Blacklist Miniatures Fantasy Set 1 - Failed $1M Kickstarter


I thought this might be relevant to post here, not to slam on the company or to complain about my experience. It's more of a lesson learned for me, and I know some of you on this board like talking about the hobby industry.
I love collecting and painting miniatures - even if I don't get to have in-person gaming as much as I used to. So I placed the base pledge of $65 for Blacklist Miniatures "Fantasy Set 1," which was going to be for 70 miniatures - which I thought was quite the deal. The Kickstarter had a $45,000 goal, but more and more stretch goals were added until it ended with over 200 miniatures for my initial pledge of $65. What started as a good deal was beginning to look too good to be true. The Kickstarter raised over $1M and was set to be delivered on Dec 2020.
I had already pledged for the Altar Quest board game set and was quite pleased with the miniatures once I received it. I didn't overly care for the game - but minis are minis, I thought. When another Horror miniatures Kickstarter was announced with over 100 miniatures for $70 (to be delivered in Nov 2021), I back that too. Also, I didn't blink at a $109 pledge for their Fantasy Set 2 with a skirmish wargame rulebook and over 200 miniatures (with a plan to be delivered on May 2022).
Backers began getting some warnings that production was being delayed. The models' being manufactured in China during COVID caused some issues, but eventually Fantasy Sets 1 began shipping out - just not to where I live (North America). Once warehoused in North America, the sets got stuck. For months Blacklist couldn't pay to get them shipped and couldn't sell additional products because they still owed the warehouses.
Last night (at 11:30 pm my time), I received an email from Blacklist asking me to support their GoFundMe Page, needing over $300K to move the products and pay their warehouse bills. The different tiers of support promised credit on future Kickstarter projects and other rewards. By this morning, apparently that GoFundMe Page had been reported and taken down.
Looking at the financials finally released with the GoFundMe Request email, it was pretty clear that they mishandled the Blacklist Fantasy Set 1 Kickstarter. Too many stretch goals inflated the cost of printing the project to close to $1M - so the company actually lost money when accounting for advertising, design work, and shipping. They said that this Kickstarter was designed to get exposure for their company - not to make a profit - and I think they certainly succeeded in that.
I hope that they find a way to get the completed Fantasy Set 1 boxes to their thousands of backers , but I don't have much faith in seeing the other products.
Did anyone else here back this project? Are you planning to donate if they ask for shipping help? In your opinion, is this the biggest TTRPG-related Kickstarter failure?

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The email I received late last night, so you can read straight from the company...

Hello backers,

To say lightly, the pandemic really put a hurt on the freight and shipping/fulfillment landscape in all industries. In addition to the swelling list of cost/booking/material/etc domino effects these past years, Blacklist Games has been internally plagued with making one bad decision after another in order to try to expedite things, while clearly showing we had no experience in facing something this widespread and overwhelming. We were a complete mess with information and kept reacting to situations without really having a long-term plan. We let fear of the unknown and a bit of pride be part of our decision making as we didn’t know how long the shipping crisis would last and we had no idea how to face it head-on. This is something we deeply apologize for.

Fortunately, the shipping/freight landscape has calmed down a bit (though still suffering from layoffs and inflated gas prices). While going through this and learning how other, more successful publishers are getting ahead of this, we now have a better understanding on shipping/freight pricing and timing for the future. But…… that doesn’t do anything for this project.

Which brings us to this, we need your help. But before asking for anything, it’s important that you know what the situation is and what we’re working towards.

The Reality and Expectations

As you know, Fantasy Series 1 Miniatures (FS1) did very well. Being that it was our first entry in the minis only category, we didn’t expect to be very profitable after costs, rather it was our first step in creating future miniature lines. In fact, costs to the factory alone were $915,810.


This doesn’t include marketing spend before the campaign and of course the costs of 89 unique sculpts and artwork for each one.

While expecting shipping to be the same rates as reflected in the pledge manager (or at least close to it), things changed once the pandemic hit. While QML tried their best to help us navigate through it, the fees kept stacking and we were paying more than premium pricing to try to rush FS1 out to the world. We got as far as fulfillment to Asia, AUS/NZ, EU, UK and brining in 10, forty foot containers of product to QML’s US warehouse in preparation to fulfill US/Canada/RotW. But ultimately, the invoice balance was too much.

In January/February this year, we paid off the remaining of what we owed QML in freight, container fees, global warehouse storage fees (up to that point), and shipping to the already fulfilled regions. As you can see, the zeroed out areas were paid.


Unfortunately, this leaves us to where we are now. From the same image above, you can see the total final balance of what QML needs to begin fulfillment of US/Canada/RotW, which is an additional $360,673 (this is the cost to get from QML's warehouse through your postal service, to your door.)

Meanwhile, what have you been doing to fix this?

To make things more difficult, since February, we have not been able to have access to our inventory in any of our global/domestic warehouses for fulfilled items (such as Altar Quest and Brook City and now, Hour of Need) and won't until we are able to balance the invoice for QML (since they hold all of our products/inventory). This means we cannot sell products currently on hand and without sales, we have had no cashflow (which ironically means we can’t pay them). That said, once QML receives payment in full, they will fulfill FS1 to all remaining regions, unlock our warehouses, and we will be able to continue QA for missing/damaged items.

So while sales have not been an option, we tried looking for additional investment, loans, and even selling some of our original IPs (giving any publisher complete ownership of our IP, their files, art, sculpt, tools/molds, and inventory). We tried to offer different services to publishers as well, but none of these things came through. The urgency has been there and we threw whatever we could to the wall to see if anything would stick. Though all admirable attempts, we should have first acknowledged the issue to you and formulated a well structured plan instead of several scattered ones.

What’s the Solution?

So to solve this issue quickly and securely, we really do need your help. In order to be able to pay off QML in full, we are humbly asking for contributions so we can complete fulfillment of Fantasy Series 1 Miniatures to the US, Canadian, RotW regions by clearing QML's $360k invoice.

Although we cannot compound more costs, we do want to give anyone who contributes some sort of incentive/reward for your help. This is optional, of course, and not just limited to any backer in the US/Canadian/RotW regions. Anyone who wants to help or is interested in the incentives is welcome to contribute so we all can reach the goal sooner, and QML can then get you those miniatures.

To ensure transparency for this, we will do the following:

  1. We are accepting contributions on GoFundMe at this link ( so that you can monitor the contributions raised.
  2. Once we reach the goal, we will create an update and immediately pay QML (posting in the update the wire transfer receipt.)
  3. Once QML receives the funds and sends a confirmation receipt/balance paid, we will post another update with that info as well.
  4. Following, the schedule QML provides, will be posted in another update as well as posted in all of our social media so backers are able to re-confirm.

The Contribution

Here is the structure for contributions with their incentives in 3 separate options.

If you contribute $30, you will receive:

  1. $40 credit towards a future crowdfunding campaign, which you can save or use with no expiration.
  2. For the future of our products, your name (or dedicated name) will be printed in all future kickstarter game’s rulebook, in a “special thanks” section as well as on our website.
  3. You will receive a digital “SECRET CHARACTER PACK”, which are 27 pieces of unused and never before seen character art we planned on using for the different Kickstarters, but for different reasons, never did. We will divide and lay them out thematically as 9 Street Masters Ally/Rival Cards, 9 Altar Quest Ally Cards, 4 Hour of Need Ally Cards, and 5 Hour of Need Nemesis cards. They will be sent to you in digital format and have blank ability/stat areas so you can customize them with whatever you want. You will receive both PDF and PSD files of the cards, as well as the original full-body artwork of each character. Here’s an example:
Just a few examples of the 27 unique characters. Note that the final digital versions will have blank abilities and stats so you can customize your own cards.
If you contribute $60, you will receive:

  1. $90 credit towards a future crowdfunding campaign, which you can save or use with no expiration.
  2. For the future of our products, your name (or dedicated name) will be printed in all future kickstarter game’s rulebook, in a “special thanks” section as well as on our website.
  3. The 27 card, digital “SECRET CHARACTER PACK” from above.
  4. 9 STL files from our Hour of Need campaign that were supposed to be upgraded “peril” tokens in our stretch goals, but never had the opportunity to be released. Of course, you can use them in any game and the files will be sent to you after we reach our contribution goal. These are scaleable STL files ready for print. Here’s what they look like:

If you contribute $125, you will receive:

  1. Credit towards an “all in” pledge for a future campaign.
  2. For the future of our products, your name (or dedicated name) will be printed in all future kickstarter game’s rulebook, in a “special thanks” section as well as on our website.
  3. The 27 card, digital “SECRET CHARACTER PACK” from above.
  4. The 9 STL files from our Hour of Need campaign.
  5. You will have your likeness (or someone you choose) created as character art by our art studio, then laid out as an ally, rival, or nemesis digital card from any of our MDS games. We can have it blank and/or put in any character stats you design. As well, you will receive the original digital character art file in Hi-Res. Here’s an example:

How will you keep track of Credits for future campaigns and how does it work?

Once the GoFundMe has reached its goal and we pay off QML to begin scheduling shipping/fulfillment with them, we will export all the contributors and create a database with the info. Based on your contribution amount, we will have dynamic record of how much credit you have (at that time, we’ll send you an e-mail confirmation of this info, as well as ask you what name you would like to have honored on our website and future printed rulebooks). In a future campaign, during the pledge manager, just reach out to us and let us know how much credit you would like to put into the PM and we will manually add it for you. If there’s anything left over, it will be noted in the database and you can use the remaining for another future campaign as well (we'll send you an e-mail receipt with your current balance whenever we apply your credit to the PM). If you are a $125 contributor, you would just let us know in the PM that you will apply the “all-in” for that campaign and we will credit that to you.

Final Thoughts

Although the isn’t a great update, it’s one that is needed to at least get FS1 to the long awaited finish line. As a whole, we know that we’ve disappointed you through this entire process. Though the pandemic was unexpected and threw us into very unfamiliar situations, it was our fault for being purely reactive and not better at understanding how to face these issues with you. Instead, with our poor judgement and putting too much time trying to reassure you with either fluff or took whatever others told us was going to happen at face value, we should have been working with you, detailing just how overwhelmed we were with fulfillment and what issues we were about to face at those times. Going forward, we will stay strictly informative now and for our future projects.

This has been such a long and exhausting process for these FS1 Miniatures and getting them into your hands. Thank you for reading through this update and we appreciate anything you can do to help!

To Contribute, please visit GoFundMe here:


I backed this and got the email last night. While frustrating I understood and made my pledge on GoFundMe. Sadly I was refunded this morning as the drive was shut down. Still waiting on more info.


I backed this and got the email last night. While frustrating I understood and made my pledge on GoFundMe. Sadly I was refunded this morning as the drive was shut down. Still waiting on more info.
I hope they're successful, but they do need another idea. If they're counting on backers donating at a tier of $30 each, to reach the $360,000 needed they need 12,000 backers (out of a total of 16,420 worldwide). Additionally, some of those worldwide backers have already received their product, so they'd just be donating out of kindness or the hope of future credit.
What's the answer? I don't know - maybe they could sell STL files and raise some money? PDFs of their rule books? Apparently, the GoFundMe route isn't going to work without changes.


I looked up the KS, and am looking at their rewards tiers and stretch goals, and maybe I'm missing something, but it makes no sense. For $65, you get the set and all stretch goals? And they have only $5000 between stretch goals? That...math doesn't add up.

Every $5000 you go up, the costs increase exponentially*, quickly going into the red because you're not getting any extra money just for them.

That seems a huge red flag to me, even considering the cost per mini decreases with larger production runs.

*let's say it costs $1000 per unique mini to design and create the mold, and $.50 to manufacture each one. So at 1000 backers, the total cost just for stretch goal 1 is $1500 with no additional income coming in. Then factor in each stretch goal...


To illustrate my point, I threw together a quick spreadsheet. These aren't real numbers, but are just generalizations, and do not factor in KS fees, shipping, or other costs. Note I reduced the cost to manufacture each mini based on larger manufacture runs (I don't know what the actual quote was, but my best estimate to illustrate the point).

I would hope that the company did something like this before doing their KS, but is sounds like they didn't. As you can see, the way they structured it, they increased their costs without bringing in additional revenue. to have so many stretch goals at no added cost looks like it bit them in the behind. I went from 1000, to 2000, to 3000, and then jumped to 10000 backers that includes all 66 stretch goals



It does seem that they didn't think it through all the way and had no wiggle room for increased shipping costs, additional warehouse fees due to shipping issues, etc. Personally, I'd have been happy enough with the base set of 70 minis for $65 - or paid more for the stretch goals that I wanted as add-ons. Of course, I have no way of knowing how much the funding success was dependent on the large number of stretch goals.
I think it's amazing these seem to have been made and shipped across the world, even if they haven't been distributed in North America.
I've never cancelled a pledge due to unlocked stretch goals, though that might be a consideration in the future.

So the "stretch goals" for their $360K go fund me (which would be a huge kickstarter on its own) include the chance to invest in their future products, again via kickstarter? This on a separate platform (gofundme) that does not require meeting a goal in order to draw out funding. That sucks, I'm sorry.

I've backed several kickstarters in the past few years, and fortunately haven't had a bad experience aside from waiting 12+ months for something to deliver. But I have to say there is something disturbingly anti-consumer about the way the platform is developing. I mean, allegedly one is investing rather than buying when you back a kickstarter, but you are investing with no equity and without all the financial information you would normally have when investing in a company. Instead you get a list of stretch goals (dice! cards! handouts!) that make it seem like you are getting good value for your money, when in fact you are taking a (sometimes sizable) risk.

I would bet that we'll see more of this given the discourse around "$1M kickstarters," especially for boutique products. The kickstarter dynamic involves a scarcity of product + a fear for missing out to drive engagement. It's a $1M kickstarter, so clearly lots of other people are trusting this company, and clearly they know what they're doing, right? I'm not even saying anyone is particularly at fault here, or that crowdfunding hasn't made it possible to create products that might otherwise not have been created, but it involves a negative side as well.


I've backed several kickstarters in the past few years, and fortunately haven't had a bad experience aside from waiting 12+ months for something to deliver.
Based on the number of Kickstarters I've backed, I think I've been lucky. Only these three from Blacklist haven't been fulfilled - and one of them (Fantasy Set 1) has been finished and just needs to be shipped, apparently. It's not the biggest disappointment of my life, and I'll be okay without the miniatures. If some reputable company were to swoop in and try to save these products needing some additional funds for shipping costs or something, I'd chip in.
But the GoFundMe seemed wrong. The way Blacklist ran these Kickstarters was a mess. The way they continued running Kickstarters and offering products on their website they knew they couldn't ship - I think that's the worst offense of all.

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