Producing Fun is a podcast about making tabletop games from a product perspective.
Annie Norman is the founder and owner of Badsquiddo Games – a company specialising in making believable female miniatures.
In this episode we discuss how she built the business from absolutely nothing, bringing women in history to life, key practical questions about pricing, product quality, when and when not to outsource and how selfies play a surprisingly critical role in the miniature design process.
Listen on podcasting platforms: https://anchor.fm/naylorgames
Listen on Youtube:
Annie’s link tree: https://linktr.ee/badsquiddogames
I'm James, and this is producing fun, a podcast about making games from a product perspective. Welcome to the latest episode of producing fun. My guest this week is Annie Norman, the founder and owner of bad squiddo games, a miniatures company specializing in the creation of believable female miniatures. I wanted to talk to annie because her story is two important things at once. First, it's an inspirational tale, how someone built a business in the hobby sector from absolutely nothing in debt and unemployed, and turned it into a thriving business with an avid fan base doing something genuinely different. It's also about what that actually involved, which is not all luck, but the result of hard work, sound business decisions, and a commitment to making quality products in addition to any kind of fortunate market timing. That's an important story for people to hear. Here in the UK, at least, the opposite narrative is normally dominant in the world of games. No one can make any money and all success is a crapshoot. Well, that might be convenient for some people to believe it obscures the very real differences between the decisions made in successful and unsuccessful ventures. I suspect the real truth is the bitterest pill of all life isn't fair, you might still fail even if you do everything right. But if you're smart, and you work hard, your chances really do improve a great deal. I say the world of games, but as a producer of miniatures, her business exists in what I always find to be a curiously parallel universe, the world of war game miniatures, where the aesthetics of the sculpture not the design of the game is far more important, commercially, and critically, indeed, and he doesn't make games or rules her products, realistic looking female figures from history and fantasy they used in other people's games and has painted showpieces in their own right. From how the selfie plays a critical part of the miniture design process to avoiding the false economies of insourcing. This chat was a wonderful mixture of curios fun and practical advice applicable to almost any startup business. It is great fun in general. So I'm sure you'll find this as enjoyable as I did. We join as she describes what it's like to live and work in Nottingham, which is, as she puts it, the unlikely Hollywood of the miniatures world.
So I chose to move here of all places, because the lead belts thing phenomenon. So there's a lot of companies based in Nottingham from obviously the GW. And then over time, I think people as people sort of left that company. They then formed their own sort of larger companies. And it's just kind of splintered off and kind of made Nottingham this sort of miniatures hub of the UK. And I was I was moving anyway, I was I thought, why should I move to move to Nottingham Give it a go, though, plenty of people around there. I'm really, really glad I did my fair. It's got a bit of a unfair reputation. I
think that's interesting. What is its reputation? Do you think it's a place? Well,
it did have quite a lot of gun crime. So it's okay. Yeah, this sort of bit of a karate, karate. Bizarre ish, but no, softly I was pleasantly surprised. I moved here for for bad squiddo and then ended up really, really liking it for Annie as well. Yeah.
Oh, great. That's pretty fantastic. I mean, certainly when I you know that one trip, Mike came to the networking thing with the tabletop thing run by needy cat games. Yeah. And I remember thinking, Oh, this is actually rather nicer than I expected, again, similarly, sold, perhaps a rather faulty idea of what Nottingham was like. And actually, yeah, it seemed quite nice, actually. And I was amazed at how reasonable it was at least coming from London anyway. Yeah. And I think I was told that like, even the office space for example, is very cheap. I'm just think even just getting a desk in London is like an expensive Yes, definitely. And you have a your own workshop, right? That you Yeah, kind of do things at night.
So I'm in the same building as needy cat games which is super. Okay. Yeah. And that's another reason the why Nottingham is Ace because they're just you pretty much can't go anywhere without bumping into other war games companies. Or someone from a war games company. They are everywhere. They know even so Tesco shopping is safe. Yeah, yeah, I do. You call it the Hollywood of war games, but Hollywood of war games. Great.
That's so great.
But the amount of people I've met since I've been up here, it's just it's it has sort of coincided with bad squiddo getting big sort of thing as well. But yeah, the amount of people I've met in that sort of business connection or friends or both sort of manases have been here. It's just sort of skyrocketed, and it's good to be able to still, I've been realising a lot lately that that bad squiddo is both smaller than people realise and larger than people realise.
TARDIS like a company. Yeah.
And so it's still day to day in the office most of the time, especially with COVID, as well, it's been just been me. And so that's where it's, that's where the business is smaller than you think. Because if you see the office, it's not enormous, I'm still very much doing everything as sort of tightly as possible, which is something I'd like to talk about in a bit as well. So that scale of it is small, but then the business is big, bigger than people realise. It's this sort of cross crossover II type thing.
Why do you think that that is, is it because there's like a misunderstanding of what it takes to run a business like that, and but somehow, at the same time, being surprised by not having by not being absolutely massive, I'd really like to know, what your, what your thoughts are on that.
So before I set up bad squiddo I found that I was, I thought a lot of companies were bigger than they are. So a lot of the smaller miniatures manufacturers in my head, were making loads more money, consisting of way more people than than they actually are. So I've kind of just realised that that's, you know, it wouldn't be that much of a stretch to think that's how a lot of people see my business, because you don't realise till sort of thing you just don't really think about, you know, it's not until you're sort of in that land where you know, what it was like the process and the manufacturing and how things work. So I've always been really open about it being a one on one, any business, though, we do employ a lot of people, it's all contracts sort of work, or, you know, freelancers and things like that, there's no day to day sort of, you know, payroll person. So that makes it really small in that sort of sense. But then just as the size of the business is in, you know, the amount that we sell, or just the range that we've got all of that, I think is a lot bigger than a lot of people realise, because they just see the Annie. So, yeah, that's sort of it creates that, you know, sort of wrap around. So yeah, you kind of just see me bumbling along going, Ah, oh, tiny company, it's just so you know, to Stanny going, Ah, but Annie is working on way too many things at once. So it's also that part of growth of a company as well, where I'm in that typical part where you start needing, you know, needing to get delegate more needing more people in, but not having that spare funds yet. So it's
makes sense. So it's that, that classic issue where, as you said, because just as you'd done from the outside, it looked like, oh, there must be loads of people involved in making these miniatures. And actually, it turns out, no, actually, that can just be one person who is subcontracting out loads of different kinds of the kind of work. That's what would make people think that a be somewhat surprised that it's actually it is only you, actually as driving everything forwards. But also at the same time. I guess the thing about the being larger is because I guess even as one person today, it's possible isn't in a way that might maybe not previously, perhaps even 30 or 40 years ago, be the case that you can project an image of being much bigger because actually, you can be through subcontracting out and buying different services in you can be creative is actually pretty big footprint, right? Yeah,
yeah, definitely. On that
note, how many miniatures are there in your range, then?
I should know this. I looked it up a while ago. It's a lot. It is a lot. I'll have to have to get back to you on it. But yeah,
have you got like a ballpark number? I can just approximately just to kind of help the listeners work out like roughly how many miniatures they can start getting a sense of how overworked you are,
in terms of the female minis that you know that the scenics range that we've got.
Oh, so there's that. Okay, so you've got a scenics range as well.
It's almost two businesses at one point as well. It's gone. pretty huge. Yeah, we have this huge range of scenics, and then we have the believable female miniatures project as well. So between them, they're just growing all the time. But yeah, in terms of the feeling of unease, I don't know it's got to be got to be at least five hundreds, if not more,
and that would be kind of a set of like, there'd be like sets with
terms in terms of mini so yeah, some of them are on their own. Some are in sets of four stuff like that. But there's a lot there's a lot of miniatures. So
actually, that means the individual sculpt. So this would be like an individual design effectively. So if I understand what a sculpt is, in this context, correct me could be more than 500
Oh, no, that was I was saying that right. Many minis I'm probably way off as well. So Right. off my head, I should totally know these. These
two anyway. I mean, regardless, even if it's even if you're 100 out, that would still be an absolutely enormous number that gives people I think, a bit of a scale of kind of kind of what you do. Especially being able to do so many things on your own really, really interesting because another person who does that is Jamie stag Meyer of stone Meyer games. Yeah. And his annual revenue is about $18 million last year. So I think that's really interesting is that you could have a business of that scale as as, as a one person run business that doesn't actually have any other employees. Yeah, yeah, that seems kind of amazing that it could scale to that point, what what's required, I guess, to do that, what do you think? What's needed to kind of do that with any one person? Or is that even possible? Can Do you think, I'd like to say, your company
having tremendous organisation It's, um, it's obviously a point in the business where you can kind of go one way or the other. And I feel like a very strongly gone towards this particular way, I'm sure we will end up with, you know, more than just me at some point. And that would be lovely. But I can't see us necessarily becoming that sort of, you know, huge warehouse style company, because I'm very much a fan of outsourcing and not doing everything in house. And with miniatures, manufacturing, I think, maybe sometimes the older way, is the very much all in house, you know, having everything done in your one place, I think that's when costs can just bubble a lot as well, very suddenly. So you know, people start growing. Again, with any business, it's the same sort of thing, you start growing, and then you go right now I need more infrastructure. Now I need to go to a bigger place getting staff, but you're not growing at the same amount as those expenditures are going up sort of thing. And that's when they can sort of cave back in on themselves, which has been something I've been really really conscious about.
So So for now, then your your plan is very much to keep it as probably just you for now, unless there was some exceptional reason something came along, it seemed like an employee would be the right.
Yeah, I would love this is where I end up getting loads of job applications, not yet. It's almost like a shop manager type person that can that can just do a lot of that this freeing me up to do more of the bits that I'm more interested in, I guess the words or you know, where my skills are better suited? Because the amount of things I have to do occasionally, that's a really good point of confidence for me where I think, damn, I can do a lot of things. Yeah, necessarily, you know, all of them are amazing, but they're all very much, you know, possible. You know, no one would notice I've not got, you know, I've not got a company or sort of, you know, taped together or bits of cardboard and sellotape and whatever. Yeah, it's all handmade. I can wing it pretty well, it's the basic Yeah, but having to have like, not, again, not an expert, but a solid knowledge of so many different aspects. So obviously, like the, with the miniature design, so largely focus on historical figures, there's so much research that has to be done to get all of the details. Correct. And that's the bit that I would like to have more Annie freed up to do. I don't know, when I started talking about myself in third person over.
This has happened in the last few years.
Yeah, what I was saying before about how you could have everything in house, and people do that. And it does tend to be those sort of larger companies now that when they get to that size, you know, then that's that's a different sort of fish. What's this? Yeah. But that larger scale? Yeah, that makes sense for all sorts of different reasons to have things in house, but my sort of size of business, I'm very much a fan of that, yeah, just get professionals to do things big, and then everything is great. So the thing that I can do, and like I said, after weighing a lot of stuff, and that sort of go, right, we need to do this. Now. I've never done this before in my life ever. Now I need to read up and figure out how the hell I do this. You know, whether it's things like different software's or different ways of accounting and stuff like that. It's, that's, that's okay. But the things that I should never ever do. And I see I see it happen with a lot of a lot of companies where they do that, and they kind of get like, you know, well, we could save some money by doing these things ourselves. Like, no, no, don't do it. Don't do it. But I, you know, that's a real trap, isn't it? Extremely overworked people, but then I think I'm extremely overworked. But wow, if I did some of the things that other people do on top of that, it just It'd be impossible. So one of them that I see a lot a lot of companies start doing is go, we spend a lot of money on casting, we could get our own caster, and then we could just pay them money. And and then we wouldn't have to pay, you know, the profit to the
casting here just for the benefit of the listeners, I can understand what part of the process is it because you explain that I think after that, what we'll do is we'll go right at the top in terms of maybe what kind of typical day looks like just so I can understand a little bit more about how the business works. But yeah, what do you mean by casting in this context?
So the miniatures we have are made in metal and resin. Right? And yeah, that's basically once you've got your original sculpt that's then made a mould of and then the casting is the main manufacturing process. It's quite casting
the the actual final figures from a mould that's been previously made by mould maker.
Yes. So those those fingers that will then go into the packets and be sold. So those sort of final pieces that, you know, yes, people can learn to do it themselves. And you can get your own, you know, by the machines do it in house. But you're always going to be at that sort of mercy of having a caster. And then if something happens so that they die. Why leave they go? Oh, yeah, they die made it dark. Yeah, I'm relying on them. Yeah, so if there's problem with that one person, or maybe you've wild and you've got two of them, but it's still still a bit shaky. And this was talking about a scale because at that point, it is one or two, if you're a much larger company, you've got a whole team and it's different, you know, different matter. But I think other than doing that, then why wouldn't I use a company that's got professionals that have done this for a very long time? They've developed the skills to just you know, obscenely good levels, and have everything in place to make the best miniatures possible. It's just for me, I, a lot of people go on, it's about time you start doing in house casting? No way. Why would I do that?
It's really interesting. So when I spoke to manufacture who I believe you work with Louis Downes in a previous episode, as he spoke more and more about the process and what was involved, it was very clear to me that this is this is a hugely highly skilled specialist area. Yes. And certainly, the thought of, oh, I'm going to have to cast some models now or get someone else who just does casting, without any of the ability to, for example, the resilience because obviously, Louis employs multiple people who can do that kind of work. And so that if someone is sick or unavailable, there's always ability to continue producing product. That sounds like a nightmare. It sounds like a lot of risk. Not really a lot of cost saving really,
exactly and even through you know, the last year and the pandemic. I've got, I've had barely any sort of interruption or anything to the manufacturing because they've got all their systems in place. So that's actually more stable than having that that sort of system in house. And it's something that people it's not, it's not too hard. This is well, yeah, Louie tells me off afterwards, it's not too hard to cast a miniture you can pick it up, you know, you can do a day of you know, someone showing you and you can cast a miniature, but there's a very big difference between casting a miniature and casting a very good miniature. Yeah, that makes total sense that difference of quality. A lot of people just go I've made a miniature it's worked. Yes. Why would I pay someone like like Clarice company? To do this when I can just do it like, yeah, it's the same as with anything like, yes, you have made a miniature, but it's not very good is it
Seems critical. Because I mean, this this comes to me in something to talk about immediately about the whole attraction of miniatures is an interesting question. Because, for me, I would have assumed that production quality is really important because they are aesthetic objects, first and foremost, in a way that board games can be enjoyed, they can look terrible. Sometimes people still have an amazing time with them. If they're very well designed from a gameplay perspective, that isn't really true miniatures it is it because their aesthetic objects,
especially if like myself, I only produce miniatures. So that seems like I've got a game system that I can kind of go, you know, well, I can say the mini sucks, but the game was really good. It's just got miniatures. And and yeah, that's another thing that I see people sort of doing where they'll, they'll try and save costs on something like the miniatures say, by you, using a less a less good, less good caster, and go over, we can get these for much cheaper look, but that's your product. That's the whole thing. Everything is about the figure. So why would you not have the figure as good as it can possibly be? So that's something I'm absolutely happy to, you know, because we're, you know, people get together and chat about all different costs and stuff. I'm aware that the costs of mine are a lot, but it's just like, why wouldn't you do that there are other ways you can sort of skimp and save like, well, let me having a way smaller office than I should have. That's fine. But the important thing is that products and I think yeah, people sort of setting up can easily be lured into that whole like, Oh, but I can save money by you know, not using you know, super good casters perhaps all Yeah, just like I can pick it up and do it in my shed. And there's plenty of people that do that and I didn't want to like look like I was being super critical. But it's it's very easy to To do it wrong, basically. And yeah, there's plenty of lovely people that do very lovely castings in their shed or their spare room and that sort of thing. It depends what you want out of the business, though, you know, wherever you want to stay is that sort of size. And it's a bit of a hobby project, you know, a bit of a side thing to your day job, or whether you want it to be that sort of larger company. So there's all that sort of tied up in it as well,
I would have thought that there would be a problem, but your scale, right in terms of people who would have the adequate capacity to make the miniatures so you produce them in such a volume that someone who's doing it in their shed, even if they've spent a lot of time getting really good at it is going to struggle from a volume perspective, right.
Yeah, exactly. I have I have in the in the past, I've had this sort of shed caster, so fit absolutely lovely. And now at this point, when I switched over to to use and CMA Louis, that was the point that was really starting to take off. was really pleased that I noticed that beforehand. I didn't wait till it got out. Yeah, yeah, right. Now our output is, you know, it's not scary, but the way it's growing, it's gonna get scary fairly soon. And again, if I'm using it, even if it's a casting company, where it's one or two people that can disrupt as well, because you know, they're real, or they go on holiday and that can sort of Spanner, everything.
This is interesting that there's quite a lot, as I understand it, in this industry, within the sort of casting side of things where there are a lot of businesses that are similarly micro businesses of people using small quantities, right?
Yeah. Yeah, most most of the WarGames minis companies are, are a lot smaller in terms of people than than a lot of people realise. Because there's even ones larger than me that seem somehow even smaller, if that makes sense. And that terms of like, yeah, their outputs larger, but they're still just Yeah, mostly, like one guy that organises specifically
even for something which I think is probably a bit of a surprise for me when I learned this manufacturing, right? Not just because I think we used to think about manufacturing has been quite a big scale process, if you look at what the factories in China do, in terms of manufacturing games, and the quantities, that isn't the operation, which so many people involved, yeah, but actually, there are lots of these sort of micro manufacturing companies in your game space, in and around Nottingham. And I guess some of those are the people that you're bumping into at the super market.
So besides that we're at now and the amount that we order, I can only think of apart from obviously, the cast as we use is probably one of a company out there in the UK, that would be able to handle that amount, which is something that I find really interesting, interesting, more and more companies are popping up. Because it's the you know, the barrier to entry is always a lot smaller, and probably even more so. So that'd be a whole other episode talking about digital sculpting. And that sort of, yeah, it's just, it's a lot easier to be able to set up a company, which is great. And I'm one of them. So I can't go there. It's all these companies. But the infrastructures not there, even the shed people, there's, there's just folk, they're all gonna be shed dwellers. There's just not. But even with all those people, because there's a lot, there's a whole load of those sort of micro casters out there as well. So between like everything that there is that sides not really growing as much. So it gets harder and harder to sort of find that good, reliable caster as well. So that's, that's been a whole adventure in our growth and just sort of learning things along the way. But we've been with CMA for the longest now and hopefully forever. They're awesome. But yeah, there's just there's not that much in that sort of, yeah, that's the core of it, that actually making the minis and then I get a bit concerned that it's a bit of a dying art sometimes that, you know, like a lot, a lot of the people I know that cast are fairly old as well. And it's not, because it's not something you just kind of pick up at any point is it any of us sort of hobby or something, the machines generally quite old. And that's where it gives me some hope, say companies like CMA that are constantly employing and training new people. Because that's a lot where it hasn't been sort of passed down because it will be somebody Kasei casting in their in their garage till they kind of retire. And that's it.
Well, that's interesting, isn't it? So it's almost like you can see the kind of hobby origins of it. Yeah, something where people it's being done at this kind of hobby scale, but as probably those kinds of hobbies in general, like it feels like craft hobbies, and particularly, maybe this is something that's not maybe this is just purely opposition with them. I had no evidence, but that kind of craft hobbies amongst men seem like they're becoming less popular. So I think about things like in the 60s, there was like a huge boom in hobbies around things like making model aeroplanes. And it kind of reached a real peak at that point. And then since then, this is funny thing that a few of your men have been interested in crafting things. Yeah. And I guess if that's the result, then potentially you're losing out on that talent pool that was once there for casting as it does, it feels like it's in a similar ballpark. Yeah.
You could say that was part of, in general that maybe you know, things, a lot of hobbies sort of dying out or Yeah, due to, again, it's it's the whole thing for another, but that's against being totally speculative. Something, you know, like video games, you know, there's a lot. Yeah, a lot of things are a lot more digital than they used to be, you know, so, so yeah, I'm not sure that's an interesting one though, for sure.
Yeah, I find that interesting. Okay. All right. Well, let's talk a little bit about what a day in your life looks like, because I think that would help make the company a little bit clearer as well. And actually, before we do that, let's first introduce if you could introduce a little bit more about what bad squiddo games is and why you set it up. They basically
games we manufacture 28 millimetre scale female miniatures,
and sorry just to stop you there immediately just to make sure that I'm clear on this 28 millimetre scale this is a person is approximately 28 millimetres in height just so I get this a lot
this it's an ongoing it will be debated until the end of time arguing over what it means but what we do which is clearly the best because you know from from foot to eye because some people do to top of head I'm like but what you can get crazy hairstyles and stuff that would mess up. So we do it to the eye. As if they were standing anyway, obviously poses they won't be 28 mil but yeah, this when I'm describing to people outside of the sort of hobby just like the head or about three centimetres three centimetre apologies. I
wanted to ask that question because it's something that I found a lot when I'd sort of it's one of these kind of piece of terminology from from the scale miniature world that when I first heard it, I was like, I'm not quite sure I understand this. It's 28 millimetres of what you know, like a map scale is like one to something. So I was always mystified now understanding it's from approximately the foot to the to the eyeline Yeah, of a person. It makes sense. And as you said, it's even makes even more sense if you say the models are about 3 centimeters tall which is even easier. Anyway, sorry. Sorry.
Like mind blown. So yeah, we manufacture figures at about three centimetres tall. Yeah, they used for Wargaming. Some people just use them for not just some people also use them for painting dioramas and things like that. And we don't produce any rules. But what we specialise in is female miniatures. Because at the time, when I set up, I noticed that that was what was really lacking in that sort of diversity in the hobby. But that's what we focus on. But we've kind of been branching out quite a bit as well. So what they tend to be because people go, but you don't do rules, what do we use your miniatures for? Well, a lot of people swap them out, because so many companies don't do female models, they want to play a game, there isn't what they would like to use in it. So they tend to be used for all sorts of different games, which in historical worlds is a lot cooler than the fantasy worlds, you know, so it's not me sort of, you know, bombing off someone's IP or anything like that, you know, it's not like I make models that people play Warhammer with, it's not that sort of thing. Okay, say in the historical world, it's quite, you know, someone will make a rule set, and then it tends to be, you know, use whatever figures you like, and there's a whole load of that out there as well.
Did you say that the majority of what you produce is historical miniatures?
I'd like to think so. But then. Okay, well, we really, you know, we really went all out on the guinea pig warriors or something.
Right, because you've got the guinea pig warriors. These are sort of armed guinea pigs that have armour and swords and things like this.
That was me giving away one of my plans. But yeah, that was Oh,
really trailed the range that's coming. I
had it here first. But yeah, it probably is. I'd like it to be and I get to get distracted. Sometimes the sculptors get distracted as well. And depending on who it is, I sometimes just let them go off on, on whatever little adventure sculpting adventure, and that's how some of the other rangers have sort of come about where I didn't have plans to do something. But the sculptor made me you know, one, and when I just I was just having fun, and you know, do you like this? And now let's make loads of them. Yeah. But as well as ladies, so it's mostly lady figures. We also bought most of Bristol's extraordinary market again about three years ago, which does feel longer that one does. So what's that he was a scenic company in Poland. But he was fed this is that ties in quite nicely, actually. Because he's, he was a sculptor. He still is a sculptor. But he also was casting and running the business. Right. And one of the reasons he decided to stop that was because he was getting frustrated that he wasn't sculpting as much as he wanted to be sculpting, because he was doing the day to day business running instead. So he sort of switched up what he's doing, sold off the range, and then just became a full Time sculptor. So you can just sculpt and hone that craft, which is I was really proud when? Yeah, because I see. So again, so many people still just work themselves into the ground trying to when I think of everything that I do, and if I sculpted and cast on top of that, it just blows my mind that, you know, people do that. But yeah, so I bought that range, but then we've expanded it, we've probably tripled it or something since then. So Bristol is now one of our sculptors, I'm really pleased with how that's all turned out. Because it was a range that we used to stock. And now it's, well, that's ours. And it's just a combo of me and Bristol are both our weird brains have just been created, like the best stuff ever. Do a lot of chatting about you know what we're gonna make. They're like, we like this is a deadly duo. So the
creative processes is that generally speaking, you will be coming up with kind of concept, right for some miniatures. Yes, then the sculptor might also have some ideas. And I guess this partnership with with risktal is one way he obviously because he previously running his own company publishing as well. Yeah, he's got lots of great ideas that he is inputting into the process. Oh, yeah, he
- He has some amazing. Yeah, totally depends on the sculptor. And I like sort of learning what, what sculptors enjoy, and what they want to make as well. Because it's obviously it's like, like anything that if they're doing something they're not that into, it's not going to be as good. If it's something they're really passionate about, then it's going to be a lot better makes a lot of sense. It's almost like as a treat. So occasionally, like, what do you want to make? So some some very strict, we have very tight briefs. Where, um, yeah, that will be, you know, this is exactly what the figure is going to look like, you know, right down. So she's going to have this expression, this hairdo, every sort of micro detail. Interesting. And then other times, depending on what it is, again, it's usually away from the historical but it might be something a bit more a bit more loose. So it could be something like, right, I need another shieldmaiden. I want to dress the same as that one there. But can you have her in like a raw pose? There's a lot of photos of me out there of posing as for the pose example. And then yeah,
that's how you brief poses in sometimes if you just get a photograph of yourself making a kind of expression.
Yeah, cuz then you can figure out like, stuff like, he goes that way. You know? Oh, that's fascinating. It's like your your own armature. Again, it's like, is that a natural pose?
Right. Because, yeah, because there are certain things you could do with them, or the loads of things you could do with a model? That would be impossible. Yeah. In terms of human physiology. Yeah.
You see a lot of that.
Yeah. I love to remember when I'm being a bit mean, and see something that I think what have they done? They're not not on a bad
quality control and design process, right. It's actually you're doing that part of it. Brief, tight, so that you don't have that problem.
That's it. Yeah, I sort of see something occasionally I'll be scrolling and see see? What and then yeah, I find myself in pulling all sorts of weird poses trying to be is that even possible? Even do that? Yeah. So yeah, like that. That's one of my, one of my testing processes. Can my body go? Like?
Where do you get your ideas from? How do you start with because there's, I mean, you could make a miniature of anything. I mean, if you're in the category of women, well, that's 50% of all the possible biological forms that have gender. So that's obviously pretty broad. That's pretty broad brush. So how do you narrow that down and work out what miniatures you're going to make rather than others?
It seems to be what excites me the most really? Hmm. And it's, there's always the sort of the business aspect as well, because it's a lot of money to make even just one miniatures, the whole process, so it's got to sell. You can't just, you know, just go well, that'd be cool. It's got it's got to sell so then you've got to look at ways you know, what games might be out there that could fit into all those sort of parts. And oh, yeah, largely, though. It's what I'm particularly interested if I see something and think Yeah, that's cool. That's like, was it I like to the sub base of the company is making minis one of my cheesy taglines is minis that younger Annie would have really enjoyed painting and playing with right fingers that my little self would would sort of appreciated. So yeah, it'll be just just things that I think are really cool sometimes. So especially with the historicals. I have, I'm looking at now. An enormous specialist bookshelf does all women in history books, right? I'm trying to like get them all at some point. But I have massive like, anything that's been written about women in military history or to standard history. I've got all of that and then I'll just sort of be flicking through various ones. Now maybe it will be an old photograph or a bit of information. That will be the thing that makes me go Oh, and then suddenly it's escalated and as a whole range. So the the Soviets range for samples, I think our largest one, especially with the latest stuff,
and this is women of the Soviet Union Yeah. Well, around World War Two, right? Yeah.
Yeah, like that range came about because we just we just released well on Kickstarter, which just had a whole, like, massive bunch of it, but that very start the start of it was me looking through one of those because I've got in the books I've got there are sort of specialist books where they really delve deep into one particular topic. And then the broader ones, which are the sort of like, you know, coffee table books, the 50 women that you should learn about before you die and those sort of books right and it was one of those so I was just sort of flicking through so the Night Witches so the Night Witches that were bombers, Soviet bombers, okay, and they were called back because they were just sort of silent and gliding. Low flying gliding bombers. Okay, uh, yeah, just read about them. I went I know, which is a cool and then before I knew it, suddenly, like humongous World War Two binge, of just sort of learning everything about women in World War Two in the Soviet Union. Escalate. Yeah,
me passing down the Wikipedia rabbit hole. Yeah.
And then yeah, way that one ended up Yeah. In me on various translated Russian language websites, books. Just go read it. Yeah, that was so that was just the first sort of bit of interest.
Well, I guess that makes sense to go quite deep, right? Because the historical research is such a big part of what you're making?
Oh, yeah. It's like, it's got to be more than, you know, the BuzzFeed article or whatever. Yeah. Which is funny, cuz somebody basically said that to me. At one point, I think it was on Twitter or something. They said to me, like, don't believe everything you read on these clickbait articles? Like, no, I don't I don't see a Buzzfeed article ago. Well, that's fact let's make a model of that. I don't need to look any further into this at all. The research does go does go deep, especially with the World War Two, because it's also I find it really fascinating and so many photos, which also helps. So you can get really down to the precise detail with where some of your things like Dark Ages, you've got a bit more room for speculation or rule of cool, you know, things like that,
right? Yes. As in you can you can have something and like it will be wicked. If it was like this, even if I don't have any historical evidence that someone like this would have done this. I'll just use anyway, because things like we don't really know. And it's cool.
Yeah, there's always a bit of rule of cool in there. Right? Yeah. So yes, it's not anything that's too crazy, because then I just put them into my fantasy figures. But yeah, it'd be something like this particular, this sleeve design might look a bit cooler than the other sleeve design. And we have no idea right? Sleeve design. So I'm gonna go for the cool one. So they have artists thickness in those. But yeah, when it comes to World War Two, you can get everything precise. And I really enjoy the challenge of that. I'm much more a fan of books than the internet for just the obvious reason that they tend to be a bit more not filtered. They have to go through processes to get published. Yes. Especially with things like cool women from history. Websites, just click off other websites, and an article is everywhere. And yeah, if there's an inaccuracy, it almost becomes a new internet truth. So that's part of the reset. Because there's this one that drives me wild every time I see it. And it's, it's one of those Yeah, like, this woman is really cool. And they use a photo of an entirely different woman. And every time I see it, like someone in the comment, sort of thing you would know, it's
just because, yeah, it's been interesting. Because it's like, okay, so inspirational woman has a great story that gets copied without really checking the facts to make sure that in fact, this is this that person, even that photograph of them. Yeah, yeah, that's
just shows how stuff gets picked up and thrown around. Which you know what that Twitter guy said was absolutely correct. But I thought it was funny that he just assumed that that was yeah, there's this whole yeah, I've read like a bit of an article and thing when they do make cooler headlines as well. So it'd be like, lag for from Vikings was real and then it's this whole enemy, like, No, you know, like, giving you ideas of you know, we found a female skeleton, therefore, there must have been entire colonies of fighting women and stuff like this. Right, exactly. So it can get they can almost get too excited on the other side of it. Yeah. So I like I really enjoyed waiting for all the different research and trying to come up with one what I think is correct, but sometimes being 100% correct with the models I said about the rule of cool Yeah, isn't necessarily the best model. So it's got to also look like a really cool there's a compromise there. Yeah. So there's there's all that and there's sort of like, it's almost like they become symbols, I guess. So how there was some characters where it'd be like say a woman from history. She never shot anyone, but maybe she had a gun or she there was some reason she's linked to a particular item or whatever, but she won't probably won't walk around with every day. But if you put it on there, right? Yeah. Cool, really cool. So like all nods to that sort of thing. Yeah, that makes sense. They're the bits that I really like putting in, obviously, like, if it fits, you know, they're not like, I don't know, armed with a gun, and then they've got like a basket of puppies or? So actually, that's a bad example. Because I do that I totally do.
How much do you think? How much do you think that contributes to the commercial success? Like, do you feel like you go above and beyond the call of duty? Or do you think that actually is a big part of why they sell?
Yeah, obviously, the cooler a figure is, the more people gonna buy it. When I started off, I set the company up for quite a useful time, Lucky time, if that makes sense. Because people were starting to question that why there wasn't as much women's representation in Wargaming. Right? Your the figures that were there, were all very scantily clad.
There was exactly the kind of classic bikini armour. Yeah. Right.
So when we started on, you see, before that, we had kind of had the luxury of people buying because of what they were sorry. Like, it's a female model. It's got clothes on, we'll buy it. Like, when you when you set out to change the world, when you're doing that sort of thing, though, you can't have that forever. Because what you want is for there to be lots, you know, not just one squiddo, obviously, you want that to be the norm. So then people, you can't have people buying your, your fingers because it's a woman with clothes on. Yeah, because that's wild when you consider it the other way around. If people were like, this company, they've got men with clothes on. Yeah, it's a point where it's like, Okay, what's, what's the angle here? Because it was a little, you know, maybe even just a few months into it. I started thinking about that, right? Well, I want people to buy the figures because they're really cool figures. Not because they're women. Right? That's obviously a bonus. But I just wanted to get that. So cool figure. And I just want make
sense. So there's a funny way in which that is like an early stage advantage, because you're doing something genuinely different. It's kind of amazingly amazing. And it is genuinely different. Women with clothes on miniatures, and initially, obviously, that's just that's enough. And it might be that they go well beyond what they need to in that sense already in terms of quality. But as you said, anyway, in the long term to make this work, they've got to just be great miniatures in general,
because it's improving as well. Other people are already doing this, surely. Yeah. Yeah. And that's awesome. Because yeah, I guess you feel like such and such a stunning woman closer like, Yes, this is good. I must be the only company that good kinda, well, I'm doing
a monopoly on women with this seems a little self defeating.
Really, but it has got better, partly just again, it was the right time for me to start that because it has been becoming more of a discussion and a lot of small companies are doing it. And I know that I have directly influence some companies as well probably indirectly influenced them. I'm not claiming that there are more models of women with clothes on. Oh, no, I'm claiming that I'm claiming that there are more out there because I was like you are.
exerted that pressure to some extent. Yeah. Just by showing people what's possible.
Yeah. I'm not responsible for every every woman's clothes on Mini. But yeah, you know, what, I have contributed quite a bit. But yeah, it's a mixture of, I think the effects. And, and also, yeah, more people just having the same thought going. Hang on what, you know, when we're doing a, a woman, barbarian or whatever. Why is Yeah, so just Yeah, people have been more conscious about it. And then it is a sort of ripple effect. So the more companies that do it, there was a fear. When I started, a lot of people were like, don't do it, you won't sell them. And I've heard that so much people going, or people make sexy female figures, because no one would buy them otherwise. And that became a sort of, like, gospel. Yeah. And it kind of angered me that people wouldn't even try to just say, Well, you know, they're not going to sell so, so I thought, Well, okay, I'm out of nowhere. I'm gonna like pull everything I've got into this. And at the start, it was, I didn't have much at all. It's quite healthy to tell people I started bad squiddo when I was in debt, right. Yeah, I was at the very last sort of bit of hope, because I'd previously been running a dice bag business, where I was I was doing that for years, but I'm just to bust up both my wrists with repetitive strain from from doing that. Oh, from actually making them. Yeah, that wasn't long term sustainable, but I did build a pretty damn good empire. So I was pleased that right but yeah, I'd been out of work for a bit because of obviously my hands weren't working. Yeah. And it was that last point of I need to change this up. I need to do something else. Yes, starting in the back, which is something I would never suggest. Hey, um, you set up a business when you're in debt, so it can be done. It can be done, I would not recommend it at all, that don't have repetitive strain injury. Yes, exactly. I did go into it with that sort of self defeat from the start just this like, well, if nobody buys them, I've made some miniatures that I will like. Because the first figures that we made were female shieldmaiden, Dark Age, the Dark Age warriors that were winning, because there weren't any. And that's what had been enraging me when I started playing, because this issue did seem to be largely in historicals, where obviously, you've got all the, you know, the fantasy tropes, but with historical figures, they were, and they still are, to be fair, barely any female representation. And there are women in military history, right, of course. So it was that sort of like, adding into that. And so it started playing Dark Age Wargaming. And just went okay, oh, get some ladies. Go on to Google. And yeah, they're just they weren't there. And so what how, why? Right. And then it just, they'd be the fantasy version. So traditional Dark Age warriors always got like a tunics and trousers, maybe a bit of chainmail on top and a helmet. And that's, you know, that's your standard warriors, like, just want that, but a lady, but all you could get was like metal bra things. Like this, you know, this is all historical. No
one goes to war like that. Which is interesting. So actually, that's an interesting point about that historical shieldmaiden. So who were they historically? What was their role? And what kind of places particularly did they crop up?
Funnily enough, this is the one that's very contested,
right? I can imagine just the, the amount of historical record, from those times in general is pretty limited,
isn't it? Yeah, I really like looking through archaeology with your own biases, which has been getting a bit better as people are more aware of it. But yeah, it was sort of like thick, you know, this skeletons buried with beads, therefore, it's a woman skeleton, you know, like, Oh, this one's buried with pots. And you can it can be very, very quick to make presumptions about lots of stuff. Yeah. Because it's one of those where there's been a lot of men in that industry as well. Nobody's really questioned it. Obviously, they have over time and a lot more lately. So the there's still a huge debate over well, actually, whether they were she'll maidens are not the conclusion I came to when I was going for it or It's like this emotional roller coaster where you read one bit, and they're like, Yeah, I was really common for women to fight. Yes. Another one, okay. Yeah, they would never be fighting, just like you learned as much as you can look at as many different sources as you can. But the conclusion I came to with them was that there would have been, it wouldn't have been normal, there wouldn't have been tonnes and times makes, it seems weird, or for they're not gonna even look at different, you know, more documented periods of history. And there's so many cases of, of women over, like sneaking into the army and stuff like that. Someone who might be exceptionally strong or something that, you know, even if there are rules in a particular silo, women can't fight, but there's a woman that is really strong, then they might go, Yeah, okay. We'll make an exception here.
I would also imagine in times of like, incredible strife as well in more battles conflicts, because it's very easy. If you're thinking back to like the Middle Ages, the High Middle Ages, where there's like, a huge amount of convention about how everything is done. Yeah. Then it's a bit different. But as you said, to me, that seems to make sense to me what you're saying. The chance that at no point were there women fighting in that context seems much less likely. Yeah. Seems like that would be very, never happened. Yeah. Reasons you've said is that actually there would be they weren't? They might not be the typical case at all.
Yeah, they might not have a you know, 20 of them running down the hill at you. But yeah, but did they just
come on? Some point? I must have done like, I think that right, that makes sense. Yeah, I can't see. Any other way to be honest.
The time is not linear. So when you're looking through looking history, depending on where you are in the world, what the year is, some, you know, some places will have loads of women, and it's absolutely fine to be in combat, others they won't. And it's never something that will kind of like you know, gets more progressive over time. It sort of just jumps up and down, depending on what what does that make sense? Yeah, but she's really interesting. And that's one of the reasons I ended up finding the World War Two women in world war two really interesting as well. And we don't just do combat at the start. I was very much on this whole like badass sword wielding women even more into different representations. So with the dark age, I've got villagers that are defending with like pitchforks and things like that, which absolutely definitely happened. They can't Yeah, and then once, when we started the Soviets, they're all frontline, frontline combat. And then it got to Britain, but what to Britain and we didn't really have that we had like the odds, you know, sort of, like the odds were quite a lot of, you know, spies and agents and things like that. But we didn't have, you know, rows of wi, on the frontline. So, but then it got me got me more interested in in different roles that aren't all the, you know, the glory of combat as well. sorts of different things that people do that that, you know, on the surface might not be as cool or because you don't get a sword or something. But a really important one from you
an anti aircraft gun team. Yeah. And World War Two. Right. So isn't that an example of one because this is something that happened where women would operate those as part of their what's the what's the regiment called when they're part of the operate? Those kind of guns
are the ATS. Yes, yeah. Yeah. So with those, that's a really interesting one, because it's the Bofors you'll we'll have, yeah. And that one, so there's so much women's absecense so much, there's so much more like it just in everything. What I've been researching, is people like don't try and shoehorn stuff. And I kind of for a little bit like a might be a sort of wish list shoehorning. And then once I started reading, so I don't need to, there are so many women doing stuff, even if they're not the front line, they're there. They're being active in the military. So with the Bofors sociality aircraft gun, women were allowed to do everything apart from fire the gun. Oh, interesting. Yeah. So that was absolutely an it was a huge source of debate throughout the war, because, you know, like the doing over and Russia just let him shoot. Like, for now, you could load it, you could do everything, but you couldn't like pull the trigger, basically. So in that kit, and I like that bit of detail. So in that kit, there's there's an option so you can get this male gunners and female gunners. So you know, because you people I know a lot of what if histories and things like that? Where where you would have that? Yeah. Or you could just think you're doing a scenario where yeah, there's no deeds about so she's firing. Okay. Yeah, so I like that I've put in this the Yeah, but historically correct, ma'am gunner but also ladies as well. So you can inflate it. So you can magnetise them to so you can switch them out for your flame.
That's that's really cool. Is that would you say a kind of feature of the realistic war game world that actually people do really appreciate that kind of realism and reflecting the kind of how it would have been through that?
Yeah, yeah. Well, I like like making them accurate. And if they're more sort of pulpy genre stuff, I'll put that as a separate thing, but it's again, it's also rule of cool. So when I yeah, like I like educating people and the whole like, yeah, the dudes dudes were the only ones that were allowed to fire. But you play in a game. So sometimes, like people don't care there's because Alex cool. That's gonna be a cool version. A way to make that model Nice. Yeah,
yeah, yeah, exactly.
So it's not like everyone who's put the women on the gunning position Have you could pull actually to find out what, what ratio?
People have done. I've not mine so I go.
First, yeah, it's not like everyone who's put the woman on theirs is not playing World War Two. I'm sure. Most of them probably are. And they've just gone yeah, looks cool. They're not they're not real soldiers. So they're three centimetres tall representation. So it depends.
Probably yet, right. That's,
that's a lot of what I think what's been getting getting really good over the last maybe 510 years is historical Wargaming getting more accessible. Because just for it was almost a sort of regarded, like, traditionally, like, stereotypically old man type thing where, you know, you can't just pick it up, you know, you've got your masses and masses of napoleonics people shout at you, if you paint the button wrong, you know, that sort of vision of what people see historical Wargaming. So I'm sure in some areas, it was definitely like that. But now there's more and more games and things coming out where it's just way more like the entry, the bass entry is so much sort of smaller. And there's also this sort of, like, more games where it doesn't have to be 100% accurate, because it's a game based in that era, rather than being you're playing that era.
Well, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, to some extent, all war games are alternate histories, right? In the sense that if you can change the outcome of the conflict, yeah, my favourite war game is his memoir. 44. You never change the outcome of the war, but you do change the outcome of an individual battle. So my dad whenever he plays, he's always the Germans. So if I lose, I always like to remind him that he did lose the war in the end anyway. Thank you. So your individual battle can go a completely different way. So there is that element, isn't it? By its nature It's something which should be able to be adjusted around the edges.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So there's there's a lot more of that now where it's just a bit more relaxed. Yeah, I just want in the hobby is just as much choice for people as possible. So there's nothing wrong with any of it. You know, if someone wants to recreate, you know, mass battle, keep it as accurate as they can get it, and they enjoy it, then that's great. If someone wants to do Vikings versus Space Marines or whatever, like, you can do that. But yeah, so that's, I think the hobbies now getting so diverse in those sort of sense anyway, that there is something for everyone out there. And I think that's really cool.
That that's really fantastic. Yeah, and I completely agree. I think that's, I would say, more just broadly in the world of board games as well. Yeah, I would say seems to be very much the case, which is great, right? This is a huge expansion of themes. Those are different things happening. I said, we're talking about like, kind of what a day in your life looks like. I think it'd be really cool to understand a little bit more about that about like how life works at bad squiddo. So what was typical day? And can you walk me through just a kind of overview of that whole process of how a miniature goes from being an idea, because there's kind of a really cool, run down a rabbit hole wikipedia, to being something that's being sold in little blister packs.
Yeah. Okay, so standard, the office day, I watched loads of those motivational things on YouTube about to start with that I get up at this time, then I go to the gym
and go to the gym, then you meditate. Like, that's all. That's all you got to do at that point. And then you've got to eat, you got to drink, I think something that's like a glass of water with lemon juice in it.
Yes. Yeah. Normally. For a long time, I was getting up at five o'clock. Forward, but that's because I'm a morning person. So I do I do like, early. And I feel like a fail from about four o'clock onwards. So if I can use my, my personal optimal time, then. Yeah. So again, up, go to the office. So go to the office. And then just various sort of things that have happened throughout the day. So the first thing you'll tend to be checking orders, check the web orders pack, any of those that have sort of come through, depend on the day. So if it's a Monday, it's usually quite a bigger task, you know, sort of midweek, maybe not so much. So be sorting, sorting for the orders, and emails and queries, if there's been any issues, do all that I'm supposed to not be on social media too much. I keep meeting to see the schedule a schedule loads and loads of stuff. And then right yeah, so that I'm not then going right now I need to update the social media. So because I failed with that at the moment, that's the thing, I'll do it right. But also check all of those because they'll be messages through there as well. And then I'll just sit around till about five and go. around doing I think that's pretty much for this week, to be fair. So it's a mix, I like what I'm doing a mix of sort of computery bits and moving about bits because I tend to just my like, well for live saps, the longer I'm sort of sat at a computer but there is a lot of that sort of stuff. Then depending on what's happening, it could be working on some graphic design for some new packaging, because we have painted pictures of our miniatures on everything so right as soon as the paint is finished, then the mini might arrive so I'll take a photo of the mini whack it into Photoshop came out put it onto the put on the packaging,
like having as part of the process people painting them for this and then you get to keep a collection of painted miniatures that must be pretty cool, right? Yeah, I bet they do have those on display in the workshop.
No and should I still have any space for him to be frank Yeah, no, they're like I've got all these really well lovely painted models and they just live in on phone cases most of the time. Yeah, I occasionally get them out for photoshoots and things like that as well make sense. So like get put some nice terrain just got some new terrain coming. So that was part of last week. I was trying to find some like pre made terrains ends up being on on Etsy looking for some nice backdrop sort of terrain that was already you know, like scratch made sort of stuff it can really easily like get off on a tangent on because it's because I'm doing so much I've got to be careful to then not get too into one particular thing so yeah, there are let's say going on let's look at the next page. The next page like any this was supposed to be quick see, I'll be doing the graphic work there got any sort of accounting things to do and we'll do that and that sort of boring boring paperwork there's a lot of boring paperwork, but again people don't because the visual of what you see is just Annie on on video or whatever go ahead we've got more shell made every company has that doesn't it there's the busy work that people forget about running a business like it's just me with my fingers going now fight which I do do quite a bit
with the most of the job Wow
Have you the best conversations with each other and stuff but you know, that's that's normal probably So yeah, other things that may occur during the day could get interviewed, but something I have to write, maybe if I've got a new miniature coming out, I have to write the, you know, the info for it for the website, as well as to like, take the photo, then make the thumbnail images, maybe you've got a newsletter so valuable, the newsletter aspects that there really is that whole wearing many, many hats, again, trying to sort of automate as much as I can now or outsource to sort of get rid of some of that busy work that yes, is this the best use of my time sort of? Makes sense? So I like getting more systems in place. We've got livestock, which is just beautiful. So livestock on the website, so if it's on the website, we have it. I'm fantastic. Yeah, we've had that for years.
fulfilment companies, I mean, work for them to do that. Oh, no.
Just just being cool with the website. Right. And just keeping Do
you do you? Oh, you have the miniatures, you dispatch them and do that side of it yourself as well? Oh, yeah.
Yeah. So yeah, we do all the shippin, right. Okay. So I mean, like, I don't have to do, I spent way too much my life, stock counting all the racks and counting things. So that's all auto now. So when we get them in from the casters, we just add those totals to it. And it's beautiful. It gives me little alerts when things are low on stock. But there's still things that would have been quite a bit of time beforehand. So you know, in previous days, but then maybe spend an hour stock checking this bit doing this. Whereas it's really quick and easy to do in order now. Because I just print off the spreadsheet or print it off. I do like printing things off and having it in front of me rather than on the screen. But I'll sort of go through that. I think, right? We need some of those. So we restocking the miniatures, which happens quite a lot. So on this, let me just catch up. Because there's so the range is big. We're still relatively small, so don't have like tonnes of, you know, budget laying around, especially as this whole, like starting from debt. It's been a real grind, imagine. Yeah. And I'm really pleased with how it's got how that's gone. Because I think that was a real battle against the odds. So I'm very proud of that. Yeah. But it doesn't make sense to carry loads and loads of things in stocks, it's finding that balance, we've got a nice chunk, and it's better for the casters, you know that you don't go can you cast me five models, you know, they've got a cast chunk off at once. But that can very quickly add up, you know, sat around,
your stock is all kept in your your sort of workshopping office, right. So I can imagine that's a terrible trouble. Like, even with very small miniatures, being able to just manage all of that stuff is like a huge range that you've talked, yeah, it's quite challenging.
Also, a lot of people sort of keep them in drawers and package them up when they need it. But I just like getting them packed, as soon as they're here, not immediately, but one of my rules I try to have is to not have bags of metal around, they've got to go into the blister packs. And that helps me keep, like, keep an eye on how many of those we've got as well. So we're gonna have a show coming up, suddenly go, I've got blister pack loads of things. Ah, now for an hour, these blister packs.
So you have some, we have some time for design in one of these days, just to do a little bit.
I like to do more of that from home, because that's where I've got all my books. And I can really like spread the books out all over the floor. Just become one with a
and then doing that. And then you create a brief from that design process. So
to make the minute share that yeah, that starts I do. I just make a million notes. My main sculptor, Alan, he's done some of our world war two with him. I've got a Facebook group set up with just me and him. And we find that really useful just for managing everything. So you're not lose, you know, when you go back for emails, and you're like, When did I say that? Where was that bit. So we'll have subtopics in there. So we just use that. So you know, like, on one particular figure, we'll have our own thread. And then there'll be like sub threads on that. So be like, the clothes, here's the clothes, and then we can just post and I've got seven galleries. But these are the specifics. But this is the album to sort of be aware of, sort of thing. So we put all that together. Sometimes I do a my one of my bad sketches. It depends what the figure is. And when it's things like say the World War Two, I tend not to, because we've got all the things together. So I just need to go. And in that pose, it's almost like I've got assembling all of the pieces together. So it's not a from scratch sort of design. So we go from that. So sometimes I'll do a lot one of my awful sketches that which they're very good at, and they do the job basically, it's one of one of my sore points when people go can I see a concept interesting, but it doesn't need to be so a lot of what people show as concepts are isn't concept as refined art because the more you draw it then if you need to make a change, that's a whole other, you know, things change it up. Whereas the point of it is just to show what goes where, you know, there's no need to spend time shading In the face in whatever question Yeah, like, Can the gun go over this part here? And then it can be no, then you could just easily rub it out draw it, you know? And the gun. Yeah might just be a tube with just a very basic, because that's all that's showing, and then I'll have it safe. It's World War Two onwards or something. I'll then have attached to that a photo of the gun, because there's no point to me drawing that gun. Yeah, of course. It just needs to showroughly where it’ll be. Yeah, sense. And yeah, if it's sort of older things, it might be sort of artefacts or then a mixture of that with somebody sort of painting of one restored or you know, things like that. So there's a lot of sort of collage this in there. So send that have a chat with the sculptor, again, depending on who it is. So my main dude knows me so well, that we can almost mind read each other now. They're like, Yeah, I know exactly what's going on here. Cool. Sometimes I'll phone them up as well, which I like doing too. So it's not just all that sort of emailing back and forth. They get that they do the sculpts, they'll sometimes send me a work in progress. But most the time, it'll just be finished. Unless it's something that's interesting, and a bit vague. So yeah, they send me the photo through say us or anything that he's changing most of the time, there isn't because they're ace I love that. I love that they arrive and they're just like, Yeah, this is perfect, awesome. Or like, yeah, that's a really small thing. Because yeah, I'm having that confidence. Now, like the people that I work with, I love that, I just know that they'll do it ace
that seems incredibly valuable. Because the my experience in that side of things has been, there are some people who are working with them on that basis. But there's often been a bit tougher than that. A lot of art produced,
it's been an interesting ride to get to this point. So I'm like, right, or 100% Happy now with the casters as that like the trio of the casters, the painters and the sculptors, because they make the figure
the benefit of finding a working relationship like that, I guess. Yeah, it's about doing really well, that is
really solid there. Because, yeah, I've gone through various different of all of those three, sort of in that, especially in that sort of shaky start period where you're trying to find your feet and stuff like that. I don't know, a whole bunch of bad experiences as well. And now like being at that stage, well, I'm just so happy with the people I work with, and also really like them as well. And I know it's not always necessary. But yeah, it's just like when you get on with people. And even in that, you know, professional capacity, it just makes everything easier. And yeah, I just, I just think that people that the workforce is just so happy. Like, because like, it's fantastic. They're the ones that make the figure so yes, it's important. They're important, which is another thing when I was thinking about, you know, mistakes people make as well. They go, well, that sculpts that much I can get a sculpt for cheaper. Again, yeah, it is a sculpt. It's definitely a sculpt. But is it a good sculpt? Because the sliding scale costs for sculpt is all over the place? As you can imagine, it's art. So yes, like anything can be a fiver or a million pounds. It's kind of Yeah, it varies. But I'm so happy with that team I've got now that just like the combo just makes everything it's really satisfying. So if you've, if you've got an idea, which I guess from what you've just said, there, you've done with magnate, you've got this idea in your head, and then someone just isn't getting it. Or they do something different or because you didn't leave out a specific detail or you didn't, you know, there's something that you didn't clarify on they've gone off for totally wrong way, but you didn't mention it and you're like, is that my fault? You know, and it's just disheartening. And yeah, the casting a bit as well. Like, I've had boxes, not from my cast, but other boxes of casts arrived and cried. Really, like points where it's been, you know, just before massive show like Sully
Yeah. And it's like, not to scratch. Yeah, like,
that's not a stress you need on top of that. The Chill of knowing that the fingers are going to be perfect, that it's just really, again, without flexing, everything's gonna be perfect. And if it isn't perfect, they'll fix it and it'll be fine. Yeah, like, there won't be an issue. You know, there we go. Well, that's what it's like, you know, the very rare time I might have had, like something that we've missed on a figure like maybe, like, I think there's one where a finger it got lost in the mould or something. I know that once if there's something like that does happen, that it's going to be fixed so quickly. And you know, I don't need to worry about it. It's not gonna be like, well, you you don't really need that finger. Do you? Yeah. Yeah, I just like them to have all of the fingers.
It makes sense it makes us make sense of and this is exactly how I felt with the kind of final production of this magnet has been, is just like, well, this, this is like my baby, I want it to be really right. It's got to be right. And when something's not quite there, you're like, No, we do this. It's got to be Yeah, you know, as close to perfect as humanly possible. Really.
It's, it's hard. And it was for me at the start, because I kind of have no business background. I have all this like go alone, which again, when I'm like giving myself a pat on the back, you learn business along the way. Well, yeah, that I'm learning all of these different things. But it's at the start. It's just things like people management, I've done a bit of it. But yeah, having to tell someone to change a piece of art and stuff. Oh, that's a big thing. And yeah, you just like, part of you says like, Yeah, it's fine. And there's been bits where I'd say, you know, in the early days gone, yeah, that's fine. And then it's bothered me forever. Like, why didn't I just tell them to do the thing? You know, like, when I thought that bit could do just that little change? But I go, No, it's fine. Its great. It's like, never upset artists. But it takes a long time. But for me to get to that point of people to sort of yeah, go nope, that's incorrect that that again, luckily, I don't even need to do that anymore.
It's interesting. You say that? I mean, that sounds like a wonderful place to be in, because then in my experience, is that there's a lot of skill in briefing anything to any kind of artist. So that makes a lot of sense. Well, I think we're kind of running out of time a bit now. So unfortunately, because I think we could to be honest, we could just keep going for ages, there's so many more things that I would love to ask you not to talk about about this. But But before we were, before you go, I really wanted to know what your top advice would be for people that want to run a miniatures company. And maybe they've heard what you've said, sounds like Oh, my God, that sounds actually really cool. Like, and there's really there's, there's a huge, wide open, feel the different things you can make, right? Because you can make a miniature of pretty much anything. Yes. So what would your kind of top advice be, let's say top three pieces of advice for someone who wants to run a miniatures company, like yourself,
okay, make something you're interested in, and that you have a passion for? Don't go, okay. This particular type of figure is selling a lot now. So that's what I'm going to start with. Right? Yeah, if you happen to like it, that's fine. And like I said, Before, it makes sense to, to do something that is financially viable, but it's very hard to make money. I feel like in my little, you know, my size company, and that sort of around that I do feel like I am doing very well. But I'm still not, you know, in my Lambo, or I'm working really, really hard and having beans on toast, you know, because it's just this constant reinvestment. So even when stuffs going really well, what people like, How come you always skin like because it's going back in all the time. And that's with me being successful. There's so many companies that start up and they don't really get anywhere because it all you know, goes wrong. But if you're doing something that you're passionate about, it makes it so much better. Because this is not the business side to get miniature manufacturing, it isn't the business I'd get into if it was just to make money. Yeah, of course, because this is a lot easier to do. Yeah. And it's like doing this, you know, work yourself to the ground having to put things out there, you know, putting your baby out onto social media. Yeah, some guy just trashing it immediately. Like, there'll be days when I just go, why am I doing this? You know, like, this is awful, wherever. And then someone will message me or picture their door with the first shieldmaiden it's like the first model I've ever painted or something. I'm like, That is why yes. So for me, it's not just about the minis, it's about this, like, I just sounds cheesy. I just want to make people's lives better. And of course, and yeah. If I feel like I'm having that positive impact, and I feel like what might I do with bad squiddo is, then that's me winning. So that's the that's that goal. But if it was just for the money, just by now I think I'd have just quit
would be so punishing, wouldn't it? And it's, it says people keep saying this to me. Is that love of it that gets you through the tough times? Yeah, yeah. And so don't get that. You're not going to be as motivated as well. Yeah. That you've got
your heart into and that's your particular thing. Yeah, it's just gonna be rather than just these being these little, little figures that you resent forever, because you used your mortgage money. Oh, God. It's like, like when I started the shieldmaiden. Well, if no one buys them, I've got some cool things that I've made for myself that I would like, right. Make sense? Yeah. And also like, there it is. It is doable as a business. So even though I've just said, yeah, there's too many people that go, Well, you know, was this some phrase that goes around? It's like, if you want to make a million pounds in this industry,
And I'm gonna say for the record now, like, loathe it every because every time you can say that I can say, alright, I look at something like stone Meyer, like, as we were talking about earlier $18 million of annual revenue. Yeah. And I'm just like, one person making board games because he wanted to make board games that he really enjoyed making, right like that. That is like, no, completely like, yeah, that is just do you not think that that degree of that is a kind of form of self protection? Right? Because it means that if you if you fail at it, you can say, Oh, well, it's impossible to make money. Yeah.
Right. Yeah. So is it is very hard, a lot fail, but it's not impossible. Which is important. And if Yeah, if you've got the drive, I know, it's always like, you know, it's easy to say, if you've got the dream, you can dream, and you can do it like, No, you have to work your ass off.
Yeah, it's gonna be tough thing to take away. But but even more achievable,
is achievable. Other bits to avoid, I would say, not pricing high enough, because people get new, and you're like, oh, and then you kind of look about and there's some companies that are sold them so cheap. And it's because they they don't need the money. You know, it's the same for any business where people don't, some are doing it for a hobby, somebody's business. And your thing are that they're selling it for cheap. So I'm gonna have to sell it at that cheap, and you don't. But it's really in those early days, because you're already like the holdout of no one's gonna buy my miniatures. So you know, do them cheap. Or if I do like, endless deals and make them really cheap, or if you're a retailer, you can almost discount things. But you don't, you don't have to do it. And yeah, I see too many people just sort of screw themselves up from the start, because they don't price them high enough. So they're never going to get the money back or the time it takes to get the money back. It's too long. Yeah. And that they can't sustain until that point. Makes sense. And so make a good product and then price it for what it's worth. If it's good. People are gonna want it. You want them to have it. You want them to want it because it's good. And it's something they want. They want in their lives totally. No, because it's cheap. It's a bit crap, but it is cheap. I know you want you want them to want it. So don't be afraid to price it at the level that you need to. Or that you, you know, obviously you do your workings out what it should be. But yeah, don't don't be too worried about seeing other stuff cheaper. I think that's that's definitely important. And another thing, I think what I mentioned before, I guess, is don't, don't go cheap on your manufacturer. Right? Yeah. You know, you're not going to have much of a budget at the start. Unless you're one of those lucky people. I'd love to have had money to set up a company. Like, this gonna be areas, like I said, as areas where it's easy to cheap out, and you can get away with it again, like my office should be way bigger. Right? Yeah, that's, that's a smaller monthly cost. That makes a big difference at this point. So there are bits where you can cheap out like that, but you can't on your sculptors and sculptors and casters, particularly, you got to make good models and don't get to get lured to like this guy. I'll do it for this price. Nope. Yeah, that is your product. So you want your product to be good. So don't yeah, don't be lured by that potential extra profit, because you're not going to sell as many if their crap so yeah, extra profits not
Amen to that. That seems like a really, really good advice that people seem to get wrong all the time when it comes to making products, which is thinking, well look, wherever the cheapest option is the one to go with. And generally whenever you do the cheapest way of doing it, there's nearly always some other pain involved in the process. Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. counterbalances if you just pay more money for it. It's something I think everyone has experienced. Yeah. And it is wise to keep in mind that you've got to assess your options carefully.
Yeah. When I when I do my autobiography, I'll put all of my Horus in.
This was absolutely fantastic. It's been so great. That's really great advice. I think anyone who wants to do this will be interested. And I think all three of your tips there. I actually think a highly applicable to lots of different businesses actually, about quality suppliers about sensible pricing and doing it, you know, because you love it. It seems like it's really crucial. Yeah, yeah. Good on those like specific versions of it. I would apply to other board game businesses as well. Yeah, would probably apply. So just before you go then so what are you coming out with soon that we should be on the lookout for even though we're under the Soviet Union, we get more of them.
Yeah. So we've just finished a Kickstarter. It's only a week. I very much like short sellers. Yeah. So it was a week that went wild. So we're currently working on getting the stretch goals sculpted for that, but that pledge manager will be open probably a few weeks. But it means that even if you've missed it and you're thinking, Oh, this sounds great. Listening, you'll be able to join us a late backer for that. So keep an eye out for loads more World War Two ladies. After that we're actually doing a short fantasy Kickstarter. Again, this was an exact example of the sculptor just kind of making one fantasy mini. And then we go, okay, maybe a couple days are really good. Let's do this, we've got a really nice little set. So I'd like I'd like to put them as a small kick. So it'd be nice after you know, doing the huge one like the World War Two will be a little, little one like that. We do a mixture of Kickstarters and normal releases, though. So there's always something coming out. The scenics range is just going while the things getting moulded at the moment. That's just immense. And yeah, so there's just everything. There's always something happening around bad squiddo. You check out any of the links that assume you'll put them somewhere? Oh, absolutely
linked. The description as always links to get to buy those lovely miniatures. I mean, like I said, having, owning that Bofors gun set, I was just so cool. Like, there's a pictures just dont put it together yet, like, I don't know when I'm gonna get round to that, because I'm not really, I'm not much of a modeller. Like I don't really make models, mostly. So I love finished miniatures. But I don't love the process of getting to finish miniatures. So I
think it's a hobby in itself.
is the same for everyone to see the light of day to be honest, I don't get someone else to assemble it will be why should do but yeah, but that's really cool. Thank you so much again, there's so much to learn from there. And I think it's so cool to hear about your your business and how the whole thing works, and then how all the different things you do every day. And let's hope that maybe it won't be beans on toast forever. And that at some point. See, some people can take some stuff off your plate.
Yeah, thank you very much. Have lots of fun. It's been really good chatting about different things as well. So this is very interesting.
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