A Big Year for Small Minis
(Note: This week’s “I’m a backer” will be delayed, as we are waiting on interviews from a couple different projects. We will, of course, bring these great projects to you just as soon as they have time to get back to us. While the Christmas season is a busy time for everyone, I am certain it is doubly so for anyone trying to wrap up a successful Kickstarter.)
According to Kickstarter, 2012 was the year of the game, and while games of all sorts did exceedingly well this year, one category really stands out to me as being a huge winner. Despite Doublefine’s excellent performance in the vanguard, I wouldn’t say that it was video games that took the prize (though I suppose if you insist on including the Ouya in games instead of technology, where it belongs, you could make an argument.) The record breaking success of projects like Boss Monster, and Dice Rings, might even lead you to argue that it was more traditional gaming mediums like board games or RPGs that really carried the year, though of course I must disagree.
This year, the projects most worth watching, the ones that seemed to generate the most discussions on boards and in the comments section were definitely miniature games.
Now, as I love miniatures, I am a little biased of course, but think they really have taken the top spot. Miniatures are a relatively niche field, even among gamers, but this year they generated far more than their share of excitement. While it is relatively easy to point to failed board game and video game projects, I can only think of one big miniature project this year that failed, and it was well deserved.
If we’re going to discuss miniature games, this year of course we have to start with Reaper. Reaper raised 3.5 million dollars with their Bones Kickstarter, creating the highest value project I have ever seen; at the $100 level, you’re paying about $.40 a mini, which is roughly a tenth of what you would expect to pay at your FLGS. This doesn’t even take into account the giant extra large minis you could chip in a little extra for. The dragon pictured above was available on Kickstarter for $10, but I would be shocked to see it on the shelf for less than $30. By some accounts, Reaper will need to create 6-7 million minis to fulfill this project, and it is without a doubt the one I am most looking forward to getting in 2013.
Reaper isn’t the only big project going on this year. Right now Kingdom Death is on track to break a million. Though technically a board game, I can say with complete confidence that it is the amazingly creative miniatures that are selling the project. How can I be so sure? Because the project creator has told us almost nothing about the game. Though if he releases information that makes the game sound both complete and playable before the end of his funding period I might yet give him a few more dollars, right now he has made his three-quarters of a million in Kickstarter money on the strength of his minis alone – an impressive feat.
Bombshell Babes, a project I did not back, also did gangbusters right after Reaper, blowing away its goals. So did Relic Knights. Relic Knights marked the third successful miniature heavy project from Coolminiornot. Actually, Relic Knight raised just shy of a million dollars (including some of my money), but Coolminiornot’s four miniature heavy Kickstarters this year raised a cool $2.5 million when all was said and done, marking them as a major player in this newly evolving market.
Another half dozen lesser projects also came in a lot stronger than expected including the Dwarven Adventurers Box Set and Assimilation Alien Host. Both destroyed their original goals in an impressive way too.
What do the rest of you think, am I way off base here? Do you think I missed any big projects?
I have never played a single game with miniatures, but I would like too.
I wonder what it is about miniatures that has so connected with the crowdfunding paradigm. I mean, you wouldn’t think that minis would be necessarily that much more attractive to the consumer than video games or board/card games, but it seems like every miniature Kickstarter does gangbuster business. Hell, even the ones on Indiegogo seem to have a better-than-average shot at succeeding, and that site is generally where dreams go to die.
I have to say, I find the miniature Kickstarters to be annoying because of the way they’re structured. Most of the ones I’ve seen take the same approach: Start with a base set and a low goal. For each “stretch goal”, unlock another mini or two that can be added on, for an additional pledge, of course. Which makes the total go up, which unlocks another stretch goal, which unlocks another mini, repeat until time’s up. The idea of stretch goals is that they’re supposed to be a bonus to the backers, but mini KS projects throw that out the window in favor of unlockable add-ons. It’s like if a board game unlocked expansions as stretch goals, but you still had to buy them. I guess the attraction is, as you mentioned, that the prices are significantly lower than retail. (Which, of course, sucks if you’re a retailer.) But it really just turns me off. Hell, I’ve canceled a pledge on a project that threw out add-ons left and right without doing anything much for the basic backers.
Okay, rant over. I AM generally glad to see companies succeeding on Kickstarter, even if it’s not for me.