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Friday, November 14, 2014

Kickstarter - Center Stage Miniatures - Tome of Horrors Complete - 28mm Heroic Scale Miniatures - Looks Like Backers Are Royally F@cked

I've been lucky (or unlucky enough) to have some inside info from multiple sources about the clusterfuck that is Center Stage Miniatures and their various Kickstarters. Regretfully, I can't reveal sources or actual numbers (such is the price one pays to actually know such guarded info) but I can draw conclusions that are based on such info:

First - backers are fucked. I think that part is obvious, but let me tell you, they are royally fucked (and don't expect a courtesy reach around either.) At least the backers of the various Nystul Kickstarters have an outside chance of getting relevant PDFs at some unknown point in the future. If you're a backer and haven't received product yet, accept your losses and move on. I doubt Matt of Center Stage spent the funds on hookers and blow, but at this point he couldn't do so even if he wanted.

Second - much like Nystul (and the less infamous but totally dead Quantum RPG by Joshua Frost) this appears to be the situation where the monies raised by the first Kickstarter were not enough to fulfill the Kickstarter, so a new Kickstarter was needed to provide funds for the first, and then a newer Kickstarter was needed to fill the funding gaps of that one. It's like a Ponzi scheme of sorts. Actually, no, it probably was run much like a Ponzi scheme.

Third - hiding behind Center Stage LLC is not going to shield Matt "CSM" from the outstanding debt if he is the whole of the LLC.

Fourth - the debt may actually exceed the funds raised by all four Center Stage Miniatures Kickstarters. How the fuck it ever came to that is beyond me. And that's without throwing a Dwarf Con instead of actually putting it towards the project in question. Expecting Frog God to return their advance would be pointless. It wouldn't achieve anything in moving the projects forward, as it would barely be a drop in the bucket. As for licensing the project to yet another party, I expect the creditors would want to get paid first.

Fifth - this could be a case of success being the root of all evil. Center Stage's 1st Kickstarter asked for a grand and made over $66k. Did it over promise and under budget for it's rewards? Stretch goal are a dangerous beast when you are offering additional physical product at no increase in price. I've seen other Kickstarters succeed and still need the creator to dig into their pocket to actually fulfill their promises as stretch goal costs ate into all of the profit.

Sixth - save your money on potential lawsuits. It would be throwing good money after bad. There is no money to be had. Hell, it's more likely that Myth & Magic will suddenly start shipping.

It's a sad state overall, and one of the reasons I get very leery when a project creator starts a 2nd Kickstarter before the first is fulfilled. It seems like Center Stage has out Nystuled Nystul himself. At this point, I can't foresee any good outcome.


  1. Some backers are trying to do chargebacks through their credit card providers. I'm not sure if that is worthwhile, but it doesn't take much effort to try it.

  2. “It’s criminal. There ought to be a law. Criminal, there ought to be a whole lot more. You get nothin’ for nothin’. Tell me who can you trust. We got what you want and you got the lust. If you want blood, you got it. “ — AC/DC, If You Want Blood (You Got It)

  3. Interesting. I remember that they wanted Save or Die to do a review of the product when the KS delivered. Oh well...

    It's also going to be interesting if they have a booth (or show their faces) at NTRPG Con.

  4. They better not show,. I'm only out $25, but I'm a Texan. We take that kind of thing real personal like.

  5. Smokestack they won't have a booth at NTRPG con...they owe us money too.

  6. If I don't get my money back, I'd be happy if they just lose their company, suffer a Nystul - Maliszewski like loss of credibility and never work in the industry again.

    They don't even have to be homeless and starving. I'm a kind-hearted fool! :-D

  7. And I suppose this is where I differ with you a bit, Tenkar: Maybe the backers are fecked, and I certainly assume you know what you're talking about when you say the Kickstarter money is gone. However as a company, they still have assets, which could be sold off to reimburse those from whom they've stolen in their various Ponzi schemes.

    (Part of this disaster was my fault as I didn't check previous kickstarters they'd run and whether the merchandise had been delivered. Nevertheless, it doesn't release malefactors and ne'er-do-wells from the consequences of their criminal behavior.)

  8. Danny, they have no assets and no money. Any assets would be in the form of unsold minis and get in line, there are everyone from sculptors to artists to miniature companies to game companies who were also unpaid and owed money. Some greens and sculpts may be around but they are probably in the hands of people who now have a product they weren't paid for and aren't allowed to do anything with (except destroy or keep as a memento). Take it from one who knows.

    The only "asset" at this point is the name Centerstage Minis and their website, and frankly, would you want to be associated with that name at this point? You'll get your first wish, his name is mud now. You don't recover from this level of crash and burn.

  9. Actually I just saw that Bill Webb and Matt Finch authorized sculptors who were not paid for TOH miniatures to recoup their losses however they can. That's pretty cool of FGG.

  10. I lucked out and received my rewards from the Demons & Devils Kickstarter. I didn't back Tome of Horrors I or II because I was reticent to back another Kickstarter campaign before he delivered on the first one. Turns out that was a wise decision. I'm quite certain that Matt had the best of intentions, but clearly failed to anticipate the real costs involved in producing and delivering all those minis. I feel for all the backers who got burned on this.