Several of you have made favorable comments on the Oathsworn Miniatures I received the other week and expressed interest in the various reports I gave of the progress of the Kickstarter.
The latest (and last) update from Oathsworn is of sufficient interest to reproduce it here - partly as an example of something done well and also because there are interesting things promised for the future. If you're not interested in the Kickstarter, start reading at the pictures.
First of all, I'd like to say a big 'Thank you!' to all of our backers. We've run two kickstarter projects, and they have both been successful - and a lot of that is down to you; so thanks everyone! So looking back at the project we have just completed, what went well, and what would we do differently?
Well, right at the beginning, we had to decide what models to sculpt for the project. We'd asked backers of our first Kickstarter what they would like to see... by far the most common answer was 'More dwarfs!' After that, there were a fairly large number of people who wanted Halflings. But we also felt that it would be good to try and expand into other types of fantasy figures. So we did a mixed set - mostly Halflings, but with a few Dwarfs, Monsters and other odds and ends.
This was probably a mistake. We ended up with fewer backers than for our first Kickstarter, and a slightly lower funding total. But we had a lot more figures which needed moulding... With hindsight, I think keeping the project more focussed would have been better. I think we should have stuck to a single race.
Also, because there were so many different things in the project, it got quite expensive. A Completionist pledge, with a dragon and overseas shipping came to £125; that's quite a big chunk of money from anyone's hobby budget...
One other thing that was a mistake was the blacked-out images at the start of the project. The idea seemed good - you could see some of the figures, but would need to keep checking back to see the others as they were revealed. It also meant that we had regular updates to post, and pictures to send to the various forums and blogs. At least, that was the idea; instead it seems that many people had a look at the project page on day one, couldn't see a lot, and never came back...
Also, I think the project went on too long - four weeks is a long time to keep people's interest going, and we had a few drop out in the third week.
Postage was also a bit of an issue - international postage has gone up a lot... for example, the last batch of 23 parcels cost £468 to post; more than £20 each, plus packaging. And when our highest P+P level was £10, that hurt a bit! But we'll keep trying to absorb the cost as much as possible, because I think P+P costs can really put backers off; very few people realise how much it actually costs.
And the final mistake - resin bases! Now, don't get me wrong, I like resin bases - I don't even mind the effort involved in drilling and pinning figures to use them. The mistake was offering them as a free upgrade. If they had worked the way we planned (as a thin insert to plug into a plastic base) it would have been OK; but the thin inserts kept warping, or just snapping. So we had to make the full resin bases. They took a lot of time and money to do... we've worked out that for the same amount of time and money we could have sculpted two more figures, and given them away free to every backer! And we are pretty sure most of you would rather have had a couple of free figures instead...
So those are the things we did wrong... what did we do right? First of all, I think our projected delivery date was right - we'd originally hoped to have the figures delivered before Christmas, but decided we ought to set the delivery date for February, simply because a lot of the production process is out of our hands. And this was a good thing; getting the master casts cleaned up and ready for production moulding took a lot longer than anticipated. Then of course the casters had other commitments to fulfil as well, and pretty soon Christmas was upon us. On top of that, we had several thousand resin bases to cast (thanks Jo!). So as it worked out, our February delivery goal was about right.
Secondly, I think we did pretty well with the communication - we kept on top of the updates, and tried to respond to as many comments as possible. I need to start using the Facebook page as well though... I never remember to use Facebook!
I also like to think that I did the sculpting pretty well - there were a few things in this project that I'd never tried sculpting before, but I was reasonably happy with the way it all turned out; there are a few bits that I would do differently, but nothing major.
So what lessons have we learned from it all? I think we need to do shorter projects, with fewer figures, and more focus. And try to run one every 2 to 3 months. That way, if a project doesn't appeal to you, you can ignore it, and there'll be another along in a couple of months.
We also need to make resin bases a paid add-on... ;
I also think it would be useful to have more control over the casting process; Jo's working on that at the moment...
What have we got planned next? Well, the first thing is to get our webshop up and running... thanks to our two Kickstarter projects, we've got the beginnings of a fantasy miniatures range. So we need to have the figures available for sale on our website. That's our priority.
After that, Jo is going to be having a go at casting... we've bought an old spin casting machine, and a little melting pot, and we'll see whether or not it is something we can do for ourselves. If it is, then that should speed things up for us a lot in terms of delivery. Fingers crossed!
Next, we will be launching a new project - some more dwarfs (after all, my plan is to eventually have 1000 different dwarf sculpts - and we've only got 22 so far!). We seem to have a mix of backers; some want miniatures just to paint, some to use in role- playing games, and others as part of armies for tabletop wargaming. So the next dwarf project will feature 2 sets of figures; 8 to 10 dwarfs who run a brewery, and 8 to 10 dwarfs who form a unit of heavily armoured tunnel fighters. The first set is aimed more at RPG / skirmish game fans (like Jo); the second set is more for the army builder types (like me!).
This will be a short project, probably 10 days to a fortnight long. I expect we'll launch it in late March.
Around the same time, (maybe even at the same time!) we'll be launching another small project - just for one model. It's not really anything that fits in with our usual models, and is more just something I really want to try out. For a long time, I've been fascinated by Norse mythology - I've sculpted various Norse gods over the years... and now I finally want to try doing it properly, and making a range of gods. So, I'm going to have a go at launching Project Pantheon - starting with a sculpt of Odin riding on Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse. Size-wise, it's a bit bigger than other Oathsworn stuff (which is all 1/56th scale, if you were wondering). The Odin figure will be about 40mm tall, but I think as a god he should be an imposing model. He'll also need to be a multi-part kit, because it's a complicated model. I have no idea whether this project will be successful or not - that'll depend on whether or not there are enough Norse god fans in the Tabletop Gaming community... but then that's the beauty of Kickstarter, we can see whether people are interested before we spend too much money! If it is successful, I'd like to have a go at Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Hel and all the rest...There's a very early WIP pic below.
In the longer term, we are aiming to launch our first game. This will be a tabletop miniatures skirmish game, a similar concept to Games Workshop's old game, Mordheim. So about a dozen models per player, and a campaign system with experience points and skills, extra equipment, stuff like that. That way, we'll cater to the role-players and the wargamers in our gaming group! ;)
Originally, we were thinking of a generic fantasy skirmish game, but that idea has a few problems; firstly, we'd need a much bigger range of figures to make it work, and secondly, we'd need to do a massive amount of playtesting and balancing work to make sure all the races worked together properly. So we've settled on a game set in 14th century England, so all the characters will be human, but with fantasy elements. Basically, all the superstitions, religious beliefs, devils and witchcraft are real in the game. The game takes place in the lost medieval town of Ravensrodd; which gives a very cool, real-world setting. The town was devastated by storms, and became a haunt of vagabond bands of looters, thieves, pirates and mercenaries before it was finally destroyed by the Grote Mandrenke, the 'Great drowning of men' in 1362. In terms of miniatures, there'll be lots of human fighter types, plus some of the weird stuff - plague victims, the possessed, religious fanatics, witches etc. There will also be sprues of add-on parts - weapons, pouches, shields etc. As a project, there's a lot to do, and we will just be working on it between other things - so it could be a long time before we get it finished.
Anyway, that's the current state of Oathsworn Miniatures. If you read all that, well done - it was a lot of text!
Once again, thank you all for making our first year as a business successful; we really could not have done it without you!
Michael and Jo