One of the most exciting Kickstarters happening at the moment is Mimic Miniatures’ new selection of personalised models, allowing you to put yourself in your own games. I managed to sit down with the two guys behind the project to ask them a few questions.
Me: I am joined by Brett Peterson and Rich Nelson, the minds behind the Mimic Miniatures Kickstarter.
Rich: Hi Sam
Brett: Hey Sam, thanks for interviewing us this morning
Me: Oh no worries mate, thanks for giving us the opportunity. We’re really excited about this project.
Me: Why don’t we start by asking what sort of games are you guys into?
Brett: Oh, big question. Well Rich and I play Warhammer together. I play Empire Fantasy and Rich usually plays Night Goblins, right Rich?
Rich: Night Goblins and I’ve kind of evolved into Chaos now.
Brett: Then we’ve got a Pathfinder game. We’re actually meeting this evening. Then we play some Magic the Gathering here and there, so that’s kind of my street cred I guess.
Rich: Like Brett I love miniature games, I’m a big Warhammer fan, and also board games as well. Wargames, strategy games, fantasy games, Magic the Gathering is always fun to play. Yeah my collection is pretty eclectic in terms of variety and age.
Me: We’re collectors we’re bound to pick up random stuff along the way.
Me: How did you go from being gamers to miniature makers? How did you get started on the creative side?
Brett: Well Rich and I actually met each other at a fantasy convention. I used to work in the fantasy side of publishing and a good friend of mine was having a launch party for his book and I ran into Rich at the free pizza part of it and we started chatting and I found out he was a game designer. We started talking about things and we realised “hey, there’s not really a spot for personalised game miniatures.”
Rich: Yeah that is wholly accurate, I was just really hungry and needed pizza so I thought I’d go ahead and mooch some pizza off this guy and Brett started talking to me. We developed a friendship and a business relationship and we just started talking about this amazing idea of offering personalised gaming miniatures.
I mean Sam can you imagine? I mean I am sure you have played many games before, but imagine an army of you. Like clone warriors in the Imperial Guard.
Me: I think an army of me is someone’s idea of a nightmare.
Rich: We just started thinking about how cool if you were like fielding an army of the Vampire Counts or Tomb Kings army where you had these zombies of you. So we just started exploring all these different tangents and going “Gosh yeah, imagine if I was like a Space Marine captain, or I was in my role playing game and instead of having some off the shelf miniature there I was!”
So we just started thinking about this and it was just a fantastic idea and Brett and I spent about a good year just working out the kinks and making sure that the miniatures would be commercial quality. And as you can tell from our Kickstarter campaign the level of detail that we can achieve with our production is pretty uncanny.
Me: Speaking of Kickstarter, how did you get started on that? Why did you head there?
Rich: So Sam previously I had a very successful Kickstarter campaign with my first game. I’m with another company called Giant Goblin Games and we were producing a game called Storm the Castle.
Me: Oh yes I remember, I believe we reported on it.
Rich: Oh awesome, thank you. Well it was really just kind of seeing how well Kickstarter would do for us and after the success of Storm the Castle Brett and I were talking about marketing channels. It just really made sense to us to go to Kickstarter which is just rife with gamers and geeks and nerds, and I say that lovingly and affectionately, who love this kind of stuff. It was really a no brainer for us. Also the ability where we can tap into the crowd funding platform and really just kind of measure what the interest level would be in a company like Mimic Miniatures. So how we expand our company and what we do is really dependant on how well we do on Kickstarter and right now we are doing really, really well and so that really gives us a lot of enthusiasm for future growth.
Brett: One thing I really love about Kickstarter too is that engagement with our customers and that’s harder to get through miniature retail. When talking with retailers we are a step removed from the people who are actually buying our miniatures right? But with Kickstarter we can ask questions like what sculpt are you guys interested in next? And within a hour we have 30 replies with people saying “I really love this” or “I really love that” or whatever. So it’s a lot faster and a lot more responsive.
Me: Nice, so can you tell me something of the creative process behind this? How do you go from those bad selfie photos to awesome miniatures?
Brett: Well we actually have some soft ware and we get a picture of the left side of your face, the right side of your face and the front of your face. Preferably just get a buddy to take that for you, though I guess you say mate over in the British Isles. We take those and we feed them into a software programme that creates a composite 3D image from that .So it’s a little better than the bad selfies, it comes from the alignment of all three pictures, that how we make it work. When that happens it spits out a three dimensional model of your head for us and we take that head and put it onto different figures. So it’s kind of a really aided by technology process honestly.
Me: What sort of challenges did you find with this?
Brett: First was getting the technology workflow together. Like Rich said we worked for about a year on getting some of the kinks out and getting the whole software side of things down took quite a while. Then the 3D printer itself, sourcing the right one, finding what we could do with the cost we wanted. So the main issues were getting the technology in place. We had an idea and the idea was solid, but realising took a little bit of work.
Rich: It was really important for us to have a process where we could drive the cost down to get them into a reasonable range, so right now for US$25, that includes domestic shipping. But we thought that a $20 miniature of you is an appropriate price range for the personalisation. You know how terribly expensive some other companies charge for one miniature, so we thought this was a pretty reasonable price for the process and what we were doing.
Me: Just out of interest what sort of material do you use?
Brett: It’s a grey resin. It’s actually pretty similar in quality to what you get with a high impact plastic. They’re about as sturdy, if not more sturdy than Warhammer figurines. Because it’s a 3D printing process it’ a photo curing resin.
Rich: And we have video proof of the durability. We were filming giving it to the different authors and people who were supporting us and it got dropped from pretty high up.
Brett: On a stone floor.
Rich: But please don’t try this at home!
Me: Ahh, you just spoil all the fun.
Me: I see you have a whole range of miniatures of people, can you tell me what sort of things do you offer?
Rich: Definitely. So Brett is our primary 3D digital sculptor, he’s done a fantastic job in creating these miniatures. He’s very artistic and has been able to create a lot of these miniatures, so if you take a look at the warrior, or the cleric and whatnot, those are all original sculpts.
Our approach to this was let’s create a collection of fantasy miniatures to start off with, because we realised a lot of people just love fantasy and they really appeal to a lot of people. So we started off with the classes that you find in most of your Pathfinder and DnD fantasy worlds, like Cleric, Rogue etc. As we have been able to get more success with our Kickstarter campaign we started unlocking new classes. Now we’ve got the Pirates, we’ve got Arkham Horror / Call of Cthulhu Investigators, Zombie Survivors, we’ve even got a Zombie class!
Me: Oh that is cool.
Rich: Sam have you heard of Zombicide?
Me: Yes I have, haven’t had a chance to play it yet though.
Rich: Yeah so now imagine you and your buddies being the zombies, and / or the zombie survivors!
So we just looked at what personalised miniatures can really do to a gaming table and it adds to the affinity of you and your army, because when you’re on the table top, when Brett’s playing Empire and I’m playing Night Goblins or Chaos, whatever, you love your army. You put it together, you build it up and now you add that extra component where you’ve got some personalisation on there. It just adds to that unique fun factor that this gives.
Me: Now I’m just picturing you with an army of goblins and one Rich goblin in the middle of it.
Rich: Exactly. Just wanted to add, our backers can choose a class template and have that be them, or if you have, let’s say a High Elf General, that you absolutely adore you can order just heads that you can put on any miniature you want. In fact we recently added a pledge level where you can get these larger size heads to put on like a Deep Prince, or any of those larger models.
Me: You mean I could finally be a giant? I could finally be taller than Warren!
Me: In terms of scale you guys are working in 25mm aren’t you?
Brett: Yeah, but we can scale down to Infinity size as well, which is a little bit smaller, or a little bit larger to the 28mm heroic. We tried to really hit that standard set of ranges and be applicable to as many games as we possibly could.
Me: Have you got any future projects in mind?
Brett: Well first and foremost we’re going to fill out our Kickstarter orders, but as we’ve launched Kickstarter we’ve been to a couple of conventions too. We were at Salt Lake Comic Con, which was a huge convention for its first year. There was 80,000 people on its third day, I want to say. Just a nutty convention. Our booth was packed the whole time. But I’ve noticed that, between conventions and Kickstarter we are getting a lot of requests from retailers to sell Mimic Miniatures in their stores. So when people are buying like a starter set for their army they can just order a miniature for themselves right then and have it ready to go with their Warhammer set. So that’s a big thing we are looking at and working on, setting up that retailer connection. We’ve had a lot of interest actually outside of wargaming, it’s been fascinating, really kind of cool. There was one lady who wanted to make miniatures of all of her children, she wanted that to be the memento at a family reunion. Another was thinking about doing a customised chess set. So yeah we are kind of feeling out these other opportunities that our coming up.
Me: Yeah, that’s about it guys. Thanks for giving us this interview.
Rich: Alright brother, thanks so much.
Me: Good to meet you guys, best of luck with the rest of the project.
Brett: You too, thanks again.
The fundraiser has five days left so get pledging if this sounds like the campaign for you!
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