Funded! This project was successfully funded on March 22, 2013.

Update #5

Stretching, Challenging, and Reaching Out

This is an update in three parts. It is long! 

The Next Stretch Goal Requires New Art

Allow me to explain. When I launched this project I did so on the strength of two designs, and they were both clearly visible here on the project page. Since then you've unlocked five more designs, and you can't see ANY of them. You're buying them on the strength of my word.

This, quite frankly, is not fair to you.

As much fun as it may seem to rack up higher and higher project totals, from where I sit I see added responsibility, an increase in the obligations that I am under to you. In pursuit of mitigated stress, I've already bought the first 1000-coin series, and should have it in hand before the end of the project. We'll all feel better if I can post an update showing actual product, right?

We'll also feel better if you have designs on the site for the things you've bought, as well as a design for what we want to unlock next. That seems very reasonable to me. If I were one of my customers, I would actually expect that. 

So: no new stretch goal will be posted until I have designs ready to post. This will take until at least Wednesday of next week. Relax! This is not a race! If pledges slow down for a while, that's fine. 

Let's Talk About the Word "Challenge Coin"

Some people (okay, two, but still...) have expressed concern about using the term "challenge coin" in this context. In the US Military tradition, challenge coins are issued or traded, but soldiers are never expected to buy them. Their commanding officers buy them, obviously, and do so in bulk, so commerce regarding these is an established fact, but the concern stems from something else.

Specifically, it's a concern that I'm profiting through an activity that cheapens a tradition others hold dear.

THAT is a legitimate concern.

I mean no disrespect, and I believe that this sort of imitation will actually elevate awareness of and respect for the military issue challenge coin tradition, but clearly at least two people don't feel that way.

The fact that I'm not going to profit very much won't change their minds. 

The fact that many of the Schlock Mercenary fans anxious to buy these challenge coins are active-duty or former military won't change their minds.

The fact that these coins can never be mistaken for nor counterfeited as tokens of actual military service won't change their minds.

Nevertheless, I do hope anybody feeling this concern takes my words to heart when I say that I mean no disrespect.

Now, regarding the word "challenge." In my original post I thought I made it clear that in-universe the Tagon's Toughs coins ARE challenge coins. We'll be seeing story elements shortly (mid-March) to that effect. Here in OUR universe we need to call them something. I'm calling them "challenge coins" because I strongly expect you folks are going to begin bellying up to bars with other Schlock fans and carrying on this tradition. That's how they'll be used, so that is what they are.

The other coins have different names. "The Maxim 2-3 Flip." "Sergeant Schlock's Moral Compass." "The 7-23 Tool." I can't stop you from calling those "challenge coins," and if you start issuing challenges (or responding to them) with those, it's out of my hands, but those aren't in-universe challenge coins.

Camaraderie, fraternity, and the uplifting of your fellows are not limited to military service. If our challenge coin behavior imitates military tradition in a way that makes us better, and acknowledges the debt we owe to those who defend us, I'm happy, and I hope my friends in the military will be similarly happy.

Reaching Beyond the Ranks

Nothing would make me happier than having ten thousand Schlock Mercenary readers who have never purchased anything decide to purchase something. 

(Okay, world peace and an end to smog would make me happier, but let's aim low.)

If you're excited about this project, please don't feel obligated to invest more and more deeply in it. Let's wait until we've got more coin designs up on the site, and then let's look at the possibility of reaching beyond our current ranks.

I strongly suspect that the "Not my circus, not my monkeys" coin will have broad appeal outside of Schlock Mercenary readership. Once that design is live, I'll create a reward just for a small stack of those, and we'll start doing some outreach. 

Yes, it's true. If that coin really takes off, I will have minted a currency whose "gold standard" is the decision to not be helpful. But consider this... if there is now a price tag on not being helpful, if you have to surrender your precious monkeys in order to escape drudgery, isn't it possible you'll be MORE helpful? 

Chew on that. And then consider that as delightful as the challenge coin tradition is, this new thing might someday run even deeper.

Comments

    1. Missing_small

      Creator Jay Maynard on March 1, 2013

      For what it's worth, these are slipping beyond the grasp of those who would retain them as a military tradition...I just got an ad from the ARRL (the US national amateur radio association) for volunteer examiner supplies - and it includes an offer for a challenge coin they're selling for $10, or free with $10 purchase.

      And Howard's look better.

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      Creator Roger D Martin on February 25, 2013

      Tradiation? I was in 82-86 Active Army and Air Guard 91-96 and never heard of challenge coins. So this tradition is something fairly new. Don’t worry about it.

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      Creator scott madison on February 25, 2013

      Bah. FOR THE RECORD as an officer who gives and receives coins. WE BUY OUR OWN COINS! *THEN* we give them out. Some units have a fund _IF_ you are an 0-6 (Colonel -or E9 SGM's) or above for such things. Sometimes that COL is nice enough to let the lower field grades use some of those coins as unit coins, but he has final say) Everyone else, sucks. it. up. and. buys. their. own. Don't worry about the 'buying and selling' of coins. For one thing, you don't know us,so you're not giving us the coin. We're *choosing* the coins, -something you don't normally get to do... (okay, yes, Howard *would* give us all coins if he could, but he can't so this is the next best thing to actually having to enlist in a 31st century Merc Unit....)

      -So Plasgun belch to the head for the two barracks lawyer/attorney drones who think they know how coins work.... (and to Rick Boatright, yeah, they're expensive too a small design is $6 bucks a pop, a complicated is $15 or more. Howard is doing us a serious solid here on prices. Which is why I bumped mine $20 for bottle opener coin... (-Now can I please get the officer package?)

    4. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Rick Boatright on February 24, 2013

      Howard, I know that your darling dearest won't let you do something utterly fiscally stupid, but wow these prices are kind of cheap. Six 1.5 inch coins for the NCO club, plus mailing, plus the time cost of tracking orders and double checking them and getting the right label on the right envelope, etc. IGNORING the cost of your time to make and check and proof the art (because, since you're the business owner, your time is worth nothing... :-) ) Unless I'm far wrong, your profit on this exercise makes it sort of marginal use of your time.

      Not that I don't appreciate it. I'm in for $60. But gosh these prices seem low.

      So... Thank You.

    5. Brand.small

      Creator Lucius Watt on February 24, 2013

      Don't sweat anyone getting their panties in a bunch over the "challenge coin" nomenclature.
      It's a great military tradition, but my experience is that it's honored more in breach than in practice.
      I never heard of any commanding officer purchasing them for his troops while I was in. I certainly had to pay for mine before the order was placed. (And since I was TAD when they finally came in, the 1st Sgt. had no compunctions about turning around and selling mine to someone else. Nothing you could possibly do would weaken the tradition as much.)

    6. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Howard Tayler on February 24, 2013

      Kieth: stick with the reward you've got. The monkey coins can be added via the pledge manager.

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      Creator Keith Thomson on February 24, 2013

      I like the idea of buying a pile of monkey coins, but it's too bad that Kickstarter won't let you pick two rewards. I'd like to keep my Officer's club one while getting the barrel of monkeys as well.

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      Creator Peter McAndrew on February 24, 2013

      @mvsopen: Bear in mind that if you put them in geocaches then cachers might think (at first glance) that they're geocoins - which these won't be.

    9. Meerkat-buddypic-200px.small

      Creator Brad Ackerman on February 24, 2013

      mvsopen: "monkeys" in Polish, but frequently rendered as the singular in English for whatever reason. (Only one Google result for "nie moje małpa" but 400k+ for "nie moje małpy".)

    10. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Michael Grancey on February 23, 2013

      Just saw post about stack of "not my monkey, not my circus" coins and that is one I would hope to get behind as well, sadly depending on price.

    11. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Michael Grancey on February 23, 2013

      I would like to see the challenge coins, but I have followed Schlock Mercenary for years and occasionally bought merchandise from you, so I know that they will turn out excellently and would still be satisfied even if they turn up as a surprise for how the look.

    12. Missing_small

      Creator Patrick S Lasswell on February 23, 2013

      Howard, don't sweat the challenge coin nomenclature too much, a lot of non-military organizations and individuals are using it. Also, military units do not all get their coins from the CO, NCO's very frequently generate the coin purchases and sell them individually. Coins from CO's and distinguished individuals SECNAV, SECDEF, and POTUS carry especial significance, but a challenge coin from a squadron CO is often a nice get for folks who go put a lot of effort in as a sign of recognition.

      If anybody is giving you serious stink are probably what Bill Mauldin would call a garritrooper, too far forward to wear a tie and too far back to get shot at; the kind of twit looking for a fight near a combat zone.

    13. Missing_small

      Creator Geoffrey R. Kieser on February 23, 2013

      I didn't see this offer this until this morning and discovered that most of the 'good' stuff was already gone. I got the NCO package because I was one and Still work for a living. Good stuff and I like it. Wouldn't have it any other way.

    14. Missing_small

      Creator mvsopen on February 23, 2013

      I don't consider them "challenge coins", to me, these are great geocaching coins, and I intend to leave mine in a few caches. Problem solved!

      And for the "circus coin", is it "monkey" or "monkeys"? I thing the singular "monkey" makes more sense when you're bailing from a single project and turning over the coin to the fresh-meat that just arrived to take over your (former) problem...

    15. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Keith Glass on February 23, 2013

      Howard: it's simple. We trust you. You've got a track record of consistently superior products, so we have no reason to suspect this WON'T be. Relax. The Schlock Nation has your back on this. . .

    16. Missing_small

      Creator Daryk Zirkle on February 23, 2013

      I'd like to echo ianfelts' sentiment below. The coins I've earned are in no way cheapened by this project. To be sure, these coins aren't going on my desk at work, but they'll certainly have pride of place at home.

    17. Img_0028.small

      Creator Ken Franklin on February 23, 2013

      Two offended out of 1,146 backers is a badge of honor, sir. If the political parties could reach that sort of consensus, our country would be in a great deal better shape.

      Press on. You are a known man of integrity and talent; I am proud to know you; and as a retired Army officer, I say again: press on.

    18. Missing_small

      Creator Frank Earl on February 23, 2013

      Jay, don't feel like the lone stranger on missing out on the low numbers (I got a lower number, but the $100 slots went in almost SECONDS- and I wanted one of them sooo bad... >:-D)

    19. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Sean Long on February 23, 2013

      Howard ... clearly, you feel your responsibilities keenly, and take them very very seriously. As such, the strength of your word could probably back a _real_ currency. So it's certainly enough to be going on, where these coins are concerned.

    20. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Max Rueda on February 23, 2013

      Like Jay said, I have no problem pledging, "sight unseen", and I also regret missing out on the higher level tiers. I'm just glad I got into the Officer's Club, and I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    21. Missing_small

      Creator ianfelts on February 23, 2013

      As a crusty old USAF senior NCO I have absolutely no issue with this project. I see it as a definite homage with no insult to the heritage of the challenge coins.

      You will always have someone offended over anything you do. I say screw em and press on, the rest of us are enjoying this thing.

    22. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Howard Tayler on February 23, 2013

      Good suggestion, Jim. I'll get to that. Working on designs right now.

    23. Avatarpic-l.small

      Creator Jim Goleski on February 23, 2013

      I think you should consider adding an 'add on' section just under the Club sections and before the stretch goals on the main page. I know you only have the one add on so far, but an explicit list with price(s) right under the clubs would make it easier for people to find and decide to buy it(them). Just a suggestion.

    24. Missing_small

      Creator Jay Maynard on February 23, 2013

      I've got no problem at all pledging sight unseen, simply because everything you touch turns to awesome. My only regret is having taken a nap on opening evening and missing out on all the low-numbered series.

    25. Avatarpic-l.small

      Creator Jim Goleski on February 23, 2013

      I have no problem with pledging to buy the other 'medallions' sight unseen. I am confident the final designs will be to my liking. I think I've seen enough of your current art style (and your first two medallion designs) to be justified in that confidence.

    26. Missing_small

      Creator Kurt Nolte on February 23, 2013

      If there is a standalone option for a stack of "not my monkey" coins, I am IN for a bump of my pledge. There are certain people who make it a bear to help them, and giving them the monkey would free me up to help other, less obstreperous people...

    27. Missing_small

      Creator Jesus on February 23, 2013

      Howard, as a current active duty army, I see the "Challenge coin" thing as an homage to those with military service, and one that I'm shocked is causing any controversy. I'll buy extra challenge coins to offset those two people, if it'd help put your mind at ease.

    28. Fb_profile_picture.small

      Creator Michael Kohne on February 23, 2013

      Very appropriate, Howard. I've only put in a small pledge so far, because of the lack of art. I suspect once the art is up, lots of us will be upping our pledges. Thanks!

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    I'm Just Here For The Monkeys. This gets you one "Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys" coin, the token you are supposed to give away when you bail on a problem that really wasn't yours to begin with. Or you can give this coin to someone who helped you out when they didn't have to. Whether this is the currency of being helpful or abandoning others is up to you.

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