Making minis that sell well, but NON RANDOM - Page 4
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  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark CMG View Post
    We need bags of orcs (and such) sold like little green army men or bag o' zombies, but fewer (maybe 20) and painted for $20 a set, in five poses/weapons: club, sword, axe, spear, and bow. Do that with goblins, kobolds, orcs, hobgoblins, skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and a few other choice monsters.
    Here's the thing: When WotC was selling randomized packs you could get exactly what you want. I was able to go to eBay, type in "orc miniature", and have a half dozen options orcs being sold at $0.99 or less.

    Now that they're no longer producing the packs, the prices have roughly doubled.

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aberzanzorax View Post
    Here are two (admittedly simlar) strategies I think might work:

    1. Sell thematic sets. Perhaps even include multiple of the same minis. E.G. I would buy an "undead set" with, say, 30 minis with a breakdown of: 3 unique vampires, 2 unique liches, 10 of the same skeleton, 10 of the same incorporeal type creature, 1 large devourer, 1 large skeleton, 1 huge undead, and 2 small sized skeltons.

    Note that I end up with 20 figures that are only created by an artist once. However, in gaming, I often have a need for identical guys (e.g. minions) and a few guys that stand out (unique guys/bosses).
    Interestingly, Wizards were going to release a couple of thematic sets (an orc warband and a... bandit warband, iirc) shortly after the initial release of D&D Miniatures back in 2003, but cancelled it due to lack of distributor interest.

    There's also the possibility that it would cannibalise the sales of their main minis line. It's an interesting thought: although we say we want the rares, it's often the common orcs and goblins that we are actually using. When the commons are no longer useful (due to them being available in non-random packs, or due to product saturation), a large part of the value of the product disappears.

    2. Tied to adventures or adventure paths. When I run an adventure, I like to (to no one's suprise, I'm sure) use minis that represent the characters and monsters in the adventure. I would buy a set of minis that allowed me to do that. I'd love to see minis produced with an eye to the specific characters in an adventure, along with the specific numbers (e.g. there is a room with 10 skeletons, so provide 10 skeletons).
    There are two basic problems with that strategy. The first relates to production times: there is a much, much greater lead-time on mini releases than adventure releases. It's likely you need to nail down the mini set six months to a year before the adventure is finished. This obviously presents problems. (Why not delay the adventure a year? Mainly because the writer wants to be paid...)

    The second just comes down to cost. D&D (and Pathfinder) adventures are astonishing for the wide range of monsters they use. It's a far greater range than in most RPGs. (Take Star Wars - a few creatures and a lot of stormtroopers handles most of what you need for a typical campaign during the Rebellion era. )

    Having 100+ monsters in a typical adventure - and often they'll be unthemed, so they don't come under #1 above - means that any such "complete" product is completely infeasible, and - to makes things worse - would only sell to a small number of people. Assuming I was running an adventure for which one of these packs was produced, why would I want to spend $200+ on the pack? I'd be better off using my existing set of minis and proxying. (Which is what I do all the time).

    Producing smaller packs of minis that cover the key unusual monsters of an adventure sounds better, but then raises the problem of audience again: only a subset of people who bought the adventure, and adventures (typically) don't sell that well. Paizo's sell better than about everyone else, but I do wonder at how many are bought to be read rather than played. (I've currently got 36 or so Pathfinder adventures at home, and it seems unlikely that many will be played).

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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beginning of the End View Post
    Here's the thing: When WotC was selling randomized packs you could get exactly what you want. I was able to go to eBay, type in "orc miniature", and have a half dozen options orcs being sold at $0.99 or less.

    Now that they're no longer producing the packs, the prices have roughly doubled.
    Miniatures with rarities - and that applies to almost every miniature line on the planet - artificially distort the price of the mini. It's more noticeable with random minis with rarities, though.

    Because it's much easier to get the common figures than the rare ones, the prices of the common figures become artificially low compared to the price to produce them. Likewise, rare figures become a lot higher in price compared to the production cost.

    The problem this creates for non-random producers of minis is it makes their common (orc) minis seem much too expensive. Although it makes their rare (beholder) minis seem cheaper in comparison, they don't sell as many of those figures... and thus they might well not make up the difference.

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  4. #34
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    I'm looking for strategies for ways to sell minis that would sell well in a non-random way.

    So, please, toss out some strategies for selling minis, with the sole requirement being that we know ahead of time what we are buying.
    I'm all for quality minis, and will pay for them. I bought Ral Partha (and others) when they were around, and buy Reaper minis (and others) today. And AFAIK, Reaper is doing just fine with their business model of selling non-random minis.

    In all fairness, though, there are a LOT of companies with the same business model that are no longer around, like the aforementioned Ral Partha, or the more recently liquidated Rackham.

    Perhaps the market will only support a few producers of non-randomized minis. Perhaps there have been so many mini companies pumping out product for so long that non-random minis are not as desirable when they are not tied to some other product.

    By this I mean that nearly every mini company puts out "the basics": dwarves (esp. w/axes or hammers), elves (esp. with bows or longswords), humans, skeletons, orcs of some kind and so forth... Well, how many of those do you really need?

    Yes, there will be some kind of churn to the market- new players joining, old players leaving- but if most of your product line falls into those basics, you're competing with ALL the other minis companies (randomizers and non-randomizers alike) over the same subsegment of the market. And that means keeping a broad based, non-randomized minis line going is going to be difficult.

  5. #35
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    So, are random miniature pack an old thing or a 2000s thing? I saw some DDM boosters in my local gaming store some months back and I had never seen miniatures done like that before.

    (The majority of my experience with minis are with GW and Reaper.)

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by DragonLancer View Post
    As a DM who would like to use minis on occasion, I don't want random packs. I want to be able to buy just the figures I need. I would recommend going the old route and having blister packs, with a single specific figure (1 lich or beholder, say) or 4-5 individuals (skeletons or goblins, for example). I think this is the way to go with prepainted minis. Or at least the way I would like to see it go.
    Reaper Miniatures' 'Legendary Encounters' line does exactly this. Of course they have a total of 39 miniatures after 4 years but....

  7. #37
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    Collectible Miniatures Games originated with WizKids release of Mage Knight in 2000. It stopped production in 2005.

    D&D Miniatures ran from 2003 to 2010. The initial set, Harbinger, consisted of 80 minatures and was $10 per booster - a very aggressive price which helped it succeed. With the third set (Archfiends), the price went up to $13 per booster. Towards the end of its run, they experimented with new forms of packaging and pricing, but the massive rise in production costs, coupled with a saturated market, were factors in its discontinuation.

    There were quite a number of other CMGs out there. Few have survived - HeroClix is one of the few still in production - and the original WizKids no longer exists (it was bought by Topps, closed down, then sold off and reopened). The new version of WizKids will be producing the Paizo miniature line.

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  8. #38
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    Let me start by pointing out that Ral Partha was eventually bought by FASA, and when they closed down the ranges were made by Ironwind Metals in the US and Ral Partha Europe in... Well, in Europe ;-) They still sell a lot of the old stuff/ranges.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz View Post
    Perhaps the market will only support a few producers of non-randomized minis. Perhaps there have been so many mini companies pumping out product for so long that non-random minis are not as desirable when they are not tied to some other product.

    By this I mean that nearly every mini company puts out "the basics": dwarves (esp. w/axes or hammers), elves (esp. with bows or longswords), humans, skeletons, orcs of some kind and so forth... Well, how many of those do you really need?
    I think you have a couple of factors that play a roll:
    a.) Competence, a lot of the smaller miniature companies have closed due to incompetence of management, folks that are either hobbyists at hart, business folk that have absolutely no idea how the hobby works, or even a few cases of robber baron mentality.
    b.) Lack of innovation, or more precisely lack of imagination. You often see that when a range is almost complete, the company spirals down very fast because they don't really know what to do next. The reason why GamesWorkshop/Citadel are/is still around with Warhammer Fantasy Battle for almost 30 years is because the revamp/redesign the entire range at regular intervals and having a wide range of miniatures. The reason why Rackham failed is because when the metal ranges were almost complete they didn't start revamping them one by one, but pulled the plug and did the same thing over again just in a plastic prepainted medium. Old fans got pissed and had no real desire to buy the 'new' miniatures, new fans had to step into a 'brand new' game whose ranges were very limited, not to mention a hostile community.
    c.) Company doesn't scale well. I've seen excellent small companies grow rather fast only to stumble and fall flat on their faces when the company didn't scale properly. Companies can either not fill demand and folks get pissed and go to the competition and eventually you'll loose almost all your customers due to a bad reputation in that department (recently happened to Privateer Press). Or the companies make the (relative) huge investments to keep the company growing, but the growth doesn't scale with the expenses that were made (and still are being made), so the company goes broke. You could file this under bad management, but imho it's not about being stupid, but rather that the business model will not work at the time.

    I think that the miniatures market is actually a bucket that does grow and has a small hole in the bottom, but the influx is rather larger then the growth and the drain combined. GW especially is feeling that pain on the secondary market. When they put out a mini into the world, it isn't used up, it doesn't spoil and doesn't really become obsolete, the only real losses are purposeful destruction of loss (in the attic). Even most damaged miniatures can be repaired. So when you have a complete army you don't really need a new one of the same kind, the only solution is that you need a bigger army and/or new units. This is exactly what GW has been doing the last 1-2 years or so. But there will come a time when GW is going to loose the battle, miniature demand is saturated, larger armies are not feasible due to physical space on the table, and the business can't support a deeper product range (GW is already combating the last, a single product that can be build into three different types of monsters/units).

    I think Paizo/Wizkids will also eventually hit a saturation point. If the announcement is any indication we'll have two sets per year, resulting in 100-120 minis a year. Releasing sets to coincide with Adventure Paths is really smart and should make it possible to support the mini range far longer then normally (if quality/price/range is right). On the other hand, to date we've seen a 300+ monster bestiary every year now, I'm curious if they can keep that up for a decade.

    One issue that a lot of folks seem to forget is customers storing the stuff and actually finding what they need on short notice. I'm storing my CMG stuf in multiple rolling crates, registering all those minis almost feels like a job. The plastic stuf that I need to assemble and paint myself I keep in many, many boxes. And the metal stuff needs something even sturdier, certain companies take a lot om money from me on the storage front...

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by MerricB View Post
    Collectible Miniatures Games originated with WizKids release of Mage Knight in 2000. [etc]
    Thanks for clearing that up!

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    If I had the startup money, here's how I'd do it -

    I'd make an "evergreen" set, not unlike a "Core Set" from Magic: The Gathering.

    Commons would be figures everyone (well, okay, DMs) wants 10 of - orcs, goblins, kobolds, skeletons, wolves, gnolls, zombies and creatures on the low-to-mid level monster summoning lists. All small or medium sized, all with limited paint steps.

    Uncommons are "heroic" figures - orc chiefs / shamans, armored skeletons, kobold kaptains, and so forth, plus a heavy dose of adventurers. Plus a limited number of mid-to-higher level "grunts", like ogres, trolls, and maybe a giant, and a couple of creatures that appear on the mid-to-high-level summoning lists (elementals, for instance). Figures that people want, and may want several of. These have a couple extra paint steps, but still not too complex.

    And finally, the rares would be the dragons, demons, and other "hey, it's awesome I have him" type minis that you might specifically look for, but you probably don't <really> need more than one or two of. Complicated sculpts and paint steps allowed, here.

    I'd try to set it up so that a "case" would likely get you 3-5 of each common, so it was fairly easy to get a "gang" going of similar figures. Hopefully, two cases would get you every rare (...or so. Random, y'know).

    I'd rotate the set every 12 months or so - new poses for the commons (and maybe cycle out a couple of creature-types for a couple new ones), new "elites" and adventurers for the uncommons (and new poses for those ogres and trolls), and a new batch of rares.

    ...would you buy it? I'd buy it.

    Would it make <money>? ...who knows.

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