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"Are sample aliens the way to go?" Topic

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Eli Arndt24 Jul 2011 7:46 a.m. PST

With the big call for more and different aliens in miniatures, does it make sense for companies to do sample runs?

Critical Mass Games has done this to a degree through it's various mercenary packs, but could it work on a one-off basis?

Such figures could be offered as either mercenaries or even non-combatant scifi denizens. If folks like the look and ask for more, the manufactuers can follow that lead.


Battle Miniatures Emporium24 Jul 2011 7:47 a.m. PST

thumbs up

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2011 7:48 a.m. PST

Not sure. I havent bought any of the CMG "Merc" lines because they are not complete lines, even though I like several of them. So for me, it doesnt work.

Allen5724 Jul 2011 8:00 a.m. PST

Dont care to have one off figures. I prefer a more complete line.

Eli Arndt24 Jul 2011 8:10 a.m. PST

What if you new they were speculating on possible future designs? What if it was presented as just that?


Mako1124 Jul 2011 8:19 a.m. PST

I'd like to see some more variety packs, like some do, and as best represented in the bar fight scene of the original Star Wars film, Episode IV, "A New Hope".

More alien-looking aliens would be well received too.

28mmMan24 Jul 2011 8:28 a.m. PST

The idea of one off aliens works well for anyone looking to put together a space port, alien canteena, or an Alien Legion unified force.

So yes these one off miniatures do offer options, but for those who are making a human(ish) units as it seems to be the norm I suspect these one off aliens would offer little value.

I like 'um :)

Eli Arndt24 Jul 2011 9:30 a.m. PST

Well these alien 'one-offs" Could still be used in games collectively just as CMG's mercs are intended to be. Humanist universe players are not their target market anyhow.


SpaceJacker24 Jul 2011 9:34 a.m. PST

I do't play "army sized" games, so smaller packs and variety are perfect for my tastes.

Unique looking characters and individuals are always great for RPG-lite style games, actual RPG's or skirmishes. This goes double for aliens. (just IMO)

clkeagle24 Jul 2011 10:11 a.m. PST

I make extensive use of smaller packs when I play Mutants and Death Ray Guns, Gut Check, or In The Emperor's Name. The Critical Mass merc packs are great for these types of games. The HOF 3-pose 10-packs work well for me too.

It seems some companies already do this. Khurasan released just one or two packs each of Garn and Felids early on… did Jon always intend to expand those lines, or was that dictated by sales and feedback?

Chris K.

Umpapa24 Jul 2011 10:54 a.m. PST

I have bought those CMG Merc which I loved and wished to expand (Naga, Astaghar and Ygs respectively).

First of all, CMG stated that if those sets will sell well, CMG will expand them. Thus by my buying decision I am pushing CMG into preferred direction.

Not to say, when CMG finally will expand them, the price of these sets will rise.

And yes, I prefer complete lines of figures. I bought just single set of Astaghar and Ygs, if they expand it into complete lines, I would buy at least platoon.

Eli Arndt24 Jul 2011 10:57 a.m. PST

I know the Garn got expanded due to demand. I am not sure on the Felids, though I an pretty sure the Felids with helmets were based on demand as well.


Dropship Horizon24 Jul 2011 11:12 a.m. PST

What if you new they were speculating on possible future designs? What if it was presented as just that?

This is what happens anyway and not just with aliens. And what happens when you buy into those aliens and that's it…. the range just didnt sell enough or spark enough interest to be expanded?

And it could be that by the time the manufacturer has expanded the range, I've moved on. 15mm Sci Fi has been an emerging and very fluid market place in the last two years and set to be so at least for the immediate future.


clkeagle24 Jul 2011 11:34 a.m. PST

And it could be that by the time the manufacturer has expanded the range, I've moved on.

And there's that. Let's say Khurasan released a fresh pack of aliens today. It sells like hotcakes, gets featured on numerous blogs and galleries, and dozens of us scream at Jon to "expand the line." How long until that can feasibly occur?

1) The next figures have to be designed – usually a sketch or detailed description
2) The sculptor has to have time on their schedule to accept the commission. I know some sculptors have pretty long waiting lists.
3) They have to sculpt the next pack of poses
4) Those poses have to be approved, and any revisions have to be completed
5) The master mold is created
6) The production mold is created
7) (most manufacturers) The showcase castings have to be painted. This can also be a process of waiting, revising, and approving – not counting a few hours of photography, editing, and uploading per mini.
8) Enough stock for the release has to arrive from the caster
9) They go on sale.

What are we looking at here? Probably anywhere from 2-24 months, depending on the waiting, sculpting, revising, etc. 24 months after those initial aliens were all the rage, who knows what else may have come to market? How patient are we?

Chris K.

Eli Arndt24 Jul 2011 12:00 p.m. PST


I would say the answer to that is as varied as the individual customer.

I am quite patient. 24 months is pretty long and would not be typical I understand the mechanics of the industry to a good degree and would see this sort of turn around as nothing new and worth the wait if I like the product.


khurasanminiatures24 Jul 2011 12:52 p.m. PST

It certainly doesn't take 24 months!

Eli Arndt24 Jul 2011 12:56 p.m. PST

Thanks for chiming in Jon! Maybe you can share a little insight into the process and how you make your determination as to whether a line is worth expanding.


Cacique Caribe24 Jul 2011 2:12 p.m. PST

Token aliens are of no interest to me. That is one of the reasons I hardly ever bought from Reaper Minis and other companies.

Unless the setting is DS9, B5 or an intergalactic conference, I see very little use to have single figures from dozens of unrelated species all in one place.

Border wars would be expected to normally involve two or three different dominant species, depending on how their territories touch one another.

I'm not saying that every alien species shold have lots of all-too-predictable specialized units like we foresee future humans having (infantry, armored vehicles, etc.), but each alien range made should have several poses of each race and to avoid monotony, some sort (I'm NOT saying many) of variety in weapons between each of their "units" (perhaps just a couple types, even if all they have are infantry units).

One of the few reasons why I enjoyed the Gungan resistance battle in Phantom Menance is how the Gungan used unique weaponry and unit types, as would be expected of an Alien race.






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infojunky24 Jul 2011 3:11 p.m. PST

I for one love small character sets, I tend to play small rpg-ish sorta games with variety being more important than bulk.

I find my needs well met with a pack of individuals and generally am willing to pay for them.

I understand a lot of peoples desires aren't this. Wanting to be able to build a complete force that they can field.

What I would love is a "character" pack with a single character in normal dress, a environment suit, and sitting… And maybe the same character dead…

But Packs of individuals are still welcome.

Mako1124 Jul 2011 10:29 p.m. PST

A few poses of each alien type would probably be preferable, e.g. 4 – 6 different figures, at a minimum, in most cases.

That way people can buy just one pack, or several packs, with duplicates in their force.

I like the idea of the "character packs", e.g. in standard dress, just standing or walking; sitting in same; in an environmental/space suit (probably hard to tell though, unless they have clear helmets, or the fig doesn't have it on yet); firing a weapon in either standard dress or the spacesuit (both preferably); and dead.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2011 10:48 p.m. PST

I would certainly have no prob with a company posting digital sketches of a mini and saying, "how many of these would you buy if we made them?."

Lampyridae24 Jul 2011 11:03 p.m. PST

Tau are probably the epitome of the "one line of miniatures" type of alien force. No squad heavy weapons or support weapons. Just heavy rifles and poor eyesight for all! Even the gun drones are there really as ablative wounds. They resemble more a line of infantry with repeating rifles.

In game turns, it's roughly interchangeable in firepower terms with a few models wielding heavy bolters. Neither seem particularly useful in gunning down orks, tyranids or backflipping LSD space clowns. But in "real" terms, there's no suppression system for such a squad. Modern fire and manoeuvre tactics haven't changed much since WWII, aside from squads getting smaller and firepower increasing.

I find it hard to field a unit with rifles only Old Crow's 15mm is a particular example.

GZG Crusties have a "gravity gun" that probably doesn't put out rapid fire but has a suppression effect nonetheless, not to mention the ability to form a kind of shield.

Sample aliens are nice as part of merc or character packs, and a good way to sense demand. I think CMG's snakemen, for example, could make an excellent expanded line.

tnjrp25 Jul 2011 1:01 a.m. PST

Cacique Caribe 24 Jul 2011 3:12 p.m. PST:

Token aliens are of no interest to me. That is one of the reasons I hardly ever bought from Reaper Minis and other companies.
I tend to agree with CC on the subject of aliens. I suppose that if the sentiment is prevalent or perceived as prevalent by the miniature companies, it results in there being less alien miniatures in general as it's a bit of risk to commit to a line without knowing if there is really a market. A workable compromise solution might be to do "semi-full" lines like Cobalt-1 where aliens come with several trooper poses and some squad support weapons but nothing by the way of heavier support (as of yet anyway).

Eli Arndt25 Jul 2011 5:42 a.m. PST

@Uesugi with the price of digital sculpts still signifigant, they might as well post the concept drawings/sketches. This way if there is no positive reaction or even luke warm response, they can save the money.

This is a whole other problem in itself. I imagine there is some reluctance to do this in a lot of cases as folks might be afraid of telegraphing their moves and being scooped by a competitor. I don't imagine there are too many sharks in the industry, but you never know.


Ron W DuBray25 Jul 2011 4:12 p.m. PST

yes, do 2 or 3 minis or just good art work and see if there is a demand before investing lots of money.

khurasanminiatures26 Jul 2011 7:43 a.m. PST

do 2 or 3 minis or just good art work and see if there is a demand before investing lots of money.

In terms of minis, two or three minis (including moldmaking) is an investment of $270 USD to $380. USD Artwork is cheaper but then there's the matter of having the sculptor translate the image into a miniature, and even then a decent sketch is going to cost you about $100 USD and not even one model has been made.

Eli Arndt26 Jul 2011 7:54 a.m. PST

I'll draw for free grin Or will work for lead.


Psyckosama26 Jul 2011 4:47 p.m. PST

Maybe I'm just a recent convert from 28mm, but something I think people have forgotten the modeling aspect of his hobby. Lets use those Ygs figures as an example… you want a sniper? Drill a hole in the barrel and put in a piece of wire so it has a extended barrel! Instant Sniper variant! You want a squad support cannon? Do the same, then just build up the barrel a bit with some green stuff and run a little tube from the butt of the gun to a little backpack or something to make it look like it has an external power source! Hell, if you want a missile launcher, simply convert the guy with the lowered pistol so it looks like he has one on standby! Just roll out a tube, stick it along the length of his arm, and carve a little detail into it or just take a piece from another line and modify both to fit! Don't think of it as an incomplete line… think of it as a chance to convert something cool and unique!

tnjrp26 Jul 2011 8:32 p.m. PST

Well, personally I don't have time (and in more complex cases -- typically precisely the ones involving aliens -- skills) to put into too many projects like that. I'd much rather use what time I can allot to the hobby actually playing the games.

Psyckosama26 Jul 2011 9:10 p.m. PST


Your loss.

Eli Arndt26 Jul 2011 9:18 p.m. PST

Let's be fair, not everyone has the same amount of free time. It's a major factor on the changing face of gaming as a whole.


Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2011 9:13 a.m. PST

Hey Aliens are people too !!!

It's all good !

infojunky31 Jul 2011 2:45 p.m. PST

Yes Legion4 they are, Now where is my Ovailqwuik?

Splod8931 Jul 2011 8:13 p.m. PST

Hmm… Now to knock together some 'Tagon's Toughs' and find a suitable Schlock mini. And some Genuine Imitation Ovalquicke objective markers :P

28mmMan31 Jul 2011 9:35 p.m. PST

Interesting thoughts bouncing around here.

If I get the premise here, we are asking why the miniature companies do not experiment more often in the form of an odd alien or two every now and then…this way they can play the field and get an idea if a given weirdo (and I like weirdos) alien could be viable?

Jon/Khurasan spoke of the actual logistics and initial investment.

That is a real world situation.

It costs money to make a miniature, each step costs money.

After the investment, after the sculpts, after the molds are made, when the weirdo is setting there…then you roll the dice.

If the process cost $75 USD then we would have hundreds upon hundreds of weirdos for us to pick from…and in this magical moment, I suspect that many would still not sell and would not develop into anything more.

It is what it is :(

About the only real chance is for one slot to be taken up on the next mold wheel as a vanity project, which I believe is what you are asking for…and I suspect that the companies that experience great sales will do just that.

Khurasan has made strides in this arena…in the last couple years he has made some odds lines and some great lines, he has taken some risks.

Critical Mass Games has it's mercenary packs, and even these are a risky notion…they do not play around with one odd alien they provide five to ten.

In the end it all comes down to one question;

…what the firetruck is a Ovailqwuik?

tnjrp31 Jul 2011 10:22 p.m. PST

Splod89 31 Jul 2011 9:13 p.m. PST:

Hmm… Now to knock together some 'Tagon's Toughs' and find a suitable Schlock mini.

Official Sergeant Schlock miniature is nice tho on the small side:

"Ovailqwuik" is most likely a misspelling of "Ovalkwik", the drink the aforementioned character is fairly addicted to:

28mmMan31 Jul 2011 10:24 p.m. PST

I thought it was a drink…for some reason I thought you guys might have been going on about an alien :)

28mmMan31 Jul 2011 10:27 p.m. PST

Like this Carbosilicate Amorph


infojunky01 Aug 2011 1:56 a.m. PST

Yes, I horribly mangled the spelling.

And there is a Schlock Figure out there, unfortunately it was in 28mm.. link

tnjrp01 Aug 2011 3:35 a.m. PST

Hmm, admittedly I didn't think of the scale issue but then again the scale wasn't mentioned and this thread is a crosspost on the 28mm scifi forum… That said, I can envision the official 28mm Schlock working with smaller scales -- it's not a very massive fig. I'd say 15mm would be a bit too much of stretch tho and IIRC 20mm isn't all that popular as a scifi scale.

28mmMan01 Aug 2011 9:03 a.m. PST

Eli PM sent…everyone else, sandwiches and spicy vegetable juices are on me! Come on over!


abdul666lw04 Aug 2011 8:05 a.m. PST

With the big call for more and different aliens in miniatures, does it make sense for companies to do sample runs?

Maybe to test the popularity of a new species.
But the usefulness -and thus the *sales*- of an unique representative of its species are extremely limited. It can be part of a 'cosmopolitan' bunch (a spaceport bar patrons, a rogue trader crew…), not much less.
For instance re. the pleasant (even cute) Reaper Andromedan Huntress

A lot of potential -not being less 'human' than Parroom Station S1899 Martians, these 'Andromedans' could even provide another Barsoomian / Martian species.
BUT the 'range' is restricted to *3* specimens
the Empress, her vizier and a single 'active' figurine. Given the ruler and the only 'armed' Andromedans are female, their society may be matriarchal?
Thus, with a *single* 'active' miniature (and not in a 'generic' / 'multipurpose' one, in addition), no way to build a whole unit / tribe of them, no way to play the discovery / exploration of the 'Andromedan Amazons Land' by your explorers or spaceshipwrecked crew.

One could think of completing them with Black Orc Games Donellas who look not that different


(the two series seem to be within the diversity range of any human population, giving them 'exotic' skin and hair colors would make them even more similar, residual excessive differences would be minimized by 'paint conversion' and 'high grass' flocking). BUT the weapons types are not very compatible, and chiefly the Donellas offer only *2* usable types.

Thus both ranges suffer from their 'poverty'.

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