It's like Reaper is trying to hit a target that WotC has already struck a bullseye on instead of showing WotC how it should be done
What I find most interesting is that people assume that Reaper cares what WotC does or does not do, or that we are trying to "compete" in some manner with them. Has anyone ever thought that we will have no impact on WotC whatsoever, and that they have no impact on us, and that we are just doing what we do, making the best miniatures we know how to make? At best, I think we might deflate the secondary market a bit because you don't have to search them down on e-bay, you can just buy them, regardless of the price.
By moving to plastic minis, WotC has finally figured out how to make minis work for them as they could not seem do it with metal. Kudos to WotC for coming up with a successful way to make minis work for them, finally.
But, I think the success has more to due with the fact they made them collectable then that they made them plastic or are making them for what people want or even need to play the/any game. They moved the CCG sales strategy to minis. The plastic probably came about because Hasbro has been making game tokens and action figures in China for years and already had the resources line up to take advantage of the cheap labor over seas. That and plastic is virtually indestructible and the models can last a lot longer and store easier when using them for game play. Who cares if you sweep your hand across the table and knock down all of the figs. Ain't gonna hurt'em. Do that to my painted metal army and the war is on! At the same time, I think if they had done the same thing in metal, they would have had similar results; it is just that now they also appeal to the people that don't care about the hobby and just want to play. End result, larger customer base! The whole thing was brilliant; you can't argue that.
I think it would be fun to try a collectable metal line, just to see how well it does.
They sell the quantities they expect to hit and are happy with those sales, even though they are loosing huge dollars to the secondary market. Now, if they could figure out a way to tap, corner, and control that market too, they would have an even more successful product. Someday, I should think that the whole collectable thing would go by the wayside just like Beanie Babies and Cabbage Patch dolls. Then the wind will be out of the sails and the plastic minis will dry up quickly.
The sculptures are mostly second rate, as they really don't care about the art as much as supplying a close proximity to the creature that they represent, as they are truly game tokens, not sculptures for sculptures sake. The paint jobs are adequate as that is all they need to be. Think of it this way, the paint jobs are better then a lot of people are able to do themselves and are much better then unpainted figures for a game table. The sculptures, even more so. And, you don't have to do it yourself. At the same time, with a bit of practice, most people could paint them better, if they wanted to take the time. I bet everyone would like to see better sculptures and paint jobs, but ultimately, as long as the models fit the bill, WotC and their customers don't really care.
I doubt there are many of the plsatic models that people put on the fireplace mantel because they are just that cool, or that they are that proud of, unlike a well painted metal mini that you spent hours and hours perfecting or paid someone a lot of money to paint for you. I suppose if I had a really rare model that I did or did not pay big bucks for I might set it out as a source of pride just like a beanie baby under a glass display, but probably not. They are cheap toys, not display pieces.
I really don't think the WotC folks are sitting around going, "How can we impress the best sculptors and painters in the world." I think they are probably saying what can we make, as interesting as possible and as cheaply as possible, that gets our point across and makes the customer happy enough to buy them. That and what stats can we give them to make them more appealing too. Make the more expensive to manufacture and niftier models rare so you don't have to spend as much money making as many of them and at the same time, drive up the sales by selling them collectible and blind.
Hook, line and sinker... maybe even the pole.
Reaper is simply making plastic model the way we see fit for us. If we wanted to take the WotC path, ours would be collectable and blind and we would base our entire methodology on what WtoC is or is not doing, right or wrong. Our methods are based on what has worked for us in metal and what we think will therefore work in plastic. And, guess what? If we are wrong, then we steer the ship in a new direction. It really is that simple. But, I'm game, how should it be done? Reaper has always tried its best not to follow anyone and to try to set new grounds while remaining as stable as possible. If our sales are not as good on this batch of plastic, then the next round will be a different mix. For a while though, each round will be different anyway as we experiment with the minis just to see what is popular and what works or not.
Only time will tell...
As we move forward, many companies come and go, but we are still here. Something is going right.