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FAQ and Insights on “Clanbuster” Black Knight Miniature
On June 17, 2021
Hello BattleTech fans!
As many of you know, the much-anticipated release of the “Clanbuster” Black Knight happened last week—and promptly sold out in about an hour. Social media quickly lit up with a frenzy of comments, so the BattleTech team thought we’d post some insights and answers to the most common questions.
Please keep in mind just how very unusual this product was—BattleTech has never released anything like this before. Catalyst Game Labs simply had to roll the dice on whether or not customers would desire unassembled plastic miniatures at a price that would be viable for a U.S.-based manufacturer.
We hedged our bets and ordered 300 as an initial print run. However, there’s something about this miniature that is unlike most of our catalog, making Catalyst’s initial stock order easier to understand:
Creative Juggernaut is domestic, so they can simply print “on demand” and deliver product faster than any overseas producer can ship.
And that’s the crux. This is not intended to be a rare item; we can keep ordering more until every miniature-loving fan has them. In fact, production of Black Knights has been ongoing, so you can expect to see them back up for sale in the next 60 days.
Now on to the Q&A:
“Why didn’t you communicate this further in advance?”
That’s a really good question, and as always hindsight is 20/20. We felt that building up anticipation for a week or more on a mere 300 items was not the way to go.
“Is this the direction their business model is going?”
Oh goodness no. This is a specialty item. In this case, we chose to produce unique ’Mechs to go alongside the recent Battle of Tukayyid. We like the idea of being to produce and release new miniatures alongside sourcebooks and events in the future. There is no intention of having miniatures like this replace the core line products such as the Force Packs.
“What’s up with the price?”
This is a special release item, not the standard baseline product (such as Force Packs)—so extra value items like variant parts and custom pose-ability are natural features for a product like this. And $25 is exactly in line with the pricing of a convention exclusive or specialty item. Premium items are produced at a higher quality and in smaller numbers, which require a higher price.
Price-to-value is something we think about all the time. We are proud of the roughly $5 per miniature price on our Force Packs and box products, and it took an enormous amount of work to achieve that. It’s clear that the $25 price surprised some folks—some are in disbelief that domestic production is five times the cost of foreign production. And therein lies the confusion. The fact is the production cost on these Black Knights was far more than five times that of foreign production. There’s no fighting the math on that, we simply need to face it and build our product models accordingly.
Which is actually why Catalyst wanted to slowly begin exploring domestic plastic production. There was much feedback during the Kickstarter campaign about using China for production, and while we explained that there was no viable alternative, there was still a strong narrative of simply “trying to save a little money.” That perception is false. What we priced out with domestic companies that could have produced those box sets, would have resulted in retail prices of $200 or more per product. Which is why we decided to start testing the possibilities with things like this specialty product line—to weigh the strengths (production flexibility) against the weaknesses (production speed and costs).
“Why were we limited to only buying one?”
This was entirely to reduce scalping and to help ensure that the miniatures went to individual fans and not the secondary market. With limited quantities and a possibility of a quick sell through, we wanted to make sure we spread these as wide as possible.
“It sold out faster than I could place my order.”
We simply had no idea how fast it would sell out. We weren’t not going for FOMO, or creating scarcity to bump prices, we simply sold out of the initial print run much faster than expected. Not to worry, though—as we said above, we are already producing more.
“Is there a way to reduce International Shipping?”
We are working on it. We hear you and understand that this has been a problem, with no simple solution. We are working to set up three international warehouses to resolve this issue. The first will be servicing Australia, and we expect it to open soon. The second will be in Europe, which we hope to have established by the end of this summer, and the third will be in the UK soon after. The plan is to stock our game lines in all these locations so that everyone can get their games for a fair price. Please be bear with us until then.
“Will selling unassembled plastic minis compete with Iron Wind Metals?”
We have no interest competing with Iron Wind Metals. They are good friends of ours. Now that we’ve released our first domestic plastic miniature, I think it’s clear we aren’t trying to undercut them on price. Iron Wind Miniatures has nearly four decades worth of miniatures to choose from—we are simply delivering a different product model.
Thank you all for your ongoing support of BattleTech, for your passion of the game, and for keeping an eye on our continued expansion. Game on!