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chris_valera

Who owns Reaper Miniatures / Hobby-Q

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I think part of their strength is the size of their lines. They have a fig for everyone and really it doesn't cost that much to maintain them.

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I can't speak for Reaper, but I imagine they'd be very hesitant to allow outside buyers, at least in the current situation.  Right now, they're doing pretty good after two Kickstarters and renewed visibility on the marketplace.  Obviously we don't have figures on their sales (though they've got sales on their figures...), but they've mentioned that the last two Christmases have been much busier than previous years.  Given that, it seems unlikely that they'd need outside backing, and would therefore be leery about bringing outsiders (who might have different visions for the company than they do) into the fold.

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One thing to remember is when looking at what's available on line is that it is different from what is in distribution to stores.  Reaper periodically culls out old/low demand figures and placed it NIC (not in catalog).  It's available online and in-store via special order but isn't part of the line that a store need to keep in stock.  From what I understand, there is no plan to switch to plastic only.  The material cost of metal has increased quite a bit over the years, but the molding costs for Bones are also huge.  The are benefits to both materials that Reaper seems to be balancing well.  Say let them keep on doing what they are doing, which is separating me from my money efficiently.

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The growth of online activity dovetails nicely with the growth in Reaper's product line. As Dilvish mentioned, they keep the active catalog to a certain number of figures, culling the poorer sellers once a year. They also offer packages to make it really easy for retailers - they can buy just the top 100 or top 300 or whatever current best sellers, and there are packages for the paint, as well. There are even packages that include all the display shelving a retailer would need to display and sell the product in their store. For retailers or individuals who want to pick and choose, almost every non-licensed product Reaper has ever made is available to order direct from them at any time. So the size of the product line is managed in such a way that it's not a disadvantage, and in some ways is an advantage. Since they can produce metal on site and to order, the variety is there for those who want it, but they don't have a bunch of slow moving stuff clogging up storage spaces.

 

I would say they keep an eye on market forces, but do so in a fiscally conservative way. They've definitely been affected by the increasing prices of metal because the consumer can only increase spending so much to accommodate price increases. The first attempt to respond to that was the recently canceled P65 line. This was a higher lead metal mix, which is cheaper because I think it's the tin component of pewter that is having the most price variability. That line had some exclusive large figures that would have been prohibitively priced in the regular pewter, as well some of the better selling character size figures. This was started before Bones, and since Bones is a more popular response to the problem, the P65 was canceled.

Bones grew out of Legendary Encounters, which grew out of dissatisfaction expressed by consumers over the blind pre-painted miniature packages sold by Dungeons & Dragons and Mage Knight in past years. Legendary Encounters were pre-painted blistered figures where you saw exactly what you were buying. The line sells, but not hugely. It's costly to produce the moulds for the figures, so it grew pretty slowly compared to the metal lines. 

 

Then someone at Reaper had the idea of seeing whether they could produce the Legendary Encounters figures in a type of plastic that would take paint well, and so Bones was born. And then it took off running. Reaper didn't really push Bones. They had only 18 different figures or so within the first year or two, compared with the thousands in the metal. And by the end of that couple of years, those Bones figures were doing something like 1/4 to 1/3 of sales. That is more like the consumer pushing Reaper. ;-> Though even there, as a fiscally conservative company reinvesting profits back into production in the standard way, the Bones line would still have been slow growth compared to how much less risky it is to add new metal figures. Luckily for Reaper, Kickstarter was growing into a bigger force at the same time, and Kickstarter allowed them to, in essence, have a direct conversation with the consumer about increasing the Bones line, and to, in effect, invest in growing the line, and you probably know the rest from there.

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  Good quality, good prices and awesome customer service have always been a long-term winning combination.  I like that they don't market heavily in order to keep their prices down.  It ensures that the demand they create grows at a manageable pace and their customer service ensures they keep that business.  However, make no mistake, the purpose of this is to make money.  People may rail against corporate greed but typically, what they hate is not the profit motives but short term money making strategies which are often driven not by corporate greed but regular old individual greed.  A real investor wants to see potential for long term success, it is the opportunist that wants to see sudden run ups or drops in stock prices.  So while I am glad Reaper is run the way it is, I don't think it has anything to do with it being a private corporation and everything to do with being run by sensible people.  

 

Exactly correct. The problem with some corporations is that they're chasing short-term share price rather than long-term business success. It's easier to combat the forces that encourage that behavior when you're closely held, but it's certainly possible for large, public corporations to think long term.

 

At various times, for example, Apple and HP have played very long games with a great deal of success. (It's not clear that either is still doing that, which isn't especially germane to my point right now.)

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We do not talk about noodles, Prague, or Schnauzers.

 

Reaper is privately owned, among a handful of shareholders who are all employees.  As a private entity, we hold a vote and can allow or deny new owners by will, in contrast to public companies who typically let anybody with money buy shares.

 

We are unlikely to divulge our net worth outside of the confidential documents we file with the IRS.  My personal net worth, however, is measured in tens of dozens of dollars.

 

I watched all the Ed Pugh videos and they were great. I did not know about the airplane models, but knew the Magic counters were huge, back in the day. I knew about all the Dark Heaven figures but didn't pay attention, but I guess the line has grown tremendously.

 

I just wonder where they're going with it. Has the copst of metal affected them? it must have, right? Otherwise they wouldn;'t be pushing Bones so hard. Also, the breadth of the line is super-huge. Most stores can't stock it all. Maybe a switch to plastics? Everyone is having their stuff fabricated in China nowadays. Maybe take the top sellers and do 10-man box sets? They said sales of the pirate sets went up dramatically when they included a carry case.

 

What about the Warlord and CAV? I was an Outrider in the early 2000s and like Heavy Gear, I never saw a game of it being played. Does it have its fans? I'd like to see what the sales breakdown is for each line.

 

I just can't see the lines getting any wider, it's almost too much stuff to stock as it is. Maybe switch to a two-figure pack and sell singles through Reaper's online store? It would compact the line. That's how Ral Partha did it, with the old D&D figures.

 

Bones is great though, I can't say it enough. Being able to pick up three blisters for the cost of an old one, makes frivolous pruchases easy, you can easily taker a chance on a figure you might not normally buy. Or just buy multiple skeleton warriors or orcs or whatever. It would be great if they'd release the Warlord troop builders as a plastic sprue or in Bones. The cost of the cavalry is getting to be a bit much in metal.

 

Still, what if someone wanted to buy in to Reaper? Would they ever apply for outside financing? Could they ever go public?

 

--Chris

www.chrisvalera.com

 

I'm not going to address everything, and some of that is because some of the topics are confidential information, but I'd like to touch on a few things.  

 

Please do not think I'm rude, I'm going to be fairly direct.

 

Price of metal - the wild variance in this commodity's price plays no small role in our decision to emphasize plastics more.  Plastics have a much more stable price point for us than metal.  We must balance the high cost of making the first mold for plastics versus the high price of the material for metals.  This means that we try very hard to make sure there are no "duds" in Plastic - where with metal we can not only reclaim the cost of the raw materials, but absorb the cost of the mold very easily.  Thus metal remains our material of choice for new product (unless we're doing something wild and crazy where metal is impractical, or introducing new sculpts to generate interest in the Kickstarters).

 

As for some of the ideas you suggest - we spend a lot of time thinking about who to maintain stability and growth, and remain relevant to the changing industry.  Plastics, 3-d modeling, digital prints, pre-paints, etc.  It's something that we take very seriously.  To be blunt, if we make poor decisions, my mortgage is jeopardized, and so are the mortgages of many of my friends.  This includes deciding not to adopt a potent technology or resource, or deciding to adopt a process that becomes a failure.  Using every data point we have and every tool we can is a huge priority for all of us, and good decisions are what keep us fed.

We get a lot of fan suggestions that idea X is the wave of the future or plan B is the right way to do the thing, but in 99% of all cases where a fan presents us with an idea, we had either already talked about it and discarded it, or already internally have a team working to make it reality.  Remember - it's our collective job to make sure we collectively still have jobs, so we spend a lot of time discussing good and terrible ideas.  I'm always personally surprised when fans say "you should totally do the thing!" because I feel it implies that we weren't clever enough to have thought of it, when the reality is that in most cases we have access to data that others do not, and we have probably already seen exactly why we should not do the thing.  Having said that, I know that no offense is meant, and our fans usually are trying to be helpful, but I'm being honest.

 

Re: Outsider involvement in Reaper - Obviously what follows is purely my opinion: I can't say no, because I'm neither the sole voice nor the one with the most shares (I'm just the one who reads the forums the most) but I am unaware of a non-employee ever holding shares,  nor do I think it is something the current partnership would allow.  As it is, it took almost a decade (9 years) for me to be allowed to join, and for some of owners, they were employees for longer than that when they were brought on.  We have, internally, a family atmosphere, including the tension at Thanskgiving dinner and the crazy old uncle.  If you want to someday be a part of it, one day we will announce another opening on the floor.  Apply with us.  After all, back in 2002 I started in the mailroom - literally packing boxes for orders.  After 1 year I was a team lead, after 3 I was a Supervisor, and after 7 I was a Manager.  In 9 I became an owner. It hasn't always been awesome, but it has always been interesting.

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  We have, internally, a family atmosphere, including the tension at Thanskgiving dinner and the crazy old uncle.

 

Wait...  Just one "crazy old uncle"?  ::D:

 

Ron

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I'm not going to address everything, and some of that is because some of the topics are confidential information, but I'd like to touch on a few things.  

 

Please do not think I'm rude, I'm going to be fairly direct.

 

Price of metal - the wild variance in this commodity's price plays no small role in our decision to emphasize plastics more.  Plastics have a much more stable price point for us than metal.  We must balance the high cost of making the first mold for plastics versus the high price of the material for metals.  This means that we try very hard to make sure there are no "duds" in Plastic - where with metal we can not only reclaim the cost of the raw materials, but absorb the cost of the mold very easily.  Thus metal remains our material of choice for new product (unless we're doing something wild and crazy where metal is impractical, or introducing new sculpts to generate interest in the Kickstarters).

 

As for some of the ideas you suggest - we spend a lot of time thinking about who to maintain stability and growth, and remain relevant to the changing industry.  Plastics, 3-d modeling, digital prints, pre-paints, etc.  It's something that we take very seriously.  To be blunt, if we make poor decisions, my mortgage is jeopardized, and so are the mortgages of many of my friends.  This includes deciding not to adopt a potent technology or resource, or deciding to adopt a process that becomes a failure.  Using every data point we have and every tool we can is a huge priority for all of us, and good decisions are what keep us fed.

We get a lot of fan suggestions that idea X is the wave of the future or plan B is the right way to do the thing, but in 99% of all cases where a fan presents us with an idea, we had either already talked about it and discarded it, or already internally have a team working to make it reality.  Remember - it's our collective job to make sure we collectively still have jobs, so we spend a lot of time discussing good and terrible ideas.  I'm always personally surprised when fans say "you should totally do the thing!" because I feel it implies that we weren't clever enough to have thought of it, when the reality is that in most cases we have access to data that others do not, and we have probably already seen exactly why we should not do the thing.  Having said that, I know that no offense is meant, and our fans usually are trying to be helpful, but I'm being honest.

 

Re: Outsider involvement in Reaper - Obviously what follows is purely my opinion: I can't say no, because I'm neither the sole voice nor the one with the most shares (I'm just the one who reads the forums the most) but I am unaware of a non-employee ever holding shares,  nor do I think it is something the current partnership would allow.  As it is, it took almost a decade (9 years) for me to be allowed to join, and for some of owners, they were employees for longer than that when they were brought on.  We have, internally, a family atmosphere, including the tension at Thanskgiving dinner and the crazy old uncle.  If you want to someday be a part of it, one day we will announce another opening on the floor.  Apply with us.  After all, back in 2002 I started in the mailroom - literally packing boxes for orders.  After 1 year I was a team lead, after 3 I was a Supervisor, and after 7 I was a Manager.  In 9 I became an owner. It hasn't always been awesome, but it has always been interesting.

 

 

 

That is surprisingly candid and open - thank you ReaperBryan for expressing your thoughts and opinions to us - I cannot think of many companies where part owners would be so open. 

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We get a lot of fan suggestions that idea X is the wave of the future or plan B is the right way to do the thing, but in 99% of all cases where a fan presents us with an idea, we had either already talked about it and discarded it, or already internally have a team working to make it reality. 

 

Given the amount of fan ideas you folks likely get, a 1% ratio on fresh ideas does not sound that bad.

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We do not talk about noodles, Prague, or Schnauzers.

 

Reaper is privately owned, among a handful of shareholders who are all employees.  As a private entity, we hold a vote and can allow or deny new owners by will, in contrast to public companies who typically let anybody with money buy shares.

 

We are unlikely to divulge our net worth outside of the confidential documents we file with the IRS.  My personal net worth, however, is measured in tens of dozens of dollars.

 

I watched all the Ed Pugh videos and they were great. I did not know about the airplane models, but knew the Magic counters were huge, back in the day. I knew about all the Dark Heaven figures but didn't pay attention, but I guess the line has grown tremendously.

 

I just wonder where they're going with it. Has the copst of metal affected them? it must have, right? Otherwise they wouldn;'t be pushing Bones so hard. Also, the breadth of the line is super-huge. Most stores can't stock it all. Maybe a switch to plastics? Everyone is having their stuff fabricated in China nowadays. Maybe take the top sellers and do 10-man box sets? They said sales of the pirate sets went up dramatically when they included a carry case.

 

What about the Warlord and CAV? I was an Outrider in the early 2000s and like Heavy Gear, I never saw a game of it being played. Does it have its fans? I'd like to see what the sales breakdown is for each line.

 

I just can't see the lines getting any wider, it's almost too much stuff to stock as it is. Maybe switch to a two-figure pack and sell singles through Reaper's online store? It would compact the line. That's how Ral Partha did it, with the old D&D figures.

 

Bones is great though, I can't say it enough. Being able to pick up three blisters for the cost of an old one, makes frivolous pruchases easy, you can easily taker a chance on a figure you might not normally buy. Or just buy multiple skeleton warriors or orcs or whatever. It would be great if they'd release the Warlord troop builders as a plastic sprue or in Bones. The cost of the cavalry is getting to be a bit much in metal.

 

Still, what if someone wanted to buy in to Reaper? Would they ever apply for outside financing? Could they ever go public?

 

--Chris

www.chrisvalera.com

 

I'm not going to address everything, and some of that is because some of the topics are confidential information, but I'd like to touch on a few things.  

 

Please do not think I'm rude, I'm going to be fairly direct.

 

Price of metal - the wild variance in this commodity's price plays no small role in our decision to emphasize plastics more.  Plastics have a much more stable price point for us than metal.  We must balance the high cost of making the first mold for plastics versus the high price of the material for metals.  This means that we try very hard to make sure there are no "duds" in Plastic - where with metal we can not only reclaim the cost of the raw materials, but absorb the cost of the mold very easily.  Thus metal remains our material of choice for new product (unless we're doing something wild and crazy where metal is impractical, or introducing new sculpts to generate interest in the Kickstarters).

 

As for some of the ideas you suggest - we spend a lot of time thinking about who to maintain stability and growth, and remain relevant to the changing industry.  Plastics, 3-d modeling, digital prints, pre-paints, etc.  It's something that we take very seriously.  To be blunt, if we make poor decisions, my mortgage is jeopardized, and so are the mortgages of many of my friends.  This includes deciding not to adopt a potent technology or resource, or deciding to adopt a process that becomes a failure.  Using every data point we have and every tool we can is a huge priority for all of us, and good decisions are what keep us fed.

We get a lot of fan suggestions that idea X is the wave of the future or plan B is the right way to do the thing, but in 99% of all cases where a fan presents us with an idea, we had either already talked about it and discarded it, or already internally have a team working to make it reality.  Remember - it's our collective job to make sure we collectively still have jobs, so we spend a lot of time discussing good and terrible ideas.  I'm always personally surprised when fans say "you should totally do the thing!" because I feel it implies that we weren't clever enough to have thought of it, when the reality is that in most cases we have access to data that others do not, and we have probably already seen exactly why we should not do the thing.  Having said that, I know that no offense is meant, and our fans usually are trying to be helpful, but I'm being honest.

 

Re: Outsider involvement in Reaper - Obviously what follows is purely my opinion: I can't say no, because I'm neither the sole voice nor the one with the most shares (I'm just the one who reads the forums the most) but I am unaware of a non-employee ever holding shares,  nor do I think it is something the current partnership would allow.  As it is, it took almost a decade (9 years) for me to be allowed to join, and for some of owners, they were employees for longer than that when they were brought on.  We have, internally, a family atmosphere, including the tension at Thanskgiving dinner and the crazy old uncle.  If you want to someday be a part of it, one day we will announce another opening on the floor.  Apply with us.  After all, back in 2002 I started in the mailroom - literally packing boxes for orders.  After 1 year I was a team lead, after 3 I was a Supervisor, and after 7 I was a Manager.  In 9 I became an owner. It hasn't always been awesome, but it has always been interesting.

 

 

This is awesome, thanks for sharing what you can.

 

What there ever any talk in the office of doing pre-paints, when it was obvious that was huge (the MK / Heroclix era, which arguably hasn't ended.)

 

--Chris

www.chrisvalera.com

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What there ever any talk in the office of doing pre-paints, when it was obvious that was huge (the MK / Heroclix era, which arguably hasn't ended.)

 

--Chris

www.chrisvalera.com

 

The Legendary Encounters line Wren discusses on the previous page is a line of pre-painted minis. http://www.reapermini.com/Miniatures/LegendaryEncounters

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We introduced our pre-paints back in 2007, and at the time, our audience was mixed.  Some people liked them , but for the most port, our audience asked back then if we could do the same models unpainted, and back then, we said no.  It wasn't until Spring of 2012 that we did, and Bones has been tremendously popular, which kind of surprised us given the lukewarm reaction to the pre-paints.  

 

We are now re-examining pre-paints, with our recent ability to now access molds for over 400 models, instead of 29 for the 5 year pre-Bones run of the pre-paints.  No announcements have been made with regards to our conclusions.

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