Forge world and 3D printing

in reply to this post on BOLS

Forgeworld is discontinuing a lot of products off their website and no one knows why. There’s lots of speculation. It’s been suggested that legion specific bits are not selling well, it’s been suggested that Games workshop is abandoning Horus Heresy, it’s been suggested that horus Heresy is going all plastic.
But maybe Games workshop is actually trying to do something very progressive and get ahead of the curve?

In the past year i’ve been amazed at the boom in 3d printed bits. Pop goes the Monkey is a very well known 3rd party bits maker, and he sells directly from shapeways. You go on the Shapeways website and find the exact part you want, and order it right away. Shapeways puts it in the printing queue and when it’s done they pack it up and ship it to you. To get bits in Toronto canada it generally takes me 3 weeks to get my parts.

Every day Matt Sweitzer - the designer of Pop Goes the Monkey bits, uploads new designs. He has perfected his shoulder pads base shapes, so it’s a case of adding the newest logos to the different base shapes. He’s even gotten into making weapons, and 3d chapter logos that are perfectly formed to fit on sholder pads. He has no overhead, he has no shipping costs, and shapeways goes a long way to promote him. Shapeways promoted him at Adepticon.

If you want to get a good sense of how serious Shapeways is about wargaming, go look at other main page. Wargaming and miniatures is one of their front page links and they promote it highly. Wargame bits must be a pretty significant part of their business model.

Matt Sweitzer - a one man show- is pretty much cleaning up with shapeways on the 3d printed market. Tons of new designs - printed to order, and competitive in price to forgeworld’s resin bits.

If i was working at Forgeworld and GW, you can bet my top priority would be figure out how to remain in business with 3D printing.

There’s been a huge price drop in Resin based SLA printers in the last year. It used to be to have a hobbyist 3d printer you had to shell out about $5000 for a Form Labs printer. DLP and SLA resin printers have flooded the market and the price for entry is somewhere between $1000-$2000 and dropping the barrier to entry. Additionally 3D modeling software is becoming more and more integrated with 3d printing, and a plethora of helpful youtubers share all their tips and tricks. In the next 24 months SLA printers will continue to drop and already hobbyists are making and selling their own 3d prints online, via shapeways, etsy and other platforms.

Right now if you buy resin shoulder pads for your heresy era space marines from shapeways, you have more choices of designs and more it cost less than buying them from Forgeworld.

So maybe Forgeworld realizes this? Maybe the realize that they should go full 3d Printed. Maybe they realize that they don’t have to carry any stock and can manufacture on demand? Maybe they realize they can put the printer in a store. Maybe you will go to the website and order it online and pick up your 3d printed custom bits at GW then next day in store. Maybe while you’re in the store they can sell you some more Agrax Earthshade and Hobby Glue?
Or maybe they mail it to your house and you get it in a few days because it’s shipped from your country of origin. Think of it like Amazon Prime for Warhammer, ‘Amazon Primaris” if you will.

You can make bits available for only a limited amount of time, you can have time based exclusives, and you can offer your customers a lot more variety.

If i was Forgeworld, i’d be doing it like this. I guarantee that they’re think very hard about 3D printing services, and the things they are discontinuing lend themselves to the “Pop goes the Monkey and Shapeways” model.

GW has shown a willingness to evolve, and the have surprised us in the past year. Maybe we’re going to see something new from Forgeworld in the near future and surprise us all?