I’m almost hesitant to write up this project, in spite of how excited I am about it. Because if this product catches on big, our Paint Slinger could be out of a job. In late August, while I was scanning through the Instagram stories of the day, something colourful caught my eye. I flipped back to see who had posted it, but it wasn’t a regular story, it was a “sponsored story”. What I saw reminded me of the acrylic character danglers that you can see sold in many a convention Vendor Room or Artist Alley. So I did what I normally never do, I clicked on an ad online. That’s how I discovered Skinny Minis, from Dungeon in a Box.
When I first discovered Skinny Minis, the Kickstarter start date hadn’t been announced yet. I added myself to their Early Bird email list, so I would be the first to hear all the updates. Their communication is really impressive. Not only did I get emails on a regular basis, but I also had the opportunity to vote in two different polls to decide on their next set.
Yes, I said their next set; unlike many crowdfunded projects, Skinny Minis already exists as a fully functional product. A few Skinny Minis are included in each Dungeon in a Box subscription box, matching whatever theme they have for that month, and it ended up being extremely popular. There are several reasons for having a Kickstarter: to increase public awareness, to fund new designs and artwork, and most importantly (in my opinion), to have their product available outside of the subscription boxes.
So, what exactly is a Skinny Mini? It’s a thin sheet of durable acrylic, cut to shape and printed with full colour, highly detailed images on the front and back. Why have two different images? Because it looks cool, and so that you can instantly see which direction the character/monster is facing. They come with round acrylic bases that fit within the margins of the one inch grid on a terrain map, and the base can be removed so that they can be stored completely flat. They are sold in sets by theme, such as Orcs, Dwarves, Elves, Undead, Nobles and Knights, and Townsfolk. The standard size for sets is 12 – 16 “one hex” figures (ex. Player characters, Undead, Orcs). Large creatures (ex. Mounts, Flying Monsters) will come in groups of 8, and extra large creatures in groups of 4, although for the purpose of pledge levels, they will count as “2 sets” for Large or “3 sets” for Extra Large. They also created the Mega Hero Pack, which contains one of every possible gender/race/class combination for Player Characters; over 200 pieces, counting as 18 “sets” for the purpose of pledges. Finally, they have a storage binder, which comfortably folds 96 small Minis, 144 medium Minis, 8 large Minis, 4 extra large Minis and all their bases, which counts as only 1 set for the purpose of pledges.
After almost a month of anticipation, the start date was announced as September 25th. Unfortunately, Reality interfered, and I missed the official launch by 15 minutes, which meant I missed out on all the Early Bird deals. It almost feels like an anti-climax to say that the campaign goal was $34,000USD, since at time of writing, this project was 500% funded and rising rapidly. With a bandwagon this big, there is room for everyone, so let’s talk reward levels.
For $22USD, you get 3 sets of your choice. You don’t even have to choose immediately. If something really cool gets added in as a stretch goal after you pledged, you can get it. The second reward level is 5 sets, for $38, and here is where we get our first freebie bonus: a single extra-large Demon Mini. Level three buys you 10 sets for $69, and the bonus gets better: one XL Demon, one XL Walking Statue, and the storage binder. After that, things start getting a bit pricey. For $129, you get your choice of 10 sets, the Demon, the Walking Statue, a Purple Worm, a Tarrasque, a binder, and 10 extra tall “flying stands”. For $187, you get 30 sets, the bonus XL creatures from the previous level, an XL Storm Giant, 2 binders, and 10 flying stands. For $238, you get 40 sets, all the previous bonus creatures, a Five-headed Dragon, 2 binders, and the flying stands. Finally, for the Big Spenders, you can spend $340 to get 60 sets, all the previous bonus creatures, 3 binders, and 15 flying stands. And don’t forget that all these prices are in US dollars.
I only have one major complaint about this campaign: shipping. Mainly, the fact that there is almost no information on it. All of the pledge levels come with the warning “only ships to certain countries”, without ever stating which countries. They also warn international backers that they will have to pay their home country’s customs fees, which they describe as being “between 8% and 20% of the total pledge value”. They claim that their “exceptional shipping costs” will make up for this, but again there is no actual mention of what those shipping costs are. The closest we come to an answer to the shipping question is a comment from one Canadian backer, who said that “the weak Canadian dollar, coupled with shipping and import tax turned my $69USD pledge into $140CAD”. Keep this in mind when you are budgeting.
[The day before this Spotlight was scheduled to post, some samples arrive for Debra to look at. -dc]