Home Forums General General The end times are nigh – or are they?

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    Avatar photoMike

    What has happened is that those of us that make a living from the industry have to contend with people producing figures and rules at a professional quality as a hobby where the figures are cheaper than the actual cost of producing and selling them because hobby producers don’t charge for their time…  It make it difficult to compete.


    My miniatures need to factor in many things as the business needs to be self sufficient.
    This means among many things, not having a 9-5 job to inject cash and get new figures made.

    Mostly all the money from Crom’s Anvil goes toward food and bills, a tiny bit is set aside for new releases.
    I could set aside all the profit for new releases if I did not need the money for food (ie had a regular 9-5 that paid for food), and would have shed loads of new stuff each month and be able to spend more on marketing etc.

    I know a good few people that run gaming companies ‘on the side’, and they can plough all the profit back into the business to make new product.
    People who don’t do it ‘on the side’ do not have this option.

    I am also minded of a person who started a scenery business and they were super cheap, way too cheap, totally undercut everyone else.
    Of course they started getting sales and soon found themselves with so many orders they could not keep up, the volume of orders and complaints around delays soon resulted in them closing the business due to stress.
    They were working flat out 12 hours a day for about £60 actual profit.
    Not a sustainable model.

    Avatar photoOB

    Yes, it changes all the time and its demise has been predicted for at least 20 years.  Yet, here we all are.

    I’m currently buying and painting French and Indian War in 15mm for ‘skirmish’ games.  By the time I’ve bought Muskets and Tomahawks v2, the cards and the tokens, the buildings and terrain I want and more figures I won’t see much change from £300.  That’s fine by me.  I have the time and the money to do it.  But, like a sizeable tranche of our demographic I’m retired.  The crunch might come when my generation are gone.  On the other hand the Lipstick Effect may save the day.


    Avatar photoMicroworld Steve

    I’m one of those people that runs their business as a side thing.  My business has never been successful, so my need for a day job has never really been a question.  In terms of pricing though, I usually take a look at how other manufacturers price their stuff and seek to fit it in accordingly.  I usually have to price things a bit higher, as I don’t cast everything I sell myself.  I think the side businesses like mine are also at risk of sudden closure, but more from life events than anything else.  Its hard running a business, even an unsuccessful one, and every day I question why I bother.  I could see people eventually being fed up.  Or if my health deteriorates, or I end up having a kid?  The business is probably the first thing to go, because it is a time drain while also providing insufficient (or nonexistent!) income.

    I think that the business as a whole is just changing a bit, or at least the dominant revenue streams are changing.  All of my miniatures are super niche, so I’m not sure how much my experience translates, but something talked a lot about amongst miniature manufacturers on Facebook is the absolute need to run Kickstarters.  That they are an absolute no brainer and will outperform traditional releases every time.  I think that is even something Fenris had mentioned, that the only things that performed well were the Kickstarters.  Its become pretty obvious to me, and yet I have been putting off running one as it seems like a real pain compared to just releasing directly to the shop.  So I guess its more that the main event for mini companies will need to be crowdfunding, with direct sales playing second fiddle.

    I also think, being a US company, import duties and taxes for the UK and EU also hurt my business quite a bit.  But I can see them helping to protect domestic businesses from outside competition, so I guess it cuts both ways.

    The shift in spending is definitely a real thing though.  The only hard example I have from my own experience is from fantasy naval miniatures.  As I was working on getting my own fantasy naval line off the ground, I watched the Gravetides Kickstarter pull in like 4k Euro for a single fleet box worth of ships, which made me hopeful about the market.  I released a dwarf fleet to help fund the production of the remaining stuff I had sculpted…and have grossed $492 since April.

    My bigger concern lately has been actually being able to get talented sculptors to work on my stuff.  For a lot of folks, sculpting isn’t their main gig either, and so they may not be able to meet timelines, or may only be motivated to work on things that directly match heir interests.  For the professional sculptors, it is a lot more lucrative for them to either just run a Patreon for themselves, or do a Kickstarter to have their own range released rather than work on some random stuff for a client.  It makes me value my current sculptors all the more.


    Avatar photoMike

    Thanks for that frank and insightful post, I had assumed you did this full time and it was infact a profitable business, so much so that you could afford the regular new releases from all the sales!

    Just goes to show eh.

    Avatar photoOB

    That’s a really interesting point about Kickstarters.  I’ve just bought into my first one with North Star Games for Muskets and Tomahawks 2.  I had just intended to buy the stuff as it became available.  Although I came late to the Kickstarter thing I can really see the benefits to that approach.


    Avatar photoMike

    My issue with KS is that companies misuse it and use it as a marketing platform for product they have already made.

    You will see a big company spend on a KS promo video and concept art, what a small company genuinely needs to create the product.

    So say I wanted 10 new figures and 2 moulds.
    £820 would be my target. (though I would need to increase that by whatever cut KS take)
    No stretch goals as my sculptor has said he can do me 10 figures and I want to keep the target honest and not try and get cash for things I am not planning on making.

    The lack of stretch goals will put some people off, as people always want more stuff on a KS.
    So that is a thing.

    Then you have to go up against say BIG ASS GAMES LTD etc, who will spend £1500 on a slick KS video, promo art and will then show images of the painted models to entice you in.
    This means the models are already done and cast, what then do they need £45,000 for?
    They don’t.

    So smaller companies have to go up against those that don’t actually need to crowd source funds and will be overlooked by the giants who can spend a small companies goal on slick promo material.

    Plus you see some mad waits of over 2 years.

    Then of course if you don’t hit your target.
    It seems to be a self made slippery slope.

    Maybe I am just old fashioned and prefer to see people using crowdfunding sites to crowd fund, rather than as a pre-order marketing tool?
    Grumpy old git that I am.


    Avatar photoOB

    Not grumpy at all Mike.  Your comments were an education to me.


    Avatar photoirishserb

    I think that for those who warn of the impending death of the hobby, it isn’t that “the hobby” is dying, it is that “their hobby is dying”.  Much of what I enjoyed about the hobby during the first 15 years of my involvement is gone, and replaced with things that don’t yield the same enjoyment.  It isn’t that good things don’t come with the evolution, maybe they/we just remember what has been or is being lost, thus we lament the impending doom.



    Avatar photoBlackhat

    I think that definitely “my hobby” is dying in that I am not (and never really) been interested in complete package games where you buy everything you need off the shelf and are locked into the “world” / rulebook the manufacturer has produced.  But then, I started wargaming in 1974 and never fell into the GW hobby.  I knew everyone at Gw not long after it started and thought that when Rogue Trader came out it was the game I REALLY wanted at 15 but I was 25 by then…

    I advertise in Wargames Illustrated by rarely read the copy that comes throuhg the door as it simply doesn’t cover the games that interest me or the hobby style I play.  I want articles on “how” people made something/designed a scenario and “why” they have devised a scenario a certain way or collected a certain mix of troops.  I don’t want rehashed history, lots of uniform details in Osprey plates that I can get elsewhere and to know what is currently “hot”.

    But I am mid-50s so don’t represent the market that Wargames Illustrated are aimed at.

    That is fine, I’ve gone out and found other people who are interested in what I am – I started the Little Wars 54mm wargaming forum and I am about to run the 3rd 54mm wargaming games day in Woking to bring those people together.   I am very lucky to have a local opponent who likes the style of games I do and a local club (Guildford) whose members at least tolerate my (slightly odd) approach to gaming amongst their anicent 15mm games…

    I think people do say the hobby is dying as they don’t see their form of the hobby being represented, but I don’t feel any real need to see articles on 54mm gaming, etc in mainstream wargame magazines…

    Avatar photoBlackhat

    Oh, and on Kickstarters…

    Like Michael I am sad that Kickstarter has moved from being a genuinely exciting crowdfunding platform which enabled creative people to produce projects that otherwise wouldn’t exist to a marketplace and publicity platform for larger companies who use it for cashflow.

    I know that there are smaller companies that produce kickstarters but even a number of them abuse the concept by releasing all their figures through kickstarter when the range and company have been kickstarted already and are capable of fundng the product themselves.

    I think that Kickstarter itself is addictive and that both backers and miniature companies have become addicted to the rush, excitement and hype of kickstarter campaigns.

    I tried a small Kickstarter campaign as an experiment and it funded okay and it showed that there was a (small) market for WW1 French Halflings.  But it landed me with a large amount of orders all in one go and the figures didn’t sell that well after the kickstarter finished so all the upfront sales didn’t produce later sales and I have heard other producers say the same thing.

    I have backed an occasional kickstarter – mostly Reaper ones and you get a lot of product for your money but most of it is still unpainted years after I got it (Bones I was 243 miniatures in one go!).

    The sad thing is I think that people have to be on Kickstarter because evryone else is doing it.  It is good for publicity and people finding you who had never heard of you and that is where a lot of people are spending their money nowadays.  I do wonder about people who’s profile shows they have backed over 500 kickstarters!  I think they might have a problem… 🙂


    Avatar photoPatrice

    I hesitated to comment from this side of the Channel… We’ve never had so many wargame or miniatures companies here. Always a number of wargame tables with different rulesets in events and conventions, that doesn’t seem to change much, the gamers may change and the rulesets too but as long as some of them come the hobby still exists. And new rulesets do attract new people.


    Avatar photoThaddeus Blanchette

    Let me echo Patrice. I live in Brazil, where I worked for Devir for ten years. During that time, I did everything I could to move them beyond RPGs and, latter, CCGs. Now there’s a gaming club just down the road from my apartment.

    I travel a lot for work. Gaming is now EVERYWHERE. In Mexico City, there’s a building right of the Alameda dedicated to it. And yeah, only a small chunk of this is miniatures, but hell, in Mexico, they have their own homemade paint lines.


    Globally speaking, things have never been better, not even in the Golden Age.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    Avatar photogreg954

    It’s always been tough in business. I got into work today to find out that the plastering company which was working on the same job as me has gone bust. That company may be gone but the plasterers working for them will more and likely carry on in the industry. When a miniatures manufacturer goes to the wall they close and you lose that from the market.


    Chris Hughes of Sash and Saber told me that his bestselling 40mm line is FIW, as it lends itself well to skirmish games. Plus, you can get along with only a cabin or two for terrain — excepting lots of trees!

    That said, I have to confess to having a couple hundred of the buggers — with more to come. Sigh.

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