Interview: Soda Pop Miniatures

With a whisk of my cape and a bit of theatrical flair, I welcome you to the SODAVERSE!

A quick glance at their About Us section of their website yields enough information for us to meet the creators of this new fun-filled anime inspired line of miniatures, but I asked the three counterparts, Deke Stella, John Cadice and Chris Birkenhagen for the opportunity to explore the machinations of what makes Soda Pop Miniatures tick.  They granted the audience and what commenced was a very lively and excited conversation about Soda Pop Miniatures.

Let the questions begin…

Andozane:
So, to start, lets discuss  your backgrounds…if we were to look at the gaming world as a whole, which aspect would you say defines you being a “gamer”, be it wargamer, painter, modeler, etc…?

Deke:
I am an all around gamer!  I Paint a lot, and when I go to events I primarily go for the painting awards.   I do occasionally win games and pull out Best Overall Awards too though.  Yes, I play D&D, in fact I have been doing miniature games and role-playing games of all sorts for years and years and years…I like all aspects of the hobby.

John:
I agree with Deke, I try to encapsulate as many things from the hobby as I can. I’ve been around toy soldiers since I was 3 years old.  I love to paint and play miniature games.  On the other hand, I don’t have a strong role-playing background, but that’s where working with the other guys balances things out.

Deke: John has all of our Voltron, Space Battleship Yamato and Star Blazers experience.

Chris:
I came into gaming in college, much more recently then these guys.  Primarily because of the game play, coming from things like chess, into a much more detailed world of gaming.  Also hanging out with Deke and John (when we all lived in the same place) was a major influence.  The painting thing came later for me.

Andozane:
How did Soda Pop come to be?  What was the moment in time where you guys decided you would take this from idea to reality?

Deke:
John and I both have our own versions of the origin story of Soda Pop Miniatures, but here is mine.  John likes to send me crazy little design ideas, crazy game ideas,  miniature ideas all the time.  Then he sent me these ideas and I looked at them and thought, “uhhh… we should really do this, lets call Chris”.  We called Chris, got him involved, and now we are making miniatures.  I had potentially wanted to open a game store, but for many reasons it was looking bleak for that idea.   Soda Pop Miniatures though, well we all love miniatures, and it perfectly for something for us to do together.  John sent this awesome little brief with all these cool little anime characters we could make into miniatures and suddenly I was feeling like, “Whoa, this is something we could totally do and keep our jobs and still have a blast”.  John invited us to be part of it and now it is reality.

Chris:
I know a big part of reason of doing all this for me is community.  Looking at the gaming group I was a part of in Moscow, ID, which is a college town, we were constantly losing touch with our friends.  I ended up in Salt Lake, Deke is in Boise, and John has been all over and is now in Seattle.  This is a way of getting together with my gaming group still with a miniature hobby theme and at the same time fund our hobby.  This also allows us to get together throughout the year and continue on in a more grown up aspect as far as the hobby goes.

John:
From my end the genesis of the project to tie in with the enthusiasm of gaming with the guys I know and leverage my experience with the companies I have worked with in the past.  Listening to input and imparting our own taste into a market that we feel is ready for a product like Soda Pop Miniatures.  I’m really happy to have the guys follow suit with me and to see the marked progress we have made together.

Andozane:
What are your goals for Soda Pop in the next year?

John:
When we met last year at Adepticon, and cemented our ideas for the project to really kick things off we talked about our goals.  As long as the company is able to sustain itself and produce the next model and give us the chance to go to a show and share a drink or a cigar and sit there and say, “Hey we are doing it!”, that would be enough.  We are putting a lot of time and energy into creating the vision that is Soda Pop.  We have learned an awful lot about design and development in the creation of Soda Pop Miniatures, which did help us realize one thing for sure.  We know eventually a game system will need to be created.  This will create demand to give people more reason to  pick up some of the miniatures that we are putting out there.  For us inside of a year though the primary goal is to have a go to pantheon of characters available to our customers.

Deke:
We are really trying to keep it light-hearted and fun. There are so many serious and brooding games with themes of grim darkness and skulls, we are really enjoying the kind of whimsical zaniness from Soda Pop. 

We will definitely have more serious pieces like Kenobo, he looks furious but he still has an over the top whimsical feel.  We feel you can only have so much doom and gloom and what not before you break down. We are trying to keep it light hearted and have a good time with this stuff.

Andozane:
Does the current economic state affect your decision to move forward with starting a new product line?

Deke:
I don’t think we gave the economy too much thought, at least I didn’t. Maybe John and Chris did. For me our goal was to keep it self-perpetuating.  We don’t need lots and lots of people buying our models, it’s better if they do and all but that wasn’t our purpose.  If we can get a core fan base that enjoy the more light-hearted product we are creating in Soda Pop, and they are happy to buy enough stuff we will keep putting out models.  We are happy if that’s the outcome.

John:
When we reviewed this, we identified a noticeable shift to boutique lines of miniatures in the marketplace.  Customers picking up that one line of miniatures and exploring their skill levels with models and painting.  There are many gamers and communities that are able to get together and share ideas.  I see a lot of drive to finding something unique and special instead of the norm. We know we are doing something that doesn’t have a lot of competition in the current miniature marketplace.  The majority of miniatures stem from European styling instead of where we are drawing our creativity in the Japanese pop culture stylings of anime and all the light-hearted feelings it brings with it.  We have chosen levity and whimsy over gore and death because this is where we are drawing our inspiration.

Andozane:
In your “About Us” you mention “we will develop to challenge your painting skills, expand your collections, and refresh your enthusiasm for this wonderful hobby”.  Why is this your stated goal?

John:
Everyone comes to a point of fatigue with the things they experience with gaming.  We have collected thousands of dollars of the big companies products, they inhabit our garages and basements.  Eventually we buy so much and think how much do we really need?  Eventually some people sell all their stuff and quit because they are overwhelmed.  Go on any forum and you have a lot of grouchy people out there and they feel ripped off.  We want to make sure people enjoy our product and toys.  Yes, I said toys.  These are toys.  We want people to share our same love that we share with our product and do something outside the norm of what they are used to, and if this means doing new things and new models, and if it makes it fun and exciting again, that is exactly what we are hoping for.

Deke:
John hit the nail on the head, this comes from our stated purpose of being more lighthearted and fun.  Our sculptors are awesome in getting cool little details, and having painted several of our models they feel different with the detail level. I think it’s really nice break to get away from and paint something else with a different style and brighter colors, kind of have fun and go crazy.

John:
We tied this into the whole name of the company. Shake it up, something sweet and bubbly.  We forgot to mention it breeds insomnia and we don’t sleep a lot.


Andozane:
Where does the Miniature hobby and tabletop gaming fit into our world of Computer Games, Video Game Consoles, Internet, etc?

John:
From my scrying and having looked to the future, with the occasional virgin sacrifice I have come to know it’s going to be a tough nut to hold together.  Technology will enable people to envision their own collectibles, whether it’s customizing pre-painted miniatures from your favorite movie or comic, or just your own creation.  There will always be a niche of people doing models and painting miniatures though.  Japan is a good example of that.  Such a saturated technology market, yet guys are still doing amazing hobby  modeling with extremely detailed projects.  It will be a struggle like swimming upstream for the big companies to keep up in the future marketplace for miniatures.

Deke:
You are seeing the future now. Thanks to the internet we have the ability to find the people and production resources necessary to put together these projects. You don’t need lots of monetary resources to create your own miniature line or game. If you want to have your own game, you just need a thousand people to play or so. We are going to see more and more companies form these little pockets of gamers.
Miniature gaming will never go away. It will always have that personal, social, interaction that other outlets are missing. It will sometimes feel like its losing out to the competition, but it will always be there. You will start to see miniature gaming of all sorts become more accessible with the influence of technology. You won’t see the 900 lb. gorilla being the only player out there like when I started gaming. You’ll see all these little start-ups that have the ability to thrive in this marketplace. This is all thanks to the proliferation of technology making it possible.

Andozane:
How about plans for attendance at the different gaming shows?

John:
We are lining up shows right now and getting close to making an announcement about being at Gencon.

Deke:
We are going to Sakuracon as well at the end of April.

Andozane:
You have an extensive list of supporting cast, from artists to sculptors.  How did you acquire such a wealth of talent?

John:
I’m gonna say there has been combined efforts by us, especially sourcing people from the online community.  I’m personally drawing from my experience working overseas and domestically for different gaming companies.  I have been using these contacts to reach out and make connections to let people know we are in the business and looking for talented people who are a great fit for Soda Pop Miniatures.

Deke:

The internet has made the talent pool awesome. There are so many talented individuals out there and they are all online trying to get noticed.  This is one of the coolest things we have going on, the sheer diversity from where everyone is, we have artists and sculptors from all over the world. The internet has redefined how you can get a small start up going.

Andozane:
Any closing comments?

John:
We have given you the mythos and an idea of where we are coming from. We want to encourage people to check out our website and get connected to us on facebook.

Chris:
We have some awesome upcoming releases that should happen in the next month and half as well, be on the look out for those.

Deke:
Yeah, Kenobo and Fiametta  should both be on pre-sale this week.

We should be shipping both pretty quickly after that as both are already at our production facilities.

With those words we conclude the interview with the gents of Soda Pop Miniatures.  It was a lively discussion and I really enjoyed the time I spent with them.  I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some of their miniatures as well!  Thanks again Soda Pop!

Andozane

AndoZane

Both RPG'er and Table Top Wargamer, and all around (round too) nerd, a resident of Portland, OR and lover of awesome food!

2 thoughts on “Interview: Soda Pop Miniatures

  • March 1, 2010 at 12:28 pm
    Permalink

    A pleasant and insightful little article. I really appreciate the light-hearted theme and the pillars of friendship soda pop is founded on.

  • March 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm
    Permalink

    Great interview, and four quality people to boot.

Comments are closed.