Skip to main content

Launching My First Kickstarter: Icons of Pulp Fantasy


I am eager to share a passion project, Above the Fray Miniatures, that I've been working toward launching for well over a year now. My intent with this little venture is to produce affordable, small-batch 28mm miniatures for tabletop gaming.

In fact, I went live with the Kickstarter just today to help it come to fruition!

It all started as a lark in early 2017 when I stumbled across a gent from England with an Etsy store selling custom miniatures commissions. I was intrigued enough to splurge on one, and wanted the experience of "art directing" a figure design in this medium. I realized that the commission included all reproduction and molding/casting rights, and so the seed was planted in my imagination. I realized that, if I paced myself, I could put together a thematically unified set of eight miniatures inspired by my enjoyment of the pulpy sword & sorcery short stories and comics that had stirred my teenage imagination.

While directing the design of the miniatures from this side of the Atlantic, I simultaneously busied myself with learning as much as I could about the process of sculpting, molding, and casting the miniatures that I had become re-enthralled with in the past couple of years. With persistence I managed to piece together a lot of information scattered and buried in bits and pieces across arcane websites, long-abandoned forum threads, and dormant blogs. Quixotically in retrospect, I was a bit surprised not to easily find a ready-made primer a mere Google search away that what would school me on the subject (perhaps relaying what I learned would be a worthy subject of a future blog post).

Once I got the sculpted figures in hand in all of their diminutive "green stuff" glory, I set about contacting a variety of companies that offered to create the necessary production molds and then cast batches of them in metal in the small quantities I could afford. I was lucky to stumble across John Popson early in that search, and he has proven a mentor and booster from first contact, generous with time and advice on everything from how to pursue this idea economically without compromising on quality to the best way to organize my Kickstarter. John has run a number of successful Kickstarters for his own lovely creations through his Effin Cool Miniatures company. It didn't hurt that John was a fellow Ohio boy close to my age living in Cleveland; I learned that his girlfriend grew up in Defiance, Ohio, the same tiny rural town from which my ex-wife hailed.

John convinced me to get some master molds made so that I could cast a set of the figures for painting, thus better showcasing them for my Kickstarter. I did that earlier in the year, but then another long-in-the-works passion project jockeyed to the fore of my attention: The Lost Art of Kreigh Collins: The Complete Mitzi McCoy, a book through my Picture This Press that I finally got out the door last September.

Order your copy today at LostArtBooks.com!
That more or less gets us up to the present moment, when I've turned my attention back to putting these miniatures out in the world for folks who might enjoy incorporating them into their games. I hope you'll consider supporting my Kickstarter. I've tried to reasonably price these, and the "extras" I am able to include have been exciting for me: Getting some of my favorite game designers  to contribute "stretch goals" in the form of character profile cards that allow players into these games. It's that spirit of camaraderie shown me by Andrea Sfiligoi (Ganesha Games) and David Phipps (Pulp Alley) that has made this hobby so seductive these past couple of years, and has inspired me to want to contribute to it on this whole other level.

A final debt of gratitude is owed my dear friend Steve Conley, who for years now has worked with me on projects of all sorts, from designing websites to creating comics with me to unfailingly sharing his expertise on a multitude of subjects. He's one of the best people I know, and I have him to thank for the cool company logo he pulled together for me on my ridiculous 11th-hour request (below). If you know Steve, you know how lucky you are to know him.



I hope you'll consider pledging in my Kickstarter, which is running now through the evening of Saturday Nov. 24. I'll post some of the images and a bit of text from it below. Thanks!

But first, check out the promo video I put together!


Icons of Pulp Fantasy: A new line of 28mm miniatures


"Let me tell you of the days of high adventure..."

Above the Fray Miniatures produces small-batch casts of pulp-era inspired sword & sorcery miniatures as homages to the types of heroes and villains found in the works of writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fritz Leiber, H.P. Lovecraft, R.E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and others.

We're commissioning the types of miniatures we want to see on our own gaming tables and are launching this Kickstarter believing that kindred spirits in the gaming community would enjoy including these figures in their own role playing and tabletop miniatures games.

Support from Top Names in Tabletop Skirmish Gaming

To make this endeavor even more fun for us, and hopefully you, we've reached out to some of our favorite miniatures game creators for special material so players can immediately put these Icons of Pulp Fantasy to use in their games. To that end, David Phipps, creator of the wonderful game Pulp Alley, has provided statted profiles for all eight personalities in this set of miniatures, even creating some new traits for the game. And perennial favorite Andrea Sfiligoi, creator of the popular Song of Blades and Heroes series and the recent Sellswords & Spellslingers, has statted up profiles for these miniatures to use them in both of these games, creating new traits as well as providing alternate versions of each profile at different stages in their careers. (See the stretch goals listed below.)

Prep Work Complete and Ready to Cast

The good news? About 85% of the work is finished! As you can see from both the video and the photos below, the miniatures have been sculpted and master molds created. This Kickstarter will cover the remaining costs of creating production molds and then casting the miniatures we want to share with you. We partnered with veteran miniatures caster John Popson and his Effin Cool Miniatures to ensure the quality of these casts is of a caliber we can be proud of.

This will be the first set in what we anticipate to be an annual release of miniatures in the Icons of Pulp Fantasy line. Like you, we are gamers, and this is our way of trying to contribute something to the community that has inspired us over a lifetime. So ask yourself one important question when pledging:

What is stronger, the miniature or the hand that wields it?

We're looking forward to putting these miniatures in your hands and seeing how you and your imaginations wield them!

Pledge now...with just a little more help we can make this happen!























Stretch Goals

Want to drop the miniatures right into the action? The following stretch goals let you do just that!

All unlocked stretch goals are free to every backer!

$700 Stretch Goal 

$700 Stretch Goal
Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes
 printed profile cards by the game's creator Andrea Sfiligoi! A deck of professionally printed character profile cards statted up by Andrea Sfiligoi himself for each of the eight miniatures specifically for use in his tabletop skirmish game, Advanced Song of Blades and Heroes. Sfiligoi will be introducing new character traits as well as providing multiple profiles to reflect characters' experience progressions (e.g., Barbarian, Pirate Barbarian, Barbarian King). This deck will be formatted and printed to blend in perfectly with other card decks used in this game. 

$850 Stretch Goal 
Pulp Alley 
printed profile cards by the game's creator, David Phipps!
A deck of professionally printed character profiles statted up by David Phipps himself for each of the eight miniatures specifically for use in his tabletop skirmish game, Pulp Alley. This deck will be formatted and printed to blend in perfectly with other card decks used in this game.
$1,000 Stretch Goal (LOCKED)
Sellswords & Spellslingers printed profile cards by the game's creator, Andrea Sfiligoi! A deck of professionally printed character profiles statted up by Andrea Sfligoli for each of the eight miniatures specifically for use in his tabletop skirmish game, Sellswords & Spellslingers. Sfiligoi will be introducing new character traits as well as providing multiple profiles to reflect characters' experience progressions (e.g., Barbarian, Pirate Barbarian, Barbarian King). This deck will be formatted and printed to blend in perfectly with other card decks used in this game.


$1,200 Stretch Goal (LOCKED)
"The Lions Ate Him?!?" Scenario: 
A custom, system-neutral scenario artfully presented with a map to provide the setting for players to sneak into the Tower of Set, filch what they can, and make it out of the surrounding gardens alive. Printed on double-sided card stock.
$1,400 Stretch Goal (LOCKED)
"The Night of the Orgy" Scenario: Another custom, system-neutral scenario artfully presented with a map to provide the setting for players to sneak into the Harbinger of Doom's compound and rescue the king's only daughter from his clutches. Printed on double-sided card stock. 
$1,600 Stretch Goal (LOCKED)
Upgrade: A Four-Scenario Booklet
A booklet containing the scenarios and maps for the already unlocked scenarios as well as two more scenarios custom designed to put your new miniatures into action. 

Collaborators

Sculptor: Deeper Reach Miniatures
Murun Thornton is freelance miniatures sculptor who takes custom commissions through his Etsy store as well as sells casts of his original miniatures creations.
Caster: Effin Cool MiniaturesJohn Popson and Effin Cool Minis is a miniatures and gaming company, with a focus on developing several categories of miniatures for use in your games and dioramas. They've been producing miniatures for their own line and casting for other gaming companies since 2013.

Stretch Goal Contributor: Ganesha Games' Andrea Sfiligoi
Ganesha Games has been producing award-winning tabletop miniatures wargames, pen-and-paper role playing games, and boardgames since 2007. Visit their home page or Lulu store.

Stretch Goal ContributorPulp Alley's David Phipps
Pulp Alley captures the fast-paced excitement of our favorite action and adventure stories. Pulp Alley is jam-packed with heroes, villains, and plenty of unexpected perils. Designed primarily as a tabletop miniatures game for 2 to 4 players, Pulp Alley covers any time period, any setting, and any genre—science fiction, fantasy, horror, westerns, war tales, and many more!

----------------------------------------------

Again, thanks to everyone who has supported me getting this project to this point, and thanks to all of you who help get it over the finish line by pledging in the Kickstarter.


Comments

  1. That's absolutely brilliant Joe! Congrats and all the best for a successful Kickstarter 🙂

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Well-thumbed posts

"Nighted"...an Evening of Lovecraftian Role Playing

I have a talented friend named Ash who, as a game master, is a big proponent of incorporating life-sized props and some evocative theatricality into the role playing games she creates. 

Last year we played in a scenario Ash concocted titled "Nighted" that I think used a simplified version of the Call of Cthulhu role playing game as the undergirding rules. She made a special GM screen that was adorned on the player side with pictures of the house and grounds we were exploring in the game. She prepared a slew of photographs to be handed out, as well as props like scrolls that got progressively more legible the more sanity we were willing to sacrifice in scrutinizing them. There were actual copies of books by the likes of Nietzsche with annotations and marginalia that offered clues. The lights in the room were connected to a remote control so that she could instantly dim them if certain events happened while exploring the game's house. 




The players all had to wear masks Ash h…

Water Terrain: Cheap and Easy

For a while now I've been contemplating a variety of ways of creating a large body of water on which to play out scenarios with miniatures. I can imagine scattering some islands about and having players sailing out to explore them, not too dissimilar from the games Steve Braun likes to put together for cons (see my recaps for Historicon 2017 and Barrage 2018). Part of my dilemma has been that my dining room table is narrow and long (3'x8'), which does not lend itself to investing in a heavy pre-printed mat that's going to awkwardly hang over the table's edges.

About a year ago I bought a dark blue tablecloth and some paints with the intent of trying to make an ocean/sea mat myself but timidity about my ability to pull that off pushed other projects ahead of it in the queue. In the meantime, I came across some nautical-themed plastic disposable party tablecloths on Amazon (here, while the link lasts). When they arrived a couple of months ago, they were a bit thinne…

Historicon 2018: Running My First Convention Game

Some readers may recall that I attended my first game convention, a late bloomer at 47 years old, by making the trek to Historicon 2017. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I left the weekend with a heady enthusiasm for this hobby I'd only recently discovered.

This year's Historicon marked another first for me: Crafting and running my own convention game.

Back in December I recruited some friends and new acquaintances I had connected with in the D.C. metro area to establish a monthly game group, the Second Saturday Scrum Club. Every month we meet in my dining room and somebody sets up a miniatures game for us to play. In late spring we gathered to try a new set of intriguing rules by Ganesha Games' Andrea Sfiligoi, Sellswords & Spellslingers. They were a hit with the group, and the next day Steve Braun offhandedly mentioned how perfect they would be for running a scenario based around Robert E. Howard's classic Conan yarn, "Beyond the Black River."

All Together Now: 'Sellswords & Spellslingers' and the Pleasures of Cooperative Gaming

I've always enjoyed a good competitive match as much as the next guy, whether it was sports in high school or video games (HALO, etc.) in my thirties. But regardless of the game, I've always been partial to team play, and the best cooperative games put all of the focus on succeeding as a team. That's one of the reasons I was enthusiastic about getting Andrea Sfiligoi's latest release, Sellswords & Spellslingers (Ganesha Games), on the table for this month's Second Saturday Scrum Club gathering.

Last year I had organized a Halloween game (recap) to beta-test Sfiligoi's Run From the Dead, which is built atop the same cooperative mechanics as Sellswords. I was surprised when I discovered these rules were re-skinned for the fantasy genre and released last December ahead of Run From the Dead. Hopefully, the zombie apocalypse version of the rules is not too far behind because I definitely think Run From the Dead is the best tabletop miniatures rule set I've …

NOVA Open: My Curious Excursion

As I've mentioned plenty of times since starting this blog, I'm new to the whole tabletop miniatures gaming hobby. I am having a blast, and it has become something of a consuming pastime, sometimes scarily crowding out my interest in other things that might have once captured my imagination and arrested my attention.

So it stands to follow then that I decided I should go today to check out the biggest miniatures gaming convention in the Washington, D.C. area, NOVA Open. I liked the backstory of how the convention started as a big BBQ in a local fella's backyard, drawing about 32 players for an afternoon of fun back in 2009. It smacked of just the kind of community-building inspirational success story that's hard not to like.

Unfortunately, that homegrown spirit and sense of fun wasn't in much evidence today as I roamed around the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Virginia (just across the Potomac River from D.C.).

The last time I was in that hotel for a conference wa…

Up the Black River Without a Paddle (Sellswords & Spellslingers)

Our most recent gathering of the Second Saturday Scrum Club (which meets once a month for friendly fights across my dining room table) was devoted to playtesting the scenarios for Sellswords & Spellslingers I plan on running at Historicon in July. After our earlier club game with this system, Steve Braun smartly observed how the game is almost perfectly tailored for running a scenario based on the Robert E. Howard's "Beyond the Black River" in which Conan and his companions spend nearly the entire story attempting to evade the rampaging  Pictish hordes in the wilderlands that the Aquilonian empire is struggling to colonize.

My aim is to run two linked scenarios based on the story in a four-hour time slot at Historicon. So as to avoid any spoilers for possible Historicon players, I'll discuss the scenario particulars after the convention. In the meantime, however, I'll share a number of pictures on the preparatory work I've been doing. I still have a fair…