Friday, January 14, 2011

Corporate Misadventures

Several notable shakeups this week in the world of wargaming. In the "here we go again" category-While the news is over a week old at this point Games Workshop reported it had a 4th quarter loss for 2010 with its Stock losing all third quarter gains. GW continues to struggle in the major areas of customer support and retention, as well as public relations, Its not worth rehashing the usual gripes here, but the bottom line there is alot more quality competition for miniature wargamers dollars these days, and Games Workshop products are just grossly overpriced. Adding to the usual bad press GW always seems to like to create for itself right around Adepticon, (the biggest wargaming convention in the US. founded on Games Workshop product.) It is currently suing Chapterhouse Studios. A Texas based manufacturer of unofficial resin parts for Games Workshop products. While I'm not privy to the exact details its clear Chapterhouse, isn't too concerned about the Intellectual property thing, as they sell parts for every popular Space Marine chapter you can think of and clearly call them so, with official looking company banners clearly marking the link to each Chapters store page. The comical thing is they have huge disclaimer on the front page declaring they are in no way affiliated with GW, yet GW's IP is pasted all all over the very page of the disclaimer. It looks like these guys were purposely trolling for the shit end of bad lawsuit but we will see, I'm not an IP attorney so maybe I cant see the obvious. Just to throw some gas on that fire, it also appears GW has dragged another, and apparently innocent company ( from the Chicagoland area ) into this mess by claiming he was an affiliate of Chapterhouse studios. He's also a resin parts manufacture, but with no IP violations I can see on his site. The reason for the tag team seems to be so GW legal could try to get an Illinois venue for this case and also drag Adepticon's name into the mess by showing the physical market for these products and thereby show the clear financial loss. The whole thing looks like another PR mess for GW and it will surely reach its boiling point just in time for Adepticon. You think the folks at GW would have waited until late April and just gone after Chapterhouse on the obvious merits., I just hope the apparently innocent guy here gets a chance to clear his name.

On the "from out of nowhere" front, I read on TGN today that Wargames Factory is suddenly under "new management". If you have been a fan of Wargames Factory since the get go, like I have -you know that Tony Reidy is its heart and soul. While I personally fell out of love with most of the product line, I think it has an essential place in the market and Tony's passion for the hobby is inspiring. It seems here (speculation based, what I've read and my own insight)that the Chinese Manufacturer of Wargames Factory product, used debt owed to get a "piece of the action" and leveraged that piece, with what I can only assume is more debt then colluded with Wargames Factory's wholesale distributor, to take over the company and force Tony out. Again, that's my own speculation based on what I've read, but its not like that type of thing is anything new in the business world, whether it be Toy Soldiers, Toasters or Toilet Paper. Tony's a casual acquaintance of mine, we spoken maybe a half dozen times and we're friends on facebook...and it seems he's in lockdown mode right now and not talking period, perhaps- not by choice. What is crystal clear is that Wargames Factory is FUBAR right now with people who bought product as far back as Thanksgiving, not getting their orders and not even getting a basic response to the obvious email of "where's my stuff". Another big mess, no idea how this ones going down, its only been brewing a few days but expect a press release soon and a Wargames Factory without Tony Reidy to be a totally different company.

(Edit 1/15 Tony posted this on the Miniatures Page, just

Last and definitely least, for me in the "last nail in the coffin" category, is that Wizards of the Coast, (aka Hasbro) recently announced it was axing its line of plastic crack called D&D miniatures. rubbery horribly cast plastic blobs with lousy chinese factory paint jobs, they released 20 sets of these each seemingly dumber and uglier than the next. You think they been designed to be play aids for the RPG however they made them collectible (which was all the rage in early 2000's) all of which did was create an insane secondary market that froze out the people looking for role playing pieces. I was big fan of WotC's pewter Chainmail line of the early 2000's and collected a handful of choice pieces. while I hadn't played any D&D with a real human outside of a computer since I was 14 and it was its 1st Edition. I had intial attraction to the D&D miniatures game, because of Chainmail, and because I always viewed D&D as war game even way back as a lad rather than the homeless shelter for devil worshiping cast extras that the game actually became stereotyped for. Regardless it wasnt long before I realized the game and these figures were utter shite, the few of them I still possess are the toys I give my 2 year old and 4 year old to play with when they are hanging around the basement so they dont break my actual miniatures. Good riddance to the whole line, I hope Reaper is popping the champagne.

(disclaimer- there are purposely no links here, all this info is readily available and I don't want to be responsible for driving traffic to the various offenders mentioned, links to the larger entities are on my sidebars. If you have a question about my sources here go ahead and ask.)

ok, back to hobbying....


John Lambshead said...

A thought provoking post. Thank you.

Felix said...

If I recall correctly, the last sets of DnD miniatures weren't completely collectible. They based the sets on the latest character class releases, and the sets were open purchases of those classes. In addition, they had monster sets that featured a known item in the pack with the monster allotment inside being collectible.

This most recent line was a departure from their collectible "Dungeons and Dragons Miniature Game". The collectible miniatures game had its own rules set and everything in the set was collectible and blind buys.

I felt that the most recent line was more in line with their product, a tactical role playing game. Dungeon Masters and players easily got the characters they wanted to use and only had to shell out if they wanted to complete everything. This is very different from the "DnD Minis Game" model where players built warbands out of any miniatures in the set and so drew lots of blind purchases and a singles aftermarket.

The problem is, I think, they just didn't have the interest in the non-collectible line.

David said...

Wow... I knew about the GW & WotC,things, but Wargames Factory?? That's really a shame.

Mike Howell said...

I had really hoped that GW had turned the corner after last year's profit statement. I understand the need to protect IP (especially from flagrant abusers like Chapterhouse) so keep us up to date on this presumably unrelated party.

As for D&D minis... the secondary market was great for me. I picked up a metric boatload of commons for my 5 year-old for next to nothing. He loved them!

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

Bastion - the makers of Ex illis is also on the skids. Oddly enough, they have the same Chinese plastics company making their models as WGF. I have to wonder if the two events are linked - could be the investing company took a look at the 2010 results and pulled the plug.

How do you make a small fortune in the gaming business.... start with a large fortune!

Greg said...

There was a huge snafu getting the greatcoat soldiers out the door last spring, and I seem top recall that a good portion of that was problems with the health of one of the higher-up's kids. Honestly, I hope it's greedy investors and not pediatric health problems causing this.


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