Skip to Content

Axis & Allies 1980s minis

7 replies [Last post]
soulbeach
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

Hi, We're in the process of making a sci-fi game and we want similar minis as was available in that golden oldie of A&A. What is the process used, in industrial terms, to make the minis? Do they start with greens, make stainless steel molds, then mass produce? What is the process, plastic injection?

Thanks

The LastShip Team

jkopena
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

I believe that's correct. As I understand it, anything mass market enough to show up in mainstream stores (e.g. Toys R Us) is almost definitely injection molded. The plastics vary, for example some of the pre-painted figs aren't as hard as some boardgame pawns I have, but it's largely the same. Some of the large run "hobbyist miniatures" are also done this way, like GW's plastic kits such as _Battle for Macragge_. If you're interested in that route, at one point I got a quote for a manufacturer for $7K US for molds. From what I gather that's fairly typical. The other day there was a thread on another board I read about plastics having been the death knell of several wargaming/role playing miniatures companies. They got big enough to branch out into cheap plastics, but the upfront costs used up all their capital & left them too vulnerable.

jkopena
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

BTW---the peoples of my little planet have declared war on the peoples of your little planet! Now if only I had plausible backstory and a game mechanic to simulate launching a war fleet from my profile icon up to yours...

soulbeach
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

LOL, thats very funny!

Thanks for your reply. We know molds can be quite expensive. We asked a game company about their miniatures(the minis flexible in nature so more durable) and they told us that vynil was used. We're wondering if it's the same process, plastic injection...We'll ask them.

Thanks again.

PS: if anyone has other suggestions or comments on plastic minis, feel free to keep this tread going.

jkopena
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

I would think it's basically the same process, just a different material. Reading about casting & such makes me wish I'd paid more attention in chemistry---I can't keep all the different polys, ester, and ethylenes straight!

Also, if you haven't picked this up already, greens tend to run about $10US per millimeter for figures. A&A sized figures are probably 10MM. I'm not sure how that pricing carries over to vehicles (e.g. small tanks, ships, etc) however. Probably similar. If you get really serious about talking to a manufacturer, you might want to ask what kind of material they can use as a green. Not everybody can use everything, and vehicles are often done in different material than green stuff in order to get harder edges.

soulbeach
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

Humm, thats food for thought. When you say 10 US$ per millimeter, you mean for most scultors? Or manufacturers provide the skill? We've looked pretty much all week for sculptors we would want to work with. Prices varies quite a bit: one asks 800$ per week (and says his 10mm minis take 1 to 1.5 week to make, but he worked in the industry so he would know for the type of "stuff" to use for hard edges), another 50+ per miniature, another 450+...

Where did you get information about 10 US$ a mm? Would you know of any "Miniature Broker", a guy or business dealing with sculptors AND Companies?

We asked QHQ (micro armor, We LOVE their minis!!!) if they could do it, but they found the project (aproximetly 6 minis of varying sizes) to be too much design work for them to fit it in their schedule (i think they have alot of work already).

About the green stuff, very good point, we will ask our future mold maker about that before getting the miniatures done.

jkopena
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

soulbeach,

Yes, I mean for a sculptor to produce a green. (for the record, I'm somewhat familiar with non-mainstream miniatures production---think Mongoose Publishing or Reaper Miniatures---but not so much mainstream plastics---Hasbro)

Most wargaming minis companies have a couple sculptors they work with for their lines, and many will cast items for you (in metal, with large orders being hundreds of figures). Finding decent independent sculptors is also pretty easy. I actually have a couple minis that we hired a guy to make for some games we're trying to eventually produce. We got good deals because he was trying to build up his portfolio, but you definitely shouldn't pay more than $300--400 for a 28mm roughly humanoid figure from a known scupltor and substantially less for a more unknown sculptor. Ditto ~$150--200 for a very good 10--15mm mini.

For a while there was a website called minisculptor.com where people could post their miniatures portfolio, art, jobs, etc. It was run by Black Orc Games, who make several miniatures wargames, but they shut it down earlier in the year.

You can pick up a lot of info/leads by hanging out on the sculpting forum of The Miniatures Page. If you post a job ad there, you'll get a number of respondees.

My minis were made by a guy named Jay Miller. He wasn't sculpting for a while recently, but may be back into it. He's pretty good, with the one critique that his poses are often poorly chosen (they're often just not interesting). But, if you really say what you're looking for, he can make pretty good stuff (esp. at 28mm). He's also very cheap and pretty good about keeping in touch/reporting on progress. If you talk to him, please tell him Joe Kopena from RocketShip Games recommended him. For reference, his 1:72 historicals and Relic Hunter are what we had him make. The RelicHunter in particular is really quite good. On a minor note, he is also in Canada (Ontario I think, but I could be wrong).

The biggest problem you're going to face though is production. I'm not sure what sort of budget you're under or what retail price target you have, but producing parts like these is going to be tough. I've been working on it for a while and haven't come up with a whole lot. Most small minis manufactures are not prepared to cast resin, so it costs too much, while I don't have the budget or production scale to make injection molding worthwhile. What sort of production size are you looking at (if you don't mind sharing)?

BTW, I like the prototype icons on your website very much.

soulbeach
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Axis & Allies 1980s minis

Thanks Joe,

Well, the production run is not fully established yet. But the 1st plan was about 2500 to 5000. We have investors and people working on the financial side.

I will be planning the 1st stages of marketing, or at least parts of it. We also might just hire someone for a few expensive hours: crazy expensive professionals but with incredible ideas to put something in place.

For sculptors, the ONE i really want to work with, but did not get any feedback yet, is this guy:

http://www.geocities.com/Firebrand100/index.html

Look at his stuff! I love it!

A big question we have is should we get this done in Canada, the States or China...I strongly believe in encouraging local artists and industries. If we don't do that, we're slowly killing our markets by giving most of our money to outside markets and manufacturers.

I know we can use the strong printing industry of Canada, plastics are a little less known to me but we'll be exploring all that very shortly.

If I do talk to Jay, i'll be sure to mention your name!

By the way, we had a great playtest last night, man this is fun! To see friends enjoy something you created! It's so amazing to see a game grow with each playtest, with each VERY usefull input from people. It becomes a team effort and not only your own creation as life is breathed into it...

Thanks for all the input, i'll keep this thread alive, even if only from time to time, people might find this usefull to their own endeavor.

Ben

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut