Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday "Sad" Thoughts--What ever happened to Star Wars Miniatures?

As a Star Wars fan and a gamer, one of my most exciting days was when I found and purchased my first few packs of Star Wars Minis.

Rebel Storm--Released by Wizards of the Coast in Summer of 2004. An instant hit.

It was the start of something big. . .

These figures were cool as all get out--a real throwback to my Kenner Figure collection of my youth with stars like Vader, Solo, cool looking Stormtroopers and Boba Fett (of course!). On top of that, this was a great opportunity to have a solid playable table top Star Wars experience. The only two Star Wars games of real note are Queen's Gambit and Star Wars Epic Battles. . .the problem though is that Queen's Gambit is limited in replayability (and takes forever to set up and play) and Epic Duels is kind of simplistic and unbalanced (Darth Maul is the resident bad ass). This game was built on the D20 system and was easy to learn but had enough meat, rules and special abilities to keep it interesting.

Rebel Storm was only the beginning. . .soon after came the Clone Wars set, which was a nice addition adding characters from the prequel, but soon after that the wheels started to come off.

A few short months later a Revenge of the Sith set hit, which made sense because it was tied to the movie but it also had a ton of repeat characters from the Clone Wars set. It was an odd move in retrospect, but something that would become an unfortunate trend throughout the series.

The Next set, Universe, broadened the scope and introduced figures from the Expanded Universe (essentially characters from the books/comics). It also introduced "Large" minis--basically vehicles and creatures larger than the traditional mini.

Yet, in this set and in other sets they started doubling up on figures. . .soon you had 3, then 4, then 5 different Darth Vaders. 4 or 5 Lukes. . .7 different Hans. . .what was a solid gaming experience suddenly turned into a collector vs. gamer crap storm.

Around this time, the collector in me started to outbid the gamer at this point. . .I got caught up and started down the dark path of trying to collect all of the minis and in hindsight this is the one thing that I hated about this game. . .and now really hate about all collectible games. You have to hunt and peck and mine eBay and elsewhere to finish sets.

It was crazy and expensive and really a horrible model in the 21st Century mindset. I think they would have been much better off selling the sets vs. trying to push random booster after random booster. So many more people would have plunked down $150-$250 to get a Star Wars Minis set than the way this game was marketed.

. . .~14 sets later it ended with a whimper

Basically, I was able to come close to completing a few sets, but Wizards and the folks at Star Wars kept pushing out set after set and duplicate guy after duplicate guy and started expanding to the obscure and I simply lost all interest. 60 guys per set did eventually go down to 40, but alas, my interest had waned. I sold the bulk of my sets on BGG late last year.

And ultimately, Wizards lost interest as well as they didn't renew the contract as I have to imagine that the fans of this game were as obscure as the minis they were forced to publish. The game--that should have had a much longer shelf life--died after six very busy years.

Ultimately, I think that was the problem here: Over saturation of their marketplace.

I mean Star Wars is a great property and I think that if they had slow played this--i.e. released one set and a small expansion each year--they would have had more fans but when you rely on a collectible model, in a down economy, it's hard to sustain the kind of momentum they needed.

Hopefully, in the future, maybe FF or some other production house picks up the license and thinks more about putting out a great mini/war game with Star Wars Characters. . .Wizard's Miniature Lines had great potential but couldn't shake the artificial need to get the newest and best set of minis out there. . .if only they had let it breathe.


Unknown said...

man i agree with you and i also miss this game terribly and i hope that some time in the near future that it gets picked up again. :)

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