The Origins of Ral Partha

Company president Jack Hesselbrock was kind enough to send in this article about how his company came to be.
- the editor

Ral Partha became an adult this year. We are 21 years old. Many people inquire about how we got started and how we arrived at the name Ral Partha.

In 1975, a group of gamers including myself were approached by a young man of 15. This young man is named Tom Meier. Tom sculpted figures for a company in Dayton, Ohio. Tom's figures were far superior to any others being sculpted. Yet, Tom was getting paid about half of what other older sculptors were earning. This inequity was solved by the forming of a new miniatures company.

None of the partners in what has since become nown as Ral Partha had any experience in molding, casting or packaging miniature figurines. We pulled our money and bought a casting machine, pot, vulcanizer, ladle, mold rings, molds and locater studs. Now, we had to learn how to use them. It was strictly trial and error. We made many mistakes while learning our business.

Our business was located in a basement at a partner's home. We had to find sources for metal and our resources for purchasing anything were very meager. We transported this metal in our cars. Over the next few years, thousands of pounds of metal arrived by Volkswagon Beetle.

We mixed our own alloy, using a 100-pound bar of lead, 20 to 23 pounds of tin, and four or five handfuls of Linotype. Then, you stirred and stirred and stirred. When a mold was made right it was pure luck. When it wasn't made right, it was the norm. The cat used the linotype box as its kitty-litter box and while the linotype melted, the stench was terrible. At the time, we thought linotype had its own distinctive odor. We didn't realize it was the cat.

One time, I cast dungeon accessories for the entire day and filled several boxes. The stuff being cast really didn't look like a keeper. I melted it all down. To my dismay, that was how it was supposed to look.

Another time, I made a mold with the plastic still on the interior top half. After vulcanization, the melted plastic made the mold and all the masters unusable.

When Tom Meier got his drivers license, he backed out and hit the side of the house.

With our twenty products all packaged in plain brown boxes, we went to our first gaming convention as Ral Partha. Gen Con 1975 was an interesting experience. Miniaturists from around the country got to see the products from our new miniature company. We sold out of everything we brought with us. In spite of ourselves, we built our company on quality and you (our customers) rewarded our efforts.

Ral Partha was a name made up by John Winkler. John is a friend of Tom Meier. John was playing the original D & D in high school. He had a wizard character he named RAL-PARTHA. He came up with this name because he thought it Middle Eastern sounding. RAL-PARTHA was extremely successful and it was hoped some of this success would spill over into the fledgling miniature company. The hyphen was somehow dropped.

John Winkler was not. John graduated high school and college with a teaching certificate. Instead of teaching, John has been employed at Ral Partha since May, 1980. By the way, if you are a gaming club member, John's picture is on the Partha Bonus Money. John has been affectionately known as "Ral" these past 21 years.

- Jack Hesselbrock
Ral Partha Enterprises, Inc.

Last Updates
31 December 1997reorganized
2 December 1996first published
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