Prelude to war
Like many of us, I had had a break from wargaming and then returned after a few years. Life had gotten in the way and wargaming was well and truly on a hiatus.
I was not happy in job I wanted to go way back to something I enjoyed. Life is for living after all.
I had seen some 6mm cold war tanks in a trade display at a show in Newark about 6 years previously and I just loved the smallness of it. How many units you could have. The much more realistic sized forces. My enthusiasm wasn't supported amongst my mates. I even offered to buy them some but my then-current wargaming chums were having none of it!
My previous endeavours were mostly 20mm, now looking battle weary and tired in a dozen A4 foolscap boxes. The war chest was empty and I needed funds. I started e-baying them off but there were bloody loads of it and I gave up halfway through and I started giving it away...
I purchased a few packs from here and there. Unimpressed with some and well impressed with others. I began to paint. Tricky at first, frustrating even. Having been only a mediocre painter in 20mm and moving more towards 28mm whilst getting some tips and help, I'd stopped wargaming. Then something clicked! I could do it!
It usually took me around 90 mins to paint a 28mm figure. I finished my first strip of four figures in 15 mins! A brown wash and viola! Magic!
I constantly searched the internet for 6mm. Reviews, images, painting guides... Whatever I could devour. There was very little around in 2016. I whinged about this on a Facebook group... Others lamented that wouldn't it be wonderful if there was a place you could find lots of 6mm?!
"Be the change you want to see." Erroneously said Gandhi... You cant be change. Change is a verb. It's like saying "be running". However, it did still resound. "Ill shall start a YouTube channel reviewing 6mm!" I said stupidly. Camera phone in hand and with no script, single takes, no editing... 2D6 Wargaming was born. I tried not to review anything I didn't like. I didn't think it cricket to smash some tiny cottage industry with a terrible review. Just the facts and some positives.
I'd always been into writing rules but never really got anything more than some notes. The last and most complete effort was for a 28mm African irregular skirmish game that never saw the light of day. Having a lot of time on my hands I picked a period and start writing something.
I wrote my first draft of Banzai: Age of the Country at War" and with a little luck and some help from others published it. I made a whole load of errors and mistakes and hastily drafted the 2nd edition. Then realised I'd still left a load of errors in and hastily drafted the 3rd Edition... Which seemed to fix most things.
I began working on another set of rules this time for World War 2. Then the itch began. Models... Miniatures... "Could I have them produced?" I thought. "No, that's absurd. It'll cost a fortune. Who will do the models? Who will do the moulds? How do you even do that? No, no. That's not for me."
It wouldn't go away. No ointment or balm could soothe it. Found my self-writing emails and messages to people, "Can you do this?", "Would you make this?". "A few bits wouldn't hurt, would they? I could always sell them on if it didn't work out..."
I woke up one morning after too many sherbet lemons. I'd done it. I'd commissioned work. "Well, it is only a few hundred quid... In the scheme of things. At least I've tried it." I thought.
It was a disaster. I chosen a deacon portee, no one else seemed to make one. The fool had scaled the model from the height of the cab instead of the height of the turret on top! It had already been printed and gone off for a master mould and I had samples by the time I realised. The arse wanted more money to fix it. Unbelievable. The dream was over and the nightmare had begun!
However, I am stubborn! No, what I mean is... I have great tenacity!
Very luckily, I was soon in touch with a much more reasonable and talented person to help fix the blunder and make new tanks and after several months we prevailed.
I had 6 products ready for market. It was 2018. The business model was to have the models made and distributed only by wholesale to other businesses. I wouldn't need a shop or to do too much. I'd simply contract out my casting and package up and send on to others to sell. "What a stupid idea?"
Although, it must be stressed this method was only devised so I could keep doing my day job. It definitely wasn't due to the fear of learning new skills or the immense capital costs... well maybe a little.
I sent samples out to interested parties and they were well recieved. Orders were placed. It was happening. Until it wasn't.
I was the new kid on the block. Untested and new. Customers were wary. None of my stockists had real online shops at the start although some did later. So they only appeared at shows. They were always well received but didn't seem to sell well. There was no brand awareness. Something difficult to garner in the wargaming community. News travels slowly and people are very brand loyal. "Who was this mysterious brand and how did it create such fine wares?!" Someone in the crowd said. "It must be voodoo magic!" Said another. "Don't buy it or you will turn into a newt." Said an old crone.
I started releasing new products but the stockists couldn't keep up. They were not shifting enough units to warrant spending more. It is a fair reason and its logical but business is not that logical. You have to continuously double down on your own gambit. You have to go without. You have to make sacrifices to the great beast that only hungers for more! You even have to save money by cutting your own hair which I've actually got rather good at if you ignore the bit at the back. Not that I care, I cant see that bit.
Funds were starting to dwindle. I had no choice. Stagnate or open my shop.
Far from ideal. I now had a lot more work to do and I was also competing against myself through the stockists. There was confusion as to who owned the range and where the official shop and media pages were... It was all my fault. It was not a great start and took some time to correct.
"Just a few more of these or those... Then it will take off..." I thought. I poured every spare penny in. I worked overtime to get more. "Grow the range and it will be ok." I told myself. Nothing. Just dribs and drabs.
Another brainwave appeared. Diversify! The Dark Ages range was born... My World War 2 fans were not impressed. It was a flop. Fantastic range, great models but people perceive Vikings and Anglo-Saxons as some 28mm skirmish affair. Not the grand armies of 6mm. (They are wrong by the way.) Hot on the heals of that were the Normans, still at time of writing (2022) waiting for their production moulds to be done.
World War 2 continued, in the 2D6 ranges I mean...
"Another diversion, that will do the trick!" I said. "If it doesnt work the first time, try it again! After all, thats how they won World War 1." I said to myself.
Feudal Japan this time, after all I had the ruleset, why not have the figures? This time I used the crowd funding platform Kickstarter. It was a hit! "Oh shit, its a hit! How am I going to pack all these orders?" I was still having stuff contract casted at this time. huge sacks of models arrived and ended up all over my home. It was a great undertaking and the workforce, of one, worked tirelessly to get it all out on time.
I learned a lot but I also made a loss! A loss on the loss of it all so far. Not because I've mispriced things, not just because of the services I use. It's because the capital costs eat all the profits and then the beast is still hungry for more!
What it cost
The capital costs of making models, setting up the production are massive. Hats off to the big boys with colossal ranges. Someone's spent a pretty penny to get there. The growth costs are amazing and I've not spared the shekels!
The tax year in England is the 6th of April the 5th of April. Yes, it is confusing but my point is, I've just done my tax return... With the current loss, I am running 2D6 Wargaming at, you could buy a brand new car! So if your thinking of following in my footsteps you better damn well have a lot of money to burn! To the rest of you, please pick up a pack of something to help me out!
If you have never had any 2D6 models in your hand, you are missing out! Get some! Having the Joy of Six postponed on me twice has been a massive blow. But I really hope to go in 2022.
So what originally started as a YouTube 6mm exclusive review channel is now a sole trader company producing models and rules. With hundreds of tin moulds and scores of resin moulds and a great team around me that all have their part to play.
This is what I've brought together, for you. The 6mm Wargaming community.
Our 2D6 Wargaming team
Owner, caster & mould maker