When we last lest off on this rather rambling discussion, we had addressed the issues regarding manufacturing plastic miniatures, the costs involved and some of the challenges a small manufacturer faces, regarding time to market, the supply chain, the customer base and profit margins.
You can view the other conversations here:
This is part 4: Where to go from here.
This is the last in that series of rather frank discussions. This conversation will be about the direction DreamForge will take and how I would like to handle new releases and how to keep the train rolling as much as possible while limiting delays as much as possible.
Where have I been since my last post? Working on prints, testing a few theories about mold manufacturing with an eye to efficiency, repeatability and quality.
Where to go from here…. Well, that is a rather large question with some fairly complicated moving parts. I love doing what I am doing but at the end of the day, this is a business and all paths forward must be manageable, efficient and profitable. With the other conversations behind us I can address my path forward.
- Production will be moved in house, for cost, quality control and to allow for ease of movement from one product to the next. Should one flop, the investment will be minimal, and the next release more easily moved into, as I will be controlling the manufacturing aspects and it facilitates a far more inventory on hand friendly option. Manufacturing just what you need when you need it keeps ‘dead stock’ issues to a minimum. The obvious down side is that this does impact my design time as I am elbow deep in the manufacturing process.
- I will be releasing product in waves, making enough for the anticipated first product push and not returning to that product until there is a production slot open to deal with the extra run. This may cause issues where the supply does not meet the demand, but it is a necessary evil. Every kit setting on a shelf, is money tied up, money that could and should be used for the next release.
- New kits and re-issues of older kits will be in resin, the costs to tool and run the product are far more manageable and I went over in the previous paragraphs, it allows me far more financial freedom and the ability to tailor my production and keep a more fluid release schedule on hand. Having a 500 unit minimum and a 4-6 month lead on restocks simply does not work for a company my size.) The plastic kits are limited to stock on hand, if you want them, you might want to pick them up while they are available, once they are gone, they are gone. They will be replaced by the resin versions in the future. The infantry will not be discounted as the supply is very limited. Any kit in stock that has too much excess inventory will see some great sales until the stock levels reach a minimal level.
- I know some of you may not have had stellar results from resin kits, I will do my best to control quality and have been experimenting with a few techniques to minimize the gate and vent size down to 1/16” (about 1mm) to help get rid of the issues with massive cleanup and destroyed details due to overly large pour gates. This process does have some drawbacks. The resin I use cannot be fast setting, which means a mold may not see more than two casts per day. To address this issue, I have worked out a means to make many copies of the same molds, quickly and efficiently. There is simply no way to match the production speed of injected plastic but considering its tooling costs and the lead time needed, it is not an option within this niche market where the ‘new shiny’, it what sells. I much prefer being able to continually release great products than hope a kit has staying power to pay for the initial investment.
Would I ever consider a plastic release? Yes, given the right kit, it is still a better means of production. Having the experience, I have gained so far, I have a good feel of what will and what will not survive a long release, the only questions is whether the community will have moved on to the next game/product in the meantime.
So, now you know the direction… What’s next?
I will be doing a bit more mold testing and refining of process and then the initial run of the StuG can begin. The initial run will be 200-300 kits
Here you can see a pre-production test!
Ferals and troopers, really cool kits, fun as hell to model these, but without a game or other driving force to push sales and no obvious ‘counts as’ the sales on these may be a little soft. I will keep my initial run fairly small while keeping an eye on my customers reactions.
The Ferals are shown here with all five poses, the Shadokesh trooper is one of the five, just working on the prints for the other four.
These have been OOS for some time and will be the first re-release, followed closely by other infantry lines. The re-releases will be roughly in the same format, separate arms and chests, etc, but I may join up some components that were split to ease manufacturing, assembly and part count issues.
After that? The Protectorate! Honestly not doing these in plastic is a blessing and a curse. I know they would sell with enough initial volume but the freedom of not needing to respect the ‘direction of pull’ of a hard too means I can start to really flex some modeling muscle and make them as cool as possible.
And after that? Buildings, terrain, other vehicles, races, etc.…..
My intent is to get far more interactive with the community regarding those future releases, asking for feedback and taking critiques to make every kit the best I can. The re-releases, StuG and Shadokesh are basically done from the modeling aspect, so, they are what they are…. But I look forward to flexing the old grey matter with all of you for the future lines. Its going to be fun, its going to be cool and I hope to see many of you helping to shape the products you want!