I remembered you talking about the massive cost of models and making them and the molds. My gaming store where I play Warhammer is actually a molding company for historical miniatures too, so I talked with the owner last night about what it would take to make models for your game. He said the best bet is to get a historical model maker that has no work and ask if he is willing to do Sci-Fi and "Doll" modelling. He said you can get individual 25mm models made for as little as $150-300. Best is if you find one that will do the "doll" method. The make a master, he molds a bunch then he cuts apart the model to make different posses and small changes on the uniform and equipment. Then he makes a master ring of around up to 20 25mm models for a lot less then make separate models. This lets you get multiple posses of a similar model for basically around $50 each instead. Even having a separate weapon arms and heads would be nothing extra likely, other than the space it took on the ring. The master molds then cost about $40 and he said a simple order of 200 rings (or about 2-4000 models) could easily be made in less than a day and he charges based on the weight of the models (with all their bits), but he said typical 25mm would run between 75 cents and $1.50 US dollar.
If you made a ring with say used 2 base bodies and had the "Doll" molded into 5 posses of each for 10 bodies, but make the heads and weapon separate... you could have 2 different small units with interchangeable weapons and heads manufactured on the same ring. With 3 rings (6 units) per army to start, you would need 18 rings total. This would cost you about $10-$15,000 for the models plus less than $1000 for all the "Doll" pre-molds and regular models.
This guy to get started hired a full time artist to build up all the lines of 15mm historical models, but after about 2 years he had all his lines built up and now hires free-lancers. He knows only people that do historical models, but he has something like 5000 molds now.
Now I have no idea how much packaging would be or the artwork you are going to be paying for. You need a good game system and some other stores that might carry it to start. You also need some posters and packaging art and a web site you promote this all and host the rules downloads.
I'm sending you this information because the numbers you were talking about sounded really high for making your models... to the point where you might only have a few units for maybe 2 armies to start. That would limit your chance of succeeding. I want to see you succeed. I would make sure you own 100% of the rights to both the models and molds, but this looks to be a lot cheaper than what you were looking at. He did mention a web site where a lot of the historical modelers get work through or advertise on, but I forgot the name of the site. He does not hire the artists though, so that would be your responsibility, but if you are interested I could get the name of that site for you again.
If you have a direct question to ask Matthew about Dark Potential, ask it here.
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