Greetings gamers, today we’re going to talk about the state of Icarus Miniatures, what we’ve been up to, and what’s to come in the coming months.
Icarus Miniatures turned 2 years old this past week. August 27th marked 2 years since Gabriel Cross was unleashed on the world.
This is an important milestone, because as many as 33% of businesses fail within the first two years.
The road to this point has been very difficult in the last 6 months (which I’ll talk about below), but we’re still here and hope to enjoy many more milestones.
So let’s look back over the last year and talk about the highs and lows.
At the end of August 2016 we signed a contract to take over an office one town over and moved in. I made the decision to move into an office space because with the Kickstarter coming up there was simply no space left at home to store stock.
Even though the office I found was the cheapest I had seen by far, it was still a fairly significant investment, but was needed to expand the amount of stock we could hold.
September 2016 saw our kickstarter campaign to fund the Alliance and Nexus starter sets. We raised £7,000 to bring this models to production, as well as funding several accessories and other kits.
The campaign was certainly the high point of 2016.
Hours after the kickstarter campaign ended we loaded the car and drove four hours down to Bristol to attend Blast-Tastic, a sci fi convention.
While the experience of the day and speaking to folks was lovely, sales were very slow during the day (due to a lower turnout than expected) and we ended up losing money.
Following this I made the decision to hold back on future conventions until our range had grown with the KS products, and we were in a position to buy better stand dressing like display cases and more attractive marketing materials.
Icarus is based in Conwy, North Wales, and it is very expensive getting to conventions, so I didn’t want to attent any until I was confident we would make that money back.
Flash forward to early 2017 when things started to go pear-shaped. After fulfilling a large part of the kickstarter, our last batch of stock arrived damaged and we had to return hundreds of miniatures to our supplier as they were miscast.
This caused very serious problems as it delayed the kickstarter fulfilment by almost 2 months and left us with no extra stock to begin contacting independant stores, as had been the plan.
Zealot Miniatures, our manufacturer, had done an amazing job producing our miniatures up until that point. Fortunately for Zealot, their business had picked up a lot the previous few months, which meant they had been helping to deliver more companies’ minis to gamers and collectors, as well as delivering their own kickstarter.
All this meant that production slowed down dramatically. This wouldn’t have been a problem for us at the volumes we were operating at before the kickstarter, but to expand Icarus Miniatures in the way that I want to, and start getting the models into stores, I needed to have a greater control on our stock.
Because of this, we began experimenting with in-house casting. With lots of help and advice from Zealot, I got all the necessary equipment and materials needed to start producing Icarus Miniatures in-house.
Bringing production in house did two things that will really help us moving forward:
– Stock Control: To be able to get our minis into stores, I need to be able to guarantee a level of stock to trade partners. Producing in-house means that models could be cast to order and still reach the stockist in a reasonable time frame. This means that we can aggressively begin to approach stores to get the product out there.
– Storage: Without having to have enough space to store hundreds of miniatures at a time, the office was no longer essential.
So production has moved in-house and all models are now cast by me personallly to ensure quality control. This process has taken longer than I’d have liked, which has been part of what has caused problems for us in the last six months.
With the lack of stock from our last fulfilment delivery, and the move to in-house production, we’ve had a period of about 4 months where stock levels have been terribly low, with several items out of stock comepletely.
This led to a decline in sales which has caused a lot of problems. Without new sales to bring in money we burned through the little profit made from the Kickstarter and thigns have been touch and go for a few months.
To try and offset this I picked up a part time job to make sure there was enough money coming in to cover the essentials while we build things back up.
The thing that has saved us during this time has been the design studio. Earlier this year we launched a design studio to provide sculpting to other miniature companies. The studio has been picking up nicely and we have a bunch of projects in progress at the moment providing sculpts for a variety of miniature companies.
During this transition period while we’ve been setting up in-house production, the studio became our main source of income, and it is something I am eager to expand by bringing on new sculptors, concept artists, and graphic designers to be able to offer new companies the complete design package.
Here are some of our recent works;
Another thing that we’ve been doing in the last few months is producing video content for YouTube.
I have greatly enjoyed running the Icarus Miniatures Youtube Channel. Producing tutorials and interacting with the community has been a lot of fun, and there’s a lot I’d like to do with the channel. So we will probably be launching a Patreon for the channel as soon as the home office is finished and I can produce regular content again.
Some of the things I would like to do more of are Icarus product unboxings, reviews of other companies’ products, miniature painting tutorials, more terrain tutorials, chat shows for things like dungeon/game mastering, and more.
The last 6 months have been difficult here in the Icarus Bunker, but we’re hopefully coming out of the worst of it now.
In the next couple of weeks you can expect the launch of the re-cut Gunslinger and male Alliance troopers. One of my biggest regrets during our last kickstarter was the lack of customization in the humans, so we’ve been working off and on behind the scenes to fix that.
These new models have 2 seperate arms as well as a seperate head, all of which are compatible with one another allowing you to mix and match as much as you’d like. I particularly like putting trooper arms on the gunslinger body for proxy Alliance Marshals.
I would also like to do the same for the female trooper and Outrider, as well as fix their scale issue so the parts are compatible and look correct alongside the male miniatures. This will vastly increase the customization of the Alliance and bring them in line with the Nexus.
The last few months have been rough for miniatures companies, with half a dozen or more companies announcing they are closing their doors or selling their properties. To avoid this happening to Icarus, I’m looking to diversify the range of miniatures that we offer.
The Icarus Project miniatures are fantastic, but to achieve the sales I’d like we need a more developed range, and the investment required to get there is hard to justify with our current sales levels.
So for our next couple of releases we’re going to experiment a little and release some miniatures not tied to the Icarus Project universe. These “generic” miniatures will be fantasy miniatures (because I want some new fantasy minis!) and will be marketed as being options for multiple games such as Warhammer, Kings of War, Frostgrave, or RPGs. By making models that can be used in as many systems I’m hoping it will increase sales and give us more money to invest in the Icarus Project range.
Another thing that the last 6 months has shown is that a reliance on other companies can be nearly fatal, so we will only be seeling products cast in-house for the foreseeable future. This means all our laser cut products such as tokens and terrain will not be re-ordered, so be sure to grab them while they last.
The goal of the next 6 months is Operation Health; building our infrastructure so we can release miniatures more often, better meet demand, and not be so reliant on outside factors.
To help achieve that goal we have moved out of our office space. With production moving in-house we no longer needed the space of a whole office. It will take a couple of months to properly set up the home office, as there’s a lot of decorating to do and furniture to buy, but once everything is up and running properly we will be much better off!
So there you have it, an update on what’s been going on behind the scenes in that last year and a look towards the future.
As always, your help and support is invaluable, and if you want to help us get new miniatures out quicker, head to our clearance section and pick up some end of line items before they are gone.
Until next time,