Iím sorry up front if this turns into a bit of a ramble. Iíve been trying to work several things out and itís got me thinking about lots of stuff at once, and rather than agonizing over Ďpresentationí Iím just going to try and get it all down. For those seriously interested in seeing The Dark Works grow I ask you to please read (or skip) to the end.
I really wanted to reply sooner, but the delay illustrates the catch-33 (a mutated evolution of a catch-22) that Iím now in and why I was saying in my last post that things might be a bit scattered. Iím trying to do several things on different fronts so itís hard to talk about them all and keep them distinct. While it is a joke, some days I really do think my head is going to explode as ideas, goals, expectations, and plans keep bouncing around inside my skull. I really
enjoy writing these updates aiming to make them closer to small written articles than just a typical W.I.P. post and theyíre very intentionally meant to be an extension of the studio. Iíll get to why I think this is important later, but the point Iím making here is that these updates are
work that takes away from my studio time and thatís really been pulling at me as I try to reconcile everything right now.
With regards to studio work, Iím progressing, but I keep underestimating the time things will take; I keep thinking that once Iíve got the moulds done Iím finally good-to-go for the new kit/s, and thatís true, buuut
only after I take a few kits and assemble them very cleanly, carefully take photos, tweak and edit the photos, set up the shop for the new product, and do a casting run for the kit/s. Yeah, just get the mould done and youíre good-to-goÖ after
all that other stuff. And thatís just the basics to take the prototype and get it into production so while Iím doing that Iím also trying to juggle everything else. Iíve said it before, Iím starting to completely sympathize with a Tech Priest who suddenly realizes that an extra arm might not be such a bad idea. Servitor Solus is truly a gift of the Omnissiah, but a servo-harness sure could come in handy right about now.
So, with only two hands and one brainpan to work with, time and multitasking are naturally my biggest barriers right now. However, Iíve been really pondering as I work and with the success of this first round of kits, I think it may be time to find my can opener and let some worms out. Iím making good progress but itís not quite enough as I start to really push to gain momentum, and I need to accept the reality that I need some extra breathing room.
When I first devised the solution to split the missiles from the tube they were sitting in I had no idea if it would really work or be practical.
Now that Iíve got the proof-of-concept in my grubby fingers and in front of a camera, I think the results speak for themselves.
First up, a final look at the Interitus Missile Launchers to showcase the various missiles types and how they look in grey resin. These have turned out so well that Iím really looking forward to exploring the concept in future projects, large and small. You can expect to see a selection of ordinance to choose from in all future missile based weapons, but I might need to space them out a bit as making the moulds for the missile components does slow down the overall completion of the kit.
Sharp-eyed viewers might notice a few lines and/or some layering showing up in a few spots thanks to the strong lighting Iím using. Rest assured that while you can see them in the images because of the lighting they are so fine (20Ķ or less) that Iím all but positive they will disappear under a layer of primer and paint. Iím going to be priming my next round of Mechanicus models for painting soon so Iíll be sure to do a few of the new kits as well so I can get some paint on them and see how they look with some colour. However, as with everything, Iím rather strapped for time and it will happen when it can happen; the Dragoons are all but begging
to get some paint so itís getting very hard to ignore them.
The moulds for the lower profile ĎBí variant are also complete and theyíre looking great but Iíve only just started to cast them.
The success of the fit and assembly is also encouraging. Iíve mentioned in the past that I want to create a Modular Assemble System in my kits providing unique assembly options, modular inserts, and ranges of kits that are designed to be compatible and interchangeable. This small series of kits illustrates the concept perfectly. Itís not just a single missile rack kit intended to primarily be a counts-as Havoc Launcher; choose the style, the loadout, how you assemble it, where you want to mount it, and magnets will always be included to aid in that flexibility further. Better miniatures for better builds.ô
So, Iíve been slowly casting in the background, while I try to work on all the other facets of the studio, while also wanting to create some content, whileÖ slowlyÖ goingÖ crazy.
Yup, I have to accept that I need
to get some crowdfunding support started. Iím happy with my results and I know that the momentum is starting but itís not going to happen fast enough. Iím starting to bounce on the breaking even line but I need some proper positive flow if this is going to start taking off at any kind of serious pace and thatís what I need right now in order to cover expenses, invest in lots of the less glamorous things that the studio needs in the background, and ultimately expand outside of the basement, hire more staff, and/or find the right partner/s. Iíve hesitated because I know that itís going to require me to split my attention even further as I figure out how to set it up and in turn since it will also require that I start actually marketing the studio on a larger scale than I am currently; Iím not that keen on the added task/s in the juggling act but reality doesnít care about my feelings and itís inevitable so why not now?
Thing is, most reasonably comparable crowdfunding drives Iíve been looking at for inspiration involve a small group of people and they can illustrate with images and/or 3D models what they have planned in order to create a series of funding goals. Iím not really in a position to do that; I have a huge list of future projects, and I like to think my work so far shows that Iím up to the task of making them real, but I donít have the funds or the time to create the illustrations and/or 3D models to showcase a large body of kits that I want to create. I know I have a good body of work I can present to show Iím capable, but Iím worried about a lack of visual aids to really illustrate my ideas for kits going forward. Additionally, because Iím in complete control of the entire manufacturing process, unlike other studios I donít really need a large block of money to outsource the manufacturing that is the core of the business; I need some extra capital flowing in to help with general month-to-month costs, strategic investment in equipment over time, and help in building up some reserve in preparation to really expand. Finally, how the heck do I keep the content creation as part of this? I love doing it and really want to expand/evolve/improve it over time, but quite frankly it is
work that Iím doing, that does create value (if the feedback is any indication), and right now Iím doing it for free. If I had my way I would gladly keep doing it completely for free but I canít ignore the reality that it takes away from my very valuable studio time so I need to tie it in if Iím going make it work.
Still with me? Wow, really? I appreciate your putting up with my rambling attempts to describe some of what Iím trying to sort out. If I can write all of this, just imagine what itís like inside my brain, because this is just a fraction of it all. And then thereís Ďthe voices from the warpí constantly giving me more ideas and plans and laughing/daring/taunting me all the time and well, it gets a bit noisy sometimesÖ errrÖ Where was I?
So, what Iím going to do is set up a Patreon account and another conventional crowdfunding source like GoFundMe. The GoFundMe will be for those who want to invest a larger single amount in exchange for future product. To keep things straightforward I think Iíll make it a flat % bonus on every dollar invested; for example, invest $30 and when the selection of kits youíre interested in is available receive $40 in product of your choice; Iím still contemplating just what % is generous without shooting myself in the foot. Iíll provide an itemized list of planned kits and work at them as I see fit providing previews and updates as often as I can manage for transparency sake. However, one of the rewards I will offer people who are interested in funding me at higher levels will be to pick what kit the studio will focus on; it will need to be on a first-come-first-serve basis but if someone is willing to offer a Ďtipí and enough up front to buy several of an elaborate kit, then yes, The Dark Works would be happy to attend to your wargear needs more promptly.
For those who would like to support the studio through its content creation and might be interested in seeing it improve and evolve to video Iíll offer Patreon for support. For now, if I can get even a modest number of people to donate $1 a month I can better justify taking a day off to write up an article and if it gains enough momentum they can be more frequent, larger, and more involved; more in-depth how-to articles and additional fiction, for example. In the future, Iíll be expanding the studio outside of the basement but I donít want to move the entire studio, only the casting equipment, mould library, and stock, which take up the most room, make the most noise, and create the most mess. With the extra room and all of the digital design equipment remaining Iíll turn the space into a proper set to shoot video on so I can elevate the content to the next level. Iíll be doing all of these processes anyhow, so Iím sure there are people who would like to get some insight by watching over my shoulder. Iíd be happy to make tutorials and document the process for those who might be interested; mould making, casting, scratch building, painting, 3D modeling, and anything else people might like to see and hear me ramble on about.
Please keep in mind that this is a 3-5 year plan, so itís not like Iím trying or expecting to be doing anything too ambitious for some time, but I need to set the goalposts somewhere as I work to build momentum. Itís like Iím putting together a jig-saw puzzle and Iíve got the outer edge done. Iíve got all the piece here, I just need to put them together and see what the picture looks like.
Ok, I think Iíve mused quite enough for one sitting, but Iíd be happy to hear feedback, ideas, and any suggestions that might provide some perspective or any other insight. As I mentioned, with this will also arise a need for more exposure and marketing, so Iím happy to entertain input anyone might think would be helpful. Feel free to reply here, by PM, or by email via The Dark Works depending on how directly youíd like to talk. Iím still considering so much, Iím happy to get some perspective from outside of my self-made bubble.