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Introductions, Updates and a Turkey

Happy Holidays from Wizkids Games! My name is Justin Ziran.  If that sounds familiar, it might, I was managing the WizKids games business in Seattle and through a series of events; I am now with the new Wizkids Games in Hillside, NJ.  Over the next few months we’ll make sure you get to meet the all the new faces and say hello to some of the old ones too.  But for now, all I can say is, I am

glad we have the day off – it took forever to catch the turkey!

I’ve been here only 4 days and already I’m swimming in ideas, tasks and planning everything that needs to be done for 2010.

Before I get to your questions and our updates, I want to set expectations for at least the next few months; as we are getting the next set out the door – we are going to be extremely busy.  Does this mean we are not going to share information with you? Absolutely not. What it means is that we’ll probably do so in larger chunks (like this post). We are listening to what you are saying. As you’ll see, I am going to provide some answers and clarifications to questions that have bubbled up via message boards, retailers and customers.

Keep in mind that the priority since the purchase of WizKids has been to get you new product. We felt that this goal was single most important objective to accomplish in the short term. All other objectives – the web site, message boards, Customer Service and even some hiring decisions, while important, started their respective ramp-up cycles once we knew that Hammer of Thor product was on the boat. Thank you for keeping the faith as we bring these systems online over the coming months.

On to the questions & updates…..

There’s a lot of good news floating around about the performance of the set. I think we established a good foundation to build upon.

Q:  What should we expect for Organized Play (OP) moving forward?

24 months ago we started to talk about a less cumbersome OP program that was easy to administrate, flexible for the storeowner and provided value to the consumer. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to pull it off before we shut down the old WizKids office.  The silver lining to that story is that the current Hammer of Thor OP program is about 80% of what we talked about. We still have some bugs to work out, like how do we minimize the mis-use of the prize kits (selling it). Selling prize kits is clearly not the intended use for the kits.  The spirit of the program is that kits are to be used to support in store game play.  The challenge is that we don’t want to overly burden the administration of the program (both at the store level or corporate level) in an attempt to prevent the mis-use of the prize kits. My suspicion is that with Hammer of Thor we had more events, with more attendees, running at more locations than ever before.  That’s a good outcome and we’re going to try to curb the abuse in a way that continues to support the level of play we’re seeing with Hammer of Thor.  Most importantly – OP should be fun and easy to run.

We recognize that the allocation of the OP kits was a big issue – Demand was high, and the number of kits we manufactured was fixed – we tried to be as fair as possible.  We’re going adjust the program in an effort to avoid this problem moving forward.  We’re also coming up with a solution for stores that ordered a kit and did not receive one.  More to come on this in the future.

Rangnarok Surtur - The Hammer of Thor Brick Figure

Rangnarok Surtur - The Hammer of Thor Brick Figure

Q:  Will Wizkids continue with the store level brick figure?

From the sound of things, this was a big hit. We can’t commit to in-store Brick figure for Brave and the Bold, but we are looking at store level programs like this in the future. Again, the balancing act we have is preventing abuse and keeping the complexity of the controls we put in place low in order to get a great figure into your hands

Q;  Will there be God-Packs in the next set?

No.   Message heard loud and clear.

Q:  What’s with the product allocations?

Demand was incredibly high and print runs were fixed as soon as the sale was made. In aggregate we produced plenty of product. We made the first wave of product available immediately vs. holding the first wave until the total production was complete.  It was a question of having some product available or delaying the release. We opted for availability given the long hiatus.  Additional product is now available for re-orders at Diamond and Alliance.

Q:  What’s up with WizKidsgames.com?

We started from scratch! The marching directions were to make the site blog–based, so that any of us could update it easily (very different from old site). Matt and Mike, our developers, created a pretty kick ass gallery and we’re devising plans on how to get that built out with both new and old content.

Since our site is a work in progress, we’ll be interacting with the fan sites a lot more.

Q:  Will there be a HeroClix Rules Arbitrator?

Absolutely, part of the restart priorities. We are working on a place to send us questions, ask rules questions, etc. That will probably take shape in the form of a combination of a wiki, knowledge base and FAQs, with the Rules arbitrator overseeing.

More news on this shortly. This is a priority for the line and we’re committed to providing official rules support in the very near future.

Q:  Will HeroClix be available in Europe, APAC and Latin America?

Yes, Yes and Yes. Growing HeroClix internationally is one my top priorities.  Setting up distribution takes a while, and add to that the rush to get Hammer of Thor product to market and we ended up with a split release date. Chances are high that we may have a split release date for Brave and the Bold too, but we are doing everything we can to limit the delay between US and international release dates. Once we get into 2010, we should be able to align relases a little better around the globe.

We currently have distribution in the US, Canada, UK (Esdevium), Belgium (Intrafin), Spain (Dirac), Italy (Counter), South America (Devir), Australia (Sports Card Australia), Asia (Asia Gold).

We’ll be adding to this list quickly and I will announce new territories/distributors as we bring them online.

Q:  What going on with HeroClix Classics?

Marvel Classics Battlepack

Marvel Classics Battlepack

The HeroClix Classics line is a retail friendly entry point for the product line. The character selection, price point and release schedule are all geared toward the retail channel.  Buying a randomized, blind booster of a game you are not sure you like is a VERY tough sell to a kid (or parent) not familiar with HeroClix. Conversely, seeing awesome Clix figs right in your hand entices new player to try the product. The Classics line is our attempt to expand our audience.

Q:  Can you tell us about the the next few releases?

Thor’s Mighty Chariot – gets pulled into hobby stores by a pair of Asgardian goats on January 13th

The Brave and the Bold will hit shelves in March 2010 – The Duo sculpts look really good

The new DC Starter hits in May 2010 – Our most colorful take on a starter to date

Our 14th Marvel release will street in June 2010

Q:  Do you have plans for Pirates of the Cursed Seas?

Pirates is a very valuable part of the portfolio of product lines NECA purchased. We are considering new configurations on the Pirates line and will keep you in the know as to how that is progressing. I don’t expect any major announcements until mid-2010 but long-term, the Pirates line is part of our plans.

Q:  Do you plan on supporting the Action Clix line?

Short answer: Yes!  Long answer:  RELOAD!

Q:  Will there be any more Horror Clix releases?

Looking at options in terms of licenses and our approach on game compatibility. More news in 2010

Q:  Any plans for new games?

NECA’s portfolio is a treasure chest of gaming goodness. Expect to see new games ranging from Clix minis, to board games, to mass market games and even some hybrids (Board games that use minis) in the future. There is one that has the whole office buzzing but I will leave that news for another day.

And one last thing…we caught the turkey. Here it is! Print and play!

Oh, all right. Another last thing: Thanksgiving Trivia: What does Chicken + Duck + Turkey + Thor’s mighty lightning equal? Check our Facebook group later today to find out (if Volstagg hasn’t made it there first).

-Justin

Turkey Card

©2012 NECA/WizKids LLC. All rights reserved. The marks and logos for Mage Knight, Pirates of the Spanish Main, Quarriors, HeroClix, Shuffling the Deck, Dice Building Game, Combat Dial, TabApp, and WizKids are trademarks of NECA/WizKids LLC. All other trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
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