Hello all, today we’ve got a new and hopefully regular article series here on the Grinning Skull, our very own Chinwag with leading industry persons and notable members of the community which I hope will entertain and enlighten you about our vibrant hobby.
First up is Lone Gunman Games’ head honcho, Jim Hintz. We recently had a chat to talk all about LGG and the state of the hobby…
Thanks for taking part in our first Chinwag Jim, I’d like to start by letting you introduce yourself to our readers, tell us a bit about yourself…
I was born and raised in a small town in Iowa. I was an only child with few friends so I developed a love for gardening early on. I still do quite a lot of gardening. I have probably done way more this year then I should have. I got someone to come in and help me rebuild some flower beds and do some of the heavier stuff. I am not getting any younger… :)
I was always an avid reader. Both fiction and non-fiction. I did read quite a bit more Fantasy then Science Fiction. Some of my favorites were the Eternal Champion series, Conan, Fafard and Grey Mouser, the Bellgariad series, The Lost Swords Series, the hobbit/Lord of the Rings ect. Probably my favorite Fantasy was Barbara Hambley’s Starhawn and Sunwolf series about a Mercenary captain in a world with only one remaining wizard who discovers he is mage born and become hunted by the last greatest wizard. Sci-fi was mostly Heinlien who I discovered in High School and Douglas Adams as the now classic BBC TV production of the Hitchhikers Guide was shown on Public Television here.
The non-fiction I read was usually something I was interested in learning that I could not count on the public education system teaching me. I found I could learn stuff easier from books then I could in the classroom. I think I probably knew more about running a business then anyone else did in my High School before graduation.
I worked at a Veterinarian Clinic in town for about 3 years after HS and had a few other jobs here and there. It because obvious after a few years that I needed to find my own path and give up looking for a job and finally started my own business.
Could you tell us more about your company, what is it in your opinion that separates you from the crowd in what you offer?
I started the miniatures company in 2008. Thane Morgan was wanting out of the miniatures business as he had already sold his Armies of Arcana rules to the group of investors in the UK and Canada. I was faced with the prospect of a second failed attempt at starting a brick and mortar hobby store and needed to still have a connection to the industry if I wanted to keep the on-line side of the business going. So the opportunity came along just as I needed it and seemed like a good idea.
Most of the other companies have started drifting away from releasing things that are suitable for fielding large armies on the table. That is something that I would like to continue doing. I just have not figured out financially how to do that yet.
I’ve seen lots of lovely shiny 15mm goodies over on your site, can you tell our readers the stuff you do?
We have four races that were originally used in the Armies of Arcana rules system. It is an alternative rules set to the Warhammer Fantasy that dominates most of the fantasy market. The races are Amazons, Wolfen, Snakemen, and Demons. I have released some Hero figures and some odds and ends that could be used in multiple Genre’s
There’s some nice stuff in your fantasy ranges, what drives you with the genre? Would you say that you prefer that to say, scifi or pulp etc?
I actually do prefer it to most of the others. I think I was over influenced by a childhood filled with ads for the Warhammer Fantasy figures. I had a Hero’s Quest game in High School and one of the guys in our gaming group had a copy of Battlemasters when it first came out. We played that an awful lot. I also did quite a bit of Mage Knight when it came out. It met my budget and time restrictions better then most games at the time. I like to play the other Genre’s but fantasy is probably where my main interest lies.
There is just something about seeing huge ranks of figures and giant creatures being pushed across a table filled with amazing terrain that seems to inspire me. I love to look at the historical tables as well for the same reason, but I was never as interested in them as I was the fantasy. Send me your amazing tables I love to look at them all no matter what your playing.
Although, I’m more interested in 15mm, you do have a few 28’s in your ranges too, tell us a bit more about them?
I have the 28mm Modern Heroes line. These were released about twelve years ago by the company that now casts miniatures for me. No one was doing anything like them at the time and this was before the D20 Modern release, so there was not much to use them with. They decided after the first 6 was released that they were going to stop production of them. I inquired about what happened to them some seven years later and found out the production molds had been destroyed, but by luck the Master castings mold survived and it also contained 6 more figures that were never released. So after a bit of discussion with the guys who had produced them they agreed to let me bring them back. I know there not up to reapers standard, but it seemed a shame to not give them the chance to live again on someone’s gaming table.
Other then that we have the one Fantasy miniature which is a barbarian on a Warcat. He is a big four ounce hunk of metal with a scenic base. He is really an amazing figure for those who want to paint something just for the joy of it or make it a part of a diorama.
So what does the rest of 2014 and beyond hold in store for LGG, have you any plans for more tempting 15mm goodness?
I have so much stuff lined up right now I am not sure where to start. A friend from the miniatures page (Dan) sculpted a 3 legged bottom half of a 15mm miniature and said “wouldn’t it be great to have a contest and see what other do for the upper half.” So I volunteered to sponsor the contest and have those mastered and molded. I should be getting the first two production molds for that now. It will probably take all summer to have them all finished. I think the entries were all Sci-fi, but some could be fantasy creatures as well. I also have some sci-fi infantry coming in 15mm.
And there is some 28mm as well, I have 3 new figures for the fantasy range, and 3 more for the modern heroes. I have some others for the 28mm fantasy, but not sure they will be time to have them molded this year.
I am also currently working on our first e-magazine which should be available this summer. And of course I have a lot of other secret projects that are in various stages of development that will hopefully see the light of day eventually.
So lets talk about how you came to be involved in the hobby, when did you first get bitten by the bug?
Oh boy, now your talking about ancient history. I was probably about 12 when I was introduced to D&D by a friend in 6th grade, this was the red box edition, right in the middle of the anti-RPG paranoia. I only got to play it for a couple hours, but I was instantly hooked. I spent the next 20 years of my life with that hobby.
I played a lot of Vampire/Werewolf as well from white wolf. Tried several other games as well like Deadlands, Alternity, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Rifts, most anything anyone wanted to try playing.
I see that the ratio of 15mm far exceeds the rest in your stuff, would you say that its your fave scale then, or do you still prefer the 28’s?!
Honestly Scale doesn’t really matter to me as long as they are nice looking figures. If I had the money I would also like to do 6mm and 54mm, but for right now I have a more then full plate.
There’s been an explosion of 15mm scifi miniatures in recent times, whats your take on the whole thing?
I think that is partially due to the fact that there is a big void in Sci-fi miniatures in all scales. Until recently with Kickstarter helping to finance so many new companies there was not a lot of Sci-fi that has not already been here for years. 28mm Seems to dominate the skirmish level games, while 15mm and smaller tend to do larger battles.
I look to see a lot more sci-fi release for the next several years until that void has been mostly filled. One of the advantages of sci-fi is that your not limited to what people perceive as sci-fi where with fantasy if you try do deviate to far from what is an elf, or a dwarf, or a dragon it is probably not going to sell.
I hear people talk of the rise in popularity of the fantasy 15mm genre, being a manufacturer with some steady lines in that area, do you agree that maybe we are getting into a golden age of 15mm fantasy?
Not sure we are quite to a golden age yet. I think we are just laying the foundations for the companies to come. Just as TSR laid the ground work for the mega systems that came later like GURPS, Deadlands, World of Darkness, RIFTS, ect. And Wizards of the Coast with magic the Gathering that opened a new format for all the other games that followed I think we are just the pioneers. Someone will come along and build a Games Workshop sized business in our scale and start the golden age.
You have worked with some great miniature sculptors for your ranges like Sandra Garrity and Whiff waff, are there any miniature sculptors you admire and would like to work with in the future?
Oh boy, not really sure how to answer this one. I never got the opportunity to work with Sandra as Thane had all those sculpted by her. Whiff Waff is the only sculptor that I have so far had the pleasure of working with. My contact with Sandra was limited to few introductory e-mails when I bought the molds.
I have really not followed the carriers of any of the sculptors well enough to even tell you what they have sculpted. I followed more of the artist who provided artwork for the role playing games instead.
If you could bring out an entirely new range of figures, what would you choose?
That is a tough question. Dwarves, Elves, and Skeletons are always a safe bet. I had toyed with the idea of some generic tribal figures but had to put them on the back burner. Some criptid’s would also be a cool thing, just not sure which scale they should go into.
Gotta ask the age old question, Wars or Trek? And Why?
The correct answer is always Doctor Who. I have watched both the others, they are perfectly fine, but Doctor Who is my first preference. If I have to be limited to a US sci-fi my first choice is still not wars or trek it would be Planet of the Apes. as a child they played the movies/TV series every day for a couple hours in the afternoon. I never missed it if I was home. I saw more Doctor who when I was younger as well. I did not see Star Wars when it came out. I probably did not see it until they were shown on TV around the time of the release of the 3rd movie. By that time I was more interested in Buck Rodgers then anything else.
Not really sure why I preferred Doctor Who to everything else. I guess it had to do with growing up watching so much of the British Television. Shows like the Goodies, Monty Python, The good Life, ect. They had a flavor that the US stuff just does not have. Partly it could be the writing formula for Dr Who. Similar to shows like Quantum Leap and Sliders where each week you have an endless possibility for what you could see where as star trek always involved the mission and star wars always involved the defeat of the Empire. If Doctor Who had to fight the Daleks every week the show would not have lasted 50 years..
Similar to the last, Marvel or DC?
To be honest I have not read a lot of comics. They were never very available here. Even today there is only 12 comic book stores in the entire state which has 99 counties. I guess we are just not comic people. I prefer to wait for the movies to come out and even then I have no preference.
It’s been lovely chatting with you and extremely interesting too, so to sum up, is there anything you would like to add to tell our readers about LGG?
Not owning the Armies of Arcana rules has left us without a direction, so we are still trying to find our path. Hopefully in the next year or so I will have some things ready for release that will take care of that problem. Rest assured as long as we can keep someone to do the casting we will be here providing you with the tools to help you make your games come to life.
Could you tell our readers where to go if they want to get hold of some of your merchandise, and how they can contact you?
I’d like to say thanks to Jim for that great interview, and look forward to see what LGG comes up with in the coming months!
If you have any suggestions for future chinwag articles, or indeed think you’d be a good candidate for a future chinwag, please let me know at the usual contact addy.