|I had to start with a picture of one that got away. Dr Brainiac is still kicking me for this!|
This is a pretty much becoming a more and more contentious issue for many hobbyists and collectors. It was actually quite rare to spot Special Edition miniatures only a few years back. They were thankfully pretty rare and actually weren't that 'special' or 'limited' in the first place. However, there have been more and more grumbles over this sort of thing going on in the last few years. Perhaps it's because we're all becoming more and more grumpy... hey look it's a possibility, some of us are turning into right miserable tossers. It could also be because more and more of these 'special edition' or 'limited edition' miniatures are being linked to certain products, promotions and events, that by their very nature are elitist and exclusive. That and there seems to be more and more of them being released for everything nowadays. Partially it has been brought on by the explosion in the shear number of smaller games starting up, it also has had some pretty strong links with the growing popularity of crowd funding, but there's also that old chestnut of convention exclusive miniatures.
I'll tell you where I stand on such things philosophically, I don't like them. I never have, not because I don't like alternative sculpts, because I do, no it is more to do with the fact that I'm not a big fan of anything that further ostracizes certain people from certain aspects of our community. I am, however, a big fat giant hypocrit on it as a topic, because despite me thinking its a bit wrong for them to exist on the one hand... guess what? I'm the first chump in line to buy them when I can. I once had a good chuckle when a friend of mine explained to a young kid that the reason he had a cool limited edition Games Workshop miniature from a Games Day, and the young kid didn't was because he was around the company when they were first starting out, and he was supporting them then. This kid paused, scrunched his nose up and said, "so I'm being punished for not being old enough?", you know what? The little kid had a point. These sorts of miniatures are like a badge of honour for some of the worst elitist behaviour you'll see in our hobby.
It's kinda like people who turn up to big stadium concerts in faded out tour T-shirts 'proving' they were following the band before they became 'big'. I once had a guy at a David Bowie gig tell me he was there at the beginning in such a snobbish way, I wanted to ensure he never got to see another Bowie concert again, because he'd be six foot under! I settled for telling the grumpy old git so was my mom. But, these sorts of miniatures play into this sort of behaviour, and ultimately can serve to exclude those who come to a game late, because they didn't know about it, or they weren't in the right place at the right time. Or as that kid said... they were simply born too late! For instance recently I was hit by a number of unfortunate bills the month of Cool Mini or Not's Zombiecide Kickstarter campaign. I really, really wanted to fund the game because I was really excited about the way it looked, plus it's zombies, so I wanted to support it. Real life though conspired to screw me over, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one, or indeed I can't be the only person to have been in that situation with crowd funding campaigns. In many cases that is it once they're over, you can never get your hands on those limited special edition miniatures ever again. The boat has sailed, and you missed it my good friend.
|Wyrd are famous for their limited edition Gen Con mini's|
To a hopeless geek like me this is an agonizing situation to be in. I can fully understand companies needing to do things to say thanks to those of us who have helped fund their products, and give us a little something extra. It also encourages hopeless shiny addicts like me to part with our hard earned cash to support them too, and I'm guessing it must be sodding effective at it as well. However, there have been a number of Kickstarter related special edition grumbles of late. Most notably from my perspective centered around another of Cool Mini or Not's highly successful Kickstarter campaigns, Relic Knights. Yep Soda Pop Miniatures candy coloured wargame with big anime hair and even bigger anime boobs! Now the main grumbles revolved around the inclusion of some special edition Super Dungeon Explore miniatures being included in the Relic Knights Kickstarter. The complaints were thus:
- As it was a Relic Knights Kickstarter having Super Dungeon Explore miniatures as stretch goal targets wasn't giving out rewards that were really for those who wanted to support Relic Knights.
- Conversely it got Super Dungeon Explore players all riled up because they didn't want to have to buy into a 'wargame' like Relic Knights, which they had no interest, just to gain access to the rights to buy miniatures for a game they did want to support.
Boy, talk about being between a rock and a hard place. Now I'm going to be honest here, neither argument instantly occurred to me. I just viewed them as a pretty cool crossover products between two of Soda Pop's game franchises for their fans to enjoy, a nice thank you if you will.
|If you're a fan of Soda Pop, the the Relic Knight Kickstarter gave you lots of cool options.|
However, can I see the grumbles of the two camps? I guess so, they both sort of had a point to an extent. In the blue corner we have those who have decided they wanted to support Relic Knights, in effect being offered bonuses for Super Dungeon Explore, a game they might not have the slightest bit of interest in. Now I might look at such things as a blessing and say "phew at least I don't have to drop anymore cash on this", but others clearly felt these bonuses weren't for them, or indeed the campaign they were backing. They felt like their support wasn't going to fund what they wanted, in a way that's interesting, because in other forms of traditional funding you have to bend over backwards to keep your backers happy. Then in the red corner we have the Super Dungeon Explore fans who felt really pissed off about having to back a Kickstarter campaign they had no interest in, just to gain access to the privilege of buying the Super Dungeon Explore miniatures they wanted. There have been some seriously snarky comments about this on various websites, one such angry discussion was had on the Soda Pop Miniatures Facebook page. So there they were, Soda Pop Miniatures standing in the middle of the ring between two angry heavy weights.
To be fair to Soda Pop Miniatures, they did at least rectify the complaints of the Super Dungeon Explore camp, by allowing people to trade in their chosen pledge options for credit to get the miniatures you actually wanted, i.e. those Super Dungeon Explore miniatures. But what do companies do when running these crowd funding campaigns? There has to be some reward for those actually backing the product, and I guess special edition miniatures ticks that box quite resoundingly doesn't it? What other options do they have? Moving away from crowd funding for a while I want to talk about 'tie-in' special edition miniatures. You know, bribery and corruption linked products. One of the worst examples, or best depending on where you sit on the debate, for me was the limited edition Infinity miniature that came bundled with early purchases of the Battlefoam Alpha bag for Infinity. Now to be clear, on some level the Yuan Yuan with his own little Infinity bag was a really cool little treat for those of us who had pre-ordered the bag, and really wanted one of those bags any way. That's how I viewed it at first.
Yet there were many more in the community who really didn't like the precedent this set for Corvus Belli. I was one of them. The Infinity community had been quite a welcoming and inclusive place, and still is, but these sort of limited edition mini's that only certain people can get access to, threatens to drive wedges I think between companies and those unfortunate gamers who don't have access to them. Especially if you don't want the product they're being bundled with, and lets be honest here Battlefoam bags are pretty expensive. Whether you think they're worth the money or not is a moot point, they do cost a lot of money. True there are other Yuan Yuan miniatures already available for those of us who wish to field the unit, and thankfully they're mercenaries, so at least one faction wasn't getting a new shiny bauble while the rest of them got short shrift... but, for many it clearly left a bitter taste in the mouth. People who had supported the game right from the very beginning, during the first edition expansion years and growing pains. People who had run demo games and spread the word for them, many felt badly treated. Oh and yes, I do have the miniature and the Battlefoam bag... as I said I'm a hypocrit!
|At least you could order it off of the Privateer Press website.|
These tie-ins are a little too cynical for my liking. I was always going to be purchasing the Battlefoam Infinity Alpha bag. It was always going to be a day one purchase for me, I didn't need any incentive to buy the product. I'm not even sure the limited edition miniature would have been enough to induce me if I hadn't wanted the bag any way. I mean £75.60 for a single miniature seems a bit steep! I guess that's the problem though if you actually wanted the miniature, but not the bag. These sorts of product tie-ins aren't the only sucky tie-ins in our hobby though. The other really sucky tie-ins that drives me utterly nuts is convention only miniatures! Arrrggghhh!!! Seriously, you expect me to have to buy a return flight plane ticket to the mid-west of America from the UK, book a hotel room for multiple nights... all to just buy a one off convention miniature for a faction, or a game I've loved to bits for years, and supported to grow in my area? Pardon my French, but... fuck you, fuck you very kindly! I must apologise for my foul language, I don't normally resort to such base and coarse language, but genuinely I feel that strongly about it. This is a phenomenon that has always ground my gears, and will continue to grind them for as long as this practice goes on. Wyrds elongated Nightmare Ted or Lord Chompy Bits anyone?
|Along with Lord Chompy Bits possibly the most sought after MoFaux miniatures.|
It must be the same for you poor sods in North America when you see our European convention special edition miniatures I guess. It blows donkey balls, and is really unfair to a great swathe of our community, whichever side of the pond you are lucky enough to live on. I have no idea how shafted our Australasian buddies must feel like on this score though. Think about it, those poor buggers are getting a dick in each ear! Then after those meat truncheons have beaten them about their head, they get a proper tea bagging by having everything they buy normally cost ridiculous amounts of money too. At least us Europeans and Americans only get a single dick in one ear, but that's bad enough! I'd like to ask all companies that continue with this shitty practice why the hell do you do it? Honestly, is it not bad enough that some of us can't get to these chuffing conventions in the first place that we so desperately would love to attend, that you have to go and rub it in further by saying "hey and it's the only way you're going to get this cool miniature"... really? Seriously, at least buy me a drink first before you shaft me roughly from behind you swines!
|Another of Privateer Presses Convention only mini's.|
I would love to get over to the States to be able to do the convention scene over there. Just because I think it's be cool to see how you yanks do it. I'll do it one year I'm sure of it, probably go to Comic Con too... I don't need extra incentives as a Brit stuck thousands of miles away to attend these cool events. I really, really don't. So why the hell do firms do it? Part of me thinks it actually has very little to do with rewarding fans and giving back to the community as some say. Certainly in terms of Gen Con I get the feeling it's more to do with willy waving. Seeing, which company has the coolest limited edition stuff available... or limited release pre-production miniatures. It is chest beating at its worst if you ask me, and ultimately it serves to ostracise those of us unfortunate enough to have been born in the wrong country. I know that Privateer Press allowed us to order there convention only releases this year, but why the hell were they not at European conventions like Salute? I mean have they fixed their online store for the rest of the world yet? I remember being told not that long ago I had to pay $50's shipping for some parts for a conversion I wanted to do that cost only $5's... yeah I passed on that!
So as I say recently there has been the phenomenon of companies actually putting convention miniatures up on their websites for purchase while the conventions are going on. I for one applaud this behaviour, even though it's not exactly solving the problem. It does at least alleviate some of the issues around such miniature releases. But, what happens if your entire business has been built around limited edition miniatures? I have to say I am a huge fan of both Studio McVey and Kingdom Death miniatures. Things like the Flower Knight from Kingdom Death are a work of beauty, and deserve to be shared with as wide an audience as is possible. Yet currently they're strictly limited runs, far more so than say the limited runs of Studio McVey, which are themselves runs of only 750 miniatures! It has driven me utterly nuts to wake up, brush the sleep from my eyes, and have my morning coffee. Only to spit it out all over my computer screen, as I realise that yet again while I was sleeping Kingdom Death launched, and sold out of a miniature I would have really liked to have purchased! Genuinely the only reason I haven't reviewed some of their gorgeous miniatures I've been lucky enough to purchase from Kingdom Death over the years is because it'd just be cruel to you all.
|For a truly beautifully painted version go here!!!|
Think about it, I'd be awarding 9.5's out of 10, and the cats would no doubt be giving approval badges left right and center... for what?... Miniatures you can't get hold of anymore. It's like dangling a roast beef dinner in front of a starving homeless person, and then whipping it away from them and scoffing the lot. Just too cruel, and certainly not cool in my book! The only hope is that when Adam Poots gets his magnum opus out the door we'll all be able to eventually gain free and ready access to these fantastic sculpts... or at least I hope so! What Studio McVey and Kingdom Death clearly show though is that by creating this demand they are able to actually force up demand to such a level that they can ensure a volume of sales that keeps them ticking over nicely as a business thank you. Who are we to complain if they've found a legitimate strategy to finance their existence? Well we're nobody, that's who, it works for them. Is there an incentive for them to change this attitude or approach right now? Sadly I don't think so, which means I must religiously keep all my electronic devices near me at all times to ensure I don't ever miss out again. So far I've been relatively lucky compared to most, because I'm obsessive, but every one that gets away irks me some more. I'd love to hear what others think about this topic I really, really would. Peace out!