Dream Pod 9 was exhibiting at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show here in Las Vegas. I interviewed Marketing Director John Nguyen on March 15.
CG: Tell me about NuCoal. I hear that it’s been tearing the world up.
JN: New Coalition has been tearing up the Heavy Gear community and indeed the wargaming community. It’s a brand new faction that’s never before been seen in the world of Heavy Gear. So basically there’s only little bits of hints and tidbits in the past, but now we’ve gone and actually fleshed it out in Perfection Storm: NuCoal Field Guide. So in that book you will have the entire history of how NuCoal came from a collection of Badlands homesteads into a force to be reckoned with, a league of its own on Terra Nova with its own military technology. It’s completely unique to Nucoal, but yet very Terra Novan in the look and fits in very well with the Heavy Gear world. So basically it’s been available since Thanksgiving and we’ve had great reviews on it. Some of the featuring points are this new layout that’s going to be the roadmap for the future of Heavy Gear. So the book is going to be featuring a brand new sort of layout that’s going to be decorated with high-end art. Everything’s going to be extremely visual when it comes to the army list and the options that you can take. So a new player can come in and it will be completely intelligible right from the beginning on what he can take because it’s all completely visual.
CG: This is something new coming out?
JN: This is already out. What I’m saying is that it’s going to be roadmap for future things, because by Gen Con we hope to bring out the Southern Field Guide. That’s going to follow, more or less, the same layout model.
CG: What do you play personally?
JN: I play the North. I also play the South. I am working on a Peace River army and eventually NuCoal and even the C.E.F. at one point in time. My goal is to get a little bit of everything.
CG: Which is the poorest represented on the field or even in sales?
JN: The poorest represented would probably be the colonies. Caprice. Utopia. But that’s only because they’re new.
CG: When did those come out?
JN: They came out a year ago and most people play Terra Nova, so they play a faction or other on Terra Nova. So the newer factions are kind of-, Caprice is kind of like a niche faction. Utopia is kind of a niche faction. And maybe that’s the draw to it? But at the same time, they’re kind of underrepresented right now.
CG: Now I think this is called the Overlord Hovertank? It’s an impressive model and it also has an impressive price. What’s its price?
JN: 125 retail.
CG: Ok. And it’s resin.
CG: It does have an opening interior.
JN: The entire kit is actually made of our high quality signature resin, which not to gloat or anything, but it seems to be one of the best resins in the industry. It is a high quality cast resin kit. It is a massive model. It is literally a little bit bigger than, I’d say, one of GW’s tanks. And to scale with our game which is 15 millimeters, makes it a massive vehicle. The vehicle itself is actually an army in of itself, because of its actual cost.
CG: How many points does it cost?
JN: Approximately 750, conceivably up to a 1000 Threat Value. In our game we normally play about 800 to 1200. So it will take up a significant chunk of your army.
More About Dream Pod 9
CG: How many people does your company have, Dream Pod 9?
JN: Globally we employ approximately 20 people including freelancers as well. We’re headquartered in Montreal, Canada, but we have people all over the world. So we’re pretty much spread out and most of us telecommute.
CG: What about the other products in at least the Heavy Gear world, like the role-playing game?
JN: Heavy Gear role-playing is still supported through our free magazine Gear Up. So once in a while we will come out with RPG material for the second edition in our free magazine, so totally download it, tons of content for Arena, Blitz, as well as the RPG, but we will not come out with any supplements for the near future. There are plans in the works to create a 4th edition. The 3rd edition was a d20 version, so there’s going to be a 4th edition in the works in the future.
CG: What about the move away from metals towards resins or plastics, where are you guys situated in that?
JN: We produce all of our miniatures in-house. So we will continue to make pewter
miniatures, but the larger pieces such as hovertanks or armor or striders, or like that, we are making them entirely out of our resin, so it’s only those two materials we work with. It’s either resin or pewter. And normally when it’s a larger piece it will be in resin because of cost considerations.
CG: What is the environment like for gaming in Montreal?
JN: Montreal has a pretty lively gaming community. If you consider that the metropolitan area is 3.5 million and we have approximately 17 game stores. So if you compare that to other areas in the U.S. or parts of Canada, normally like New York is 8 million, but I can only think of 2 or 3 stores.
CG: And do you speak French?
JN: Yes, I speak French; it’s my native language.
CG: Go ahead.
Joue Heavy Gear. Play Heavy Gear.
JN: Joue Heavy Gear. Play Heavy Gear.
CG: Ah, ok. And then the game is sold around the world.
JN: The game is sold around the world. It’s in English.
CG: No translations?
JN: We had translations in the past, into Italian, into Spanish, into French. We are currently working on French versions for quick start rules and Russian versions and Spanish versions as well.
CG: Now the look is incredibly influenced by Japanese animation and manga right?
JN: Correct. In fact, one of our lead artists is actually Japanese.
CG: How popular is the game in Japan?
JN: We see a few followings in Japan, but it’s always flattering when we see the Japanese taking a liking to what we’ve done.
CG: Who are some of your main sculptors?
JN: Our sculptor is actually Phil, Phil Le Clerc and he actually works out of Montreal, out of our head office.
Partnership with Reaper Miniatures to Produce Heavy Gear Faction Paints
CG: Is there anything cool or secret that no one has talked about on your forums that you could share?
JN: There have been hints about it. We’ve actually teamed up with Reaper Miniatures to produce Reaper Master Series paints for Heavy Gear, so these are actually, they’re Master Series paints. They’re high definition paints that are going to be made in faction-specific colors. So that should be coming out in about a month. It should be shipping to retailers soon from what I’m told by Reaper. And we actually have examples here at GAMA to show.
CG: Do you have a price point on that yet?
JN: We do not have a price point. I believe it’s going to be somewhere in the one hundred dollars, but it is approximately forty colors. in their line.
CG: And it’ll be faction specific?
JN: And they will be faction specific. In fact, they have faction specific names, such as Republican Red, Arthurian Blue, Durasheet Alloys, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s very in tune with the fluff. We’ve featured this in Golden Gear already, but it’s only been hinted at. We’re actually seeing the real product right now in the public here at GAMA.
Dream Pod 9 and the GAMA Trade Show
CG: How importance is the GAMA Trade Show to Dream Pod 9?
JN: The GAMA Trade Show is one of the key components to our expansion. Here we get to meet with retailers directly, get feedback on what they want to see in their stores, as well as distributors. Those are the pivotal points of how to get our products into the hands of the consumers is actually through a retail store.
CG: So you’re definitely pro-retail-
JN: We’re definitely pro-retail, but actually we do maintain our own online store. You can get our product directly from us and if you’re a retailer you can get your product directly from us through a retailer account, but at the same time we like to support the distributor networks as well as the retail network.
The Heavy Gear Terrain Line
CG: I’m actually interested in your terrain line a little bit.
JN: Because our game has a very specific look and a very specific scale, it’s always been very difficult for our players to find appropriate terrain that makes the table look authentic. So what we did was come out with our line of 15mm Badlands terrain to begin with. So basically the first series of sets of terrain that we have done is cast up in our high quality resin and it is actually representing Badland homesteads or little communities in the desert. And so we have buildings like water condensers, windmills. And all of these are actually made in 15mm scale so it actually fits our product line and you can actually use it for any other 15mm sci-fi, but it’s specifically tailored to look like our fluff and our gaming atmosphere. We’ve got great success from it; we’ve got great reviews from our terrain and so we’re encouraged to actually continue the expansion of our next wave which are going to follow the Southern Field Guide, so it’s going to be jungle buildings and buildings that are specifically aesthetically fitting to the South factions.
CG: In Terra Nova.
JN: On Terra Nova. And these are actually available only on our online store.
CG: Thank you.
JN: No problem.