I’m sure I can’t be the only one to notice that there seems to be a new miniature related Kickstarter launching on an almost daily basis these days. Obviously they can’t all win a portion of my finite monthly hobby purse, so I‘m having to be a lot more picky and choosy about which projects I back these days. This week I was presented with exactly that dilemma when Justin McCoy of Secret Weapon Miniatures launched his “Tablescapes” funding drive. Since GW introduced their injection moulded Realm of Battle system, there has been a market interest slowly building for more of it’s kind, something GW sister company Forgeworld have been tapping into lately.
Personally, I don’t really want to get into a debate about the relative cost/convenience merits versus demerits of pre-made gaming tables as that’s not the purpose behind this post. I am an old-school terrain maker, but still believe there is a market and place for every product and simply view pre-textured systems like Realm of Battle or Tablescapes as another material to build gaming worlds from.
What is interesting in this instance is there appear to be two projects vying for the same slice of hobby crowd-funded pie which might make things interesting.
In the red corner, we have Games & Gears LLC. A relatively new company that appears to have been initially created to promote a range of 12” textured gaming tiles and accessories. They launched via Kickstarter and although the product looked like it had a great deal of promise, it unfortunately failed to capture much in the way of backer funds at the time and ultimately got cancelled. Whilst Games & Gears re-formulated their plans for a re-launch of the boards, they ran a far more successful campaign for their double-ended Studio brush line. Recently they announced a tie-in with Hawk Wargames to produce detailed city tiles later in the year compatible with Hawks “Dropzone Commander” resin and card terrain sets.
In the blue corner however we have Secret Weapon, who last week launched their campaign to fund tooling for their Tablescapes system. Again, these are 12” x 12” modular textured gaming tiles. There does appear to be a lot more details right out of the gate as to what Justin’s ambitions are for Tablescapes however, which is what has drawn my interest. Secret Weapon also has the benefit of being a well known and established business in this market. Especially in the area of weathering materials and resin gaming bases. What Secret Weapon have cleverly done is lay out all of their goals upfront, along with their funding ambitions for multiple designs/themes. Each theme is also based on 16 unique tiles and each tile from the concepts and samples shown packs a very high level of texture and unique detailing across multiple planes. The other nice angle they are promoting is the synergy between the tiles, themed scatter terrain and bases. A great idea for those looking to achieve an instant link between their display board and miniatures at tournaments and events.
It’s hard to directly compare both product lines as Justin is evolving and refining Tablescapes based on backer feedback throughout the project which is running from now until 12th May. Games & Gears according to their facebook page are looking to launch their funding campaign sometime in June/July.
Interestingly, I followed the Games & Gears initial Kickstarter for their two generic tile textures (cobblestone and cracked earth) quite closely and I wonder how much their plans have been influenced by Secret Weapon’s campaign. I was surprised that within less than a few hours of Tablescapes launching, Games & Gears were running a straw poll on their Facebook page referring to a set of curiously similar tile specifications to what Secret Weapon were detailing. Namely 16 unique high detail tiles per theme, similar themes mentioned, but (unsurprisingly) close to half the price with an even earlier delivery. This seems to be a very different proposition to the designs and goals they originally brought to Kickstarter and at the risk of seeming cynical, it all sounds a bit too much of a coincidence timing wise to announce all that.
The one thing Games & Gears do have which differentiates them from Secret Weapon is the tie-ins they are announcing with other Game systems, such as the aforementioned Dropzone Commander and now Hell Dorado. The former I am very much looking forward to seeing what they come up with when they launch their funding drive later in the year. The prospect of combining Hawk’s recent card buildings pack with a matching detailed and textured table is a mouthwatering proposition. Whereas Secret Weapon are keeping their themes broadly agnostic to specific games or brands, Games & Gears are really looking to pin their colours to particular gaming systems.
As things stand at the moment, anecdotally there are plenty of potential customers for Games & Gears forthcoming lower priced proposition. If they can convert that straw poll interest into actual funding pledges they should do well. Secret Weapon by comparison have already achieved their initial funding target for the Scrap Yard theme set and stretch goals for the first of the clean Urban sets in the first few days. If they continue along that trajectory it looks like they are trending to achieve many of their current stretch goals and into the unknown.
Both companies push my buttons gaming tile wise and on paper both would get my attention as a backer. For me personally, I just feel Secret Weapon have the edge product quality wise on a number of fronts; appearance, detail, the clever compression clip and spacer designs and a readily available set of existing base product lines to tap into. For those reasons alone I have backed them at the basic skirmish level.
Should be interesting seeing how both companies fare with their respective campaigns as boards and terrain is proving to be a fickle market as Games & Gears have already discovered.
Right, that’s my tea break over; back to painting 15mm Grenadiers.
For more on Games & Gears check out their FB Fan Page
For more on Secret Weapon Miniatures Tablescape system, follow the shiny I’m a Backer link at the top of the page.
Until next time, have a great week.