Despite all evidence to the contrary, I’ve never been huge on miniatures for tabletop gaming. I don’t mind a good skirmish battle, so long as it’s not taking the place of a roleplaying session. And I don’t mind using them as visual aids—sometimes it’s just better to know spatial relationships—so long as they’re not a necessary part of play, e.g., you can game without HAVING to know those spatial relationships. But I do love painting those suckers, despite my slow and lackadaisical progress at, well, painting miniatures. It’s relaxing, rewarding, and best of all, you can slap those suckers down on the table a few weeks later and go to town on your players.
But I feel I need to point out Reaper Miniatures’ new Kickstarter, because 1.) The rewards are awesome, and 2.) This is how you do a Kickstarter.
Reaper Miniatures is pretty much the king of tabletop miniatures, ever since Ral Partha and Grenadier evaporated in the ’90s. They’ve toyed with plastic miniatures in the past—I have some of their prepainted Legendary Encounters figs, which aren’t bad—but haven’t been successful at taking their winning metal fig sculpts and bringing them to the plastic field. Until they came up with their Bones line in March, which are white polymer figures—essentially pre-primed and ready for paintin’. Great combo: cheap (polymer, non-painted) and quality (based off Reaper’s metal sculpts).
Currently, a full third of their salse are Bones figs, even though there’s only twelve figures in the line—similar to Legendary Encounters, which only had about a dozen figs for years. The cost to start-up, design, mold, and ship a new line of figures is much slower than sticking with the established metal line. But with Indonesia playing tin baron, the costs to buy tabletop figs have been rising a tad high in recent years. Three metal Kobolds go for $5.99, while six polymer Bones Kobolds go for $3.49. See the difference?
So, Reaper went out asking for $30k on Kickstarter, whereupon they’d be able to get the Bones molds constructed and the miniatures flowing at a rapid rate. Like a proper Kickstarter, Reaper set up a series of “Stretch Goals” for when that bare minimum is hit; each Stretch Goal gives backers more rewards… in most cases, more free figures, or the ability to pre-order expensive figures at a deep discount. When that goal was hit out of the park by Reaper’s fans, casual fans saw the awesome stretch goals and joined in, which caused more backers to join in to get the awesome rewards, which caused… you get the picture. The more people who donate, the more everyone gets. It’s a brilliant idea for generating money, and Reaper managed to set up the right hurdles and rewards to cause the desired snowball effect.
Well, Reaper’s $30k goal was surpassed several times over, and the pledge will clear a million effing dollars sometime tomorrow if things keep up. And there’s another five days left before the Kickstarter ends. Currently, those stretch goals have showered down more bonuses on the heads of backers, so the $100 pledge reward has gone from thirty free Bones figures to nearly two hundred.
Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick. At my slow speed and non-professional paint level, the Vampire reward package is enough to set me back for a lifetime of painting. (Or at least a good number of decades.) There’s also the option to pre-order “big” Bones figures, mostly dragons, pairs of giants, a frost wyrm, a pair of demons, a trio of “spider centaurs,” and bunches of other cool stuff, at the cost of $10-15 per. If you donated an extra hundred to buy most of the big figs, that’d still come out to around $1 a miniature—better, standard Bones usually retail for $1.99-2.99, so not only are you getting them at wholesale value, but you’re propagating the line so it’ll see more sculpts (both old and new) at a really decent price.
I’m a bit underwhelmed by the current “final” stretch goal, since it gives you free dungeon furniture (torch, caskets, treasure chest), but the rest of the rewards are pretty impressive. All the Vampire-level backers getting ~200 figures is pretty damn impressive, as is dropping $10 to get a 5-6″ dragon.
Considering Reaper’s getting a million bucks or more out of this, the cost to make the reward figs is a drop in the bucket; with all that gross, here’s hoping that means the Bones line will explode instead of flounder like the pre-painted Legendary Encounters line did. I actually like this idea more than the pre-painted ones, since it saves me the time and energy of priming metal figs (or painting over plastic ones), even though I’d probably prime them black so I can see what I was painting.
[Update 21 August 2012]
I was being conservative when I said they’d clear a million by “tomorrow,” when what I meant was “in the early-morning hours shortly after midnight tonight.” And lo, I was correct. The Vampire level has added five pirates, five bits of scenery, four townsfolk, and four amazing mummies to the set, and will probably also hit its next stretch goals (four “dark heroes” and four other Pathfinder iconics) unless donations dry up. Reaper’s Bones Kickstarter is currently in the top ten highest grossing Kickstarters (hence why the stretch goalposts are increasing, to pay for all the free minis that need to be made and shipped to backers). It’ll also end up being the highest grossing Kickstarter related to tabletop gaming. Godspeed, Reaper. Make it to the top five.
Personally, while I’m not enthralled by all of the figures, I do like knowing that by early next year, the line will cover a lot of ground within Reaper’s extensive catalog, and do so faster than normal (compared to the ~12 figures in the line so far, the Kickstarter will fund production equal to 6-8 years of normal production speed). Not everyone has use for zombie hunters or future soldiers or steampunk gorillas (or, in my case, dungeon IKEA), but someone else will. And they’ll be able to walk into the store and drop a few bucks to pick up a Bones version.