Ten years ago customizers were at the mercy of X-acto knives, sculpy and paint pens. Brave souls like RedBean and Little Armory made life a bit easier and paved the way for 'other vendors' to flourish. Here is a look back on some BrickForge history.
2001- RedBean releases the first mold consisting of 8 weapons
Mold 1: Battle Axe, Dragon Sword, Elven Blade, Elven Spear, Hero Sword, Longbow, Military Sword, Warhammer
2003 - RedBean releases the second and third mold consisting of 4 helmets, 1 suit of armor, 2 beards, shield and other accessories
Mold 2: Battle Armor, Battle Helmet, Elven Helmet, Hoplite Helmet, Viking Helmet
Mold 3: Dwarf Beard, Sage Beard, Round (Battle) Shield, Javelin, Round Pauldron, Officer Plume
2005 - Armothe and RedBean partner up, collaborate on new accessories and are involved with the Minifig Customization Network.
2006 - Mold 4 & 5 are released featuring 11 new items.
Mold 4: Hero Hair, Great Helm, Neck Armor, Savage Mask
Mold 5: Falcata, Knight Shield, Military Helmet, Military Rifle, Vambraces, Wizard Staff, Round Pauldron (revisited)
2007 - BrickForge took it to the next level by releasing LEGO-like animals which utilized screen-printing technology.
Mold 6: Cow, Pig, Sheep, Udder, Horns
2008 - Thanks to the help of community favorite: Mark Sandlin the Forge pounded out another whopping 18 new items.
Mold 7: MegaGun, Powered Assault Commando Helmet, Powered Assault Commando Armor, Turban
Mold 8: Legionary Helmet, Centurion Helmet, Dwarven Helmet, Gladiator Helmet, Arabian Helmet
Mold 9: Gladius, Khopesh, Spiked Mace, Pilum, Trident, Military Shield, Gladiator Mask, Segmented Pauldron, Commander Crest, Visor
2009 - This monumental year saw the release of 36 new items including the ever-popular scooter designed by fan-favorite: Arealight as well as our innovative soft-plastic accessories.
Mold 10: Particle Pack, Particle Gun, Crowbar, Plasma Pistol, Microphone, Goblin Sword, Goblin Shield, Tribal Spear, Tribal Sword, Sorcerer Staff, Nightstick
Decal Project #1: Torso/Shield Decals, Roman Army Builder Decals
Mold 11: Mushroom, Beret, Scooter
Mold 12: Scourge, Pauldron, Bandolier, Gunbelt, Waist Armor, Headlamp, Goggles, Reins, Ribbed Tire, Zip Tire, Utility Belt
Mold 13: Power Sword, Sickle, Saw, Sovereign Sword, Phaser, Wizard Sword, Golf Club, Hook Sword, Sai, Raider Blade, Rogue Dagger, Cleaver
2010 - Another stellar year and growth brought forth a wider array of BF offerings, including a joint project with LifeLites for a total of 30 accessories.
Mold 14: Soldier Helmet, Brass Knuckles, Bayonet, Shovel, Canteen, Hatchet, Cutlass, Coilgun, Battle Rifle, Grease Gun, Arched Pauldrons
Mold 15: Backpack, Ammo Pouches, Musket, Flintlock Pistol, Tomahawk, Ranger Hat, Violin, Acoustic Guitar, Shepherd Crook, Recurve Bow, Centaur
Mold 17: Electric Guitar, Drumsticks, Maverick Hair, Mohawk, Ponytail, Double Plume, Lamppost
2011 - BrickForge opens up a local store (Blokhedz) and relocates packing/logistical operations to a new 2000 square foot space. Resellers from all over the globe join the BrickForge reseller program to sell pre-packaged 'accessory kits'. Mold 16 is finally wrapped up and an entire mold made up of translucent elements is released late Summer for a total of 18 new items.
Mold 16: Tactical Helmet, Tactical Vest, Officer Hat, Shock Trooper Helmet, Shock Trooper Armor
Mold 18: Round Bottle, Square Bottle, Potion Bottle, Broken Bottle, Sipping Glass, Flask, Test Tube, Lens Piece, Warning Light, Gemstone, Laser Beam, Pulse Ray, Splat/Spill
2012 - BrickForge, operating in its new space is able to deliver 52 new items to fans across the world including a round of masks/visors that specifically attach to the previously released Tactical Helmet. The number of retail accessory kits and character packs being distributed by wholesalers worldwide increase to 40.
Mold 19: Apoc Mask, Ballistic Mask, Chin Strap, Face Shield, Gas Mask, Night Vision Goggles, Tactical Goggles
Mold 20: Fighting Claw, Flamespitter, Flashlight, Handcuffs, Ice Skates, Kukri Machete, Kunai, Laser Sword (Evil Apprentice), Laser Sword (Space Knight), Lead Pipe, Lug Wrench, Ninjato, Outland Ripper, Raygun, Spike Grenade, Survival Knife, Throwing Star
Mold 21: Anti-Material Sniper, Arrow Pack, Automag, Battering Ram, Canister Gun, Compound Bow, Energy Meter, Intergalactic 8-Gauge, Pump-Action Shotgun, Shredder Gun, Sub-Orbital Machine Gun, Tactical Assault Rifle, Tactical Sidearm, TASE Gun, Walkie Talkie
Mold 22: Advanced Recon Striker, Clone Blaster, Clone Rifle, Command Carbine, Enforcer Gun, Headhunter Quickshot, Imperial Blaster, Ionizer, Robot Blaster, Scout Pistol, Smuggler Special
So, with almost ten years of customization (who paved the way for who here?) under our belt and over 175 accessories to boast, we continue to venture into the ever-changing world of miniature accessories. Some call what we do 'mundane' but we we are way more adventurous and ingenious than to just stick with the same 'ol thing. And if you haven't noticed, the big guys in Denmark have taken notice and well.....let's just say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And now to answer a few questions and concerns.
How long does it take from idea to final product?
Currently, it can take anywhere from 6-8 months. Multiple projects and complex items like headgear and armor take much longer. Once we commit to a set of items we simply can't change the lineup or turn back. Hopefully we can improve this process in the future to make it a bit more flexible.
Do you communicate with other vendors to prevent product overlap and treading on ideas?
As a matter of fact we do! We have worked with fellow artists like Mark Sandlin, Brickmodder and Arealight to help make their creative ideas a reality. We communicate our ideas and intentions with several other vendors (save one) to help retain harmony in the customizing world. Unfortunately, the last time we shared our ideas with (save one) they ended up making 'em themselves.
Why don't you post prototypes?
We would very much like to do so! But remain somewhat gun-shy since some people out there have rapid-prototyping capabilities and could easily take our idea and develop a prototype of their own, leaving opinions ambiguous as to who had the design first. At this point we prefer to keep things under wraps and surprise the community with awesomeness, rather than post an idea and leave customers hanging as to when it may or may not be produced. Who knows what the future holds though.
Can I has sum free prototypes?
Unfortunately the definition of a manufactured prototype has been somewhat perverted by some in the industry. Prototypes are used internally by companies to test proof-of-concept, dimensions, aesthetics, textures, materials, and marketing ideas prior to the final product. Prototypes are not leaked to the public and are never sold to customers via retail channels. When this occurs the object becomes a production item. BrickForge prototypes are for testing purposes only. Why would we want to sell a sub-par, untested item to you guys anyways? I suppose some vendors have to do this, or even give hundreds of their prototypes away just to see them in use. Rather, we simply rely on you - the distinguishing customer - to decide if what we provide meets your building needs. Tens of thousands of customers over the past few years speaks volumes. We thank you immensely for your support and are committed to serving you in the future.
Brand loyalty is a key ingredient towards any company's success. We sincerely appreciate our customers which is why you will occasionally receive a handful of complimentary items with your BrickForge order. Customer service is key to building relationships in the community and BrickForge strives to correct any hiccup that may arise. We look forward to meeting you in person at conventions and exchanging words with you online. The result is a host of satisfied customers that speaks favorably towards our brand. This means we don't need to dangle carrots or bribe people with loads of free items to win them over. Nor need we recruit trolls to other message boards to bash the other guy. It's evident you are proud of BrickForge and frankly, we are proud of you guys too. We look forward to seeing more and more of your inspired creations over then next few years - here's to 2012!
Keep on 'mizin'