Interview with Lee VanSchaik of Silver Fox Productions about the RAFM Call of Cthulhu Miniatures Kickstarter

I’ve always loved the idea of miniatures but I never really had time to paint them. Recently though, I’ve ended up with a bunch, along with free time to actually do something with them. I’ve been a backer for Kickstarters by Stonehaven Miniatures and Reaper’s Bones, I’ve ended up with a bunch of Warhammer figures and any month now, Palladium’s Robotech RPG Tactics should be showing up at my doorstep. Now it appears that I’ll be adding a new line of miniatures to my collection of pieces with RAFM’s Call of Cthulhu miniatures Kickstarter that went live on January 22nd. What can I say? I’ve just picked up a new hobby, Call of Cthulhu is my favorite RPG and I’ve only got star spawns and Cthulhu himself to paint in Bones form. This is a wonderful combination of my interests. The Kickstater is currently ongoing and offers a nice range of pledge levels and add-ons.

As a long time CoC player who has just gotten into miniature painting and who also has never used miniatures for a CoC game, I wanted to learn more about RAFM and their line of miniatures for my favorite game. Lee VanSchaik, over at Silver Fox Productions Inc. was more than happy to spend time answering my questions and letting me know what they have in store for their backers.

Diehard GameFAN: You’re currently running a Kickstarter for Call of Cthulhu miniatures. What made you decide to become a Chaosium licensee and make miniatures for this RPG line?

Lee VanSchaik : Back in 1985, our in house sculptor, Bob Murch, was interested in the Cthulhu Mythos. He sculpted eight figures for the line and the rest is history. We have been producing Call of Cthulhu miniatures since then under license from Chaosium.

Diehard GameFAN: This is actually the second Call of Cthulhu miniatures crowdfunding campaign RAFM has done. Your first was on Indiegogo. Can you tell us why you switched from Indiegogo to Kickstarter and what you learned from this first attempt?

Lee VanSchaik : First we did a Space:1889 campaign on Indiegogo. Then we decided to go after our Call of Cthulhu licensed Miniatures line and performed a fund raiser on Indiegogo. In July of 2013, Kickstarter was not available to Canadians. Now it is. Also, however, Kickstarter is more widely accepted by the tabletop gaming funding crowd. We were told repeatedly to do a Kickstarter, so we switched to Kickstarter when it became available in Canada.

Diehard GameFAN: You had an Abney Park’s Airship Pirates crowdfunding attempt on Kickstarter as well, but you ended up canceling that project. Why do you think that one wasn’t as successful as the Call of Cthulhu ones and what did you learn from it?

Lee VanSchaik : This was our first Kickstarter but our third fund raising effort. We have learned plenty over the process. Keeping in contact with the fan base and keeping the word out there during the program is critical. Also, there is certainly a learning curve in putting together the actual program. We also believe Cthulhu has a much wider audience and appeal than Airship Pirates within the Tabletop Gaming crowd. Also, it is important to note that even though the Airship Pirates fund raising was canceled we did end up creating nine miniatures for that line.

Diehard GameFAN: Your Call of Cthulhu Miniatures are in white metal. This is pretty old school. What made you choose to go with a lead based material over pewter, resin and Bones style plastic?

Lee VanSchaik: Our metal only uses a trace amount of lead. This lead helps the molten metal flow in the molding process making production easier. Also, it is preferable in the final gaming piece because the miniature is less brittle than solid pewter and more stable than plastic or resin. This makes the miniatures easier to work with from a modeling perspective. The metal also bonds to paint better than any resin or plastic will. However, it is more expensive, except during the Kickstarter.

Diehard GameFAN: Your current campaign follows the classic Call of Cthulhu campaign, Masks of Nyarlathotep. What made you choose that campaign to specifically design figures for and do you have any plans for more recent adventures or campaigns like Terror from the Skies?

Lee VanSchaik: We choose the Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign because our fans were asking us for these miniatures during our previous Indiegogo campaign. We looked into it and that particular module is rated as one of the top five Role Playing Modules of all time, for any game system. This seemed like a very good place to start. The Fungi from Yuggoth campaign worked with the miniatures we had created, specifically the Mi-go, so we choose that campaign as well. Finally The House of R’lyeh was chosen as a newer product to support. Fans are now asking for Beyond the Mountains of Madness, so we shall see what we can do and how far this takes us. Also, fans are looking for monsters to use with some FFG games. We would like to make everyone happy.

Diehard GameFAN: As this campaign is for miniatures geared towards a specific Call of Cthulhu product, which miniatures in this campaign will gamers that haven’t yet experienced Masks of Nyarlathotep be the most interested in?

Lee VanSchaik: We have also included some of the generic monsters in our offering. A new Shoggoth and a new Servitor of the Outer Gods are now included in the Kickstarter. Fans have asked for Summoning Gates and Deep One Hybrids and Father Dagon. We have added those pieces into the program. Fans seem to want more monsters and more cultists. We would like to do more cultists. You can always use more cultists and there are many different cultists in the Masks of Nyarlathotep module. The NPC’s are geared toward the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Many of the characters can be used as Player Characters, and that brings value to the miniatures beyond the module and into our fans role playing games in general.

Diehard GameFAN: You have stretch goals planned up through 200,000 dollars worth of pledges. Any chance of a hint as to what we might see with some of those?

Lee VanSchaik: We have two pieces of color art that we have used for our campaign. The current campaign uses the piece Great Old One by Christopher Burdett and our first campaign used Cthulhu by Stafford Stone. We would like to produce both these pieces in plastic but we likely will not get to them until the $110,000 and $200,000 level.

Diehard GameFAN: The miniatures you put out for Call of Cthulhu are at a 32mm scale, which is a tiny bit bigger than some miniatures lines out there. What made you choose to go with miniatures of this size?

Lee VanSchaik: Most miniatures these days are trending at the 32mm scale. Malifaux, Games Workshop, Reaper Miniatures and Copplestone to name a few. Scale does not seem to be as important to many manufacturers as it was at one time. Many of the miniatures that are currently available match the scale we are using so we are just keeping up with the movement within the industry.

Diehard GameFAN: Many of the figures for this campaign are in design mode rather than finalized and ready for mass production. What is the creative process like in terms of choosing what character you will make, the pose the figure will take and so on?

Lee VanSchaik: We had to do a lot of research within the module to see where the characters we were producing fit into the campaign. We also tried to match certain archetypes. For instance, Jack “Brass” Brady falls within the stereotypical private eye spectrum. The goal here was to try to create miniatures that gamers could use beyond the actual module that they were created for but rather within their Call of Cthulhu RPG gaming as a whole. The information gathered from the module is then given to our artist who researched the period before settling on poses for the concept art. This art is then sent to us for approval and either modified or accepted. Sometimes consideration had to come into play for basing or dynamic poses. For instance a tail was added to the Star Vampire to allow the sculptor to base the miniature. So it is a creative process that takes into consideration the whole production procedure as well as the creation of a dynamic pose for the fans.

The Kickstarter is actually very helpful in this process because it lets us meet with our fans online and gives them a forum to provide ideas and opinions about what they would like. We cannot always accommodate all the fans but it does create a great dialogue.

Diehard GameFAN: Finally, out of all the miniatures that will be created in this campaign, which is your absolute favorite?

Lee VanSchaik: I like the God of the Bloody Tongue miniature so far. It just captures my imagination.


So there you go. Once the Kickstarter ends, the scheduled delivery date for this new round of Call of Cthulhu figures is December, 2014. For those that are impatient however, RAFM also has the upcoming line of Horror on the Orient Express figures that Kickstarter backers from that campaign could purchase as an add-on. I myself have a set coming and once they are made available, I’ll do a review of them similar to the other Horror on the Orient Express ancillary items I’ve shown you. If you’re at all interested in the thought of Call of Cthulhu miniatures, then you should head on over to the Kickstarter campaign and back it. Currently, you’re getting 42 metal figures for $115 Canadian, and more will be added as stretch goals are reached. There are also add-on purchases including an “Insanity” add on, where for $25, you can get $50 worth of figures from the current and even previous RAFM miniatures RAFM has put out. I’ve done that so I can get Nyarlathotep and a Dark Young. There are only eleven days left for the Kickstarter, so you’ll want to back now rather than later.

In the meantime, don’t forget you visit RAFM’s official website or their Facebook page. Otherwise there’s always our very large Call of Cthulhu archive to peruse here at Diehard GameFAN.

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