Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Interview with Keith Armstrong of Armies Army - The Cost of a Successful Kickstater

By Harold

Today we have an interview with Keith Armstrong of Armies Army about his recent successful kickstater (Armies Army Kickstater) which had 75 backers and £3,250 pledged of £1,750 goal, hitting all of it's stretch goals.

To see more of Armies Army please visit his blog at:

Note: This interview was conducted over Gmail chat, so please forgive any typos!

Was the Kickstarter successful for you?

Keith Armstrong
Erm.....not financially
As a product yes
And for lessons learnt ....yes

Would you do it again then?

Keith Armstrong
If I have no option financially
Yes – with additional planning
If I had finance then no
However kickstarter did provide a big market. I had a surprising amount of direct traffic

That’s actually very interesting... I wouldn’t have thought you’d get a lot of traffic from the Kickstarter website itself.

Keith Armstrong
Yes – 10% came through Kickstarter searches.
Mine is probably classed as a 'success'
However I’m still probably about $1500 down
Despite what I thought was 'great preparation'

Is that from shipping costs?

Keith Armstrong
That has hit
The weight of the items far heavier than expected…it’s a lot of lead!
It was also poor planning in that I needed far more molds then I estimated and higher sculpt costs

Concept art.

You were able to put fewer figures per mold than you were hoping?

Keith Armstrong
More like - I needed far more molds to get the packs I wanted
Example The multiple head options....
I covered the costs of them I thought. - However not the fact I needed a new mold for each type. So for every head swap option, I needed a master and a new production mold. They all added up!

You did offer a lot of options

Keith Armstrong
Yep - didn’t cost that right
All a well-earned lesson!
My other big problem is how long it’s taken to do!

I think everyone realizes that it's a lot of work
To be honest, I was surprised you were able to get everything cast and shipped as quick as you did

Keith Armstrong
Really? I had planned end of Feb/March latest
Again - a lesson learnt. Using a casting company takes time
Especially one also has to run his own business. He has worked wonders and has even provided free molds to get things out quicker, so I can't complain! Just didn’t expect 1100 packs !

Greens of the riflemen.

Did you have most of the stuff sculpted already?

Keith Armstrong
None of it
Some of that was a little late to, however I also had additions as I thought of extras

You did have some really cool concept art though... I think that pulled in a lot of people.

Keith Armstrong
I went with one or two I wasn’t 100% happy with, due to time. Id of preferred to tweak a couple
Yeah - that worked really well the art
Found a good guy
Gave him very specific design and he came up trumps! He is a bit of a fan to, so that helped.

Did he do the PLA stuff too?

Keith Armstrong
Brought to life my drawings
Which is quite frankly crap

Do you sculpt the figures yourself?

Keith Armstrong
No – I’ve got a sculptor who does the main work
I do all the conversions and sci-fi them up

Two more of the greens, command figures.

Ah... that's a cool arrangement.

Keith Armstrong
Yep works well. So all militia are mine, spetznaz ,heavy weapons. For the brits i did berets and bush hats. Ill also do my own germans and usa using the brits as dollies. Change the webbing, weapons and heads etc. Ill get my sculptor to do the odd character for it.
I’d never have the time otherwise and my sculpting is ok for conversions, not nearly good enough for sale on its own.

That's a great way to build up the skill though. I really like all the packs and equipment on the neo-British... they really seem like they're ready to conduct a patrol on some colony world.

Keith Armstrong
Yep backpacks, Law and eye sets etc were all my addons. Wanted a 'we are on our own' look.

Those are probably my favourite parts actually... A lot of 15mm figures are missing the packs and everything you often see real troops carrying. And I've always liked the idea of eye-pieces on helmets

Keith Armstrong
I’m thinking on providing additional packs, weapons and vehicle items etc. However not sure on the market

A painted master.

I love that stuff... I think it'd be popular. But I also think it'd be hard to make it profitable.

Keith Armstrong
Cost recovery is my only aim to be honest
The problem is it’s about $200 per pack in costs

Do you see this more as a hobby/business?

Keith Armstrong
Yep - just a hobby
In future - as in when I retire...who knows?

Yeah... I often think about starting a line as well, for the same reasons, something fun/hobby wise, but not money wise.

Keith Armstrong
I doubt I’ll ever break even
It’s what I did. Work bonus -put some aside - if I lost worries
However it’s addictive
You want to release more....
And so the break even gets further away!

Yeah I can totally identify with that.

Keith Armstrong just buy it all!

It's hard not to!

Keith Armstrong
Indeed and I was you....before I started my own
So I bought my own
Now the money I used to spend...goes on my line
Ideal world - someone pays me for it. Not profits - just recover my costs and then support my whims. What I make - I get paid in copies. They can make the fortune :)

One of the Molds.
If you had a chance to do the Kickstater over again, what would you have changed?

Keith Armstrong
I would rework how I did packs
So one infantry pack - 10 unique sculpts. I would not have multiple heads, I’d have helmeted
I would calculate p&p better....
Calculate number of molds correctly
I would work on a time line. So if I get this reward level - It will take this long to post, If I get this reward it will take X longer
The head swaps would come later as a product
I’d also think on trying to actually make a small profit...

Bags ready to be shipped off to backers.

Any parting advice?

Keith Armstrong
Parting Advice. The costs - Plan it, check it, plan it again, plan it again and then once again. Get someone else to look It over. Do not forget to calculate the costs of casting the figures! Estimate a per pack cost. I did, however I underestimated it! Don’t expect to make a fortune. Think of it as a loss leader into a new line.

I’m happy to help others out if they need advice.

I'm sure someone will take you up on your offer! And again, Congrats on your successful kickstater, and I look forward to seeing the next line you come out with.

Thank you very much for you time!


  1. I received my packs of figures a week or so ago and I can confirm that they are truly excellent! Since I'm not very familiar with 15mm figures (the last ones I bought were Citadel Traveller adventurers in the late 80's) I can't comment on how they compare with other lines with regard to mold lines, flash etc but the sculpts themselves are great. There are some really nice specialist figures too.
    All I need now are some APCs . . .

  2. Thanks for the interview Mr. Harold and Mr. Armstrong, very informative about kickstarter and also about how you brought these great figures to market. I know I'm not the only one who would love to see more of your work!

  3. I found the interview to be most interesting. I have had a little dialogue with Keith over the last few months, and I'm really pleased for him that although this was perhaps not a financial success, it was certainly successful in producing a line of characterful minis. I received my packs this week and was thoroughly pleased with them all. They have even helped me to formulate a background for my future games. Thanks for the interview, and thanks Keith for your untiring work!

  4. Keith and I have been exchanging notes on our KS experiences. I am glad that his seemed to go more smoothly than my own.


  5. Cheers all

    This was actually started as a a chat with Harold which kinda took a turn were we thought an interview was a good idea. So looking back I could of answered a little better and a little more in depth. As Eli says, he also had a 'differing' series of challenges compare to me, which were more technical in nature. We talked about this regularly and had many discussions, it was a great help! I also failed to talk about the amazing support I had from my backers and even many none backers. Truly its what makes this hobby so great! Ive not had one single complaint about delays and Ive had nothing but positive criticism and some great suggestions on this line and future lines. Ive even had a spin off google+ group, where I can talk about future work and get help in development etc.

    As for the success, Id say it was. I doubt its possible to create a new range for only $1500, even if you are doing everything on your own! So it really was a success and that was down mostly to my support :)

    Myself and Eli were discussing doing a detailed report and a share of our experiences and I think we will. I think the pitfalls Eli encountered makes mine seem trivial!


    1. Will the neo-Brits be available to those who didn't back the Kickstarter at some point? I'm sure they'd sell rather well outside of a Kickstarter setting.