure -- but then agin, I don't know yet. We'll have to make some prototypes, see how long the process takes, and hope we can make this so affordable that its a real solution to jungle gaming needs.
You'd think I'd be all about catachans, nids, and lizardmen storming over a leafy table, but actually, I'd more keen to on the pulp wargame possibilities. Eureka minis makes some pretty goofy pygmies and Pulp Figures (http://www.pulpfigures.com) has everything from Geman zeppelin troopers to the US Rocket Corps - not to mention a fantastic (and free) rule system that is pretty much immune to the killjoy of over-competitive gaming (it recommends that players wear funny hats, cause no one can take a rules lawyer seriously if he's got a fez on).
There's buzz about this here and there. thewarstore.com is very keen on doing it, and I wish them luck. The problem though is that its unlikely that any patnership between a manufacturer and a painting service will be able to lead to 28mm, high quality, pre-painted miniatures, at pricing competitive with unpainted miniatures. Hero Clix is a step in the right direction, but its the casette tape stage of this product, when what we need is the re-writable DVD stage.
So here's the holy grail: Is is possible to manufacture and fully paint minis, and sell them to stores at prices low enough that they'll be competitive with unpainted minis, right there on the shelves? Can a company that can integrate both manufacturing and painting, manage this?
We put together a spreadsheet and ran some numbers. What we came up with was encouraging enough to results for me to say on this blog that we are now aiming:
- To manufacture and fully paint, "troop choice" infantry 28mm minis
- To have these minis match GW's sculpting quality
- Sell these to stores at the $3.50 a figure, at 40% off the retail price
As of all of Luke's networking efforts last week, we may very well be able to hit all three. In the long run, I think it not unreasonable to think that we could hit all three.
There are lot of directions we could go if we can manage that. Right now, a rather talented sculptor is working on some great coat infantry, complete with gas masks, spiked helmets, and long rifles. It seems a good market tester: GW Guard players may like some Steel Legion style variants to use as proxies, and pulp-players may quite like them.
Not as earth shattering as prepainted minis, but an easy baby step. We're looking at selling them for $1 per base, and before we can go any further we need to test the market and see if people are interested in this product.
Things are looking up. I'm probably going to hire another painter next week -- I'm usually quite cautious about staffing levels, but we've got a staggering amount of work to get through and I'm adding 2-3 new clients a week now. One of the reasons I'm keen to work on our own terrain, minis, and bases is that it allows me to have higher staffing to do custom painting, and in quiet periods (of which we've had none) we can manufacture our own products.
Just recieved a shipment from Luke, which among other things, has a laser pointer in it. This will really help cut down on the arguments at games. The lads enjoy wargaming, but their sportsmanship scores could stand to rise...