We’ll continue the question and answer session with the questions provided by the rest of staff and forum members! Read on!
Forum Intel Moderator Monkeywrench asks:
Angelforge as a company is somewhat mysterious. Can you give some insight on current and future goals?
DW: The AngelForge started out as simply as a way to keep sculpts from Krexx alive and available to the community. When Mswi, CloudStrife, and Krexx joined it is really where the vision started to change. It was at that point that we were no longer just a casting store but able to combine talents to make something bigger. We hope to keep all the old sculpts in stock as well as offering new sculpts. At some point we want to explore offering our own characters and a web comic, while keeping roots in the 80’s that shaped us. We want to offer unique items and encourage the hobby to grow.
Can you explain your relationship with Slayer?
KREXX:It was very simple , I was supposed to do all the sculpts and then , Dave Gray would cast them and sells them.
DW: I met Dave before Slayer and offered to help cast. He was very generous and showed me the ropes. I helped run the archive molds for Slayer for some time and invested in Slayer as much as possible. I am a big fan of Krexx’s work and wanted to do whatever I could to keep more sweet sculpts coming out. I am a huge fan of fantasy and Slayer was the best source for fantasy pieces. As fate would have it, I never had any contact with Krexx during the Slayer era. It was well after The AngelForge opening before we started working together. As a fan of his work, it was a pretty big geek moment for me.
How many Team Members do you have and will you be expanding?
DW:There is so much that goes on to make this run properly. You have the design team. They drive the bus so to speak. They choose the items to be sculpted and pay for the artist. This is no small feat. Narrowing down what items are going to get made is a lot harder than you think and the final call is made by those funding the project. These team members are vital, and pay in rather than take. We will be looking for more members here, but serious candidates are hard to find. Everyone wants their wishlist made, but few are willing to support the artist. Next you have daily operations. We have four active (needed most days, for at least a few hours) team members here and are trying to cross-train everyone for every position before we expand further. We also have an on-call team which we try to work in as much as possible. This allows us to train and keep them up to date as things change. This is important because if flow spikes or if operations staff is not available, we have extra manpower that can respond quickly. We do plan to expand and a lot of that is not through more manpower, but more efficient use of our resources. We hope to get some more equipment that will allow for higher output with less man hours. Those hours will most likely be needed to keep up with all the administration headaches that go with the business. Entering fields and data, answering e-mails, co-coordinating projects, training, more e-mails, listing items, inventory counts, more e-mails, etc.
Forum member Giga Bread asks:
Will you be selling casts of Krexx’s sculpts from SDS? If yes, will you have control over all his previous sculpts, or are there some unaccounted for?
DW:We purchased all of Krexx’s sculpts from Slayer going back to before the GTG era. It was a huge investment, but one we believed in. KREXX’s work is art and we wanted to keep it alive for the community. We have full control over all Slayer and earlier pieces. We will eventually put most of them in stock, and hope to have this done by the end of the year. There were a few agreements Slayer had with others that we extended, but most of those have now expired. All but a small number of Krexx’s sculpts will be put in the store. Some will be retooled (a lot of the GTG era sculpts) to fit with ME figures. After Slayer, KREXX made some incredible art which is in private collections. Obviously, we don’t own those. Fortunately, MSWI has most of them in his collection . He has generously allowed us to inventory some of them, so the community can have access to them. Going forward we will release the remaining older sculpts as we work them in, and we estimate over 90% of all the Slayer and earlier work will be in the store by the end of this year. You are going to see more new things from KREXX each drop. We will still carry all the previous work but the focus is going to be the new pieces. We have big plans and hope to see them through.
Forum Officer G.I. Eddie asks:
How is your health, and do you foresee any impending life threatening illnesses?
KREXX:My health is good so far , thanks for asking!
mswi: LOL I get where this is coming from. Health issues aside I think most of the “failed” casters run into issues because they do it as a side project to their regular 9-5. The AngelForge is a full time plus committed store.
DW:Sadly, I am fatter and older than I like. The issues I have are mostly in my head. Seriously though, as a company, we do not rely on just me. I was in the hospital this winter, out for about a week. The orders still went out. The team knew what they had to do and had full access to run things without me. They even had the option of closing the store, finishing the remaining orders, and having a vacation. They stepped up and I was not missed at all by you guys. You bastards did not even send one get well card, but I did not have to think about you guys the whole time either . For my piece of mind, the store has alternates that will be able to either take over and run things or close the store. If they close the store, they know how to and will resolve any open orders. I’ve seen what can happen in these events and it is not something I would wish on anyone. The aftermath can be worse than the illness if you are not prepared and few people are. F-that. If something that serious happens, I’m handing the keys over. Hopefully you guys will behave and not mistreat the substitute.
Forum Intel Officer Meddatron asks:
Krexx, when you sculpt a head, do you do all of it in one sitting, or do you do some, let it set-up then add to it later? Or does it depend entirely on what you are sculpting?
KREXX:Most sculpts are done in sections , on rare occasions a sculpt just flows and gets completed without me waiting on the material to set , to add more detail later.
Forum member Joerhyno asks:
How are prices figured out for your items? Is it just a matter on the amount of rubber/resin used, or are there more factors involved, like sculpt difficulty, detail, etc?
DW:Many factors. Resin/rubber is just a material cost. The cost in time also greatly effects price. The more parts to the sculpt, the more material cost, but more importantly it uses exponentially more time to work it. Even from the beginning, the more pieces, the more it cost in time and money to have the artist make it. A head sculpt you can scrape the flash off in a second and determine if it can go into inventory. An arm set takes a lot longer. Then you have to make sure you put all those parts exactly where they belong in the bins. The same goes to pull the item, a head you check against the catalog (all items in every order are supposed to be cross checked as they are pulled), takes but a second. The arms you have to recheck every part to make sure it is all there and correct. Full kits soak up loads of time, and require a lot more from customers.
We have to balance the price against stores that have huge advantages over us. The bigger companies have equipment and resources we can’t touch. While many of the other casters do not have even a fraction of our overhead. Which is good for the customer, don’t get me wrong. But it does have an effect on how we price and stock. One effect is, you will see certain high production costs/low priced items will be ordered from the artist less. They are not as prioritized to restock or remold either. Many of these items are still inventoried simply because we are fans of the hobby and try to keep them in circulation. It is a giant balancing act to keep competitive, support the hobby, and meet our budget at the same time.
Forum Administrator NSA asks:
What do you think you can bring to the casting table that others before you could not?
DW:My background is in factory production and warehousing. Not just working the lines and pulling orders, which I have done plenty of. But setting up and organizing operations. I worked as an inventory control specialist in a major global company. Add in my O.C.D. to the mix and you have a good recipe for inventory management and order processing. Those are my strong points. We have been in operation a year now and our inventory keeps growing as well as our orders. We have had set backs and issues come up, but the orders are all getting out in a timely manner. There are casters out there that are good at this, and the good ones cap inventory to a level they can manage. I can set up and manage inventory at a large scale, while making it logical and easy for other team members to work within my system and run it themselves if necessary.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the casting community right now?
DW:Lack of standards. The casting community consists of very few businesses, mostly individuals. Anyone can set up a website with an e-cart. Some do it well and others….not so much. Some have taken it to epic levels, both good and bad. Customers can not take an experience from one store and expect the same from another. When you walk into a department store; wal-mart, k-mart, target, ….whatever, you pretty much know what to expect. When you try a casting store it is a ticket to a freak show. It could be so great you might need to get all your buddies and keep coming back……then again, you might wake up in a ditch cuddling a trucker hoping to all that is holy that’s not his name freshly tattooed on your arm, even though the shame you feel tells you different.
Do you have a legal team?
DW:Yes, I keep them in total darkness so that their souls never know the joy of sunlight. I only feed them rancid unicorn meat and the tears of those who have ever crossed me.
Seriously though, anyone who is starting a business should have access to legal and very importantly- financial advice. Good ones will help you and offer sage wisdom like; how to prepare for taxes, how navigate all the bureaucracy and paperwork, how to prepare a contract between two parties, how to set up things right the first time, how to avoid problem, how to plan for the future, etc.
If you only had one hour left before the planet exploded, what tv show’s series finale would you watch?
KREXX: Another question with a lot of answers , I love a lot of series.
DW:Hmmmmm………hopefully one where they show you how to build a spaceship in under an hour.
Do you plan to expand more into realistic military sculpts/accessories/etc? I see a lot of your stuff seems fantasy based so far.
KREXX: Yes , most likely I will do more military based sculpts.
mswi: Just in the beginning stages., Naturally as fans of specific genres the choices are somewhat selfish in what is currently being produced. But as things progress you will see many more pieces from all genres pop up. Besides we’re always open to suggestions. Maybe we should get a suggestion box thread going?
DW:On a normal month, we try to divide the number of pieces between several categories. Modern military, fantasy, civilian, etc. Things get moved around though for various reasons, so you might get one month heavy on one theme but it usually balances out overall.
Steve owns a coconut shop. He has 6 coconuts. Sally wants to buy 2/3rd of Steve’s coconuts. How many coconuts does Sally want to buy? Show your work.
mswi: What the hell does Sally need with 4 coconuts? Show work? calculator
DW:I really think Sally is just using the coconuts as a ploy to see Steve, seduce him, and ultimately own everything he has. Sure the wild parties and the sex is good but after the divorce, Sally will have the four coconuts she bought, the money she gave Steve, and both Steve’s nuts.