About this project
These are the Last Two Days...
I'll cut to the chase since we're short on time: If you are new here and are having trouble deciding among the many options, let me simplify things and present just these four:
- Hypernet Rubbernecker ($1.00, unlimited): this gets your foot in the door. Once the project closes you can add more money and get as many coins as you care to. We'll mint whatever you need. If you can't make up your mind, this is the low-risk path.
- Two coins of your choice ($25.00, unlimited): Just what it sounds like. But if you want more than two coins, things get a lot more cost effective...
- Enlisted Mess ($60, limited, over 800 left): You get the seven auto-includes, and one of them is a Tagon's Toughs Series 3, numbered.
- Company Mess ($60, unlimited): You pick any six. You'll specify which six using the pledge manager after we close. And again, you can raise your pledge at that time.
Head over to the right side-bar and pick the option that works for you.
What's that? You want to take the time to read about the whole project? Well, then...
The Long Version
We've done all sorts of merchandise for the Schlock Mercenary comic strip over the years. It's time for something new: challenge coins!
"What is a challenge coin?" I hear you ask.
Let's drop the word "challenge" for just a moment and simplify the discussion. Many military units mint coins, non-negotiable, as commemorative souvenirs for those who serve. Ultimately, it's a shiny thing that says "thank you," or perhaps "we can't believe you agreed to this."
They get traded, sold, dropped, lost, flipped, and on very rare occasion used as ammo. Anybody can own one, and anybody can mint one. It follows, of course, that mercenary units in the 31st century would have them, which naturally means Tagon's Toughs should have them.
If the Toughs have these, that means that YOU might just want one. Mercenary cartoonist that I am, I shall oblige.
Back to that word "challenge." In some organizations, unit members might challenge one another to produce their coins. Fail, and you're buying the next round of drinks. Sometimes special coins, awarded by ranking officers, are produced, and the bearer of the highest-ranking coin drinks free.
(Please note that challenge coin traditions vary quite widely by organization. In fact, they vary SO widely that an established, codified rule-set, whether inside or outside the military, is currently impossible to agree upon. More on this later...)
Here is the unit coin for Tagon's Toughs. It's pretty straightforward, and there's even a "head" on the front so nobody will dispute which end is up should you use it for coin tosses. This is a standard 1.5" coin minted in brass, colored with enamels, and then sealed with an epoxy dome. Feature-wise, it's identical to the Hickam AFB coin I tossed in the video.
This first run of Tagon's Toughs Challenge Coins, numbered serially on the face, is sold out, mostly to Officer's Club pledges.
The second run, also numbered serially, is still available to NCO pledges. If you want a numbered coin, pledge there!
Should you, as fans, decide to challenge one another to show your coins when drinks are on the line, I will not stand in your way. In fact, I'll go out of my way to make sure there are enough of these to meet demand. (Yes, we can mint a third series.)
We've funded more than 55 times over (5571% of the original goal and counting) allowing us to auto-include some other coins with the Officer's Club and NCO Club pledge levels. Here's what those look like right now:
(Note that some Officer's Club levels include two Series One coins)
The following coins are only available add-ons. Your pledge level doesn't automatically get them -- you need to increase your bid by the appropriate amount, and then (after the project closes) specify which of the add-ons you want.
- The 7-23 Tool (a 2.75" diameter bottle opener coin featuring Maxim 7 on one side, and Maxim 23 on the other)
This coin is almost twice the diameter of all the others. It's no thicker, but it dwarfs them. For coin selection and shipping purposes, this one counts as two coins. For grip purposes it will not have an epoxy finish. It is, after all, a tool.
- The Officially Licensed XDM D2
This is a 1.5" coin, epoxy-finished on both sides.
- Maxim 11 Keydrop (complete with ring)
This is a 1.5" coin, epoxy protecting Schlock from your keys, while the crater side features a 3D sculpt.
- FOUR SHIP COINS. The Serial Peacemaker, the Post-Dated Check Loan, the Touch-and-Go, and the Kitesfear. These were unlocked right here at the end, and I'm racing to get the designs done in time for shipping. They're $10 each if you want to add them to your order.
Managing Your Pledges
Kickstarter is a great way to get interested parties and entrepreneurs together for the advanced commission of commerce.
It's a terrible shopping cart. And this project illustrates that quite effectively.
Once the project has closed, we'll open up a shopping cart called a "Pledge Manager" that will allow you to define your order, and which will help us all ensure that you're getting what you pledged to get.
Until then, here are some tips and caveats:
- If you have a limited-item reward locked in, hang on to it for dear life! The Series One coins are sold out.
- If you want to add other coins to your reward, just up your pledge by the appropriate amount.
- If you're getting eight coins, whether or not shipping was included in your reward level, and you want to ADD coins, you need to increase your pledge by $5 for US shipping and $8 for overseas shipping. We have to ship TWO packages to you.
- Every coin you add is $10, but for backers, at every $50 we'll throw in a sixth coin free (the 7-23 tool counts as two coins in this calculation.)
- If you want to bulk-order something, we can make those arrangements after the project has funded. I'm sure SOMEBODY out there is going to want a nigh-literal barrel of not-my-monkeys.
We don't have a tool available yet to specify which add-ons you get. Because of Kickstarter restrictions, we can't actually give you access to the Pledge Manager until the project closes. We will make enough of everything to fill all the orders, though, so don't panic. If you're in the Company Mess, for instance, and want a Tagon's Toughs coin, but the NCO club sells out and Series 2 is gone? We'll print a Series 3, and you can get one of those.
Here are some examples of how you might up your pledges now:
Q: "I got in early at $25, and have two Series One coins. How do I get the auto-includes?"
A: Since there are six auto-includes, up your pledge by $50 (five coins and one freebie) and that'll cover it.
Q: "I got the NCO package, but I'm going to need more monkeys."
A: "For $10 you can add one monkey, and be at the eight-coin limit for the first package.
Q: No, I need a LOT more monkeys.
A: Add $10 for each monkey, and $5 ($8 int'l) shipping. Upping your pledge by $45 ($48) would get you four more monkeys. $55 ($58) would get you six more. $75 gets you eight more monkeys.
Q: I just need one of everything. What should I pledge?
A: Pledge for the NCO Club ($60) and increase your pledge by $75, or $78 outside of the US. The total will be $135 or $138.
Remember, we'll get your order details after the project closes. There's no way right now to specify which add-ons you're getting.
A Quick History of This Project
The funding progress of this project was stunning. Literally, stunning. You stunned me. I sat at my keyboard speechless, motionless, unable to process what I was seeing.
I expected to fund within a day or two, and I figured we'd max out somewhere between $10k and $20k after a month. Well, we funded inside of sixty seconds, and shot through the stretch goals like a breacher missile through ballistics gel. Here's the timeline as I've been able to reconstruct it:
STRETCH GOAL #1: (unlocked at $3,000, about three minutes in to the project)
- The Strohl Munitions Maxim 34 Challenge Coin!
STRETCH GOAL #2: (unlocked at $5,000, within 15 minutes of project launch.)
- The "Not my circus, not my monkey" coin.
STRETCH GOAL #3: (unlocked at $10,000, roughly an hour after project launch)
The Partnership Collective Drone Token.
STRETCH GOAL #4: (unlocked at $18,000, just two hours and 5 minutes after launch.)
- The Maxim 2-3 Flip:
STRETCH GOAL #5: (unlocked at $27,000, around six hours from project launch)
- Sergeant Schlock's Moral Compass
STRETCH GOAL #6: (unlocked at $40,000, right around 12 hours after launch)
- The Series 2 Tagon's Toughs Challenge Coin.
- The NCO Club reward option
- The Company Mess reward option.
STRETCH GOAL #7: (Unlocked at $60,000, roughly 55 hours after launch$60,000)
- The 7-23 Tool (an oversized add-on coin with bottle-opener functionality!)
STRETCH GOAL #8 (Unlocked at $82,057, almost exactly eleven days to the minute after the project launched.)
- The Officially Licensed XDM D2 (an add-on coin)
- The Pius Dei/Parnassus Dom coin (the last auto-include for the Officer's Club and NCO Club rewards levels)
STRETCH GOAL #9 (Unlocked at $100,00, a little under twenty days into the project.)
- The Maxim 11 Keydrop
- The currently untitled unofficial anecdotal history of challenge coins (see below)
STRETCH GOAL #10 (Unlocked at $115,000, with almost exactly three days left of the project.)
- The Series 3 Tagon's Toughs coin (but no pledge level specific to that series). These will be used to fill orders for TT coins where series and number were not specified.
- A ship coin, currently undesigned, for the Post-Dated Check Loan.
STRETCH GOAL #11 (Unlocked at $125,000, with 70 hours remaining)
- A ship coin, currently undesigned, for the Serial Peacemaker.
Outstanding Stretch Goals
Let me be frank here: many, many many Kickstarters fail through over-reaching when they over-fund. I have dozens of cool coin ideas, but I don't want to crater your wallets, and I don't want to fail to deliver the project as it stands.
Still, I'm going to put stakes in the ground.
If the project hits $135,000 I'll do a commemorative coin for the Touch-and-Go.
You have got to be kidding me. Seriously?
Fine. I don't think we'll come anywhere NEAR this, but if we hit $145,000 I'll reach deep into the archives and do a ship commemorative of the Kitesfear. This will almost certainly be the best that ship has ever been drawn.
The Unofficial Anecdotal History of Challenge Coins (working title)
This document is a way for all of us to say "thank you" to everyone who has ever earned a coin from their command, and to anyone who has ever fumbled for a coin at the bar and wondered what in the name of guided fire was going on.
It is a 100-man-and-woman-hour project, and that's not counting the hours you'll put into it helping us out.
- Sandra and I will collect challenge coin traditions from you, from our friends in the military, from friends of friends... we will collect anecdotes, horror stories, and house rules.
- We will assemble these into a definitive, unofficial (because there can be no official) guide to challenge coins.
- I will do spot illustrations, including single-panel comics featuring irony, absurdity, and hilarity.
Contributions must be sourced. That means if you have an anecdote to share, it needs to be YOUR story, and you need to put YOUR name on it. We don't want "I heard about this one guy..." tales. We want "I was standing at the canteen in Kuwait, back in 1998 when..." or some variation thereof. Tell us what happened. Tell us how your unit used coins.
We totally understand that certain details may need to be omitted from your story in the interest of operational security. Tell the story as best you're able to legally tell it. If you can still put your name on it, that would be great.
If you want to contribute, email email@example.com with the subject line "STRETCH 9 SUBMISSION." Sandra and I will be editing these for spelling and grammar, and perhaps polishing the prose a bit for clarity. And please! If there are details that need to be omitted for security purposes, omit them BEFORE sending.
Full submission guidelines are here (this is a good link to share if you have friends who may wish to contribute.)
This project will entail at least 200 hours of work for me and for Sandra, and we can't do it all at once. The first finished draft of the document will likely take us at least five months to complete. It's going to be a lot like writing a book.
When it's done, it will be freely available, publicly linked, and we will encourage its distribution. The document will include our suggestions for managing your own organization's challenge coin traditions. We are not trying to codify or support a single tradition -- we're trying to elevate awareness of all the traditions.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest risks were the unknowns -- an unknown (to us, anyway) design and manufacturing process, and an unknown demand.
You've let us know what the demand is. Loudly, even. Fantastic!
For design and manufacturing we've partnered with a company that has made challenge coins for the US Armed Forces, assorted diplomatic corps, municipal police forces, and a host of other organizations. They made coins for Myke Cole's S.O.P. (another fictional military organization.) I'm confident in their ability to refine my designs for suitability on coins, and to manufacture these in a timely manner, and to the posted specifications.
Another potential risk is the shipping process. We've looked into shipping, and the plan is to send these as 1st-class mail, or in large envelopes. We've tacked $5.00 onto the coin price for all rewards for US shipping ($8.00 outside the US), and will be able to get as many as 8 coins into a single mailer.
Note that when we ship these to you, they won't be labeled as "coins." They're not currency, and never have been. As far as the postal services (who don't like shipping legal tender) are concerned, these are "commemorative medallions"
There are still some extant risks. Suppose our supplier goes belly-up? (Note: I doubt an established firm with their track record will go belly-up, but it's a contingency we have to allow for)
If this happens before we pay them, no problem! I already have other suppliers and designers beating down my door. We attracted attention! We'll lose some time, but no money. The delivery dates slip to July.
If this happens AFTER we pay them, we still have enough money left over to make coins through somebody else. Sure, our profitability drops to zero, but we can make good on our commitments to you. Again, the delivery dates slip.
What if the coins arrive, but some of them are badly flawed and not suitable for sale? Or what if the wrong shipment arrives at the Tayler Corporation?
This is actually the most likely of the unlikely problems we might have. Obviously we'll pressure the manufacturer to make another run, and to make them correctly, or to ship us what we're supposed to have. Our delivery dates to you would slip, probably into July. Worst case, they refuse to fix what's wrong, and we're looking at a variation of the eat-into-our-margins solution above.
To make a very long story short, this is not the first time we've tried to mass-produce something and ship it to thousands of people we've never met. Good customer service is our stock in trade, and we WILL find a way to take care of you, even if it means we don't make money on this endeavor.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
As of this writing (prior to a $115k stretch being unlocked) it's $105, or $108 if you're shipping internationally. Start by pledging at the NCO level, then add $45, or $48.
Yes! Some pledge levels are limited, and you can't change to those if they're full, but any unlimited or un-filled pledge level is available.
Yes and no. We'll run out of the series 1 coins, but we've added series 2 coins. I want to ensure that all backers have the option of acquiring a numbered coin,
If you'd like to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org, my crack team of cold-filtered, firewalled idea scanners will have a look and oh, who am I kidding... If your idea is truly awesome (and better than the big stack of designs I've already got in the queue) Sandra will pass it along to me and I'll consider it. If the idea has strings attached (like your name on the coin, or a royalty check, or some such) then Sandra will probably just delete the message. It's safer for everybody that way.
Once the project closes we'll settle up via email. It's going to be hairy and confusing on MY end, but on your end it'll be pretty simple. We'll email you, you reply and tell us what you want, we'll email you to confirm, and if you need to up your pledge to cover it, we can arrange that.
Are you going to do non-coin rewards? How about a stretch goal for coin cases, or shirts, or tie-tacks?
We're sticking with coins for two reasons:
1) Focus! This isn't a contest to see how much money we can raise. The focus of this project is a specific type of new merchandise. We have already succeeded there. We're maintaining focus in the challenge coin area so that we don't slip up and screw up.
2) Simplicity of mailing: challenge coins ("commemorative medallions") can be shipped MUCH less expensively than just about anything other than a letter or a post-card. The moment I start adding other stuff to the mailer, the international rates go from $8.00 to $40.
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