Believe it or not (I certainly can’t), this is the 60th piece I’ve written for Gamemats.com, so first I want to say “Woohoo!” and a big thank you to everybody who’s read this blog and encouraged me. Here’s to 60 more.
Also, this article is the latest in an accidental series I started writing about small wargaming companies. These pieces have tended to get positive reactions and interest, so hopefully this will continue that trend.
About three years ago, I got one of those prepaid credit card-gift card things for Christmas, and I decided to spread the wealth to some miniatures companies I’d never dealt with before. There was one, a very small mom-and-pop operation that offered maybe 15 different minis, and which had a mini I’d been looking at for a while. So, I ordered it.
It came in a timely manner, I loved it, and I added it to my hobby pile to await attention later. You know how that goes.
About six months ago, I decided to dig that mini out and paint it. I posted it on Twitter, it got a bunch of likes, and someone asked me where I’d gotten it. I told them the company, and they mentioned they couldn’t find it.
Hmm, I thought. So I searched. No go. The URL for the company no longer worked. But I did unearth posts and comments on some miniatures and wargaming sites saying I wasn’t alone – others had noticed that the site had just disappeared. And it looked like the company had just simply gone out of business and disappeared into the aether.
This was sad and disappointing to me, first because I had wanted to get more minis from them but for one reason or another had held off, but also because here was another small minis company that had decided simply to throw in the towel.
The wargaming world is replete with great little companies like these, that offer stellar won’t-find-them-anywhere-else products at reasonable prices, and great service, that are in constant danger of shuttering, or at least just squeaking by. It seems like not a month goes by that I don’t hear news like this. Just yesterday (as of this writing) a small miniatures company that was running a Kickstarter campaign announced they were canceling the campaign because they just couldn’t make it work economically.
While the big companies – the GWs, the Mantics, the CMONs, the Privateer Presses, the Warlords, and so forth – are the marquee producers of wargaming products, it’s the small companies that provide the lifeblood. The folks that run these companies (it’s usually only a handful of people, often just one or two), if they have a social media presence, engage with the community, show us what they’re working on, talk to us, answer questions; from most of the big boys, you aren’t going to get that.
And this goes not just for minis makers, but folks who make other products – dicebags, movement trays, and, yes, game mats and 3D printed products. These folks take pride in their work, work hard to give you great service, and try to give you things you won’t find anywhere else.
And they need your support. Shopping small isn’t just for the Saturday after Black Friday. Without our small companies, the wargaming landscape is a colder, smaller, darker place.
Look them up.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube