Gearing up the Swords & Wizardry Miniatures Line (“Press Release”)
A Joint Letter from Matt Finch and Matt Solarz to all old-school miniatures fans.
Hi Folks, we thought that a “press release” was a little weird given how small our companies are, so this is a letter to let everyone know that after talking at length about the S&W line of miniatures, we (Matt and Matt) have decided to make a few changes in the way it works.
First of all, we’re focusing the S&W miniatures license on two principles: (1) miniatures that fit with old-school fantasy games, and (2) giving the best possible value to the mini buyer – more minis for the dollar. Let’s face it; we’re old enough to get sticker-shock at miniatures that sell for $6 or $7 apiece in stores; plus, that hulking $7 piece of metal stands next to the old 25mm Ral Partha characters like a fire giant. Not bad if you want a fire giant, but not too good when the party’s halfling thief is twice the size of the fighter.
Seventies Miniatures at Seventies Prices
Second, instead of hiring sculptors and commissioning new production molds, we’re going to change focus and buy a bunch of old production molds from vintage minis that barely saw the light of day before they disappeared again. Right at the golden age of miniature sculpting, back in the 1980s, the market collapsed and several fantastic sculpting companies went under. As a result, a staggering number of production molds for excellent miniatures have been sitting in storage for decades, unseen and gathering dust or were released only in limited quantities. Since giant 30mm figures became the new “standard” when the market for miniatures re-emerged, these older 25mm figures weren’t ever re-cast. And because those figures are hidden out there, and can be produced at far less expense than new ones, we’ve decided to go back in time for the first several Swords & Wizardry miniatures, a time machine into the lost and unseen part of the 1970s and 1980s miniatures market. In fact, the time machine isn’t just about the miniature sculpts; it’s about the prices as well. Although it cuts the profit margin per figure, these miniatures are going to be offered at prices far, far below the going rate in today’s market. We can’t do anything about the price of the postage stamp, but it’s going to go on a package of miniatures that are incredibly inexpensive. In many cases, the price will be as low as the mini’s original price when it was originally offered in the old days.
The Release Schedule
A new figure is going to be released every two weeks, from now until the foreseeable future, starting around the middle of March. Many of these will be old-style character miniatures, although there will also be several monsters being released. The first two figures slated for production are a cleric miniature and the alligator frog (or “crocodile-toad”) that was originally planned for inclusion in the boxed set. Depending on casting times, the alligator frog may get beaten into production by a black knight with a two-handed Stormbringer-type runesword. The cleric is also supposed to be evil – he’s holding an upside-down cross and has a sinister expression – but he’s also got a great old-style mace, and would make an awesome miniature for a take-no-prisoners type of cleric character. So the first couple of minis are a big score if your adventuring party is chaotically aligned, or if you need some human bad guys. If you’re holding out for a more savory-looking crew, you’ll see them soon, too.
We’re taking a no-frills attitude toward the Swords & Wizardry miniatures line. We can’t make them available at the “Seventies Prices” if there’s a lot of fluff involved in the marketing. Don’t expect to see fancy photographs of these miniatures painted by professional artists at $100 a pop with the expense passed through to the buyer. Don’t expect anything other than a black-and-white Swords & Wizardry logo on the package. Don’t expect limited editions where the mold for a beautiful figure is destroyed at the end of a production run. We aren’t in the business of destroying artworks, we’re in the business of preserving them for use at gaming tables for generations to come.
For similar reasons, we’re going to avoid boxed sets in the future: when you buy minis in a box, you’re paying for a box in addition to the miniatures, and boxes are expensive. Sending out the minis in blister packs or clamshell packs is the best way to maximize value, so that’s what we’re going to be doing. At the request of Mythmere Games (Swords & Wizardry), the original boxed set under production by Center Stage has been terminated in order to re-focus on lower per-mini costs and to allow a faster release schedule of the vintage miniatures.
Why Terminate that First Boxed Set?
Matt Finch, publisher of Swords & Wizardry, says:
“Center Stage is terminating the boxed set at my request, and people who ordered it will get their money back, or they can choose to get a discount on the forthcoming figures. Here’s the bottom line. Producing miniature figures is incredibly capital intensive; it takes a long time for a miniatures company to recoup its investment in a figure. Boxed sets, where the seller has to pay for expensive printed boxes, essentially divert the product line’s budget into buying boxes instead of miniatures. Even though boxed sets are sharp looking, and would add a lot of pizzazz to the Swords & Wizardry miniatures line, I have asked Center Stage to shift into a very non-traditional approach with the S&W miniatures; I would rather see the budget for this product line deployed exclusively toward making more of these vintage minis available on a faster schedule, instead of expending any money on the production value of the packaging, or on well-painted advertising photos. I think a faster release schedule at bare-bones pricing is what the Swords & Wizardry community wants. Hopefully I’m right about this, because I am asking Center Stage to follow a marketing strategy that demonstrably doesn’t work in the mainstream miniatures business. But if anything is true about Swords & Wizardry, we aren’t mainstream.”
Coming Soon: The Tough Cleric