Justin Ziran, President of WizKids, spoke on March 13 to an audience of mostly experienced retailers. WizKids has an impressive release schedule for the calendar year and the mood was positive and upbeat. Citing Fandango ticket pre-orders for “The Hunger Games”, Ziran pointed out that it will very likely be the next cultural phenonomen on the order of Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. Wizkids is launching a number of tie-in games related to the movie’s release, based on the popular series by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games line of collectible miniatures will feature 27 figures, with tributes from all 12 districts. Jabberjay has a MSRP of $9.99 and is a card game of secrets and betrayal, while District 12 is a more typical board game.
They also have a Smurfs game and E.T. figures coming out which, to me, resemble the previously-released Gremlins or Freddy vs. Jason sets, which have a play mat and 7+ figures.
Ziran moved on to several other WizKids successes, mentioning that the Mage Knight Board Game sold out of its initial run in 20 days. Another successful sell-out was Star Trek: Tactics. Wizkids is aware that some customers have been buying it to play Star Fleet Battles. Switching games slightly to Star Trek: Fleet Captains, Wizkids trumpeted reviews of it as “the best Star Trek game ever produced”. There are expectations of doing expansions and Ziran noted that the Romulans are missing. Wizkids will also be releasing a Hobbit Heroclix game tied to the release of the movie that will play in an hour to an hour and a half.
Bryan Kinsella, a VP at WizKids Games, presented on Pathfinder Battles, announcing the release of four much larger figures to be sold as a case. Several retailers expressed their concerns about the four-figure cases proposed, pointing out that collectors would simply “buy the cases online”. Someone then suggested 6 figures to a case (including repeats) which would reduce the likelihood that a collector would purchase the entire case. Kinsella showed a colossal incentive Pathfinder Battles figure, the Rune Giant, standing 6 inches tall, and 8 inches to the tip of his sword. WizKids politely declined my request for images of these figures to share, but Seoni’s figure was Kinsella’s personal favorite as he “personally likes the motion” of the sculpt.
Jerome Gonyeau next stepped in. He reminded retailers that they can still get in on the Infinity Gauntlet prize support saying that “four cases is a breeze to go through in 3 months of play”. Several retailers near me remarked that they could go through four cases in three weeks. Gonyeau then moved briskly through various release dates, images of figures, and numbers in the sets. Of interest to me was his announcement that WizKids will be having 3-figure thematically tied sets, such as Shield teams or Hydra soldiers to tie in with the release of the Avengers movie. Another Marvel product that will be released is a Galactus in a box (as opposed to the previous prize support Galactus figure).
Wizkids next reacted to a a question about Organized Play prize support being sold on eBay and what WizKids was doing to combat illegimate use of their OP prizes. Ziran announced that WizKids takes such things very seriously and that they have a discretionary policy in place to deal with such violations. He said that he pursues it in the spirit of the law, and not the letter of the law, so if there is even a whiff of impropriety, WizKids is interested.
DC Heroclix – Batman will come out in the fall along with the vehicles appearing in Heroclix. This was further clarified at the dinner that evening when the Batmobile was shown. Batman – Streets of Gotham will also include Birds of Prey, the Outsiders, and a “team never seen before in DC” which was subsequently revealed to be Jim Lee’s Wildcats. There is also Batman – The Dark Knight Rises scheduled for release later in the year with its 30+ figures. I do have to note as a casual Heroclix player that the newer sculpts shown at the GAMA Trade Show do seem substantially better than previous ones.
Responding to a comment from the audience that Wizkids was not game retailer-focused, but instead mass-market focused, Justin Ziran explained that when he heard that various WizKids Hunger Games products were in Hot Topic accidentally, within 5 minutes he was on the phone with Diamond Alliance, telling them to release the products to retailers.
Moving on, Ziran also revealed that they’ve been toying with the idea of scenario packs for Heroclix featuring a map and a big bad guy to fight against. When asked about Horrorclix, Justin Ziran replied that “Horrorclix is not on the menu. There’s a reason that Horrorclix isn’t around anymore.” When asked whether WizKids wasn’t oversaturating with so many releases, WizKids responded by saying that they had expected the question much earlier. Several retailers voiced their support for WizKids releases and one retailer earlier was overflowing with thanks to WizKids for the presence of Adam Warlock in his store (and the ensuing sales generated) saying that Warlock had “changed the face of the game” in his store. While I did not catch WizKids actual response to the question of oversaturation, Ziran affirmed that “Marvel and DC are our tent poles.”