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Creating custom figurines based on existing ones?

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CrosswindsGaming
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Hello, I have a question regarding designing and producing figurines (hopefully with a low price tag too!).

I'm currently working on my first game The 12 Towers. It's a fantasy role playing game that has/needs 12 different colored figures.

As of right now, I'm borrowing the figurines from the game Talisman for my prototype. Since I started using them, they've actually become an important part of the games theme. Each figure (The Orc, The Wizard, etc etc) has a different style and look, which is tied to the different Towers in the game they are associated with.

I've searched around for some time, but I've only found places that make figurines that cannot be reproduced for manufacturing (Laws, licensing, all that junk).

Basically my question is this; How/Where can I find a place/person that creates custom figurines, that can later be used as a base structure for production?

Here's a generalized list of the kinds of figures

The Orc Warlord (Red)
The Frozen Wizard (Blue)
The Dwarven Prince (Brown)
The Dragon Priest (Light Blue)
The Assassin (Gray)
The Fat King (Yellow/Gold)
The Crystal Knight (Teal)
The Bandit King (Orange/Bronze)
The Vampire (Black)
The White Queen (White)
The Mad Sorceress (Purple)
The Elf Lord (Green)

let-off studios
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3D Printers

Do an Internet search for "3d printer service" and you'll see dozens of potential vendors. If you know someone who can do 3D rendering and/or 3D printing, it will likely be more affordable.

In any case, long story short: you can have a 3D model developed to your specifications, printed, and a mold can be made of the printed final product.

JohnBrieger
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Where are you in the process?

I think what you want is a miniatures sculptor. If you go to the Art and Graphic Design Facebook group or the Art and Graphic Design Forums on Boardgamegeek and search "Sculptor" you can likely find some. If they are a digital sculptor, typically they'll provide you with a 3D printable file + the digital master that you can later work with a manufacturer on producing. Many manufacturers will also often sculpting services in addition to manufacturing services – though usually you'll be hiring a 2D artist to provide them concept art to work from.

This is based off the assumption you are trying to self-publish via kickstarter or similar as indicated in your other post. If you are thinking you might try to pitch publishers, I can provide different advice. Something to note is that while there are plenty of places to find miniatures sculptors, designing for production is an expensive process. You can 3D print some early models, but you'll need to work with a sculptor who has designed specifically for casting models before (note also different materials have different casting requirements). I personally don't think prototyping miniatures is worth the spend until you are pretty much all the way done with the game, but your mileage may vary. Just be aware that you could potentially be spending a LOT of money. I briefly read through your other post and your current design is EXTREMELY costly to produce, so you'll need a relatively high minimum run just to break even, especially given art costs. As such – I'd be very cautious about spending too much money prototyping.

Using minis from other games is totally fine for playtesting – and I'm not clear where you are in the process of design for 12 towers. I would recommend not producing any miniatures until you are 100% sure you are going to launch the game commercially, and do it at the same time you are commissioning your other art and final graphic design (maybe with a slightly longer lead time)

If you want to start doing promotional shots with all components that are unique to your game, you can make standees with 2D art or public domain art at a much lower (or zero) budget, or use generic colored pawns. This is what I've done for a miniatures game I'm planning pitching to publishers this August.

TLDR: Getting miniatures produced is quite expensive and probably isn't necessary until you are extremely close to launch on kickstarter

Anyway, hope that is helpful – happy to chat if you have questions.

I Will Never Gr...
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JohnBrieger wrote: TLDR:

JohnBrieger wrote:

TLDR: Getting miniatures produced is quite expensive and probably isn't necessary until you are extremely close to launch on kickstarter

Everything John said, but especially this!

If you are pitching to publishers, don't put your money into miniatures. If you are self publishing (kickstarter or personal funds), expect large upfront costs.

+/- $500 per sculpt.
Anywhere from $2500-$10,000 for the mold that will make 4-12 minis (depending on size, manufacturer, type of mold, type of machine, etc etc).

Then you can actually manufacture, typically at 10,000 pieces at a time.

FrankM
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Consolidating molds

It is possible to make a mold that makes distinct figurines, though as far as I know all of the pieces in the same mold need to be the same color.

If all of these figures were the same material (e.g., pewter), you could potentially make one mold of a whole set. But if the plan is to do injection-molded plastic in 12 colors, then you need 12 molds that make several copies each., making your minimum number of sets 40,000 to 120,000!. This is mitigated a bit if there are other pieces in player colors, maybe getting you all the way down to a 10,000 minimum again (but still with the upfront cost of 12 molds and all of the original sculptures).

ElKobold
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FrankM wrote: If all of these

FrankM wrote:

If all of these figures were the same material (e.g., pewter), you could potentially make one mold of a whole set. But if the plan is to do injection-molded plastic in 12 colors, then you need 12 molds that make several copies each., making your minimum number of sets 40,000 to 120,000!.

This is not how it works. You don't need 1 mold per color (assuming the sculpts are the same).

Still, having 12 different colors will be considerably more expensive than the same color.
Money-wise, it would be better to use colored bases instead.

krone9
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the colored bases is smart -

the colored bases is smart - we came to the same conclusion for Knossus after discussing with a manufacturer. To do different colours, you're looking at minimum runs in each color (you can't mix in a single run but you can use the same mould)

another consideration is that you need a sculptor who knows what they are doing -
which is what John's alluding to - a single miniature might need to be made in multiple pieces due to undercuts, which increases mould costs.

One more is that you might even need different moulds for different figures - its possible to combine them into one mould but if you have significantly different sizes then the injection process doesn't work so you might end up paying the mould cost multiple times (and it looks like minimum 3-4 moulds from your list of figures required)

personally - I'd go with meeples unless you are feeling a burning desire to spend money :) (please note I'm not smart enough to take my own advice - but I have signicantly less figures for my own game!)

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:To do different

krone9 wrote:
To do different colours, you're looking at minimum runs in each color (you can't mix in a single mould)

Yes you can.

They use the same mold multiple times for different colors separately.

It will cost you extra though, but it's not nearly as bad as having to pay for minimal print runs to accommodate all colors.

We've done colored bases for Guards of Atlantis, we are going to do colored plastic for Warpgate.

krone9
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realised what I'd written was

realised what I'd written was a bit confusing - now corrected :)

Point is that you might need 500 figures of each color for your game, for lets say 6000 in total (print run of 500). You might find there's a minimum run of 1000 figures so your cost is double what you'd expect it to be (1000 x 12 = 12000 figures)

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:Point is that

krone9 wrote:
Point is that you might need 500 figures of each color for your game, for lets say 6000 in total (print run of 500). You might find there's a minimum run of 1000 figures so your cost is double what you'd expect it to be (1000 x 12 = 12000 figures)

Is this info from your manufacturer?

krone9
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It's fairly standard to have

It's fairly standard to have minimum runs of casting. This is also true in boardgame manufacturers from the conversations I've had where they've looked for minimum runs of 1000.

FrankM
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Clarification

ElKobold wrote:
FrankM wrote:

If all of these figures were the same material (e.g., pewter), you could potentially make one mold of a whole set. But if the plan is to do injection-molded plastic in 12 colors, then you need 12 molds that make several copies each., making your minimum number of sets 40,000 to 120,000!.

This is not how it works. You don't need 1 mold per color (assuming the sculpts are the same).

Still, having 12 different colors will be considerably more expensive than the same color.
Money-wise, it would be better to use colored bases instead.


I wasn't as clear as I should have been. You can definitely re-use a mold for different colors, but my understanding is that you can't inject two different materials (colors) into the same mold during the same run. It ought to be possible, but it would involve custom tooling to feed different material stocks simultaneously.

In any case, a single material would allow multiple figurines per mold without issues, and the bases could either be commodity items or use a single mold (holding several bases) repeatedly to get all of the colors.

FrankM
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Picking many colors

By the way, it's hard to pick a dozen colors that all stay visually distinct... and you did a really good job of it.

I usually refer to this paper that goes into ludicrous detail about picking colors. Figure 2 is the generic recommendation that designers have had since the 1960's (with only the first 9 suitable for color-blind viewers), and Figure 4 gives a somewhat expanded palette.

Call the light blue "azure" and all 12 of your colors are there.

For my own game, I wanted to avoid using any two adjacent colors on that figure, but that was a little too limiting. Now I'm at least trying to keep the adjacent colors to just diagonals.

krone9
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you would likely need a

you would likely need a seperate mould for bases to figures due to size differences

so based on list, I'm guessing:

3 x figure moulds (minimum)
1 x base mould

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:you would likely

krone9 wrote:
you would likely need a seperate mould for bases to figures due to size differences

so based on list, I'm guessing:

3 x figure moulds (minimum)
1 x base mould

You can fit 12 human-sized models into 2 molds.
For example, Guards of Atlantis had 17 different sculpts, two of which were rather large.
It required 3 molds.

There's no need for a separate mold for bases either.

krone9
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do you have pics of your

do you have pics of your moulds?

obviously depends on the size of the moulds, and the miniatures in question. I wouldnt advise combining the bases with the miniatures (again size dependent) as the injection process isn't suited to making pieces that differ significantly in size. Would be great to hear about your results for GoA. What material did you cast in?

CrosswindsGaming
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Thank you!

This was definitely helpful, I joined the A&D facebook group, and I'll see who/what I can find!

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:What material

krone9 wrote:

What material did you cast in?

I wouldnt advise combining the bases with the miniatures


PVC plastic. Standard stuff, really. Minis are hero scale. Again, standard stuff.

This is the first time I hear that it's not advised to have minis and bases together.

All CMON games, for example, have minis cast together with their bases.

krone9
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Longpack were pretty explicit

Longpack were pretty explicit when I asked them this - and then a couple of other people nodded sagely and agreed afterwards when I mentioned it.. :)

I thought CMON minis tended to have integral bases rather than seperate though?
If thats what you mean then no issue at all - its if the base is seperate from the mini (which I am currently considering)

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