This weekend I was able to correspond with the folks at Imagine 3D Miniatures and get some more details about their company and Mounted Heroes, the project they recently launched on Kickstarter. The interview gets a behind the scenes look at what sparked the idea for the project and the company’s future ambitions. If you have more questions for Imagine 3D Miniatures, let me know in the comments or reach out to them directly through their site.
Imagine 3D Printing, Tell me about the history of the company; how did it start, who is leading the projects, where did the idea to make 3D printable miniatures come from?
Imagine 3D Miniatures was born a year ago with the idea of using 3D printing capabilities for miniature design and production. The idea came from David Pérez, Imagine 3D Miniatures’ CEO, who is a miniature enthusiast. He thought that 3D printing, one of the most innovative techniques at the moment, could be used for and change the miniatures hobby. For many years, people have bought the same miniatures over and over, but now, thanks to 3D printing and 3D modeling, we can provide completely customizable miniatures. That’s how Mounted Heroes, our first project, was born. It’s our first line of customizable 3D printed miniatures, it’s based on a traditional fantasy genre and its most characteristic feature are the mounts.
Your miniatures are pretty awesome. Why did you pick the fantasy genre to be your first line of miniatures?
Honestly, we had many ideas at the beginning of the project, but we thought that fantasy was the best one to start with. Everybody knows the fantasy basics – humans, orcs, elves, dwarves, dragons. We thought that with something everybody understood it would be easier for us to explain and expand the project, but would also allow us to innovate. For instance, one of the orcs mounts, the lizarodon, was created by us. We intend to add new races that are our own.
Do you have plans to expand into other genres (Sci-fi, modern, etc.)?
Absolutely. We want to make a complete and wide catalogue of miniatures for Mounted Heroes and then jump into sci-fi production. Fantasy was the better choice to start with because everybody knows how it works, but we’d really love to design sci-fi miniatures because you can create whatever you want, there are less rules and infinite possibilities for your imagination.
How do you expect people to use your miniatures?
The great thing about our miniatures is that you can use them however you want. When we open our store you will also be able to select a scale, so we believe that every miniature enthusiast, collector or painter will be interested in trying our miniatures. We think many people will use them as heroes for their wargame armies, especially because you can exchange riders from one mount to another so that every game you can play with a “different” hero. We also think many others will create their own characters for tabletop RPG’s.
What are the biggest challenges in designing and developing 3D printable miniatures?
Currently the biggest challenges we’ve found have to do with technical issues with 3D printing. As it is a new technology, different 3D printing materials produce different results on figure printing. We’ve had to adapt each design to 3D printing specifications, and we’ve had to remove many details we designed for the different armor because 3D printing wouldn’t allow us to print them. This has been our bigger limitation for our work. 3D printing has the potential to make anything you can imagine… but not yet. That, and also the prices we’re forced to offer right now, are the biggest challenges we’ve had to face and both of them have to do with 3D printing, but we hope this technology will evolve soon.
3D printing offers a lot of advantages for miniatures. What do you think the greatest advantages and opportunities are for 3D printed miniatures?
Without a doubt, 3D printed miniatures have the great advantage of customization. With traditional molds, companies are forced to produce the same miniature thousands of times, but thanks to 3D printing each miniature is unique. Customer’s imagination plays an important part of the process and that makes the product much more special. Plus, in time, when people have their own quality 3D printers at home, they will be able to buy the 3D file and print their custom miniatures directly at home.
The price point for 3D objects is still considered by some to be high. Does your company have plans to help make your miniatures more affordable?
3D printing prices are based on three things: the quality of the print, the amount 3D printing material and the volume the figure occupies in the printer drawer. This said, our company offers customers the choice between different 3D printing materials so they can also control the price of the final product. In addition, we’ve tried to bring prices down by emptying the interior of the larger miniatures so they have less volume. Those are little actions we take to make our products more affordable. The real thing that will change prices is that 3D printing technology has to evolve and provide companies better materials at better prices, and we believe that that will happen soon enough.
What does the future of your company look like? What do you Imagine 3D Miniatures will be creating 5-10 years from now?
Our long term goal would be not only to keep making customizable miniatures but also create our own wargame or boardgame that uses the figure customization as part of the game system. But that would be a long term goal. At this moment we’re working on Mounted Heroes and we still have to improve many things. Besides, we think that nowadays a very important thing for a business to succeed is to listen to its audience and what people are saying on the Internet. We’re paying a lot of attention to this, so who knows if we’ll take a different road in the future.
What are you most excited about if your project funds?
What we’d be most excited about would be to see people liking our project, and that’s already happening. We’re getting a lot of support from our audience and many online media outlets have said encouraging things about us. But what we’d love the most would be to keep going ahead and to add new races. Currently just the human and the orc are available because of our resources, but we’d be happy to offer numerous races and options for them and provide a very complete miniature creator.
What are you most nervous about if your project funds?
If we achieve our fundraising goal we’ll be nervous for the online store opening on fall 2015. We’ll have to work very hard and make fast decisions. It’s been a really intense year and we want people to realize how much our team has been working and to see it through our miniatures. We know we have to improve many things but we also want people to appreciate what we’ve done by now.