- where we learn to be a better painter!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tales from the Crypt

Happy Tuesday everyone!

"Tu es!" in German means DO IT - so that's the right motto for Doitday :D

Working for you 21/7

When I said "No sleep till.." in my last quick update on our facebook page, I did not exaggerate. We filmed with Kirill until 2-5am every day and I had to get up again at 7am every morning. In the home stretch on Saturday I quite literally fell off my chair in exhaustion ;) I'll have to edit out the epic 'Thudd' sound that this must have made ^^After these exhausting days I gave the guys (and myself) a much needed day off yesterday. 

We don't want the Painting Buddhas to turn into Fainting Buddhas. :D

Budget Box back in stock!

And today's Tuesday starts with some good news! The lost package from our caster was resent and arrived! We are currently packing all outstanding "Budget Box" and will send them out tomorrow. Supporter boxes will be back in stock next week, as our T-Shirt printer is not ready yet. Quality hand-printing takes a while ;) We'll keep you posted. 


And I am so backed up on articles for that I hope starting some time later this week you'll find some awesome new content - including the next part of our popular series "The future of Games Days and Games Workshop", Hussar 2013, Games Day Italy 2013, Paintingbuddha Workshop Hamburg... The list seems endless ^^

But first things first - we'll send out all available Budget Boxes now and then we will resume normal operations. As soon as we identified what normal is anyways...

In this spirit we all call upon you to 


Friday, October 18, 2013

A rushed little update: PB orders, Hussar, GD Italy :)

A very stressed "Hello" from an
otherwise relaxing hobby!

Having too much fun?

WOW - six weeks of working till 2-3 am and then travelling to events on Saturdays and Sundays... Having too much fun - I am getting to old for this :D

So apologies for this somewhat rushed update on what's going on in the Painting Buddha cave!

Waiting on your PB orders 

As you have seen from this post, we are currently sold out. The tons of positive reviews that you guys wrote for us have left us with no stock to sell - even though we planned conservatively. We have been packing and sending quite literally day and night, and as of today, everything order we could fulfill is packed and ready to go. The remaining orders will go out on Tuesday! 

I was already in contact with some of you who are waiting on their orders, and I will send an email to each one of you in a moment - there are currently still about 30 orders waiting to be delivered, 27 of them (most likely yours, too) will go out on Tuesday. Those of you who ordered a 3XL shirt will have to wait another week, when all shirts will be back in stock... 

Your massive support is incredible, and we can't express in words how grateful we are! Yet I have to admit that we currently have a hard time coping with all the orders :) I am personally not on top of communications right now, and I am truly sorry for that. Monday we will 'reset' to normal operations and things will go much smoother again! Again, at of the end of October (10 days from now) we will be back on track, restocked and all orders will go out every other day - as before. Promised.

Thank you for your patience!

Ben, Stephan and Matt have left the building

Matt before filming Season 1.3 in our little studio :) 
GD Italy will be the only GD this year that I won't be attending after GD US, GD Germany and GD UK. It would have been cool to visit all of them (just to say "I've been to all of them"), but since I will be meeting up with our Polish friends in Warsaw for the Hussar 2013, I won't be going to Italy (yet). 

Stephan "Derwish" Rath and Matt Cexwish have finished filming Season 1.2 and 1.3 as per 10 minutes ago, leaving me with around 50 hours of material for video editing :D I can only say this much right now: Both DVDs will be incredible! 

Sneak Peak on Season 3!

For our season 3, we have a very, very special painter lined up. I will meet him in Warsaw, kidnap him to Berlin and lock him in our studio until he revealed all his secrets. More on this next week, when we will be filming Season 3. 

If you my Hussar Coverage on our Facebook page over the weekend, you might find out who he is :)

OK... I got 42 minutes to write emails, pack my suitcase, grab a cab, hop on the plane and fly to Warsaw... Relax? No, but DON'T PANIC!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

OMG - PB Season 1.1: Temporarily sold out!

PB Season 1.1: Temporarily out of stock

Whoa! Dudes!

Back in stock at the End of October
When we started shipping our first miniature painting instruction DVD Set "Season 1.1: Target Identified" just 10 weeks ago, we hoped that we would be able to sell 300 sets until the end of the year. 

And then YOU started SHARING & ENJOYING your thoughts on what we had created for you: tons of unboxings, reviews, vlogs, FB posts and recently the many positive reviews in magazines such as Portal, Figure Painter Magazine, the upcoming Ravage as well as on many sites have led to a surge in order numbers that we did not expect in our wildest dreams!

Beyond our wildest stallions dreams 

As a matter of fact, we don't even have enough time for wild dreams anymore, as we are working on fulfilling all the orders until 2-3am on a regular basis ^^ - we are almost caught up (as of today it seems). 

We hoped to sell 300 units until Christmas - and we sold out of (you guessed it) all 420 of our original stock beginning of October! Phew!

Backup plan backfired
With the exception of miniatures and bases, we have enough stock to last us until the Christmas season at minimum. And as soon as we saw the many orders coming in, we ordered a second batch of "Brad & Yanet" as well as the showbase.

So in theory, there should have been no problem.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. 

In practice, there is.... 

The German Parcel Service delivered the box full of bases but apparently lost the box full of miniatures. Of course, at the same time, our caster went on his much deserved vacation until the end of next week. Thanks, Murphy, good one!

Back in stock in two weeks time - while supplies last!

So in short, for the moment we are out of stock. But we will be fully stocked and ready to rumble again by the end of October. We have updated our store accordingly.

If your order is affected by this, we have already sent you an email regarding this. 

In the meanwhile...

...we would like to once again say "Thank you!" to all of you! Your support means a lot to us - and we are so motivated and excited that we are already working on Seasons 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 3.1. And all I can say that we think they will be extremely hoopy - stay tuned for more news soon™!

Also, this little 'breather' will allow me to hand-produce another 1500 collectible buttons (which will take ma about 2-3 days *cry*) :D

So for now, we would like to ask all of you to

And if you want to make sure to grab your personal copy of our first DVD set, before we sell out for good: Here's your chance!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PB Season 1.2/1.3/2.1/3.1/.. - Have them YOUR way!

PB Season 1.2/1.3/2.1/3.1/.. - Have them YOUR way!

Is doing it twice - twice as nice?

I just wrote this whole article, made a tiny change to it, pressed CTRL-Z for undo aaaaand everything was gone, crashed - including a 4 hour translation of a French text (btw, I don't speak French!). Murphyyyyyy, thou art a heartless b*tch!

Well, let's do it again and let's find out if doing it twice is twice as nice... :P 

The Hero Nerd of the Day: YOU

The sheer amount of positive feedback, reviews, vlogs and comments we have received for our first ever miniature painting instructional DVD set "Season 1.1: Target Identified" has been overwhelming to say the least. Of course, we were hoping for a good start of our little company, but we did not expect this! Let me tell you: It's been quite a ride!

We have said it before, and we'll say it again: THANK YOU for your massive support!
About a year ago, we promised that you will have your say when it comes to the development of our future products - and today is your first chance!

Wanted: The good, the bad and the ugly

You have bought the DVD set and have some ideas on how to make it better? Tell us about it!

You did not buy the DVD set, because you were missing something? Tell us about it!

There are certain subjects that you would like to see covered in one of our next DVD sets? Tell us about it!

There are certain painters you would like to see? Tell us about it!

And finally: There is anything else with regards to our little company that you would like us to address? TELL US about it!

We set up this email address for any feedback, wishes, suggestions that you have for our future DVD sets. We are working on them at the moment - so now is the best time for you to tell us what you want!

Coming soon™ 

For the DVDs
  • Better sound: We spent way over 100 hours just cleaning up the sound on Season 1. For Season 1.2+ we have invested in a semi-professional recording system - for crystal clear sound and that extra nerd factor!
  • More subtitles: Tell us - which languages do you want us to support? We might ask you for your help on this one, soon™. We also investigate the option for multiple voice overs - but that is VERY time consuming. 
  • Constant view of the wet palette: Probably the #1 requested feature - we will have the wet palette on screen at all times in future DVDs (as long as it makes sense, of course)
  • Our own website: We are currently designing our own website! Blog, Events & Everything! We have no idea how long it will take us, though :D
  • Pimping the shop: There are a few bugs in the shop, especially for our UK and Canada Bruddhas (ZIP code too short). We plan to replace the shop soon™. We are looking at options right now and hope that we can resolve the bugs soon™.
  • More shipping options: Some of you - especially from outside Europe - want more flexible, premium shipping options (DHL Express). We will add these options shortly, but as this is a premium service, the price for shipping will come at a premium, too.
  • Cheaper products: We are aware that S&H costs a lot - especially from outside of Europe. We are currently designing solutions for local independent retailers near you to carry our product. If you are a retailer and you are interested in carrying our range, contact us here.
Not coming any time soon
  • Blue-Ray Disks: Copying BR is insanely expensive. Just the licence to be allowed to actually make copies costs over 6000€. Also, you will have to have around 1000 of them made to make it feasible. Last but not least, BR is not very popular in Europe.
  • Download-only version: Some of you asked for a download-only version of our videos. For us, the hobby consists of painter, gamer AND collector nerds. A pure digital download will never be as hoopy and as nerdy as a physical product.
    However, we do have some plans for 2014 that we think you will all SHARE & ENJOY :D
  • Copy protection: Some of you pointed out that our DVDs are not Copy Protected - and that that might harm our business. Well, first of all, thank you for your concern! :D
    I personally think Copy Protection is a waste of time and a nuisance at best. Plus, every three-year-old can break it. We feel that people who may have accidentally stumbled upon an unauthorized 'evaluation copy' of our product will eventually support us, too, once they understand what we are trying to achieve. In short: No copy protection mechanisms! 

Sorry, no fries with that!
Have things YOUR way and WIN!

Please send your feedback, ideas, comments, wishes, dreams, demands, nerdy needs and suggestions to this email address

From all the mails we will draw one lucky winner who will receive the Season 1.2 AND 1.3 DVD sets as soon as they are available later this year!


Monday, October 14, 2013

AK Interactive fires live ammo. Three long time friends critically wounded.

Greetings my peaceful painting pals!

Tons of updates incoming

Ben & I have just returned from our first ever Painting Buddha Workshop at the Wu-Dao in Hamburg. We all had an awesome time and the workshop went really well, if I may say so myself. Sleep was the one thing that missed from the weekend ;) We plan to put the workshop report online tomorrow - stay tuned!

Also, later today, we will post some very early information about Season 1.2 and Season 1.3 - our follow up of Season 1.1: Target Identified! Both DVDs are scheduled to be released in time for the Christmas and the Holiday season! 

And last but not least, there will be a very important status update on our Season 1.1 DVD Set!

A plan is the one scenario that never come to light. 

I intended to write about all that when I sat down at the PC this morning, but then breaking news changed my plans. Not for the first time - and most likely not for the last time. Who would have thunked that the miniature world would be so fast-paced and exciting.

In the grim present of the miniature industry there is only war. 

We all have seen it at happening tabletop gaming tables all over the world. Grown men pushing little plastic soldiers, rolling dice, arguing about rule interpretations going at each others throats. Taking themselves and the hobby to seriously. Chill out, dudes!

And more and more I wonder who runs this industry and who it is made for: Is it for the fans and hobbyists or is it to fill the pockets of some greedy corporations that take advantage of our incurable addiction to plastic, resin and white-metal? 

And today was another of these days. 

AK Interactive fires live ammunition 

Won't be wearing that shirt no more.
Most of you know Mig Jimenez. Together with Adam Wilder probably one of the most visible and most talented modelers of the western hemisphere. I would describe him as a super-star of the AFV modelling.

I always thought Mig was AK Interactive. For me, AK Interactive was Mig. I used both 'terms' synonymously. 

I always thought that AK Interactive is Mig's company - and I am pretty sure that most of you did the same. 

The breaking news today is that he is not. Not any more. Not ever. And that's a frakking shame. 

Please know that this post is not intended by any means to vilify AK Interactive. They make great products - the best! But like other companies that make cool stuff, some things seem a little questionable at the very least...

What happened?

Well, that's a good question, of course there are always at least two sides of every story. The main players, of course, are Mig Jimenez and his long time friend and now 'adversary' Fernando Vallejo Calleja, who describes himself as 'president, founder, and owner' of AK Interactive. Collateral damage has been dealt to Carlos Cuesta, Elizabeth Wiese, Iain Hamilton and Rick Lawer.

I don't know either of them at all, so like me, you will have to come up with your own interpretation of what happened. So let's start at the beginning - with the official statement from the AK Interactive website: 


Fernando Vallejo Calleja, President and owner at AK-INTERACTIVE S.L., has the duty to inform to all his suppliers, dealers, clients and public the following statement:
  • From the 9th October 2013 AK-INTERACTIVE S.L. has ended the collaboration that had with the modeler Miguel Jimenez, better known as MIG Jimenez.
This way AK-INTERACTIVE, at the date of 10th of October, has also ended his collaboration with Carlos Cuesta.
  • The reasons to dispense with the services of Mr. Jimenez and Mr. Cuesta are strictly professionals, due to certain behaviours committed they have caused an irretrievable loss of the essential trust needed to keep on with the collaboration maintained until now which has been so profitable for both sides and for all the modeling world.
  •  So as said, from now on neither Miguel MIG Jimenez, nor Carlos Cuesta have any relations with AK-INTERACTIVE S.L., and also they do not have the authorization from AK-INTERACTIVE S.L. to use any of the trademarks own by the company and also for the use of AK acronym in any way, with the only exception relative to "The weathering magazine" and its webpage associated.
This way make also clear that Elisabeth Wiese, girlfriend of Mr. Jimenez, has never had or has any kind of relation with AK-INTERACTIVE S.L., and that her appearances in the models shows of Mr. Jimenez, a her interventions in the Facebook pages and other media have been made a purely personal fact, due to the romantic relationship between them, and with the direct suggestion of Mr. Jimenez, and not from AK-INTERACTIVE S.L..

AK INTERACTIVE S.L. informs that with the agreements already signed with Mr. Jimenez, any of the rights concerning the magazine property of AK-INTERACTIVE S.L. "The wheathering magazine" and its associated webpage will be transferred to Mr. Jimenez.

So as said, and from this date on, any matter relative to "the Weathering Magazine" should be treated directly with Miguel MIG Jimenez.
Reiterate that from this date on, NO MATTER RELATIVE TO AK-INTERACTIVE S.L. MUST BE MADE thorugh MIGUEL MIG JIMENEZ, nor CARLOS CUESTA, nor ELISABETH WIESSE, now that that they dont have any relation with the company.
  • AK-INTERACTIVE S.L., and its President, founder and owner Mr. FERNANDO VALLEJO CALLEJA, they will go on with its activity as always, although without Mr. Jimenezs collaboration, investigating, innovating and developing products and publications for all modeling branches, joining forces with the best modelers in the world, and of course keeping contact with all modeling lovers through our webpage, e-mails, facebook and our forums; all this to achieve that our customers, the modelers, can get to make real all their dreamed projects and get better everyday in their passion for scale models, which is what AK-INTERACTIVE S.L. and all of his team stand for.
Many thanks to all.
President, founder and owner.

So what do we learn from this

F.A.Q. 1 - back to the basics?
Mig, if you build it, we will buy!
First of all, one of the best publications of the last years, "The Weathering Magazine" belongs to Mig. That's great news, as this magazine is a must have for all of us weathering fans - there is nothing better on the market. 

However, like the F.A.Q. 2 - the best modelling book you can buy - The Weathering Magazine features AK Interactive products: Paints, resins, pigments and the like. So the future will have to show us how Mig will respond to this. 

I doubt that Mig will continue to feature AK products. As far as I am concerned, that is fine with me. Don't get me wrong - the AK Interactive products are awesome. Really good. But I personally preferred the original F.A.Q. 1 style, where we were introduced to modelling with the 'standard' tools: Acrylics, Enemals, Oil paints and the like. I don't think it would hurt Mig at all to go back to this style. And we would not 'need' to buy specialized products. 

We also learn that Elizabeth Wiese, whose photos we all enjoyed in the Weathering Magazine is - as we assumed for the longest time - Mig's girlfriend and he is now an officially even 'bader' bad-ass. 

It proves my point that miniature and modelling nerds are the best boyfriends and husbands, something I eluded to in past articles. F.A.Q.? Q.E.D. :D

And Elizabeth has supported Mig/AK tirelessly for the longest time now - how awesome is that?

Let's have a look at how Mig responded to this on his personal Facebook page


Mr. Mig Jimenez, Mr. Carlos Cuesta, Miss Elizabeth Wiese, Mr. Iain Hamilton and Mr. Rick Lawer want to inform all of their friends and associates who have been with us all these three years of “AK Interactive” the following:  
- Mr. Mig Jimenez was the creator of “AK Interactive” along with Mr. Fernando Vallejo 3 years ago. From the very first moment Mr. Mig Jimenez and Mr. Fernando Vallejo agreed that the company “AK Interactive” belonged to both of them. Mr. Mig Jimenez just put his trust in his friend, Mr. Fernando Vallejo, since Mr. Mig Jimenez never came to be included in the legal documents and records of the company.

-Mr. Mig Jimenez was the creator of the entire image, logos, products, marketing and image of said company; however until last day October 9th , 2013, when Mr. Mig Jimenez was returning from a trip to Mexico for the promotion of the trademark, Mr. Mig Jimenez and Mr. Carlos Cuesta were fired without previous notice. Hence, Mr. Rick Lawler and Mr. Iain Hamilton left the company voluntarily at that moment in solidarity with Mr. Mig Jimenez and Mr. Carlos Cuesta.

- All quality control, development of ideas, books, DVDs and many others, were created by Mr. Mig Jimenez, as indicated in most products, such as the Book “FAQ 2”, leaving the distribution to his partner Mr. Fernando Vallejo. The relationship between Mr. Mig Jimenez and Mr. Fernando Vallejo has ended due to the breakage of the verbal covenant they both had from the beginning, resulting in the dismissal of Mr. Mig Jimenez in the face of an overall imbalanced situation.

- Only a week before the dismissal of Mr. Mig Jimenez, he, along with Mr. Fernando Vallejo wrote a contract in which it read that the magazine “The Weathering Magazine” was intellectual property of Mr. Mig Jimenez and that said magazine would become Mr. Mig Jimenez’s full property in case of his dismissal . To date, Mr. Fernando Vallejo hasn’t hand in any files, logo, web domains or servers relating to this magazine to Mr. Mig Jimenez, breaching said contract. Therefore, Mr. Mig Jimenez currently does not have any control or responsibility over the magazine nor over the subscribers or advertisers who, in any case, have paid their fees to “AK Interactive” not to Mr. Mig Jimenez.

- There are many other issues of legality that Mr. Mig Jimenez and Mr. Fernando Vallejo must solve. At the same time, Mr. Mig Jimenez is free to create or do anything he sees fit to continue his professional modeling career outside AK Interactive; creating new books, paintings , accessories or any other idea under the brand he wishes to, always respecting the existing contract; which he can make available to employees, suppliers or customers request.

 Finally, it is our duty to notify that the Facebook account “AK INTERACTIVE FACEBOOK” was created exclusively by Miss Elizabeth Wiese who worked on it for three years selflessly with the sole aim of helping Mr. Fernando Vallejo and Mr. Mig Jimenez. As we all know, Miss Elizabeth Wiese used an “AK Interactive” account ( authorized by Mr. Fernando Vallejo for all promotional work, helping countless times in sales care work, stands, as well as helping in promotion and customer service . As you all can see in the many photographs of “AK Interactive” albums on Facebook and the thousands of private messages she exchanged with many modelers.

-“AK Interactive”, since October 9th, 2013, has misappropriated of what Miss Elisabeth Wiese created from her own will and without any financial remuneration, which she rejected, for the sole interest in helping said company, grow .

All of us expose that “AK Interactive” under the direction of Mr. Fernando Vallejo, has acted in an improper way breaking all verbal agreements it had with Mr. Mig Jimenez just when the company “AK Interactive” had been consolidated internationally. This has led to a breakage in the trust, essential to continue with the existing collaboration to date.

It’s only up to you to judge what “AK Interactive” has done with Mr. Mig Jimenez. Thank you all for your friendship over the years and we ask you not measure up people’s success for how high up they get to reach, but by how high they bounce when they hit bottom .

Full on double rainbow all the way accross the sky. But WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

First of all, my hero nerds of the day are Iain Hamilton and Rick Lawer. They left AK Interactive in solidarity to what happened to Mig. I tip my silly hat to you, sirs!

Without of course knowing all the details, I would call this at the very least an indication, that Mig might have not been treated fairly. 

So what do we have here? Again, please make up your own mind! I will, however, give you my personal interpretation of the situation: 
  • Mig is the heart and soul behind AK Interactive and all the products such as F.A.Q. and The Weathering Magazine. 
  • Like many nerds, he worked for the hobby and let the 'contractual work' to a good friend. 
  • Money, unfortunately, is where many friendships end. 
I personally think Mig got robbed of the financial success of many years of work. Again, please come up with your own conclusion. 

What now?

I wonder how AK Interactive will continue without Mig. If you rip the heart out of a company, it might not survive it - unless you find a suitable transplant. Great products are one thing, but you need the inspiration behind everything to make them work. I, for one, will follow this closely. 

Mig will bounce back higher than this Kangaroo!
I am convinced that Mig will continue to be successful. He has been burnt once - and he won't be burnt twice. He will set up his own company, together with good friends and fellow nerds. Pretty much like we at Manabu / paintingbuddha did

And because he seems to be a really hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is, he will bounce back highWe at masterminis/paintingbuddha will try do everything we can to help him back on his feet. 

If you would like to follow the next developments and also would like to support a fellow hero nerd, follow Mig on his Facebook page. Let him know that there is a nerd army standing behind him.

Let us know in the comments what you think of the whole situation - what is your view?

For the greater good - the one thing you definitely SHOULD do to support Mig is to:


Monday, October 7, 2013

Games Workshop does it again: Beasts of War

GW does it again: Burning fans just because the devil told them too. And his name is 666 Intellectual Property
Good morning everybody! 

Bearded person hugs clobbered
seal. That's how he rolls.
After a couple of weeks (months, rather) of work and attending events every weekend, I took Saturday and Sunday off completely from anything company related. 

Mati coerced me into playing "DEFIANCE" on PS3 - and I love it! So I 'got back' from the weekend, small-eyed but very relaxed, and incredibly motivated to take our wonderful hobby where no one had taken our hobby before. The final frontier for nerds.

Then, not really from out of nowhere also not really unexpectedly, someone hits someone else square in the face with a rather sizable baseball bat. GW's Legal Inquisition strikes again. This time, they are gleefully clubbering some friendly Beasts of War. Anyone thinking of baby seals being clobbered? Good analogy.

Bearded president hugs clobbered Beast of War
At Games Day UK 2013 of all places...
When is enough enough?

I have never really questioned me being GW/FW's #1 fanboy ever. But I have to say that slowly but surely GW's glorious management get's me to at least to raise an eyebrow slightly, quizzically, menacingly and disapprovingly. For the first time ever, the president is not amused. Not at all. 

Remember when I wrote about the new Trade Term agreements in our popular mini-series "The future of Games Days and Games Workshop"? 

It almost feels like GW designed some of the rules particularly with Beasts of War in mind. Of course, someone who loves the hobby, promotes it like no-one else and does so even for free MUST BE STOPPED. But before I go on an early Monday rampage, let Warren Johnston from Beasts of War speak for himself: 

You have read the "7 walls of texts", starting with Part 1 of our incredibly popular series about "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop" you will absorb the detailed description of what went on between BoW and GW here. It is most insightful - and sad. 

So what is the result of this?

BoW and Wayland Games will 'part ways' - at least from a legal point of view. I find this as clever as unnecessary. Why GW wants fans to stop talking about their product is simply beyond me. Yes, legally they may have the law on their side (although in some aspects I am convinced they are stretching their luck) but what they do really begins to make less and less sense. 

BoW will continue to report about Games Workshop and their products, now on a 'cleaner' legal basis. And why shouldn't they? Yes, we might not be able to show unpublished pictures that they can't control to keep secret themselves (LOL, fail - even if our legal adviser sees nothing really wrong with that), but our love for the hobby is like hope - we all know that it will die last.

"The biggest risk is us." - Tom Kirby

"The biggest risk is us." - Tom Kirby. Now walk the walk.
Yes, Tom. The biggest risk is you (not you personally, but your GW management style).  

Here is my advice to you: Take a step back and really ask yourself whether using the legal bat to clobber sad looking nerds is really the best way of dealing with your fan-base. 

Then think how your company would be more successful, if you did EXACTLY the opposite of what you are currently doing. 

Think it through for at least 42 days. Make a plan and try to create a win-win-win-win-win situation. If you need help with that, give me a call - I've done it already, it's not that hard. I would even give you ideas for free - or rather, for all the plastic I can carry! (Full disclosure: Like Mr. Neutron, I can carry ENORMOUS quantities of plastic!)

If I held GW stock right now, I would probably sell it. GW is about to successfully aggravate even their #1 fan-boy. And if I get aggravated, I wonder what the rest of the community thinks about this. 

I fear the only way to 'wake GW up again' is if they receive the same wake-up call as in 2007. Losses, and nose-diving stock charts. And for some reason, I could see both in store for them in the next 2-3 years. Only the US operation could turn out to be their saving grace.

What can you do?

First of all, we can SHARE & ENJOY discussions on this subject (on Facebook, forums etc). Then you should take a deep breath and NOT HATE on GW. (At least not yet, give 'em one more chance, or two, or three...). 

Make a decision for yourself: Can you still support GW or do you think other companies have beautiful daughters, too? I'll still support them - I'll probably be their last customer at some point. 

Knocked out? Never! 1+ saving throw vs. Legal.
Secondly, you should definitely SIGN UP with BoW. It's free and you get additional content compared to a non-subscriber. 

And if you have it in your heart (and in your wallet), you can support them by becoming a 'back stage' member of their site. 

What can we do?

I met Warren for the first time - and only for a few minutes and a blurry picture at Games Day UK 2013. In the last couple of days we have been in 'loose contact' about 'partnering up' (whatever that means). 

Warren and Lloyd do everything for the hobby and for nerds like me. It seems we have a lot in common. Oh, and did I mention, I got a lot of crazy ideas?

Let's talk. 


With great beard comes great responsibility!
Don't make me Beard-Slap you, GW!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Future of Games Days & Games Workshop - Part 7

The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop - Part 7
Games Days - Dead on Arrival?

Traveling the Planet for the greater good of nerds everywhere.

After visiting Games Day US, Games Day Germany and now Games Day UK, there is only Games Day Italy to come on October 20th. 

Hussar 2013: If you can, you should go!
Although it would be really hoopy to be able to say "I have been to all Games Days in 2013" I won't be attending Games Day Italy this year. 

I promised the awesome crew of the polish Hussar to join them again in 2013, after I visited them for the first time in 2012. And since both GD Italy and the Hussar 2013 are on the same weekend, I won't be able to go. 

But fear not - Ben is going and he will be writing the Report for GD Italy, while I will write the report on Hussar 2013 (← FB event page). That will probably result in twice the fun for you guys ;) 

Full disclosure about my
current mental state.
Give us walls of text or give us death!

It is quite astonishing, how many messages I get, asking - in some cases begging - for the next installment of our very popular series about "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop". If, by some bizarre coincidence, you still have not read any of these legendary walls of text, here's the start - you'll find the rest. 

I wrote about the business 'success' of GW, the mistakes GW made (and continues to make) and how some of the 'interesting' business decisions of GW get me close to losing my marbles for good. 

So, lean back, PREPARE for another legendary wall of text. 

One question, one answer and secret fans

Games Day UK gave me the chance to talk to all kinds of people from Games Workshop and Forge World and ask them one question: "How do you feel about Games Days being cut down in size significantly and how do you think that will impact the financial success of Games Days and Games Workshop?"

Amount of fans that
would go, if... 
As a reminder, Games Day US was sold out at 1000 visitors. Games Day Germany had less than 1200 visitors out of 2000 tickets. Games Day UK had 4000 tickets available and according to some GW UK source had 3600 attendants. Personally, I doubt that number - I think that's only true, if you count in all GW staff and all the people with 'free access' to the event (dealers etc). But even then, 3600 visitors seems very high to me - I guesstimated around 2500 myself, but then again, it's hard to say.  

It is fair to say that - even if 3600 visitors is the correct number - it is far away from the around 8000 fans that made Games Day UK 2012 one of the biggest hobby events in the world. 

GW does not need more customers
to make more sales... Maybe they
should write a book about it!
And since my gut feeling tells me, for example, that 8000 people in the Forge World/GW/Black Library line are better for business than 3600 people, I think the above question is a just one. 

Surprisingly I got exactly one answer. Out of EVERYONE I asked. I did not get anyone's opinion, I got a response that the blue shirts seemed to have learned by heart or at least have been briefed on. 

"We strive towards being more accessible and serve our fans better and limiting tickets is the best way of achieving that. We just have more time for each of you by doing so." 

And a few of the questioned added: "We don't think that sales will be affected by this. We were able to save significant cost by limiting the amount of fans that can attend our events."

I see, I see, ... I get the picture! 

I get the part about saving cost. If you read any of the previous posts on this subject, you know that everything that GW does is targeted to maximize their margin. 

Blue shirts after the show, waiting to be picked up by a
fleet of buses: To the after-show party at Bugman's Bar.
So what did that mean for GD UK? GW returned to a smaller venue, the NIA. Just to put things in perspective: I would guesstimate that the Forge World, Black Library and GW sales hall last year was about the same size as the total event this year!

GW also sent less staff to work at the event. That was mostly apparent in the fact that the stores were all opened on Saturday. And with a lot of single-staff-stores, that meant that most of the blue shirts at GD UK actually came from Nottingham HQ, hauled to Birmingham in a fleet of at least 5 buses. 

So - as far as saving cost is concerned, I guess GW succeeded. 

How sales are not impacted by less than half the visitors is a miracle to me, my brain might be too highly trained to understand that math. 

As far as cost/ratio is concerned, I am sure, however, that GW was happy with the results of the event. For some reason, I am sure they have a KPI (key performance indicator) for that.

Games Day UK - the last Games Day ever?

The answer is of course, no - that would be a rather silly statement.

That, of course, is because Germany seems to have been the last Games Day ever

"Wutt?" I hear you say? I mean it! 

Games Day 2012 UK - teeming with life, excited fans,
all aspects of the hobby, INCLUDING gaming could
be found. Not so in 2013. 
The title 'Games Day' is a combination of the words "Games" and "Day". OK. Day is easy, as the event ran on one day. But games? What about games?

At first it did not even occur to me, as I am not a big gamer and I wasn't too excited about these uniform modular gaming board tables of recent events anyways.

So I want you to read this following sentence very, very carefully: There were a total of 0 gaming tables at Games Day UK 2013. ZERO. Zilch. Zipp. 

Games Day UK 2013 may as well have been called "Day UK 2013" - because Games were clearly not a part of any of that. Even now, from a distance of three days after the event, I still can not believe what I did NOT see: no Gaming Tables at a Games Day. 

There better be a goooood explanation for that! And Lo' and behold, I heard one! 

The wonderful logic of Games Workshop's "International Games Day Codex"

There actually seems to be rhyme and reason behind this magnificent achievement of ingenious marketing. According to the organizer of Games Days worldwide, this is all planned. And it's all part of the 'International Games Day Codex'. WOW.

Ultimate Madness: Games Days are no more for kids

First time I heard it, but apparently, "future Games Days are not targeted at kids and the younger attendees" anymore. 

*The statements are based on what I remember from
what was said, not an actual "transcript".
"Our hobby centers are the place for attracting young gamers and excite them for the hobby", I overheard the organizer say.* 

"With the successful implementation of the International Games Day Codex, which by the way is only a 'guideline' rather than a binding framework, all future Games Days will focus on the older, hard-core fan of the hobby."

OK, first time I heard the International Games Day Codex (IGDC) was not binding, but let's carry on...

"By limiting the amount of tickets, our designers and authors will be more accessible by fans who want to know absolutely everything about their favorite hobby."

Games Days are not about Games anymore

Who wants this kinda of crappy gaming table anyways.
With no young or new customers attending the event, of course, there is also no need for gaming or demo tables anymore. The hard-core fans and in particular the gamers know how to play already, anyways. So I guess not having Games at the Games Day makes 'perfect sense'. (LOL, who would have thunked!)

Not that the one-staff-stores would have time to build a table for Games Days anyways. More saved cost. Perfect!

To be fair, there were a two or three 'showcase' tables of very finely designed terrain - but nothing we have not seen before. And they were safely warded off by crowd-control metal fences. Go figure.

Meet the Geek

GD Germany 2013: When is enough room enough?
OK. So Games Days are not about gaming anymore. So what are they? Games Days are the chance for true Geeks to finally meet their maker (of plastic toys that is!)

Designers, Sculptors, Graphic Artists, Authors. If you are a nerd like me, you want to meet them and talk to them. Golden Demon competition, Armies on Parade - you want to enjoy them without being trampled to death.

So, limiting tickets to the event is a good thing for the fans, isn't it?

Sales Day 2013: 58% sales, 42% hobby
Sales Day 2013 

In theory, sure! In practice, however, if there is less to see, less to do, less Golden Demon entries and you put less people in less space, you will end up with about the same problem as before - just on a much smaller scale... D'oh! Did I have to spell that out for you, GW? Really?

Just check out the event map on the right. You won't even need a magnifying glass to see what the main concern of Games Days nowadays is. Sales.

Like in Germany, hobby space has been drastically reduced in favor of more sales area and more registers. 

Whereas Germany still had a hand full of gaming tables, the UK did not even bother.

Let's look at the three areas of the main hall and the exhibition "sports hall":

Sales Area

Games Day opened at 10am. Immediately there was a line at the Forge World stand - not unexpected. I tried to queue early but was told I needed to go into the line for the line. I looked at the line for the line and said 'Frakk that' to myself. 

After noon there were no lines. I remember last year, even at 3pm there were massive lines in front of the Forge World stand. I'd really like to know how sales went for them...

My personal heroes. Unlimited creativity for limited editions.
It was awesome talking to you guys! Stay hoopy!
Hobby Area

At Games Day 2012 there were at least 54 designers from HQ participating, plus all the guys from Forge World. Not so in 2013. 

There was no hobby area, meaning, there was almost nothing to do. 

Of course, I loved to talk to the Forge World guys, like I do every year. This year I was even able to meet my personal heroes of Games Workshop, the limited edition design team for the first time! This good looking group of extraordinary enthusiasts has rekindled some of our love for GW as they are the ones creating collectible and precious limited editions. Keep up the good work, guys! And make sure to reserve #42 of that yummy Chaos Box for your Galactic President! ;) 

Other areas

On the balcony there were a few indy games using the licenced IP of GW - but frankly, I felt reminded of the 90s or my Amiga 1000. Nothing to get excited about. 
Gameplay and Graphics meh... let's wait on the final versions. But don't expect something of the caliber of Dawn of War III any time soon...

I spent a total of 10 minutes there - and that was probably above average.

The exhibition in the 'Sports Hall' catacombs

Six flights of stairs towards the earth's core was the dimly lit, stuffy exhibition hall, located in a sports hall.

Well, the sport started when we had to climb up against towards daylight. But sport for nerds is good, so I won't complain. 

As you can see from the pic, people were stepping on each other's toes trying to get a glance of the 120 or so Armies on Parade or the Golden Demon entries. Being so stuffy and badly lit, to me this felt much more crowded than the years before at the NEC. I can't really say that I enjoyed the exhibition close to the center of earth. But I met Warren Johnston of Beasts of War on my way down - so that's gotta count for something. I'm such a fan-boy.

Yellow. Lighting done wrong. 
"Yellow" Demon

This year, we saw the event in a different light. With the dimly lit hall (I had to take pictures at 20,000 ISO+!) the only major light-source that hit the miniatures came from the totally inadequate, yellow halogen lamps. 

I mean, seriously, GW? Da Fuq!? 

How long have you been running Golden Demon events? How long have we asked for adequate lighting? Y U NO LISTEN?

Every miniature looked yellow. The strong halogen lights created overly bright highlights and pitch black shadows. To make things worse, many of the miniatures were placed in front of the lamps, so that we as the viewers only saw a wall of shadows. 

All they need is a few strips of white LEDs with a diffusor on each shelf and all would be good. But I guess it's too much to ask for the little money we pay to look at the sea of Yellow.

Many artists were frustrated about how their minis looked under that yellow light. Good thing I saw David Soper's sword winning entry the night before at our Pre-GD-Dinner. At least judging was done under daylight lamps. 

The Big Bore

So you spent maybe two hours down in the catacombs. You spent another hour with the designers. And then what? Well, the seating area was one of the most frequented areas all day long. I talked to many guys and gals sitting there - and they were bored. They only stayed to see the Golden Demon results - or were waiting until they could pick up their non-winning entries so they could GTFO. 

Perfect beings and lost identities

You can tell that Rob Macfarlane loves what
he does when you hear him talk about
the awesome new Heresy lineup.
During lunch, I sat down in the seating area and reflected on what I had seen so far. I spent an extensive time with most designers (interviews are coming soon™), both from the Games Workshop side as well as from the Forge World side.

All the designers, in fact all the blue shirts and all the Forge World staff were absolutely pleasant. Don't get me wrong - all of these guys are AWESOME. Dedicated, motivated, driven individuals who have one of the hoopiest jobs in the world. In a way, they are us. Fans of the hobby, putting heart and soul into what they do. And they are pretty damn good.

Sadly, I have finally come to the conclusion, that their management - which by the way was neither to be seen at the event nor deemed it necessary to show up at the after show party at Bugman's Bar in Nottingham to say a few nice words, has lost all ties to the reality of the hobby. 

A lonely scout sniper patrolled the
halls. He was not needed.
I asked myself: Who is the new Games Day format actually targeting? What is the desired audience? And does that audience fit into the big picture of Games Workshop's strategy? 

And to be honest, even now, I don't really know who that event was for. 

Who makes the money for Games Workshop? The gamers! Well, ... I found no reason for them to go to this event. Paying 35£ entrance fee just to buy stuff at full price is a weak argument to attract gamers. Yes, those one or two display tables looked nice. But that's 10 minutes worth of entertainment. 

How about cos-players? There was not even a competition for these guys! There were a few cool costumes, but they probably felt more awkward than appreciated. 

Collectors? If you ask for this endangered species you have not read my previous articles - collecting GW product is dead for a while now. And even the valiant efforts of the new limited edition design team won't be able to fix that quickly. Unless someone gives them a few k's of white metal, I think.
The power of color correction at least lets
me enjoy the pictures at home. But I don't
need to go to a Games Day for that.
Painters. There were a lot of painters, from all over Europe. And most of them were disappointed about the way GW showcased their work. But the Golden Demon is the main reason for most people to still go to a Games Day (and stay until the end). 

With all the gamers gone, some of us painters already start to feel special. But let's face it: If painters turn into the target audience of Games Days, I would strongly suggest to GW to drop the event altogether. Painters do not even make sufficient sales volume to support even the smallest of companies. And seriously, how many GW employees does it take to screw in decent day-light light bulbs? It's probably less than 42.

Kids & Squid Herder parents: There is not much to do for the kids attending Games Days (no gaming tables, little entertainment). And parents don't tend to support their little bundle of joy's every-changing-hobby-moods if the entry cost for a starter set and necessary tools exceeds the 200-300£ mark. PLEASE GW - stop using starter boxes as KPIs! Lower their damn price and get new hobbyists into our once beautiful hobby!

So, why do I still attend?

The Beard is strong in you, young Bruddha Conrad!
Following are a few pictures of many new Bruddhas :)
I am sorry if most of the above feels and sounds like bitching. And it does not reflect the fact that I personally had a tremendous time at Games Days UK. 

But that had nothing to do with the show as such. It was not the fault of the GW/FW staff - as they are as awesome as they could be. 

No, I enjoyed the show, because I could meet up with many new and long-time friends at our traditional Pre-GD-Dinner and during the show. 

Bruddha Martin and myself surround Bruddha Volomir
I was quite literally overwhelmed by the mass amount of Buddha-Shirt wearing 'Bruddhas' who supported or cause and who I had the pleasure to meet for the first time. 

I felt vindicated by the six or seven blue shirts that told me in secret that they really loved our series on "The Future of Games Days and Games Workshop". 

Bruddha James, Bruddha Becky, Bruddha Beeblebrox
We'll get you a girly shirt, Rebecca ^^
We all love our awesome community - and it physically hurts to see how little the GW management understands their own customers and how much damage they will end up doing to themselves - and to us. 

After all the research that went into this mini-series, after all I have seen and heard at the Games Days in US, Germany and UK and after the recent 'glorious marketing moves' that the management pushed upon their staff I actually fear for Games Workshop's mid- and long-term future. 

You are probably already afraid of it - but let me still tell you that there are yet more parts to come with the next exiting installment on the "Future of Games Days and Games Workshop" where I will look at what was good about GD US, GD Germany and GD UK, what HQ should learn from that and what I would do if I was CEO of Games Workshop.  

I will also explain why I think these are very dangerous times for Games Workshop, Mr. Kirby. All of that should follow in Part 8. 

Let me close with the one response that I got from a GW official about Games Days and that summarizes all of the above:
"Our Games Days are designed to allow our fans to do what the love most: Buying Games Workshop products."
I rest my case. 

Like in the title picture of this thread, GW's management is carelessly tearing out the heart of the hobby. And then they find themselves surprised if they start flat-lining themselves.

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