Friday, May 27, 2011

Wizkids to produce Pathfinder pre-painted miniatures

Pathfinder's Kyra the Cleric done-up in plastic
And so it begins. Back in January D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro quietly announced that it was discontinuing it's popular pre-painted plastic miniatures, leaving the field wide open for new takers to pick up where Wizards left off.

Enter Wizkids Games: makers of the highly collectible and widely appealing Heroclix miniature games (and their parent company Neca Toys). Announced earlier this week, Wizkids will be launching a new line of pre-paints for Paizo's Pathfinder RPG.

The minis will be all new scuplts of Pathfinder RPG characters and monsters. Now I know what you're thinking, "What about Reaper? Don't they have the Pathfinder license to produce metal minis?"

Yup. And according to Paizo and Wizkids, that's not going to change. It seems there's a market for both metal and plastic minis. I'm inclined to agree since each seems to fit different gaming purposes and even different target audiences (though many gamers collect both).

I think this is a good thing, possibly a GREAT thing. In fact the first release is slated to be a box set (magic words!) in October. From the horse's mouth:
“WizKids essentially created the pre-painted plastic miniatures category, and they’ve only gotten better in the years since,” said Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens. “We are thrilled to work with WizKids to bring our iconic characters to tabletops all over the world.”

Pathfinder RPG Beginner Box pre-painted fantasy miniatures will be available at and through WizKids distribution partners worldwide starting in the fourth quarter of 2011.

If anyone is set up to be the next Big Mini on Campus, it's Wizkids. First, they they've obviously got the manufacturing and distribution channels to make a stake a serious claim. Any toy/game company will tell you that having partnerships overseas with plastics companies is essential to keeping product affordable.You've got two indy toy companies who've had to be scrappy contenders in a very competitive field.

Second, they've improved their products over the years. If you look at their early minis from the Mage Knight line the paint apps were not great--passable in most cases--but more recent lines are much cleaner, sculpts are tighter, and consistently so.

Third, they're fighters. They survived a previous shutdown and not one but TWO bu- outs--one with Topps and the current one with Neca. Now with Neca's grounding they've re-emerged, released several lines--the most recent two of which have sold out to retailers. Plus they've diversified into new products with their original Quarriors game and now have licenses with Star Trek and Lord of the Rings. Keep an eye on those last two properties: ST2 and the Hobbit are gearing up in Hollywood and families will be looking for games that can extend the experience. 

In short, I think Wizkids is a great company and I'm glad to hear that they've thrown their hat into the ring with this new direction. With the makers of D&D now out of the mini gaming business, I'm curious to see how Wizkids will step up.

What's your take?

Official announcements:

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