Monday, September 30, 2019

Reaper Bones V, it's one hot potato.

Tomorrow Reaper Bones V drops its newest Kickstarter , I dropped the being a gaming industry gadfly a long long time ago and haven't posted any kind commentary in I dont know how long.

Anyone who has read this blog more than a couple time since 2007!!! knows I am a long time supporter of Reaper Miniatures- the company, in fact these days most of my miniatures either as gaming or display pieces are from Reaper.

I was supporter on Bones 4 which just delivered in April of this year from my Wave 5 status due to certain pieces in my order being shipped late from the factory in China.  I didnt bother blogging about my hassles then but as time has gone on with another Bones KS dropping seemingly crazy soon after,  its worth pointing out some the issues I had and some of my observations.

Reaper just finalized delivery of Bones 4 this summer to the final Australian  markets.  Now barely 3 months later moving to Bones 5 seemingly finalizes the move into Reaper Miniatures joining the existing slew of companies that are funding their entire operations through crowd source funding . While I'm pretty sure Reaper at this point could operate conventionally without it, there is just no reason for them to with so many people lining up to throw millions of dollar at them up front.

 More isnt always better., there  is a reason "less is more" is prescribed mantra ..I'll be surprised if the quality is as good as the stellar designs of B4, I can already see from the base core set photos, its clearly not.

While that's just my opinion the following is just the reality:

The delivery window based on these 100% crowd sourcing models is inherently longer, The Bones 4 delivery window was very close to 1.5 years in the US  2 years for people in Australia, and somewhere between for the rest of the world.

One thing I have certainly noticed and have personal experience with that is very common with alot of these game oriented Kickstarters. People get consumed by the hype and often buy "all in"  into these and like many things in the crowd sourcing world by the time they are delivered  to your door years later , the hype is gone , buyers remorse has set in or you have have lost interest. The result is alot of product getting dumped on ebay right away and the whole "Exclusive for Kickstarter pledges" goes right out the window,

Not only that but Reaper's "Waves" distribution is actually meaningless...yes , orders are shipped as they are received but Reaper makes no distinction between its single customer and resellers (who are really just retailers , as much as the fandom would have you not believe) . Kickstarter exclusive products are big business for resellers who front the money for huge amounts of Reaper KS product then resell it at big margins for easy cash while the long delivery window of Repaers "Waves" is in effect.

Last time around every single piece my order was held up for 2 months for was already- for sale on ebay a few days after Wave 1 started shipping,. Granted at a higher price than I paid,  but resellers last time actually shot themselves in the foot because so many people did it..that prices were pretty competitive.

 Reaper also manufactured alot more product last time around than wasy ordered thru the Kickstarter, selling these extra sets thru the website immediately upon that Countries fulfillment, so if you say lived in another country and  fulfillment was delayed for what ever reason and the US had completed delivery you could beat out your own KS fulfillment by just ordering off the website. These qualities were limited, and went fast but between that and ebay you could have gotten everything a Kickstarter backer waited 2 years for "on demand" and not paid much more than retail, even less in  some cases.

The moral of the story here is there is no reason to rush your pledge or if you are one of the many people with only a causal interest in a few pieces. The reality is there is no reason to pledge at all.

History has shown with the last two outings  that you will be able to easily get what you want during the KS fulfillment phase when the time comes,  without having to front Reaper your money , and without having to pay much more that actual retail price when it "x" piece finally sees a general release. Also there is no incentive if you are not a US customer to buy in  because again, odds are you'll  be able to get it sooner elsewhere, then thru the normal fulfillment.

That fact that pledging thru Kickstarter isnt really offering you anything special outside the person who just wants a alot of miniatures at a discount and can wait "as long as it takes" for it. We will see if this actually catches up with Reaper and hurts them- I really have no idea, but I am certainly sitting this one out and odds are I am not alone  because then there is THIS

Kickstarter the Company has recently been accused (I'd say admitted) to Union busting, firing 3 employees that were in charge of attempting to unionize kickstarters work force. Initially claiming these employees where fired for cause but at they same time announcing they will NOT voluntarily recognize a employee union.

Regardless of your political stripes , this isnt really a Left / Right  debate about Unions in its reality its a Us vs Them debate because Kickstarter is at its worst a 250 million dollar a year company and IF its employees, are trying to unionize its due to workplace conditions or perceived unfair pay.  This might not bother you depending on whatever political bullshit you subscribe to but I'm old enough to been taught the reason you even have a free weekend to play with your toy soldiers at all is because of organized labor and that wasnt even until 1938.

 Most sensible people agree we dont need anymore Amazons or Walmarts in the world where huge portions of  its workforce are on public assistance because these Billion dollar companies cant pay their own workforce a living wage (and dont pay any taxes, but that's a whole other can of worms) .

 Kickstarter the company is of course nowhere near that huge by any stretch but as more and more companies like Reaper start basing their whole financial operations around crowd source funding can Kickstarter and similar companies growth as financial powerhouses in manufacturing really be that far behind? Pretty soon they'll be partnering with Banks and fulfilling KS orders through Amazon Prime. (Sign up for Amazon Prime and your KS orders 2 weeks faster!)

The fact Reaper can merrily go along taking millions of dollars thru Kickstarter for the pre-ordering of toy soldiers and not address this, should be of some concern to anyone who actually works for a living.

Ok, back to maybe doing some painting, I'll be watching this one from afar with interest.


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