Sunday, April 17, 2011

Welllll.. maybe not all of them :(

{ This space for rent!}
We'll have a new header up soon!

I had an epiphany over to visit last night.

This one had a name: Bill Burt, the fellow doing our layouts.

Bill came by (bum leg and all) to visit and shoot the breeze. And he talked with me about some alarm bells that went off when he saw the Battlemaster as one of the proposed TRO ‘Mechs to be sculpted in the near future. Some of you may be familiar with him as Sounguru on the forums and elsewhere as the Fat Guy. You've seen his sig:

"When all else fails, call out the Fat Guy."

Well, my common sense was obviously failing, so this was Good Advice. And Bill gave me some additional advice during the four hours we smoked and talked.

As a result, I have decided not to support making miniatures of what I call the Named BattleMechs based on the art found in the TRO: 3063.

What does this mean? It means anyone who decides on their own to sculpt a so-called “Named ‘Mech’” does *not* have my permission to base it on my commissioned artwork, nor do they have permission to associate such a miniature with TRO:3063 - or me.

Before you get totally bummed, let me explain our position.

A Tricky Position

The Named 'Mechs are machines which have names belonging to Catalyst Game Labs - Jenner, Champion, Battlemaster, Bandersnatch, etc. Some of our own TRO art has much of the look and feel of existing company images and, by extension, the Iron Wind Metals miniatures. That was intended. In the past, the company has turned a benign eye on such efforts by its fanbase. But those efforts almost universally consist of art and text accompanied by a carefully worded disclaimer. Here is mine, well in advance:

The TRO:3063 is NOT an official CGL publication. It has the look and feel of one, but it is not. It is not for sale. No one will profit from its release. In fact, I will be in the hole for five grand by the time it is done.

If we publish and are not slapped with an immediate Cease and Desist letter, that is because the folks in charge have been gracious enough to permit us the use of their names and ideas as part of fan-produced material. Not for sale, but to be given away freely to all fans of the game.

Not Crossing The Line

Producing the art of the Named ‘Mechs in our fan TRO as miniatures for sale anywhere would cross a line I very much do not want to cross either before the release of the TRO - or after. The folks making the miniatures would almost certainly get a Cease and Desist letter, as they're essentially using intellectual property which is not theirs to make a profit for someone besides CGL or IWM. And the connection would be the TRO: 3063. We would get dragged into it and I do not want that to happen. Not now, not ever.

It is not just an issue of names, either. Some have suggested we play cute and list the mini as something else and so perhaps get away with it. Not so. The look and feel of a fan-produced miniature sold for profit that is based on fan-commissioned art that is based on the look and feel of official company art is still infringing. It takes money from the pockets of the companies producing the originals and food from the tables of the folks making those products.

My son’s design – the Nimravus – is based on the company’s own Lynx. It won’t become a miniature with my permission or knowledge because the art is very close in appearance to the parent design. This should not be a problem for most of you. Little John played for two years with a kit-bashed Lynx and he was content. I encourage the rest of you to do the same. It doesn’t matter how much I’d like to see the new Champion as a miniature. I would – a lot. But I won’t do it. I won’t assist those who do.

The Exceptions...

If a particular piece of art from the TRO:3063 using the name of a Named 'Mech looks little or nothing like the original company art (and there are several of those), artists are free to make a miniature based on that art. (This is why I changed the header piece, by the way... Shane got permission from me several months back to use the art of our Champion II.)

Please do NOT use the company name.

Please do NOT associate it with the TRO: 3063.

Otherwise, *I* have no objections. (Of course, others may. LTBB and YMMV.)

Re-establishing My Position

As I have stated many times over the course of four years on this blog, I do not want to violate Topps or CGL intellectual property rights. I do not want to take any business away from them, nor be associated with anyone who does so in an illegal manner. It only makes sense - if these companies can't make a dollar selling BT minis, they go under and that is bad for everyone. This is their livelihood. They are not going to let anyone infringe in a way that affects their bottom line, and I for one do not intend to try.

Machines abound in the TRO which are our own design. There is no shortage of 'Mechs and vehicles to model, so they will go ahead as scheduled. The Privateer is one of those. The Churchill Mk XX is another.

My Sincerest Apology

I am sorry, but the production of a Centurion or Catapult miniature based on the art in the TRO: 3063 is not legally possible at this time. I will not permit it unless I get permission from the owners of the license, and that is not likely to happen for reasons already mentioned. I am sorry for those of you who are disappointed – hell, I’m disappointed. But not very disappointed. And I should have realized this was the situation before I posted the last blog entry. You will notice the changes I made to that post already.

This business with the miniatures was not a stunt to get new donations. Believe me. If I had wanted to get more money from the PayPal button, I would have been one shilling SOB for the past four years: this project has at times put me in tough financial straits. However, I can understand if some of the more recent donors feel rooked. It will be hard, but if those of you who donated via the PayPal button in order to see a particular Named ‘Mech produced feel cheated, I will refund your donation. It will take time, as I am still in the process of paying for new art. But I will do it if you ask.

Meanwhile, we have been making progress on the Privateer minis. Here are the prototypes.

A Capellan PV-2L. We'll spruce up the pose - or you can make one of your own!

The current PV-1K - the Dragon's choice for outfitting Dispossessed mercenaries.

Current Progress

Aside from the splash the miniatures made, we have been busy here.

- Stephen Huda finished the Werefox line of AFVs. The last two, the Martel and the Charlemagne, are done. Excellent work, Stephen! I believe our sculptor, Dorian Sherratt, is taking a stab at making miniatures of the entire series.

- Karl Olsen is busy at work on the backgrounds of several machines that sorely need it. What you see here is a prototype only – we plan to clean up the art a bit before presenting it.

- Matthew Plog has been kind enough to work a commission for our TRO. The Quiang-ton will be ready in a couple of weeks.

- Paul Skowronek has finished up the last of the editing, bar one – the Mastodon. I sent it off to him yesterday. I am combing through, reading and deciding which need more Notables or Deployment information, as well as addressing the issues Paul found with the Periphery Vehicles.

Well, that is all for now. Have to get going, pay some bills, wash the clothes, vacuum and like that.

Thanks for stopping by.



Klat said...

Well drat! :(

Them's the breaks I suppose.

TBH all I care about is the Privateers getting minis. The Bandersnatch is unfortunate but I'm not about to advocate putting this project in danger for a pretty mini. If you're concerned about my feelings in regard to the Bandersnatch, please don't be. If the donated money is still available then I'd love to see it go to something like the Death Incarnate. If however, the money donated for the Bandersnatch is not available to be placed on another mini then please consider it a general donation. No hard feelings.

A couple questions:

1.) Does this mean the JR-7X is getting yanked?

2.) Does this also mean the Argus is no more?

I'm assuming yes to both but I thought I'd ask.

Regards, Klat

Steven Satak said...

Thanks for your understanding. As to the JR7-X, its looks are most unlike the company design that inspired it and we are not using the original's name to identify it, so it stays.

Unfortunately, despite it being my son's design, the Argus is both a Named 'Mech and looks a lot like the original which inspired it. So no, it will not come out as a miniature unless I get specific permission to do so from Catalyst Games.


Steven Satak said...

We are hammering out the Privateers as I speak. I will update the blog with images of these two when Bill, Dorian and I are satisfied with their look.


Jim said...

Like I said in the last post, though bummed, I support your decision and think it's the morally right thing to do. I would love love love for the company to give the go ahead to make minis...heck, even if there was some agreement made to have them produce them...(I don't know what that would entail...I know I may be dreaming) But yeah, keep it safe and let's not jeopardize the project for the sake of cool minis - there are other great choices, and I agree with your reasoning whole-heartedly.

And appreciate the Werefox spread. It's cool to see the variants all together.

Steven Satak said...

Thanks Jim. Feel free to leave your list of preferred minis here.


Klat said...

Looks like I've some Privateers and JR-7Xs in my future. I'm thrilled to see the renders BTW. Also, I hate to bring it up again but is there any chance of the Death Incarnate getting put on the list? There's just something fun about mechs with death's head motifs...

I'm seriously giddy over the Privateers :)

A big thanks to both Steve and Dorian.

Regards, Klat

Steven Satak said...

I can ask. It is a one-off, something not normally done with the TRO but interesting because it hails from the Rim Collection, specifically the recently re-discovered Hunter's Paradise.

It is a former Solaris machine and is suited to the rather hostile environment of HP. It shoot lasers from its *eyes*.

The Privateers are done. I hope you like assembling models.

Klat said...

Privateer renders = win

I'm shooting for a lance of PV-1Ks and a lance of JR7-Xs. Then some PV-2Ls later when the hobby budget allows it.

As for assembly, after building a few WHM-8Ds and a MAD-5L (and all I got was this nervous twitch) I figure I can handle about anything. Does regular model glue work alright on the White Detail material? Will zip-kicker have any detrimental effects? I've never worked with photo-polymers before so this is new to me.

What other mechs would the Privateers play well with? Granted the PV-1K and PV-2L look like they would play rather differently...

And I simply must ask; what's next?

Regards, Klat

Steven Satak said...

I have just received notice that Shapeways is shipping my minis, so I will answer that when I get my own. Zip-kicker probably won't do anything, but I hesitate to use it as it forces a set and sometimes produces a weak joint.

Bill recommends Gorilla brand super glue. He says the stuff has a higher concentration of the active bonder, I think. Look it up, but he swears it performs better than Zap-a-Gap, which has always been my preferred glue.

If I can, I will pin mine. Old habit, adds strength to the model and doesn't take very long with plastic.

I believe Dorian is nosing around the Werefox series of tanks at the moment. Got a render or two rattling around here in a folder, but nothing I care to show at present.

Do you have the stats for the Privateers?


Klat said...

I have the stats for the Privateers. I can't wait to get them on the table. Checking my current stats for the PV-1K I get everything spot on. I'm getting some different (BV) numbers on the PV-2L, I'll check my calculation and send you an e-mail.

BTW Zap-a-Gap is my goto glue as well :p I'll give the Gorilla Glue a try though, thanks.

On a somewhat different topic what other mechs are available to mercs that can go to mini format?

Regards, Klat

Jim said...

Here's my list again -

Horatio - bridge (like its uniqueness)
Mastadon - mineclear (Same reason)

Liked these too but it's already a big list...
Panzer X
Ocelot II

And I almost put the Death Incarnate too..It is a nasty looking little mech. Kinda niche, but maybe that's a good reason to make a mini. I'd at least buy one. =)

Kyle Bentley said...

That's too bad, the Champion II was probably my favorite mech to have a miniature made of. Is there a possibility of getting them sculpted but with a different name? A lot of them don't look a lot like the original model.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait till we get reviews on the actual quality of the minis.

Boy those Privateers are exspensive!


Steven Satak said...


Just talked with Shane over at Shapeways. I gave him permission to use our image many months ago. My knee-jerk reaction was in response to the name connection, but as the Guardian II, it is actually good to go. I am going to make up a new header. It is one of the few machines which can be renamed with no problems. It looks nothing like existing company art.

And the mini is excellent!

Jim said...

If I missed it forgive me...

Black or white they hold paint any differently or any big differences between them other than what one would expect from black vs white primer coats on a metal mini?

Just trying to decide which ones to buy since I probably don't have cash for each of each. =)

Eriance said...

The many points you've brought up, about copyright infringement, is precisely why I have made a conscious effort to change my style, the names, and the general feel of my newer mech designs. It is also why I have refused to draw mechs that are either derived from, or are variants of existing CGL material. I certainly don't intend to infringe of CGL's bottom line, nor do I want them to get in the way of mine. I believe going the for the more Japanese-looking style will automatically set my stuff apart, preventing future legal bullcrap.

If for some reason, that my existing, older mechs will cause you legal issues; say you needed to change a mech's name and design, I'd be happy to replace it free of charge. It's is likely I already have the sketch of most of the older ones redone, sitting inside my "junk" box waiting for someone to use it. I've also a number of original designs, also sitting in the said box. If you need filler material, just let me know. :)

I've just sent you an e-mail with a couple of tank sketches, that I'm willing to throw in for free if you need them, given that no major changes are needed to their designs. I won't be able to ink them until summer vacation, though. :/

Steven Satak said...

@Jim: I ordered three. Why don't you wait until I get them so I can tell you? Bill sez we should use Krylon Fusion as a primer, as it will bond with the plastic. He gets two minis to experiment on, so it should be about a week.

@Eriance: I appreciate the offer and will certainly take you up on the tanks. However, I do want you and everyone to know that if there are any similarities between our art and that of the company, it is because that is what I requested. Styling cues and all that.

Steven Satak said...

@Klat: Not sure what you mean by 'mercenary 'Mechs. The JR7-X, the Nimravus, the Argus and the BattleHamster are all in the Mercenary Section of the TRO. However, they are samples of what is out there in the way of customized machines that are one-offs or occasionally good enough to warrant limited production.

Any 'Mech can be a Merc. It's just that House Kurita and Liao, for reasons of their own, have decided to produce limited runs of machines which feature the qualities they require of most Mercenary companies. Rather than hope a merc outfit has the necessary equipment to successfully complete a mission, these machines are essentially for lease. Very rarely (and in the case of the Draconis Combine, never) are they actually sold to the merc in question - although the Capellans are using them as rewards to the other members of their Triple Alliance with the Taurians and the Canopians.

Jim said...

Steve - no issues with waiting to see what you and Bill discover. I have a house full of boxes to unpack anyway so I probably don't need another distraction. =)

And Eriance - that's an awesome move mate Seriously, I've praised your work before, but it combines the BT and Japanese elements I love and you just make some sick designs. They need to make minis (as able) of your work for the Uragan. I left it off before since I figure mechs are the focus for the first mini runs, but if there's time/interest later...add it in, or pretty much anything else you've drawn that won't get anyone in hot water. (With artist's permission of course.) =)

And, having finally listened to the musical selections all the way through I can say, good stuff.

Steven Satak said...


Depends on our sculptor's skill and the demand for a particular piece. Aero is played - but not by me. I would love to play a game where it featured, but so far there has been only one in the past eight years and I missed it.

Eric's work is indeed good, but it gives sculptors fits (and forces them to learn new tricks). That said, his is 60% of the work here, so there is a pretty good chance you will see more of his stuff soon.

Eriance said...

It's also important to remember that just because I drew something, doesn't mean it will actually work out in 3D/sculpture. The minds eye has the tendency to play tricks on the artist, making him think impossible forms are possible. My older drawings shows lots of these impossible shapes. :P

Klat said...

I consider a merc mech to be any unit wherein the fluff states that it is found in merc units. If I don't see that I tend to assume that it is a state only unit. Obviously a degree of common sense is necessary as well. With the release of the (much argued over, despite it being a beta) MUL it appears that even the Lyrans won't sell everything to soldiers for hire.

I personally prefer the idea of mercs being a "run what ya brung" faction but that doesn't fly with some folks; to that end I like to check the fluff before I add a unit to my merc's shopping list.

Also, glad to hear that some units will still be able to become minis.

Regards, Klat

Klat said...

So, "Frosted Ultra Detail" is now available from shapeways. Any word on how this will affect the currently available minis? I notice that the PV-1K is available in FUD but I didn't see the others using it as an option when I was on last. Will any existing minis be altered to take advantage of this material? Also, how great is the improvement in the level of detail on current designs considering they were probably designed to "White\Black Detail" specs?

In other news I tried a fun little lance using a PV-1K and two JR7-Xs along with a WFT-1. It was all kinds of nasty and created plenty of mayhem. IMHO the JR7-X and PV-1K are a lot of fun.

Regards, Klat

Steven Satak said...

I would be very interested to see a more detailed report on that 'Mayhem'. Can you give information on the conditions, the opposition, how you ran them and the outcome?

Doug said...

Does CGL even know you are out here doing this project?

...and you missed your calling as a DJ.

Steven Satak said...

Who the heck knows? I assume one of their loyal number is checking in every so often. A few of my artists got the nod from the CGL art director - he might have seen the work here, and maybe not. It's not like Eriance is a stranger over on dA. He made a name for himself on the forums well before I sent his first commission.

Not terribly important, though. I mean, what would you have them do? Or say? They are remarkably close-mouthed about what they are doing regarding anything that is their own business (and good for them, I say). I suppose they regard efforts like the TRO: 3063 as 'off limits' so that no one can stand up and say 'hey, you stole my idea!' later on.

Which makes sense, really.

FUD is looking to be pretty groovy stuff, allowing for thinner walls and much more detail. However, it is *not* cheap - a Privateer in high detail black is $27, and $39 in FUD. Yowza.

Dorian Sherratt said...

The FUD is looking to be very promising, at least from my point of view.

The PV-1K was available yesterday in the FUD material so I could order one to have a look at the difference between it and the normal WD along with a couple of other models that are not publicly available,yet. I had intended to add the option for both FD and FUD to all the models, but unfortunately life got in the way. However, as of now, they are now available in those materials.

The higher detail level will, I hope, give a lot more options in the future. One problem I've encountered in the past is with VTOL units, this new material and its thinner minimum wall thickness may make them easier to produce accurately. It should also help with certain design aspects of other models as well. But until we can actually see the end results in hand as it were I cannot say for sure, but I have high hopes for both FD and UFD.

Only time will tell.

Klat said...

Re: Mayhem

I really wish I'd taken notes now... After consulting with the other player here's what I can tell you. Please keep in mind that I had some very good\lucky rolls while the OpFor did not:

I was using the previously mentioned PV-1K, WFT-1 and two JR7-Xs. Everyone in my lance was a 3/4 pilot. The OpFor was a lance consisting of a VR5-R, a UZL-2S and two WLF-2s. As I remember the skills of the OpFor took some adjustment to get the BV close enough to mine which was around 7K.

We played on a (too) large tabletop with broken terrain distributed along both edges and built up terrain in the center, as I remember we commented that the table top looked like parts of Utah.

I attempted a denied flank maneuver along my right side with the intent of bypassing the built up center and aborted it after the OpFor made it clear they wouldn't play that game; drilling toward the center where I was afraid the terrain would be a problem for the JR7-Xs. Once the two sides met the two JR7-Xs were able to use their speed to get past the center and make a MASC run behind the VR5-R. I learned that the MASC on the JR7-X is most useful for turning as it allows you to keep your TMM at +4 while bringing the mech about face. Forced into a scenario where a back stab was all but inevitable (the PV-1K had jumped into position ontop of the terrain where it had LoS) the VR5-R player seemed to think that MRMs couldn't hit him if he ran and made straight for the PV-1K, just as predicted the MRMs had difficulty hitting but the PV-1K and VR5-R slugged it out. After that the JR7-Xs moved up close to the VR5-R and it turned around only to fail to do much of anything and get its ammo critted from behind by the PV-1K. The UZL-2S was a pain for the JR7-Xs, hitting a leg and an arm on one of them while they went after the VR5-R. I ran both JR7-Xs into its minimum range on either side when it tried to advance and it died badly when the MRMs connected nicely. From then on the WLF-2s kept playing with the JR7-Xs while the PV-1K tried and failed to get a shot. During that time I had a bad run with dice a couple times that resulted in no hits against one WLF-2 and a nearly immobile JR7-X thanks to a lucky shot to the leg previously damaged by the UZL-2S. One of the JR7-Xs survived despite a few hits from the OpFor to kill a WLF-2 that fell over but the immobile one (that the UZL-2S had smacked around) bought the farm when the other WLF-2 got in behind it.

The WFT-1 got separated from the lance when I gave up on holding the right flank and I tried to move it up the middle. It died at the hands of the two WLF-2s but did get a nice TAC on the gyro of one before getting slaughtered. That same WLF-2 was the one that fell over and died to a JR7-X.

The PV-1K really needs to be used aggressively to work; you can't be afraid of a little heat. I really like the sense of risk with it, every time you fire you know it's either going to go really well or really... Anyway I think in an open field engagement the VR5-R would've gotten chewed up by the PV-1K at range and died badly up close if it couldn't keep its TMMs up. The PV-1K works well when the dice like you and the dice liked me this time. They also liked me when the PV-1K curb stomped the last WLF-2 with an alpha strike while the remaining JR7-X came up behind it.

That's what I can remember. JR7-Xs work great in pairs and can be used like a poor man's Solitaire; delivering quick flanking attacks that are nasty when they hit. The JR7-X is great for ganging up on isolated targets and quickly bringing them down. The PV-1K is really flexible as long as you aren't afraid taking risks.

Regards, Klat.

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