Sunday, 7 July 2013

Empress Miniatures Kickstarter

A study in frustration,

Some consideration on  my first Kickstarter.

Well it is almost one month after the launch… Empress Miniatures had gone whole in the pacific project. Release date is projected for Christmas. It has a whole load of awfully awesome figures. I have to be happy. I spent money in it. I have to be satisfied.

Well I am not, or at least not completely.


The miniatures are great. I saw them in the metal at salute, and the pictures are very good. As you can simply see by yourself.

The initial proposal was well thought, if a bit small. You have 20 different miniatures per range (and the two USMC variations, Helmet and boonie hat so it is 40 for the USMC).  The price is 35£ (well if they had not put the thing on the day of my VIVA I could have grabbed the early birds for 30£) per 20 miniatures postage included. It is not cheap, but is a bit cheaper than average prices around. I have pledged for one full group of USMC in helmets and one full PLA.  Now while I cannot complain on the basic kickstarter options, the so called stretch goals had been an huge disappointment. You had plenty of special forces for the US side (already provided by other manufactures), a small selection of PLA troops, one vehicle that is useless for the project, a 4 pack Australian range that… well… I am not interested into in this form (too small, no support weapons and the lime)  and useful packs only toward the end of the line. 

I am loath to criticize my friends from Empress Miniatures, but well, I realized that after the initial order I did not care about the stretch goal. In my humble opinion they were largely unrelated to the topic and made (except the last and largely unattainable ones) more to please the crowd rather that enhance the value of the package.  I would never have appeased the crowd. Well, as people who knows me personally,  I am not someone that minces words even when it is in my interest to do that… so I will not mince words this time. The crowd (actually a small group of no more than 5-6 individuals on the kickstarter website had only confirmed me that the bulk of wargamers are plainly stupid without any hope for recovery. Well, I have formed this opinion in countless game shows in Italy and reading the posts in several forums, including those pool of infinite idiocy and cheap wisdom like BGG and TMP. The Empress Kickstarter had been just a confirmation.
Two things have popped up to my eyes (again). Firstly the fact that wargamers always ask for product that are already available in our niche market. Secondly that the crowd are always wanting the fashion things of the moment. They wanted Seals for operation Neptune. Well, you have a crappy movie, you have books… but how many time you can do such a scenario? How many time you can make similar actions? Also everyone seemed to have forgot that these things are already available. Eureka does them and are quite nice. What the net result is? That you have a lot or repetition in flashy more or less useless things and then you lack the backbone of the basic forces you need. The other requests were also useless, helicopters, trucks and other stuff that frankly has no place in average table.  Again vox populi, vox dementiae.  I hope the team will still expand the range with proper packs anyway.

So in conclusion what I think of this kickstarter?

Well I am happy to have supported empress. I am happy of the fact that the USMC and PLA will be made. On hindsight I think that the random addition provided by the Kickstarter will in turn be useful for the Empress’ catalogue. On the other hand I think that the Kickstarter in the end lacked soul. The droolers would have drooled anyway even if Empress gave them teddy bears. I have seen their ilk on TMP countless times. Everytime a new product appears some people drool notwithstanding the product itself. 

Kickstarter could be a viable approach to funding new range. It is in no way from the pre-order systems companies like GMT uses for serious wargames. Yet I am not captivated by the stretch goal system. Well, give me a serious and coherent plan from the start, not just thrown in miniatures based on the whim of people that I consider the bane of the hobby. Instead of having two god fleshed out ragnes we have bit and pieces of three and a bit with no coherency. Let’s face it, if you talk about a conflict between US and PRC the MATV is something you will not use. The type 05 presented as last goal or a type 99 MBT would have been much more appropriate. Of course the MATV, if it will ever be produced in the resin will be useful for Iraq and Afghanistan, but it does not belong to this kickstarter, like the silly divers and frogmen. In conclusion while I am satisfied with my pre-order and I wish Paul and Keith (and their wives) a great success, I am not really taken by the whole Kickstarter approach with stretch goals. I just prefer a simple pre-order that spell in advance what will be available. 

Well, still, if you want some superior USMC and PLA miniatures there are 4 days to go, so please pre-order them if you like them. I know that this will not help me in getting the miniatures I want (too far away along the queue), and that probably will just satisfy the idiot-gamers, but still will support Empress Miniatures that I like and support.    

and here is the link I expect you to click ASAP...


  1. I will have to say that you hit the nail pretty much on the head. Now instead of having all the ground support and heavy Weapons for the USMC and PLA we will have to wait longer while folks get there baby seals.
    Who are already produced by Meany other manufactures.
    I believe they were not prepared for the level of success they attained and lost focuses.

  2. yes, plus I think they erred on the side of friendliness. They left the usual suspects to direct the KS... well, I hope that the big infusion of cash will allow them to commission some more stuff to be ready in December (the support weapons for example).