I came across this…..

MMP Mithril in Middle-Earth The Prancing Pony I came across this…..

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    Not sure if the link will take you there so I have copied and pasted the interview ūüėõ . I guess some of you may have seen this before and parts repeated in similar interviews……

    AN INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS TUBB (invasivedesigns.com)

    An Interview with Chris Tubb

    Chris Seeman: PO Box 1213, Novato, CA 94948, USA (chris1224@aol.com)

    While it could be said that fantasy role playing is first and foremostly a matter of words‚ÄĒof creating an imaginary universe by people talking to one another‚ÄĒlet us not forget that FRP was born the step-child of miniature-based wargaming, a medium in which visible, material representations of characters are an essential element. The use of lead figures as “props” for FRP continues to this very day, and MERP is no exception. Beginning in 1987, the Irish-based Prince August Ltd. launched “Mithril,” a range of miniatures based on Tolkien’s works, and designed especially with a view to ICE’s MERP series. Chris Tubb, one of the prime movers of this endeavor, has graciously granted us a few moments of his time.

    <b>Chris S:</b> What is your involvement in the Mithril range? When did you first become interested in Middle-earth related miniatures? What sort of background did you have in miniatures when you began work on the series?

    <b>Chris T:</b>¬†I have designed all the Mithril range, written most of the promotional material, designed the packaging and sculpted all the miniatures except the tables and chairs for the Prancing Pony. So that’s pretty much everything really, except spinning the figures. I have been designing miniatures since the late ’70s, producing mostly historical figures. I had done a lot of work for Prince August Ltd., the parent company of Mithril, including, in the early to mid ’80s, a fantasy range of character figures and generic types called Fantasy Armies which were for use with AD&D. In the latter part of the ’80s I did a couple of licensed ranges for some French fantasy games, both of which have long since disappeared without a trace. The first was a post-apocalypse survivors game called¬†<i>Bitume</i>, the second,¬†<i>L√©gendes Celtiques</i>, a fantasy game based on mythological characters and events. For what it’s worth, the one game I would have loved to produce a figure range for at that time was GDW’s¬†<i>Traveller 2300</i>.

    <b>Chris S:</b> I understand that Mithril has just reached its 10th anniversary. How did the range get started?

    <b>Chris T:</b>¬†Mithril started in a sense quite by accident, from an erroneous remark overheard at GenCon in the summer of ’87. Lars Edman (the owner of Prince August) and myself heard a whisper at the end of the show that ICE was planning to produce a game based on the Mad Max films. We thought this might be a good opportunity to obtain a high profile figure license. Because it was the end of GenCon, we decided to drive down to Charlottesville, where ICE were based, to discuss this with them. However, when we got there, we discovered that they had had problems with the license and that the whole project had been abandoned some weeks before. But having gone all that way, we spent a couple of days with the folks there and discussed (inevitably) amongst other things their Middle-earth projects, which were at the time going very well for them. I discovered a remarkable similarity between my own views of Middle-earth and those of Pete Fenlon (then the CEO), and was delighted when he asked us if we might be interested in making a range of Middle-earth miniatures for use with the game modules. Apparently, Grenadier Models, the most recent possessor of the license, had decided not to expand its range any further. This prospect seemed to have a great deal of potential, and we secured the Middle-earth license shortly thereafter. So really by accident and an incorrect rumor Mithril was born.

    <b>Chris S:</b>¬†In the descriptions of the range that I have read, I notice that you say Mithril is based upon LotR and¬†<i>The Hobbit</i>. I take it this reflects the boundaries of Tolkien Enterprises’ license to JRRT’s legacy. I also noticed that at least two series of the range relate to the T√ļrin cycle from¬†<i>The Silmarillion</i>. How did you manage that? Do you plan on covering any other First Age themes in the future? (T√ļrin’s one of my personal favorites.)

    <b>Chris T:</b>¬†The question of what falls precisely within the ambit of the Tolkien license is somewhat ill-defined in some areas. Although, strictly speaking, the license covers¬†<i>The Hobbit</i>¬†and LotR, it can be argued that the latter work contains some of¬†<i>The Silmarillion</i>’s contents, both in textual references and in the various appendices. Also, one can argue that the use of some of the background material is essential to the interpretation of many aspects of LotR. This is the quite legitimate justification for ICE’s use of First Age material in items like the¬†<i>Lords of Middle-earth</i>¬†series. Hence, the two Mithril series based on the T√ļrin story. I have made some lists of other First Age ranges which may be produced, but there are no definite plans in this regard as yet.

    <b>Chris S:</b> Excepting the Mithril Classics series, individual releases in the Mithril range have a limited circulation before they go OP. Just curious: about how many units get produced for each release? On the average, how long do they remain in stock?

    <b>Chris T:</b>¬†It’s difficult to be precise about this. The original idea was that the price list should always contain the same number of items so that when a new series was added to the end of the list, the one at the top would be removed. So in the old days, when Mithril appeared every two months, the lifetime of each release was theoretically one year and eight months, given a list length of a hundred. I say theoretically, because other factors always came in and disturbed things. For instance, an individual figure with an unacceptably high reject rate, and one for which the spin-mold would have to be constantly replaced (like M16) would be withdrawn early. Also, it was always too tempting for Mithril to retain a series which contained good-selling figures longer than it should, and instead cut another series out of sequence. This, I think, was a mistake in the long term, as a definite and certain lifetime for each miniature would have ensured the sell-through of the figures a lot faster. As for the number of produced units, this also depends on various factors. When the series appeared six times a year, with regular advertisement backup etc., Mithril was producing between 1,000 and 1,500 units of each figure as an initial release. Now, of course, with only one Mithril release last year, the numbers have declined quite considerably. Bear in mind also that the above numbers are an average. A Gandalf figure would, of course, always quadruple the sales of a Dunlending chieftain.

    <b>Chris S:</b> About how many new releases come out each year?

    <b>Chris T:</b> A decreasing number in the last couple of years and, as I said above, only one in the last twelve months. Prince August, the parent company of Mithril, has had other agendas recently and Mithril has not received much priority.

    <b>Chris S:</b>¬†In your perception, has the audience for Mithril increased or decreased over the years? What do you think are some of the causes for this change (or continuity) in the range’s popularity? I noticed that some of your series in the past have been explicitly related to ICE’s MERP line (e. g.,¬†<i>Thieves of Tharbad</i>,¬†<i>Far Harad</i>,¬†<i>The Ghost Warriors</i>, etc.). What factors brought about this coordination? Why has it not continued in more recent years?

    <b>Chris T:</b>¬†The Mithril audience has decreased over the years. This is due to various factors, not least of which is the relative decline of the role playing games and the recent ascendancy of gaming cards. It became clear to us early on in the lifetime of Mithril that there were two distinct audiences for the range, the gamer and the Tolkien collector. The former, whom we had initially considered as our prime customer, hence the initial tie-ins with the MERP modules, did not prove to be anything as large in number as the latter, the collectors. Our core collectors, whose number has remained remarkably stable during all of Mithril’s fluctuations in the last years, have always been and still remain our most important customers. This is the reason why our emphasis gradually moved from the game-related releases to one more concentrated directly on LotR and its characters, and then onto vignettes and other collectable items.

    <b>Chris S:</b>¬†Mithril is not the first miniature range to devoted itself (exclusively or in part) to Tolkien’s mythology. What, to your mind, has Mithril contributed to this legacy? What most distinguishes it (artistically, thematically, etc.) from other major ranges on the market today?

    <b>Chris T:</b>¬†Several companies have produced lines based on LotR (both with and without a license) since the release of the animated film back in the mid ’70s. One of the reasons that I was keen to obtain this license, even though such high-profile companies as Games Workshop and Grenadier Models had already produced licensed ranges from this material, was that none, I felt, had really done justice to the enormous scope of Tolkien’s epic. A work as complex and layered in both its own internal histories, and its huge diversity of cultures and races, deserved a huge figure range to do it any justice. In my opinion, one of the keys to Tolkien’s success in weaving such an atmosphere of believable magic and enchantment, is the internal realism of LotR and the very understated nature of all the fantasy. It is precisely because Elves and wizards are so uncommon, and because they appear against a quasi-realistic background of descriptive countryside and the feudings of Dark Age societies, that this underplayed enchantment becomes so believable and seductive. I hope that in some measure I have been able to reflect this balance in the Mithril range itself. I have constantly resisted not inconsiderable pressures to make the line more fantastic, with more grotesque monsters and exaggerated heroes. The range has always been human-oriented, with the non-human races representing a fairly small proportion of the range. Again, this has been a conscious policy designed to reflect the points made above.

    <b>Chris S:</b> Has your vision for the range evolved over time? What are the prospects for the future?

    <b>Chris T:</b>

    My vision of what Middle-earth should look like has remained more or less the same since Mithril’s inception. As explained above, the items in the range have made a move from gaming to collector’s items in the last few years, and this trend will continue. As for future prospects‚ÄĒwell, I think I can end on a positive note in this regard, in that Mithril has commissioned me to create an entirely new line of detailed 54mm scale characters from¬†<i>The Hobbit</i>¬†and LotR, the first six of which are standing on my desk as I write this. I hope their release at the end of this year will give Mithril a new spin and form the basis of a completely new collectable range of Middle-earth characters. As for the 32mm figures, I feel there is still much scope for new products and hope to finalize some new releases within the next few months.

    <b>Chris S:</b> Thank you very much for your time.

    • This topic was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by ddaines.
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MMP Mithril in Middle-Earth The Prancing Pony I came across this…..

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