Here as little something for you. When I decided to start this blog I wanted to quickly publish a series of articles outlining key areas of interest for me to get some groundwork in for articles going forward. This one can be filed under the banner of “weird area of interest that I haven’t seen anyone else writing about”. Back in 2010 a company called Smart Max appeared at Salute in London showcasing a series of 52mm (!) resin models with a Victorian Fantasy Steampunk theme. I picked a bunch of them up and immediately set about painting them and waiting for the promised board game. Interestingly at the time people mentioned the high price for the miniatures which was about Â£18 per piece (what Games Workshop now charges for a single 32mm character model) however it was clear that they were collectors only pieces a ‘la Mike McVeigh miniatures. The board game came out around a year later with little fanfare and resembled a much lighter and quicker version of Malifaux. It was playable in about 20 minutes for a 4 model a side skirmish, which sadly turned it into a more expensive and less deep version of an already incredibly popular but niche game.
The number of models produced gradually decreased until the company launched a board game on Kickstarter using different sculpts in late 2014 raising lightly over $100k. In 2015 the entire range of Smog 1888 miniatures was sold off at half price and discontinued and their separate range of alternate history world war 2 miniatures going under the name of Mauser Earth was sold to another French company called Wonderlands Projects where they can now be purchased. If you want to get hold of any of these you can find someone currently selling them on Cool Mini or Not or eBay but be quick because unless he’s a garage recaster his or her stock will eventually dry up.
The Smog models were lovely characterful sculpts with loads of little details in places and presculpted bases. As they weren’t heroic scale a lot of the smaller details would sometimes break off which made them completely unsuitable for a miniature game but great in a cabinet. So if you think you can give them a paint job that does them justice and you like the Steampunk theme then its worth tracking them down. Unfortunately I think the guys at Smart Max found that the intersect in the Venn diagram of: “Good painter” / “Interested in Steampunk” / “Not interested in using this miniature in an existing game” was just too small to sustain them and found a larger audience using the pattern: “Interested in board games” / “Interested in steampunk”.
Its worth noting that Kingdom Death found a much greater intersect with their $1 million Kickstarter by drawing the circles: “Interested in women” / “Weird”.
I’d love for the owners to sell the sculpts to another company, as they were really beautiful. It would be nice to see them return, somehow.
Given the lack of success for the Mauser Earth Kickstarter it doesn’t seem so: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1715915786/mauser-earth-skirmish-game-war-for-paris