Last Minute Notice: We will be using the BackerKit system for surveys and Add Ons, but Kickstarter also has a native survey. You need only answer one as far as we're concerned, though I think Kickstarter tends to keep bugging you until you answer its survey, which is something we don't have control over. We use BackerKit because they have a very useful "shop" sort of system where you can pick your Add On items, while Kickstarter has nothing comparable. That BackerKit system will also be open to anyone who found this project a bit later than the deadline, as it allows "Preorders" to jump into the project and pick up some items, at least while we have it open for a couple of weeks. That Preorder shop will be over at the following link, and it's currently under construction. It should be ready a few days after the campaign closes; we will post an update about it.
This is also where you'll see the Goblin Brain dice, a mid-project Add On that we're splicing in, available in sets of 2, 5 or 6, using mixed colors or one of the two.
What are Tinker Bits IV?
Tinker Bits are steampunk-themed game accessories for use in a variety of games. We have several projects in mind, and we're hoping to offer a lot of different bits to make your games more fun! This time, we're riding the rails of the Tinker world with the Trouble on the Tracks Metal Meeples, including the Bandit, Engineer, Engine and Track designs! The Engine works well with Ticket to Ride games, and the Track works well with Catan, especially, and any of these can work with something like Monopoly, but these can be used just about anywhere you might want a great little shiny sculpture.
Thanks to the support of a lot of great people, we have been able to make four previous batches of steampunk meeples (including the fairies), playing cards, a few different styles of dice and a bunch of coins and chips to play a variety of games with. Thank you if you're coming back to see our new project, and welcome to the family if you're seeing these for the first time!
Photos here are of our prototypes, and more photos can be found over on our Pinterest page: Tinker Train Bits
Meeples are iconic in the tabletop gaming world. They have many uses and are great little tactile toys. Giving them a Tinkerish steampunk twist has been fun so far, and there is a lot of design space to, well, tinker in. They started in Carcassonne, but meeples can find a home almost anywhere as player pawns, worker markers, special pieces like the Catan Robbers, which is perfect for the new Bandit design, or even just decorations.
As for offering them in metal, well, that's just one of the things that we enjoy. There's just something nice about the durable, heavy, solid feel of metal game components, and they bring a certain panache to the table. It's not necessary for them to be metal to be playable, and yes, they are more costly than wood or plastic, but we think it's worth it.
So far, we don't have the ability to make these meeples on demand in our own meager facilities, so we need to have another place do the production for us. Would that we had a metal, plastic and woodworking shop, but for now, I design them, and someone else puts them together. We have to put together a big enough order to make it worth the factory's time, though.
That's where crowdfunding comes in, and Kickstarter has been good to us so far, both as backers and as creators. We have been able to pay for the molds and samples in the photos here via proceeds from previous campaigns, but we can't pay for a production run out of pocket. If we can get enough interested parties together, we can get a batch of these made and sent out. That's the beauty of Kickstarter; making something happen together that just won't happen otherwise.
We're trying to keep the tiers simpler than we have done in the past, with most of the complexity coming from your survey choices after the campaign closes. Mostly, you'll be picking which model or models (of the four) you want, and choose something to do with the colors. We have 8 colors available, Antiqued Brass, Brass, Antiqued Copper, Copper, Antiqued Silver, Silver, Black Nickel and Misty Gold. Technically, all of these have a zinc alloy core and are plated with the different metals, a bit like a U.S. penny, with its zinc core and copper sheath.
You may also get multiples, say, two "Brakeman" sets, by adding in the base pledge value when you pledge on that tier. For example, pledge on the Brakeman tier, but enter $24 for your amount, and that will get you two Brakeman sets, or $36 for three sets, and so on. We'll sort out exactly what you're getting in the surveys at the end of the campaign. You can mix and match, too, say a Fireman and a Flagman, and again, we'll sort it out in the surveys.
There are two special game-based tiers: Track Planner for a one-player set of Track models for Settlers of Catan (or Catan), and Ticket Keeper for a one-player set of Engines for Ticket to Ride.
-----Special Note: We're calling this project "EU Friendly".
I've seen a few different takes on what that means, but to us, it means we'll be sending packages that are large enough (smaller packages don't run into problems) to a shipping company in the EU, who will then send them out to any of you in the EU. This should let us pay the VAT and avoid some customs quirks, meaning you have less to deal with and stress about. It winds up costing us a bit more than just sending them ourselves, but it cuts down the trouble and cost that you might have to deal with if the delivery systems ding you with extra fees.
Also, if you're outside of the U.S. and would like to pick up three or more Add Ons or multiple copies of any given pledge, please get in touch with me via private message and we'll make sure that the shipping costs are sorted out. I've tried to sort it out as well as I can, but sometimes the prebaked systems here at Kickstarter and in BackerKit are a bit of a sledgehammer approach, and it's possible we can save you money on shipping.
What are the specifics?
These meeples will be made in China out of a zinc alloy, and plated with various metals to give them a dash of color.
The humanoids (Bandit and Engineer) are about 16mm wide, 10mm thick and 18mm tall, just a tiny bit thicker and a little bit taller than standard meeples and standard 16mm six-sided dice. They weigh 11 grams, about as much as two and a half 16mm standard plastic six-sided dice. The Engine is a bit longer nose-to-tail and shorter in height, but also 10mm thick, a bit thicker than Ticket to Ride train cars, but they still work on that game's board. The Track is a little longer than the Engine, but only 2.5mm thick. They aren't quite the same as a Catan road piece, being almost twice as wide and half as tall but they can still fit in the road spaces. (And yes, we are working on designs for the City and Settlement pieces, but we have to iron those out a bit still. Any profit we can make here will also make those more likely.)
Since these bits have metallic finishes, their look does change a bit more than paint when lighting situations change, but we've tried to get a good spread of colors that can be distinguished from each other. They also have front and back designs, for a little extra flair (except the Track, which gets to have a more intricate layered design instead).
When can we expect them?
After the campaign finishes, there is a 21-day waiting period before we receive the funding, and there's some time that we'll need to process the surveys that you'll fill out a week or so after the campaign. After that we can place the order. We've been told that with the molds finished, production will take 25 days, and shipping them across the ocean and through customs usually takes another couple of weeks. Sometimes things take a bit longer during production, but the factory was able to crank out the prototypes very quickly and get them to us quickly via DHL.
Bigger production runs can run into issues, of course, but the factory has done great work so far, and we have every reason to believe they will do well for us again. The molds are done for these, so we're anticipating a fairly quick turnaround for production, once we sort out how many we need to order and get them paid for.
We're estimating that we will get them in late September or early October, and then we will ship them out as quickly as we can. International shipping will naturally take longer to receive.
Our shipping priority uses two rules:
1. International first
2. Bigger first
We'll get the international (non-U.S.) orders together first to get things with the third party shippers in order, then we'll work on the rest, biggest orders first. In practice, this usually means that once we get them to our base, it takes a few weeks to get everything sent out to everyone.
What about those other Tinker... things?
We do have some leftovers from our prior projects. Some are listed below in the infographic, and those are more or less unlimited as we have hundreds of decks and can reorder the other items if we need to. Other items from past campaigns are limited to stock on hand since our supply chains broke, and we will make them available in BackerKit after the campaign. We use their services to keep our data together and allow for things like these "add on" items that are tangential to the main campaign. These limited"Add On" items are first come, first serve, once the BackerKit surveys come out.
You can pledge here for them (for example, by putting in $18 when you pledge for a Flagman for $8, planning on adding a deck of the Tinker playing cards for an additional $10) and then tell us what you're looking for in the surveys, or you can pick up some items in the BackerKit system later.
The cost numbers can get a little squirrely when it comes to international shipping combined with Add On items, and if you pick up more than a couple of Add On items, we can usually get you a better deal on shipping, so please let us know as soon as possible if you're outside of the U.S. and have a shopping list in mind. We'll sort out your numbers.
Now we tell as many people as we can and hope that you spread the word too! We've tried to get the word out, but we can only reach so far. If we're going to get a batch of these made, it's going to be largely because you like what you see and want to tell others. Even if you don't decide to back the project yourself, please let other people who might be interested know about these little guys. We greatly appreciate any buzz that you can generate!
We're over on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, if you have a toehold in any of those sites, and we'd love to hear your thoughts here or there. They are also great places to spread the word if you have a moment!
Thank you all for stopping by and taking a look at out Tinker Bits IV, Trouble on the Tracks! We would love to make these a reality and get them sent out to you!
- Tesh -
Risks and challenges
The molds have already been completed. The meeples will be shipped from overseas, which entails some risk, but it is minimal. Once I get the meeples and the packaging, I'll need a bit of time to get everything prepped and sent, and human error might occur, but I'm careful and thorough, and I'll do as much as I can as soon as I can. There could always be troubles once the meeples are en route at any phase of their journey, but again, those would be tied to random, unforeseeable problems.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)