The Topps Company announced today [11.10.08] that WizKids will immediately cease operations and discontinue its product lines.
Scott Silverstein, CEO of Topps, said “This was an extremely difficult decision. While the company will still actively pursue gaming initiatives, we feel it is necessary to align our efforts more closely with Topps current sports and entertainment offerings which are being developed within our New York office.”
Upon notifying our partners, Topps will immediately pursue strategic alternatives so that viable brands and properties, including HeroClix, can continue without noticeable disruption. To that end, WizKids will continue supporting Buy it By the Brick redemptions for Arkham Asylum, and the December Organized Play events for HeroClix.
For consumer announcements, please refer to www.wizkidsgames.com over the coming days for further information.
This is quite a heavy blow from a popular company, though to be frank I’ve been expecting it for some time. WizKids has the bad habit of making amazing product lines which don’t see enough play (Crimson Skies, Shadowrun), or trying to revitalize older product lines and failing (MageKnight). After the “action pack” treatment of MechWarrior and HorrorClix, the company announced earlier this month that all Wizkids products would grind to a halt. Earlier, I’d heard a rumor from my FLGS that all the clicky lines would be cancelled, leaving just the Star Wars and Pirates constructible games, but according to this announcement that is not the case–even the venerable Pirates and HeroClix lines have bit the dust.
I have the feeling that Topps will eventually get back to making some more product for these lines, but, after all, they make their money first and foremost from sports and collectible sales–so, all in all, nothing’s really changed for the Mech and HorrorClix fans. It’s pretty shocking to see the highly valuable Pirates and HeroClix lines bite it. I’d also be interested in seeing how Shadowrun 4th and the new Battletech lines fare, given that they’re also WizKids products. According to the blog on Catalyst Game Labs’ main page, the publisher has submitted an offer for the WizKids licenses. Time will tell. I hope they make it.
Also, WizKids attempted several times to increase the popularity of their brands, for example tying in promotions with major comic-book movies (Iron Man, Hulk for example), along with licensing Mage Knight and Pirates to Pinnacle for thier Savage Worlds. As far as I knew, the various supers tie-ins worked very well (the Iron Man free-comic-book-day figure flew was damn hard to find), though Savage Worlds probably isn’t popular enough to get Mage Knight back up and running if they ever released a book for it. I’ll have to look into how Pinnacle is affected.