Michael Bowling from Crystal Caste

The Crystal Caste Farmhouse 25-28mm fantasy buildings are among my favorite gaming products. With opening roofs and hinged doors, they come wonderfully pre-painted on the outside. My review of them is here. Mike Bowling, head of Crystal Caste, was exhibiting at the 2012 GAMA Trade Show and he explained a little bit about Crystal Caste’s process and what some of Crystal Caste’s next products will be.

Crystal Caste’s Next Pre-painted Terrain

Crystal Caste Toxic line of D6sCG: So I’m talking with Mike from Crystal Caste, the makers of the Farmhouse series and, of course, dice, you guys make a whole bunch of dice, right?
CC: We have a full range of acrylic, stone, mineral, and metal dice.
CG: And you were saying you may have a Wizard’s Keep or Tower in terms of prepainted terrain for the future?
CC: Yeah, we’re thinking about expanding into a different direction, rather than expanding the Farmhouse set. We’re considering maybe a Wizard’s Keep. We think that might be a good addition.
CG: With opening doors?
CC: Oh yeah. Multi-level. We’re trying to make components so that a gaming group can have something that they can use over and over and over. So we think that we’ve done the small manor, the small Farmhouse set, we’ve done the Inn, so now we’re looking to do something else. We’ve been thinking about maybe doing like a ruined tower. Some ruins of some sort.
CG: But it’ll all be, at least the exterior, fully painted?
CC: Yes. That’s correct.
CG: How much does it add to have the doors on the hinges? [Like the Farmhouse series]
CC: It’s really not much more additional cost to design it that way and I think we’re known for quality products. Crystal Caste has always worked hard to make something that we would want to play with ourselves and we have high standards, so when you see that most 3D-scapes don’t have moving parts, we thought that was a way we could set ourselves apart from our competitors.
Crystal Caste's Farmhouse Barn with opening doors and damage to the roof.CG: It seems to me a consumer, that you may not have been pushing this quite as hard as some of the other products you carry like dice. You do a lot more business in dice.
CC: That’s what we’re known for. We find that when you make a good-, you have to stay profitable to stay in the industry and so whenever we release something new, we do a run that will be profitable for us to do without overextending ourselves and we find that you don’t really have to market it that much. Gamers know who makes good stuff and they will come to you. We’ve sold a factor of 10 or 20 times more from our website of these types of 3D-scapes than we ever have at trade shows, even through the wholesale market, because people know to come to our site. You can’t believe the amount of traffic we get and people know. You know, it’s like they just come every month or so and they check to see what’s new.

Other Crystal Caste Products in Development

CG: Is there anything that’ll be new in terms of pre-painted miniatures?
CC: Yes, but we’re still developing them, so I can’t-, I really don’t want to go into it, but we do have another set coming out. We’ve got a new dice line coming out called Dragon Fire that we think is going to be a very well-selling line of dice. We have some new giant dice that are coming out that are in our toxic colors. And we’ve come out with a new four-color printing process that we can adhere to any dice surface that you have.
CG: To brand them?
CC: Yeah.
CG: Now what about Crystal Caste’s educational outreach?
CC: Yeah, we have a segment, a part of our company called Effective Teaching Tools and it’s manipulatives, you know, hand-held teaching aides that we sell through to the educational market. We bring the catalogues to the trade shows, but again, that’s more-, we get a lot more teacher traffic on our effective teaching tools website. And it’s something again that we don’t push hard at education shows. People just find out about it and they, they come to you. The key is making a good product.

Craven Games Preoccupation with the Farmhouse Series

Closeup of the Crystal Caste Farmhouse Cottage for 25-28mm miniatures.CG: Who designed the Farmhouse series?
CC: We had a sculptor in Europe that designed it. [Doug Marshall]
CG: They’re manufactured in China?
CC: Yes.
CG: And you just placed an order for a whole bunch of them and now it’s done?
CC: Yeah, yeah, no, we do one run. And as I said, we don’t try to overreach. We do something that we think will sell reasonably well in a year or two and then we move onto the next piece.
CG: And what about the Inn, you said it’s actually close to being sold out?
CC: Yeah, I think we have-, I don’t know that we’ve got more than ten or fifteen pieces left.
CG: And that’s also fully-
CC: Yeah, fully painted. That’s our first piece. It’s a beautiful piece, fully painted, very nice piece.
CG: Well, thank you!
CC: Thank you, I appreciate you coming by.